For as long as I can remember, old movies interest me, including the bizarre and the silent. I introduced my beau to Ye Olde Tyme Flickers, and now watching them is a part of our relaxation time.
A couple of weeks ago, we watched “The Intruder” (1962) with William Shatner, a story of a scallywag (Shatner) who floats into the fictional southern town of Caxton to “do a little social work”. It’s based on a 1959 book by Charles Beaumont who also starred. I reviewed it here, and one of my favorite bloggers, Jan Olandese recommended a similarly bizarre film, “Dark Intruder” (1965) with Leslie Nielson. I found the trailer – it is hilarious, so check it out here – yet, I couldn’t find the movie in its entirety, but I do have it on my Must Get List, so when I can find it and watch it, I’ll review it here.
In the meantime, I found a curiously interesting, yet bizarre, D. W. Griffith film made in 1923 called, “The White Rose.” It was particularly intriguing since Neil Hamilton played in it. He was 24 years old. Sounds familiar to you? You probably know him best as Commissioner James Gordon on the television series, “Batman.”
“The White Rose” is basically about two Louisiana couples – John and Marie, and Joseph and Bessie, a.k.a. “Teazie” – and how they wove their way through life and romance.
The version we watched (via YouTube) of “The White Rose” had no accompanying music, so my beau and I found that easier to comment as the story unfolded.
The story was good – Teazie has a baby out of wedlock, Joseph has a career and moral crisis, John is working on breaking out of the family tradition of laziness, and rich Marie comes to a crossroads of the heart.
Yet, what made this a bizarre film is Griffith’s use of black characters. Granted, he employed black actors to play the black characters, but insofar as the main black characters, well, he used white actors and an actress in blackface.
Strange, unsettling, phony, creepy in every way imaginable, and we just couldn’t help laughing at the absurdity. Yet, those were the times, and makes for thought-provoking analysis and conversations.
Mainly, we were interested in seeing Neil Hamilton in another role apart from his more famous Commissioner Gordon character. Leslie Neilson is another actor, where, when we hear his name, we think of those “Police Squad” and “Airplane!” movies. Yet, before them, he made a lot of movies and guest starred in television programs such as “Bonanza,” and he wasn’t always the funny man.
There are so many actors and actresses that we, today, know only in more recent media. And that’s part of the intrigue of tracing actors’ and actresses’ careers to their almost obscure career beginnings.
©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.