CineSavant Column

Saturday October 22, 2022



Back in last Tuesday’s review for Deaf Crocodile’s Zerograd  I tried to explain the film’s exaggerated way of satirizing the paranoia of Soviet citizens under tyrants like Stalin, where terrible penalties could come from making a small error, being perceived as not doing one’s job well, or simply being denounced with no way of defending one’s self.

I tried to illustrate the idea with a memory of a comedy piece in the old National Lampoon magazine. Correspondent and advisor “B” surprised me by finding the exact magazine entry. Its text is merciless — 2.5 nasty jokes in each sentence.

Wow, this item is nearly 50 years old now. It explains itself . . . to read it, zoom the graphic or open it larger in a new window.



From Gary Teetzel, this is a silent movie rarity I’ve known of only in random stills — a 13-second clip from the ‘lost’ silent picture Go and Get It, featuring professional wrestler Bull Montana as a murderous ape-man.

Go and Get It was once thought lost, but news from Europe is that the Cineteca Nazionale Italiana now has a complete copy of the 1920 movie. The restoration was by Cineteca Milano. Directed by Marshall Neilan & Henry Roberts Symonds and co-written by Frances Marion, the wild tale reportedly includes a lot of serial action thrills. A newspaper reporter tracks down a killer ape, into whose skull a human criminal’s brain has been transplanted. Mad scientists suffer a public relations fiasco.

This bulletin board thread at Nitrateville confirms that the Italian print of Go and Get It was shown at the Festival Lumiere a very short time ago, and in Italy last year. I have to say, in 1920 that image of a snarling Bull Montana would have been sure-fire nightmare material.



Wow, Go and Get It is a big deal, but I’ve also just been reminded by Gary Teetzel that an Italian festival also recently screened a restored print of the Lon Chaney – Tod Browning silent masterpiece The Unknown. The source of the restoration is a print found in Czechoslovakia. Perhaps the most openly perverse of the Chaney horrors, The Unknown stars Chaney as a circus performer, ‘Alonzo, the Armless Wonder.’ A young Joan Crawford is the object of his romantic obsessions. If it were to be adapted as a musical, the title could be ‘Mutilation!’

The exciting news is that the restoration is said to be 10 minutes longer in duration. That’s a whole reel longer, long enough for an elaborate subplot, a major flashback — almost anything. Could it just be a selection of scattered little scenes?  Hopefully the new material won’t be unrelated circus performances. The Unknown will now be at its original 1927 length — and since it stars both Chaney and Crawford, maybe it will eventually become an candidate for disc release.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson