Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1927. Fox Film Corporation. Scenario by Carl Mayer, from an original theme by Hermann Sudermann, Titles by Katherine Hilliker, H.H. Caldwell. Cinematography by Charles Rosher, Karl Struss. Produced by William Fox. Music by R.H. Bassett, Carli Elinor, Erno Rapee, Hugo Riesenfeld, Willy Schmidt-Gentner. Production Design by Rochus Gliese. Film Editing by Howard D. Schuster. Academy Awards 1927/1928.
This beautiful film won the only Academy Award ever given out for Best ‘Unique And Artistic Picture’, and it was well-deserved. It tells the story of a plain-jane housewife (Janet Gaynor, who tries to be plain but is clearly not) whose husband dabbles with a city girl who convinces him to kill his wife and live with her forever. Amidst his attempt to drown his lovely spouse, the husband has a crisis of guilt and decides not to do it, instead spending a magical evening in the big city with her and falling in love with her all over again. F.W. Murnau’s direction is complete with solid acting, gorgeous cinematography and eye-popping set design. Gaynor won the first Best Actress award for this and two other films, and though it has no synchronized dialogue, the film doesn’t feel like it has aged a single day.