The silent star, John Gilbert will be our Classic Movie Favorites “Favorite of the Month” for November, 2017.
After starring in films since the medium’s onset, John Gilbert moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1924, where he became a full-fledged star with such high-profile films as His Hour directed by King Vidor and written by Elinor Glyn; He Who Gets Slapped (both 1924), co-starring Lon Chaney, and Norma Shearer, and directed by Victor Sjöström; and The Merry Widow (1925) directed by Erich von Stroheim and co-starring Mae Murray. In 1925 Gilbert was once again directed by Vidor in the war epic The Big Parade, which became the second-highest grossing silent film. His performance in this film made him a major star. The following year, Vidor reunited Gilbert with two of his co-stars from that picture, Renée Adorée and Karl Dane, for the film La Bohème which also starred Lillian Gish.
In 1926, Gilbert made Flesh and the Devil, his first film with Greta Garbo. They soon began a highly publicized relationship, much to the delight of their fans. Gilbert wanted to marry her, but Garbo continually balked.
Audiences awaited Gilbert’s first romantic role on the talking screen. The vehicle was the Ruritanian romance His Glorious Night (also 1929). According to reviewers, audiences laughed nervously at Gilbert’s performance. The fault was not Gilbert’s voice, it was said, but the awkward scenario along with overly ardent love scenes. Still, this ruined his career and he had trouble getting good parts in sound films after this.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Gilbert has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1755 Vine Street. In 1994, he was honored with his image on a United States postage stamp designed by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.
We will be reviewing several of Gilbert’s silent films, but also some of his talkies, which are pretty good if you ask me!
I think Gilbert is a tragic star who was so much better than what he got and probably today he would have more protection; I just wish he was still here.
Starting tomorrow, look for lots to be posted about Gilbert during the entire month. We plan to be providing film reviews, articles about his life and much more.
Look for a new star, director, or films, etc. to be featured each subsequent month during the year. Or, see who all of our favorites are by finding links to their sections in the menu bar at the top of the site.