Lonesome (1929) - Paul Fejos
When people mention the artistry of late era silent film, no one seems to have any idea that this movie exists. Paul Fejos might not ring the same kinds of bells that Murnau or Vidor did, but there's something magical about this film that like Sunrise and The Crowd are at heart really simple stories. This one is a boy meets girl story, with both characters set up to be in nearly identical situations. They get up, go to work, work in a meaningless job, get invited out by their attached friends, decline, and wind up boarding the same bus to Coney Island where they meet and almost instantly fall in love only to be lost and separated later. You can feel for the characters in their daily plight, and can instantly feel the solitude that they share in their one bedroom apartments. Fejos has a great work montage as a the hands of clock are superimposed over people yakking on the phone to Mary's (Barbara Kent) switchboard operator. Jim Tryon, who plays Jim the factory worker here, and Kent are perfectly cast. They are barely if at all remembered today, but they represent a decent looking couple that doesn't come stuffed with movie star glamor and seem like real working class people. Their eventual discovery and rediscovery is one of the most joyous expressions of adoration I've seen in a film. The Coney Island string of rides seems to have been taken directly from Clarence Badger's It, but with much different implications. I'm sure someone will eventually restore this and we'll all be able to see what a worthwhile film it really is and further testament to the beauty of the late silent film.