The Blot

1921

Drama / Romance

0
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 616

woman director parent child relationship college neighbor silent film

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Plot summary


Uploaded by: FREEMAN
December 28, 2022 at 08:14 PM

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720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
866.41 MB
958*720
No linguistic content 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 34 min
P/S ...
1.57 GB
1436*1080
No linguistic content 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 34 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by AlsExGal 7 / 10

An interesting look at some social issues of 1920 America

Lois Weber was one of the few women directing films in the early part of the 20th century, and she tended to focus on socially conscious themes of her time. This film has to do with how society rewards educators versus other better-paid professions, even though those well-paid professionals needed the services of the educator to learn their trade in the first place. In this particular film the contrast is between a professor's family that is living on the professor's near-poverty wage and their prosperous next-door neighbors, the family of a shoe-maker. Made in 1920, it is a more realistic look at "genteel poverty" than you were likely to get at the movies at that time. In 1920 the poor were mainly shown as agrarian folk living in "Tobacco Road" style poverty or those living in crime-ridden tenements. This shows that the poor can live in middle class areas with the veneer of a middle-class lifestyle but just be lacking in funds to finance anything that comes at them that is out of the ordinary.

The film focuses on the professor's daughter and her two suitors. One is an equally poverty-stricken preacher, the other played by a 26 year old Louis Calhern, is a wealthy student of the professor's. The professor's daughter becomes ill, and the doctor says that what she needs is "nourishing food". Her mother decides to do what she has never done before, go into debt. However, the grocer demands cash upfront for all purchases. The desperate mother returns home and notices that the next-door neighbor has a very tempting chicken cooling in the kitchen window. What she does next, the daughter's reaction, and the kindly gestures of Calhern's character lead up to a well-played yet predictable ending.

This film reveals several interesting points about life that was true until the 1960's. One fact is that one of the most expensive commodities in life until that time was food. That is why the professor's family is less worried about calling a doctor for the daughter than they are about how they are going to afford the balanced diet their daughter requires for recovery. Another expensive commodity was furniture, as is pointed out by the professor's worn home furnishings. Today cheap and attractive furniture abounds, and it might leave some scratching their heads when they see families terrified of someone coming and taking their furniture for payment of a debt. Nobody would do that today since used furniture is practically worthless.

This film is worthwhile viewing, and one of its best points is that it doesn't paint anyone in the film as either completely good or bad. The qualities and weaknesses of all of the players are shown realistically, and overall I recommend this film.

Reviewed by secondtake 6 / 10

Domestic interactions, women as real women--a fast early drama

The Blot (1921)

Domestic interactions, women as real women

The first thing about of every writer's mouth about any Lois Weber film is that it is directed by a woman. A silent film. 1921. And it's true.

But taken straight, The Blot, is a sweet, well constructed domestic drama with surprisingly good acting and a faster pace of editing than even some classics from roughly the same time such as Griffith's Broken Blossoms (1919). The general plot is curious, clever, and complicated enough I got a little lost for awhile. And the middle of the film, once the situation is "set up" for us, develops slowly, even as it cuts between scenes rapidly. The final resolution is not quite clear until it happens, and the final shot is abrupt and poignant to the point of being brilliant and inspired.

There are countless (literally) silent movies of this general type from this period--that is, all kinds of stories that the hungry movie audience of the 1920s at up. And this one is not exceptional from a formal point of view (for example, it has no moving camera, depending on fast cutting and snappy acting for its pace). What makes it interesting (regardless of Weber's gender for now) is the realism of many of the small scenes--the joking at the beginning, the professor's daughter's ease with the camera. There are silent film stiffnesses (for lack of a better word), like the professor in front of the class (no wonder the students are bored) and the professor's wife, who unfortunately has a large role in her unconvincing sorrows. But there are shining moments, including the lead student, who I thought was rather brilliant and only later learned was one of my favorite less known silent actors, Louis Calhern. He makes it worth it alone.

We should ask, is there a woman's touch here? Does Weber give us a view of her female characters that is any different (or better) than what other (male) directors give us? Maybe yes! I'm no scholar for this period at all, and someone would have to dig up not only von Stroheim and other famous directors, but all the routine filmmakers that form the backdrop for the audience of the time (an audience rapt by spectacles, crime flicks, period pieces, comedies and stars themselves, no matter what the genre, like Rudolph Valentino). What strikes me here is the purely normal, domestic basis of most of the scenes--even a cat and its kittens form a second family as a lovable metaphor

The secondary and more interesting conflict is between two middle class families (one clearly with more money than the other), and the women that are in charge of the day to day life of those families. It makes homemaking (cooking, mostly) important. Women are shown to be smart, complicated (within the limits of the plot), and non-objectified. This last is probably where many feminist critics would begin, and it's worth stressing. Even if the heroine in a Griffith film, or a von Sternberg for that matter (they are hardly comparable in the same sentence) is believable and admirable, it is often from a male point of view. They are interesting as the objective (and object) for some man. This is even true for Chaplin, who treats his women with a whole different kind of reverence. But Weber is just a hair different, or at least we can think about it this way. If the professor's daughter is the young "heroine" or female lead, she is no siren, and she does not just conform to some model of mystery, coy sweetness, or plain old beauty. Not completely.

I think I stretch a point--but it's worth looking at. Beyond that, the main conflict, if you can call it that, the one that leads to the romance, is the reason for the title. The "blot" is the shame on a society that doesn't pay its professors (and pastors) the money they deserve. An odd theme (but a good one from my point of view--guess what I do for a living), and one that really just serves as an excuse for the rest of the entertainment. But it has social significance of its own, especially at the beginning of a greedy and capitalist "roaring" decade that The Blot helps kick off.

Check it out. You might be surprised. It's no Sunrise or Greed for sure, but it has its own inner fire.

Reviewed by planktonrules 8 / 10

Very dated, but also exceptional for 1921

This is a film that really must be seen in the proper context. When seen today, the messages in the film might at times seem highly moralistic and preachy, though for its day this film was exceptional and still has much to admire--particularly when you realize that the film was directed, produced and co-written by a lady--no small feat for 1921!

The movie is about a professor and his family--and in particular his lovely daughter. They are dirt poor, as is the family friend, the preacher. They are all good folk but since life usually isn't fair, they barely manage to scrape by--mostly because teachers and preachers are often among the worst paid professions. In contrast, they have neighbors and students who are quite well off but also are shallow. All this reminds me of Mark Twain's hilarious short stories--"The Story of the Good Boy" and "The Story of the Bad Boy"--where he lampoons popular stories of the late 19th and early 20th century that advocated the importance of honesty and in the end, righteousness is always rewarded and evil is always punished. That's because this message is hit home in THE BLOT with a sledgehammer just like these stories kids were forced to read in school--and there isn't much subtlety at all about the object lessons. Too bad they usually weren't true!

However, although lacking subtlety, the film is exceptional in many ways. First, the camera-work is lovely--with a real nice artistic look and feel to it. It sure helped that the accompanying modern sound track was so good and the quality of the print near-perfect. Second, although the story did seem very moralistic, as the film progressed, the characters actually became much more three-dimensional and believable and less like these caricatures. The seemingly bad people had an opportunity to grow and evolve and the good folks weren't always so gosh-darn perfect. In particular, I loved how Louis Calhern's character changed so much for the better--and it wasn't because God punished him or because he "got his comeuppance"--it was because he genuinely grew as a man. He was clearly the standout character in the film, even though the film mainly focused on the girl whose heart he wanted.

For an older silent film, this movie is awfully long--at almost an hour and a half. Many features of the day were quite a bit shorter. Much of this is probably because THE BLOT takes such a leisurely pace. At first, I didn't care for this though as the film progressed I really appreciated it--as it gave the film much more depth and pulled you into the story. It's really a lovely film and one that seems so much better than its current 6.4 score would indicate. Plus, while I would agree with all the negative reviews that the film is highly moralistic, I would also argue that the context for this is understandable AND that the film isn't quite so "black and white"--as many of the supposedly "bad" people turn out to be quite decent--showing that the film actually has some depth.

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