Sunday, June 06, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Sensation Seekers (1927) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

SENSATION SEEKERS (1927) is one of a pair of silent films directed by Lois Weber which was recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

SENSATION SEEKERS was released in a two-film set with Weber's A CHAPTER IN HER LIFE (1923), which will be reviewed here at a future date. (Update: Here is my review of the very enjoyable A CHAPTER IN HER LIFE.)

SENSATION SEEKERS is an engaging melodrama about Luena (Bille Dove), a young woman known to her friends as "Egypt."

Luena runs around with the wrong crowd; when she finds her father (Phillips Smalley) in a speakeasy with his mistress, it's strongly hinted that his abandonment may have led to her wild lifestyle.

When the speakeasy is raided and Luena is taken to jail, she's bailed out by the new minister in town, Rev. Lodge (Raymond Bloomer). Luena initially offers the handsome reverend plenty of sass and snark, yet she finds herself drawn to him, despite being semi-engaged to Ray (Huntley Gordon).

Luena's regular visits to the minister's house cause consternation throughout the town, as her reputation is such that she's seen as a potentially corrupting influence. One of the parishioners sends for the bishop (Tom Ricketts), who may be more sympathetic to the young minister than the townspeople expect.

Luena and Rev. Lodge come to love one another, but she has no interest in being a minister's wife, and when she realizes she's jeopardizing his career she decides to run off with Ray. Luena and Ray board a yacht, intending to marry down river, but there's a storm brewing...

The movie concludes with an impressive disaster sequence. I was startled by the 70-minute film's abrupt ending, but after reflecting on it I decided it was just right and told the viewer everything needed.

I found this film quite entertaining, thanks in large part to the performance of Billie Dove (previously reviewed here in ONE NIGHT AT SUSIE'S and BLONDIE OF THE FOLLIES). Given that this is a silent film, I was impressed with what she was able to convey simply with her eyes, including hurt, guilt, and love. It's a nicely done, charismatic performance.

The rest of the cast is fine; Nora Cecil, a familiar character face through the late '40s, plays the reverend's mother, and look for Walter Brennan in one of his earliest roles as a member of the yacht crew.

The movie was filmed by Benjamin H. Kline.

The Kino Blu-ray is a new 2K restoration from Universal. The print is quite good; there are occasional flaws but that's to be expected in a film which is nearly a century old. It's an excellent viewing experience.

The disc includes a commentary track by Shelley Stamp, author of LOIS WEBER IN EARLY HOLLYWOOD.

I enjoyed this film and look forward to the previously mentioned companion film in the set, A CHAPTER IN HER LIFE.

I'll also soon be reviewing another new silent release from Kino Lorber, LIGHTS OF OLD BROADWAY (1925) starring Marion Davies.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


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