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ipso's avatar

Silent movie name (“You idiot!”)

Asked by ipso (4476points) June 8th, 2010

This is a hard one.

There is a silent film that has a marvelous scene: A middle aged woman looks over to her husband after he has done something oafish and, arms akimbo, she has a great dramatic pause and says simply with a wry smile, “You idiot!”

Kind of thin, but any idea what movie this is? I remember rolling in simple laughter, but can’t remember the movie – or even anything else but that one moment. I believe it was a “top 100” type silent film, as I’m sure I saw it while working my way through just that list.

I also remember this moment being discussed in the director’s commentary track of yet another unremembered movie. Maybe by David Mamet or Scorsese?

Any clue is appreciated. One of those silly long standing open trivia questions I have.


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5 Answers

Trillian's avatar

I looked but didn’t have enough to go on. Here, however, is a link that you might find helpful. If you find out, let us know. This kind of thing will keep me awake into the long hours of the night…

Jeruba's avatar

Clarification requested:

— When you say silent film, do you mean not just silent but made during the silent era?—the 1920’s?

— If you can’t name an actor, can you rule anyone out?—can you say it wasn’t a Chaplin picture, for instance, or a Buster Keaton or a Harold Lloyd?

— Do you know if it was American-made?

ipso's avatar

@Jeruba – For sure it was on this list, as I was working through it in like 2004 when I first saw the scene. I remember being shocked at how contemporary the moment was – way beyond anything I had ever seen in the silents. Then I came across it again during that director’s commentary track – maybe in 2007. Then maybe 6 months after that I realized that I had a problem: I kept wanting to referencing it, but it was lost to me. @&#*$#

I know better know: when something “moves me” to that extent, I need to write it down.

Brainstorm: (may or may not be correct, but my best guess)
– definitely silent era. I seem to remember it being high quality, so very late silent era, or probably a restored classic.
– My gut tells me it was a German made film – a mood of sophistication – not slapstick, so no Keaton, Chaplin, Griffith, Lloyd – probably more like Murnau, Lang, Pabst – but very “real” – no “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” type stuff.
– I believe it was “off the beaten path”, since I only knocked it out toward the end of the above list-quest.
– The woman (screen right) stood next to a bellybutton high dresser with a mirror on it. She was looking to her husband (screen left) who was sitting in a rocking chair I believe.
– She was a larger woman – if I had to cast a modern actress, it would definitely be Kathy Bates, but maybe with longer dark hair. The guy may have been a “Fred Mert” body type.

(Note – it’s been so many years – it’s like remembering a dream – I may be way off on an item or two. In fact, I’m fascinated to see just how off I am.)

So I’m going to start marching through the list again. Will advise.

Thanks for any eureka moments!

Jeruba's avatar

That is a big clue! Several, in fact. With those hints and the little knowledge I have, I could knock a quarter to a third of the titles off the list. A true film buff could do much better. (Where’s our @filmfann ?) You might not need more than a couple of minutes’ viewing of each to eliminate most of the remainder. Not so onerous after all.

filmfann's avatar

When I saw this question, I recognized the scene, but had a hard time remembering what movie it came from. After reviewing the list, I am still not sure, but you might want to check A Woman of Paris. Yes, it is Chaplin, but it isn’t the typical Chaplin.
By the way, that is a pretty good list. I would have added a few, and removed a few, but it is a solid, well thought out listing of the best of that era.

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