Movies to Watch: Ramon Novarro 'The Red Lily' & Claude Rains 'The Clairvoyant' + Restoring 1 of Most Influential Films

The Red Lily Ramon Novarro Enid Bennett
Ramon Novarro and Enid Bennett in The Red Lily.

Generally, I post my “Can't Miss” warnings days after the must-see movies have been shown on television. I've decided to try something different this time around. I'm sending this “Can't Miss” warning nearly a week before the two must-see films are aired on Turner Classic Movies in late March 2006. They are:

The social melodrama The Red Lily (1924), directed by Fred Niblo, and starring silent film heartthrob Ramon Novarro and Enid Bennett (plus a pre-stardom Wallace Beery), and the British thriller The Clairvoyant (1934), directed by Maurice Elvey, and starring Claude Rains and Fay Wray.

Both are incredibly rare, and as far as I know The Red Lily has never been shown on television, and hasn't been screened in the United States since its original release. (It was shown in Britain a few years ago, as part of a film festival. If I remember it correctly, film historian Kevin Brownlow organized the Red Lily screening. That print was in dire need of restoration work, and the flash titles - intertitles that even a speed-reader would have trouble following - were in German.)

The Red Lily is not a good film. It is heavy-handed and melodramatic, but it does boast an outstanding performance by the long-forgotten Enid Bennett, who at the time was married to director Niblo. Bennett's is a thoroughly believable - and quite subtle for the time - incarnation of a young woman betrayed by both fate and (at one point) her sweetheart. Novarro, for his part, gets way out of control in an unlikely role. He usually played good boys you'd want to either take home to meet mother or spank until he begged for mercy, but in The Red Lily he is a good boy who goes bad. Though much too mannered as the Bad Boy, he does exude a certain dangerous charm that is missing from most of his other performances.

Another good reason to check out The Red Lily: When the film came out, the puritanical critics of the era referred to it as “sordid” and “hackneyed,” and its characters as “revolting” and “prime specimens of degraded humanity.” (Novarro and Niblo would both be better received on their next effort, the monumental 1925 version of Ben-Hur.)

I've never seen The Clairvoyant, but I do know that Maurice Elvey was one of the top British directors of the 1920s and 1930s. And anything with Claude Rains - who acted rings around the nominal stars of his many Hollywood films, from The Adventures of Robin Hood to Twilight of Honor - is definitely worth a look. As per the IMDb, the film's tagline was “HEXED BY THE EVIL EYE.” If The Clairvoyant lives up to its tagline promise, we can expect Fay Wray to put her vocal cords to good use - as she so often did during that time. (Screaming, dear reader, not singing.)

You can read more - much more - about The Clairvoyant here.

IMPORTANT WARNING: If you're going to record those films, make sure to allow for some extra time. TCM's running-time listings for silent films tend to be way off the mark. The 85 min. running-time for The Red Lily is my own calculation (based on the film's 7 reels). If I'm right, The Clairvoyant will start at about 1:45AM Eastern / 10:45PM Pacific. If I'm wrong, well. . . better safe than sorry. Allow for some extra time when recording these films.

Sunday/Monday 26/27 '06 on Turner Classic Movies (ok, Sunday on the West Coast, Monday on the East Coast)

12:15 AM Eastern / 9:15 PM Pacific The Red Lily (1924) In this silent film, a chance separation throws young lovers into the dregs of society. Cast: Ramon Novarro, Enid Bennett, Wallace Beery. Dir.: Fred Niblo. Color. approx. 85min. min.

1:30 AM Eastern / 10:30PM Pacific The Clairvoyant (1934) A fake psychic suddenly turns into the real thing when he meets a young beauty. Cast: Claude Rains, Fay Wray, Jane Baxter. Dir.: Maurice Elvey. Color. 73 min.

Cabiria 1914Cabiria 1914

Cabiria 1914: Reconstructed silent epic to be screened in Turin

Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria (1914), one of the most influential films ever made, “has been reconstructed from long-lost rushes recently found in a Turin basement,” reports ANSA. Missing only 5 percent of its original footage, the restored Cabiria will have its premiere on March 20, 2006, at the Teatro Regio in Turin, the city where the epic was filmed. The screening will be preceded by a video presentation by Martin Scorsese.

Following its world premiere in Turin, Cabiria will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May, “the first stop in a world tour.”

Cabiria: Movie epic with nationalistic bent

Set during the time of the Second Punic War, Cabiria pits noble Romans against barbarian Carthaginians; not coincidentally, the film was released three years after the Italo-Turkish war, following which Italy took over former Turkish (Ottoman) territory in North Africa. Partly based on Emilio Salgari's Carthage in Flames and Gustave Flaubert's Salammbô, Cabiria had titles written by rabid nationalist poet and journalist Gabriele D'Annunzio.

The Cabiria cast included Bartolomeo Pagano as the slave Maciste – in the ensuing decades the hero in dozens of Italian movies – in addition to Lidia Quaranta, Umberto Mozzato, Italia Almirante-Manzini, Émile Vardannes, Alessandro Bernard, and Dante Testa.

Cabiria 1914: One of the most influential movies ever made

Directly or indirectly, Cabiria has influenced filmmakers the world over, from D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille to Ridley Scott and Peter Jackson. Along with Enrico Guazzoni's 1912 version of Quo Vadis, Giovanni Pastrone's Cabiria was the epic par excellence of the first half of the 1910s.

American filmmaker D.W. Griffith was inspired by the Pastrone film – which today makes for a visually impressive but ponderous experience – to create the Babylonian sequences for his 1916 socially conscious epic Intolerance. That, in turn, inspired the builders of the Hollywood & Highland complex, where the Oscar ceremony's Kodak Theater is located. So, however indirectly, Cabiria has even inspired a mall in the heart of Hollywood.

Note: Federico Fellini's 1957 comedy-drama Nights of Cabiria has nothing in common with the 1914 movie, except for the fact that Giulietta Masina's sex worker has the same name as the young heroine in Giovanni Pastrone's epic.

'The Moon Is Blue,' 'Advise and Consent' To Be Restored

Press Release: Academy Film Archive Receives $100,000 for Film Preservation

March 2006 - Beverly Hills, CA –  The Andrew J. Kuehn Foundation has presented the Academy Film Archive with $100,000 for film preservation, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' President Sid Ganis has announced.

The grant will be used to preserve two feature films by Academy Award®-nominated director Otto Preminger – the 1953 Oscar®-nominated film The Moon Is Blue [actress Maggie McNamara was nominated as Best Actress; the film itself caused an uproar because the word “virgin” is uttered at one point. Preminger refused to have it deleted, despite pressure from the Production Code censors] and the 1962 drama Advise & Consent.

The grant was presented to Ganis by Will Gorges, chairman of the Kuehn Foundation, prior to the premiere screening of the feature documentary Coming Attractions: The History of the Movie Trailer on Wednesday, March 15, at the Academy's Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.

Andrew J. Kuehn, was a director-producer and advertising executive whose pioneering work included the trailers for such films as Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Star Wars. Prior to his death in 2004, Kuehn began initial production on Coming Attractions.

The documentary, executive produced by Gorges, is a historical chronicle of movie advertising and marketing techniques used to promote films. Coming Attractions has been produced for educational and research purposes and will be distributed to academic and archival institutions worldwide.

'The Defiant Ones' Academy Screening

Press Release: Beverly Hills, CA - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will launch the third part of its successful screening series “Great To Be Nominated” on Monday, April 10. The 19-week series will once again showcase the Best Picture nominees, this time from 1958 to 1976, that accumulated the most Academy Award® nominations in all categories in a particular year, but did not ultimately win the Oscar® for Best Picture. “Great To Be Nominated, Part Three,” will screen a different film each Monday evening, plus one Tuesday night, at 7:30 p.m., in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The third installment of “Great To Be Nominated” will kick off with The Defiant Ones (1958), a breakthrough film in Hollywood's portrayal of race relations. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards and took home the Oscars for Cinematography - Black-and-White (Sam Leavitt) and Writing (Story and Screenplay - written directly for the screen) (Nedrick Young* and Harold Jacob Smith). The Defiant Ones also was honored with four nominations in the acting categories: Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier, both for Lead Actor, and Theodore Bikel and Cara Williams for Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively. Stanley Kramer was nominated in both the Directing and Best Motion Picture categories and Frederic Knudtson was nominated for Film Editing.

Curtis, Bikel and Williams will participate in a panel discussion following the screening.

The series will continue through August 28, when Part Three concludes. “Great To Be Nominated” will go on hiatus until Spring 2007, picking up where this installment of the series ends.

Other elements from each year, such as short subjects, behind-the-scenes footage, trailers and music, will be incorporated into each evening's program.

The complete screening schedule for Part Three is as follows:

April 10

“The Defiant Ones” (1958)

April 17

The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959)

April 24

“Sons and Lovers” (1960)

May 1

“Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961)

May 8

To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)

May 15

“Cleopatra” (1963)

May 22

Mary Poppins” (1964)

June 5

Doctor Zhivago” (1965)

June 12

“Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966)

June 19

“Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” (1967)

June 20 (Tuesday)

Bonnie and Clyde” (1967)

June 26

Funny Girl” (1968)

July 10

“Anne of the Thousand Days” (1969)

July 17

“Airport” (1970)

July 24

“Fiddler on the Roof” (1971)

July 31

Cabaret” (1972)

August 7

“The Exorcist” (1973)

August 14

Chinatown” (1974)

August 21

Barry Lyndon” (1975)

August 28

“Network” (1976)

The Tuesday, June 20 screening is necessary because both Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Bonnie and Clyde were honored with 10 nominations and two Academy Awards in 1967. Screenings will not be held on May 29 or July 3 as the Academy will be closed in observance of Memorial Day and Independence Day, respectively.

Passes for “Great To Be Nominated, Part Three” are available at a cost of $30 for film buffs wishing to see the series in its entirety. A $5 discount is available for those people who wish to renew their passes from Parts One and/or Two of the series. Tickets for each individual screening may be purchased at a cost of $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid I.D. They may be purchased by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, pending availability, the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Curtain time for all features is 7:30 p.m. and pre-show elements will begin at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call 310-247-3000, ext. 111.

* Upon request of his widow and upon recommendation of the Writers Branch Executive Committee, the Board of Governors voted on June 22, 1993, to restore the name of Nedrick Young to the nominations and award presented to Nathan E. Douglas, Mr. Young's pseudonym during the blacklisting period.

Movies to Watch: Ramon Novarro 'The Red Lily' & Claude Rains 'The Clairvoyant' + Restoring 1 of Most Influential Films © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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8 Comments to Movies to Watch: Ramon Novarro 'The Red Lily' & Claude Rains 'The Clairvoyant' + Restoring 1 of Most Influential Films

  1. Jill

    I have a nice page devoted to The Red Lily on my Golden Silents' page here:

  2. scottlord

    The Red Lily has a fantastic ending, where Ramon Novarro is being chased through the city.

  3. Andre


    Your best bet is to contact Turner Classic Movies at They should know if there is or if there will be a recording available.

    Good luck!

  4. Charlie Baltazar

    Can any of you help me find a recording of the score played in The Red Lily?

  5. Administrator

    Sorry, Walters. I haven't watched it, yet. But I have posted a query to the Novarro Yahoo group I moderate. Hopefully, someone will come up with the answer shortly. . .

  6. Bob Walters

    Have you watched it yet? It's 8 April and I have the same problem as Jenny above.


  7. Administrator

    Hey, Jenny,

    First of all, thanks for the kind words.

    Now, I don't remember exactly what happens at that very moment - police at the door, etc. - in “The Red Lily,” but I do remember that all ends well. Boy and girl end up happily together in the countryside. (I didn't watch the TCM showing of “The Red Lily” last weekend; I did record it, but I still haven't acquired the habit of labeling my DVRs. Considering that I have about 500 or 600 of them, it's becoming a little bit of problem to find any particular film. . .)

    No, I don't know Karie - or at least the name doesn't ring a bell - but I'll check out Thanks for the tip.

    As for “Beyond the Rocks,” I'd say it's a must-see merely for historical reasons. I did go to the Academy screening, and I remember having a very difficult time staying awake during the film. Not a total disaster, but quite a weak vehicle for both Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino. The most memorable moment in the film, as far as I'm concerned, is the bit when we see a crew member inadvertently getting in front of the camera. (I haven't read all that much about the restoration, but I'm assuming that this - glaring - mistake happened because the absent-minded crew member didn't notice the position of camera #2, which was used to shoot a simultaneous version for the foreign market. In those days - you may already know this - they printed two original negatives, one for the U.S. market, and one for overseas.)

    Or was I dreaming??

  8. Alas, I Tivo'd “Red Lily” and missed the ending, as did the contributor to imdb. So Ramon descends under the floor, with Enid behind him, the police at the door and then what happened? I NEVER miss 'Desperate Housewives,' and TCM can't schedule its silents correctly? I've been watching TCM since it began broadcasting in LA, but obviously blew it this time. Thanks for any insights!! PS Love your blog. Glad I found it! Do you know Karie from Met her at silent films at UCLA. She emails listing of cool films, and often passes to new films that often fly under the radar. We all met up at Academy for Valentino/Swanson's 'Beyond the Rocks,' which will be on TCM in May. Worth seeing? You tell me. Some of us weren't that impressed. Best part was Swanson's grand-daughter's comments.