Theme Month! September 2016: Silent Science Fiction

On September 8, 1966, a little science fiction show called Star Trek made its network debut. What does this have to do with silent films? Not much at all but the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek is too important to pass up!

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Fun Size Review: Little Old New York (1923)

A cute concept that collapses under the weight of too many characters (21 in the opening credits!), too many plot threads and too many false climaxes. Marion Davies is utterly charming as an Irish girl who poses as her own brother to claim an inheritance but she is crushed under the leaden story and unimaginative direction. Also, steamships. Go head. Ask me anything about steamships.

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Unboxing the Silents: Two Fritz Lang Films on Bluray

More good news for Fritz Lang fans! Two of his important early works as director have been released on Bluray and I have all the details. Destiny (Der müde Tod) and The Spiders (Die Spinnen) show a young director rapidly finding his voice.

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The Lady of the Dugout (1918) A Silent Film Review

Real-life outlaw Al Jennings claimed the plot of this film was based on one of his exploits. I’ll leave it to the viewer to decide but there is no doubt that this is a valuable piece of film history and a rather rugged western to boot.

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In which I bust a minor myth that has been annoying me for a while (yes, it involves train tracks)

Okay, so readers of this site know that the fastest way to get me annoyed is to claim that silent films were filled with women tied to tracks. I have debunked this myth again and again and again but then an offhand remark in the New York Times sends silent movie fans back to mythbusting square one. Sigh.

Continue reading In which I bust a minor myth that has been annoying me for a while (yes, it involves train tracks)

Interview with Anke Wilkening of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung regarding the restored “Destiny”

The news that Fritz Lang’s Destiny (Der müde Tod) was being restored has been met with great excitement in silent film circles. A highly elaborate and influential production, Alfred Hitchcock was among its fans.

Continue reading Interview with Anke Wilkening of the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung regarding the restored “Destiny”

Poll Results: Your favorite silent movie music

Last week, I asked my readers to vote in a little poll to determine which types of silent movie music were the most popular. Well, my accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers have been hard at work, counting the results on adding machines and wearing those cute eye shades.

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Let’s talk about death: Rudolph Valentino and THOSE fans

Have you ever met one of THOSE fans? You know the kind I mean, the people who are so obsessed with a particular star that they consider attention for anyone else to be an insult. They’re the fans who hate a star’s girlfriend for dating their favorite. Alas, Rudolph Valentino has them in spades.

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Fun Size Review: Shaun the Sheep (2015)

Yes indeed! A 2015 animated silent movie with synchronized score and sound effects. It didn’t make much impact in the USA when it was released but you really should check it out if you like silent comedy and/or great animation. (The characters’ movements were based on Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati.)

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In the Moonshine Country (1918) A Silent Film Review

Appalachian moonshiners are the focus of this mini documentary. We are shown the life and habits of the folks making up the illicit spirit industry. Hic!

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Where in the world are you? An informal poll.

Okay, this is sheer nosiness on my part but I am kind of curious to know where my readers are from. With that in mind, I made a little poll.

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The problem with “top 10” and “best of all time” lists

Today, we’re going to talk about a little pet peeve of mine: lists. Not just any kind of list, no, I’m talking about lists that purport to name off the best films of all time.

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Cooking with the (Silent) Star: Alice White’s Fresh Peas on Toast

We’re back to cooking! It’s been a while so here is a refresher on the project: I am attempting to cook my way through the 1929 Photoplay Cookbook (recipes of the stars!) and I am sharing the results. You can catch up on all my previous attempts here.

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Silent movie people handling disputes in a calm, measured, mature manner

A true measure of maturity is how well one handles disputes. These silent movie people did so with grace and intelligence. (I’m lying.)

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Fun Size Review: The Last Command (1928)

An ending in search of a story, The Last Command is gorgeous to look at but hasn’t a brain in its pretty head. William Powell and Emil Jannings try their darndest but the film simply isn’t as smart or as deep as it thinks it is.

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The Silent Movie Music Poll

Let’s talk about music, specifically, silent movie music. Few subjects are more controversial than musical accompaniment but this is your chance to voice your opinion with a simple vote.

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The Lumberjack (1914) A Silent Film Review

The town of Wausau, Wisconsin was keen to publicist itself what better way to display one’s town than to make a motion picture? Locals play all the roles and we are given the grand tour of Wausau as it was in 1914. A charming time capsule.

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Let’s talk about the real “Ben-Hur” and answer some burning questions

With a new version of Ben-Hur set to open in the United States in just a few days, I thought I would take this opportunity to answer a few questions that seem to come up a lot regarding the 1925 silent original.

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News from the Silent Movie Front: Even more crowdfunding, Colleen Moore and Disney scalping

We’re back with more news of the scandalous goings-on in the world of silent film.

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Fun Size Review: The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador

What a delight! Everything I love about French silent cinema (the style, the wit, the visuals) combined into one delightfully deranged package. We have attempted murder by poison, firearm and drowning, madness and the clever use of technology to track down the perpetrator.

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Tinted and Toned Nitrate: Taste the Rainbow (Actually, don’t. I’m pretty sure it’s toxic.)

Regular readers have probably guessed already that I am obsessed with color in early film. While Technicolor and hand-color get a lot of attention, I wanted to take time to celebrate the workhorses of silent movie color: tinting and toning. Continue reading Tinted and Toned Nitrate: Taste the Rainbow (Actually, don’t. I’m pretty sure it’s toxic.)

Classic Movie History Project: Day 4 Recap

Welcome to the day four recap of the Classic Movie History Project. You can catch up on previous recaps here. Enjoy!

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Cossacks and Crinoline: Creating the perfect opening scene

The time has come, the walrus said, to talk about opening scenes, those iconic moments that kicked off great films. Star Wars (1977) started things off with a literal bang, its heroes on the run from a gargantuan, relentless enemy. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) kept its bangs in check until the end of the scene and contented itself with a rusty windmill and three bored killers. Yojimbo (1961) set the stage with Masaru Sato’s cocky score and a shot of Toshiro Mifune’s shoulders swinging as he walked down a dusty road.

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The Daughter of Dawn (1920) A Silent Film Review

Looking for something different in American silent film? How about a film shot in Oklahoma with an all-Kiowa and Comanche cast? Thought lost for decades, The Daughter of Dawn was recently recovered and restored.
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Why we can’t have nice things: Silent movie mischief before the Code

Most classic film fans know that after 1934, the movies were toned down considerably. What they may not know is that the crazy tug-of-war between censors and filmmakers extended all the way back to the dawn of film.

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Classic Movie History Project: Day 1 Recap

Welcome to the Day 1 recap of the Classic Movie History Project! Today, we’re focusing on the studio system and its publicity machine. Fabulous stuff!

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Edible Stardom: The joy of vintage celebrity cookbooks

I have to admit it, I have an addiction. I love, love, love celebrity cookbooks from the good old days. Quirky, zany and often inedible, the recipes of the stars are an intriguing window into the early days of celebrity culture.

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The Classic Movie History Project is here!

It’s here at last! The geekiest blogathon that ever was! The Classic Movie History Project has arrived at last.

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Silent Star of the Month for August 2016

It’s a new month and July’s featured star, Harry Langdon, will pass the crown to a new performer. This month’s star is only known for one film but it’s a good one!

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Help Wanted: You choose my reviews

I know it’s a little early as my Reader Request month is generally held in March but I wanted to get a head start in case something unusual is requested and I need time to track it down.

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Celebrate Silent Film

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