Body and Soul (1925) A Silent Film Review

Paul Robeson makes his film debut in this Oscar Micheaux melodrama. Robeson plays dual roles: a horrible convict posing as a preacher and his sweet twin brother, a would be inventor. Micheaux’s signature pointed social commentary is on display in this rare surviving film from his silent career.

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Cats in Silent Movies!

The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of other things. Namely cats in silent cinema, both literal and metaphorical.

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News from the Silent Movie Front: Women in Film, Hoaxes, Silent Movie Surfing

We have some wonderful and oddball silent movie news this time around! An exciting new release, a villainous hoax and surfer dudes of the early twentieth century.

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After the Silents: “The Scarlet Letter” (1934) with Colleen Moore

Welcome back to After the Silents, where we examine the careers of silent movie stars, directors and technicians after the coming of sound. I asked my backers on Patreon to vote on which film I would review and this was their choice. Yay, democratic trappings on my vile dictatorship!

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What’s your favorite silent movie?

If you had to pick one silent movie as your all-time favorite, what would it be? Inquiring minds wish to know!

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Silent Movie Book Haul: Comedy, Westerns & the Great Migration

I’m back with another glorious haul of silent film books. I was able to dive into the dusty stacks of my favorite indie bookstore and I came up with some real treasures. Here we go!

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Fun Size Review: Burlesque on Carmen (1915)

Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance are just as cute as bugs in this energetic send-up of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1915 version of Carmen. Purviance is particularly charming as the infamous (and goofy) seductress.

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Eleven P.M. (1928) A Silent Film Review

An oddball melodrama shot on location in Detroit, Eleven P.M. is a rare surviving film from mysterious indie director Richard Maurice. It weaves a tale of gangsters, street musicians, dogs with human heads… Well, you can’t accuse it of being boring.

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A Few of My Favorite Uses of Hand-Color & Stencil Color in Silent Film

Well, I had an interesting experience. I posted a GIF made from a hand-colored film when this happened:

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The Buster Keaton Bluray Giveaway!

What’s better than a Buster Keaton Bluray? A free Buster Keaton Bluray! That’s right, the good people at Kino Lorber have provided two Buster Keaton Bluray sets for me to give away to my readers!

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German Stars in Hollywood! or “All Your Oscars Are Belong to Us”

Given the frenzied, ridiculous propaganda of the war years, it’s surprising to see how quickly Hollywood decided that German stars and directors were just the bee’s knees. Throughout the 1920s, German talent flooded into Hollywood and it seems like a good day to celebrate the power of a global film industry.

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Unboxing the Silents: Cartoon Roots DVD & Bluray Combo Pack

Animated films are much older than most people realize and audiences of the silent era loved their cartoons just as much as modern moviegoers. Today, we’ll be unboxing two sets of cartoons with material dating from the mid-1900s to the early 1930s.

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Who Were the Top Movie Stars of 1917?

Who were the biggest movie stars a century ago? Are they still famous or have they fallen into complete obscurity? Today, we’re going on a whirlwind tour of two movie magazine popularity contests. We’ll be discussing the biggest stars of 1917 with research, films and GIFs. Ready?

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Fun Size Review: Young April (1926)

A rare chance to see father-son acting dynamos Rudolph and Joseph Schildkraut share the screen in a Hollywood production. Joseph plays a wastrel prince while Rudolph plays his equally dissolute father, the king of a small kingdom in Central Europe.

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The Flying Ace (1926) A Silent Film Review

When a railroad paymaster and the $25,000 in cash he was carrying disappear, returning WWI ace Billy Stokes is put on the case. This independent feature has an all African-American cast and is the only complete surviving feature of the Norman Film Manufacturing Company, a Florida-based studio that specialized in so-called race films.

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Unboxing the Silents: Buster Keaton Blus (Steamboat Bill, Jr. + College)

Kino Lorber and Lobster Films collaborated to release Buster Keaton’s restored shorts last year and they are now launching Keaton features into the region 1/A market. We’re going to take a closer look.

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Silent Star of the Month for February 2017

It’s a new month and January’s featured star, Wallace Reid, will pass the crown to a new performer. This month’s star is pretty universally forgotten despite her role in the biggest blockbuster of the era.

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Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Mary Brian’s “Alleged” Jenny Lind Pudding

Welcome back! I’m cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay Cookbook (150 recipes of the stars!) and this time around, we’re going to be trying out a plagiarized pudding from a starlet.

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Five Hot and Steamy Silent Films to Warm Your Winter

Winter is well and truly upon us and, after wishing for cold weather all summer, we are now wishing for the warm weather to come back for a while. (At least that’s how it is in my neck of the woods, your mileage may vary.) Well, let’s employ some psychological warfare and think ourselves warm!

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Fun Size Review: A Muddy Romance (1913)

Mabel Normand and Ford Sterling star in one of the most famous Keystone shorts. He loves her and she loves him until accidentally plants a pie in her face. Enraged, Normand attempts to elope with Sterling’s romantic rival, escaping by boat. But she never counted on Sterling deciding to drain the lake…

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News from the Silent Movie Front: Rediscovered Hungarian Cinema, a Protest Documentary, New Blus, Carl Dreyer and Fandor at Amazon

So much news to share this time! I’m actually a little overwhelmed by it and it’s all good stuff. Let’s dive in.

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Two Knights of Vaudeville (1915) A Silent Film Review

When a well-to-do man drops his theater tickets, they are retrieved by a trio from the wrong side of the tracks. Once admitted into the swanky theater, the trio causes chaos and has an uproarious time. This picture was released by the controversial Ebony Film Corporation and was partially responsible for its downfall.

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Moody, Dramatic, Shadowy Cinematography of the Silent Era

People who have never seen silent films tend to think of them as jittery and scratchy, generally lacking visual sophistication. How wrong they are! Silent cinema boasted some perfectly gorgeous cinematography. (I am personally partial to the moody style of the mid- to late-1910s.) Let’s take a whirlwind tour!

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Tiger Rose (1923) A Silent Film Review

Stage star Lenore Ulric brings her signature role to the screen in this melodrama set in Canada. We have Mounties, trees and bloody revenge. The usual Hollywood Canadian wilderness picture, in other words, but we have the added bonus of a super Mountie and a location shoot in Yosemite.

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Unboxing the Silents: Buster Keaton Blus (The General + Three Ages)

Kino Lorber and Lobster Films collaborated to release Buster Keaton’s restored shorts last year and they are now launching Keaton features into the region 1/A market. We’re going to take a closer look.

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A Salute to David Shepard

The silent film community lost a great champion with the death of David Shepard on January 31, 2017. I wish to extend my sincere condolences to his friends and loved ones.

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Theme Month! February 2017: Pioneers of African-American Cinema

What do you get when you combine rare films, passionate historians and a whole lot of crowdfunding? In this case, the Pioneers of African-American Cinema box set.

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Fun Size Review: Double Whoopee (1929)

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy get jobs at a posh hotel and chaos ensues. Not the strongest of their silent shorts but this picture has one ace tucked away in its garter: a very young Jean Harlow.

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Bug Vaudeville (1921) A Silent Film Review

Legendary comic artist Winsor McCay takes control of his Rarebit Fiend stories with this imagining of an all-insect vaudeville. (Actually, the result of a beggar’s overindulgence in cheesecake.) McCay’s signature beauty is on display but the pacing…

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The Sheik in Six GIFs

Greetings, all! I made this a while back but it was too large for the internet at the time. Enjoy!

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