Silent Movie Bookshelf: Silent Films 1877-1996 by Robert K. Klepper

This book was a bit of an investment but I am happy with it overall. It is a big, big, BIG guidebook to silent films arranged chronologically and then alphabetically by Robert K. Klepper.

What is it?: The book is 500+ pages of silent movie reviews, 646 in total. Each film is given anywhere from half a page to two pages. The reviews are numbered for easy reference and there is a (somewhat inaccurate) index in the back. The book covers famous and acclaimed silent films but it does not overlook smaller, more obscure titles.

Pictures: There are a few pictures, mostly publicity stills, sprinkled through the book but the majority of the space is taken up by text.

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Review Style: Pretty opinionated (loves Griffith, hates the Little Tramp). Has a star ranking system awarding films 1-4 stars with 1 star being “abysmal” and 4 being “masterpiece”

What else?: The book also provides studio information, director, screenplay author and the original story source, as well as the birth and death dates (where known) of the stars.

I really like this book and refer to it often. It’s fun to just browse through it and try to find a silent film that I have not seen yet. I don’t agree with all of the reviews (who agrees with every review in a book or on a site?) but they make for fun reading.

There are a few quirks, though. The author has the habit of referring to himself in the third person (as “this reviewer”) and it gets really old after a few reviews. Since the reviews are based on the personal views of the author, avoiding “I” soon becomes cumbersome. This reader soon found herself wishing that Mr. Klepper had stuck to a simple I, me, my. In general, though, the book is a marvelous investment for a silent film fan.

I recommend the book if you can afford it. I know that we have the internet and whatnot but nothing beats browsing through a book. Hey, I’m an old-fashioned girl. In case you hadn’t noticed by now.

Availability: Now out of print but still available used.