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.

silent films klepper 2

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.┬áSince 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┬árecommend 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.