Silent Movie Rule #34: Wear an ugly hat at your own risk, someone just might drop kick it

Silent movie fans know that there were many, many more options than just a plain cloche in the silent era. (And, no, twenties people did not wear weird sequined headbands with cheesy feathers wherever they went.) The American silent era lasted from about 1895 (when films were first projected) to 1930 (when sound had well and truly taken over) and that represents a huge range of fashion possibilities.

(I have linked to my reviews of these films, should you like more details.)

One thing all silent movie people could agree on, though, is that certain hats just did not cut the mustard. Ernest Torrence is cruising for a bruising in Mantrap:


And Ford Sterling makes his disapproval of Mabel Normand’s headgear abundantly clear in Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life:


All the way back in 1908, hats were targeted for elimination. Here is a drop kick (sort of) from The Taming of the Shrew:


Lest you think this was a masculine undertaking, here is Lottie Pickford (Mary’s sister) giving Owen Moore’s hat what-for in The Dream:


4 Replies to “Silent Movie Rule #34: Wear an ugly hat at your own risk, someone just might drop kick it”

  1. I’ve always read Ford Sterling’s bit as “I’m going to sniff this flower – WHAT AM I DOING?!?! I don’t sniff flowers! I’m the bad guy!”
    There’s also “Those Awful Hats,” with a painfully mugging Mack Sennett, though I suppose you haven’t reviewed that one. We do see some creative “disapproval” in “The New York Hat” as well.

    1. Mack Sennett’s career as a dramatic actor at Biograph is surely one of the more bizarre historical footnotes of the silent era. I am particularly amused by The Arcadian Maid, in which he seduces (with his sexy sex) and abandons Mary Pickford.

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