Random selection of hilarious silent movie title cards

I guess I should have tried harder for a pithy title, eh? Oh well, sometimes it’s best to just speak plainly, even when it isn’t particularly concise, and especially when the title cards in question are so much fun!

As usual, I will be listing the titles of the films that were the sources for these GIFs and I will link to my reviews. Enjoy!

Oh, and a quick note: silent movie intertitles were NOT a one-to-one substitute for dialogue. They were used to deliver important information or (in these cases) the punchline of a joke. Random chit-chat and simple phrases like yes, no, maybe or hello were pantomimed or intended to be lipread.

We should be proud of these American title card writers:

upstream-john-ford-1927-silent-film-foreign-language-englishThis is from John Ford’s Shakespearean ensemble comedy Upstream. It was thought lost for decades before emerging in New Zealand. It proved to be worth the wait.

Here’s the glorious Marion Davies delivering a spoof of melodramatic performances:

show-people-1928-marion-davies-william-haines-king-vidor-silent-movie-don't-go-too-far-REVISEDThis is from Show People, which you have seen, right? Right? What are you waiting for?

Talking to inanimate objects is fun and Reginald Denny is doing a wonderful job.

oh-doctor-pork-chop-silent-movie-animated-gif

This is from Oh Doctor! in which Denny plays a hypochondriac who overcomes his imagined condition in a bid to win the love of Mary Astor.

Sometimes the supporting cast gets the best lines:

lucky-devil-bobbed-hair

This is from The Lucky Devil, a Richard Dix comedy in which he plays an ex-department store model who ends up driving a jinxed car across the country and into a wild dirt road race. Fun stuff.

I just had to include this one, given the recent news that an actress in her twenties was deemed too old to play the wife of an actor who was pushing forty. Take that, foxy grandpas of Hollywood!

daddy-long-legs-foxy-grandpaThis is from Daddy Long Legs and the fellow delivering the line is the film’s director, Marshall Neilan.

Here’s a call and response title card.

cruise-of-the-jasper-b-wash-my-back-1

cruise-of-the-jasper-b-wash-my-back-2Upon reviewing The Cruise of the Jasper B, I determined that no one involved could possibly be sober. My judgement stands.

Appalled at overpriced salons? Clyde Cook hears you, man.

winning-of-barbara-worth-silent-movie-ronald-colman-vilma-banky-gary-cooper-alfalfa2This is from The Winning of Barbara Worth, more noted as Gary Cooper’s breakout role than its commentary on barber shop pricing.

Finally, we have a silent movie version of Star Trek!

trail-of-98-hes-dead-jim

Okay, so it’s The Trail of ’98. Picky, picky.

P.S. Since people have asked, yes, you may share my GIFs on social media. That’s what the buttons are for! A link back is always appreciated, of course, but knock yourselves out!

14 Replies to “Random selection of hilarious silent movie title cards”

  1. I love the Marion Davies one ! Just read that aloud to my husband who, without knowing a thing about the move, laughed his head off. Now he wants to see the rest of that movie.

  2. You know, I was thinking the other day about how intertitles did not disappear with the coming of sound. Films still used them in the 1930s and 1940s for exposition purposes. But they can also be employed creatively, like in The Shining (the Kubrick version, not the infamous TV miniseries), where the titles are used to create a sense of fatalistic dread.

    1. Agreed. Even in something like, say, Independence Day, titles are used to convey information that would be awkward in dialogue. (Not that the film has great dialogue but humor me.) It’s easier to type Los Angeles, CA than it is to find a way for a character to say, “As you know, we’re in LA.”

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