It’s summertime in California and the weather looks like this:
Oh well. A much happier summer tradition is a list of book picks. I’m going to share some silent film books I have recently obtained and intend to read in the near future. Obviously, I can’t say exactly how much I like them yet as I have not finished reading them but they all look very promising.
Very excited about this one! It promises to be a comprehensive look at sound in silent films. It covers both famous methods and forgotten techniques. Did you know there was a fad for “backstage talkers” during the Nickelodeon era? Acting troupes would stand backstage and provide dialogue to fit the screen character’s lip movements. We also get samples of sheet music, contemporary tips on proper accompaniment and all sorts of technology designed to make sure that silent films were not silent.
I have to admit that mainstream Hollywood serials are something of a blind spot in my silent film research. Being a neurotic, obsessive completist, I don’t like having blind spots. I have heard enthusiastic reviews for this book, which is described as a well-researched and loving look at the genre. Sold!
I am an unabashed fangirl of Menzies and I adore his opulent production design. How could I possibly say no to this book? Plus, it seems to be rather generous with the illustrations, always a bonus in a book about a production designer.
And in case you were wondering, no, I am not just reading about silent movies. My non-silent movie picks are a collection of Kafka stories and Gogol’s Dead Souls translated by my favorite Russian literature team, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. For fun junk food reads, I have a couple of Star Trek novels on my Kindle. I’m sorry if this disappoints you but I do love my Cardassians.