Today is World Book Day, which is obviously the most important day of the year. And what better way to celebrate it than with silent movies? After all, it’s the most literate cinema possible.
I love books. My house is overflowing with books. Bursting at the seams. As a toddler, my first word wasn’t mama or dada. It was book. This is a lifelong obsession but, hey, I could be collecting body parts of something. Count your blessings.
One of the stupider aspects of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan series is the idea that a young man raised by Apes could teach himself to read and speak English solo with just a few Dick and Jane books. Um, no, Edgar. The 1918 movie toned down nonsense a bit but we still get a young Tarzan immediately comprehending that B is for Boy.
I don’t know about you but I can’t stand people reading over my shoulder. It seems that Harry Liedtke doesn’t either, not that Pola Negri’s Carmen cares. This is from the 1918 Ernst Lubitsch-helmed version of the operatic tale, retitled Gypsy Blood for the American market.
Alla Nazimova enjoys audiobooks, especially when they are being read to her by Rudolph Valentino. This is from Camille, a perfectly smashing adaptation of the Dumas novella.
Sure, we love reading but what about writing? Here’s a secret: I was obsessed with obtaining and writing with a feathered quill pen when I was a kidlet. This obsession only increased when I saw Groucho Marx’s splendid quill in Duck Soup. Renee Adoree’s pen is more subdued in Monte Cristo (as in The Count of) but she makes up for it with tastefully draped pearls.
This is my favorite book/reading GIF of all time, bar none. Can’t we all relate? It’s from the 1927 edition of Chicago, the original film version of the play that would become a musical.
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