Create Your Own Silent Movie Screening

An exercise in imagination:

Hark! Your friendly local silent film venue has no idea what to play. They have called on you to come up with a program for the evening with a feature and some short subjects. The silent film community is relying on you!

So, here’s what you’ll need to do:

First, choose your theme for the evening and then…

Select Essential Films:

1 or 2 Silent Features

1 or 2 Silent Comedy Shorts

For Extra Credit:

1 Silent Non-Fiction Short

1 Silent Cartoon

Obviously, this is all for fun and there are no right or wrong answers. I look forward to reading everyone’s responses but in the meantime, here’s mine:

Theme: Orientalism in the Silent Era

Feature: The Sheik (1921) and Tales of the 1001 Nights (1921)

Comedy Shorts: The Shriek of Araby (1923) and His Uncle’s Wives (1913)

Non-Fiction: Leaving Jerusalem by Railway (1896)

Cartoon: Mummy O’ Mine (1926, Mutt and Jeff)

Have fun, everybody!


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18 Replies to “Create Your Own Silent Movie Screening”

  1. This is a fun idea, Fritzi. I’m a railfan, so:
    Theme: Silent Comedy on Track

    Feature: The General (1926, Buster Keaton)

    Comedy Shorts: The Iron Mule (1925, Al St John) and Luke’s Trolley Troubles (1917, Harold Lloyd)

    Non-Fiction: Lyman H. Howe’s Famous Ride on a Runaway Train (1921) and L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat (1896)

    Cartoon: Trolley Troubles (1927, Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit)

  2. Fritzi, you are prophetic. I have started a Silent Film Meetup group that now has 15 members. There are a few events planned at regular theaters that are showing silent film screenings. But, I just came to agreement today with a piano showroom that holds events to let me do some silent film screenings with live piano. I have read that a good opener for people is comedy, so I am planning on the first feature to be Steamboat Bill, Jr. Now I just need to figure out what to show with it.

      1. Thanks Fritzi. I am contemplating a cartoon. Any silent cartoons having to do with boats come to mind?

      2. I’m not great on silent cartoons but there’s always Winsor McCay’s Sinking of the Lusitania (1918). Felix in the Swim is about swimming, if that’s close enough.

    1. Fritzi, thanks so much for the recommendation of Mighty Like a Moose. A good half of the audience (at least) will not have had much experience with silent films. I still like the idea of Steamboat Bill Jr., but I had originally thought about Chaplin’s The Immigrant for a boat theme. I also figured that having a recognizable name like Chaplin would be the safe approach. But, I read an old article tonight about a local theater that programmed some Chaplin films back in 2015 and received very little attendance. That had my second-guessing my choice. Maybe something more unique would be of interest to the audience. I watched Mighty Like a Moose and it is very amusing. So, I think my selections to show will be Mighty Like a Moose followed by Steamboat Bill Jr.

      1. Yes, it very much depends on the individual audience. I have seen & heard about some very successful Chaplin screenings so I wouldn’t be too nervous. We don’t know how the unsuccessful screening was marketed or whether some local activity was scheduled on the same night. However, Mighty Like a Moose is some sassy fun! Charley Chase is such an underrated comedian but you can play up his Hal Roach credentials.

  3. I’m game, here you go:

    Theme: Rural Life

    Non Fiction Short
    “The Courage of the Commonplace” 1913

    “Sunset Limited, Southern Pacific Railroad” 1898

    Comedy Short
    “The Tramp” Chaplin 1915

    “Farmer Alfalfa Sees New York” 1916

    “City Girl” Murnau 1930


    A free Choctop to the first 5 ticket buyers!

    This would be for an urban cinema because, as we all know:

    “Hicks Nix Sticks Flicks”

  4. Now showing at the newly renovated (again?)
    Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles CA…

    ‘Til Death Do Us Part: Marriage in the Silent Era

    The Marriage Circle (1924)
    Spite Marriage (1929)

    Comedy Shorts:
    His Marriage Wow (1925)
    He Did And He Didn’t (1916)

    Karelian Wedding (1921)

    Mouse’s Bride (1928)

    !!!Live Wurlitzer Organ Accompaniment!!!

  5. An interesting and though-provoking challenge.

    I think my theme would be “Fortitude and Perseverance”.

    Features: The Passion of Joan of Arc and The Phantom Carriage (If this double bill is too grim for a paying audience, perhaps The Iron Horse could replace one of them)

    Comedy Shorts: Big Business and The Immigrant

    Non-Fiction Short: Kino Pravda 21 (the one about Lenin’s death)

    Cartoon: The Adventures of Prince Achmed

    As this program would last over 5 hours, the audience would certainly understand “fortitude and perseverance” by the end of it.

    1. I like your severe approach 🙂 Would you include intermissions or really pin ’em to their seats?

  6. OK, I’m back from a conference, and ready to take the challenge.
    Theme: Those Amazing (Silent) Animals!
    Feature: Call of the Wild (1923)
    Comedy Shorts: A Little Hero (1913), Teddy at the Throttle (1917)
    Cartoon: Feline Follies (1919)
    Non-Fiction: The Boxing Cats (1894)

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