Here’s a question that crops up time and again: You like silent movies but your friend, date, spouse, kid has never seen one. Which titles are best for newcomers?
I know some fans believe comedy is the one and only way to go and while it definitely has its appeal, I think there is something to be said for thinking outside the box. Here are some films that have brought me success:
Go for iconic: While I am a big advocate of oddball, forgotten and generally strange silent films, there is something to be said for presenting a famous film. I have had great success with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and A Trip to the Moon— people want to get the references associated with these films. I personally would never choose it but I know some have had success with Metropolis and good for them.
Go for polish: Silent movies are hardly the creaking, scratchy, sepia relics that many people believe them to be. I have had success showing friends such polished entertainment as Mary Pickford’s My Best Girl (perfectly classic rom-com) and Louis Feuillade’s Judex (an addictive revenge serial). The British genius dog film Rescued by Rover is another great pick. If a silent film makes you stop and say, “Now THAT is quality filmmaking!” then chances are other people will feel the same way.
What about you? Have you had success showing a particular silent film to a newcomer? Share! It may help someone else introduce a friend to the wonderful world of silents.
Obviously, the films will depend on your personal taste (I obviously have a great fondness for French silents) and the taste of your audience, there are no wrong answers.
If you’d like to see my curated list of silent films for newcomers, check out the Your First Year of Silent Films series.
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