Silent Movie Stars Tear Up the Dance Floor (for better or worse)

Dancers were featured in the very first projected movie show put on by Thomas Edison. Young ladies twirled across the screen, their skirts hand-painted in cheerful shades. Since dance is such an important element in silent films, let’s take a look at assorted performances.

As always, I shall link to my review of the GIF’s source. Enjoy!

Alice Brady and Alexis Kosloff take a few leaps in The Dancer’s Peril, a Russian-flavored ballet melodrama produced in Fort Lee, N.J. A dancer on the New York stage, Brady got a little boost from Kosloff.

Read my full-length review here.

The film is available on DVD from Grapevine.

Beautiful costuming and lighting elevate this scene from Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, a French-Russian Arabian Nights fantasy.

Read my review here.

You can watch the film legally and for free on YouTube courtesy of Christopher Bird.

Dancing gets menacing in Waxworks as Conrad Veidt’s Ivan the Terrible takes over a wedding and decides to dictate the entertainment.

Read my full-length review here.

The film is available in DVD from Kino.

The very American Molly Picon causes chaos in the Old World when she and her father pay a visit to Poland. This is the earliest Yiddish language feature known to survive.

Read my review here.

The film is available on DVD from the National Center for Jewish Film.

The ever-charming Reginald Denny is more than a little pleased at his own dancing skills in the utterly charming Oh Doctor, a hypochondria comedy that features Mary Astor as a no-nonsense nurse.

Read my review here.

The film is available on DVD from Grapevine.

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13 Replies to “Silent Movie Stars Tear Up the Dance Floor (for better or worse)”

  1. Whether she’s boxing or teaching the fellas how to shimmy in East and West, Molly Picon is such a doll! Thank you, thank you, NCJF, for making this film available. Have given it as a gift to so many family members 😀

      1. Denny and Laura La Plante were such a joy dancing it up in Skinner’s Dress Suit. Hilarious when they were practicing, and just super when they had the new dance craze step down pat. Love that film!

  2. Many thanks for the GIFs, and having the idea of ‘dancing silents’. The eternal subject of my blog is Mabel Normand, who appeared dancing in many (comedy) films, was an accomplished swinger, although I have not heard that she was of a professional standard. Her, friend Minta Arbuckle (nee Durfee), danced in several ‘Mabel’ films. She was very shapely, and I suspect she was once a professional dancer.

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