Fading Smiles and Nervous Laughs: Silent Movie People are NOT Happy to See You

A friendly smile… or is it? Silent movie performers had to convey complicated emotions without any assistance from their voices and they often succeeded brilliantly.

In this case, when is a smile not a smile and a laugh not a laugh?

Francis X. Bushman was born to play the swagger Massala, villain of Ben-Hur. Here he is reacting to an unwelcome visit.

Read my full-length (and I mean FULL-LENGTH) review of Ben-Hur here and learn how Bushman took the production hostage and partied with Mussolini.

Availability: Released on DVD as an extra for the 1959 remake.

Marion Davies is not having a terrific day in Little Old New York, the story of an Irish girl who poses as an Irish boy in order to collect an inheritance. She ends up falling for her guardian, played by Harrison Ford (not that one).

Read my full-length review here.

Availability: Released on DVD.

Lon Chaney takes a nice, big bite of the scenery in The Monster, and underrated Old Dark House horror-comedy from Roland West. Chaney plays a mad scientist but doesn’t get much screen time. Still, he makes the most of it.

Read my full-length review here.

Availability: Released on DVD.

A second dose of Chaney because his laughing/crying/going crazy scene in The Unknown is too good to miss. Lesson: Never cut off your own limbs to impress a date.

Read my full-length review here.

Availability: Released on DVD as part of the out-of-print Lon Chaney Collection.

Character actor Torben Meyer can’t quite deal with the goings-on in The Last Warning, a perfectly delightful haunted theater mystery from Paul Leni. I think we can all relate.

Read my review here.

Availability: Released on DVD.

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