Silent Movies Predict Modern Pop Culture!

Pretty much every modern film owes something to the silent era but today we’re going to be showcasing silent films that were eerily prescient. Or were just plain ripped off in the talkies.

(Disclaimer before taped-up glasses are pushed up and comments beginning with “Actually…” are typed: This is all in good fun. Some of these things directly influenced culture to come, some didn’t and most silent films were influenced by the pop culture of their own time. This isn’t serious or scholarly so please chillax and enjoy the GIFs.)

In addition to the dialogue, I am fairly certain that the outfit on the lower left was used to dress a killer android in season one of Star Trek. The Lumberjack, by the way, was made by itinerant filmmakers who traveled about and made local films featuring the citizens and landmarks of small-to-medium towns.

Read my review here.

Available on DVD and Bluray in Flicker Alley’s We’re in the Movies set. (Highly recommended, by the way.)

The Black Pirate, in addition to featuring lovely early Technicolor, employed a good number of pirate movie tropes to excellent effect. It didn’t coin this phrase (I’m not even sure if it was the first pirate movie to use it) but it did help to permanently add it to the piratical lexicon. Disney owes Douglas Fairbanks some royalties, methinks.

Read my review here.

Available on DVD and Bluray.

The Bat Signal in The Bat is actually a bug on a car headlight but I won’t tell if you won’t.

Read my review here.

Released on DVD.

We close things with another Star Trek reference because I’m just nutty that way. This is from The Trail of ’98. It’s gold rush stuff, pretty cliched but the on-site photography is nice. Only cost a few lives.

Read my review here.

Released on DVD.


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10 Replies to “Silent Movies Predict Modern Pop Culture!”

  1. These are all very delicious references! Not quite “tweeting” but there is Leatrice Joy and the importance of “twittering” in The Clinging Vine. And Marion Davies talks about the importance of “Dr. Google” in The Patsy.

  2. Very funny ! As a long-standing fan of the original ST series, I’m gonna send a link to this page to all my trekkie pals !!
    PS – the killer Android .. are you thinking of Ruk, the really really tall android played by the marvelous Ted Cassidy in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of ?” in season 1 ?

  3. The climatic fight on top of the crumbling Gotham Cathedral between Batman and the Joker in Tim Burton’s film, is straight out of Metropolis

  4. Great article! One thing I’ve noticed about war films in which a mom has more than one son that joins the army – you know at least one of them is gonna get killed in battle, probably the one with the least character development. I do believe this may be the first instances of the Redshirt trope.

    1. Thanks! Yes, you can pretty much count down deaths in some war films. I remember my eyes rolling into my head during A Wing and a Prayer (not silent but still) because the deaths were so darn predictable.

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