One of the great pleasures of covering silent movies is breaking it to these whippersnappers that satire and meta humor are not modern inventions. (Sorry, Gen X.) We’re going to prove it with some silent movie people reacting to movies.
The whole concept of Mel Brooks’s 1976 Silent Movie is that it’s a silent movie about people trying to make a silent movie. And, of course, people being horrified at the concept of a silent movie in a silent movie.
In Are Parents People, Adolphe Menjou has no time for Florence Vidor’s plans to confront the movie sheik they think is dating their daughter. Women! Feh! (It’s worth pointing out that during the silent era, women were indeed the coveted moviegoing audience. So instead of the Marvel Extended Universe, we could have had the Strawberry Shortcake Cinematic Universe, if such attention to women had continued. I for one mourn the SSCU.)
Okay, let’s first say that Uno Henning’s invitation is turned down in A Cottage on Dartmoor not so much due to a dislike of talkies as the fact that he is a creepy stalker (who later cuts her fiance’s throat). The movie does feature an extended theater sequence comparing silent films to talkies.
The fact that silent dramas are often ignored in favor of comedy is nothing new. William Haines has zero desire to see some soppy romance in Show People but Marion Davies won’t have it.
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