Silent Movies Take Us Behind the Scenes

Silent movies were far more self-aware than many modern folks realize and they often took audiences backstage for some meta commentary on filmmaking.

Lotte Reiniger’s silent Cinderella opens with a demonstration of the silhouette animator’s craft. I can think of no better film intro.

Read my review here (I also cover Reiniger’s sound era remake)

Available on region 2 DVD

Ford Sterling and Mabel Normand merrily mug away in Mabel’s Dramatic Career, a particularly well-done Sennett spoof of filmgoing culture.

Read my review here

Available on DVD

The only problem with featuring a humorous backstage scene from Show People is deciding which one to pick!

Read my review here

Available on DVD

Possibly the best behind-the-scenes footage can be found in A Girl’s Folly, which takes place in a bustling New Jersey film studio. So much to take in, a feast for any film nerd’s eyes.

Read my review here

Released on DVD

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10 Replies to “Silent Movies Take Us Behind the Scenes”

  1. Love this post. So many silents do take us right into the day-to-day process of film making don’t they, in these cases right into active stages (outdoor, indoor) and backlots and locations. Might I add that I particularly enjoy the bustle in A Girl’s Folly. Minus incessant clattering noise/voices (supplied by our imaginations and/or musical accompaniment) yes, that does capture it so well.

    Apropos of Lotte Reiniger, and fellow silhouette artists: the National Portrait Gallery currently has an exhibition to celebrate you all: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/museums/before-photography-the-silhouette-helped-leave-an-impression/2018/05/21/377e7774-592f-11e8-b656-a5f8c2a9295d_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6465f3ba2fe1

  2. I do love ‘backstage’ stories so much, whether about vaudeville, Broadway, or film-making. ‘Show People’ is a particular favorite.

  3. I love the little movie snippet of Cinderella and seeing Mabel Normand is fun. The last scene is quite something…I can just imagine all the clatter going on while those 2 have to act

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