Which Silent Movie Would You Love to See on the Big Screen?

Some readers have easy access to silent film screenings while others dream of someday experiencing their first in-theater silent film. Whichever category you belong to (or somewhere in the middle) I would love to hear about your dream screening, the silent movie you would love to catch in the theater.

Obviously, my choice and dream screening is Michael Strogoff. It’s an absolutely stunning epic and I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to see with a proper orchestra score or even the Mighty Wurlitzer.

They borrowed the army of Lithuania to make the movie. How can you not want to see the Lithuanian army on the big screen?

My second choice is The Fighting Eagle and I am thrilled to say that I have actually seen Eve’s Leaves in a theater.

What’s your dream screening? Do share! (And you’re not limited to one, list as many or as few as you like.)

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23 Replies to “Which Silent Movie Would You Love to See on the Big Screen?”

  1. I would love to see City Lights or The Gold Rush on the big screen. I just hope I wouldn’t be the only one crying at the end of City Lights.

  2. The restored ‘Metropolis’; whichever version of Gance’s ‘Napoleon’ is considered the definitive one; and ‘Battleship Potemkin.’

      1. I think seeing Sunrise on the big screen with live music would be a true viewing experience.

  3. Ideally, I would like to see all silent films on the big screen. But If I had to request one movie to see at the LOC Packard, it would probably be Ben Hur. It really outdid the talkie version, particularly the sea battle with real ships, not the boats -in-a-bathtub miniatures of the ’59 version.

  4. I have been lobbying a local theater that does these sorts of screenings for “Lilac Time” and/or “Her Wild Oat.”

  5. I’d like to see the new re-restoration of NAPOLEON and see the screen open out for Polyvision, instead of having the pictures get smaller on my monitor. I’d also like to be in an audience watching PANDORA’S BOX, especially if they’ve never seen it, and watch the jaws drop around me.

  6. “The Covered Wagon” (1923). I discussed this with Kevin Brownlow recently at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. He is quite fond of the film and said he’s seen a beautiful tinted 35mm print that looks like it was taken straight from the original camera negative. Alas, this is not the print that Kino Lorber used for their blu-ray release.

    1. Seconded, Bobbie Belvel! I’ve been lucky enough to see both The Big Parade and Wings on a museum theatre screen with organ accompaniment, and you are spot on to choose them for a wonderful viewing experience.

      Would also love to see Ben-Hur on a screen large enough to really do it justice, but my fondest longing has always been for Douglas Fairbanks adventure films, in particular The Black Pirate and Robin Hood. Since we’re all tossing thoughts into the wishing well here, I must insist on the old Grauman’s Chinese big screen with the Mont Alto Orchestra for accompaniment . Shoot the moon, right? 😀

  7. 1. Napoleon (Gance, Brownlow restoration, Davis score)
    Large scale epics are usually very made conservatively, avoiding artistic risks, which makes them boring. This is the best exception, not without flaws, but they are more than compensated by magnificent cinematography. Not necessarily my ultimate silent favourite, but would benefit most from the big screen. (I have to credit Intolerance for taking risks, too, but it’s not as good as this.)

    2. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 20 frames per second, Einhorn’s score or is it made for the too fast 24 fps version)
    I have a restored 20 fps Bluray with Mie Yanashita piano score, but it would be great to experience the famous Voices of Light.

    In practice, if I go to an archive theater that occasionally shows silent films, they could realistically have just a piano score, and then I’d like to see Griffith’s only masterpiece, with this score that fits perfectly to the minimalistic film (I have no idea whose it is):

  8. I’d love to see about any silent film on the big screen, but Lang’s Siegfried, and The Lost World would be the first two.
    If I’m really dreaming then Cleopatra with Theda Bara, but alas…

  9. Saw a great presentation of ‘The General’ at the late, lamented Orson Welles Cinema near Harvard University.

  10. Sunrise and Nosferatu. A few others as well, but most of all these two. I got to see Metropolis, after the restoration it was shown here, and in a theater with a big screen. It was absolutely breathtaking!

    I consider myself very lucky to live in a place with a few really nice old movie houses. On is quite old, dating back to 1916 and beautifully kept up, but nowadays of course in constant financial peril.
    Another is not as old, but faring better with its more luxurious approach. Not cheap, but always worth it, and they show classics every Sunday as matinee.
    https://www.instagram.com/gloriapalast/
    And there‘s the Filmmuseum, they do silent film weeks almost every year. With live music!

  11. Many of the movies already mentioned I would certainly love to see: Napoleon, Sunrise, Ben Hur, The Wind, Passion of Joan of Arc (which I actually did see with a live orchestra playing an adaptation of Einhorn).

    But I would add some not yet mentioned here: The King of Kings (which I saw as a child in a late 1940s re-release), Noah’s Ark, Evangeline, the silent Blackmail, the 1927 Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Four Feathers with its exciting original score blasting through modern speakers.

    1. Over the years I have owned a VHS tape & then a DVD of this film. I have seen it aired on TV & projected in a public building with live organ. ALL of those prints have been scratched & in poor condition. I wonder if a good print survives of this important film. If it has not already been restored, it should be at the top of restoration projects.

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