Silent Movie Stars’ Smiles are Horrifying

The megawatt smile is pretty much a requirement for a film star but sometimes… Whether for laughs or for menace, some silent stars had smiles that inspire more shrieks than sighs.

Snub Pollard’s violent and surreal comedy Sold at Auction opens with the main character as a baby in a basket. Snub’s teeth were blacked out except for a single one up top and that smile… Brr!

Read my review here.

Available on DVD.

This one always receives a double take. Marion Davies has fallen through the ice in The Red Mill and the result after she is pulled out is… pretty horrifying.

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Released on DVD.

Lon Chaney was the king of creepy, scary, “My mind just went!” smiles and laughs and he has a doozy in The Unknown. Yeah, the one with the arms.

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Available on DVD.

My favorite kind of smile: the one you give to people who demand one. Constance Talmadge handles a reporter this way in Her Night of Romance.

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Available on DVD.

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11 Replies to “Silent Movie Stars’ Smiles are Horrifying”

  1. Your Snub Pollard .gif reminds me that even worse than silent-movie smiles are grown silent-movie actors who tried to pass themselves off as babies. Years ago, I saw a silent comedy where Oliver Hardy tried to act like a baby due to some thankless plot development. Seeing a large, grown man in a diaper went way past comedy and gave me the creeps.

  2. Re: The Red Mill gif- a bit horrifying yes, but I always laugh at this shot. One things I love about Davies is she’d do anything for a laugh, in her movies and apparently in real life as well.

      1. She was! The last time I took out-of-town guests up to Hearst Castle for a tour the docent told a tale of how Marion and Charlie Chaplin practiced turning cartwheels and tumbling in Hearst’s library upstairs on priceless rugs all down the center of the room to get their moves just right. A fun scenario from days gone by in the museum-like setting the Castle has become now!

  3. LOL – that last one looks like my smile in some horrible show I was forced to be in (under grave protest) back in grade school. The things we have to go through, to get to adulthood!

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