What Were Your Best Silent Film Experiences of 2018?

Less than a month remains in the year so I thought I would put this question to you, dear readers: What was your best silent film experience of 2018?

This experience doesn’t have to be big. Maybe you finally got your hands on a movie you’ve been wanting to see. Maybe you saw your very first silent film. (If so, hearty congratulations.) Maybe you fell in love with a movie or got to see one live for the first time.

Please share, I would love to hear about it.

My experience… Well, I have to say that finally getting to see The Song of Love was a major high point for me. I had been wanting to watch it for years and to get it in HD with a quality score… wow!

I loved seeing and hearing the Edison Kinetophone shorts. I finally experienced a proper pipe organ score and was suitably impressed. I had the privilege of contributing pieces to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival booklet. It’s been a great year.

Your turn!

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26 Replies to “What Were Your Best Silent Film Experiences of 2018?”

  1. I was able to watch Oh, Doctor! (1925) on the big screen with a live organist. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget!

  2. Little Annie Rooney with the a live orchestra. I think it was the first Mary Pickford I’ve seen.

    I finally saw Way Down East. The ice flow seen is hard to beat.

  3. Seeing Piccadilly on a big screen, with an excellent live accompaniment, and a sold-out audience very largely of Chinese background, there to cheer on Anna May Wong.

  4. My experience is very recent. When I mean recent, the last TCM Silent Sunday night movie. I was finally able to see Pandora’s Box for the first time and you can tell why Henri Langlois famous quote about Louise Brooks is dead on.

  5. Impossible to pick just one great experience from the many I’ve had this year. Just going wild delving more and more into the work of faves such as Bow, Barthelmess, Pickford, and Chaney, to name a few….

  6. Finally seeing Phantom Carriage, the last item on my initial must see list when I decided to give silent films a chance.

    Exploring this site means, though, that the list isn’t getting any shorter…

  7. Being able once again to get up to San Fran for an outstanding Day of Silents, and earlier in 2018 getting there for the SFSFF with its amazing bill, accompaniment, and lecturer/presenters (Kevin Brownlow, et al.). Then there was the release of a certain Edison Conquest Program, a “night at the movies EXACTLY as it was presented in 1917,” copies of which are currently being festooned with wrapping paper and shipped out as Yuletide gifts ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Seeing Haxan and Variety with live score in the same week.
    Watching Das Alte Gesetz and His People on dvd.
    Discovering that I somehow have fifteen dollars in Amazon US gift vouchers, which I have used to buy Beauty’s Worth.

  9. My best silent film experience came in the last few days. I saw Mary Pickford in Fanchon the Cricket. I’ve always enjoyed Pickford more when she plays young women rather than children, and it was interesting to see a feature from this early in her career playing a character that’s essentially an 18th century hippie with that wild tangle of hair quite different from her trademark curls. I was worried about the musical score when I saw the trailer from Flicker Alley, but when I heard the entire score with its ’60s folk-rock vibe, I liked it. I think it fit her character–the film is one that anyone from the Woodstock generation will appreciate. I was also worried that the direction would be rather stiff in 1915, but while there’s not a lot of camera movement, the scenes were well composed by director James Kirkwood who used the natural beauty of the the Delaware water gap to wonderful effect, and the cinematography of Edward Wynard was top-notch and beautifully transferred in HD by Flicker Alley.

  10. Teinosuke Kinugasa’s “A Page of Madness” was a definite treat. I love Japanese cinema anyway, but I’d never seen anything like this film before. Japanese silent horror without intertitles! Definitely revisiting this one again in the near future.

  11. Very impressed by Kino’s double feature of Douglas Fairbank’s 1916 “Half-breed” and “The Good Bad Man” that seem generations ahead of their time in taking on social issues still just relevant a full century later. Paul Fejos’ “Lonesome” really left its mark in sheer poignancy and a deep emotional appeal

  12. Watching The Perils of Pauline and having my son say “What’s up with the huge hat that the hero is wearing” was a treat. Also listening him to laugh maniacally every time the villain popped up was hilarious.

  13. One of my best moments was just a week ago when I watched the 1923 “Ten Commandments” with Katherine Orrison’s commentary. I had replaced my VHS of the film early this year with the 3-disc 50th Anniversary set featuring the 1956 film but including the silent treatment. Watching the more recent version on my Plasma with external speakers was great!

    But I finally got around to playing the 1923 with Orrison’s comments, & although the film isn’t particularly a favorite of mine, that was a high point for me. Her love, not just of De Mille’s film, but of silent film as an art, comes through strongly in her often personal but always perceptive remarks.

    Not content with merely reacting to it, she guides us in how to approach & respond to silent film in general: what attitude to have & what things to notice. Most would probably say this would be a poor movie to begin with in a silent film course. Surely something like “The Garden of Eden” would be much better! But playing it with the Orrison audio might be just the way of preparing students for what for most of them would be a very alien experience.

  14. Since 2018 hasn’t quite reached the end of its reel yet I’m going to add “Gretchen the Greenhorn” with Dorothy Gish and the Edison Studio short “The Land Beyond the Sunset” from a American Film Archive Treasures collection, the 1916 Robert Harron/Mae Marsh “Hoodoo Ann” and a series of 4 John Bunny/Flora Finch comedies were each in their own way really enjoyable discoveries for me

  15. I had a chance to host a couple of silent film screenings again this year with a friend who is quite good on the piano. The best and most excited audience came for “Page of Madness” early in the year. The pianist asked for an upright and removed the top. For a lot of the movie he actually manipulated the strings on the inside of the piano for a very odd effect which fit the movie perfectly. There was a wide range of ages at this screening. I even had two college aged girls take a picture of my Charlie Chaplin tie. ๐Ÿ™‚ The other good experience is the silent film series at a local theater has grown. We are lucky enough to have an original theater organ in the building and for the last couple of shows the audience has been several hundred. Attendance like that will keep our series going.

  16. For a new-to-me film, would have to say SENORITA (1927), at Mostly Lost this year. Besides Bebe Daniels playing the family swashbuckling “grandson,” the French subtitles were translated by Dr. Robert Kiss whose reading proved how wonderful translations can be!

    Although the John M. Stahl movies were interesting, THE HOME MAKER (1925) was the highlight for me at Pordenone this year… a truly feminist film from the mid-20s. No, not new, but not easy to see. Second, also not new to me, MoMA showed another of my favorites, THE BARKER (1928), last month and will show it again next week. Sheer heaven!

  17. My best silent film experience was helping out a few kickstarter projects (including yours) by making financial contributions to get silent films that were sitting unseen in storage put out on DVD. I got a lot of satisfaction out of it.

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