2018 in Review: The Best Silent Films, Discoveries and Experiences

There are only a few more days left in 2018 so now is the time when all good websites take a look back to share some of the hits and misses of the year. First, the hits.

By the way, I posted a 2018 quiz on Saturday but neglected to include an answer key! I have fixed that. Sorry to keep everyone in suspense!

My Favorite Films

I reviewed a total of 62 silent movies this year. Some were new to me, some were old friends but these were the highlights.

Madame Tutli-Putli is a brilliant stop motion short with attention to detail and a story told in pantomime. Released in 2007, it earned itself an Oscar nod.

Read my review here.

The “?” Motorist is a gloriously demented 1906 British short film from pioneer R.W. Paul. The plot involves a motoring duo who run over a policeman and escape into outer space.

Read my review here.

Stan Laurel’s spoof of Jekyll and Hyde, Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde, is one of the funniest silent comedies around. Not only does it hit its mark as a spoof, it is hilarious in its own right as a surreal short film.

Read my review here.

An utterly delicious Lubitsch confection with Irene Rich in the role of the lifetime as a bad good woman. Ronald Colman also has fun as the resident cad.

Read my review here.

No surprise here as Girl Shy is a beloved classic. Still, I had a lot of fun reviewing it and thinking about all the films Harold Lloyd was spoofing in this delightful picture.

Read my review here.

This 1912 New Jersey production of Robin Hood was a pleasant surprise with its imaginative use of symbolism and the fact that Maid Marian is never a damsel and actually helps rescue Robin Hood twice.

Read my review here.

This Soviet rom-com was a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and credit goes equally to the imaginative direction of Boris Barnet and the talents of the cast.

Read my review here.

Crossed Off My To-Watch List

Every movie fan has a list of films they’ve been meaning to watch but either haven’t had the time or have been unable to access them. This year, I was able to review several films on my to-watch list that had been languishing there for some time.

Yes! I got to see the 1913 version of Ivanhoe and had a great time with it. Unfortunately, it also rekindled my Ivanhoe obsession and now no adaptation is safe.

Read my review here.

The Stolen Voice is BONKERS. Obviously, I loved it. Robert Warwick is an opera singer whose voice is, well, stolen by an evil hypnotist. Destitute, Warwick has to take a job in the movies.

Read my review here.

Speaking of bonkers, The Song of Love was everything I had dreamed of and more. Pure, unadulterated kitsch that you MUST watch.

Read my review here.

I Got Nerdy

I enjoy a good research dive as much as the next geek and I indulged myself a few times this year.

I am really proud of my review of The Great White Silence, which is made up of footage from Captain Scott’s tragic South Pole expedition. A polar nerd, I sunk months of research into this baby and I am pretty happy with the result. The film itself is quite brilliant and showcases techniques that would become standard in documentaries.

Read my review here.

Roald Amundsen’s South Pole Journey was a pleasure to review and gave me more of an excuse to indulge in my polar obsession. Some people don’t even know he made films of his expedition so if you weren’t aware of this material, you’re in for a treat.

Read my review here.

The footage of the Russian royal family in Celebrating 300 Years of the Romanov Dynasty gave me an excuse to dive into Russian film history. Also, while Don Bluth is a fine animator, I am disturbed by the number of people whose view of Russian history is influenced by his film. (Call me crazy but I am not cool with old Czar Nicky. Pogroms and starting a World War turn me off. Go figure.)

Read my review here.

Within Our Gates is one of the most important films you can ever see. Oscar Micheaux’s response to The Birth of a Nation, it is a cry of rage and a grim expose of racism. Not an easy watch but necessary.

Read my review here.

I Watched Talkies

It’s true! Shocking but true!

I love me some western noir and Rawhide delivers. I dug into its fascinating gender roles and also the career of its director, silent era veteran Henry Hathaway.

Read my review here.

I Got Cooking

I also continued to cook my way through the 1929 Photoplay Cookbook with frequent detours. Last year, my goal was to improve the quality of my food photography and so I invested in equipment and props. I debuted my new look in May with my post on Anna Q. Nilsson’s One Egg Muffins.

I Became a Producer

Thanks to generous Kickstarter backers, I was able to release a rare set of Edison films. It’s a complete 1917 night at the movies edited by Christopher Bird with beautiful scores by Ben Model. I am still not quite sure it really happened as I have been dreaming of doing this for years.

You can order a copy here.

Lots of good things in silent film this year! I hope 2019 will be even better.

***

Like what you’re reading? Please consider sponsoring me on Patreon. All patrons will get early previews of upcoming features, exclusive polls and other goodies.

8 Replies to “2018 in Review: The Best Silent Films, Discoveries and Experiences”

  1. I read your Romanov review with great interested and appreciated your wide knowledge of that time. Being just a nobody, I know little about the horrors of internet, but I hope you don’t often have to refrain from writing well argumented opinions.

    It seems that the story of good and evil is so strong, that if we agree commies were bad, there is a tendency think thay Tsars were good…

    My country was a part of the Russian empire during five Tsars, out of which Nicholas II has the worst reputation.

    1. Yes, just because Stalin was a monster doesn’t mean that Nicholas must have been a saint. I get that people are enchanted by princess stuff and pretty dresses and the story of miraculous survival but, well, I am sure that the people Nicholas killed probably had cute kids as well.

      Nicholas oversaw an attempt to annihilate Finnish culture and ruthlessly oppressed the nation throughout his reign, if I recall correctly?

  2. I’m quite impressed you knew that. Luckily Nicholas was a weak leader who couldn’t really accomplish these plans.

  3. My best experiences this year were 1. watching Der müde Tod in the gorgeous art deco theater Tuschinski in Amsterdam, which had approximately the same age. 2. The showing of La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc with live music by the Orlando Consort singing hauntingly beautiful music from Jeanne d’Arc’s time, and 3. The Discovery your site. For example, thanks to you I’ve watched the delightful little feature ‘ The Wishing Ring’, and Judex and Hell’s Hinges Will sion follow-up, thanks to you.

Comments are closed.