What Was Your Favorite Silent Film Experience This Year?

Well, we have a little over two weeks left in 2019, so let’s share some positivity! Did you have any nice experiences related to silent films? Please share!

Your experiences can be anything from showing your kids their first silent to seeing one on the big screen to just being able to enjoy something on YouTube. Large or small, tell us what you enjoyed and why.

For big news, my favorite experience was probably helping to restore the title cards for The Gun Fighter (1917). I learned so much and it was thrilling to assist in making a silent film look like its old self after a century.

For home media pleasures, I was so happy to expand my knowledge of comedy pioneer Alice Howell thanks to the quality content of The Alice Howell Collection released by Undercrank Productions. Women in comedy and especially women in silent comedy rarely get the respect they are owed and so this beautiful collection was most welcome. And Alice is indeed a howl! Brash, hilarious and eye-opening.

Finally, I am proud of my review of The Dreyfus Affair (1899), which was over a year in the making and examines the case as portrayed in films from the 1890s to the 1990s.

Now it’s your turn! Share some happy memories!

☙❦❧

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42 Replies to “What Was Your Favorite Silent Film Experience This Year?”

  1. Watching Tess of the Storm Country for the fiesta time and being reminded all over again how great an actress Mary Pickford was!

      1. Ms Kramer, I chanced purely accidentally upon your website, and it prompted me to make this post in a Facebook group page dedicated to silent cinema. I hope you’ll check out the group and maybe join with us! And you could always plug your website, over there with links to your articles over here! Your material here would be like cake and ice cream for me and members of The Silent Film Group at Facebook! Hope to see you there!

  2. Saw Colleen Moore in IRENE at the Silent Clowns Film Series, accompanied by Ben Model. I so enjoyed Moore, I sought out the DVD of WHY BE GOOD with its Vitaphone track, and hope to see more and more Moore – a very underrated comedienne today.

  3. Besides diving into some silent films I’ve never seen before (which is always a treat), I’d have to say reading 2 of the 3 Theda Bara biographies got me even more fascinated with her career (still haven’t read the Joan Craig book, though that’s a different style of book from what I’ve gathered). I hear there is yet another Bara book in the works. Considering all the stuff that has come to light thanks to archive.org and newspapers being digitalized, I think the definitive book on her career has yet to be made. Hoping this upcoming book will be that.

    A second silent related experience would be contributing some Valeska Suratt materials to the Vigo County museum in Terre Haute Indiana. They just opened a few weeks back. I contacted them earlier in the year and went up there a few months ago to contribute some Suratt photos and other materials I had. While they do not have a spot for her in the museum yet, they do plan on doing something for her in the near future. They are hoping this will help raise funds to get a stone over her grave (which I also visited while there). Sadly, there is no marker, though her mother does have one.

    1. All of Valeska Suratt’s films with the majority of Fox library perished in 1937 fire at their film storage facility in Little Ferry, NJ sad..but maybe some foreign prints will surface someday oh, that nitrate!! 🔥

  4. Finally, got to watch Pandora’s Box for the first time this year. Such a beautiful film with the talented and lovely Louise Brooks. Now only if Criterion would get this back in print on BluRay. Also, recently just discovered The Eagle which IMO, is one of Valentino’s best performances.

  5. I was lucky enough to have a good silent year, but the highlight for me was seeing all the Hitchcock silents in chronological order on a cinema screen. I hadn’t seen The Ring or The Farmer’s Wife before, and I hadn’t seen some of the others in a decent restoration on a big screen. Very enjoyable and a great reminder of the variety in Hitchcock’s films before he became a thriller specialist ( or “the” thriller specialist).

  6. I’ve been buying quite a few silents this year, so I think my highlight would be discovery. “The Cat and the Canary” is my favorite so far, but “Dr.Caligari” is awesome too. And “Show People.” And “Tell It To the Marines.” And “You Never Know Women.” It’s hard to pick. 🙂

  7. I saw a number with live music, all exceptional. Perhaps the highlight was a gorgeous print of “The Oyster Princess” accompanied by a 16-piece jazz band, The Flat Earth Society, which has quite an original sound.

  8. I saw two Ozu silent for the first time on TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights, Passing Fancy and Tokyo Chorus. I particularly enjoyed Tokyo Chorus.

  9. I’ve enjoyed all my silent-watching this year. Stepped out of my comfort zone a bit and tried out ‘Aelita Queen of Mars,’ Ivan Mosjoukine’s ‘Michael Strogoff,’ and the Lubitsch German films. So glad I did!

    Also revisited my favorite silent of all, ‘Seventh Heaven’ and it moved me just as deeply as when I first saw it 30 or so years ago.

  10. The Song of the Blood-red Flower with live symphony orchestra playing the original score.

    Great silent year – I was able to see surprisingly many good films for the first time. The key was to list movies recommended here that are not so famous elsewhere. The Barbed Wire and The Canadian stood out in this category.

  11. Getting to see The Oyster Princess on the big screen, with live piano at the British Silent Film Festival. I loved the mass foxtrot scene!

  12. Love the silents! See as many as I possibly can. And, started reading the bios on the actors. Fascinating! Recently, read the novel, The Chaperone, which drew
    on the life of Louise Brooks.

  13. The silent films I viewed for the first time this year include:

    The Pleasure Garden: Hitch’s first. I found it quite enjoyable with plenty of stylistic flourishes. But of course I wouldn’t introduce someone to Hitchcock with this lurid melodrama.

    L’Argent: it lived up to my expectations but my disc has an eccentric if interesting piano score. I may spring for the disc with the Mont Alto treatment.

    Forbidden Fruit: I LOVED this DeMille & can’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. After viewing it on YouTube I ordered the DVD which I’m saving up for Christmas. I’ve watched the earlier version, The Golden Chance, several times & it has an admirable, gritty realism. But the remake is just a gorgeous film in every way.

    The three “Rat” films with Ivor Novello: campy underworld fantasies. fNot for everyone, but great fun if you like Novello or enjoy late silent cinematography at its wildest.

    Why Be Good: actually I saw this years before on TCM but was glad to get a good disc with the wonderful Vitaphone track.

  14. An excellent year for me– The Indian Tomb, L’Argent, Sodom and Gomorrah, Geschlecht in Fesseln and Maciste a l’Inferno.
    Conversely, I was disappointed with La Roue, sorry.
    Oh, and I watched Noah’s Ark again!!!

  15. I saw METROPOLIS (1927) at the Kansas Silent Film Festival with the Alloy Orchestra accompanying it. I had seen it several times before, but certainly not with their incredible soundtrack.

    I also got to attend my first Mostly Lost at the Library of Congress. One evenings program was the comedy short THE RIVALS (1921) with Bobby Burns and Slim Summerville. It was incredibly funny. After that the feature was just as good — PENROD AND SAM (1923) with Ben Alexander was a funny and moving story of a boy growing up.

  16. SFSFF Day is Silents screening of Lubitsch’s “The Marriage Circle,” a 35 mm print from MoMA and live score by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Just … truly superb. A nearly perfect film.

  17. It’s been an abundant silent year for me (I am behind with some of the sets I have, which is a nice problem).
    Finally got “The Golem” in the new BR restauration, and it’s wonderful.
    “Melies: Fairy Tales in Color” from Flicker Alley is a magical set; one is left in wonder at his imagination and skills, even now. The DVD set of some years ago is waiting in the wings…
    From France, “The Man who Laughs” and “King of Kings” BRs are must-haves.
    Gaumont has put out a gorgeous book-like box of Feuillade’s serials “Fantomas” and “The Vampires”; this should be grand viewing over the winter.

    So much more to see….

    Claus.

  18. Watched and compared portions of the 1925 and the more recent, William Wyler versions of “Ben Hur.” The chariot scene in the 1925 version is even more incredible than the one in the later film. I can’t even figure out how they filmed it and fear a number of horses must have given their lives. It was awe-inspiring.

    1. I have read that several horses perished in the chariot race, even as several bit-players apparently drowned in the sea-battle sequences. I consider myself an animal-lover & humanitarian, & so cannot condone any of this. That said, I think the silent “Ben Hur” is superior in every way to the talkie.

      I understand that the powers that be tried to destroy all prints of the 1925 film to avoid inconvenient comparisons with the talkie, even as, in the 40s, they tried to rub out the F. March “Jekyll & Hyde” on behalf of the Spencer Tracy version. Luckily, such barbarians have been thwarted.

  19. There were rumors of extras downing in the 1925 BEN HUR, but I don’t think that anybody has confirmed that. On the other hand, extras definitely did drown during the filming of NOAH’S ARK (1928).

    1. I gather that Francis X. Bushman was largely responsible for the story that some Italian extras had drowned. It wouldn’t be past him to say that for its publicity value, some people having a morbid fascination with such things. But he may have been sincere or simply mistaken.

      Estimates of equine deaths range from 5 (plausible) to an astronomical 150 (surely, well, hopefully, not). They didn’t keep a tally in those days.

  20. I finally sat down and watched that backlog of silent DVD’s that I have in my collection, which, of course, gives me an excuse to buy more.

  21. I am lucky enough to live near the AFI Silver so saw several movies with live accompaniment inuding the supremely silly “Filibus: The Mysterios Air Pirate” with Sosin and Seaton. I also saw Nisferatu with the Invincible Czars at the Alamo Drafthouse. I was out of town so missed my all time favorite band, the loy Orchestra. Another time, I hope.

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