Silent Stars Share Their Favorite Camera Angles: Colleen Moore, Buster Keaton, Hoot Gibson and More

I stumbled across this amusing piece in a 1926 issue of Photoplay Magazine. Most movie fans know that stars often had a side of their face that they preferred or a camera angle that they thought flattered them. Well, here’s the skinny on some of the biggest silent stars! All ready? Let’s go!

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Screenwriting Advice from Jesse Lasky: How to Sell a Picture to Paramount in 1921

Since we had so much fun with the last bit of movie writing advice, I thought we would go for more of the same. This article found in The Photodramatist of 1921 is of particular interest because it was written by Jesse Lasky, one of the founding players of what would/had become Paramount Pictures. Let’s see what our friend Mr. Lasky has to say about writing for one of his productions.

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Silent Movies Spoofing Stage Melodramas (yes, including “tied to the tracks) or, I Love Being Right

One of the minor annoyances of being a silent film fan is having to hear people who have never seen silent films describe silent films. And invariably, it is something along the lines of “damsel tied to track by mustachioed villain” or maybe the old sawmill chestnut.

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“All the jokes can’t be good, you have to expect that sometimes!” Groan-Inducing Movie Magazine Humor from 1919

I was dipping into silent era film magazines once again and I came across this page of groaners in a 1919 issue of Film Fun Magazine. They’re too bad to keep to myself so let’s read them together and scratch our heads and grandmama’s sense of humor.

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Silent (okay, Early Talkie) Movie Myth: “By William Shakespeare with Additional Dialogue by Sam Taylor”

I was catching up on my modern movie news and found that Disney is planning to “remake” their 1996 animated version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Part of the announcement was that the new film would be based on both the Victor Hugo novel and their cartoon version.

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Singed Bottoms, Curly Fonts and Tarzan on a Horse: These Are the Mistakes and Cliches That Annoyed Audiences 100 Years Ago

Photoplay had a regular segment dedicated to readers discovering and sharing errors and cliches in popular films. We modern viewers have nothing on these sharp-eyed viewers from March of 1919!

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“Please Post This in its Original Black and White Form” or, How Tinting, Toning and Hand Color Have Been Lost to Modern Audiences

I recently ran a poll on Twitter to find out which silent era color process people preferred and was somewhat surprised to see how many voters opted for black and white. This led me down a bit of a research rabbit hole and here we are. How did black and white become THE choice for older films even though silent films were awash with tinting, toning, hand-color, stencil color, natural color and assorted other color processes?

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“YOU attend those vulgar moving picture shows?” Cartoon Defenses of Filmgoing from 1911

Movies are a national pastime in the United States but that was not always the case. Motion pictures, especially ones dealing with crime, were considered low, vulgar and harmful. When he launched his first movie theater, Louis B. Mayer had his wife and daughters prominently present to show that films were suitable for women and children.

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Norma Talmadge: How Men Strike Me, or, Hire a Stunt Coordinator for Heaven’s Sake!

One of the things I like best about silent films and particularly silent films of the 1910s is that many cinematic tricks were not yet invented and so real towns were burned, real ships were launched and real locations were used. That being said, this 1919 article credited to Norma Talmadge gave me pause as she talked about being beaten onscreen.

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First-Person Shooter Games… In 1909? Meet “Motographic Target Shooting”

When the concept of projected films took off in the mid-1890s, there was a corresponding boom of inventors who hoped to use the new technology to create everything from virtual reality to shooting games. In the case of “Motographic Target Shooting” the idea was to combine the realism of film with the then-popular shooting gallery.

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Immortal Films: Viewers of 1916 Chose Movies That Would Never Be Forgotten (most are forgotten)

In 1916, Motion Picture Magazine published a fan-sourced list of motion pictures that they “deemed fit to live to a green old age.” Lists like these are always enlightening because they show that viewers living in 1916 or 2019 have absolutely no idea what will last. Some of these movies are indeed still known today, some for the wrong reasons, and some were forgotten soon after this list was made. Let’s see what we can learn.

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A Modern Photoplay for the New Era, as Illustrated in 1914

Both viewers and filmmakers in the 1910s were well aware that movies were turning a corner and becoming THE popular entertainment of the general public. Naturally, many debates as to how to move forward were underway. Probably the most famous and important was the question of censorship but other issues were also controversial.

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