“You’re Doing it Wrong!” Moviegoer Complaints About Cliches, Mistakes and Inconsistencies from December of 1919

It’s no secret that silent era filmgoers were enthusiastic, smart consumers of their modern pop culture. And this meant that they detected patterns, ferreted out cliches and were generally literate and observant audiences.

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These Were the Mistakes, Cliches and Technical Mistakes that Annoyed Moviegoers in October of 1919

We all know that pointing out errors in films has kind of gone too far lately. (If I never hear the phrase “plot hole” again it will be too soon.) However, some good-natured ribbing at the expense of cinematic silliness has always been in style and Photoplay even had a regular feature on the topic.

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Get Ready for Autumn with a 1928 Tam Pattern from Anita Page

Anita Page was, of course, one of the popular actresses of the Flaming Youth set and was one of the last surviving grownup silent stars before her death in 2008. Like all stars of the era, she participated (or her studio participated for her) in fan magazine items designed to showcase her talents outside the movies.

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A Vintage Ode to Dorothy Gish’s Temper

I love Dorothy Gish and think she is immensely underrated in the pantheon of screen comedians. Alas, most of her solo pictures are missing and presumed lost, so its hard for modern viewers to appreciate the scope of her career but she was quite a beloved player in her own series of top-billed pictures that covered just about every popular genre in American cinema at the time.

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How Famous Silent Stars Kept Their Hair Beautiful (and Earned Some Cash as Spokesmodels)

The idea of having a famous person endorse a product existed before movies, of course, but motion picture stars were in a unique position to make various consumer goods attractive to their fans. After all, who better than a glamorous, curly-haired film star to sell this new-fangled “shampoo” stuff?

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Kids These Days: A 1923 Survey of Grade School and High School Kids’ Favorite Stars and Movies

A lot of the fan surveys of the silent era were open to all ages, which is great but more specific data is always welcome. The Educational Screen, a top do-gooder film magazine that graded movies as Harmless, Doubtful or Trash and rated my beloved Michael Strogoff as “too exciting” for children under 15, published a survey of students attending Evansville, Indiana schools. I found it quite interesting and wanted to share some of the highlights.

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Upside-down Chinese Characters, De Luxe Stowaways and Other Movie Mistakes That Annoyed Viewers 100 Years Ago

I think it’s pretty clear by now that silent movie audiences were smart, sharp and perceptive and they were more than willing to call baloney or complain about mistakes that they spotted in the movies. Photoplay regularly published their observations in a dedicated column and here are the selections from June of 1919.

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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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