Silent era film advertisements were never low key about their claims of excitement, sophistication or “something new” but my favorite ads are the ones that add that certain, well, zip.Continue reading “Zim Bang Zip! Silent Era Ad Copy”
Colleen Moore is intimately associated with the bob haircut but don’t forget that for the first years of her career, she was all curls all the time.Continue reading “Before She Hacked Off Her Locks: A Sonnet Impression of Colleen Moore from 1922”
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!Continue reading “Silent Stars Share Their Favorite Camera Angles: Colleen Moore, Buster Keaton, Hoot Gibson and More”
We’re back with another selection of kvetches from Photoplay Magazine’s monthly “Why Do They Do It?” column. The idea was for readers to write in with their complaints about the then-latest releases and they were a sharp lot indeed.Continue reading “100 Years Ago, These Were the Mistake, Cliches and Tropes That Annoyed Filmgoers”
I am a graphic designer in my day job and I am particularly interested in replicating vintage looks. As a result, I pay close attention to the typefaces used in silent film restorations… and some of them are not so good.Continue reading “Silent Movie and Poster Fonts: Where to get ’em and what to use”
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.Continue reading “Screenwriting Advice from Jesse Lasky: How to Sell a Picture to Paramount in 1921”
I stumbled across an amusing piece in a 1925 issue of Photoplay Magazine. Rudolph Valentino was sporting a handsome goatee at the time and the fan magazines gleefully spread word of the horror his fans experienced at (gasp!) facial hair.Continue reading “Valentino Grew a Beard– And the Fans Were Not Pleased”
One of the more interesting practices of early film studios was their willingness to accept unsolicited motion picture scenarios and make them into real motion pictures. For aspiring screenwriters, there were helpful advice columns, correspondence courses and more.Continue reading “Are Your Silent Movie Scenarios Being Rejected? Fifteen Reasons Why from 1916”
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.Continue reading “Silent Movies Spoofing Stage Melodramas (yes, including “tied to the tracks) or, I Love Being Right”
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.Continue reading ““All the jokes can’t be good, you have to expect that sometimes!” Groan-Inducing Movie Magazine Humor from 1919″
I am pretty severe in my “silent movies only” rule but I do make one kind of exception: making oddball 1970s celebrity recipes with cool internet people! And so today, Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers and I are making Alice Cooper’s dangerous, deadly, hard rock… tuna casserole?Continue reading “Recipe Collab: Alice Cooper’s Funky Tuna Casserole”
We may think that snark and pointing out film errors are a modern invention but filmgoers have been heckling mistakes and cliches in motion pictures since the very beginning. Photoplay’s monthly column is a treasure trove of complaints, both major and petty.Continue reading “Film Fans Point Out Mistakes, Cliches and General Silliness Exactly 100 Years Ago”
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.Continue reading “Silent (okay, Early Talkie) Movie Myth: “By William Shakespeare with Additional Dialogue by Sam Taylor””
I was digging around some old fan magazines, as I do, and I found this extremely enjoyable double interview with Cecil B. DeMille and Jeanie Macpherson in a 1920 issue of Screenland. What could filmmakers do to keep their audiences?Continue reading “Cecil B. DeMille and Jeanie Macpherson Discuss Keeping an Audience’s Attention in 1920”
Nostalgia for old favorites was also a thing during the silent era. Take, for example, this 1925 Motion Picture Magazine article showcasing favorite stars who had left the motion picture industry at the height of their fame.Continue reading “Where Are They Now? A 1925 Magazine Looks at Stars of the Past”
It’s time to test our knowledge of silent stardom circa 1914! This is an interesting time period because, while we love and recognize a decent number of stars from this colorful period, there are still a great many who are met with a “HUH?!” even by nerdy fans.Continue reading “How Many of These 1914 Stars Do You Recognize?”
There was a recent kerfuffle on Film Twitter that involved someone shaming modern critics for “thirsting after” movie stars. Well, as is always the case, the silent era did it first. I stumbled across this 1925 article in Photoplay and it’s too fun to keep to myself.Continue reading “Thirsting for Celebrities: A 1925 Critic Shares Her Movie Star Crushes”
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!Continue reading “Singed Bottoms, Curly Fonts and Tarzan on a Horse: These Are the Mistakes and Cliches That Annoyed Audiences 100 Years Ago”
By 1916, it was clear movies were there to stay and so who can blame Motion Picture Magazine for taking a little victory lap and tweaking the noses of doubters?Continue reading “The Motion Picture Industry Gloated via Cartoons in 1916”
Photoplay Magazine held a little star identification quiz in 1927 and so let’s take the test ourselves and see how many stars we can recognize.Continue reading “Can You Identify 1927 Silent Movie Stars from Childhood Photos?”
Mainstream silent film stars had a very definite “look” … unless they didn’t. Was there a common formula for success in the movies? Photoplay asked some of the best cameramen what they thought and… their answers were pretty nuanced for such a trivial topic.Continue reading “What is “Camera Beauty” and Do You Have It? 1925 Advice from Cameramen”
Since I discussed tinting in my first podcast, the conversation about silent film color has been buzzing. Hurrah! And the most common questions have centered around just what some of these colors mean. So, I thought we would get a little help from a vintage Eastman Kodak ad.Continue reading “What Do Tinting Colors Mean? A Vintage Ad Gives Us a Clue”
I thought you might like a little map of Hollywood published in Motion Picture Magazine in 1926. The magazine was read nationally and so much of this geography would not be familiar to its audience (though they would know the streets intimately from the location shoots in and around the area).Continue reading “Hollywood and Environs circa 1926”
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?Continue reading ““Please Post This in its Original Black and White Form” or, How Tinting, Toning and Hand Color Have Been Lost to Modern Audiences”
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.Continue reading ““YOU attend those vulgar moving picture shows?” Cartoon Defenses of Filmgoing from 1911″
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.
Comical and semi-comical lists of studio lingo were always popular fare in movie magazines. Here’s one from a 1928 issue of Photoplay.
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.
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.
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.