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.
When discussing The Birth of a Nation, one defense that sometimes crops up is that the film is significant because it was the first film screened at the White House. The main problem with this claim is that it is demonstrably false. Cabiria was screened for Woodrow Wilson the year before and the circumstances under which he saw Birth are quite shady. (I cover the details in my extensive article.)
There once was a site on the web
That showed love for films on the ebb
Though you never would know it
The site loved its poets
The rhymsters abound, sheik and deb
I was rummaging around with research and stumbled across some rather cute movie-related cartoons. I have no particular insights on them, I just think they’re fun and you might like them. Enjoy!
I am working on my annual “Top Stars of 100 Years Ago…” article but I thought it would be fun to step further back in time and look at some stars who were considered at least a little famous back in 1912.
Complaining about mistakes and plot holes was not invented on Twitter and silent era audiences found much to kvetch about in the new releases of the time. Like this selection of complaints and nit-picks from the January 1919 issue of Photoplay.
We all love a good mystery, right? Well, collector Christopher Bird has some nitrate extracts that he would like us to help him identify. Chris has been really generous about sharing his collection with us via YouTube so this is a chance to do something nice in return.
Last week, we looked at a 1922 attempt by Motion Picture Magazine to explain the appeal of six male stars. Now we are doing the same in in the ladies division.
I do enjoy classic “scientific” attempts to explain the very subjective appeal of movie stars and Motion Picture Magazine gave it a whirl in 1922. Why do audiences love particular stars? Could is be something… primal?
What is most interesting about fan magazines is how they are divided between forgotten topics and questions that are hotly debate among silent film fans to this day. A 1925 issue of Photoplay printed some reader opinions and they are particularly interesting so I thought I would share them.
Any fan of older cinema knows that yesterdays superstars can easily be forgotten. Today, we are going to take a look at Motion Picture Magazine’s “1918 revue of filmdom’s clowns” and test our cinematic knowledge. How many of these 14 talents do you recognize?
Not everything can be sunshine and gumdrops and not every silent film I saw was a delight. Such is life. But then again, we can have some fun poking these bombs with sticks so, yay?
In December of 1918, Motion Picture Magazine published a random selection of snippets and observations on the state of movies by Tamar Lane. The collection is rather slangy and amusing, so I thought I would share some of the highlights.
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.
I am mod but sometimes I take detours and this time, I am trying a food combination that does not come from a cookbook but from celebrity gossip.
Shopping for film nerds can be a challenge, especially if they are already avid collectors. Never fear, I’m here to help! I speak the language and can help you choose the perfect gift for the nerd in your life.
Welcome back! I am cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay Cookbook but I sometimes take detours. In this case, we’re tasting a very famous flapper’s foray into molded fish gelatin. Yay?
We’re back with more nit-picking and and witty put-downs from the pages of Photoplay. In November of 1918, these were the errors (real and perceived) that were annoying moviegoers.
As some of you already know, there was something of a race for the talkies in the pre-WWI film industry with Gaumont and Edison as the most prominent players. Did they succeed? Yes. Did the talkies last? No. Technical difficulties and limits on length made the talkies more of a fad.
Today, the classic, art house and foreign film-focused FilmStruck announced that it was ending its service. This is quite a blow to fans of non-blockbuster viewing as the selection of classics and silent films are pretty sketchy in the libraries of mainstream services like Netflix.
Why Do They Do It? was a regular feature in Photoplay Magazine that allowed readers to write in with complaints about tropes, mistakes and annoyances at the movies.
Back in the 1910s, there was no central body for judging a film’s suitability for audiences. As a result, state and city boards of censors took up the slack and one of the most famous was the board working in the city of Chicago.
Welcome back! I am cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay Cookbook but I sometimes take detours. This time, we’re looking at America’s Sweetheart once again and her recipe for a WWII-era cookbook.
As you all know, I am a bit of a fiend for vintage celebrity recipes so I hope you don’t mind me stepping out of the silent era for the first time to try a truly strange creation.