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.
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?