100 years ago, if you wanted to see a movie from a box office powerhouse team, you would watch a film with Francis X. Bushman and Beverly Bayne. Under Royal Patronage is a Ruritanian romance designed to showcase their chemistry and It Screen Couple status.
Pauline Garon stars as a trapeze artist who falls for a rich boy slumming at the circus. And he has a snobby fiancee and an overbearing father! We all know exactly where this is going, right?
It’s a tale of double infidelity and revenge! The twist? All of the characters are played by stop-motion dead insects. The wonderfully weird animated film was created by Ladislas Stravevich, one of the most imaginative and witty animators in the history of film.
A stiff version of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense classic that is nonetheless interesting to see because of its extremely detailed costuming based on the original John Tenniel illustrations. The story is choppy and I doubt anyone unfamiliar with the book would be able to follow the plot but I do appreciate the attention to visual detail.
The problem with movies today is their absolute unwillingness to show slang-talking elephants on the loose in the Canadian wilderness, where they are mistaken for the antichrist. Well, never fear because The Soul of the Beast is here!
Mae Marsh’s career post-1916 is often dismissed as unworthy of study but Polly of the Circus proves this notion to be wrong. A tight little circus melodrama, Polly also delivers some surprisingly deep questions about faith, religious hypocrisy, love and loyalty.
Many people come to this version of Camille to see a young Rudolph Valentino but leading lady Nazimova is the reason to stick around. She absolutely owns the role of the doomed courtesan and her dramatic ability is accented by a charming sense of humor.
A Clara Bow vehicle released during the height of her popularity, “Hula” refers to the main character’s name, as well as a dance. She likes Clive Brook but his pesky estranged wife is in the way. What’s a flapper to do? Fancy a bit of light terrorism?
It was the worst of films, it was the best of films. This Sherlock Holmes adaptation is easily one of the worst-acted silent movies I have ever seen but it is also absolutely hilarious.
Douglas Fairbanks plays a drug-addled detective in this cult classic. He snorts, injects and ingests massive quantities of narcotics during the course of the film and attempts to bust a drug ring (?) with the help of Bessie Love.
Wallace Reid and Harrison Ford (not that one) play road trip buddies who win a fortune in Monte Carlo and then end up getting involved in a Ruritanian revolution. If this sounds fun to you, let me burst your bubble. It’s for your own good.
Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance are just as cute as bugs in this energetic send-up of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1915 version of Carmen. Purviance is particularly charming as the infamous (and goofy) seductress.
A rare chance to see father-son acting dynamos Rudolph and Joseph Schildkraut share the screen in a Hollywood production. Joseph plays a wastrel prince while Rudolph plays his equally dissolute father, the king of a small kingdom in Central Europe.
Mabel Normand and Ford Sterling star in one of the most famous Keystone shorts. He loves her and she loves him until accidentally plants a pie in her face. Enraged, Normand attempts to elope with Sterling’s romantic rival, escaping by boat. But she never counted on Sterling deciding to drain the lake…
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy get jobs at a posh hotel and chaos ensues. Not the strongest of their silent shorts but this picture has one ace tucked away in its garter: a very young Jean Harlow.
Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis charm as newlyweds who inherit a mansion that may be… haunted. (Thunderclap, please.)
A well-constructed melodrama made during the craze for “social” pictures in the 1910s, Children of Eve has visual flair to spare and a powerful performance from star Viola Dana.
The swashbuckling genre is not noted for its progressive treatment of women. Even ladies who take up arms must either be damseled by the finale or die in order to make way for a more “proper” love interest. That’s why The Fighting Eagle is such a breath of fresh air.
Think gangster films first came along in the early 1930s? Think again! They were present from the very earliest motion picture days and Regeneration is one of the first gangster features. It was directed by some guy named Raoul Walsh.
Possibly the most iconic film of early cinema, this science fiction epic is beautiful, quirky and shows surprising depth.
Theda Bara was not actually the first movie vamp but she remains the most famous. This picture, her first vampire melodrama, is rough around the edges but it does give us a taste of her quirky charisma.
What happens when there’s an entertainment craze sweeping the land and you’re the only one who doesn’t get it? That’s the plot of this charming, slightly mad Soviet comedy.
Marion Davies stars in a solid little crowdpleaser about orphans, bandits, the desert and a whole bunch of wabbits. Davies and her adopted kid brother, Zander, evade the orphanage and set out to find his father in the Arizona desert. They find Harrison Ford (the first one!), a bandit and general no-goodnik who seems to be the man they are looking for.
Mabel Normand is as cute as a button in this little comedy about a country girl who makes it big in the movies. Mabel is betrayed by her lover (Mack Sennett) but he’s in for a shock when he sees her on the silver screen!
A tale of love in ancient Greece, penned by Shakespeare and squashed down to ten minutes by the Vitagraph film company. We get the expected drug-toting fairies, forbidden love and dudes with donkey heads.
Carole Lombard joins the Sennett Bathing Beauties in a beach baseball game but is attacked by aggressive crustaceans. Hey, it’s a living.
There was this train robbery… and it was great!
Seriously, this film is often listed as the first movie with a plot or the first movie, period, neither of which isn’t true at all. The Great Train Robbery‘s real claim to fame is as one of the first American blockbusters.
Charley Chase is charming as heck in this cute little comedy about a husband and wife who secretly get plastic surgery and then attempt to have an affair– with one another!
Scandal! The heir to a fortune has married a bareback circus rider (Norma Talmadge) and his family is just having kittens about it! Doesn’t he realize that his bride has (whisper) worn tights?
Grand fun to be had with this violent French western. Yes, French. It’s basically a Coyote-Roadrunner cartoon with real bullets.