D.W. Griffith intrudes on the domain of Lubitsch and von Stroheim with this romance of Mitteleuropean nobility. The results are as inconsistent as the camera work but Lupe Valez waltzes off with the picture.
This groundbreaking work of science fiction is… not really science fiction. It has sequences on Mars and iconic alien designs but most of the film is actually about an embezzlement scheme in the Soviet Union.
Low budget westerns were the bread and butter of Hollywood, both big studios and denizens of Poverty Row churned them out by the truckload. I’ve seen and enjoyed many of them but this Art Mix production is just a bit too cheap even for me.
This film is grade-A, unadulterated junk food and thank goodness! This movie is pure fun, amiably corny and absolutely bonkers. The major setpiece involves a prosecutor flashing back to a Roman orgy (?) in the middle of a trial! (Lawyers, have you ever done this? How did it go over?)
Norma Talmadge plays an artist’s model who gives herself a bit of chemical stimulation and soon convinces the artist (Tully Marshall) to do the same. Addiction and degradation ensue in this social melodrama. (Drug addiction was a hot topic for silent films, along with a whole list of other social issues.)
Prince Tonio decides that he’s sick of princing, so he runs away to San Francisco, poses as a sailor and falls in love with a singer named Fluffy, as one does.
This low-budget action film still manages to be a ton of fun thanks to a talented cast and smart use of the movie’s Jacksonville location. It’s a rare surviving Norman film with an all-black cast, which is an added bonus.
Douglas Fairbanks plays a fellow whose life has gone so wrong that he decides to end it all. Lacking the courage to do the job himself, he hires a hitman to do it for him. But then he gets his girlfriend back and money and success are his! And the hitman can’t be contacted for a cancellation. Oops.
The American Revolution is the backdrop of this romance starring Robert Warwick and Gail Kane. It purports to tell the tale of Nathan Hale, schoolteacher-turned-spy whose quotable quote is still quoted wherever quoters quote. (Even if he may not have actually said it.)
Luigi Maggi takes on the decline and fall of Emperor Nero, famed for his inappropriate love of music and his propensity to play with matches. This film was made in 1909 and looks it but it has what the Italians call oomph.
Harry Houdini made his final fiction film appearance in this pulpy little adventure. As the title indicates, he’s a Secret Service agent and is, naturally, on the tail of a gang of international baddies.
Well, this is interesting! A rare surviving example of a “home talent” film from the silent era. Basically, itinerant filmmakers would show up in a town, make a quickie film with an all-local cast, make some money at screenings and then move onto the next town.
Breathtaking undersea photography is merged with overwrought acting and a screenplay that tries to do too many things at once. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is frustrating but ultimately worth the watch for the cinematography.
Mabel Normand directs and stars in this peppy bit of race car comedy fun. A very green Charlie Chaplin is on hand as her jilted suitor and when he tries to sabotage her current boyfriend’s auto race, Mabel, well, takes the wheel.
Fast-paced, quirky and slightly kinky, this early Cecil B. DeMille film deals with a noble Turkish POW and a Montenegrin peasant women on whose farm he works. House Peters is so-so but Blanche Sweet is marvelous.
There are cases where a movie that was rejected by audiences of its day is embraced by modern viewers. This is not one of those cases. Goodness gracious, this Mary Pickford vehicle is so bad that it’s, well, bad.
Readers of this site know that I love me some Ivan Mosjoukine and I think he was a pretty talented fellow. But even the best of us make mistakes and Mosjoukine made a big one with this pretentious mess.
Lon Chaney, Loretta Young and Nils Asther play three corners of a love triangle made pretty disturbing by the leading lady’s youth and the general squickiness of the plot.
William S. Hart plays an outlaw who, gosh darn it, ends up being hired as the marshal of a small, crime-infested town. Will he find redemption? Oh, come on. Do cops like donuts? Of course he will but getting there is all the fun.
If I had to pick one silent comedy series that deserves to be brought back to the public eye, my answer would be the Onésime films. Directed by Jean Durand and starring Ernest Bourbon, the series is strange, twisted and surreal.
Russia has rumblings in the interior and it’s not because of that questionable lunch. Director John Collins and leading lady Viola Dana create a revolutionary bit of entertainment torn from the headlines.
Real-life outlaw Al Jennings wasn’t a very good bandit but he found success in the movies as a consultant and star. This picture claims to be based on real events (grain of salt) and is a slow-moving but interesting film.
Comedic dynamic duo Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew poke fun at the then-current fox trot craze and their own May-December marriage in this absolutely delightful little comedy.
One of THE most iconic cliffhanger serials (never mind that it contains no cliffhangers) starring one of the most important serial queens is… not that good.
No profession is more cinematic than an agent of espionage and Fritz Lang’s stylish thriller has never been surpassed in flash, dash and sneaky doings. Grand fun, especially if you are a devotee of modern spy pictures and want to see one of the great building blocks of the genre.
Cowboys and vamps? Guys, I think we have hit peak 1915! William S. Hart plays a saloon proprietor who shoots a no-good skunk of a thief. But guess who has a pretty sister? Go on, guess!
Russian cinema didn’t start with the Soviets and this little melodrama from forgotten pioneer Vasily Goncharov is a hidden gem. It’s the story of a young peasant and the perils she encounters in the city; a familiar silent era tale but with a distinct Russian flavor.
A lurid combination of Madame Butterfly and a natural disaster torn from the headlines, The Wrath of the Gods is mostly notable as an early collaboration between Sessue Hayakawa and Tsuru Aoki.
Movie flapper Vera Reynolds joins the army during WWI as an entertainer. She’s joined by BFF Julia Faye and together, they try to cheer up doughboys stationed in France. Naturally, romance and danger are in the cards.
Lois Weber directed and starred in this story of a woman staying by herself in an isolated house when a vagrant attempts to break in. She calls for help on the telephone just before the wires are cut. Will help arrive in time?