Movies Silently’s Top 6 Accidentally Hilarious Silent Films

It’s list time! We’ve already covered the five silent films that I consider to be the worst and least enjoyable. In short, silent films that I wish had been lost. Now we’re going in a slightly different direction. The films on this list are just as bad but they are also entertaining as heck. Whether it’s hilariously inept acting, bizarre title cards, weird stories or some combination, these movies will have you laughing through the groans.

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Silents did it better: 5 silent films that are better than their talkie remakes

Silent movie fans spend considerable time and energy explaining that, yes, silent films are a unique and important form of artistic expression. But what about direct remakes? Silent films often shared source material with sound films and newer technology means a better movie, right?

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Who were the top stars of 1915?

Who were the most popular stars a century ago? Once again, Motion Picture Magazine gives us a clue. In 1913 and 1914, they held popularity contests to discover the top stars in the eyes of their readers. In 1915, the magazine did things a little differently. They held the Great Cast Contest. Readers could vote for performers in various categories instead of voting for everyone in a huge lump.

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Who were the top movie stars of 1914?

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It was fascinating to take a look back at the top American stars of the 1913 movie industry. Well, now it is time to see who took top honors in 1914. Motion Picture Magazine held a contest to see which star would receive the most votes. I’m sure a bit of ballot stuffing probably occurred but as the participants had to pay postage to vote, I imagine that it was not enough to tip the scales too badly. Participants were asked to mail coupons (maximum of one per month) naming their favorites:

The voting coupon.
The voting coupon.

As an added bonus, Motion Picture Magazine also held a contest for scenario writing. The top stars chosen would then act in photoplays written by the magazine readers.

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(click to enlarge)

You will recall that the 1913 list was rather male-centric. Well, the ladies were out in force for 1914!

The top 15 of 1914:

  1. Earle Williams
  2. Clara Kimball Young
  3. Mary Pickford
  4. J. Warren Kerrigan
  5. Mary Fuller
  6. Marguerite Clayton
  7. Arthur Johnson
  8. Alice Joyce
  9. Carlyle Blackwell
  10. Francis X. Bushman
  11. Crane Wilbur
  12. Edith Storey
  13. Florence Lawrence
  14. King Baggot
  15. Anita Stewart

Since many of these performers may be unfamiliar (and some have no films available for home viewing), here is a handy slideshow.

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For purposes of comparison, here were the top 15 stars from the 1913 contest:

  1. Romaine Fielding
  2. Earle Williams
  3. J. Warren Kerrigan
  4. Alice Joyce
  5. Carlyle Blackwell
  6. Francis X. Bushman
  7. G.M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson
  8. Muriel Ostriche
  9. Arthur Johnson
  10. Mary Fuller
  11. Edith Storey
  12. Crane Wilbur
  13. Maurice Costello
  14. Ormi Hawley
  15. Mary Pickford

Many favorites have been knocked off the list entirely (Romaine Fielding did not even make the top 15), demonstrating just how fast the motion picture industry was moving.

But wait, there’s more!

In May, I will be holding Centenary Month, in which I shall try to watch and review films from as many of these 1914 stars as possible. I can’t guarantee that I can cover everyone but I can sure try.