Movies Silently Quarterly Report

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It was a wonderful summer at Movies Silently! We have been researching, writing and just generally having a great time celebrating the world of silent film. Here are some highlights:

The awards are mine! All mine!

merry-jail-lubitch-mizi-dancing

Well, one of them anyway. I was very honored to win the CiMBA award for Best Classic Movie Event. The winning event was the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon co-hosted by the equally wonderful Ruth of Silver Screenings and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen. We are currently conspiring for an encore in 2015 so stay tuned!

2014BLOGEVENT

The videos are still coming

My top video review for the quarter is:


And my top video of all time is:

Which leads me to…

In which I get pedantic

I started a series of articles on who you can trust and who deserves to be ignored in the world of silent film research. The three part series included:

Myths, Rumors and Hogwash, Movie Star Edition

Gossip, Slander and Innuendo, Film Historian Edition

Sloppiness, Laziness and Score-Settling, Blogger and Wiki Edition

Part four is coming soon!

Then, inspired by part three, I went on a major mythbusting expedition. I usually try not to be too much of a stickler (ha ha, I said “try”) but myths that attack perfectly innocent people make me angry. And so, I published a 6,000 word piece (with a tl;dr intro) taking down the idiotic rumor that Florence La Badie was murdered by… Woodrow Wilson?

tempest-john-barrymore-louis-wolheim-camilla-horn-silent-movie-animated-gif-get-a-room

Top post of the quarter

My new and improved silent movie star personality quiz!

Oh and my top recipe in the Cooking with the Silent Stars series is still Joan Crawford’s weird French Banana Salad. Blech.

Top & Bottom Reviews

The five most-read reviews for the quarter:

1. The Trail of ’98

2. The Heart of Humanity

3. The Monster

4. The Sheik

5. The Wizard of Oz

The five least-read reviews (sniff, snuffle, sob):

1. A Romance of the Redwoods

2. The Cradle of Courage

3. Her Night of Romance

4. A Night in the Show

5. Lorna Doone

My Top 10 got a reshuffle:

My Top 10 Silent Films list got a bit shaken up this quarter. The number one film was replaced and I am showing a marked preference for the movies of France and Russia (or French-Russian co-productions). The film I now reckon as the top silent film I have ever reviewed:

Michael Strogoff (1926)

A reminder

I shall be gone on an extended vacation soon. There should be no lag in posts but there may be a delay in answer comments and queries. Please be patient.

News: You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone

goodbye

Readers, I am leaving the country. I would say it was because of a secret silent film-related mission, a rescue of rare film or something, but the simple fact is that I am going on an extended vacation.

I have taken vacations before and no one has been any the wiser but since this one is quite lengthy, I felt it only fair to warn you about possible issues. I depart next weekend.

Here’s what it means for the site:

Posts

I have a nice backlog of posts all scheduled and ready to go. However! Scheduled posts can have a mind of their own sometimes. Please be patient regarding delayed material.

Comments

The WordPress app works pretty well. However! It sometimes “eats” comments and replies. And then there is the wicked spam filter that sometimes flags perfectly innocent comments from longtime readers. I apologize in advance for this. If you feel your comment has been eaten, please let me know.

Social media and emails

There may be some delays in responding to social media and emails. Again, I have apps but they can be a bit fiddly at times. Please be patient. I apologize in advance for any delays.

Events

The Fairy Tale Blogathon was carefully scheduled around my comings and goings. No problem there. However! As I will have trouble fiddling with the roster after this coming week, I strongly recommend that you sign on now. If you sign on while I am gone, you can still participate, there just may be a delay in adding you to the list.

Help Wanted: Let’s get Frances Marion preserved!

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Well, not Frances Marion herself. That would be weird. No, I mean her films. Frances Marion is best remembered today as a pioneering screenwriter but she was also a director during the silent era. While The Love Light has been released on home media, her other directorial efforts, Just Around the Corner (1921) and The Song of Love (1923), have yet to see release. Both films are held by the Library of Congress.

Every year, The National Film Preservation Board selects 25 films to be specially preserved for the ages. You can read the complete nomination requirements here.

Please consider writing in and nominating some Frances Marion titles as both director and screenwriter. Here are my recommended selections but please feel free to include any Marion films that you love:

Stella Maris (1918)

*The Song of Love (1923)

*The Love Light (1921)

*Just Around the Corner (1921)

Dinner at Eight (1933)

The Big House (1930)

The Champ (1931)

(Screenwriter on all titles. Also directed titles marked with *)

What do I do?

Send in your list of nominees to the following email address:

dross@loc.gov

While they give their physical address on their nomination instructions page, they state that email is preferred. They also ask that you number your recommendations and state where you learned about their registry.

If you want more details, please visit the registry’s FAQ page.

Why Frances Marion?

While there were countless numbers of important women in early Hollywood, Frances Marion still has quite a bit of name recognition and respect. She deserves to have her films preserved. (The Wind is already on the registry but it is noted more for the contributions of Lillian Gish and Victor Seastrom.)

Most of all, her movies are important. Her writing is sharp and snappy. Her career as a director is intriguing. Her body of work deserves the honor of inclusion in the National Film Registry. The motion pictures listed, in my opinion, fit the requirement of being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

What if I want to nominate other films?

You are allowed to nominate up to 50 films. Please consider making a Frances Marion title one of that 50.

A big thank you for helping and another big thank you to the wonderful Women in Film & Video. They drew my attention to this important gap in the National Film Registry and inspired me to lend a hand.

Recommended

Movies Silently Quarterly Report

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It’s been a wild couple of months on the site. (Well, “wild” is a relative term. As wild as things get around here.) Some new features were launched, some old features were brought back and I have been having fun in the kitchen.

The Video Reviews keep coming

I am a little late this month, owing to a flu, but I promise there is a lot of good stuff in the works!

Most watched video review to date: The Sheik

Video that I enjoyed making the most: Barbed Wire (lots of extra research on WWI and the German invasion of Hollywood. Love research!)

I went into major myth-busting mode

I launched a new video series designed to cover basic questions and comments that I hear a lot. All questions answered in under five minutes. Why do silent movies have so many women tied to railroad tracks? Why are silent movies so boring? Things like that.

I also tried to incorporate more cleanup work in my articles and reviews.

Think Buster Keaton made The Frozen North as revenge against William S. Hart? Nope!

Think Ivan Mosjoukine came to America to replace Valentino and had a nose job just before Surrender? Uh uh.

Think The Wind had its original tragic ending replaced by the evil MGM and that the crew endured 120-degree heat while making it? Nope!

These misconceptions have been around for far too long and I will do my level best to kill them.

Recommended

Some old features returned

After an absence of a few months, I brought back Silents in Talkies, which covers how silent films are portrayed in both classic and modern cinema. Hugo got reviewed from the silent point of view.

Silent Take is one of my all-time most popular features. I take a popular modern film (post 1970s or so) and recast it with silent stars. A poster completes the fantasy. Well, my design duties at work increased enormously and all my creative juice was going to that so I had to take a break from Silent Take.

The feature made a triumphant return with a recasting of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Look for The Empire Strikes Back soon.

I got cookin’

Cover-Medium

I was able to track down a reasonably-priced copy of Photoplay Magazine’s celebrity cookbook. It contains 150 recipes of the stars and I have been cooking my way through it. Quite an undertaking but fun. The flu also threw me behind schedule on this feature but I have plenty of good stuff  lined up, never fear.

Most Read Reviews

1. The Wizard of Oz (1925)

2. The Frozen North (1922)

3. The Penalty (1920)

4. The Sheik (1921)

5. The Prisoner of Zenda (1922)

Least Read Reviews

1. The Sunbeam (1912)

2. The Golden Chance (1915)

3. The Cradle of Courage (1920)

4. Nomads of the North (1920)

5. The Charlatan (1929)

Good things are happening! Thank you for reading and for you ongoing support.

Recommended

Announcement of new feature: The Video Pick of the Week

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After a rousing little discussion of The Canadian (1926), I decided it would be fun to feature some of the newer video/streaming releases that I may not have gotten around to reviewing yet. I will include cover art, a very brief description and a link for purchase.

You may notice a new widget in my sidebar (or at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this on a smaller mobile device), which contains my Video Pick of the Week. The title was, of course, inspired by the Siskel & Ebert feature on their classic review show. Here’s to you, Gene and Roger.

This week’s video pick is, naturally, The Canadian, which was released by Grapevine Video a few weeks back. I will be changing up the pick every Sunday. (Since I posted this mid-week, I will keep it up until the May 11.)

Recommended

Movies Silently Quarterly Report

2014-1_quarterly-report-headerBig changes to the site this quarter! Let’s dive in.

Made the jump to self-hosting– and got a new look

Hosting by WordPress is great but a little limiting and I moved over to a self-hosted site in January. There were some growing pains and a few glitches (like my subscription plugin spamming everyone) but I think the move was the right decision. Armed with a new template and some exciting new review tools, I am ready to take the online silent film community by storm! Or something.

Hosted two blogathons and have launched a third

snoopathon-blogathon-of-spies-ipcressI started things off with the Classic Movie History Project blogathon, co-hosted by Ruth of Silver Screenings and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen. Great fun!

My next blogathon was hosted solo and focused on the detective and mystery genre. The Sleuthathon was a grand bit of fun for me.

I am going to be hosting the Snoopathon in June, a blogathon of spies.

Started producing silent movie video reviews

This was a big one for me. I had been researching and planning to make video reviews for months before I finally threw my hat in the ring. It’s been an enormous amount of fun and I have enjoyed sharing some of my favorite silent movie scenes. (You can see the review list here.)

So far, I have reviewed The Sheik, Barbed Wire, Hell’s Hinges, The Cat and the Canary and am working on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Top Reviews

The champ!
The champ!

The cream of the crop! (And so many beginning with the letter S.)

1. The Squaw Man

2. Sherlock Holmes

3. The Sheik

4. Alias Jimmy Valentine

5. The Cheat

Bottom Reviews

eves-leaves-thats-a-kiss-silent-movie-animated-gifPoor li’l guys!

1. Eve’s Leaves (Aw, I love that movie!)

2. A Modern Musketeer

3. The Golden Chance

4. That Certain Thing

5. The Sea Lion

Things Google taught me:

Actual search query:

daddy-long-legs-honeymoonDirty Daddy Long Legs fan fiction? This exists? Daddy Long Legs is a children’s book. Ew.

On a less disturbing note, I was glad to receive queries about which silent movies work well for beginners and why silent movies are still popular.

News and Upcoming Events

Things are going to be fun for the next few months! I have signed up for a long list of amazing blogathons. In fact, I have signed up for so many that I decided I needed to write a post to keep everything straight in my own head. Ready? Let’s go!

I am hosting:

The Sleuthathon!

detective-blogathon-keatonIt’s going to be a celebration of classic detectives in movies and television. I will be covering the 1922 version of Sherlock Holmes starring John Barrymore and (gulp!) Carol Dempster. You can read the complete roster here.

And now for the events I will be participating in:

(Listed by date)

Big Stars in the Small Screen Blogathon

stanny small screen

All about movie actors on television. Hosted by Aurora of How Sweet it Was on March 20 & 21. I shall be covering one or more of Francis X. Bushman’s Perry Mason appearances.

The Big League Blogathon

big-league-blogathon

This event is all about baseball movies of any era. It’s hosted by Forgotten Films and will be held March 31-April 6. I shall be covering The Busher, a baseball film from 1919 that stars Charles Ray. The supporting cast includes Colleen Moore and John Gilbert, both in their very early twenties!

The Diamonds & Gold Blogathon

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Celebrating memorable performances from actors in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond. It is hosted by Caftan Woman and Wide Screen World and will take place on April 12-13. I shall be covering William S. Hart in The Toll Gate.

The Great Villain Blogathon

banner_villain5All about the bad guys. It’s hosted by Speakeasy, Shadows and Satin, and Silver Screenings and will take place on April 20-26. I shall be covering Dr. Mabuse. Yay, finally covering a silent Fritz Lang film for the site!

The Romantic Comedy Blogathon

romantic comedyJust what it sounds like, all things romantic and funny! It is hosted by Carole & Co. and Backlots and will take place on May 1-4. I shall be covering The Merry Jail, one of Ernst Lubitsch’s earliest surviving romantic comedies.

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Phew! As you can see, many good things are coming. Looking forward to it!

Upcoming events and a top secret project

At what school did you learn to be a detective? Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary.
At what school did you learn to be a detective, Holmes? Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary.

It’s time for some updates! First, let’s talk about the blogathons.

I am participating in the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken & Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club. I will be covering Underworld, the very first film to win an Academy Award for best writing.

I am back to hosting as well! This time, I am holding the Sleuthathon, a blogathon of classic movie and TV detectives.

The top secret project

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I have been keeping secrets from you. One secret in particular.

For the last six months, I have been working on creating a series of video reviews. I have been writing, experimenting, doing research, checking copyrights… It’s been busy! I had to decide on tone, write the review (writing for a video is very different from writing a print review) and select appropriate clips.

I know that my announcement is on YouTube but I will be posting my reviews on Vimeo. I know YouTube has a much wider audience but there are enough copyright trolls on the site to make me hesitate. And, frankly, I think Google has quite enough control over my online life, thank you very much.

My videos will be made up of public domain and Creative Commons-licensed content so most video review issues should be sidestepped.

In any case, the first video will launch tomorrow. Look for it!

Help Wanted: Let me know your feedback on the site features

Well, it has been a week and a half since I made the big switch. I would love some feedback about the new features. Here goes:

Commenting

What do you think of the new Disqus commenting system?

I switched to Disqus because it had two features that WordPress lacked:

1) The ability to make a specific guest comment avatar for my site.

2) It allows users to up or down-vote other comments.

What do you think? Should I keep the new system or switch back to the WordPress default?

Main Menu

I am still working on the main menu so please be patient with me. I am streamlining my categories and trying to make everything make more sense in general.

Feedback

Is there anything you don’t like about the new site? Anything that is not functioning properly? I would be very grateful if you let me know.

The Film Rescue Commando Squad

There are two frustrating things about being a silent movie fan. Lost films are the number one vexation. That is, no known copy exists. Second place goes to the sheer number of films that are stuck in archive vaults and simply not famous enough to ever earn home media release. These “vaulties” may crop up at film festivals now and again but are otherwise completely forgotten.

Now I absolutely do not want to come off as negative toward archivists. They are hard-working professionals and they have a daunting job. I understand that more famous films that will sell thousands of copies are considered higher priority than movies that may sell, say, a hundred or so discs.

Up until now, our best hope of seeing more obscure films was either through the venerable Grapevine Video or the wonderful Treasures from (insert country) Film Archives series.

That’s why I am so excited about a certain Kickstarter campaign…

Let’s say you want to see a movie. You know it is in the public domain because it was released before 1923. However, the only prints are held by the Library of Congress. The folks at LoC will gladly give you a copy but the cost of the transfer is over $1,000. That’s a lot of money for most people. What to do?

Well, there must be other people who want to see that film. If they gave just $25 each…

One silent film rescue coming right up!
One silent film rescue coming right up!

Which brings us to Edward Lorusso’s Kickstarter campaign. The target film is Marion Davies’ 1921 romantic comedy Enchantment. The price tag is $1,300 for the Library of Congress to transfer the picture. The incentive? Each person who donates $25 or more will receive a DVD copy of the movie. This means that just 52 silent film fans working together can return a vaultie to the public.

The campaign was funded in just two days and it looks like folks are still donating (the fundraising event is slated to last until February 7, 2014). Documentaries and new movies have been funded through Kickstarter before but, in my opinion, this is a huge game-changer for silent film fans. Instead of bemoaning the lack of film selection (heck I have a whole series on films in vaults) we can take action to get these movies released once more. Yes, $1,300 is a hefty price tag for a single film but I dare say that most silent titles have at least 50 people interested in seeing them. Even without recognizable stars or a famous director, the sheer rarity of some vault treasures will send silent fans racing to donate.

Congratulations to Mr. Lorusso for his brilliant idea and his successful campaign. I hope it is just the first of many film rescues in the silent community.

Goodness, I feel so revolutionary!

Scaramouche, French Revolution Animated GIF

Oh, and look for a review of Enchantment once I get my copy!

It’s ALIVE! (And sorry for spamming everyone)

[dropcap size=dropcap-big]W[/dropcap]ell, here it is. The new site design, I mean. Whatcha think? This has been in the works for a few months and I am thrilled to finally be unveiling it. I am going to go over the main features one at a time but I have something important to say first:

I am really sorry if you got a whole bunch of publication notices yesterday. I moved my site from a hosted WordPress blog to a self-hosted one and it seems that the subscriber setting went nuts. Tech support has been very nice and they are helping me with it but I do apologize for the flurry of old posts.

Now on to the good stuff! The new features are pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

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New commenting system

Due to spam issues, I had my old commenting system set to allow only signed-in WordPress users and registered social media accounts the ability comment. Some folks have told me that this method was buggy and they had difficulty commenting. I did my research and decided that Disqus was the solution. It’s a commenting plugin that lets users sign in through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or a Disqus account. It is simple to use and I hope it makes commenting more enjoyable for everyone.

New review system

One of the reasons I chose this design is its review functionality. Scroll to the bottom of a review (I have just tested it on this one) and you will see ratings bars and an in-a-nutshell description of my overall opinion. I hope you enjoy.

Drop caps

[dropcap size=dropcap]H[/dropcap]ow I love drop caps! Let me count the ways! I feel just so fancy with these curly, oversized letters at the beginning of paragraphs. I am still experimenting with the exact look, color and size that works but I am just thrilled to have them. I like old-fashioned things, in case you hadn’t already noticed.

More is coming!

Thanks to the power of plugins, I will be adding even more fabulous content soon. Keep your eyes skinned and your ears sharp. (Ooo, so violent!)

Karl Dane is me and the iron is the website.
Karl Dane is me and the iron is the website.

Excuse my mess!

lois wilson keep it clean

Hi, everyone!

I reworking my blog so there is going to be some downtime/messy pages over the next few days. The results are going to be amazing (I promise!) but things are going to be a bit disorganized and there may be some outages tonight and tomorrow morning. Bear with me, please!

Tidiness is overrated anyway, don’t you think?

parisian-love-clara-blow-1925-silent-movie-clean-nails

Movies Silently Quarterly Report

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Whew! The last quarter of 2013 was a busy one!

Here are some numbers:

The site now has a total of 641 WordPress followers and over 2,000 Twitter followers.

I participated in four blogathons (not counting ones that I co-hosted)

I have published a total of 635 posts

News

I launched some new features on the site:

Click to enlarge.
Hair tips!

The Silent Life: Vintage articles and excerpts dealing with daily life during the silent era.

I am in the middle of holding my first-ever silent movie tournament. The winners in four categories will be featured in April of 2014.

I co-hosted the Chaney Blogathon with the fabulous Jo of The Last Drive In.

Here are the countries that visited my site the most in the last quarter:

2013-qtr-3-countries

Here are my top 5 reviews for the quarter:

1. The Sheik

2. The Wizard of Oz

3. The Cheat

4. City Lights

5. The Wind

And the sad bottom 5:

1. Oh Doctor!

2. The Play House

3. Only Me

4. The Hessian Renegades

5. That Certain Thing

The top 5 articles:

1. Battle of the Bobbed Hair

2. Silent Movie Myth #4: Tied to the Railroad Tracks

3. Five must-own silent movies from Warner Archive

4. Top Ten Silent Films (with numerous caveats)

5. All About the Blogathons: How to Participate

As always, thanks for reading!

Update: The poll results for new features, some design news and upcoming events

I’d like to start by thanking everyone who voted and left feedback. And here are the results of the polls:

What existing series do you like best?

Many sound favorites got started in the silents.
Many sound favorites got started in the silents.

The choices here were Silents in Talkies, After the Silents, The Lost Film Files and In the Vaults.

The first three choices are all neck and neck in popularity with In the Vaults slightly less popular. I had been slacking off on my Lost Film and Vaults posts lately but I will be putting more into the queue. I will also be more diligent about posting After the Silents. Silents in Talkies will be a little more sporadic because I frankly get a little worked up when movies get things wrong and I try not to write angry.

What new series would you like to read?

The choices here were Silent Life (a look at daily life in the silent era), Dress Like a Star! (showcase a fashionable look from a silent film), and So You Want to Make a Silent Movie (vintage tips for would-be filmmakers).

The response was overwhelming. Silent Life got more votes than the other two choices combined. I have already started implementing the series on my site. The other two proposed features will be rolled out sometime in the new year.

Once again, I really appreciate your feedback and hope you enjoy the new features.

Movies Silently is getting a makeover

Will the site be as pretty as Joseph Schildkraut in Orphans of the Storm? That is the goal! (via Wikipedia)

Over the last year or so, you may have noticed that I have been experimenting with various headers and banners. Well, I finally made up my mind. I will be switching themes and implementing the new look in the next few months. In the meantime, please excuse my mess.

Upcoming Events

I'm just tickled to have an excuse to use a still from Nyoka and the Tigermen.
I’m just tickled to have an excuse to use a still from Nyoka and the Tigermen.

I will be co-hosting the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon on January 12. Be sure to come over for the festivities.

February is a very special month. I will be holding a Cecil B. DeMille Centennial Bash. DeMille’s directing debut, The Squaw Man, was released in February of 1914 and I will be reviewing it (along with other DeMille features). I considered hosting a DeMille blogathon but had a bit too much on my plate already. Don’t write it off, though. Cecil B. and I have a very complicated relationship and it would be a fun event to host sometime in the future.

But that’s not all! February is also the anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s debut! I will be throwing some Chaplin shorts into the review mix as well. I decided to give the month to DeMille because I think his best work was in the silent era and it is unjustly neglected. However, there was no way I could leave the Little Tramp out entirely.

Lots to do!

Help Wanted: What features would you like to see more often?

poll-header-movies-silently

I would love to get everyone’s feedback on what features you enjoy the most and what you would like to see more of.

What’s staying the same:

I try to create at least one full-length (1500-3000 word) review once a week. I know everyone likes Silents vs. Talkies and I try to incorporate the feature into the review whenever possible. The schedule works well for me and I will probably keep it up.

The Silent Take series (modern films recast as silents) depends on what inspiration strikes me and how much graphic design juice I use up at work. It will remain an irregular but permanent feature.

Here’s where you come in:

Which series would you like to see more often? Please select the one you prefer.

I am also kicking around some new series ideas. This poll allows multiple choices so click on all the ideas that appeal to you.

Thanks!

Recommended

Help Wanted: What film would you like to see made into a Silent Movie Picture Book?

poll-header-movies-silently

I had a great response for my silent movie picture book so I want to make another. What is a silent movie picture book, pray tell?

I take screen grabs from the film, add some snarky dialogue underneath and tell the story of the film.

Here’s a sample from my story book for The Sheik.

sheik-cheat-sheet-03

(You can read the whole picture book here.)

So, I am ready to make another one of these things and I want your help. Just vote in the poll below and let me know which film YOU would like to see get the picture book treatment.

Thanks for voting!

Updates, upcoming events and a few secrets I have been keeping from you

Angnes Ayres Mirror
All about me!

The Gish Sisters Blogathon is over but what a fun ride it was! The contributors outdid themselves and it was a great pleasure to read their posts.

The blogathon was the culmination of five months of behind-the-scenes work. I began to plan in April, made the banners and invited my co-hostess aboard. The biggest challenge? Keeping the secret until the announcement in July! I like to plan ahead but I hate to keep secrets.

Well, I am keeping more secrets from you, readers. I have a few new features and special events in the pipeline and I fully intend to knock your socks off. In fact, you may want to watch those socks on Sunday because I will be making a huge announcement. You’re going to like it, I promise.

But enough mysterious-type talk! I wanted to give you some details on what is coming up on Movies Silently.

Upcoming Blogathons (that I am not hosting but have joined and feel you should too)

I will be covering The Power of the Press starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and directed by Frank Capra. You can join up by getting in touch with either hostess, Comet Over Hollywood or Lindsay’s Movie Musings.

(As a non-hosting participant, I can’t accept entries to any of these events. Just mentioning. But I will link to each and every host blog and I am sure they would love to have you.)

This is going to be fun! I will be inventing a 60’s-style starring-everyone-famous-in-the-whole-world adventure comedy… in the silent era! Fairbanks or Swanson or Valentino or Pickford or Barrymore? Yes. You can get in touch with Silver Scenes to join up.

Inspired by my Silent Take posters, Carole & Co. is hosting a bit of silent recasting. I am signed on for Star Wars circa 1915. You can join up by contacting the host blog.

Once Upon a Screen, Paula’s Cinema Club and Outspoken & Freckled are co-hosting the second What a Character Blogathon! I will be covering Tully Marshall in a review of the 1929 Technicolor film Redskin.

In other news, I will be continuing my assorted series and I will be getting back into the mini biographies. Haven’t written any of those in a while and I really enjoy making them.

And next month’s theme is Reader Requests! I got an overwhelming list of amazing films but I have narrowed down my selections. It was a challenge to choose only five films but I did it in the end. I will be announcing the final choices in October and, as promised, if I choose your suggestion, I will link to your (SFW) blog or website.

Help Wanted: The great self-nomination challenge, or, CiMBA Awards and what to do about them

poll-header-movies-silently

I am in a bit of a quandary and was hoping that my readers would be able to help me out.

I belong to the Classic Movie Blog Association and every year, they have the CiMBA awards to honor members. This is my very first year of membership so I am still finding my way around.

Here’s how it works: There are seven categories. Bloggers may pick up to four of those categories and self-nominate one post per category.

This is where you come in. The self-nominating is a little difficult for me. I wrote this stuff and feel like I need outside opinions. Any help would be enormously appreciated.

Which review should I self-nominate?

The review category is divided into two: Drama or Musical/Comedy. Here are some of the ones I was thinking of:

The Doll (comedy)

Tempest (drama)

Alias Jimmy Valentine (drama)

The Bells (drama)

The Prisoner of Zenda (drama)

Show People (comedy)

Remember, this is based on the review, not how much I love the film. So, these are the reviews that I think I did the best job on. (I am so uncomfortable with this!)

Which article should I self-nominate?

Stolen Bravery (I actually like this review best but I wasn’t sure if an image-based post was in the spirit of the awards)

Questions from the Google: Tied to the Railroad Tracks

Kinetoscope, Vitaphone, Part-Talkie… huh?

Which series should I self-nominate?

Silent Take (modern films recast as silent movies)

About Silent Movies (most common questions about silent films answered)

After the Silents (reviews of sound movies with silent veterans in the cast and mini-bios of the performers in question)

Silent Movie Myths (common misconceptions about silent movies debunked)

What you can do

You can offer suggestions in the comments or use this handy form.

Thanks for your help!

PS, the fourth topic I am going to self-nominate is Best Classic Movie Blog Design.

Announcement of New Feature: Silents in Talkies

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I am pleased to announce another feature for Movies Silently: Silents in Talkies.

What is it? I will be reviewing sound-era films that contain silent movie clips, are set at silent movie studios or that feature characters who are involved in the silent film industry.

I got the idea for this feature by people watching. You see, most modern moviegoers get their ideas about silent films not from actually seeing silent films. Nope. They get them from the portrayals of silent cinema in talking pictures.

Any silent film fan knows that if you mention liking pre-sound movies, the first thing most people will think of is Singin’ in the Rain. Or The Three Amigos. Or Hugo.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. After all, a very non-silent-loving acquaintance sat through some Melies shorts thanks to Hugo. However, Hollywood handles its own history about as well as it handles everyone else’s: Stereotypes are reinforced, tropes are employed, timelines telescoped and complex issues are ridiculously oversimplified. As a result, even the best-intentioned talking picture has trouble capturing the true flavor of silent films.

Here is my goal for the new feature:

Take a look at how silent films are portrayed in the talkies and highlight what they got wrong… and what they got right!

I will briefly review the film itself and then discuss the way silent films are portrayed and whether this portrayal helped or harmed public’s perception of the silent cinema. Note that is is possible for a very good film to still cause damage.

My first review? Well, it’s the movie everyone in my locality seems to think of when silents are mention.

Look for it soon!

Recommended

Movies Silently Quarterly Report

Wow! A lot has happened since the last time I posted one of these! Welcome to the second quarter of 2013!

I renamed myself

I decided to take up the pen name of Fritzi. I just feel so much more roaring and twenties and whatnot this way. Plus, a little tribute to Fritz Lang never hurt anyone.

I have been networking!

I was accepted as a member of both the Classic Movie Hub and the Classic Movie Blog Association.

I hosted my very first blogathon.

Twitter followers for Movies Silently topped 1,200.

I topped 2,000 likes on WordPress.

I feel so international

I love seeing all the different parts of the map light up!

The high points and low points

You love your TCM! There is always a spike in traffic for reviews after the film has been shown on the channel.

Here are my top 5 reviews for the quarter:

  1. Judex

2. The Sheik

  1. The Prisoner of Zenda

  2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

  3. The Indian Tomb

(You also love your German cinema and your Valentino, it seems! You also caught the TCM showing of Judex.)

Bottom five reviews (sniff, snuffle!):

  1. That Certain Thing

  2. The Golden Chance

  3. Little Annie Rooney

  4. The Sea Lion

  5. Captain January

It wasn’t all easy going…

I had to deal with my first true case of plagiarism. As in, someone copied a review and passed it off as their own. Not one word of credit to me or my site and not just a quote or a section, the whole enchilada. Well, except for a small bit they hacked out (so 600 of 700 words) which meant the review no longer flowed or made sense. This somehow made it worse.

And this wasn’t some kid or newbie either, it was a business.

The good news? One cease and desist email was all it took!

All in all, though, a fantastic quarter! Thank you, I couldn’t have done it without you!

The birth of Fritzi

Hello, all. I questioned whether to post on this topic but I feel it will save confusion down the line so here goes:

I have decided to use the name Fritzi in the future. Adopting a pen name was quite a decision but here are some reasons why I decided to take the leap.

1. It’s a tribute

Of all of my family, my German grandmother most personified the 20’s. Her golden Marcel wave was flawless. She was adorable! So the name Fritzi is for her. Fritzi Scheff and Fritz Lang were also on my mind when I chose it.

2. It’s a persona

Some people spill their guts on their blogs. I feel that I very much adopt a persona. My goal is to mimic the freewheeling style of 1920’s entertainment reporters. The new name lets me burrow deeper into that role.

3. It’s cute

The name Fritzi just makes me smile. It’s cute and different but not unrecognizable. It’s easy to pronounce and it has a Z. When I started blogging, I was not exactly sure of what direction to take. I slowly realized that I was most comfortable with cute and I feel the name matches this goal.

So, this is the introduction of Fritzi. Enjoy!

Help Wanted: You choose my reviews!

As you recall, my theme month for June was chosen by my readers in a poll. Now I am going one step further. I am going to have an entire month in which I review nothing but reader requests!

Here’s how it works: Request a silent movie that you would like me to review. I will go through the requests and select 4-7 (depending on their length) for review.

The requests so far (please keep them coming!):

(I will update this section as I get more feedback)

My loyal subscriber Emma requested The Wizard of Oz (1925), widely considered the worst silent film ever made. She also requested The Married Virgin, The General and Sadie Thompson.

The Toronto Silent Film Festival requested The Adventures of Prince Achmed, JÁccuse and The Crowd (or anything directed by King Vidor). For comedy, Seven Years Bad Luck, Limousine Love and Putting the Pants on Phillip.

Terry of A Shroud of Thoughts requested some German horror: Nosferatu and The Golem.

Kendra of VivAndLarry.com requested Pandora’s Box.

Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood requested Red Lily.

Chris of StoryBox requested The Poor Little Rich Girl.

Danny of Pre-Code.com requested The Toll of the Sea.

Trevor of A Modern Musketeer requested Lizzies of the Field and His Prehistoric Past.

Paul on Twitter requested The Kid.

Barry of Cinematic Catharsis requested a Lon Chaney/Tod Browning collaboration.

Judy of Movie classics requested The Phantom Carriage.

Cindy Bruchman requested a Charlie Chaplin film.

Silent Beauties recommended two Danish films, Atlantis and The Abyss.

Michael on Twitter requested City Lights.

Jonathan Moya sent me a long list of fabulous recommendations. Here are the highlights (and the ones that are not either already reviewed or currently scheduled): Sunrise, Greed, Ben Hur, The Battleship Potemkin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and A Woman of Paris.

Lindsey of The Motion Pictures requested HE Who Gets Slapped.

Jenni of Portraits by Jenni requested Broken Blossoms and White Shadows in the South Seas.

Subscriber Richard requested Les Vampires and Faust.

Jonathan on Twitter requested The General.

Thomas of We Want Hollywood requested Rubber Tires.

Noir Dame seconded Red Lily and Nosferatu. She also requested Sherlock Jr., The Plastic Age and a Talmadge sister title.

Aurora of Once Upon a Screen requested Romance of the Redwoods, the first of two Mary Pickford/Cecil B. DeMille collaborations.

Blog reader Suzanne requested The Last Command.

My подруга requested Seventh Heaven and The Unknown.

Blog reader Alex requested Diary of a Lost Girl.

David on Twitter requested Coeur Fidèle

Blog reader Cindy requested The Big Parade, A Woman of Paris or anything with Garbo and Gilbert.

My 오빠 requested Wild Oranges

Brandie of True Classics and Jill of Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence requested Silent Movie (1976)

How you can join in:

Use the comments or this handy contact box. I am also on the Twitter so you may tweet me. Be sure to mention if you have a blog or a website since I will give you a shout-out it if I choose your film request (assuming the content is SFW, of course). You can also request a genre or a performer, if you don’t have any titles in mind.

I should probably mention that I have a small list of films I will not be reviewing under any circumstances. Don’t worry, there are only two films on it. Just thought I would issue the warning.

Announcement of New Feature: After the Silents

I am very excited to announce a new feature for the site: After the Silents.

What is it? It will involve brief reviews covering sound movies that feature silent era performers and directors.

I got the idea for this feature in two parts. First, I noticed as I was doing research using sites like IMDB and Wikipedia that one phrase kept cropping up: “One of the few silent era performers to make it into talkies.” I read the phrase in dozens of articles in a row! Now anyone familiar with silent movies and early talkies knows that lots of silent era performers made the jump, albeit sometimes with diminished prestige. This “one of the few” talk may seem like a small issue but it bugged me all the same.

The second part of the idea came when Joey over at The Last Drive In asked me to join her William Castle Blogathon. William Castle, of course, made no silent films but I noticed that he had made quite a few films with actors who had been active in the silents.

Eureka! Why not talk a bit about films that featured former silent actors?

Here are my goals for this new feature:

  • Introduce readers to a silent actor whose sound work has been forgotten
  • Reacquaint readers with a famous sound-era actor whose silent work has been forgotten
  • Help viewers dive into the silents. I think it is much easier for newer viewers of silents to enjoy them if they see one of their favorite sound-era performers.

I plan to keep reviews short and, after a brief review of the overall film, focus on the work of the former silent stars and director. I intend to review films that are either representative of the performer’s sound career or are the most famous sound films that they acted in.

My first after the silents review? Here’s hint:

Actually, this gives the whole game away but enjoy anyway! I will be posting it soon.

Oh, and if you blog, do be sure to sign up for that William Castle blogathon!

The Readers have spoken! Poll Results for June’s Theme

First, a huge “thank you” to everyone who took the time to vote in my poll. And now, the winners!

In a stunnning come-from-behind win, we have:

The Peasants are Revolting!

Yes, my readers are an adventurous lot. They want the thrills, the romance, the socioeconomic debates! Well, dear readers, you shall have all those things! Revolutions in America, France, Russia, Mexico… All captured in silent movie form. The theme for June shall be The Peasants are Revolting!

Here are the complete polling results:

  1. The Peasants are Revolting
  2. Double Vision
  3. Crime, Inc.
  4. Heir Loss
  5. In the Shorts!
  6. Famous for their voices

Double Vision led for most of the week but a flurry of Revolutionary votes sunk its chances for the win. Since it was so close, though, I have decided to make July Double Vision Month.

Here is my theme schedule:

May: Brothers Barrymore | celebrating the films of John and Lionel.

June: The Peasants are Revolting | revolution and the American silent film.

July: Double Vision | (and triple, and quadruple!) stars in multiple roles.

August: Crime, Inc. | Bootlegging! Murder! Double amputees who become criminal overlords and conspire to invade San Francisco! And some comedy.

September: ??? (I have something pretty fun planned but I want to surprise you!)

Introducing Fun Size Reviews

Hello, all!

I tend to be a bit wordy in my movie reviews but I know that you are all busy people. So I have started writing Fun Size Reviews. I will re-review every film in 100 words or less. I am starting with my very first review, The Sheik. I will provide one picture and tell you what dessert this film is like.

I will still be writing long reviews but think of the Fun Size Reviews as their little sisters. A Dorothy to the Lillians.

Enjoy!

Movies Silently Quarterly Report

Here is what happened in the first quarter of 2013:

Top Reviews: You love Valentino and Veidt!

  1. The Sheik
  2. The Indian Tomb
  3. The Love Flower
  4. The Cheat
  5. Judex

Top Articles: You like to read about silent movie myths!

  1. Silent Movie Myth #3: The Firsts
  2. Silent Movie Myth #1: Silent stars had funny voices
  3. Silent Movie Myth #4: Tied to the Railroad Tracks
  4. Silent Movie Myth #2: Silent Movies are just Sound Movies with a few intertitles
  5. Silent Movie Time Capsule: Who were the top movie stars of 1913?

Reviews that need a little love:

The bottom 5 reviews. Three out of five are nautical tales. Are you trying to tell me something?

The Sea Lion (1921) A Silent Film Review

It has Bessie Love and Hobart Bosworth! That can’t be bad!

Captain January (1924) A Silent Film Review

Baby Peggy stars with the afore-mentioned Mr. Bosworth. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll say “awwwww!”

Miss Lulu Bett (1921) A Silent Film Review

Lois Wilson and the always-splendid Milton Sills star in this one. It is one of the sweetest romances in silent film.

Eve’s Leaves (1926) A Silent Movie Review

Leatrice Joy and William Boyd star in this ship-bound gender bender. Wacky fun!

Little Annie Rooney (1925) A Silent Film Review

Mary Pickford and William Haines lead this tenement-based romantic dramedy.

Top Geographic Locations:

There are the countries that visited this site the most. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy seeing the huge variety of nation icons in my website stats.

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. France
  5. Sweden

And the runners-up are Spain, Germany and Italy.

At present, I have not posted enough biographies to start counting the most popular ones. I will be including that statistic in next quarter’s report.

Thanks for coming along on the guilt trip, hee heeeee. And a huge “thank you” to everyone who has visited, tweeted and sent messages.