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?

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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?

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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

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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.