You may recall that I mentioned in my review of The School for Scandal (earliest surviving Basil Rathbone film performance) that the private collector holding the print was willing to put it up on YouTube for all to enjoy. Well, it has been uploaded!
After a very long hiatus, video reviews are back! You have probably learned by now that I adore kitsch and I will be reviewing one of the zaniest, kitschiest films of the silent era: Cecil B. DeMille’s The Road to Yesterday.
Some of my newer readers may not know this but I also make video reviews of silent films. I wanted to share a couple oldies-but-goodies with you.
It’s time for a little video rewind! In addition to writing articles about silent movie myths, I cut together little videos that neatly disprove some of the most pervasive and ridiculous myths about silent movies
Continue reading “Video: Oh darn those boring silent movies full of damsels in distress”
Videos are back! Well, one video. One video is back.
This is meant to be a video companion to my pictorial essay Stolen Bravery. You see, the “damsel tied to the train tracks” trope is more than just a stupid misconception. It actually is robbing the bold and brash women of silent film of the respect that is their due. While the era did have its damsels (much like films, TV shows and video games of today), it also had an enormous share of bold heroines and villainesses. Enjoy the clips!
This is a common question. There are hundreds of amateur silent films online and more are uploaded every day. What do most of them have in common? They are awful. What’s most irritating is that many of the mistakes that these would-be silent directors make could have been avoided if they had spent a little time studying actual silent films.
I’ve had this video cooking for a while now and the recent flare-up of Chaplin vs. Keaton emotion makes this a good time to post it. I realize that many of the culprits are eager young fans but the sooner we get them socially housebroken, the better off we all will be. (Though I think there is a 73% chance that someone is not going to watch the video and will skip to the comments to declare their preference while bashing the other party.)
We’re heading back to Germany with something that often gets described as a carnival nightmare. I’m not sure if I would go so far but it is marvelously creepy and stylish. Paul Leni (The Cat and the Canary) designed and directed this beautiful film, which takes place in a wax museum. Future Hollywood director Wilhelm (William) Dieterle is the leading man, a writer who must come up with creepy tales for the exhibit. Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauss and Emil Jannings play the wax men.
A gender-reversed version of The Taming of the Shrew with feminist overtones and starring Pola Negri? Yes, please! This Roaring Twenties dramedy casts Pola as a chain-smoking, tattoo-getting, couture-wearing countess who takes a tiny mid-west town by storm. She sets her sights on a prim district attorney and the sparks fly. He doesn’t approve of anyone– but particularly women– having a good time. She has to beat some sense into his head. Literally. It doesn’t get more fun than this, people!
There is one word that comes up again and again when silent movies are discussed by non-fans: boring. This video addresses the misconception head-on– and has clips to prove that silent movies were a lot of things but boring was not one of them!
John Barrymore gnaws on the scenery in this zany medieval action-comedy. The Beloved Rogue was his first film for United Artists and it was also the American debut of Conrad Veidt. Veidt and Barrymore compete to see who can overact more shamelessly. I think it is too close to call.
A ton of fun, truly.
When people think of silent movies, they often think of jittery, scratched images flickering across their screen. But why does the image quality of silent films tend to be so poor? We are going to briefly discuss the topic in this video.
Of course, the topic of film preservation is vast so please excuse me if I oversimplify. I try to keep these videos under 5 minutes.
One of the most popular, discussed and examined silent films of all time, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is quite a rarity. It is an art film that also manages to be a crowd-pleaser. I take a look at the film’s history, meaning and the key to its ongoing success. Enjoy the weird and wonderful ride!
Welcome to another new series! As you may know, silent movies have a lot of myths attached to them. Why? One of the main reasons is that some so-called experts talk about them and write about them without actually watching very many of them. The tied to the railroad tracks cliche is an excellent example of what I mean. Even normally reliable commentators use it as an example of the corniness and sexism of the silents.
This calls for some debunking! And Women’s History Month seemed to be the perfect time to do it. Let’s make this the year this myth dies.
The Cat and the Canary is a tried and true silent crowdpleaser. An old dark house comedy, it follows the adventures of a very eccentric group of people spending the night in, you guessed it, an old dark house. I am going to review the film but also share some background on director Paul Leni and the cast. Plus, I will be discussing the talkie revolution and the myths about silent to sound transition. Lots of good stuff, if I do say so myself.
My third video review! William S. Hart’s apocalyptic western is considered a classic of the genre. It features a suspenseful build-up, a fiery climax and an 18-year old John Gilbert in a supporting role. I recommend checking it out even if you are not an enormous fan of westerns. I think you will be surprised at its grit and raw power.
Welcome to my second-ever video review! This time, I am sharing Barbed Wire, a beautiful silent drama starring Pola Negri. She’s a French farmer. He’s a German soldier. Her farm has been converted into a POW camp. Not the likeliest setup for a romance but with a war on, we take what we can get.
I also cover the propaganda films of the first world war and talk about German-Americans in Hollywood. I also do a little bit of debunking as a rather odd rumor has attached itself to the film.
I hope you enjoy!
Here it is! My very first video review. It’s been in the works for six months and I am delighted to be finally unveiling it.
I am covering one of the most famous (and kitschiest) silent films ever made, one that even non-fans have heard about: The Sheik. I discuss the film’s background, the casting of Valentino and then launch into a review of the film itself. And all in just ten minutes? Is such a thing possible?
I hope you enjoy it!