Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was all of 18 when he starred in The Power of the Press and does he ever act like it! This cute bit of physical comedy is from a scene where poor Doug is fired and is given the bum’s rush. However, he is not taking it lying down!
The film was a huge one for both Fairbanks and some kid director named Frank Capra.
Note: This blog does not advocate real-life pants kicking. Even when it’s hilarious!
Of all the reimaginings I have done, I expect this one to be the most controversial (well, as controversial as a post about silent movies can be). You see, James Bond has come in so many flavors over the past 50+ years that it is impossible to get everyone in the room to agree on the ideal Bond.
Lon Chaney is scowling beautifully in this scene from The Penalty. You’ll recall that he is a legless master criminal and he has just discovered that the girl who works the pedals for his piano is an undercover cop. There’s really only one way to deal with this kind of betrayal. The problem? She the best pedal-worker he has ever had. What to do, what to do?
Also, be sure the check out the participant list for the upcoming Chaney Blogathon!
UPDATE: I am now a self-hosted site but I still recommend the service for those of you who are hosted by WordPress.com
NOTE: Ten days after publishing this article, I had a terrible shock. I had just published the announcement for my Lon Chaney Blogathon and had several browser tabs open. Then I heard it– an autoplay ad! Of all the types of ads on the internet, the autoplay video ad is the one I cannot tolerate. So, I went on a search and destroy mission. Was my face red when I saw that the offending ad was on MY site!
I was angry. I shook my fist and demanded answers. I also suspended WordAds on my site. Then I sent the URL of the autoplaying ad to the WordAds Twitter account.
(The stupid thing ran for TWO SOLID MINUTES!)
Anyway, the folks at WordAds contacted me and this is what they said:
Hi there. We just got word back from our ad partner, this was clearly a mistake on their behalf. We are extremely sensitive to auto-play. We work with a lot of partners, and finding one bad ad can be a daunting task. We’ve tracked the ad and this should not happen again.
This all occurred within 24 hours. So, all-in-all, I am pretty happy. Just wanted to share my experience!
You may have noticed that my blog has ads. There’s a reason for that. I have signed up for the WordAds program from WordPress.com. It seems that a fair amount of bloggers are curious about the program so I thought I would share my experiences.
Ad revenue is paid out in $100 blocks. So, if you make $37 in ads, you will have to wait until your total reaches $100 before you are paid.
Who can use it?
Your blog must be hosted by WordPress.com, not a self-hosted WordPress.org site. So, if you pay money to GoDaddy or Bluehost or Host Gator or any other hosting service, you do not qualify for WordAds.
You must purchase a premium domain name (that is, you must be www.example.com, NOT www.example.wordpress.com).
Your blog must be “family safe” and must not engage in piracy or other nefarious acts.
There are minimums for number of visitors and user engagement. However, I have been unable to find any actual numbers for this. (Some sites have published what they claim to be the minimums but they are not accurate, at least from my experience.)
How it works
You must request an invitation and wait for it to be processed. This can take several weeks. You will be informed by email if you are accepted.
You will see a new option in your settings menu.
Once you are approved, you must provide personal information for tax and payment purposes.
You will also be prompted to change to a theme that supports maximum placement of WordAds. Finally, you will be given the choice of showing the ads to all visitors or just to non-WordPress users. (You can buy a No Ads upgrade for $30 a year, if you wish to be completely free of advertising.)
That’s it! Your earnings are calculated monthly and you are paid once your total reaches $100.
My experience with WordAds
I blog about silent films because I love them but I am not going to lie: I would like very much to make a bit of money. Not a fortune but maybe enough to cover my hosting fees and even a DVD or two.
I applied to be a WordAds site in June and received my approval email in July. The setup was very easy, I was done in a few minutes. one thing concerned me, though. There was an alert saying that my theme was not optimized for WordAds, which might lower my earnings. I investigated the optimized themes but didn’t really see anything I liked better than my old Sight theme.
(For the record, what I like about Sight is the nice slider with big images and plenty of text, the infinite scroll feature, and the fact that the just first few sentences of my latest posts are listed without me having to insert a More tag.)
I kept checking the earnings tab and was pleasantly surprised when I saw earnings for June appear. I had applied in that month but had not expected the earnings to kick in until July, when I received notice of being approved.
The big question: How much?
Well, after two months, I have made nearly enough to cover my hosting for the year (domain registration, mapping and privacy is $26). Not too shabby considering that almost no work was involved. (Yes, I realize writing the blog is work but I’ve been doing that without being paid.)
How much will you earn? The math is a little different for everyone. My blog seems to be on the high end as far as money-per-impression goes. This probably has something to do with the fact that the vast majority of my readership is from more mature online advertising markets.
You’re not going to make millions of dollars right off the bat but the nice bit of cash is welcome. The average blog simply does not have enough traffic to generate huge ad revenue. It’s all about being realistic. Your blogging ads will probably not cover your car payment but they might be able to cover a few lattes. That’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
The ads are aimed at a general audience, rather than being tailored to your blog content. This is probably a good thing in my case as I blog about an extremely niche topic (silent films) but I can see a food blogger wanting to have food-related ads for their blog.
Other than money, common complaints against WordAds are that the ads are not separate enough from content and that they cheapen the brand of the blog. I personally think the ads look like ads and should not confuse anyone. As for cheapening one’s brand… Well, I think that’s getting just a bit precious. I mean, if you sign up for online ads, don’t be shocked if your site gets online ads that look like online ads. If you hate them that much, you can always cross WordPress’s palm with silver to have them removed. (By default, WordPress shows ads to all non-WordPress visitors to your site, whether you are using WordAds or not.)
In short, don’t be Carlo! Or, contrary-wise, if you want to be Carlo, don’t sign up for online ads.
Minimal setup, you should be done in 5 minutes or less.
A way to make money from a WordPress.com blog.
Relatively few ads per page (at least in my case).
Not too many templates are WordAds optimized.
It may take a while to be paid.
Your blog is involved in vulgar commerce. Ugh!
Overall, I am pretty pleased with my WordAds experience and plan to continue with the program.
Here is another blogathon and it’s a special one. We are coming up on the 88th anniversary of The Phantom of the Opera (1925). That seems as good an excuse as any to host a blogathon celebrating Lon Chaney. But why settle for just one Chaney when we can have two?
That’s right! Not only will the blogathon be dedicated to Lon Chaney Sr. of Phantom/Marines fame, it will also honor Lon Chaney Jr. of Wolfman/Lennie fame.
The talented Jo of The Last Drive In has stepped in as my co-hostess for the event, her expertise on the spine-tingling classics will make this thing one for the history books!
But who are these Lon Chaneys?
Lon Chaney (1883-1930) was a prolific actor primarily known for his roles in silent horror. Dubbed “The Man of a Thousand Faces,” Chaney’s talent for elaborate makeup helped him create iconic images that terrorized his audience. But you know what? He could be even scarier with no makeup at all. His powerful acting style and sensitive characterization assured his place among silent acting legends. Chaney made one talking picture but tragically succumbed to cancer at the age of 47. Here is his IMDB profile.
Lon Chaney, Jr. (1906-1973) was Chaney’s only son. Born Creighton Chaney, he was renamed after his famous father by a movie producer in 1935. In true Chaney manner, he achieved fame in the horror genre but was also an accomplished character actor who starred in everything from westerns to serials. Throughout his long career, he specialized in tortured men and monsters. Chaney passed away at the age of 67. Here is his IMDB profile.
When does it start?
How to join:
You can contact either Jo or myself via comment or email. Tell us what you will contribute and your preferred posting day. Then all you have to do is snag one of our banners (they’re down there! ↓) and put it up on your site.
What you can contribute:
All things Chaney are welcome, either father or son. Movies reviews, biographies, pictorial posts, video tributes, anything you like! Feel free to review a film even if someone else has claimed it. After all, each reviewer will have a different take. That being said, reviews of more obscure films would be greatly appreciated.
Still not sure what to pick? Here are a few ideas:
Arare surviving Florence Lawrence film concerns a country doctor and his family. When both his daughter and an impoverished neighbor fall ill at the same time, which one will he save? Lawrence is the doctor’s wife. All the melodrama you can stuff into 14 minutes!
I’ve said it again and again but it’s worth repeating: Lon Chaney was justly famous for his makeup skills but he could be even scarier with no makeup at all. Exhibit A would be his performance in The Penalty. If you have never seen that deranged little gem, do track it down. Chaney plays a legless criminal mastermind who plans to a) take over San Francisco and b) steal some guys legs and stitch them onto his own body. To do this, though, he needs straw hats! Millions of straw hats! What? You don’t like his plan? You’re no fun.
Poor Gloria Swanson! Even strumming her uke doesn’t improve her mood in the 1924 romantic comedy Manhandled.
The ukulele is cheap, tiny and cute. Plus, it is easy to play! As a result, it became the go-to instrument for flappers and college saps all over the United States. In this film, Gloria is taking a break from glamour to play a shop girl who is living from paycheck to paycheck. Exactly the sort of person who would embrace the uke!
Things are getting blustery in the 1915 film Alias Jimmy Valentine. Our hero, Jimmy, has convinced a high mucky-muck that he is as innocent and pure as the driven snow. In fact, he is a safecracker who has whacked on of his own gang. Yes, he is indeed the hero. I love 1915. In any case, said official goes on a rant that I found rather amusing,
If you asked me to pick just one movie that perfectly captured the spirit of romanticized rural America, it would be this one. Richard Barthelmess gives the performance of a lifetime as a gentle lad who faces a coldly brutal world and is forced to grow up overnight. Contains violent passages yet it maintains its sweetness. Simple yet packed with symbolism. This one is a classic for a reason.
If it were a dessert it would be:
Maple Glazed Donuts. Thoroughly New World. It may seem like an old hat but it is done so well that it’s a revelation.
Status: Thought lost for years, a print of Senorita has been preserved in a private collection. There are also rumors that another print is held in a Belgian archive.
Bebe Daniels swung back and forth between comedy and drama throughout her career. By the mid to late twenties, she was making comedies that took a popular adventure plot and reversed the genders: Miss Brewster’s Millions, She’s a Sheik and Senorita. The final title was a version of Zorro with Miss Daniels playing the masked avenger. Miss Daniels got into the spirit of the thing and acted just as Fairbanksian as she could.
As an added bonus, the villain of the film is played by William Powell. In the silents, he was often cast as the sneering baddie.
Photoplay raved about the film:
The best Bebe Daniels’ feature in years. Bebe masquerades as a boy in order to protect the ranch of her grandfather, Don Hernandez, who really thinks she is a boy. Bebe does a Fairbanks-Gilbert-Barrymore act by jumping through windows, winning numerous duels, swinging from chandeliers and what-not. A rip-roaring, peppy piece — one of the finest of the month.
Motion Picture News thought the film was fun, though light on plot:
Bebe Daniels got off on a good tack when she frowned up-on those serious stories and decided to cater to satire and burlesque. Take her latest for example It is nothing to make much of a fuss over, but it has its rollicking by-play — all of which is indulged in with a fine zest and spirit by the bubbling Bebe and her assistants.
It may be that the loud pedal becomes overplayed here and there, but no one should carp over this amusing trifle — which has been produced for the one purpose of creating laughter. Bebe Daniels plays a tomboy of the pampas. She masquerades with a tiny mustache and all the native trimmings. And once she starts cut- ting the didoes there’s no stopping her. She must please her grand- father who thought he had a, grandson instead of a granddaughter. Of such stuff is “Senorita “built. To look for the plot you’d have to look in vain. But it does establish that as the leader of one warring family the girl must conquer the enemy. She ends up by fighting a duel.
It is all mad merriment — but done in a refreshing manner by the star who is beginning to give Constance Talmadge a run for her money. It should please the majority of theatregoers.
After completing posters for the silent Nolan Batman trilogy and working on my designs for James Bond and Indiana Jones, I am a burned out on male-led blockbusters. So, how’s about some girl stuff? Enchanted is, of course, a clever 2007 send-up by Disney about Disney. I have to confess that I am not an enormous fan of Disney films in general but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
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)
(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.
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.
This goes out to all the participants who worked so hard to make the Gish Sisters Blogathon a success. And it is especially for Lindsey of The Motion Pictures. We battled spotty internet, work and class schedules (among other things) but the whole event turned out to be fun, informative and an enormous success. Thank you so much for being a great co-hostess!
I thank you. Elmer Booth thanks you. (The GIF is from The Musketeers of Pig Alley)
Two sisters, an empty house, a dishonest maid and a fortune in the safe. A recipe for a melodrama if I ever saw one! D.W. Griffith directs the Gish sisters in their motion picture debut, with able support from Bobby Harron, Elmer Booth, Harry Carey and a very early appearance from Antonio Moreno! Continue reading “An Unseen Enemy (1912) A Silent Film Review”
See poor Lillian Gish, a damsel in distress once again! What can she possibly do when Elmer Booth (one of the screen’s first charming gangsters) tries to make her his chicken? Why, she must faint, of course!
(I hope you can see the GIF. Lillian smacks Elmer and shoves him back. Good girl!)
On a side note, Elmer Booth’s oddly made-up friend is future cowboy star and John Wayne mentor Harry Carey.
An extremely rare film with Dorothy Gish in the starring role. She is Gretchen, a newly transplanted Dutch maiden who finds romance, adventure and danger in her new home, New York. When she stumbles onto a counterfeiting ring, Gretchen must find a way to save herself and her father from the ruthless criminals.
Dorothy Gish is having some lovey time with Frank Bennett in Gretchen the Greenhorn. I love that little laugh Dorothy gives when she receives her hand kiss.
The younger Gish sister enjoyed popularity in comedies and light dramas throughout the ‘teens and twenties. Unfortunately, many of her solo films have been lost. Lillian Gish always spoke highly of her sister’s talent and Gretchen proves that this was not just familial pride. Dorothy is a delight!
Who doesn’t like a good nautical yarn? This tale of wooden ships and bloody revenge should be a rousing spectacle. It enjoyed excellent reviews on its initial release. While it doesn’t boast any enormous names, it has a solid cast led by the rough and ready Hobart Bosworth.
We all need a little kitsch in our movie diet and this film is supposed to deliver in abundance! The hero is decked out in ballerina flats and spit curls. He is a secret agent. Norma Talmadge shimmies. Oh my. The romantic leads reportedly loathed one another and the director, Frances Marion, was accidentally clonked with a stage light.
Buried for a century, this epic was notable for filming on-location (the whole cast and crew tripped off to England), its enthusiastic battles (our leading man was knocked out cold at one point) and the fact that it is an early feature-length film.
This is supposed to be melodrama done right. Excitement, romance, pathos… and all under the direction of John Collins. Contemporary critics went nuts for his fresh twist on a creaky play. The clips I have seen are very enticing.
Five Crowd Pleasers (We all have them on DVD and Blu-ray but let’s see them on the big screen!)
We are back to kitsch with this Cecil B. DeMille mega-hit. Sadly forgotten since its initial release, it is a wonderful blend of over-the-top acting, splendidly melodramatic intertitles and utter historical cluelessness. One of my favorites.
Another charmer from The Doll. Hermann Thimig thinks that Ossi Oswalda is just a doll and decides to take his frustrations out on her. Bad idea. You do not yell at Ossi. Ever. Poor Hermann does not stand a chance against this petite ball of fire.
I think we can safely say that she won the argument.
I can’t believe it’s almost here! The Gish Sisters Blogathon is launching this Saturday.
Some of the contributors expressed a day preference while others were free to be penciled in any time. My co-hostess, Lindsey of The Motion Pictures, did a marvelous job of scheduling everyone between the three days of the blogathon.
If you need to reschedule:
No problem! Just let one of us know and we will be happy to accommodate you.
If you want to join:
You can still do that too! Let us know your topic and the day you prefer.
Elliott Dexter’s character in A Romance of the Redwoods is not a good man or a good bad man. He is a bad bad man. You know the type. Burns people with his cigar, tries to chop off their finger, the whole enchilada.
That being said, this is exactly my reaction if anyone tries to take my buttered popcorn Jelly Bellies.
This is everything I love about John Barrymore in one convenient GIF.
Here is the formula:
1 part Don Juan
1/2 part Mr. Hyde
1 part Hamlet
2 parts Daffy Duck
The GIF is from Tempest, one of my favorite Barrymore vehicles. (You can read my review here) While not as zany as his performance in The Beloved Rogue, it still has just enough goofiness to keep things interesting. You can never accuse the man of being boring!
Gladys Hulette gets another adorable vehicle in the form of Prudence, the Pirate. The plot involves a pirate-obsessed young lady who gets out of an arranged marriage by hiring a ship (complete with crew) and proclaiming herself a pirate captain. She then kidnaps her would-be suitor and forces him to swab the deck! The young man finally proves himself when a fire breaks out on the ship and he saves Prudence, thus proving his worth.
In “Prudence, the Pirate” Gladys Hulette has a youthful role finely fitted to her tender years— surely as Prudence she looks not more than sixteen, and it is a more or less commonly accepted fiction that a female is only as old as she looks The story is by Agnes Johnson. It is a craftsmanlike piece of work, especially that part of It which is devoted to the draughting of the leaders. These have more than a distinct comedy flavor; there is always present the literary touch Miss Hulette is supported among others by Flora Pinch and Riley Chamberlin. These two unusually clever character actors prove to be Just the team that one knowing their individual capacity for mirthmaking would be led to expect. The general result Is worthwhile. “Prudence the Pirate” will make good entertainment.
Miss Hulette as Prudence shows marked skill in comedy interpretation. She has the pep and abandon of young girlhood Prudence Is romantic, with a leaning to the piratical. She imposes her pranks on relatives and servants alike. Her mis- adventures have the natural effect of indefinitely postponing her formal debut In society even while her feminine ways are hastening the ensnaring of the smitten Astorbilt.
Miss Finch is seen as the prim aunt who unsuccessfully tries to keep her niece within the bounds of conventionality; but who likewise finds her matchmaking ambitions gratified when Prudence in her own way secures the hand-picked prize Mr Chamberlin Is Meeks, the family butler. Meeks loses his standing as a temperance advocate when on the Invitation of Prudence he looks on the punch when it is red; his position is placed in still greater jeopardy when the hastily gathered pirate crew of the Bucket of Blood kidnaps him and carries him away to don a pirate’s garb. Barnett Parker is Astorbilt; he does a good bit of character drawing of the wealthy young man none too strong in his masculinity. Yet he does not overdo the part. The remainder of the cast gives satisfactory support.
I believe that you can feel pretty safe in booking this because it is different. It is just a light comedy with a ‘melo’ climax, but the idea is different and I would say that any average audience would enjoy it. As to box-office value, there is a question as to whether or not Miss Hulette’s name will pull, since she is rather a newcomer to the ranks of stardom. I would depend almost entirely upon playing up the unusual situation of a society debutante, who, in seeking an adventure, chartered a schooner and set out as a sure-enough pirate craft. That sounds very interesting, and on that alone you should be able to pull considerable business. Use Miss Hulette’s picture generally, and ask the question: ‘Can you imagine this young lady commanding an honest-to-goodness pirate crew? She did it! That was her idea of a good time.
The Morning Telegraph liked the film but found the scenario to be cliche-ridden:
Agnes C. Johnston has set about writing her story as though she had never seen a moving picture in her life and didn’t know that by every screen convention the millionaire should have been the villain and Prue’s young admirer, the hero. As it is, there is not a commonplace character or a hackneyed situation in the whole picture; the people are all human beings and the comedy is lively, good humored and original. As for the subtitles, many of them are good laughs in themselves.
Unfortunately, no word exists on whether this film is still with us. Too bad, it looks like a blast!