Me when all my site’s search queries are “tied to the train tracks silent movie” and “silent star squeaky voice” Animated GIF

below-the-surface-feeling-grumpy

I pay attention to the keywords that bring people to my site and they can often reveal a lot about what people think of silent movies. The keywords and terms also let me know about shortages on my site and I do my best to fill any gaps that might show.

That being said, some search queries make me weep for humanity. Obviously, the “daddy long legs honeymoon fan fic” is one of those categories. Blech! But the most irritating queries are the ones that remind me of my Sisyphean task of killing two persistent silent film myths: That the movies regularly featured women tied to railroad tracks (usually by villains in top hats) and that there were silent stars with weird voices whose defect was revealed with the coming of sound.

The railroad track thing: I traced the history and showed that it was both rare and coed when it did happen– and that it simply did not exist in mainstream silent features. I made a video proving my point. I directly answered queries about that top-hatted villain. Come on, people, stick a fork in it!

The squeaky voice thing: I pointed out all the different ways stars weathered the sound transition. Despite rumors to the contrary, a good number of silent stars transitioned with no trouble at all and many even benefited from the new movie format. I have an entire series of reviews dedicated to just that. (No, John Gilbert’s voice was not squeaky. No, it was not sabotaged in post-production. The dialogue was corny. He was nervous and over-rehearsed. Content and delivery, not voice quality. The end.)

Oh, and the GIF is from Below the Surface, a criminally underrated silent melodrama about sunken treasure, deep sea diving and paternal love. There is also an amazing shipwreck scene and underwater photography that still wows. That’s Hobart Bosworth in the GIF, one of the very first movie stars. I am not the first one to point this out but he certainly has a bit of Rutger Hauer about him, doesn’t he? Intriguing man and a darn fine actor. Oh, and he did just swell in the talkies, thank you for asking.

(You can read my review here.)

Availability: Below the Surface has been released on DVD by Grapevine.