Silent (okay, Early Talkie) Movie Myth: “By William Shakespeare with Additional Dialogue by Sam Taylor”

I was catching up on my modern movie news and found that Disney is planning to “remake” their 1996 animated version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Part of the announcement was that the new film would be based on both the Victor Hugo novel and their cartoon version.

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Silent Movie Rule #34: Wear an ugly hat at your own risk, someone just might drop kick it

Silent movie fans know that there were many, many more options than just a plain cloche in the silent era. (And, no, twenties people did not wear weird sequined headbands with cheesy feathers wherever they went.) The American silent era lasted from about 1895 (when films were first projected) to 1930 (when sound had well and truly taken over) and that represents a huge range of fashion possibilities.

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Kiss MY hand, would you? Gadzooks! You’re a weird-looking flake… Animated GIF

taming-of-the-shrew-florence-lawrence

Kiss Florence Lawrence’s hand? She’s simply not going to have it. Try to kiss Florence Lawrence’s hand while wearing a mullet? Are you trying to get killed, son? This is from The Taming of the Shrew, the unfaithful but fun adaptation of the famous Shakespeare play. I think Lawrence is splendid in it. She is clearly having the time of her life.

(You can read my review here.)

Availability: The Taming of the Shrew received high-quality release on Kino’s Othello (1922 version) disc. The source is a Library of Congress paper print, so it is not pristine but is still pretty good. (Many early films are preserved, not on film, but on lengths of photo paper for copyright purposes.) It features an excellent piano score from Jon Mirsalis. The disc also has a Max Linder Shakespeare spoof, an early screen versions of Macbeth and a Danish short about the married leads of Othello discovering that life imitates art. The set is a treasure box of obscure delights and comes highly recommended.

The Taming of the Shrew (1908) A Silent Film Review

Four months into his career as a director, D.W. Griffith took on William Shakespeare. In one reel. Yes, that is about ten minutes. The short stars the legendary Florence Lawrence as the titular hellion and Arthur V. Johnson is her suitor. But did you know that Mack Sennett was also on hand in a supporting role? I wonder what will come of that…

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