2015 in Review: Your Favorite Silent Films

It’s the last day of 2015 and it has been quite a year. My website traffic is up 70% over last year (wow!) and I added 55 silent film reviews to the archive. Nice! Visitors came from 162 countries and from all around the Twitterverse. Thanks so much to everyone!

Over the last few weeks, we have talked a lot about what I liked and didn’t like, now it’s your turn. Here are the silent film reviews that were read the most in 2015. This list is a mixture of reviews posted in 2015 and some oldies-but-goodies. Here they are, listed by pure numbers:

The Top 10 Most-Read Silent Film Reviews



I asked my readers to vote for the silent film they wanted to see as my 200th review and Ben-Hur was the winner. Then I hit the books and tried to tell the tale of this troubled production and the epic results. Also, I said very rude things about the Charlton Heston remake. Naughty old me.

You can read the review here.

The Sheik


This kitsch classic and ode to Stockholm Syndrome is a perennial favorite. It’s Rudolph Valentino’s signature role and his performance is… enthusiastic. What’s not to love?

Read my review here.

The House of Mystery


My beloved Ivan Mosjoukine stars in this stylish serial about a man framed for murder. Imaginative, witty, suspenseful and smart, this serial is on par with the best television series of today and it’s gorgeous to boot!

Read my review here.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Freestyle disco
Freestyle disco of the silent era

John Barrymore’s take on the mad science classic is considered one of the iconic performances of the silent era. I take the controversial stance that he could have toned it down a little. Gasp!

Read my review here.

A Trip to the Moon


Georges Melies made science fiction history with this charming film but there is much more to the story and we delved into the background and meaning behind this icon of silent cinema.

Read my review here.

The Cheat


Cecil B. DeMille utterly indulged his predilection for sleaze in this society melodrama and the result is one of the most memorable films of 1915. Sessue Hayakawa also shows off his signature understated acting style.

Read my review here.

The Wind


Okay, so the story of the “original” ending being scrapped is a fib and the filming conditions were not really a hellish inferno, just kinda warm. The Wind is still a boffo melodrama with plenty of juicy story details to discuss, debate and mull over.

Read my review here.

The Wizard of Oz


This adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s American fantasy classic manages to get everything wrong. We get Dorothy transformed into a Lolita, the addition of a watermelon-stealing African-American character named Snowball and a projectile-vomiting duck. Yay?

Read my review here, if you must.

The Penalty


Lon Chaney wasn’t quite a superstar yet when he made this mad crime drama about a legless mastermind and his scheme to take over San Francisco. The story is insane, Chaney is great and a good time is to be had by all in a creepy kind of way.

You can read my review here.

City Lights


Charlie Chaplin’s iconic silent dramedy has made audiences laugh and cry and laugh again for decades. It’s beloved for a reason and we discuss why.

Read my review here.

Bonus: Your Favorite Talkie Reviews

(The images are not GIFs so, no, your browser isn’t broken. I usually only GIF silent films. Talkies? Blech!)

unconquered image (51)
“You’ve got long legs. Get ’em a-going!” (Actual dialogue from film.)

Cecil B. DeMille’s absolutely insane vision of colonial America was my most-read talkie review of the year. So, you apparently find Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard’s struggles funny? You think that their falling down a waterfall, grabbing a sapling and springing (BOING!) to safety is humorous? The very idea!

You can read the review here. No giggling!

The Mark of the Vampire
Casting Bela Lugosi as a vampire? It's so crazy it just might work!
Casting Bela Lugosi as a vampire? It’s so crazy it just might work!

Tod Browning’s remake of Tod Browning’s London After Midnight was the runner-up for top talkie review. I compare the surviving sound film with the lost silent and discuss some of the myths that have cropped up around Mark.

You can read my review here.

Your Favorite Recipes

Joan Crawford’s revolting French Banana Salad, the delectable Theda Bara Sandwich (I mean the sandwich is delectable, not Theda, though she might be) and the horrendous tomato aspic Scenario Salad from screenwriter Agnes Christine Johnston were the top three most-read recipes.

One tasty recipe and two nasty ones? Clearly you like to see me suffer.


Once again, thanks so much for reading and visiting! I truly appreciate your support. Here’s hoping we have even more fun in 2016.


  1. richardsd3

    You picked out some personal faves, especially The Penalty, with a plot that feels like a drug-induced nightmare. I can’t get over the image of Chaney’s girl friend on the floor playing the piano pedals. (Hey, dude, play the harpsichord!) The jaw dropper in The Sheik comes when (SPOILER!) blue-blood Brit Diana, with huge relief, as if she learned she really didn’t commit that murder in her sleep, finds out her royal blood didn’t fail her and would never allow her to fall in love with less than titled white royalty, much less some brown-skinned desert rat.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Yes, it’s very amusing to think that the main source of suspense in the film was “She’s not going to marry an Arab, is she?” In the MGM ripoff, The Barbarian, they pulled the same trick in reverse: the English heroine named Diana was secretly half-Egyptian all along. Lordy!

  2. richardsd3

    I bought House of Mystery earlier this year on your recommendation and was blown away. Somehow I’ve missed Ben-Hur and can’t wait to watch my recent TCM recording.

  3. nitrateglow

    The Sheik is premium schlock and I just love it. It is hilarious how Ahmed’s stalking and caveman ways are forgivable, but when Omair tries the same stuff, he’s just a fiend!

    As for Semon’s Wizard of Oz, you have done well in warning the unwary. It is something else…

  4. Birgit

    I have to still see some great ones you mentioned here like Ben Hur although I have seen the newer version with Heston (I have to read your negative comments:)) Love the Chaplin film and A Trip to the Moon. I have a soft spot for Melies. I really must search out The Wizard of Oz-It sounds like someone was smoking something when they made that film from what you wrote:)

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