- Love silent movies. For an interesting study, watch as many Lon Chaney Sr. movies as you can. His mannerisms, facial expressions, and makeup change for every film. He was the man of a thousand faces.
For eye candy, watch Rudolph Valentino. Especially The Shiek and Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse.
- Watching some old Buster Keaton films in college was a revelation. What I love about silent films is that they were making up the language of film as they went along. There was this great feeling of creativity. Imagine a cinema where there were no film cliches yet?
And the short works of Melies - so much fun watching him just play around and figuring out what was possible with a camera and some simple editing.
- I love silent movies. I'm 47, not quite an Eldergay, but getting there. My favorites are Metropolis, Nosferatu, Wings, Sunrise, Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The General, City Lights, The Gold Rush, The Kid, The Lodger, and The Lost World. Great films all.
- Some of them, but if you are trying to find them on TV someplace, good luck. Years ago I seem to recall seeing some on a channel late at night which is the best time--wake up in bed, can't sleep after you get up to pee, go into the living room and switch on the TV and see a silent movie at 3 in the morning--good stuff.
- Nosferatu is quite scary!
- Silent movies are truly better than anything. Talkies were a big mistake.
- "'m taking a class on them" That is a stupid lie.
- TCM usually runs silents on Sunday nights.
- I love Rudolph Valentino and will watch his films any chance I get. Only have basic cable now and silent films are never on so alas.
- And Warner archives has some silent titles. I usually wait until they have special discounts.
- Another Buster Keaton fan here. Sherlock Jr
is one of my all-time favorite films.
The later silents are especially interesting to watch
I particularly like the original Ben Hur with Ramon Novarro, and The Crowd, directed by King Vidor.
- r9 there are a number of silent films on Youtube.
I'm in my 30s and I've seen a few silents, and I have to say I enjoyed them - they held my attention, which was something I wasn't expecting. Two I recommend are "Flesh and the Devil" with Greta Garbo and "Pandora's Box" with Louise Brooks.
- Oh, and the original "Nosferatu" from 1921 (the first filmed story of Dracula) is still surprisingly scary to watch.
- People talk about silent movies but no one watches them.There is no such thing as "a class" on them. Op is a numb nuts.
- Joan Crawford is the only star who crossed over from Silent to Talkies, right?
- Many of the actors of the silent film era were gay: Alla Nazimova, Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro, William Haines, etc.
- R15 No, Greta Garbo and Ronald Coleman are 2 I can think of. I am sure there are others.
- R15 Norma Shearer, John Barrymore...
- "Flesh and the Devil" - WHAT a title.
- They are fantastic
- R14, you forgot to say:
"This has been a paid message from the Right To Extreme Stupidity League. "
- You are wrong R14. I am taking a film history class and I love it. Never knew or cared to know much about silent film until now.
- Here's an excellent documentary series on American silents from film historian Kevin Brownlow, who probably knows more than anyone on the subject. His book, "The Parade's Gone By...", is a classic and very entertaining.
- Is r7/r14 trying to be funny? If so he's failing dreadfully. But I can't figure out what else he could be trying to do otherwise: no one could be THAT stupid. But if he's trying to be funny, he's equally stupid.
- Count me as another lover of silent films. It's fascinating how they pushed and pushed the contours of film, then sound came along and the restrictions of that technology held the art back for several years.
- I took film critcism in high school and we watched silent films.
Harold Lloyd...there's a funny silent film guy who make a short transition to talkies. I like him better than Buster Keaton and Chaplin.
For creepiness, try to find The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film focuses on the actress who plays Joan most of the time. The priests punishing and ultimately burn her at the stake are super creepy.
Nosforatu is indeed scary even today. There is a "modern" film with John Malcovich and Dafoe (don't remember the name) which seems a sort of documentary of Nosfaratu.
- Have loved silent movies ever since I was a kid (in the 70s).
I have a major Buster Keaton obsession--just find the man and his work so addicting and fascinating. Endlessly watchable. And fucking hiarious.
Orson Welles said he had the most beautiful face ever photographed.
He certainly was a beautiful man. And actually did have a very nice smile . . .
- Marlene Dietrich was another one who crossed over from silents to talkies, but all of her silents were in Germany.
- r26, that would be "Shadow of the Vampire," a rather fanciful film that imagines Max Schreck, the actor playing the vampire, really was one in real life. Willem Dafoe received an Oscar nomination for it (though it was category fraud, as he was placed in Supporting and it's clearly a Lead role).
- "Wings" was the first movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture, and it's pretty good. The two male leads, Howard Arlen and Charles Rogers were very good-looking, and there's a homoerotic subtext between them.
- I love the silents, too. They really did "have faces then." Especially Lillian Gish who made the transition to the "talkies."
An excellent book about that era is Cari Beauchamp's "Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood."
"Cari Beauchamp masterfully combines biography with social and cultural history to examine the lives of Frances Marion and her many female colleagues who shaped filmmaking from 1912 through the 1940s. Frances Marion was Hollywood's highest paid screenwriter--male or female--of
almost three decades, wrote almost 200 produced films and won Academy Awards for writing 'The Big House' and 'The Champ.'"
- I'm inmy mid 440's- there was a pizza chai back then- they played silent movies and had a riky tink piano player. We loved them
And yes those can still be found on cable-my dad watches.
- Norma Desmond's line "we had FACES then!" is so true. In silent movies, there are no voices to distract you from the actor's faces, which were generally quite unique. They had to be, I guess. Emotion was expressed in facial expressions and gestures and moviegoers needed to be facinated by the actor's face.
Some great faces:
Charlie Chaplain as "the little Tramp"
William S. Hart
- I've only seen Joan D'Arc and Metropolis. I was expecting to be bored out of my mind but I was shocked at how good they were.
- Silent films from the Teens are mostly not as techincally sophisticated as those in the Twenties but some of the great stars to catch from that earlier era are Theda Bara, Mabel Normand, Gloria Swanson and, of course, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.
- For you Netflix subscribers, they are streaming many of them and they have a lot on DVD as well.
- Abel gance's Napoleon!!! Saw that at radio city with a full orchestra after it was restored. Magnificent.
- r15, to the others mentioned above, add William Powell, Janet Gaynor, Marion Davies, and Lewis Stone, as silent stars who successfully transitioned to sound film. I'm sure there are lots more.
Here's a real curio... the 1910 version of "Frankenstein." For many years it was thought to be a "lost" film. Eventually, it turned out that a private collector had the one remaining copy.
The collector put an asking price of $1 million on his print, which no archive would pay.
How it ended up available and in the public domain, I do not know, but it is...
- "Salome", starring Alla Nazimova, is a silent camp classic.
- The Passion of Joan of Arc is a stunning piece of movie making and Renee Falconetti's performance is one of the best ever in the history of cinema.
- Why do they use such rapid, choppy filming in silents? It seems as soon as talkies came, the speed of the camera slowed down to more human-like. As a matter of fact, the ghoulish looking make-up disappeared too.
- r15 Gloria Swanson just phoned Max to have him run you over in her 1929 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A
a silent film I really liked is called The Shakedown, directed by William Wyler in 1929. it was released in silent and talkie, so not a 'pure' silent, but that's the only version I've seen.
touching story, amazing shots of Los Angeles
- [quote] It seems as soon as talkies came, the speed of the camera slowed down
I think it sped up -- the silents were done at maybe 12 (?) frames per second, and the talkies at 18 frames per second. The standard for a long time was 24 frames per second, but I don't know how it is measured in digital.
- "Ramon Navarro!"
- r41....good observation on film speed. In silents, cameras were hand-cranked, and there was no standard filming speed. It was mostly, but not always, about 16 frames per second. It was the addition of a sound track to film that required a standardized filming and projection speed. To accomodate sound, that speed was set at (I think) 24 frames per second. That's why a silent film shown on today's equipment looks "choppy."
As for the "ghoulish" make-up, early monochromatic film stock could not handle subtle variations in tone. Everything was black OR white, no grey tones. In the 1920s, panchromatic film was developed, which resulted in a much more naturalistic look in films.
- R39 Her Camille is divine too.
- "The Cat and the Canary" is another great silent film that I've caught on TCM Sunday nights. It's like the movie version of "Clue" - equally creepy, scary, suspenseful, and darkly funny. Loved it!
- Another Harold Lloyd fan here. I think he's on par with Buster Keaton when it comes to physical comedy, especially planning and performing some of the more dangerous stunts. I think I remember reading that Keaton's famous scene where the facade of the house falls down around him only had a couple of inches of clearance for his safety.
- Most silent films are sped up.
You need to see SUNRISE with Janet Gaynor and hunky George O'Brien, directed by F.W. Murnau, who was gay and had the hots for O'Brien. You'll understand why.
It's a breathtaking, gripping film.
- Erich Von Stroheim's masterpiece "Greed"...absolutely stunning....and yes he WAS Norma's Max...and an amazing director!
- Yes R47 - "Cat and the Canary" is a very entertaining silent - creepy, for what it is, and it's on Youtube.
Peter Lorre in "M" is brilliant - I think that's silent, isn't it?
The high quality of some silent films shows that things of beauty do last forever.
- [quote]Why do they use such rapid, choppy filming in silents? It seems as soon as talkies came, the speed of the camera slowed down to more human-like.
The appearance of extreme rapidity of some of the early films has to do with the fact that early cameras were run by hand, and some were turned by hand more slowly than the cameras that then showed them. the result was that the films look as if they were purposefully filmed to look sped up. Making this even worse was that later sound cameras in movie theaters ran at another speed, which made the silent films to seem to run even more quickly. And since film stock was so unstable (because of the use of silver nitrate), the originals disappeared and all anyone was copies made to run too quickly on sound film stock.
Only with developed computer technology are we now able to watch silent films at the correct speed. if you haven't seen a silent film in years, watch one on TCM over the weekend in the evening--they now show them at the correct speed approximating the speed at which humans actually move with computer technology, and the result will be a revelation to you.
- Two silent classics are playing on TCM Tuesday night at 8 o'clock. First is a crime drama from 1928 called 'The Racket' followed by the first ever best picture winner, 1927's 'Wings' (with a very touching man on man kiss)
- [quote]Peter Lorre in "M" is brilliant - I think that's silent, isn't it?
No, it's an early sound film. The song the anti-hero/protagonist whistles--Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King"--serves a major plot point, and sometimes you don't even see Peter Lorre onscreen but you will hear him whistling the song so you know he's nearby.
- I enjoy silent movies, but not on television, and certainly not on a computer screen. I'm not being a snob, I just need to give it my full attention, and that means a darkened theater and a big screen. The audience adds a great deal too, especially with comedies.
When I was a kid one of our neighbors was an old woman who had played piano in silent movie houses. If you got a few drinks into her (easy) she would sit down and play the music she used to play for the different scenes. She would announce "this is what you play when the villain appears," and "this is what you play when they're about to kiss." She could do that almost endlessly, and it was amazingly entertaining even without a movie to sync it to.
- Not my favourite film but my favourite scene ever, Mary Pickford and (her future husband) Buddy Rogers cross the street in 1927's "My Bets Girl"
Here is the whole film but my scene starts at @ 32:50
- Gloria Swanson made some fabulous costume dramas with Cecil B. DeMille like Male and Female and Why Change Your Wife? Has anyone seen them?
She's also in a film, I think called Manhandled, in which she plays a NYC shop girl that always sounded fascinating though I've never been able to find a copy of it.
I'd also love to see some Mae Murray films. Any other fans?
- That is a great scene R56
- r57: the last lady in this rare 1922 Kodacolor test film is Mae Murray.
- R what an experience it must have been to know that old woman. I knew someone like her and I never got tired of her stories.
Harold Lloyd lost his right thumb due to a publicity stunt gone wrong. In most of his films, he's using a prostetic hand.
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Quite bizarre, but good.
- "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligara" has some wild, expression visuals. Netflix streaming should have it.
- R60, Harold Lloyd did lose a thumb when an explosive prematurely detonated in his hand. However, he didn't have a prosthetic hand. He just wore a glove which covered up the missing thumb.
- THE WIND starring Lillian Gish is an extraordinary silent drama that is sadly subverted by a completely arbitrary romantic happy ending that studio executives insisted be tacked on. As originally filmed, Gish's character goes mad and wanders off to die in the swirling sands of the dusty plains. That footage is lost. All we have left is the more "commercial" new ending where she simply announces her love for the man she spurned all along and they instantly decide to live happily and windily ever after.
- I'm with R60.R55, your story is fantastic! Thank you so much! That is super charming! Very recently I have started to watch silent movies ,and I have watched a lot of Buster Keaton. I rent all of my DVDs from the library because they are free. There are posters with links to silent movies, thank you so much for doing that for everyone! I'm going to watch them.
I adore threads like this on DL because they are super fun and very engaging. I have some things to share.
My grandparents on my mother's side of the famliy were deaf. I never got to meet them because my grandmother died years before I was born, and my grandfather died when I was one years old. My mother said my grandmother loved the silent movies because being deaf, silent films were perfect for her because the actors used their bodies and facial expressions much more in silent film, and of course, they had subtitles.My grandmother told my mother that when she was teenager, she use to day dream about Rodolph Valentino just like the many,many other school girls in her day,I love it! too cute!
My sister once read that the actors and actresses in the silent movies use to swear at each other when they were doing their scenes for the fun of it. Obviously the public didn't know what they were saying ,and they could get away with it, LOL!
Also, my sister used to work at a department store when I was a teenager in the late 80's to early 90s. She worked with this man who was a child actor in the silent movies, but neither my sister nor I remembered his name and who he was which is tragic.He was always very well dressed, and he was a handsome older man and masculine but not macho. He was gay too,and when I use to visit my sister at her job during the summer I would come in wearing real short shorts because it was boiling hot.He would stare at me and he didn't take his eyes off of me nor my body. it was one feelings you just know that person wants you ,and I got a real rush inside I wanted to be with him.However, I was really uncomfortable because I was extremely shy.He never approached me though. I guess he thought I was too young and I was a coworker's brother? I don't know.
- I have a nephew who listens to badly scratched 78s. He's retarded.
What's YOUR point?
- [quote]the original "Nosferatu" from 1921 (the first filmed story of Dracula) is still surprisingly scary to watch.
Yes, and it's 1922 to be precise.
- I'm a big silent film fan too.
Erich von Stroheim (the "von" is a Hollywood embellishment, natch) made BRILLIANT, cynically snarky films throughout the silent era, which are full of subtle jokes that work better if you're familiar with his background (i.e. turn-of-the-20th-century Vienna). Not unduly burdened by modesty, his films were usually written, produced and directed by EvS, and featured EvS as the lead actor as well.
He was notoriously over-the-top obsessive about his films; one famous anecdote is that he insisted that all the extras playing imperial guards in The Wedding March (in a scene that was filmed in color!) had to have authentic underwear, the better to "feel" their roles. He constently went way over time and budget on his films, which put an end to his career. Gloria Swansen stalked off the set of Queen Kelly when they were filming scenes set in a brothel (it is scenes from that unifinished film that Norma Desmond and Joe are shown watching in Sunset Blvd -- another nice inside joke). And when his last film, Greed, was already several hours long and nowhere near completion, the moneymen yanked it out from under Stroheim and ended up releasing a hacked-up version in cinemas. That was it for Stroheim the moviemaker.
But his films are worth seeing, if you can find them.
- R66, whaaa? my point is that my grandmother was able to watch movies because she was able to read what they said because the dialogue was placed on the screen, and since the film was silent, the actors and actresses, relied on their bodies more to convey what they were trying to express to the audience verses relying on their voices when the talkies came out.
- r48, that's in Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. You probably picked up that factoid from the great documentary "A Hard Act to Follow" which has not been put on DVD last I checked.
- Someone has put Hard Act to Follow on youtube. Watch it while you can.
- The bit about the house is in part 2 at about minute 22.
- I think the 1922 version of Dracula, "Nosferatu" remains the best-known silent film today.
- Damn you R64! I was hoping to post that. Lilian Gish's slilent films are some of the best ever made.
- Actually R, you're the one without a point and purpose.
- I love silent films, I have since I was a child.
When I was a kid I made my parents drive me by the childhood home of Clara Bow, and also to the gravesite of Lilyan Tashman so that I could leave flowers (I win some kind of Mary! award for this, right?)
- R76 so it was no surprise to your parents when you came out to them?
- Omg, I can't believe I forgot this part. When I was a kid I used to call up old movie stars on the phone. Most were B actors and were listed in the phonebook (not all were silent actors, some were around during the 30's and 40's). All of them were happy to hear from such a young fan (I was about 12-14 when I did this). I used to talk to Billie Dove fairly often, and after she passed I wrote an article about her to the local newspaper. They called me up and said they weren't going to publish the article, but they wanted to do an article about me. They came to my house and took pictures of me with all my memmorabillia. My last name is somewhat unique, and several old folks looked up our number in the white pages and call me to say how excited they were to see such a young person so interested in classic movies. They couldn't believe I knew all about these old actors snd actresses. One of them even gave me some memorabillia...he was a 95 year old man and said his kids would just sell it, he wanted to make sure it went to a good home.
- Chaney and Keaton are two of the greatest actors who ever lived.
- I'm an elder gay, I'm too stupid to understand the concept of sound, that's why I bought a Zune.
- At the link, Marion Davies imitates Lillian Gish and Pola Negri in "The Patsy."
She's an amazing mimic.
- Allow me to add my voice to the praise of Keaton. If he is not making me laugh my fool head off, he has me on the edge of my seat with his death defying stunts. The shot in The General where he riding on a speeding locomotive's cow-catcher while railroad ties are flying around is incredible. I read a biography on him and when they filmed the famous house falling stunt in Steamboat Bill Jr., the cameraman and crew turned their backs because they didn't want to see him get squashed like a bug.
- I wish I knew you, R78.
- Does anyone remember the old "Blackhawk" movies? They were silent movies that you could buy as 8mm movies to show on your home projectors. I had Phantom of the Opera with the two color ball sequence.
Not quite a fabulous as R78, but I got a writeup in the NY times. We were stoop sitting on our street. I was in my 20s and having an intense conversation with a guy in his 80s about Mary Miles Minter. The writer thought it was worth writing about.
- R81 I think it was in the William Haines book where I read that Marion Davies was EXCELLENT at comedy, but Hearst kept pushing her into those corny, over-sentimental roles. Its too bad. Had she been allowed to go on the path she was best suited for, her career and reputation would have been much different.
- When I lived in SF the Castro Theatre would occasionally screen silents with a live organ player. It was pretty revelatory to see them on such a big screen with music. There also were a couple of occasions primarily during the SF Film Festival when the Alloy Orchestra did a whole new musical accompianment to the movie that was mind blowing. They did it during Metropolis and also a Russian film that I can't recall the name of but was one of the highpoints of my long history of film going.
- Mack Sennett comedies, while mindless, can be a fascinating travelogs of Hollywood and LA in the early days. Other great movies---Greed, The Wind, and someone mentioned Napoleon which is brilliant.
- I once caught some of a Joan Crawford silent and was really surprised at how good she was. She was able, with some very subtle body language convey her emotions or the gist of what she was saying without being interrupted by the title cards. She wasn't like what we think of with silent film actors. None of that rolling the eyes, hand to throat nonsense.
I was able to acquire a copy of Swanson's Sadie Thompson. I have to say, it was disappointing. She really wasn't very good in it. Much of the time she sorts of lumbers around like a Sasquatch dressed as Little Bo Peep. The best parts are when you could lip read the profanities.
- [quote]There also were a couple of occasions primarily during the SF Film Festival when the Alloy Orchestra did a whole new musical accompianment to the movie that was mind blowing.
Remember when TCM held a contest for young composers to write original scores for silent films? If they ever play the winner, a score for The General, make sure you see it, because it's fantastic.
- R89, on the other hand there is the Georgio Moroder (sp?) score to Metropolis. Argh!!!! My ears, My ears!!!!!
- OP, I'm so glad to hear that you have taken up the cause. I've loved silent movies ever since I was a teen and still get tingles when one that was "lost" is found and restored. To me, those made from about 1923-1928 are some of the best, most beautiful and well crafted movies ever released. Most posters have already listed my favorite actors and American movies. so I'll list some favorite directors, including Borzage, von Stroheim and although I've only seen one of his silent movies, it made such an impression on me, Max Reinhardt. There are also many wonderful French, German and Russian silents waiting when you have time.
- Laurel and Hardy's "Big Business" - one of the great slapstick routines of all time.
- Not to take anything away from JOan Crawford r88, but by the time she started in Talkies in the late Twenties, the gesturing and eyerolling accompanied by heavily made-up faces, had been replaced by a somewhat more natural style of acting (though obviously stilted by today's standards). I think this can be seen in other leading ladies of the late Silents like her rivals Garbo, Davies, Bow and Shearer.They were not like the Teens/early Twenties vamps Theda Bara, Mae Murray, Gloria Swanson and Pola Negri
However, when the Talkies began, all of them in their first attempts were horribly melodramatic in their vocal patterns, including Crawford, who attempted a sort of quasi-British accent.
- [quote]I'm inmy mid 440's- there was a pizza chai back then- they played silent movies and had a riky tink piano player. We loved them
Yes, you sound like you are in your mid 440s.
- After becoming enamored with his films from the 50's and 60's, I've recently started exploring the early silent work of Yasujiro Ozu. Really nice stuff.
I'm a complete novice when it comes to Asian silent cinema, but I'm thinking it's time to investigate more of it--and there's a ton posted on YouTube.
Here's a channel that has several of Ozu's best (I particularly recommend I WAS BORN, BUT . . .).
- Great srories and great links in this thread.
- I subscribed to Fandor specifically for their streaming Silent Films... especially the Comedy and Foreign ones!
- I just got Alla Nazimova's "The Red Lantern" on DVD (it is in PAL format, as it was restored by Cinetek, out of Belgium. I was excited to see a film come to DVD, and hope the George Eastman House or the Library of Congress will make Nazimova's "Stronger Than Death" available on DVD(the LOC restored the film in 2003).
- I've been wanting to see Greed but it seems it no longer exists? At least not where the general piblic is concerned.
- R99 Greed is still available on VHS. Check your local library.
- YOu tube actually has quite a few silents online. Here is Harold Langdon, another well loved but lesser known comedian of the 1920s.
- I've seen a number of silent movies over the years but I've never seen one of Gloria Swanson's movies. Ironic, since she was probably the biggest female star of the silent era.
- I bought the dvd of Chaplin's "The Kid".
What an eye opener!!
The image was clear and sharp, The speed was correct. No one was running around all sped up and the story was engrossing with humor and pathos combined both striking without any notice.
I was laughing at moments and literally weeping at other moments.
A beautiful film and I think this was made in 1922!
- Saw Greed on TCM a saturday morning like a month ago...just amazing...the desert ending was fantastic
- A version of Greed exists, but it's missing a lot of footage. They're finding more and more of it, but it started at 42(!) reels, and Von Stroheim himself cut it to 24 and the studio finally released a 10 reel version.
There are rumors that complete versions exist, although that's probably a myth.
- [quote] Lilian Gish's silent films are some of the best ever made.
When I was in college in the early 70's, Lillian Gish was riding the university lecture circuit. My friends and I sat in the front row when we saw her, and she was charm personified. She was pushing 80 at that point, but you'd never know it--energy and enthusiasm all over the place.
The high point was her running commentary on key scenes from her best silent movies. Of course she spoke reverently of "Mr. Griffith," but what stands out in my mind is her description of the location shoot of "Way Down East." She wound up with frostbite after trailing her hand in icy water, take after take, while lying prone on an ice floe, but thought the result on screen was worth it.
On another topic, someone up-thread mentioned Kevin Brownlow. His book, "The Parade's Gone By," is one of the most addictive and best non-fiction books I've ever read. I wasn't even interested in silent film at that point and bought it out of sheer curiosity, but once I started, I just couldn't put it down. He's written a number of other books on silent films, but this one is still the best.
- I'm going to check out "The Parade's Gone By." I've never read it, but it sounds like something I'd enjoy reading.
- Theda Bara was one of the biggest stars of her time, but I don't think a complete copy of any of her films exist. They rotted, or were caught in a fire of some sort.
Look at Brownlow's TV series about the silents. In the episode on stunts (I think), he deconstructs that sequence from Way Down East. He talks about the three places that the sequence was shot and you realize that Gish's stories about icy water and nearly going over the fall were pure b.s. When I see that scene now I can identify how it was put together.
Actually, I admire it more, knowing how much smart editing created the illusion of danger.
- Which male silent film stars has sizemeat?
- If you like "then and now" comparison photos, especially if you live in LA and know the locations, this website is a treasure:
- Kevin Brownlow's "Hollywood" series is amazing and a great overview of silent films. It was filmed over a couple of years in the late 70s, so lots of the stars were still around to be interviewed. (I'll never forget Viola Dana describing the death of her fiance, a stunt pilot, while filming a perilous aviation scene.) In addition to the stars, there are fascinating recollections from writers, stunt-people, etc.
I haven't seen nearly as many silent movies as I'd like- they're hard to come by in Australia- but some of my favourite stars are Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor (I sought out their films after seeing a scene from "Seventh Heaven" in Martin Scorcese's 100 Years of Cinema documentary), Bebe Daniels and Ronald Colman. I always think it's kind of amazing that Ronnie became a silent star even before anyone heard that gorgeous voice!
- R107, that is super sad. Wow! I have heard have of the classic films are gone and have deteriorated. They are working fast to restore and save these films in the Film Institute ,but they lack funds and the celluloid is disintegrating at a fast pace. The major studios have billions of dollars and they don't give a rat's ass to give money needed to save these treasures! These movie studios toady are too concerned about films like, "Knocked Up" "Dumb And Dumber",etc.
R109, a lot of those actors back then were extremely handsome because they were well dressed ,and their hair were so well groomed.
- R89, I never heard about that competition, but I'm a musician and I would love to write a new score for "Lucky Star". The score which was released on the recent Frank Borzage DVD set was atrocious and didn't match the film at all.
Having only seen a mute version, I was looking forward to showing the DVD to film-lover friends and family- but I know they wouldn't love it the way I do, with that horrible music.
- This is R112, in this sentence,
These movie studios toady are too concerned about films like, "Knocked Up" "Dumb And Dumber",etc.
In this sentence, that is super sad. Wow! I have heard have of the classic films are gone and have deteriorated.
I meant, I have heard of have the classic films are gone, and the films that are deteriorating rapidly need to be saved and restored fast.
- [quote][R89], I never heard about that competition, but I'm a musician and I would love to write a new score for "Lucky Star". The score which was released on the recent Frank Borzage DVD set was atrocious and didn't match the film at all.
I don't think they do it anymore. It's a shame, because it cost them peanuts, but I'm sure those peanuts (and the recognition that came with them) meant a great deal to young composers.
When I win Powerball, that's exactly the sort of thing I plan to do with my money. In fact, film restoration would be a fantastic thing to piss away Powerball money on. Well, that and prostitutes.
- [quote] He talks about the three places that the sequence was shot and you realize that Gish's stories about icy water and nearly going over the fall were pure b.s.
Since I'm also an opera fan, I'm reminded of the classic Geraldine Farrar/Arturo Toscanini tug of war over tempo. He conducted the aria one way; she wanted it done another way. So, as she ultimately reminded him, "The public pays to see my face, not your back."
R109, I'll go with Lillian's version. Deconstruction kills magic.
And I would rather praise a director and an actress for their artistic achievement in creating an illusion than praise a woman for shivering.
Lying out in the cold is not what made Gish a great actress--anyone could do that. That she made us care that the character was in peril requires talent and skill--which only a few have.
- 32 posts before one you nobodies mentioned me?! Maaaaaaaaaaaax!
- R118 relishes telling kids there is no Santa Clause.
- [quote][r118] relishes telling kids there is no Santa Clause.
I mourn for a world where language has declined so much that even Santa Claus isn't safe.
- R108, six of Theda Bara's films are intact. Here's one of them: [italic]A Fool There Was,[/italic] which established her as the "vamp" who left men's lives in ruins.
(Note: Spanish subtitles over the title cards)
- Here's the only known sound clip of Theda Bara speaking, from a 1936 interview:
- I think young Buster Keaton was kind of good-looking in a unique or unusual way.
- Thanks to the posters for posting the Theda Bara film links and the interview!
Haven't watched the films yet but she sounds so cultured and smart in the LUX interview, even if it seems she is speaking with a prepared script.
I think her vamping career was over before the Twenties began but she alludes to making a comeback almost 20 years later. Does anyone know if she ever did? Hopefully, she died rich and happy.
As most of you here probably know, she came from quite ordinary and humble beginnings, the daughter of a Jewish tailor from Ohio, whose real name was Theodosia Goodman. Apparently, this was kept secret from the press and the public while she was still active in films.
I haven't found any photos of her online besides publicity shots in costume. Are there any I've overlooked?
- I'll see your young Buster, R124, and I'll raise you a Buster about 10 years older:
- Yes, R126, that's a very nice picture. I think he's handsome in an unusual way.
Have you seen the Silent Hollywood series on Youtube? It's great! And there is a part of the series that answers the question about why the cameras moved faster in the silent era and slower in the talkie era. If I find that specific part of the series I'll post it but here's a link to the Clara Bow portion of the series.
- TCM will be showing the Academy Award Best Picture winner "Wings", starring Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Richard Arlen and Gary Cooper on Tuesday, February 19 at 09:30PM.
- If you're in the NYC area April 26-20, the Film Forum is screening Safety Last, the Harold Lloyd movie that climaxes with him dangling from a huge clock on top of a skyscraper.
- Some of my favorites:
Man with a Movie Camera
October (Ten Days that Shook the World)
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
The Big Parade
The Docks of New York
The Last Command
The Last Laugh
The Merry Widow
The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg
- Clara Bow is my favorite silent star. You can see immediately why she was a big star.
- Fans of Buster Keaton should check out OUR HOSPITALITY which is remarkable for its recreation of Manhattan Island in the 1830s (when Times Square was a cow pasture) and for a delightful extended sequence in which Buster and a small group of intrepid travelers ride a primitive steam locomotive from NY through the "wilds" of New Jersey on a journey southward. The little train putts along so slowly that Buster's dog is able to keep up trotting behind it. When he arrives at his destination, Buster is greatly bewildered to be greeted by his own dog.
- I heard Lillian Gish in a recorded interview discussing her work when it occurred to me what I was doing wrong. Most of us view silent film as a movie without sound, i.e. missing something, therefore making them challenging to appreciate. I now view them as pure expressionistic story telling. They were their own unique art form, almost completely different than modern narrative sound films.
I love Chaplin and Keaton, and some of the more well known titles like The Big Parade, The Eagle, Metropolis, and Our Dancing Daughters. A well composed score can really make a film soar and a crappy tv tinny one can kill it, so look for a copy with a decent score when you can.
- Chaplin said a good silent movie is superior to a good play but a good talking picture is inferior to a good play.
- How sad about Clara Bow at r127's link.
She really was a victim of fickle Hollywood's tastes and desire for the next big thing. I can see how sensational and "modern" she was in just those short silent clips from the late 20s but the couple of Talkies' clips make her appear quite ordinary, and compared to the likes of Jean Harlow and even Joan Crawford, very old-fashioned. Clara was caught in a very transitional time.
I wonder why the scandals that plagued her career were not covered up by the studio? On the contrary, I got the impression they were exploited by Paramount and BP Schuberg to destroy her. Why was there such animosity when she was making so much money for them?
Interesting that Louise Brooks, who I imagine was one of her biggest rivals, comments flatteringly throughout the clips as clearly her biggest fan and admirer.
- Silent films are often hard for us to watch because the storytelling moves so fast. Without sound you do not need all the realistic detailed dialog that lengthened film as soon as sound comes in.
- Lillian Gish, as my grandmother would say, was a pistol ball. Here she is accepting the AFI Lifetime Achievement award. She is quite funny and touching at the same time. Notice the A-List crew they round up to salute her.
- [quote]Interesting that Louise Brooks, who I imagine was one of her biggest rivals, comments flatteringly throughout the clips as clearly her biggest fan and admirer.
Louise Brooks was never that big a star. She was more famous for her bobbed hair-do than for her acting. She ended up working at Saks Fifth Avenue as a sales clerk when her film career fizzled. As an older woman she re-invented her image as a silent star. Others who were there in her past claimed that Brooks' memoirs were a heavy blend of fact and fiction.
- [quote]I think her vamping career was over before the Twenties began but she alludes to making a comeback almost 20 years later. Does anyone know if she ever did? Hopefully, she died rich and happy.
She never made a talkie, although she did attempt a comeback and made three films in 1925 and 1926.
She married director Charles Brabin in 1921; although his career only lasted into the early '30s (his best-known film is [italic]The Mask of Fu Manchu[/italic]), they lived quite well, and long after her movie career ended, Theda was renowned in Hollywood as a gracious hostess.
- Theda fans will appreciate this documentary. It's a pay site akin to Netflix, but you can sign up for a two-week free trial to watch the whole thing.
- I don't think she ever married but was Lillian Gish ever rumored to be having a relationship with anyone? Did she ever even date? Her reputation seemed to be heavily based on her virginity.
Did sister Dorothy ever marry?
- Kenneth Anger claimed in [italic]Hollywood Babylon[/italic] that the Gish sistren were lovers.
- 141, Lillian Gish had a relatively long relationship with Jean George Nathan. The relationship fell apart when JGN asked Miss Gish to write a letter of recommendation to the condo board. The condo did not sell to Jews. JGN had apparently lied to Miss Gish about his Jewish heritage and she was made to look like a fool. Whether she was antisemitic or angry because she was lied to an made to look like a fool is unknown.
- Love the book Silent Players. Really interesting stories. Also the autobiography of Gloria Swanson. That was glamour. Read the Pola Negri autobiography a long time ago. She neve mentioned ending up with a woman but the book was okay.
- I have a great book on Louise Brooks. By Barry Paris.She ended up in NY state and did some work with Kodak ( few years since I read the book so not sure on details) William Paley helped her financially in her later years.
- R143, you mean George Jean Nathan.
- Bustre Keaton at the peak of his sexiness (with Roscoe Arbuckle and Al St. John).
Why is Hollywood Cavalcade not available on DVD???
- I found this on YT. Keaton is shirtless in this short film.
Buster Keaton - The dressing room
- Still of Buster Keaton, some college athletes, and their girlfriends, in "College"
- Harold Lloyd
- R150, he is so handsome in that picture! I love it! I once read when I was a kid that Harold Loyd was extremely wealthy because he got his wealth before taxes went into effect,and he had some designer make an extraordinary play house for his kids that had gold fixtures and with very elegant child sized furnishings. Aha! to be wealthy in those days before taxing everyone's brains out. Can you imagine how far your money went back then?
R147, I love your picture too! That is extremely adorable. WOW! Buster Keaton had a great body! You know something? that would make a super picture framed.
- Harold Lloyd wore his trademark oversized eyeglasses because he was a very attractive man and didn't want people to notice his looks but to pay attention to his comedic performances, or so the story goes anyway.
- Harold Lloyd without glasses. As you can see, he was quite handsome.
- WOW! HL was a hottie.
- It's not surprising that many of the silent film comedians were in good shape and had nice bodies, the did their own stunts and were often running, climbing, etc all over the place. In addition to Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, already mentioned and seen above, Stan Lauren was another, he actually had a trim athletic body which came from his early days in vaudeville and continued into doing stunts in the movies.
- I'm fairly young, but I love reading or watching just about anything about old Hollywood whether it's the silent movie era or the talkies. So I'm enjoying this thread. And yes Buster and Harold were handsome, fit, and funny.
- The first picture of R153 link pf Harold Lloyd, Ryan Reynolds when he was younger,looks a tiny bit like him. However, Harold Lloyd was definitely much more handsome!
- r148, that's actually a clip from the full-length The Camerman, one of Buster's films that (last I checked) is still missing a reel or two.
Later on, Buster worked as a gagman for the Marx Brothers, and you can see the connection between that clip and the Marx Brothers stateroom scene.
- Harold Lloyd has pronounced BDF here.
- I wonder why Harold Lloyd didn't also make films as more of a romantic leading man?
I guess in those days, actors were even more quickly and solidly typed than they are today.
- Harold Lloyd isn't as well remembered as Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin because when older movies began being shown on television in the 1950s, Lloyd, who owned the rights to all of his movies, wanted too much money in fees. As a result, his movies were hardly ever shown on television so younger generations did not become familiar with him like they did with Lloyd's contemporaries. It was a really bad business decision on Lloyd's part.
- Lloyd was also very supportive of his gay son.
- Love silents. Surprised nobody has mentioned Wallace Reid, one of the biggest silent stars who died of morphine withdrawal. Quite a scandal in the 20's. Some of his films have just come from Russia, of all places, kept there because even under the Czars they never honored US copyrights.
- Wallace Reid's story is really tragic. He was injured on the set and instead of giving him time to recover, the studio got him hooked on morphine so he could still make pictures.
- Hey r151, I'm not so sure about Harold Lloyd making his big bucks before taxation, as the Income Tax was started in 1915, before even the earliest Silent Stars were very established. Perhaps the taxation rates were a lot lower, but they were always more progressive than they are even today, so I'm sure he was at the top rate. I believe he was the producer of much of his product, so perhaps he was incorporated and paid a lower rate as a corporation. At any rate, he was extremely idiosyncratic, and had lots of hobbies, including photographing nudes. He didn't need to work much, and really didn't, because he had saved and invested his huge fortune very wisely during his heyday.
- Harold Lloyd's films were more profitable than Chaplin's and Keaton's because Lloyd worked with a team of writers who tightly scripted his material in advance of filming. Lloyd was one of the first film stars to invest heavily in Los Angeles real estate and that is where he made his largest fortune.
Chaplin owned his own studio and spent very freely on his films, improvising them into existence while his entire cast and crew were being paid.
Keaton was illiterate until much later in life and had little financial sense. Although talkies and alcoholism destroyed his career, his down spiral began in the late 20s when his increasingly expensive films stopped showing a profit. He lost his marriage, his kids, his stardom and all his money with startling rapidity. Incidentally, when he had to abandon his mansion, Keaton left his own copies of all his films in the cellar. James Mason bought the house in the 1950s and discovered the silent treasure trove. He restored the films to Keaton who then screened them to great acclaim in the USA and Europe.
- Keaton wasn't illiterate. And his movies made plenty of money for his studios.
His downfall had almost entirely to do with the switch from Schenck to MGM and his bitch wife. He couldn't work under the highly regimented studio system at MGM and his wife Natalie Talmadge, who closed the door to their bedroom after the birth of their second son. When they divorced in 1932, Natalie had taken most of his money, and, miserable at MGM, where he had lost all of his artistic freedom, Keaton had become a drunk. Natalie even changed their boys' last name to Talmadge after the divorce.
- Who are some other hotties of the silent era?
- Richard Arlen in "Wings" and "Feel My Pulse" is quite the hottie
Charles "Buddy" Rogers is more cute and cuddly than sexy, but I love him too
- This kiss between Rogers and Arlen in "Wings" is heaven
- [quote]Only have basic cable now and silent films are never on so alas.
Turn the sound down completely.
- R168 Ramon Novarro
- Oh Ok, R158. This is my first time ever seeing that clip. Is the stateroom scene you're talking about? It's pretty funny and I can see the similarities.
- Harold Lloyd was married to his leading lady Mildred Davis who had a horrible drinking problem. She died before he did.
A few years ago on TCM, a documentary aired about Lloyd hosted by his grandaughter. It showed his mansion in LA called Greenacres. It had like 40 rooms and 12 bathrooms, an elaborate doghouse, kids treehouse, the works.
He made alot of money.
- That's it, r173. Keaton was a gagman for a number of MGM films and if you know his own films you can spot them fairly easily since he liked to re-use bits. In addition to Marx films he created some bits of business in Red Skelton's A Southern Yankee, for example, and Skelton's Watch the Birdie is a remake of The Cameraman, complete with the changing-room scene!
- R172, Ramon Novarro was so handsome!I love those pictures!
- R174, they showed a tree house for the kids? I though I read once, which I posted on this thread already, that he had a play house for the kids which was extremely elegant decorated with gold fixtures? It might have been about someone else?
- I recall a treehouse not a play house but I'm sure he built his children a play house. I recall the documentary showed footage of elaborate birthday parties with ponies, swimming pools, clowns. Plus he had several beautiful dogs not sure if they were Great Danes or Dobermanns but they looked like statues. I remember thinking how elaborately rich his life seemed.
I think he built one of the first mansions in an area that would become Beverly Hills. I could be wrong though, it's been a while since I watched the documentary. Wish TCM would have another Harold Lloyd month.
- Interesting nobody mentioned Norma Shearer! She survived the silent era, due to being married to Thalbeg, of course, but she really was quite good.
The Student Prince of Old Heidelberg is heartbreakingly beautiful.
- Charles Farrell was hotter than hell!
Makes me wish I had a time machine...
- One more of Charles Farrell. OMG the things I would've done to that man!
- Yes, he was a good-looking man.
- Years ago someone posted a link of a VERY good-looking hunky man wearing nothing more than a jock, leaning against a wall, as I recall - his all-natural, pre-gym body was spectacular.
It was not Ramon Novarro - I read that wonderful biography about him several years ago so I know who he is - I wish I could remember!
- Farrell in later years played Gale Storm's father in TV's "My Little Margie" and came across as very fey.