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San Francisco Silent Film Festival: Articles


Women Suffrage Movie at SFSFF: Will Right to Vote Destroy The American Family?

Women suffrage movie 'Mothers of Men': Dorothy Davenport becomes a judge and later State Governor in socially conscious thriller about U.S. women's voting rights. Women suffrage movie 'Mothers of Men': Will women's right to vote lead to the destruction of The American Family? Directed by and featuring the now all but forgotten Willis Robards, Mothers of Men – about women suffrage and political power – was a fast-paced, 64-minute buried treasure screened at the 2016 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, held June 2–5. I thoroughly enjoyed being taken back in time by this 1917 socially conscious drama that dares to ask the question: “What will happen to the nation if all women have the right to vote?” One newspaper editor […]


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Women Suffrage Movie at SFSFF: Will Right to Vote Destroy The American Family?



'L'Inhumaine': Marcel L'Herbier Impressive Sci-Fi, Sex Melodrama & Fernand Léger Combo

'L'Inhumaine': Marcel L'Herbier directed Jaque Catelain and Georgette Leblanc in great-looking (Fernand Léger sets) mix of science-fiction and sex melodrama. Marcel L'Herbier silent 'L'Inhumaine': 'Intense sensory integration of sight' For me, the real jewel in the crown of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's “A Day of Silents,” held on Dec. 5, '15, at the Castro Theatre, was Marcel L'Herbier's L'Inhumaine / The Inhuman Woman (1924). The screening of this mix of desire and seduction with science fiction turned out to be an intense sensory integration of sight and sound. First, the sight. I had not seen any other films directed by L'Herbier (e.g., L'Argent, La Comédie du bonheur), so L'Inhumaine, with its spectacular visuals, came as a big surprise […]


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'L'Inhumaine': Marcel L'Herbier Impressive Sci-Fi, Sex Melodrama & Fernand Léger Combo



Rare African-American Film, Frank Capra 'Accidental Silent': San Francisco Silent Film Festival

African-American film 'Bert Williams: Lime Kiln Club Field Day' with Williams (in blackface) and Odessa Warren Grey: Early 20th century rarity.* Rare, early 20th-century African-American film among San Francisco Silent Film Festival highlights Directed by Edwin Middleton and T. Hayes Hunter, the Biograph Company's Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1913) was the film I most looked forward to at the 2015 edition of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. One hundred years old, unfinished, and destined to be scrapped and tossed into the dust bin, it rose from the ashes. Starring entertainer Bert Williams – whose film appearances have virtually disappeared, but whose legacy lives on – Lime Kiln Club Field Day has become a rare example of African-American life […]


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Rare African-American Film, Frank Capra 'Accidental Silent': San Francisco Silent Film Festival



'A Night at the Cinema in 1914': Charles Chaplin, Pearl White and The Great War

Charles Chaplin in 'A Film Johnnie' (1914). 'A Night at the Cinema in 1914': From The Great War to Charles Chaplin and Pearl White Imagine, if you will, that you can go back one hundred years in time, when people were enjoying a new and pervasive art form: motion pictures. In 1914, the movies had already been around for a while, in peep shows, nickelodeons, and small screening rooms. But now movie theaters were springing up in every community large and small, where families could flock together and watch flickering images in comfort, with live musical accompaniment. On September 20, such was the experience provided by the 2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival - Silent Autumn: “A Night at the […]


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'A Night at the Cinema in 1914': Charles Chaplin, Pearl White and The Great War



'Sherlock Holmes' Movie Found

'Sherlock Holmes' with William Gillette. 'Sherlock Holmes' movie found at Cinémathèque Française Sherlock Holmes, a long-thought-lost 1916 feature starring stage performer and playwright William Gillette in the title role, has been discovered in the vaults of the Cinémathèque Française. Directed by the all-but-forgotten Arthur Berthelet for the Chicago-based Essanay production company, the approximately 90-minute movie is supposed to be not only the sole record of William Gillette's celebrated performance as Arthur Conan Doyle's detective, but also the only surviving Gillette film.[1] In the late 19th century, William Gillette himself wrote the play Sherlock Holmes, which turned out to be a mash-up of various stories and novels featuring the detective, chiefly the short stories “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Final […]


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'Sherlock Holmes' Movie Found



Sneeze Face, Cheese Mites and Techno Charles Chaplin: 'Amazing Tales'

Sneeze face, cheese mites, and techno Charles Chaplin: San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2014's 'Amazing Tales from the Archive's (image: Fred Ott's 'sneeze face' in the short film 'Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze') The “Amazing Tales from the Archives” presentations at the 2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which ran May 29-June 1, focused on three subjects: “A New Look at an Old Sneeze” nearly bordered on redundancy. Fred Ott's sneeze, officially known as Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, was filmed by the Edison Manufacturing Company in 1894 and is one of the oldest surviving “motion pictures.” The approximately one-minute short film illustrates a man – Thomas Edison's assistant Fred Ott – in the throes of sneezing. While […]


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Sneeze Face, Cheese Mites and Techno Charles Chaplin: 'Amazing Tales'



Gender Roles and Social Hypocrisy: THE GIRL IN TAILS

Gender roles and social hypocrisy in 'The Girl in Tail's (image: Einar Axelsson and Magda Holm in 'The Girl in Tails') Poor Katja Kock (Magda Holm)! She spends most of her time serving others: sewing and mending for her brother (Erik Zetterström), humoring her grouchy father (Nils Aréhn), and tutoring Count Ludwig (Einar Axelsson) in his studies. Her brother gets all the attention and all the new clothes, while Katja has to be content to look like a scrubwoman in her ragged old dresses. When the Count passes his exams – thanks to Katja – he plans a summer party. Katja's father refuses to buy her any new clothes for the occasion, so she breaks all social conventions by showing […]


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Gender Roles and Social Hypocrisy: THE GIRL IN TAILS



MIDNIGHT MADNESS Movie Lacks 'Midnight' and 'Madness'

'Midnight Madness' movie lacks both 'midnight' and 'madness' (image: Clive Brook and Jacqueline Logan in 'Midnight Madness') Screened at the 2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Midnight Madness has a very curious title: there is no “midnight” or “madness” to be found in the film. The story's original name, The Lion Trap, from a play by Daniel Nathan Rubin, would have been a much more appropriate title. Norma (Jacqueline Logan, best known as Mary Magdalene in Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings) lives in a squalid apartment behind a shooting gallery, with her good-for-nothing father (James Bradbury). She goes to work each day as a secretary at a Diamond Broker Company, looking forward to romantic trysts with her boss, […]


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MIDNIGHT MADNESS Movie Lacks 'Midnight' and 'Madness'





FILM ARCHIVES

Jay Presson Allen
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Red Skelton Movies
Tyrone Power VI: Lana Turner, Sonja Henie, Janet Gaynor
'The End of Summer' Movie Review: Yasujiro Ozu Classic
Ann Sheridan Movies: 'Kings Row,' 'The Man Who Came to Dinner'
Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor in John Huston's THE MALTESE FALCON Academy Encore Screening
Robert F. Boyle Homage: 'Winter Kills' with Jeff Bridges
Spencer Tracy & Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford & Bette Davis: TCM Movies
Anne Francis Dies: 'Forbidden Planet' & 'Honey West' Actress
'The Girl' Fredrik Edfeldt
Eli Wallach & Anne Jackson + Natalie Portman & Husband Benjamin Millepied: The Oscars
Amazing Tales from the Archives: Orphan Films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival
Ann Dvorak Movies: 'Scarface,' 'I Was an American Spy'
Ben Johnson Movies: Remembering the Academy Award-Winning Actor