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Silent Movies: 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?



'Die Nibelungen' Movies': Powerful Women in Masterful, 'Otherworldly' Germanic Tragedy

'Die Nibelungen: Siegfried': Paul Richter as the dragon-slaying hero of medieval Germanic mythology. 'Die Nibelungen': Enthralling silent classic despite complex plot and countless characters Based on the medieval epic poem Nibelungenlied, itself inspired by the early medieval Germanic saga about the Burgundian royal family, Fritz Lang's two-part Die Nibelungen is one of those movies I can enjoy many times without ever really understanding who's who and what's what. After all, the semi-historical, fantasy/adventure epic is packed with intrigue, treachery, deceit, hatred, murder, and sex. And that's just the basic plotline. As seen in Kino's definitive two-disc edition, artistically and cinematically speaking Die Nibelungen contains some of the greatest visual compositions I've ever seen. Filmed mostly in long shots that frame […]


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'Die Nibelungen' Movies': Powerful Women in Masterful, 'Otherworldly' Germanic Tragedy



Ernst Lubitsch Movies: Lost 'Touch' in Our Age of Sledgehammer Filmmaking

Ernst Lubitsch movies: Subtle, sophisticated 'Touch' all but gone from contemporary filmmaking. Ernst Lubitsch movies: The forgotten, passé 'Touch' Ernst Lubitsch and William Cameron Menzies were Turner Classic Movies' “stars” on Jan. 28, '16. (This is a fully revised and expanded version of a post published that day.) Lubitsch had the morning/afternoon, with seven films; Menzies had the evening/night, also with seven features. As a sign of the times, Ernst Lubitsch is hardly ever mentioned whenever “connoisseurs” (between quotes) discuss Hollywood movies of the studio era. But why? Well, probably because The Lubitsch Touch is considered passé at a time when the sledgehammer approach to filmmaking is deemed “fresh,” “innovative,” “cool,” and “daring” – as if a crass lack of […]


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Ernst Lubitsch Movies: Lost 'Touch' in Our Age of Sledgehammer Filmmaking



'Ben-Hur' Movie: Christian Epic Became Costliest Production & Biggest Worldwide Blockbuster in History

'Ben-Hur' movie: Ramon Novarro starred in the silent version, at the time the most expensive film production and the biggest worldwide blockbuster in history. 'Ben-Hur' movie: Semi-biblical epic starring Ramon Novarro became most expensive and most successful blockbuster in history Christmas 2015 is just around the corner. That helps to explain Turner Classic Movies' presentation of Fred Niblo's Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ last night, Dec. 20, '15, featuring Carl Davis' magnificent score. Starring Ramon Novarro, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 1925 Ben-Hur movie version became not only the most expensive film production up to that time,[1] but also the biggest worldwide box office hit as well.[2] Equally important, that was probably the first instance when the international market came to the rescue […]


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'Ben-Hur' Movie: Christian Epic Became Costliest Production & Biggest Worldwide Blockbuster in History



'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



Rediscovering Silent Film Star with Million Dollar (Adjusted) Back

Kitty Gordon: Silent film star with the 'most beautiful' and most heavily insured back. Rediscovering a long-forgotten silent film star: Kitty Gordon It seems almost unthinkable that there are still silent film stars who have not been resurrected, their lives and movies subject to detailed, if not always reliable, examination. Yet I am reminded by Michael Levenston, a Canadian who has compiled what is best described as a “scrapbook” of her life and career, that there is one such individual – and not just a “name” in silent films, but also from 1901 onwards famed as a singer/actress in musical comedy and on the vaudeville stage in both her native England and the United States. And she is Kitty Gordon […]


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Rediscovering Silent Film Star with Million Dollar (Adjusted) Back



'Sorrell and Son' 1927 Movie: Adult Themes in Oscar-Nominated Father-Son Drama

'Sorrell and Son' with H.B. Warner and Alice Joyce. 'Sorrell and Son' 1927 movie: Long thought lost, surprisingly effective father-love melodrama stars a superlative H.B. Warner Partially shot on location in England and produced independently by director Herbert Brenon at Joseph M. Schenck's United Artists, the 1927 Sorrell and Son is a skillful melodrama about paternal devotion in the face of both personal and social adversity. This long-thought-lost version of Warwick Deeping's 1925 bestseller benefits greatly from the veteran Brenon's assured direction, deservedly shortlisted in the first year of the Academy Awards.[1] Crucial to the film's effectiveness, however, is the portrayal of its central character, a war-scarred Englishman who sacrifices it all for the happiness of his son. Luckily, the […]


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'Sorrell and Son' 1927 Movie: Adult Themes in Oscar-Nominated Father-Son Drama



Greta Garbo Movies: Unique Silent Era Superstar

Greta Garbo movies: 'The Kiss' was her final silent film. Greta Garbo movies: Rare silent era star on TCM Greta Garbo, a rarity among silent era movie stars, is Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” performer today, Aug. 26, '15. Now, why would Garbo be considered a silent era rarity? Well, certainly not because she easily made the transition to sound, remaining a major star for another decade. Think Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, William Powell, Fay Wray, Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, John Barrymore, Warner Baxter, Janet Gaynor, Constance Bennett, etc. And so much for all the stories about actors with foreign accents being unable to maintain their Hollywood stardom following the advent of sound motion pictures. A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star, […]


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Greta Garbo Movies: Unique Silent Era Superstar





FILM ARCHIVES

JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG: Great To Be Nominated
Eric Rohmer at LACMA
Berta Singerman in 'Nothing More Than a Woman': UCLA Screening
'Stagecoach': Classic John Ford Western Screening
'Sitting Pretty': Clifton Webb Is 'Gay' Babysitter
Sterling Hayden Movies
Martin Scorsese: Oscars' Top Actors' Directors
Tina Fey & Sacha Baron Cohen, Jason Bateman & Steve Carell: Oscar Presenters
'Berlin: Symphony of a Great City,' North Korean Concentration Camps
Indie Gay Film Actor Matthew Montgomery to Receive Philadelphia QFest Honor
Annette Bening, Cate Blanchett and Javier Bardem: Oscar Presenters
Alex Karras Dies: 'Blazing Saddles' & 'Victor Victoria' Actor
Clint Eastwood Western Persona Co-Creator Dead at 87
Polly Bergen Movies: 'First American Woman President,' 'Cape Fear' Rape Victim
Women Suffrage Movie at SFSFF: Will Right to Vote Destroy The American Family?