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Silent Movies: Articles


'Movies': Is That an 'Abhorrent' Word That Denigrates the Art Form? Many Believed So

“Movies” or…? Quo Vadis: One of the first feature films ever made, Enrico Guazzoni's Italian epic came out in 1913, going on to become a global sensation. Should American “moving picture” fans of the early 1910s have referred to it as a “photoplay” or a “movie”? Silent bites: The birth of 'the movies' In 1926, in her native England, Iris Barry published what is generally considered the first serious historical study of the motion picture as an art form. Utilizing the British slang term, she chose to title it Let's Go to the Pictures. Later that same year, when the book was published in the United States, the title was changed to Let's Go to the Movies, in recognition of […]


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'Movies': Is That an 'Abhorrent' Word That Denigrates the Art Form? Many Believed So



'Desert Nights': Enjoyable John Gilbert Adventure Dares to Ask Age-Old Philosophical Question

Desert Nights with John Gilbert and Mary Nolan: Enjoyable Sahara-set adventure – which happened to be Gilbert's last silent film – dares to ask the age-old philosophical question, “Is there honor among thieves?” John Gilbert late silent adventure 'Desert Nights' asks a question for the ages: Is there honor among thieves? The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release Desert Nights arrived in theaters at the tail end of the silent era. By 1929, audiences wanted lots of singing and dancing – talkies! And they might have been impatient to hear John Gilbert's speaking voice. I can't tell whether sound would have improved it or not, but Desert Nights has a lot of title cards filled with dialogue. Directed by the prolific William Nigh,[1] the […]


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'Desert Nights': Enjoyable John Gilbert Adventure Dares to Ask Age-Old Philosophical Question



Antihero Ricardo Cortez: Best Showcases + Oscar-Winning Cinematographer Brother

Antihero Ricardo Cortez in Symphony of Six Million, with Irene Dunne. Directed by Gregory La Cava, this 1932 family/romantic melodrama may have been one of Cortez's favorite among his own movies (see further below). Based on a morality tale by Back Street, Imitation of Life, and Humoresque author Fannie Hurst, Symphony of Six Million follows a young New Yorker (Cortez) who, after becoming a renowned – albeit more than a little untrustworthy – doctor, loses touch with his own family, including wife and foremost supporter Irene Dunne. During the talkie era, Cortez was usually seen as an antihero, such as the murder-solving gangster in The Phantom of Crestwood and the crooked gambler who partners up with justice system victim Kay […]


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Antihero Ricardo Cortez: Best Showcases + Oscar-Winning Cinematographer Brother