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Norma Talmadge & Constance Talmadge: Silent Movie Superstars on DVD

Norma Talmadge Constance Talmadge Santa Monica House
Silent era superstars Norma Talmadge, Constance Talmadge at Norma’s Santa Monica beach house.

Norma Talmadge and Constance Talmadge are the stars of two recent Kino International releases. Talmadges who? Well, just two of the most popular stars of the silent era. In fact, in terms of popularity they were two of the biggest stars of any era.

Many more people today would be aware of that fact if

a) cultural, social, and/or political history had its place in today’s world

b) more than a handful of film historians, chroniclers and critics knew that Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Citizen Kane weren’t the only four movies made before Star Wars and E.T.

c) the above knew that there was much more to the silent era than just Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton comedies

d) that the world, at least on the surface, has radically changed – but human beings haven’t; as a result, dramas and comedies made 80 or 90 years ago may feel as pertinent – at times more pertinent – than those released 8 or 9 weekends ago.

The Kino releases are an excellent way to introduce Norma and Constance Talmadge to those unfamiliar with the actresses and with silent film in general.

Norma Talmadge’s disc features two of her most popular vehicles, the crime melodrama Within the Law (1921) and the light comedy Kiki (1926). Constance Talmadge’s double bill consists of two sophisticated comedies: Her Sister from Paris (1925) and Her Night of Romance (1924), both co-starring future Academy Award winner Ronald Colman, who also happens to be Norma’s leading man in Kiki.

Norma and Constance Talmadge connoisseur and all-around film historian Joseph Yranski – who has been a friend for a number of years – has provided me with several images of the two Talmadges. I’ll be posting those on a daily basis. I’ll also be posting a review of the Talmadges’ DVDs in the next few days.

See also: Brief review of the Constance Talmadge-Ronald Colman romantic comedy Her Night of Romance.

Photo: Courtesy of Joseph Yranski

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