San Francisco Silent Film Festival: Articles


'The Doll' Movie: Greedy & Gluttonous Church Officials + German Mary Pickford in Early Ernst Lubitsch Comedy

The Doll with Ossi Oswalda and Hermann Thimig. Early Ernst Lubitsch satirical fantasy starring “the German Mary Pickford” has similar premise to that of the 1925 Buster Keaton comedy Seven Chances. 'The Doll': San Francisco Silent Film Festival presented fast-paced Ernst Lubitsch comedy starring the German Mary Pickford – Ossi […]


'Amazing Tales from the Archives': SFSFF Remembers Pioneering Female Documentarian & World War I Era (!) Sound Films

“Amazing Tales from the Archives”: Pioneering female documentarian Aloha Wanderwell Baker remembered at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival – along with the largely forgotten sound-on-cylinder technology and the Jean Desmet Collection. 'Amazing Tales from the Archives': San Francisco Silent Film Festival & the 'sound-on-cylinder' system Fans of the earliest […]


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

Women's 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. Are females too emotional to be objective? Women's suffrage movie 'Mothers of Men': Will women's right to vote lead to the destruction of 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 […]


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) […]


'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. […]


'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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


'Midnight Madness' Movie Lacks 'Midnight' & 'Madness'

Clive Brook and Jacqueline Logan in Midnight Madness. 'Midnight Madness' movie lacks both '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 […]


'Song of the Fishermen': First Chinese Movie to Win International Award

'Song of the Fishermen': First Chinese movie to win international award depicts social inequalities in China during the Great Depression The story of Cai Chusheng's 1934 drama Song of the Fishermen / Yu Guang Qu, screened at the 2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, begins in a small coastal village […]


Douglas Fairbanks: 'The Half-Breed' Lost and Found

Douglas Fairbanks The Half-Breed in 'The Amazing Tales from the Archives': 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival At the 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, “The Amazing Tales from the Archives” began with film preservationist Rob Byrne's documentation of how the 1916 movie The Half-Breed was found and restored to […]


Louise Brooks: San Francisco Silent Film Festival Kicks Off

Louise Brooks in Prix de Beauté: 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival Louise Brooks will kick off the 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 17, the SFSFF will screen Augusto Genina's Prix de Beauté a.k.a. Beauty Prize at the Castro Theater. Released in 1930 […]


'South': Antarctic Expedition Documentary SFSFF Hit

South: Sir Ernest Shackleton's Glorious Epic of the Antarctic It was surprising to see the large crowd waiting to get into the 2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival screening of South: Sir Ernest Shackleton's Glorious Epic of the Antarctic (1920). I did not think that a documentary would interest so […]


'The Canadian' Caper: Silent Era Superstar Thomas Meighan Movie

The Canadian (image: Thomas Meighan in The Canadian) Thomas Meighan is The Star of William Beaudine's The Canadian (1926), which screened at the 2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The credits feature his name far above everyone else's. The basic story of The Canadian, scenario by Arthur Stringer from the […]


'Wings' & 'Dr. Strangelove' Film Preservation: Into the Digital Frontier SFSFF

Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, Clara Bow, Richard Arlen in William A. Wellman's Wings 'Wings' & 'Dr. Strangelove': Film preservation and 'Amazing Tales from the Archives' The 2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival's edition of “Amazing Tales from the Archives” was perhaps the weakest of the series to date. In the past, […]


'The Loves of Pharaoh': Ernst Lubitsch-Emil Jannings Epic

The Loves of Pharaoh: Ernst Lubitsch early historical epic (image: Emil Jannings [center] in The Loves of Pharaoh) Ernst Lubitsch's The Loves of Pharaoh (1922) exists only in a truncated version, with some stills and title cards inserted into the lost footage. Lubitsch's early epic was screened at the 2012 […]


'Metropolis,' Norma Talmadge and Louise Brooks: San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Louise Brooks (center) in Diary of a Lost Girl (top); Fritz Lang's sci-fi classic Metropolis (upper middle); George O'Brien (center) in John Ford's The Iron Horse (lower middle); Norma Talmadge in Sam Taylor and Henry King's The Woman Disputed (bottom) The San Francisco Silent Film Festival kicks off on July […]


'J'accuse!': Abel Gance Anti-War Classic + Lon Chaney & Bimbo the Gibbon: San Francisco Silent Film Festival

J'accuse! with Séverin-Mars. Released the year after the end of World War I, Abel Gance's 1919 anti-war French drama was a major hit in France and the U.K. Nearly two decades later, the filmmaker would rework the story; as it turned out, the second J'accuse! was released the year before […]


San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2009

The Fall of the House of Usher (top); John Gilbert, Eleanor Boardman in Bardelys the Magnificent (middle); Douglas Fairbanks, Lupe Velez in The Gaucho (bottom)   Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert, and Lillian Gish are only a few of the superstars to be found at the 14th San Francisco Silent Film […]


San Francisco Silent Film Festival: From Conrad Veidt to Joan Crawford

The Man Who Laughs with Conrad Veidt and Olga Baclanova. The 13th San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF), to be held at the Castro Theater throughout the July 11-13 weekend, will feature several international classics including a few rarities. Of the films I've seen, I'd highly recommend Tod Browning's perverse […]


San Francisco Silent Film Festival: From Ernst Lubitsch to 'The Valley of the Giants'

The 12th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF) will be held at the Castro Theatre on July 13-15. Among the festival's highlights are: Ernst Lubitsch's The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (above): Officially an adaptation of Wilhelm Meyer-Förster's novel Karl Heinrich but clearly inspired by Sigmund Romberg's operetta, The […]


San Francisco Silent Film Festival: '7th Heaven'

The 11th San Francisco Silent Film Festival at the Castro Theater begins this Friday, July 14. The three-day festival will include screenings of Frank Borzage's 7th Heaven (1927 - Friday, July 14, 8:00pm), a huge box office and critical success at the time, and the winner of the first Best […]