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 […]


'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 […]


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, […]


How to Be a Latin Lover: Ricardo Cortez & Leading Ladies + Marriage to Tragic Drug-Addicted Hollywood Star

How to be a Latin Lover: Ricardo Cortez, formerly known as Jacob Krantz from a working-class family of Austrian/Hungarian immigrants that had settled in New York City, succeeded in restyling himself as the next – even if, according to some, “second rank” – Rudolph Valentino. It's unclear whether or not […]


'Latin Lover' - The 2nd Valentino & 1st (and Best) Sam Spade: Q&A with Ricardo Cortez Biographer Dan Van Neste

“Latin Lover” Ricardo Cortez, who went on to play a series of all-American scoundrels and criminals, in addition to similar unsavory types of other nationalities. Although never as big a star as fellow silent era screen heartthrobs Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro, and John Gilbert – or fellow Pre-Code era antiheroes […]


Ricardo Cortez: Remembering the 'Latin Lover Threat' to Rudolph Valentino & Star of Original 'The Maltese Falcon'

Ricardo Cortez biography The Magnificent Heel: The Life and Films of Ricardo Cortez. Dan Van Neste's book covers the life and career of Paramount's “Latin Lover” threat to a recalcitrant Rudolph Valentino; one who would later portray a sly, seductive Sam Spade in the original – and highly enjoyable – […]


'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 […]


Comediennes of the Silent Era & Film Historian Anthony Slide: Remembering Cinema's Pioneering Women

One of cinema's early comediennes, Dorothy Devore: between 1918 and 1930, the Ft. Worth-born actress was seen in nearly 100 movies, both features and shorts. Among them were Salvation Sue, Naughty Mary Brown, and Saving Sister Susie, all with frequent partner Earle Rodney. 'Comediennes of the Silent Era' & film […]


Comedy Actress Rediscovered: 'She Could Be Chaplin!' Q&A with Film Historian Anthony Slide

Comedy actress Alice Howell on the cover of film historian Anthony Slide's latest book: Pioneering funky-haired performer “could have been Chaplin” – or at the very least another Louise Fazenda. Rediscovering comedy actress Alice Howell: Female performer in movie field dominated by men Early comedy actress Alice Howell is an […]


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? […]


'Die Nibelungen': Siegfried Eclipsed by Powerful Women in Masterful Fritz Lang Tragedy

Die Nibelungen: Siegfried: Paul Richter as the tragic dragon-slaying hero of medieval Germanic mythology – with a bit from Homer's Iliad thrown in. '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 […]