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 […]

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 […]

'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 […]

'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 […]

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. […]

'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 […]

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. Now, why would Garbo be considered a silent era rarity? […]

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) […]

Pioneering Woman Director Lois Weber Movie Screening

Pioneering woman director Lois Weber movie 'Shoes,' with Mary MacLaren. Pioneering woman director Lois Weber socially conscious drama 'Shoes' screening In February 2015, National Film Registry titles will be showcased at the Library of Congress' Packard Campus Theater – a.k.a. the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation – in Culpeper, […]

First Best Actor & Best Actress Academy Award Winners: Emil Jannings & Janet Gaynor

First Best Actor Oscar winner Emil Jannings in 'The Last Command.' First Best Actor Oscar winner Emil Jannings, first Best Actress Oscar winner Janet Gaynor on TCM First Best Actor Academy Award winner Emil Jannings in The Last Command, first Best Actress Academy Award winner Janet Gaynor in Sunrise, and […]

'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 […]

Jack Huston in 'Ben-Hur' Remake?

Jack Huston. Jack Huston cast in 'Ben-Hur' remake? 'Boardwalk Empire' actor to follow in the footsteps of Ramon Novarro and Charlton Heston Jack Huston, best known for playing World War I veteran-turned-bootlegger-cum-assassin Richard Harrow in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, may star in the latest Ben-Hur “remake,” to be jointly […]

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 […]

D.W. Griffith Movies at Biograph: The Birth of a Cinema at the American Cinematheque

D.W. Griffith movies at the American Cinematheque (image: D.W. Griffith circa 1915) A series of D.W. Griffith movies made at Biograph at the dawn of both the 20th century and the art of moviemaking will be screened at the American Cinematheque next weekend. “Retroformat Presents: D.W. Griffith at Biograph, Part […]

'Mary Poppins' National Film Registry Addition: Well-Time Free Publicity for Disney Studios' 'Saving Mr. Banks'

Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews as the flying-umbrella-carrying, brat-rearing title character. As the Walt Disney Studios' Saving Mr. Banks adds about 2,000 North American theaters, the U.S. Library of Congress adds Mary Poppins to the National Film Registry, resulting in some always welcome free publicity for all involved. The story […]

Ramon Novarro: Gay 'Latin Lover' Was First Hispanic Hollywood Superstar

Ramon Novarro. Ramon Novarro: Mexican-born actor was first Latin American Hollywood superstar Mexican-born actor Ramon Novarro, the original Ben-Hur and one of MGM's biggest stars of the late '20s and early '30s, has his Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” day on Thursday, Aug. 8. First, The Bad News: […]

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 […]

Lupita Tovar: 'Dracula' Actress Turns 103

Lupita Tovar in 'Santa' Lupita Tovar turns 103: Actress starred in Spanish-language 'Dracula' and in the first Mexican talkie, 'Santa' Mexican actress Lupita Tovar, best remembered for the Spanish-language version of Dracula and for starring in the first Mexican talkie, Santa, turned 103 years old on Sunday, July 27, 2013. […]

Alfred Hitchcock Silent Movies: Unesco UK Memory of the World Register

Alfred Hitchcock silent movies added to Unesco UK Memory of the World Register (image: Ivor Novello in The Lodger) The nine Alfred Hitchcock-directed silent films recently restored by the British Film Institute have been added to the Unesco UK Memory of the World Register, “a list of documentary heritage which […]

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 […]

'Ben-Hur' 1925: Fast & Furious Epic at Historic Theater

'Ben-Hur' 1925 with Ramon Novarro: The chariot race. 'Ben-Hur' 1925: Fast & furious epic Los Angeles screening Directed by Fred Niblo and starring Ramon Novarro, the 1925 Ben-Hur, a.k.a. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, will be screened at 8 p.m. on Wed., June 26, '13, at the historic Orpheum […]

'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 […]

'Broken Blossoms,' Lillian Gish & Richard Barthelmess: Best Movies of the 1910s

'Broken Blossoms': Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess star in D.W. Griffith's 1919 melodrama about doomed interethnic love and dysfunctional family relationships – one of the best movies of the 1910s BEST FILM Broken Blossoms The Hoodlum The Italian Little Pal Old Wives for New A Romance of the Redwoods Sold […]

Divine, Alla Nazimova: London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Divine and John Waters at the 2013 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (Image: Divine in John Waters' Female Trouble) The 2013 London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival kicked off with a gala screening of Jeffrey Schwarz's I Am Divine on Thursday evening. In the coming days – the LLGFF […]

Fay Wray Movies: 'King Kong' Actress' Enjoyed Long Hollywood Career

Fay Wray movies Actress Fay Wray, best remembered for playing the love interest in the 1933 interspecies romance classic King Kong, would have turned 105 on Sep. 15, '12. Besides Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's 1933 iconic horror tale and mammoth box office hit, the Canadian-born Vina Fay […]

D.W. Griffith 'The Birth of a Nation' Director: Q&A with Author Anthony Slide

D.W. Griffith Father of Film, controversial figure. To say that the movies wouldn't be what they are today without D.W. Griffith is probably inaccurate. I mean, someone – or “someones” – would have received credit for turning filmmaking into a major art form. Either way, Griffith, a movie director since […]

Gabriel Garko as Rudolph Valentino

Gabriel Garko (photo) will play Rudolph Valentino (a.k.a. Rodolfo Valentino in places like Italy and Brazil) in a two-part Italian TV movie. To be directed by Alessio Inturri for Mediaset, the Valentino project is reportedly to be filmed this year in both Italy and the United States. Gabriel Garko, who'll […]

Tom Mix, Rudolph Valentino & Pearl White: Niles Essanay

You want action? Movie-movie action? Then forget The Avengers, which opens in the US on May 4. The following day, head instead to the Niles Essanay Film Museum in the northern Californian town of Fremont, where they'll be screening two action-packed flicks: Laughing at Danger and “The Tragic Plunge,” episode […]

Pickford-Fairbanks Studios' Mary Pickford Building Destroyed

Mary Pickford Building: The Lot a.k.a. Pickford-Fairbanks Studios Los Angeles just got uglier. Despite protests, the Mary Pickford Building on West Hollywood's The Lot has been destroyed by its current owner, the CIM Group. (See video below.) The Lot, as previously reported on this site, was built in the 1910s, […]

Pola Negri 'The Spanish Dancer' Restored

Pola Negri, The Spanish Dancer Silent-film lovers in The Netherlands will be able to enjoy a new restoration of the 1923 Pola Negri period comedy The Spanish Dancer. Screening with live musical accompaniment, the film will be presented at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, April 6, and at 4:30 p.m. on […]

Jean Dujardin Makes Oscar History

Jean Dujardin Jean Dujardin made film-award history after he won the 2012 Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as a fading silent film matinee idol in Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist. But before I proceed, I must say that those who compare Dujardin with former Best Actor Oscar winner Roberto […]

Michel Hazanavicius & Bérénice Bejo + 'The Artist' Makes Oscar History

'The Artist': Best Picture winner makes history. Best Picture winner 'The Artist': Two 'First Times' in Oscar history Pictured above are several cast members of Best Picture winner The Artist – Uggie, Jean Dujardin, James Cromwell, Bérénice Bejo, Penelope Ann Miller, and Missi Pyle – in addition to director-writer Michel […]

Spirit Awards: Jean Dujardin Wins + Jessica Chastain & Sarah Paulson

Jean Dujardin, Uggie the Dog in Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist It's awards season. Your movie has been winning tons of trophies on two continents. What to do? After arriving in Los Angeles, make sure you get a police escort for your next awards ceremony. According to indieWIRE's Anne Thompson, that's […]

César Awards: 'The Artist' Wins + Jean Dujardin Loses & 'Veteran' Kate Winslet Honored

Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, The Artist Jean Dujardin can't win 'em all. For his (in my humble opinion brilliant) performance as a fading silent film star in Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist, he was voted Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, the British Academy Awards, the SAG Awards, the Golden […]

Oscar Predictions Best Actress: Meryl Streep, Viola Davis

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady Three actresses are shoo-ins for the 2012 Academy Awards' Best Actress shortlist: Meryl Streep for her portrayal of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady, Michelle Williams for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in Simon Curtis' My […]

Michel Hazanavicius & Bérénice Bejo + Jean Dujardin: Golden Globes History Made Despite Kim Novak

Michel Hazanavicius and wife Bérénice Bejo: Making Golden Globes history. Michel Hazanavicius and wife Bérénice Bejo: 'The Artist' achieves unique Golden Globes feat Michel Hazanavicius and wife Bérénice Bejo accept the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical for the comedy-drama The Artist – a Franco-Belgian co-production […]

Women Screenwriters in Old Hollywood: Discrimination?

Norma Shearer in 'His Secretary': Women Screenwriters in Old Hollywood Women screenwriters kept busy during silent era Frederica Sagor Maas, who had a handful of screenwriting credits in the 1920s, died Jan. 5, '12, at a nursing facility in La Mesa, in the San Diego metropolitan area. Sagor Maas was […]

'Hugo' Subject Georges Méliès Movies: Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

Several shorts directed by film pioneer Georges Méliès, played by Ben Kingsley in Martin Scorsese's well-received Hugo, will be featured throughout January 2012 at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's Edison Theater in Fremont, Calif. The Méliès screenings will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, 21, and 28. […]

'The Negro Soldier' & 'The Big Heat' Among National Film Registry Additions While Gays & Lesbians Bypassed

The Negro Soldier poster. Produced by Frank Capra and directed by Stuart Heisler, the 1944 documentary feature The Negro Soldier was one of numerous propaganda films commissioned by the United States' War Department during World War II. Their goal was to get more Americans – in this particular case black […]

Betty Garrett & Leslie Brooks + Last Surviving Silent Era Actresses & the Forgotten Ones: 'TCM Remembers'

Betty Garrett in My Sister Eileen with Janet Leigh and Jack Lemmon. Her movie career stillborn in the late 1940s, HUAC victim Betty Garrett, whose husband, Larry Parks, was blacklisted, made a brief comeback in 1955, as the star of Richard Quine's musical My Sister Eileen, based on Joseph A. […]

Meryl Streep Breaks New York Critics Record

Meryl Streep, Anthony Head in Phyllida Lloyd's The Iron Lady The most curious thing about Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist winning the New York Film Critics Circle's Best Film and Best Director awards is that 85 years ago this “innovative” work would have had little-to-no novelty value. It's in black and […]

Ramon Novarro Death: Brutally Killed Halloween Eve

Ramon Novarro: MGM star ca. 1925. Ramon Novarro death: Silent film star brutally killed on Halloween eve 1968 Ramon Novarro, the original (and most effective) Ben-Hur, Greta Garbo's leading man in Mata Hari, and the star in the silent film classics Scaramouche and The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, was […]

Barbara Kent Dead at 103: Last Adult Hollywood Silent Film Performer

Barbara Kent, a minor leading lady during the transition from silent to sound films, died October 13 in Palm Desert, in Southern California. A resident of the local Marrakesh Country Club, Kent was either 103 or 104. No cause of death was given. Barbara Kent was never a star. Not […]

Giorgio Moroder-Revamped 'Metropolis' Returns

Another Metropolis rerelease? As Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin would say, “You Betcha!” (Yikes. Sorry. I just couldn't resist.) As the Kino Lorber press release explains, back in 1981, three-time Academy Award-winning composer Giorgio Moroder (Midnight Express, Flashdance, Top Gun) began a three-year endeavor to restore Fritz Lang's 1927 sci-fi […]

Josef von Sternberg, Charles Chaplin & John Ford: Shasta Silent Film Festival

The 6th Annual Silent Film Festival at Shasta County, Calif., to be held October 21-22 at the Shasta County Arts Council's Performance Hall, will feature an eclectic group of silent movie classics. Those range from Josef von Sternberg's crime drama Underworld (1927) to Carl Theodor Dreyer's marital drama Master of […]

Joan Fontaine & Charles Boyer Rare 'The Constant Nymph': TCM Movies

Edmund Goulding's The Constant Nymph, a 1943 romantic drama starring Oscar nominee Joan Fontaine, Charles Boyer, and Alexis Smith, will be shown tonight on Turner Classic Movies at 5 p.m. PT as part of TCM's tribute to the Library of Congress Film Archive. Tied up in legal complications for decades, […]

'The Goose Woman' Review: Great Louise Dresser in Clarence Brown Drama

THE GOOSE WOMAN (1925) Dir.: Clarence Brown Cast: Louise Dresser, Jack Pickford, Constance Bennett, Marc McDermott, George Nichols, Gustav von Seyffertitz Scr.: Melville W. Brown, titles by Dwinelle Benthall; from Rex Beach's story Highly Recommended Louise Dresser, Jack Pickford, The Goose Woman At the 2011 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, […]

Claudette Colbert & Alla Nazimova, Marion Davies & Charles Boyer: Cinecon

Director Allan Dwan, actor George O'Brien, cinematographer George Webber, East Side, West Side Are you a movie lover in Los Angeles, unable to travel either to Venice or Telluride? Don't despair. L.A. has its own glamorous film festival this weekend. It's called Cinecon, now in its 47th year. What's more: […]

THE BLIZZARD Review: Einar Hanson, Mary Johnson Mauritz Stiller

GUNNAR HEDES SAGA / THE BLIZZARD (1923) Dir.: Mauritz Stiller Cast: Einar Hanson, Mary Johnson, Stina Berg, Hugo Björne, Pauline Brunius Scr.: Mauritz Stiller; from Selma Lagerlöf's novel Recommended with Reservations Mary Johnson, Einar Hanson, The Blizzard Directed by Mauritz Stiller, the Swedish drama Gunnar Hedes saga / The Blizzard […]

HUCKLEBERRY FINN Review: Lewis Sargent William Desmond Taylor

HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1920) Dir.: William Desmond Taylor Cast: Lewis Sargent, George Reed, Katherine Griffith, Frank Lanning, Gordon Griffith, Esther Ralston, Edythe Chapman, Martha Mattox Scr.: Julia Crawford Ivers; from Mark Twain's novel Recommended with Reservations Lewis Sargent in William Desmond Taylor's Huckleberry Finn Directed by William Desmond Taylor, Huckleberry Finn […]

Conrad Veidt Movies: From 'The Hands of Orlac' to 'Casablanca'

Conrad Veidt is Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” performer of the day. An international star since the 1920s, Veidt worked in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Hollywood – twice. (See full Conrad Veidt Movie Schedule below.) In the late '20s, Veidt was the star of unusual Hollywood fare […]

Lon Chaney Movies: The Man of a Thousand Faces

He Who Gets Slapped with Lon Chaney Lon Chaney is one of the most fascinating movie stars in film history. Throughout the 1920s, Chaney was one the biggest box office draws the world over despite what could kindly be described as an unhandsome face – one that was often disguised […]

Alfred Hitchcock's Early (Non-Directorial Effort) 'The White Shadow' Found

Betty Compson, The White Shadow About thirty minutes from the long thought-lost The White Shadow / White Shadows (1923), believed to be the earliest surviving feature with an Alfred Hitchcock credit, has been unearthed at the New Zealand Film Archive. Directed by Graham Cutts, and starring Betty Compson and Clive […]

Janet Gaynor-Charles Farrell '7th Heaven,' Fragment of Lost Oscar Winner 'The Patriot'

Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, 7th Heaven Frank Borzage's 7th Heaven, starring late '20s lovebirds Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, was the 1927 Photoplay Magazine Medal of Honor winner and will thus be screened as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Summer of Silents” series on Monday, […]

San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2011 Highlights: Stephen Horne, Matti Bye Ensemble, Mont Alto Orchestra

The Terra Nova in Herbert G. Ponting's The Great White Silence A few words about the 2011 edition of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival: SFSFF 2011 was quite crowded; as a result, the programs sometimes started late, but they were always well organized. The choice of the venue couldn't […]

Amazing Tales from the Archives: Orphan Films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Eugen Illés' The Fall of Jerusalem The 16th San Francisco Silent Film Festival first morning program, “Amazing Tales from the Archives - The Archivist As Detective,” presented the many problems identifying “Orphan Films” – unlabeled pieces of footage discovered in vaults or estates. The first example of such an orphan […]

Arabs in Hollywood Movies on TCM

Rudolph Valentino, Agnes Ayres in George Melford's The Sheik Long before they became Hollywood's favorite terrorists, Arabs were generally portrayed as lusty, uncouth, infantile beings in myriad Hollywood movies. Turner Classic Movies returns this month with their annual “Race & Hollywood” film series. The “race” this time around: Arabs. Frank […]

Douglas Fairbanks' 'Robin Hood' Academy Screening

Enid Bennett, Douglas Fairbanks, Robin Hood Long before Errol Flynn, Russell Crowe, and Kevin Costner – and their Men in Tights – there was Douglas Fairbanks and his Men in Tights. Robin Hood, a.k.a. Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood will be screening tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy of […]

Alexander Payne, Kevin Brownlow, Leonard Maltin: San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2011

George O'Brien, Margaret Livingston in F.W. Murnau's Sunrise Election and Sideways director Alexander Payne, whose The Descendants is scheduled to open later this year, will be a guest presenter at the 2011 San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF). According to the SF Silent Film Festival's press release, Payne “grew up […]

'Blood and Sand': Rudolph Valentino Doomed Matador

Blood and Sand with Rudolph Valentino and Nita Naldi Bullfighting has never appealed to me, so I approached Fred Niblo's Blood and Sand with caution. Now that I've seen it, I am relieved that there was no actual footage of this hideous blood sport. Niblo's film version of Vicente Blasco […]

Marlene Dietrich, Douglas Fairbanks, Janet Gaynor, Lon Chaney: San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Marlene Dietrich in Kurt Bernhardt's The Woman Men Yearn For Among the silent film classics to be featured at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival are Victor Sjöström's He Who Gets Slapped (1924), starring Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, and John Gilbert in the newly founded MGM studios' first production; […]

Zombie Comedy 'The Curse of the Buxom Strumpet' to Star Judi Dench & Ian McKellen

Judi Dench to star in zombie comedy 'The Curse of the Buxom Strumpet'? 'The Curse of the Buxom Strumpet': Zombie comedy to star Judi Dench & Ian McKellen? The Curse of the Buxom Strumpet may make zombie movie non-aficionados reconsider their stance. To be directed by Matthew Butler, if all […]

'The Love of Jeanne Ney': G.W. Pabst Classic

Uno Henning, Edith Jehanne, The Love of Jeanne Ney G.W. Pabst's Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney / The Love of Jeanne Ney is a real mystery. And I mean that in the truest sense of the word. The entire film is a puzzle. The opening title card introduces the story: […]

Oscar Winner Emil Jannings, Theda Bara, Lon Chaney, Clara Bow in Color: FRAGMENTS on TCM

Emil Jannings in Victor Fleming's The Way of All Flesh The final reel of John Ford's The Village Blacksmith (1922), featuring Virginia Valli; Best Actor Oscar winner Emil Jannings in The Way of All Flesh (1927); screen legends Douglas Fairbanks in He Comes Up Smiling (1918), Theda Bara in Cleopatra […]

Viola Dana & Mabel Normand + Norma Talmadge & Constance Talmadge: Silent Society Movie Marathon

Colleen Moore in Alfred E. Green's Ella Cinders (top); Mabel Normand (bottom) The Silent Society of Hollywood Heritage will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in the company of silent era superstars Norma Talmadge, Constance Talmadge, Colleen Moore, Viola Dana, and Mabel Normand. Never heard of them? Never seen them? Well, […]

Rudolph Valentino 'Blood and Sand' Screening + Elizabeth Taylor Westboro Protest Goes Bust

Rudolph Valentino in 'Blood and Sand' Rudolph Valentino Movies: 'Blood and Sand,' starring Hollywood's foremost Latin Lover, at the Hollywood Heritage Museum The Hollywood Heritage Museum will celebrate the birthday of silent movie icon and Latin Lover emeritus Rudolph Valentino on Wednesday, May 11, 2011. The event will include screenings […]

Rex Ingram: 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,' 'The Magician'

Rex Ingram directing Scaramouche (top); Henri Matisse, Rex Ingram (middle); Rex Ingram, the actor-director, with off-screen girlfriend Rosita Garcia in Baroud (bottom) Rex Ingram Part I In Beyond Paradise, I wrote that “Ingram's unquestionable talent was matched only by his arrogance, fiery temperament, and lack of respect for authority.” Indeed, […]

Rex Ingram Remembered: Launched Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro

Rex Ingram; Barbara La Marr and Ramon Novarro in Trifling Women (bottom) St. Patrick's Day always reminds me of silent era filmmaker Rex Ingram, among whose silent era efforts are The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Prisoner of Zenda, Scaramouche, Mare Nostrum, The Magician, and The Garden of Allah, […]

Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins & Gloria Swanson: Cinefest

William Gargan, Miriam Hopkins, Jack La Rue in Stephen Roberts' The Story of Temple Drake Cinefest 2011, a four-day festival of rare American films, kicked off earlier today in Syracuse, NY. According to organizers, Cinefest features “great films … from the vaults of the world's greatest libraries and obscure specialties […]

'The Barker': Sensational Dorothy Mackaill in Curious Talkie-Silent Hybrid

Dorothy Mackaill, Milton Sills, The Barker Directed by George Fitzmaurice, by then already a film veteran, The Barker is one of those strange hybrids made at the dawn of the sound era: some sequences feature dialogue, others have intertitles and musical accompaniment. The Barker, in fact, is perhaps stranger than […]

George Eastman House Max Ophüls Film Noirs & Berlin Competition

George Eastman House movie 'The Reckless Moment': Crime drama with James Mason and Joan Bennett. George Eastman House movies: Max Ophüls dramas 'The Reckless Moment' and 'Caught' Located in Rochester, New York, the George Eastman House has been preserving movies for decades. In addition to its film preservation work, the […]

Eva von Berne Dies (Again) at Age 100: Silent Film Actress Had Reportedly Died in 1930

John Gilbert, Eva von Berne in Victor Sjöström's The Masks of the Devil Eva von Berne, the Austrian actress brought to Hollywood as a potential Greta Garbo rival and who played the ingénue in the apparently lost John Gilbert-Alma Rubens silent drama The Masks of the Devil (1928) – her […]

Miriam Seegar, 103, Dies: One of the Last Surviving Silent Film Performers

Miriam Seegar, one of the last surviving adult performers to have been featured in silent films, died of “age-related causes” on Sunday, Jan. 2, at her home in Pasadena. She was 103. Born on Sept. 1, 1907, in Greentown, Ind., Seegar began her film career in England. After replacing Sylvia […]

National Film Registry Adds Fast-Decomposing 'Star Wars' Sequel & Demon Possession Rarity

McCabe & Mrs. Miller with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie: Robert Altman's anti-Western (a.k.a. “revisionist Western”) is one of 25 movies added to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry this year. Set in the small town of Presbyterian Church, Washington, at the dawn of the 20th century, the deliberately […]

Michelle Bonev-Silvio Berlusconi Venice Film Festival Controversy + Louise Brooks & Jessica Tandy Screenings

Michelle Bonev ca. 2000s. Bulgarian actress-turned-filmmaker Michelle Bonev has become embroiled in an ugly controversy involving the notorious Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi; the Venice Film Festival; an award for her directorial feature film debut, Goodbye Mama; and government-owned Italian broadcaster RAI's acquisition of the television rights to the movie. […]

F. Scott Fitzgerald Movies & Gina Lollobrigida + 'Mare Nostrum' & 'Serious' 1950s Hollywood Classics

Tender Is the Night with Jennifer Jones. Henry King's 1962 movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1934 novel – screenplay by Ivan Moffat – starred Best Actress Oscar winner Jennifer Jones (The Song of Bernadette, 1943) in what turned out to be her final star vehicle and the veteran director's […]

Marion Davies & Clara Bow on TCM

Clara Bow, known as the “It” Girl, stars in the appropriately titled It Part III of Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood, “The Dream Merchants,” narrated by Christopher Plummer, continues today (a rerun of Monday's presentation) on Turner Classic Movies (website). Accompanying features and shorts focus on 1920s […]

'Fantômas': Louis Feuillade Master Criminal & Super-Terrorist

René Navarre as Fantômas True cinephiles know what to say when asked to explain the relative aggregate crumminess of the films they've bothered to see in 2010: “Too many lousy genre movies … everything's based on some pre-sold franchise property … one sequel after another…” Well, bully for true cinephiles […]

Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille: The Birth of Hollywood on TCM

Mary Pickford in Maurice Tourneur's The Poor Little Rich Girl (top); Dustin Farnum in Cecil B. DeMille's The Squaw Man (bottom) The Birth of Hollywood, part II of the seven-part documentary Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood, will be shown again tonight on Turner Classic Movies. In addition […]

The Films of 1910 at the Academy: 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'

Future Academy Award-nominated MGM director Robert Z. Leonard (The Great Ziegfeld, Pride and Prejudice) as the Scarecrow, future star Bebe Daniels (The Maltese Falcon, 42n Street) as Dorothy in Otis Turner's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a program of […]

'Greed' Review: Erich von Stroheim Silent Masterpiece

Gibson Gowland, Jean Hersholt in Erich von Stroheim's Greed Erich von Stroheim's masterpiece and one of the best silent films ever made, Greed remains a powerful indictment against the deadly sin of the title. Based on Frank Norris' novel McTeague, Greed revolves around the misdeeds of a California dentist (Gibson […]

'A Woman of Paris' Movie: Charles Chaplin Goes Dramatic

Edna Purviance (left), A Woman of Paris I must admit that I'm not a fan of Charles Chaplin's comedies. Heresies aside, I did very much enjoy Chaplin's dramatic A Woman of Paris, an attempt to turn his frequent leading lady Edna Purviance into a star. Despite rumors to the contrary, […]