Silent Movies: Articles


Ramon Novarro Is Scaramouche + María Félix Is 'La Bandida' & Marlon Brando Is Emiliano Zapata

Alice Terry, Ramon Novarro in Rex Ingram's Scaramouche Ramon Novarro is back for the fourth and last installment of Turner Classic Movies' Sunday evening celebration of the 100 years of the Mexican Revolution. Tonight, Novarro's vehicle is Scaramouche (1923), one of his most prestigious critical and box office hits, and […]


Douglas Fairbanks 'The Mollycoddle': Early Victor Fleming ('Gone with the Wind') Film

Douglas Fairbanks is 'The Mollycoddle' for pre-'Gone with the Wind's Victor Fleming Douglas Fairbanks has the title role in the 1920 movie The Mollycoddle. Now, what is (or was) a “mollycoddle”? As we learn in this Victor Fleming-directed comedy, a “mollycoddle” – at least in this particular case – is […]


Ramon Novarro 'The Red Lily' & Pedro Infante 'Las Mujeres de Mi General': TCM

Ramon Novarro, Enid Bennett, The Red Lily. Early Mexican-born screen heartthrob Ramon Novarro is back on Turner Classic Movies this evening with a presentation of Fred Niblo's silent melodrama The Red Lily (1924). That will be followed by another Ismael Rodríguez effort, Las mujeres de mi general (“The Women of […]


Ramon Novarro 'The Student Prince' & Pedro Infante 'Mexicanos al Grito de Guerra': TCM Mexican Stars

Norma Shearer, Ramon Novarro, Jean Hersholt in Ernst Lubitsch's The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg Turner Classic Movies' Hispanic Heritage Month celebration continues with the showing of one silent film starring Mexican heartthrob Ramon Novarro, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927), and the Mexican period drama Mexicanos al grito […]


John Gilbert Movies: 'The Big Parade' & 'Flesh and the Devil'

John Gilbert, Greta Garbo in Rouben Mamoulian's Queen Christina Just a few days ago I was wondering if Turner Classic Movies would devote a day to the likes of John Gilbert, one of the biggest movie stars of the silent era – or any era, really. Though mostly forgotten today, […]


Early Alfred Hitchcock Movies Need Restoration, Louise Brooks & Richard Arlen in 'Beggars of Life'

Two early Alfred Hitchcock British efforts: Ivor Novello in The Lodger (top); Anny Ondra in Blackmail (bottom) “Rescue the Hitchcock 9” is the name of a campaign by the British Film Institute to save nine Alfred Hitchcock silent films, among them Blackmail (1929), shot as both a silent and a […]


'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 […]


Ann Blyth & Lizabeth Scott Today + Doris Day Honors James Cagney

Ann Blyth.   Ann Blyth, who received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for the film noir Mildred Pierce (1945), is pictured above during a discussion following a screening of the Joan Crawford classic at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Monday, June 14, 2010. Mildred Pierce was […]


Eugène Lourié Homage: Jean Renoir 'The River,' Sci-Fier 'Crack in the World'

Adrienne Corri (Mrs. Alexander in A Clockwork Orange) in Jean Renoir's The River The Art Directors Guild (ADG) Film Society and the American Cinematheque (AC) will honor Production Designer Eugène Lourié with a double feature: Andrew Marton's Crack in the World (1965), starring Dana Andrews and Janette Scott, and Jean […]


Cecil B. DeMille Risqué 'Chicago' DVD: Phyllis Haver a Fantastic Roxie Hart

Chicago, the restored 1927 silent (unofficially) directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring perky Phyllis Haver (right, with Victor Varconi) as Roxie Hart, is being released on DVD by Flicker Alley, in collaboration with The Blackhawk Films Collection. The 2002 Chicago remake, based on Bob Fosse's musical which itself was […]


'When Lincoln Paid': Previously Lost 1913 Movie About Abraham Lincoln to Be Screened

What is apparently the only surviving print of the 1913 silent short When Lincoln Paid was accidentally found by a contractor inside an old New Hampshire barn about to be demolished in 2008. The nitrate reels were then given to Keene State College Film Archives, which determined that the film […]


'The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg': Ramon Novarro-Norma Shearer Movie Classic

Ramon Novarro, Norma Shearer The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg The theme of a prince who gives up the girl he loves in order to fulfill his royal duty has been tried many times, but Ernst Lubitsch's The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg is the best. The plot is simple […]


Ramon Novarro Biography 'Beyond Paradise' in Paperback

Jeanette MacDonald, Ramon Novarro, The Cat and the Fiddle Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro is a film star biography I wrote several years ago. The book tells the story of the first Latin American performer to become a major Hollywood star, Ramon Novarro. Beyond Paradise: The Life of […]


Silent Era Superstars Norma Talmadge & Constance Talmadge DVDs

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 […]


Silent Film Actress Dorothy Janis' Recent Photo

Dorothy Janis Dorothy Janis, a.k.a. Dorothy King, was one of the last living adult performers to have had at least one major role in silent feature films. Janis died on March 10, 2010, at the age of 98. I posted an obit on that date, explaining that Janis, the widow […]


Actress Dorothy Janis Dies: One of the Last Silent Screen Performers

Ramon Novarro, Dorothy Janis, The Pagan Dorothy Janis, who made a few film appearances at the dawn of the sound era and was the widow of bandleader Wayne King, died Wednesday morning, March 10, 2010, in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley, according to musician Lew Williams, who received the […]


'Berlin: Symphony of a Great City,' North Korean Concentration Camps

The Los Angeles Filmforum will be hosting the Munich Film Museum's Stefan Droessler on Friday March 12, 8:00 pm at the The Echo Park Film Center. As per the Filmforum press release, the Museum “has an ongoing program of restoration of film works and issuing exemplary DVD editions through the […]


Buster Keaton, Norma Talmadge, Constance Talmadge: Kansas Silent Film Festival

Buster Keaton's Our Hospitality will be introduced by Keaton's granddaughter Melissa Talmadge Cox at the opening of the 14th annual Kansas Silent Film Festival at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, in White Concert Hall, Washburn University.  The Festival continues Saturday, Feb. 27. Admission is free both days.   According to […]


Marion Davies & Ronald Colman + Fritz Lang 'Metropolis' Screening

The four-film series "Sound and Silents” – part of the wider “Birds Eye View Film Festival” celebrating women filmmakers – to be held at London's bfi Southbank and the Barbican from March 6-10. The four screening silent films are: King Vidor's The Patsy (1928), starring Marion Davies; Sidney Franklin's Her […]


Oscar Voting 'Secrets' Explain Kate Winslet Best Actress Win? + Immigration Drama Tops Marrakech

Kate Winslet in The Reader: Oscar voting explains surprising Best Actress nomination? A potential double nominee for the 2009 Academy Awards, Kate Winslet ended up getting shortlisted for only one movie: Stephen Daldry's Holocaust-themed drama The Reader. Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that Winslet was nominated in the […]


Movie Star Stamps: Katharine Hepburn & Black Cinema Pioneer Oscar Micheaux + 4 Movie Cowboys

Movie star stamps: U.S. Postal Service's “Legends of Hollywood” series features Katharine Hepburn, who, besides winning four Best Actress Academy Awards, played opposite Spencer Tracy in nine films from 1942 (Woman of the Year, Keeper of the Flame) to 1967 (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner), and starred for George Cukor […]


'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 […]


Charles Chaplin 'Zepped' Found

In the Chicago Tribune, Michael Phillips reports that a long-thought lost Charles Chaplin film has been accidentally found after a film collector made an eBay bid on a nitrate film canister. Phillips explains that “the footage turned out to be the obscure Chaplin short [Zepped], a World War I propaganda […]


D.W. Griffith in California

Los Angeles Filmforum will present “D.W. Griffith in California,” on Sunday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 pm. at the Echo Park Film Center. At the screening, film scholar Tom Gunning will discuss D.W. Griffith and his early Californian films. Six of those Griffith productions will be screened: Man's Genesis (1912, 17 […]


'The Marines Are Coming': Gay Actor's Swan Song + Edgar Allan Poe Biopic

'The Marines Are Coming': Gay star's final movie The Marines Are Coming was a last-minute substitution for the 1936 version of M'Liss, starring Anne Shirley, which was originally scheduled but didn't arrive in time for Cinesation 2009. Gay actor William Haines' last film, The Marines Are Coming follows Haines' usual […]


'The Phantom of the Opera' & 'The White Ribbon': Halloween & History Horror

'The Phantom of the Opera' with Lon Chaney: Halloween Special. Lon Chaney 'The Phantom of the Opera' Halloween screening The 1925 silent classic The Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney in the title role, will be screened on Sunday, Oct. 25, '09, at 2:30 p.m. at the San Gabriel […]


AFI FEST Michael Haneke-Jacques Audiard Swap & Pordenone Presents 'The Merry Widow'

AFI FEST 2009 presented by Audi has announced that Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner and Oscar contender The White Ribbon will replace Jacques Audiard's Cannes Grand Prix winner A Prophet in the festival's line-up. Reason for the AFI FEST swap: “a recent change in the release date for A Prophet.” […]


Karl Dane Biographer Interview

Allan Ellenberger interviews biographer Laura Petersen Balogh, whose book on silent film comedian Karl Dane has just been published by McFarland. Here's a brief snippet: Why Karl Dane? What is it about him and his story that moved you to write a biography? I had always known who Karl Dane […]


LLoyd Hamilton: Poor Boy Comedian of Silent Cinema

In the San Francisco Examiner, Thomas Gladysz talks about the recently released biography of silent film comedian Lloyd Hamilton: “Chances are, if you're a fan of early film or early comedic actors, you're only dimly aware of Lloyd Hamilton. Though he was never as popular as his silent film contemporaries […]


'Noah's Ark': Michael Curtiz Religion + Disaster Movie Mix

Noah's Ark (1928) Dir.: Michael Curtiz Scr.: Anthony Coldeway; from Darryl F. Zanuck's original story Cast: George O'Brien, Dolores Costello, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Noah Beery, Louise Fazenda, Malcolm Waite, Paul McAllister     Of all the films from that magical moment when silent movies merged into sound, nothing is […]


Japanese Horror Classics 'Goke' & 'Hausu' Screenings

House by Nobuhiko Obayashi. Schedule and synopses from the American Cinematheque website. Wednesday, September 23 - 7:30 PM Japanese Cult Classics Double Feature: HOUSE (HAUSU), 1977, Janus Films, 87 min. This long-lost fantasy/horror masterpiece from director Nobuhiko Obayashi has finally surfaced in America. Oshare can't wait to spend the summer […]


Chester Morris, Sylvia Sidney & Maurice Chevalier Among Cinecon Stars

James Mason, Deborah Kerr in Hatter's Castle (top); Frances Dee, Maurice Chevalier, Stuart Erwin, Eugene Pallette in Playboy of Paris (bottom) Cinecon 45 is currently taking place at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. The (old & mostly rare) film marathon ends late Monday afternoon. Thus far, the 2009 edition […]


Harold Lloyd Movies

Silent-comedy fans will be rejoicing today, Aug. 5, '09, as Turner Classic Movies' “Summer Under the Stars” series continues with a day dedicated to Harold Lloyd, one of the biggest box office draws of the 1920s. Personally, I'm not a fan of knockabout silent comedies, which usually leave me as […]


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 […]


Alan Bergman & Marilyn Bergman Tribute + Barbra Streisand & Patti Austin & Melissa Manchester

Marilyn Bergman and Alan Bergman at 1983 Academy Awards. Songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, among whose compositions are “The Way We Were” and the song score for Yentl, will be the recipients of an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tribute on Friday, May 29, at 8 p.m. at […]


Thomas Meighan & 'The Lost Squadron': Niles Essanay Museum Movies

Via Thomas Gladysz's article in the Los Angeles Examiner: The Edison Theatre at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in the Northern California town of Fremont has been screening silent films and early talkies for quite some time. As Gladysz explains in his article, that area was home to the […]


D. W. Griffith, Emile Cohl - A Century Ago: The Films of 1908

“A Century Ago: The Films of 1908,” showcasing filmmaking highlights of 1908, will be the next presentation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' series “Monday Nights with Oscar.” The screenings will be held on Monday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy Theater in New York […]


Under Full Sail - Silent Cinema on the High Seas

Flicker Alley in association with the Blackhawk Film Collection has announced the release of “Under Full Sail – Silent Cinema on the High Seas,” a new DVD release featuring, as per its press release, “five breathtaking films that preserve the romance, grandeur and allure of windjammers sailing open waters, exquisitely […]


Joan Bennett & Michael Redgrave: UCLA Festival of Preservation

Tonight at 7:30 pm at UCLA's Festival of Preservation you'll be able to catch a screening of Fritz Lang's unfairly neglected Secret Beyond the Door (above), a 1947 noirish psychological melodrama starring Joan Bennett as woman married to Michael Redgrave, whom she suspects is out to kill her (possibly for […]


'Lady Windermere's Fan': Ernst Lubitsch Classic Classy Comedy

Bert Lytell is the nice husband, May McAvoy the jealous wife, Ronald Colman the other man, and Irene Rich (above) the scene stealer in Ernst Lubitsch's delightful film version of Oscar Wilde's play Lady Windermere's Fan. In the film, Rich plays Mrs. Erlynne, a woman of the world in search […]


'Sold for Marriage': Lillian Gish in Socially Conscious Silent

Sold for Marriage (1916) Dir.: Christy Cabanne Scr.: William E. Wing Cast: Lillian Gish, Frank Bennett, Walter Long, Allan Sears, Pearl Elmore, Curt Rehfeld   Though all but completely forgotten today, Christy Cabanne (at times billed as William Christy Cabanne) was a respected name in the 1910s and 1920s. Among […]


'The Italian': Early 'American Nightmare' Drama

The Italian: George Beban plays an Italian immigrant whose American dream quickly derails into a nightmare of poverty and despair   George Beban (right) was a renowned stage and vaudeville star. Even though he never became a major film name, Beban appeared in nearly 20 films from the mid-1910s to […]


'Tess of the Storm Country': Mary Pickford Perky Early Role

Tess of the Storm Country (1914) Dir.: Edwin S. Porter Scr.: B. P. Schulberg; from Grace Miller White's novel Cast: Mary Pickford, Harold Lockwood, Olive Carey (as Olive Golden), David Hartford, Louise Dunlap     Directed by Edwin S. Porter (of The Great Train Robbery fame), the 1914 version of […]


Douglas Fairbanks' 'The Thief of Bagdad' & 'The Iron Mask' Screening

Rare screenings of the Douglas Fairbanks adventure classics The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and The Iron Mask (1929) will be presented on Friday, March 20, and Monday, March 23, respectively, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Both screenings will start at […]


Marie Glory: French Silent Film Actress Dead at 103

Actress Marie Glory (a.k.a. Arlette Genny in the mid-1920s) died at her house in Cannes this past January 24. She was 103. Though forgotten today, Glory did have an extensive film career – more than 50 motion pictures during the course of nearly four decades, from 1924 to 1960. Among […]


Topeka Movies: Rudolph Valentino & John Gilbert at Kansas Silent Film Festival

The 13th annual Kansas Silent Film Festival (KSFF) will be held on Feb. 27 and 28, 2009, at the White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus in Topeka, Kansas. Sponsored by Washburn, admission is free. This year's KSFF highlight is the American premiere of the restored 1926 swashbuckler Bardelys […]


Douglas Fairbanks: The First King of Hollywood

Douglas Fairbanks in Wild and Woolly (top) and Don Q. Son of Zorro (bottom). Below right, Fairbanks can be seen in The Matrimaniac. The exhibition “Douglas Fairbanks: The First King of Hollywood” will premiere on Saturday, January 24, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Fourth Floor Gallery […]


Buster Keaton & 'Sunrise': San Francisco Silent Film Festival + Lost Pola Negri Film Found

Martha Mattox, Laura La Plante in The Cat and the Canary (top); Buster Keaton in Our Hospitality (bottom) The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will present a special series of screenings on Valentine's Day, Saturday, Feb. 14, at the Castro Theatre. The screening films are the Buster Keaton vehicle Our […]


Library of Congress' National Film Registry Movies: From Fannie Ward to 'Forrest Gump'

The Cheat with Sessue Hayakawa and Fannie Ward. Cecil B. DeMille's 1915 sex & miscegenation melodrama about a white woman (Fannie Ward) who becomes enslaved to a cruel, sensual, mysterious, and impeccably dressed “Oriental” (Sessue Hayakawa), The Cheat was added to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 1993. […]


National Film Registry: Lesbian Western & Asian-American Musical Among Entries

Johnny Guitar with Joan Crawford. One of the December 2008 additions to the U.S. Library of Congress' National Film Registry is Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar. The 1954 psychological Western stars Joan Crawford, by then a three-decade film veteran, as Arizona cattle town saloon keeper Vienna; Sterling Hayden as the strong […]


Griffith Movies: Mandatory Viewing + Excellent Carol Dempster & the American Kay Hammond

Griffith movies: Sally of the Sawdust with Carol Dempster and W.C. Fields. Once D.W. Griffith and Lillian Gish parted ways after Orphans of the Storm (1921), Carol Dempster became the filmmaker's on-screen muse (e.g., Dream Street, America) – and off-screen companion. Dempster, however, was never either as popular or as […]


Griffith Cinema: Abraham Lincoln Biopic & 'Way Down East' Among Five Box Set Features

Way Down East with Richard Barthelmess and Lillian Gish: Griffith Cinema. One of the movies included in Kino's second D.W. Griffith cinema box set, Way Down East was one of the Broken Blossoms and The Birth of a Nation filmmaker's last major hits, as his career went fast downhill in […]


'The Thief of Bagdad' 1924: Douglas Fairbanks' Restored Fantasy Classic Returns

The Thief of Bagdad 1924 with Douglas Fairbanks. At least nominally directed by Raoul Walsh, the Douglas Fairbanks production and United Artists release The Thief of Bagdad was in preparation/production for 65 weeks, ultimately costing $1.13 million (approx. $16 million today) – an impressive sum back in the silent era. […]


Buster Keaton 'The General' DVD

Considered by many Buster Keaton's masterpiece and one of the greatest movies ever made, the 1927 silent comedy The General – co-directed by Keaton and Clyde Bruckman – has received a classy DVD treatment courtesy of Kino International: “The General - Ultimate 2 Disc Edition.” Whether or not you're a […]


A Century Ago: The Films of 1908

"A Century Ago: The Films of 1908” will be presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday, December 1, at 7:30 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. The program will be repeated on Thursday, December 4, at 7 p.m. at the Christopher B. Smith […]


'The Phantom of the Opera' 1925: Oakland's Paramount Theatre

The 1925 classic The Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, and Mary Philbin, will be screened at the art deco Paramount Theatre of Oakland, Calif., at 8 p.m. on October 31. Matias Bombal will present the evening, while Jim Riggs will be at the Mighty Wurlitzer accompanying […]


Douglas Fairbanks 'The Gaucho' Academy Screening

"Douglas Fairbanks as The Gaucho” is the title of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciencess' celebration of Hollywood's biggest (perhaps “first” as well) action-adventure star of the silent era – or, quite likely, of any era. Douglas Fairbanks, the swashbuckling, energetic, ever-grinning hero of The Mark of Zorro, […]


Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer DVD Set

Flicker Alley, described as “a specialty supplier of fine silent films and classic cinema programming,” in association with the Blackhawk Film Collection, has announced the December 2, 2008, release of “Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer,” a five-disc DVD collection featuring eleven early Douglas Fairbanks' vehicles. Fairbanks, one of the founders […]


Cinecon Capsule Reviews: Gender Contraints, Charles Chaplin

There was a lot of complaining about the line-up at Cinecon 2008, held on Labor Day Weekend, which was affected by the Univeral fire and other matters, including the deaths of Rusty Casselton and Bob Nudelman. Still, the films were some of the best I have seen in the Egyptian […]


Silent Film Actress Anita Page Turns 98: Starred in First Talking Best Picture Academy Award Winner

Silent film actress Anita Page turns 98: Featured in first all-talking Best Picture Academy Award winner Author Allan Ellenberger, currently working on a biography of Miriam Hopkins (Best Actress Academy Award nominee for Becky Sharp), pays tribute to Anita Page, The Last Surviving Silent Film Star. Page, among whose leading […]


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 […]


Gladys Brockwell: Tragic Death

Gladys Brockwell remembered Gladys Brockwell is the subject of an article by author Allan R. Ellenberger, who discusses the death of the remarkable silent film actress. (Image: Gladys Brockwell ca. 1920.) “Today is the 79th anniversary of the tragic death of actress Gladys Brockwell. Though virtually unknown today, Brockwell was […]


Charles Chaplin 'Modern Times': Techno Chaplin Evening

The screening of a digitally restored 35mm print of Charles Chaplin's Modern Times (1936) and a look at rare behind-the-scenes photographs revealing the techniques used in creating the film's special effects will be the focus of “Techno Chaplin,” an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' program hosted by visual […]


Sessue Hayakawa & Anna May Wong + 'Shocking' Split Personality Disorder Movie

Sessue Hayakawa on Turner Classic Movies Tuesday, June 3, highlights on Turner Classic Movies: TCM continues with the not-to-be-missed “Asian Images in Film” series, with several silents and a couple of early talkies featuring East Asian characters. The Cheat is an overwrought melodrama that is a must-see simply because it […]


'Ben-Hur' Chariot Race

The 1959 MGM version of Ben-Hur is best remembered for its chariot race, which happens to be an imitation of the superior 1925 race for that studio's mammoth – and highly problematic – production of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Ramon Novarro, soon to become a superstar, and Francis […]


'Mr. Wu' Movie Review: Morbid Lon Chaney, Renée Adorée Classic

"A maiden defiled must be put to death by the hand of her father,” so reads the “ancient Chinese law” that is the basis for Mr. Wu, a stylish tale about miscegenation, fornication, and filicide. In the title role, Lon Chaney, with his usual genius for make-up and characterization, uses […]


'Shadows': Lon Chaney Cult Classic

Shadows (1922) Dir.: Tom Forman. Scr.: Hope Loring, Harry Perry, and Eve Unsell; from Wilbur Daniel Steele's story “Ching, Ching, Chinaman.” Cast: Lon Chaney, Marguerite De La Motte, Harrison Ford, John St. Polis, Walter Long, Buddy Messinger, Priscilla Bonner, Frances Raymond   In the 1922 melodrama Shadows, the shipwrecked Chinese […]


'The Kid': Charles Chaplin Comedy Introduced Child Star Jackie Coogan

Although I have never been much of a Charles Chaplin fan, The Kid is one sweet picture. In fact, it is the only Chaplin vehicle I would want to see over again. The story, also penned by Chaplin, is simple: a poor, unwed mother (frequent Chaplin leading lady Edna Purviance) […]


'Ben-Hur' Movie Review: Ramon Novarro

  Although I am not a fan of action-adventure pictures, the 1925 version of Ben-Hur (a.k.a. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ) is an exception because it stars Ramon Novarro in the title role. As a plus, Horace Jackson's art direction and Edwin B. Willis' sets are superb. In the […]


'The Penalty' 1920: Lon Chaney 'Flawless'

The Penalty 1920: Lon Chaney 'more than just an actor' (image: Lon Chaney and Claire Adams in The Penalty) Lon Chaney was more than just an actor. He was a magician. Like a chameleon, he could morph into a character. Directed by the all-but-forgotten Wallace Worsley, the gruesome shocker The […]


'Nosferatu' 1922 'Batman' Max Schreck Biography

Max Schreck: Nosferatu 1922 'batman' biography to come out in Germany The first biography of Max Schreck, best known as the “batman” a.k.a. vampire in F.W. Murnau's 1922 Dracula rip-off Nosferatu / Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, will be published later in 2008 in Germany according to Reuters' Dave Graham. […]


'Sparrows': Mary Pickford in Surprisingly Effective Melodrama

Molly is the role Mary Pickford was born to play. In Sparrows, Molly is the oldest among the ten orphans being kept as slaves on a potato farm. And as most Pickford characters, Molly is a sweet-but-spunky victim who fights back. Directed by the prolific William Beaudine, and adapted by […]


Lyda Borelli Screening at BAM

The 1913 melodrama Ma l'amor mio non muore / Love Everlasting, starring super-diva Lyda Borelli, will be screened on Tuesday, May 13 at 7pm at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Why a silent movie screening at an academy of music, of all places? Well, perhaps because Lyda Borelli (1884–1959) […]


'The Passion of Joan of Arc': Carl Theodor Dreyer Masterwork

The Passion of Joan of Arc / La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) Dir.: Carl Theodor Dreyer. Scr.: Carl Theodor Dreyer and Joseph Delteil. Cast: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz, Antonin Artaud, Michel Simon, Jean d'Yd     Carl Theodor Dreyer's late silent film La Passion de […]


Norma Talmadge Film Series at the Donnell Media Center

“Important international stars from the silent era of filmmaking are undeservedly forgotten today because of the unavailability of their motion pictures, which are often considered lost.” Thus begins the press release for the seventh “Meet the Makers: Silent Film Accompanists” series, which will attempt to rectify that problem by screening […]


Abel Gance 'La Roue' DVD

“There is cinema before and after La Roue as there is painting before and after Picasso.” That's none other than Jean Cocteau, referring to the mammoth 1923 drama (original running time: nearly 8 hours) directed and written by Abel Gance – he of Napoleon. Gance worked for three years on […]


'A Fool There Was' Movie Review: Theda Bara Early Sex Siren

A Fool There Was. This creaky old relic introduced the earliest screen image of a Vamp – that dangerous viper-of-a-femme fatale who could lead any respectable man astray just by dropping her handkerchief and revealing a glimpse of her ankle. In the first few scenes, Theda Bara has already lured […]


'The Godless Girl': The Temptations of Atheism

  This one took me totally by surprise! Cecil B. DeMille's last silent movie (one version has added talking scenes), The Godless Girl, starts out as an intriguing story (by Jeanie Macpherson) about high-school hijinks – but instead of Sharks and Jets, the gangs consist of Atheists and Believers. Fronting […]


'The Volga Boatman': Cecil B. DeMille Compelling Drama with Future Cowboy William Boyd

The Cecil B. DeMille epic The Volga Boatman should be book-ended with DeMille's 1929 drama The Godless Girl. Both tell compelling stories without a clear, definite point of view. Picture it: Russia right before the Bolshevik revolution. The peasants are seething against the ruling class. We see workers slaving to […]


Stella Maris - Mary Pickford - Marshall Neilan

Stella Maris (1918) Dir.: Marshall Neilan. Scr.: Frances Marion; from William J. Locke's novel. Cast: Mary Pickford, Conway Tearle, Marcia Manon, Herbert Standing, Ida Waterman, Josephine Crowell   Poor Stella Maris. She's a rich crippled girl who lives her life under the generous protection of her wealthy aunt and uncle. […]


'The Single Standard': Greta Garbo Silent Film Curiosity

Johnny Mack Brown or Nils Asther? Nils Asther or Johnny Mack Brown? Conventional love or hot sex? That is the question Greta Garbo agonizes over in this her penultimate – and beautifully conceived – silent film. It all starts at one of those late night parties that all the idle […]


Clarence Brown, Forgotten Film Director

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert in Flesh and the Devil (1926)   Jack Neely's “The Forgotten Dir.: Who was Clarence Brown?” at Metro Pulse: “Dr. Gwenda Young, a film-studies professor at University College Cork, came across [Clarence] Brown by an unlikely route. Her Ph.D. thesis was about Jacques Tourneur, the […]


'Films of 1907' Presentation in NYC & DC

The Dancing Pig, The Haunted Hotel (above and bottom, right), Ben-Hur, and The Teddy Bears will be among more than a dozen early short films screened at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Monday Nights with Oscar” presentation of “A Century Ago: The Films of 1907,” on Monday, […]


Sessue Hayakawa: Pioneering East Asian Hollywood Star

Sessue Hayakawa: Pioneering East Asian actor in Old Hollywood Japanese-born actor Sessue Hayakawa, a Hollywood star in the 1910s, is discussed in Anthony Venutolo's The Star-Ledger article “Cinema can't keep up with Hayakawa's strides”: Progress is never a straight line. Gains are made and lost, breakthroughs braked by backlashes. Lasting […]


Cinefest Movies: From Pauline Frederick to Jungle Princess Dorothy Lamour

The 28th edition of Cinefest will be held from March 13–16, 2008, in Syracuse, New York. As per the Cinefest website, the mini-festival features “great films to fill the four glorious days from the vaults of the world's greatest libraries and obscure specialties we are noted for from private collectors!" […]


Sex Education Film Class + Bette Davis Tribute & the Evolution of Russian Cinema

Sex education film The Irresponsibles. The British Film Institute's “The Joy of Sex Education” – to be presented at London's bfi Southbank – consists of a series of British-made sex education film productions throughout the decades, from World War I to the post-Sexual Revolution 1970s. Topics range from, inevitably, sexually transmitted diseases […]


Artie Shaw & Ralph Nader + Dancing Pig & Can Mr. Smith Really Go to Washington?

Young at Heart. The Oscar-winning documentaries Young at Heart, The Ten-Year Lunch: The Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table, and You Don't Have to Die will screen on Monday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Linwood Dunn Theater as the […]


'Yellow Face' in Hollywood + Tom Cruise & Meryl Streep & Robert Redford Premiere: AFI FEST

Paul Muni is a Jewish-Austrian-Hungarian Chinese in The Good Earth. Today it'd have been simpler. Muni would have been merely a Jewish-Ukrainian Chinese. Hollywood Chinese, Arthur Dong's documentary about the portrayal of Chinese and Chinese-Americans in Hollywood films, will have its Los Angeles premiere at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, […]


'Paramount on Parade' & 'Scarlet Seas': Silent-to-Sound Transition Period

Paramount on Parade all-star early musical. (Image: Clara Bow and [apparently] Mitzi Green.) Paramount on Parade, a 1930 all-star musical extravaganza produced by none other than Paramount, was directed by about a dozen men (Edmund Goulding, Ernst Lubitsch, Victor Schertzinger, and Frank Tuttle among them) and one woman (Dorothy Arzner). […]


More Rare Classic Movies: From Bessie Love to Richard Barthelmess

(See previous post: Cinesation Reviews: Rare Classic Movies.) Some of the Cinesation 2007 reviews below may contain spoilers. Proceed at your own risk! Saturday Carry on, Sergeant! (1928)In the more recent Cinesation editions, we've been treated to several fascinating little-seen gems from Canadian film archives. With so much of our […]


Cinesation Reviews: Rare Classic Movies

As we're so often told, all good things must indeed come to an end. So, as yet another year draws to a close, it's with a heavy heart and a wistful eye toward the future that I submit this report for the 2007 Fall Cinesation Festival. Hosted by The Great […]


Rudolph Valentino: Q&A with Valentino Site Creator Donna Hill

Rudolph Valentino romances Alice Terry in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, one of the biggest box office hits of the silent era. Eighty-six years after its original release, Rex Ingram's epic melodrama still impresses for its scope and the director's visual flair. At the website Falcon Lair, Donna Hill's […]


'Triumph' & 'The Blood Ship': Lost and Found

Tonight at the Academy's Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood: Triumph (1917, above, top photo) and The Blood Ship (1927, above, lower photo), two recently rediscovered silent films that were once thought to be either totally or partially lost, will be screened as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts […]


'The Jazz Singer' Academy Screening

Last night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the American Cinematheque presented a tribute to the 80th anniversary of The Jazz Singer at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. There were several celebs in attendance, including Rose Marie, Forrest Ackerman, Judy Lewis, Julie Newmar, and […]


Pordenone Silent Film Festival: Charles Chaplin 'Boat Movie,' Jean Vigo Nice Documentary

Pordenone Silent Film Festival 2007: Charles Chaplin, 'Chicago,' René Clair (image: Jean Vigo's 'À propos de Nice') The 26th Pordenone Silent Film Festival kicked off today, October 6, 2007, with screenings of Hans Behrendt's 1927 social comedy A Royal Scandal / Die Hose, starring Werner Krauss and Jenny Jugo, and […]


Barbara La Marr at the Mount View Cemetery

Barbara La Marr dies in the arms of Ramon Novarro in Thy Name Is Woman.   Cecilia Rasmussen in the Los Angeles Times: “Silent-film actress and screenwriter Barbara La Marr once said, 'I take lovers like roses … by the dozen.' “And she was hardly exaggerating: By age 19 she […]


'The Jazz Singer' 80th Anniversary: Al Jolson Soap Opera Revolutionized Film Industry

Al Jolson and May McAvoy. Zero chemistry, but film history all the same. Though hardly a cinematic masterpiece – or even a good film, for that matter – the 1927 version of The Jazz Singer remains one of the most important motion pictures ever made. This part-musical, part-silent, all-mush melodrama […]


Marcel Marceau: 'Shanks' & 'Silent Movie' Mime Artist Dead at 84

Marcel Marceau: World-renowned mime artist dead at 84 Mime artist Marcel Marceau died in Cahors, France, on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007. The cause of death was not immediately known. Marceau (born on March 22, 1923, in Strasbourg) was 84. Marcel Marceau's most famous character was Bip, a melancholy clown with […]


Cinesation: Norma Talmadge & Silent Movies' Harrison Ford

Cinesation, a film festival that focuses on hard-to-find samples of vintage American cinema, will return to the historic Lincoln Theatre in Massillon, Ohio, for its 17th year. The festival runs from Thursday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Sept. 30. Titles that have already been announced are: Rubber Tires (1927, right), the […]


Anita Page: The Last Surviving Silent Film Star

  Back in the late 1920s, Anita Page could never have dreamed that eight decades later she would be a celebrity of sorts: The Official Last Surviving Silent Film Star. In truth, Anita Page was never a star in silent movies. She appeared on screen later in the decade, right […]