The Funny (And Forgotten) Stick Figures of Norman Z. McLeod

While combing through an online copy of a 1920s magazine just for amateur movie makers (it’s called, in case you’re curious, Amateur Movie Makers) I stumbled across a name that seemed familiar: “Norman McLeod”. Hmm, why did that ring a bell?

He was mentioned in an article on “art titles” (title cards with illustrations) which referred to “the famous skeleton cartoons” which “were made familiar by the clever pen of Norman McLeod, who has illustrated Christie Comedy titles for a number of years.” (You might be picturing Silly Symphony-style skeletons, but they were actually stick figures.) Having seen a few of the Christie Comedies, I had a little “ah-ha!” moment of now knowing who was behind those funny cartoons.

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Loose Change (1928)

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It’s Not Just A Movie–Musings On “The Last Jedi” Backlash And Why Cinema Matters

Note: These musings are free of clear TLJ spoilers. 🙂 

So you may have heard of a little film called The Last Jedi. Came out during Christmastime, made a bit of a splash, did pretty well at the box office and all.

And by now you’ve probably heard about the backlash against the film (much of which I, a major Star Wars fan, agree with). Although critics–surprisingly–seemed to embrace it with uncharacteristic enthusiasm, many fans have been lukewarm. Some outright hate many of the choices it makes, as you can see in numerous online articles and videos and doubtless in some face-to-face discussions as well.

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Let’s just say obvious ploys to sell oodles of plushies are the least of its problems.

I’ve noticed that some folks have been countering the backlash with the retort, “Oh calm down, it’s just a movie.” (Fans of just about anything are sure familiar with that.) And I’ve been thinking over that retort, my friends, and it simply doesn’t sit well with me.  Continue reading

See Ya, 2017: The Silent Community Year In Review

Happy 2018, everyone! Now that 2017 is officially  behind us, once again it’s time to recap the various silent film-related discoveries, restorations, events, DVD/Blu-ray/book releases, etc. from the past 12 months.

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Louise is ready to help you with your New Year’s resolutions!

Now, I normally keep a running file of these kinds of stories which I update whenever they catch my eye. A couple months ago, however, my 9-year-old laptop breathed its last (or maybe it drowned–I kind of spilled water all over its keyboard). I had copies of nearly every file I owned backed up online–EXCEPT for, you know, a couple irreplaceable things like my 2017 film news file. Yes, about 15 dumb memes were safely tucked away but NOT THAT FILE. So forgive me if I missed anything absurdly obvious–I tried my best to get caught up again! Continue reading

Harold Lloyd’s Magnificent (Year-Round!) Christmas Tree

If you got to go back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood and spend Christmas with one of your favorite stars, who would you pick? It would be a really tough decision, but if you were factoring in stars who were really, REALLY into Christmas, then Harold Lloyd should probably top your list!

Harold and family (and friends?). Not sure where this image came from, but it’s a nice one, isn’t it?

On his 15-acre estate Greenacres, boasting a 44-room mansion, 9-hole private golf course, a 900-foot man-made canoe stream, and what was once southern California’s largest swimming pool, Lloyd “knew how to keep Christmas well,” as Dickens would say. Continue reading

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Fourth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

Is it that time of the year already? Why yes, it is! Time to start preparing for:

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Time sure sped by in the past year, didn’t it? 2017 being Buster’s centennial of appearing in films, we of course were celebrating him all year long (I sure did!). Now that the centennial is over, it’s time to get back…to our usual 24/7 celebration of all things Buster!

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Mona Darkfeather, The “Indian Princess” of Hollywoodland

Among the ranks of the many forgotten silent actors and actresses who specialized in similar kinds of dramatic roles or comic “types,” there were a few who were a little more unique. One was the actress Josephine Workman, aka “Princess Mona Darkfeather,” who (believe it or not) wasn’t actually an Indian princess and whose possible American Indian ancestry is a big question mark. But for much of the 1910s she was very popular among the moviegoing public–and, she was certainly a part of the development of the Western genre.

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Enjoy This Gallery Of Stars Posing With Turkeys

In honor of this here Turkey Day, I’ve decided to craft a small collection of photos showcasing a hot 1920s autumn trend: pictures of silent stars posing with turkeys. Apparently, no November issue of a movie magazine was complete without at least one of these.

Here, for instance, is Anna Q. Nilsson posing with a studio’s best stuffed turkey. Some of you might remember Nilsson’s cameo in Sunset Boulevard:

Thnxgiving Nilsson exh herald Nov 20 '26 Continue reading

Book Review: “The Silent Films of Marion Davies” By Edward Lorusso

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For decades, silent star Marion Davies was known mainly for two things: for being the mistress of uber-powerful newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, and for supposedly being the inspiration for the untalented Susan Alexander in Citizen Kane. Well, the latter isn’t true–Susan was based on the wife of a different uber-powerful magnate (as Orson Welles himself finally revealed). And as for the former, while Marion was certainly part of a faithful “arrangement” with Hearst right up until his death, it didn’t define her. A look at her films proves that she was a warm, hardworking, immensely talented woman who likely had the charisma to make a name for herself in Hollywood without Hearst’s help. (I’d say she was mighty lucky to have him on her team, but she was already working on her acting career before he swooped in with 5-gallon buckets of money.)

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Fan Magazine Fun: “If I Were a Man…”

1920s fan magazines are an endless source of trivia, fun anecdotes, touches of serious journalism, and of course, oodles of fluff pieces. Take the following irresistible article from Picture-Play Magazine, from the March 1927 issue:

If I Were a Man 1

Here’s the headline on the opposite page (as you can see, the article was compiled by Dorothy……………Wooldridge):

If I Were a Woman 2

A bunch of actors and actresses were asked what annoyed them about the opposite sex the most–and who knows if they were asked personally, or if their publicists responded. Either way, some of the answers are most amusingly 1920s.  Continue reading