Why You Should Learn To Stop Worrying And Start Loving The Title Cards

Happy Thursday, y’all! Here’s a Silent-ology “oldie-but-goodie,” my impassioned defense of the old-timey title card. My readership has definitely grown since the last time this was published! By the way, point #4 is always worth sharing with any silent film skeptic friends.


So you’ve decided to give those funny old black-and-white silent movies a try. You pop in a DVD with a quaint title and relax on your couch (or you rev up the Netflix, either one).  An organ tune plays as you see the scene of a busy town street. There are Model Ts, and people in clothes that look less like a Roaring Twenties party than you‘d assumed, and hey, does that old guy have a handlebar mustache? And was that a streetcar? Why, you could get used to this! And then it happens. The screen goes black…and there are words. Words that you must read. Words that are inflicted upon you. This, my friend, is your very first exposure…to a title card.  

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2 thoughts on “Why You Should Learn To Stop Worrying And Start Loving The Title Cards

  1. An excellent repeat on this one—I hope your new readers enjoy it.

    You’re absolutely right about learning to expect the titles. I’ve noticed myself doing that a lot lately—you really do get into kind of a viewing “rhythm” with them. And I’m continually fascinated by the variety and invention used by filmmakers in the titles. Many of them were really works of art in themselves. I also like the way they often found to combine a scene or a live “character study” of sorts with the printed words (Lois Weber’s The Blot comes to mind.) And then there is the humor (Sennett’s titles like Run, Girl, Run come to mind ).

    Question: Which films or group of films (or filmmakers), do you think had the best titles?

    PS: Re the first sentence, I like seeing you Northerners use the correct pronoun. Y’all are finally learning! 🙂

    • Let’s see, my favorite title cards–I’m always partial to the ones from comedies and flapper films that have funny illustrations, they really add a lot to the humor. The ones from Harold Lloyd’s later shorts (like Haunted Spooks) come to mind. I also like the super-spare, dry titles from really old silents–they’re just so blunt most of the time, and I get a kick of them!

      Yep, “y’all” is criminally underused up here, 😉 We do say “uffda,” though, which one of the greatest and most versatile words of all time. 😀

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