About Lea S.

I am obsessed with silent films (it's Buster Keaton's fault, I swear) and write about them here: https://silentology.wordpress.com/

The Fifth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon

The big day has arrived!! After 364 days of waiting, it’s finally time for:

Busterthon 5-5

Today and tomorrow, me and many of my fellow bloggers are celebrating the legacy of one of the cinema’s finest comedians–if not the finest. Each year I’m excited about the wealth of creative topics and thoughtful essays in store, and this year is already proving to be just as fantastic. So get cozy on your couch with your laptop/Ipad/phone, my friends–it’s time to start reading about all things Buster!

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Bloggers: Please send me the link to your post whenever it’s ready today or tomorrow (and thanks to those of you who sent me a link early!). I’ll be updating periodically throughout the blogathon. Don’t forget that I’ll be holding a drawing for the participants, the winner receiving a copy of the book Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton  by John Bengtson. The drawing will be held on February 20th–I’ll be in touch with the winner!

Readers: Drop by often to see the latest posts–and don’t forget that we bloggers adore comments. (We adore them almost as much as Buster himself. They’re a close second, is what I’m saying.)

And of course, here are the links to the First, SecondThird and Fourth Annual Buster Blogathons.

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The Roster:

Silent-ology | Buster’s Wife’s Relations: Getting To Know The Talmadge Family

MovieRob | Limelight

Silver Screenings | Buster Keaton Goes to MGM

A Person in the Dark| Meeting Buster Backwards: A Hard Act to Resist

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films | Sherlock Jr.

MovieMovieBlogBlog II | Seven Chances and the article Buster Keaton and

Lucille Ball–Together on TV in 1965

Julia Hut | Buster illustrations for posts by MovieMovieBlogBlog II

A la rencontre du Septième Art | Our Hospitality

wolffian classic movies digest | Buster Keaton: The Art of the Gags

Welcome to My Magick Theatre | Spite Marriage

The Stop Button | Hard Luck

Big V Riot Squad | Comique: Roscoe, Buster, Al and Luke

Silver17 Productions | Keaton Vs. Surrealism (video)

       Grace Kingsley’s Hollywood | Humorists All At Sea: Writing The Navigator

Taking Up Room | How To Stuff a Wild Bikini

TheScriptLab | Five Comedy Lessons From Five Buster Keaton Classics

The Wonderful World of Cinema | The Great Buster

Critica Retro | The Saphead

Buster’s Wife’s Relations: Getting To Know The Talmadge Family

This is my own post for the Fifth Annual Busterthon–I hope you enjoy!

Let us consider Norma and Constance Talmadge. They were two of the brightest stars of the silent era, the role models of countless gals and the crushes of countless young men. And today, they are–you’ve guessed it–practically forgotten. While they’re starting to be recognized as important figures in cinema history, their films are rarely screened and seldom discussed. But there’s one big reason they’re still remembered: their connection to a certain beloved comedian–Buster Keaton.

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BLOGATHON UPDATE: Less Than Two Weeks Until Busterthon Five!

Happy Friday, all! It’s hard to believe, but the anticipated Buster Blogathon V is only ten days away!

Busterthon 5-4

This year we have a lot of Busterthon regulars as well as some new faces. A hearty welcome to all–this event is shaping up to be as exciting and enlightening as previous years! Continue reading

In Memory Of Ron Hutchinson

On Sunday, February 3rd, the family of film historian Ron Hutchinson shared the sad news that he had passed away from cancer on Saturday. He was 67. The classic film community has been reeling ever since, both shocked by the suddenness of the event and deeply saddened by the loss of a true giant in film preservation.

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Hutchinson was the co-founder of The Vitaphone Project, a group of passionate historians and collectors which aimed to rediscover and restore Vitaphone films. This early sound process (spanning the years 1926-1931) recorded dialogue and sound effects on discs which were then synchronized with the projected films. If you’ve ever taken in an early talkie or one of those late silents with sound effects–say, the magnificent King of Jazz (1930) or Colleen Moore’s Why Be Good? (1929)–chances are you’re quite literally hearing some of Hutchinson’s hard work.

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From Ron’s Facebook page.

Hutchinson had both discovered and assisted in the restoration of literally hundreds of early talkies, both shorts and features (especially “Vitaphone shorts,” which served as pre-feature entertainment in theaters). And as so many have attested in the past couple days, he was an enthusiastic and helpful supporter of countless preservation projects. He leaves behind a loving family and too many friends in the classic film community to count.

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A memorial service for Hutchinson will be held on Saturday, February 9th from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Piscataway Funeral Home in Piscataway, New Jersey. There is also talk of a special memorial event to be held later this year, possibly as a benefit for his beloved Vitaphone project.

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My friend Annette at Hometowns to Hollywood wrote a detailed article about Vitaphone and The Vitaphone Project here–it’s highly recommended!

Hutchinson was a fellow columnist on Classic Movie Hub, and his detailed articles on all things Vitaphone can be read here

 

It’s Silent-ology’s FIFTH Anniversary!!

Well, whaddaya know? Today, Silent-ology turns five years old!

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Norma’s happy to help me cut the cake.

We’ve been celebrating the unique, beautiful, quirky, inspirational silent era together for half a decade! This is all thanks to your continued visits, comments and support, which makes this huge, multi-year project such a fulfilling labor of love. I couldn’t ask for a more good-natured, appreciative audience, and that’s a fact.

And now, a respectable selection of 1924 silent film stars will join me in saying a very sincere:

Thank You stars

to all!

By the way, I’m extra excited this year because…well…five is my favorite number. 😀 SO LET’S PARTY!!!

Whew, getting tired from all that partying? Let’s take a break and recap some of this blog’s highlights from 2018. Continue reading

Book Review: “The Hal Roach Comedy Shorts Of Thelma Todd, ZaSu Pitts And Patsy Kelly” By James L. Neibaur

Nowadays there’s a lot of hubbub about actresses in modern comedies, with plenty of well-meaning people proclaiming that the existence of Melissa McCarthy or Kristen Wiig proves that, at last, folks are figuring out that ladies can be funny too! It only took 130 years, y’all! No one has ever, ever noticed this before, and no, I’ve never heard of Mabel Normand or seen I Love Lucy, why do you ask?

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“…Oh. But that was, like, in black and white.”

But, as the introduction to James L. Neibaur’s latest book The Hal Roach Shorts of Thelma Todd, ZaSu Pitts and Patsy Kelly points out, the funny ladies of film have been with us far longer than that–since the darn dawn of cinema, I would add. A few perfect examples from the Golden Age of Comedy are Thelma Todd, ZaSu Pitts, and Patsy Kelly, who starred together in a number of shorts in the 1930s (Todd and Pitts were a comedy team for a few years; when Pitts left the Roach studio in 1933 Patsy Kelly took over her half of the team). While there are a couple biographies of ZaSu available and several about Thelma (due to her tragic death in 1935), Neibaur’s book is the first to examine the short comedies of these frequently overlooked comediennes. Continue reading

The Thoroughly Lost Art Of The Title Card

A version of this article was originally written for Classic Movie Hub, where I write a monthly column on–you guessed it–silent films. Hope you enjoy!

When you think of jobs that have gone the way of the dodo, certain ones spring to mind right away: chimney sweeps. Switchboard operators. Bowling alley pinsetters. Organ grinders’ monkeys. Almost every flea circus ringmaster. Well, just imagine what it was like to have a career as a title card artist or title card writer in the late 1920s when talkies were coming in–it must’ve been pretty intense.

It must’ve been a little sad, too. For even though titles (or “captions,” or “subtitles,” or “leaders,” as they were variously called–today we often call them “intertitles”) were sometimes considered a tad intrusive even back then, they did evolve into their own skilled artform.

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Forbidden Fruit (1921)

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Fan Magazine Fun: “Film Titles Travestied” And Other Cartoon Odds And Ends

Today let’s take a gander at Pictures and The Picturegoer, a British movie magazine that first came off the presses in 1911 and had a lengthy run until 1960 (it was eventually called just Picturegoer). The following cartoons, which filled in space at the editors’ whims, are all from October and November 1915 issues. They serve as fine opportunities for “humor archaeology”–in other words, trying to figure out what the heck they meant.

Here, for example, is “Film Titles Travestied.” Can you decipher it?

cartoon percy darling picgoer nov 20 '15

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Thoughts On: “Chaplin” (1992)

With the biopic Stan and Ollie now in theaters (although not playing anywhere near me, sadly) I thought I’d take a look at one of the more well-known silent star biopics, Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin. Most old movie fans seem to love it. As for me? Well, read on!

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Biopics are a dicey genre. How do you, say, capture a legendary talent from a century ago and showcase him to modern audiences, especially if many of them (likely) haven’t seen one of his films? Naturally, an overview of his entire career is a lot to ask–after all, there were tons of personal and professional events packed into those decades, and it would be tough to do justice to all of them.

Well, Richard Attenborough saw your reservations, and decided to raise you a busy tour throughout the entire life of Charlie Chaplin, ups and downs and all. And if you ask classic film fans about this biopic today, most seem to think it’s the best–why, it has great performances! Moving moments! It’s a fascinating, touching experience! It’s the bee’s knees to most folks, is what I’ve gathered.

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As you’re suspecting, I don’t have quite the same enthusiasm towards the 2 1/2 hour film, nor do I exactly understand why so many fans accept it so uncritically. There’s plenty I do like about it, but too much of it is bothersome to be a definitive look at the great comedian’s story–in my humble opinion. Continue reading

Adieu, 2018–The Silent Community Year In Review

Happy New Year’s, everyone! It’s a day to celebrate, preferably Lilian Harvey-style:

As you do.

And as usual, it’s time to look back on the various silent-related film discoveries, DVD and book releases, and other noteworthy events from the past twelve months. I keep a running list of film news all throughout the year, so hopefully this “year in review” post is pretty thorough. But if I managed to miss anything important, please let me know in the comments! (And remember that it needs to be an event/discovery/release from 2018 specifically.)

Without further ado, let’s get started: Continue reading