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/

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Eighth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

I’m sure you knew it was coming–and it’s here! I’m officially announcing that the great Busterthon is coming back, for an eighth year in a row!

When: Monday, March 14 and Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Where: Right here on Silent-ology!

Senseless Cinema: Buster's Blockbusters: The Commercial Success of Buster  Keaton's Features

How: To join in:

  • Please leave a comment on this post and let me know which Buster film or Buster-related topic you’d like to cover. (Or you can feel free to send me a message).
  • Help spread the word about the event by adding one of my banners to your blog! (I went with more of a “classic banner” look this time–it’s always fun coming up with different designs!)
  • During the blogathon itself, when you publish your post please leave me a comment with the link to it (or you can send me a message). Publish whenever you have time during March 14th and 15th!
  • Don’t forget to mention Silent-ology and the blogathon in your post, if you please, to help publicize the event.
  • You can definitely publish your post before the 14th if you want (many do), just give me a head’s up. Just know that Silent-ology will be putting up the official blogathon post with all the new links only on the blogathon dates.

What to write about: Anything and everything Buster! (Check out his filmography for some ideas.) You can write about one of his short films, one of the actors who appeared onscreen with him, his costume in a particular film, his influence on a certain actor/director, an experience you had at a Buster screening, a piece of art you made about him–whatever you like! There’s infinite ways to celebrate our brilliant comedian. Also: Duplicate topics are 100% allowed! Everyone has a different perspective, so 2-3 posts on the same film are welcome.

Buster Keaton! | Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival

I will be hosting a drawing for all blogathon participants on March 16 as a “thank you” to everyone who joined in. The prize will be announced closer to the blogathon dates–although I already have a good idea of what it’s going to be!

As always: Make Buster Proud! There’s a lot of dubious information out there about his life and career, so let’s try and steer clear of those myths and rumors as best we can. Just imagine you were going to have Eleanor Keaton look at your piece before you published it. *wink*

Buster Keaton, 1960 | Hollywood, Busters, In hollywood

For ideas and inspiration, here’s the links to the FirstSecond, Third, FourthFifthSixth and Seventh Buster Blogathons. Just look at all those links–what a library! I love it, my friends.

Banners:

The Roster:

Silent-ology | Reviewing All Of Buster’s MGM Features

The Thoughts Of One Truly Loved | How I Fell For Buster Keaton

Cinematica | The Scarecrow

nitrateglow | Reviews of the books The Vampire Diary of Buster Keaton and Bluffton

Taking Up Room | College

Whimsically Classic | The Great Buster documentary

Realweegiemidget Reviews | Beach Blanket Bingo

The Wonderful World of Cinema | The Donna Reed Show episode “A Very Merry Christmas”

Century Film Project | Cops

Critica Retro | Buster Keaton: The Genius Destroyed By Hollywood documentary

Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog | Buster’s Columbia shorts

Arrivederci, 2021–The Silent Community Year In Review

Well Happy New Year’s Eve, readers! Now that 2021 has almost shuffled off this mortal coil, it’s time to take a look at all the silent film-related news that cropped up throughout the past 12 months. Err, much like 2020, it was a bit of a light news year (gee, wonder why?).

Dreams, Lies, and Flapper Girls: The Myth of the 1920's. – Our Great  American Heritage
“…I simply can’t imagine!”

As always, while I try to make this a pretty detailed list there’s bound to be a few things I missed (even big, obvious things) so feel free to leave a comment if you know of anything exciting or interesting to share. Keep in mind it has to be a story/release/discovery from 2021, not 2020, 2019, 2018 or…well, you get the picture. Alright, let’s get to it!

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A Glimpse Of Christmas With Buster Keaton

MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all! I hope your holiday’s been merry and bright so far–mine sure has!

A fellow Buster fanatic reminded me of this fun clipping that I shared on social media some years ago. It’s a little glimpse into what Christmas was like at Buster Keaton’s house back in the late ’20s (or early ’30s?), and it simply must be shared again!

No photo description available.

If the clipping’s a bit challenging to read, here’s a handy transcript:

“Although the sun shines at Christmas in Hollywood, and thin dresses are worn, the good old Christmas spirit is not lacking in the homes of film stars.

“Parties are given on Christmas Eve as well as Christmas day. In the homes of Jack Holt and Buster Keaton for instance, where children form such an important part of the festive season, the decoration of a Christmas tree for the kiddies is made an excuse for a Christmas Eve party for the grown-ups.

The Academy — Buster Keaton, seated next to a Christmas tree in...
Buster and his boys posing with a mini tree.
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Obscure Films: “A Merry Christmas To All” (1926)

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how Christmas silents are fewer and farther between than, say, October-appropriate spooky films (and “spooky” is a broader brush). Christmas wasn’t the season-long extravaganza back then the way it is now–some stores only brought in toys a week or two before the big day. Movie theaters might’ve had a Christmas-themed short or two mixed in with their programming, but focused more on “fairytale” films, since fairytale plays had traditionally been put on for children at Christmastime. Quite the contrast with, say, the Hallmark channel’s two-month long 24/7 schedule of 4,678 holiday movies!

Hallmark's 21-movie Christmas countdown, reviewed.
So many. So wondrously the same.

So there’s a little less to choose from when it comes to silents with familiar Christmasy imagery, but that just means we can give extra appreciation to the ones we have. Take A Merry Christmas To All (1926), a short novelty I just recently discovered on YouTube–a shoutout to the channel Silent Flicks Theater!

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

This was a popular article in the past, and since it’s that time of the year I thought I’d pass it around again! Few people in Hollywood history got more into the Christmas spirit than Harold Lloyd, to the point where his massive tree graced his family’s home 365 days a year. Enjoy!

Silent-ology

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.

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The Top 10 Lost Films I’d Love To See

There’s a lot of legendary lost films that everyone wants to see, like Browning’s London After Midnight, the Laurel and Hardy silent Hats Off, Murnau’s late silent feature Four Devils, and so on. But I’m sure every silent fan has their own personalized “wish list” of lost films they’d really, really love to see. My own is a bit silent comedy-centric and Griffith-centric, because I love a good comedy (duh) and I’m a big fan of Griffith’s wonderful stock company (Marsh, Harron, Gish–priceless!). So here’s my list of films that I’m crossing my fingers will turn up some day. I wrote it as a “top ten” list, but just know that only #1 is truly ranked:

10. Back to the Kitchen (1919)

Back To The Kitchen From Left: Louise Fazenda Phil Dunham On A Lobbycard  1919. Movie Poster Masterprint (14 x 11) - Walmart.com

Many of Louise Fazenda’s starring comedies with Mack Sennett have vanished, and that’s a shame, because as you guys know I’m a big fan of this highly-overlooked comedienne. She usually played a “kitchen slavey” or other type of working girl who’s either revealed to be an heiress or is fought over by determinedly inept suitors. It’s very hard to decide which short I’d like to see best, but I actually own the above lobby card for Back to the Kitchen (1919) so it’d be mighty special to see it!

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Happy Thanksgiving My Friends!

I thought you’d enjoy this festive one-page spread from 1910, featuring farmers’ daughters posing with their Thanksgiving bounty and kids “gathering pumpkin pie in the rough.” The sentiment at the top is pretty relevant right now, well over a hundred years later, don’t you think?

As always, I’m thankful for each and every one of you, Silent-ology readers! Have a lovely day and a fine holiday weekend!

1910 Happy Thanksgiving Turkey Pulling Pumpkin Cart of Food Clapsaddle  Postcard | eBay

“The Mother And The Law” (1919)–The Little-Seen Film That Became “Intolerance”

“Good, or even inspired in many of its aspects, it was simply not the sort of picture everyone had come to expect of Griffith,” was the prevailing sentiment over D.W. Griffith’s drama The Mother and the Law. Starring Bobby Harron and Mae Marsh, it told the tragic tale of a young couple whose lives are torn apart by circumstance and unjust authority. With its low budget and intimate storyline it had more in common with Griffith’s one- to three-reel Biograph “potboilers” than the “prestige pictures” that were now associated with his name. Originally filmed in 1914, after The Birth of a Nation‘s success it was shelved, eventually taken out again and tinkered with, used as a humble kickoff point for Griffith’s mega-epic Intolerance (1916), and finally tinkered with some more before being released in 1919 as a standalone film.

Amazon.com: The Mother and the Law (1919) : Mae Marsh, Robert Harron, D.W.  Griffith: Movies & TV
Its most famous poster, which was based on either a cut scene or a publicity still.

Bobby and Mae’s scenes are some of my favorite parts of Intolerance, so I was excited to finally watch The Mother and the Law recently. Most of it was familiar footage, but I found myself unprepared for some of Marsh’s scenes that didn’t make it into Intolerance (or perhaps they were added later). Lillian Gish once said of Marsh that “she was the only actress of whom I was ever jealous.” I always thought that was nice and gracious of her–Marsh was very good. But after seeing The Mother and the Law, boy oh boy, now I understand exactly what Gish meant.

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DVD Review: “Edward Everett Horton: 8 Silent Comedies”

Edward Everett Horton: 8 Silent Comedies

If the combination of “Edward Everett Horton” and “silent comedies” just made you do a double take like, well, Edward Everett Horton, I don’t blame you. A very familiar “fussy gentleman” type in ’30s and ’40s films, and also known for working in television, Horton isn’t someone we associate with “silent clown.” Yet a silent clown he was for a short series in the late 1920s, and it’s only recently that his two-reel comedies have been hauled out of archives and restored. And, all eight of them are available on Undercrank Productions‘ new DVD collection!

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Lost Fragments Of Theda Bara’s “Salome” Found!

HOLD EVERYTHING–how have I not mentioned this yet?! Recently it was announced that fragments of Theda Bara’s Salome (1918)–one of her most lamented lost films after Cleopatrahave been found! That’s right, there’s new footage of the legendary Theda Bara to enjoy, and from one of her lavish costume dramas, too!

Theda Bara in Lost Film Salomé (1918) | FROM THE BYGONE

Theda, early sex symbol and current silent era icon, appeared in around 40 films but only a few of them survive. Many of her biggest hits have vanished and are represented only by tantalizing stills of the actress in elaborate beaded costumes and fancy headdresses. And one of the most intriguing hits is the William Fox production Salome (1918). I won’t make you wait–here’s the footage below. The clips are brief and have Spanish intertitles, and they capture some wonderful Theda moments:

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