Obscure Films: “The Blue Bird” (1918)

In its review of The Blue Bird back in 1918, The New York Times declared, “…It is a safe assertion to say that seldom, if ever, has the atmosphere and spirit of a written work been more faithfully reproduced in motion pictures.” This observation holds true today, but with a twist for “we moderns.” For this film embodies the spirit of Edwardian fairytales and indeed many old European fairytales so thoroughly that for us, it could almost be from another planet. And for those of us willing to experience The Blue Bird today, that’s a good thing.

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Image Credit: Nitrate Diva

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My Top 5 Favorite Silent Stars

Hola! I’ve been out of town for a awhile but am back just in time for the Five Stars Blogathon hosted by Classic Film and TV Cafe, celebrating National Classic Movie Day–my kind of holiday!

In true Silent-ology style, I decided to focus on my top 5 utmost favorites from the silent era, rather than film in general. So let’s count down to number 1: Continue reading

A Great Big THANK YOU And A Round Of Applause!

The Third Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon has come to a close, and I wanted to say:

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Yes, you are seeing that correctly. That is the world’s most mindblowing photo of Buster Keaton, LAUGHING OUT LOUD for the world to see!! (Look at his TEETH!! WHEN DO YOU EVER GET TO SEE THOSE.) I first saw a copy of it thanks to historian Ed Watz, and this particular one was illustrating a 1930s magazine story about Buster directing shorts for MGM. It was published in March 1938 (I don’t know the magazine unfortunately–let me know if you do!) Continue reading

Analyzing The Molasses Scene From “The Butcher Boy”

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

It’s one of the most famous scenes in all of silent comedy–the “can of molasses” scene from the Roscoe Arbuckle short The Butcher Boy (1917). This had the honor of being former vaudevillian Buster Keaton’s very first scene ever committed to celluloid. He always spoke of it with fondness and in his later years he enjoyed reenacting it for TV shows. And significantly, he would say that it had been done in one take. He’s often quoted from his autobiography, My Wonderful World of Slapstick:

Incidentally, I’ve been told that my first scene in The Butcher Boy is still the only movie-comedy scene ever made with a newcomer that was photographed only once. In other words my film debut was made without a single retake.  p. 93.

Having watched The Butcher Boy approximately 458 times, I now wonder: if we examined the gag frame-by-frame, could we discover how this seemingly simple scene was put together? And was the entire molasses scene done in one take? Can we spot any clues that would prove it? Clear your schedules, my friends, ’cause this is about to get detailed.

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The Third Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon – Celebrating 100 Years of Buster!

IT IS HERE.

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UPDATE 2/21/17: The third and final day of the blogathon is here! New posts are up and ready for viewing, enjoy!

For the third year in a row we’re celebrating the work of our genius in slapshoes, the one and only Buster Keaton. His work is timeless, his mark on film history irreplaceable, and of course, he was the master of making us laugh. And this time around we are also commemorating a special year: the centennial of Buster’s entry into films, a milestone year that will never come again.

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100 years ago Buster agreed to play a scene in Roscoe Arbuckle’s brand new Comique two-reeler. And movie audiences have been falling for his talent and humor ever since.

Bloggers: Please send me the link to your post whenever it’s ready today, tomorrow, or Tuesday. I’ll be updating periodically throughout the blogathon. Don’t forget that I’ll be holding a drawing for all participants, the winners receiving a either a $25 gift certificate to Buster Stuff, a copy of Imogene Sara Smith’s book The Persistence of Comedy, or the DVD set Industrial Strength Keaton! The drawing will be held on February 22.

Readers: Drop by often to see the latest posts–and don’t forget that we bloggers adore comments. And when you’re finished reading all the wonderful posts, why not pop in a few Buster films? It’s BK100, y’all–let’s celebrate!

And once again, here are the links to the First and Second Annual Buster Blogathons.

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The Roster:

Silent-ology: Analyzing the Molasses Scene From The Butcher Boy 

Silver Screenings: Steamboat Bill, Jr. or Buster Keaton and the Important Things in Life

Special Purpose Movie Blog: The General: Factual or Fictional?

MovieMovieBlogBlog: For the Love of Buster Keaton

Grace Kingsley’s Hollywood: An Early Keaton Fan: Grace Kingsley

Big Riot V Squad: Buster Keaton: From Stage to Screen

Finding Nelson Evans: Keaton’s Leading Ladies in Pictures

Caftan Woman: Review of the books Keep Your Eye on the Kid, Bluffton: My Summer with Buster Keaton, and Keaton Comedies: A Toby Bradley Adventure

Silent Locations: Amazing New Keaton Discoveries: My Wife’s Relations

Life’s Daily Lessons BlogA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum 

Little Bits of Classics: Chaplin and Keaton: Two Friends in the Limelight

Popcorn Optional: Buster Keaton: A Wonderful World of Slapstick

Welcome To My Magick Theatre: Buster Goes to College

Senseless Cinema: The Haunted Worlds of Buster Keaton

An Ode to Dust: Buster Keaton: In the Works (Graphic novel project)

Century Film ProjectOh Doctor!

Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie ReviewsOur Hospitality

Critica Retro: Review of My Wonderful World of Slapstick

The Fyuzhe: On Buster’s Television Work

Hometowns to Hollywood: Buster’s Hometown of Piqua, Kansas

Prince of Hollywood: 100 Years of Buster Keaton: The First Films of a Comedy Legend

The Midnite Drive-In: Twilight Zone episode “Once Upon a Time”

The Scribe Files: Buster, Italian Style (or Due Marines e un Maestro)

Christina Wehner: The Joy of Discovering Buster Keaton

The Wonderful World of Cinema: My First Time With Buster Keaton: One Week

The Lonely CriticThe Navigator

BLOGATHON UPDATE: The Third Annual Busterthon Is Almost Here!

Silent-ology’s grand Buster celebration is a little over a week away, everyone!! Are you as excited as I am?!

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Quite a few bloggers have signed up for this event, and since 2017 is a special year I’ve gone all out and decided that Silent-ology will be holding not one, not two, but three drawings for all blogathon participants! (The hundred-year anniversary of Buster entering films ain’t happening again, folks!) Here are the prizes: Continue reading

“The Biograph Girl”–The Career Of Early Star Florence Lawrence

For a long time the world knew her as “The Biograph Girl.” Family and friends knew her as “Flo.” And in time, fans would know her by her full, rhyming name, “Florence Lawrence.” And today we also tend to add this phrase–“The First Movie Star.”

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Contrary to popular lore she wasn’t technically the first movie star, but she certainly was one of the earliest. Continue reading

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Third Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon–Celebrating 100 Years Of Buster!

My friends, I’m thrilled to announce:

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I’m thrilled not just because this is a fantastic annual event celebrating one of the finest, most beloved comedians who ever walked this earth, but because 2017 marks 100 years since Buster first entered the movies on that fateful day in NYC back in 1917. That makes this blogathon an extra special one, and frankly, I’ve been waiting for it for years. Continue reading

Josie, Lige, “Pimple,” And Other Uber Obscure Silent Comedians

 

While many people are familiar with only a handful of big names, the world of silent comedy was a vast, dizzying hurricane of one- and two-reelers starring folk of every conceivable size, shape, and level of talent. A great many tried and a great many failed to win themselves a coveted spot on the “Beloved Performers Who Will Be Immortal” list.

…Well, Billy Dooley tried.

If you are a fan of silent comedy, you already know all those big names: Charlie, Buster, Harold, Mabel, Roscoe (not “Fatty,” mind you), and so on. If you are a buff, you probably also know Max, Lupino, Snub, Ford, and so on. And you also never to call Roscoe “Fatty.”

But what of all those other names? Who were some of the really obscure comedians from those far-off days when automobiles were finally catching on? Many of them are lucky if a handful of their shorts survive. But while the Immortals such as Charlie and Buster were certainly very popular back in the day, at one time these forgotten people had fanbases of their own (some smaller than others).  Continue reading