Book Review: “The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd”

What a warm and wonderful gal Thelma Todd was. Smart, classy, and enviably beautiful, she livened up numerous comedies featuring Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Louise Fazenda, Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon, Joe E. Brown, and many other famous laughmakers. Watching her performances reminds us how much was lost with her untimely death in 1936. Who could forget her “college widow” being serenaded by each of the four Marx Brothers in Horse Feathers (1932), or her Mrs. Plumtree genuinely cracking up at Stan Laurel in Another Fine Mess (1930)? Continue reading

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Introducing Mirth-Maker Marcel Perez

One of the best things about getting into silent comedy is that once you’ve had some hearty helpings of the essentials–Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd–you can start exploring with confidence. What overlooked series will help you unwind after a day at work? What obscure comedian will end up being one of your favorite actors? Which stock company looks like it had the most fun?

Of course, the answer to the latter is always going to be Keystone.

Thanks to our friends over at Undercrank Productions (who have worked wonders with Kickstarter), we now have another fine comedian’s work to explore–“International Mirth-Maker” Marcel Perez. Continue reading

Review: “The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema” Documentary

If you’re a casual silent film fan, you’ve probably heard of early movie studios like Edison, Biograph, and Vitagraph. One you might be less familiar with–but which was just as important to film–was the Thanhouser Company.

Active from 1909 to 1917, the Thanhouser Company produced around 1,000 films in that mere 9-year period and was one of the most respected studios in the business. After it folded it fell into obscurity and its films were soon forgotten. In 2014 the story of this fine company was finally given its due in The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema, a documentary produced by Ned Thanhouser, grandson of the studio’s founders. Continue reading