San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2018: The Mighty Recap

Now that I’m home from California, here is my recap of this year’s fabulous festival! Fun fact: portions of this post were written while sitting at the bar of the Pig ‘N’ Whistle restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, next door to Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre…not an office I get to use every day!

Opening Night Presentation: Wednesday, May 30

I arrived in San Francisco in the mid-afternoon of May 30th, and after doing a bit of sight-seeing among those windy hills (but no cable car-riding–drat those eternal lines!) I took one of those historic streetcars down to the Castro theater. Ah, beautiful Castro theater, how I’ve missed thee. After missing the 2017 fest, it felt “right” to finally be back.

The 23rd San Francisco Silent Film Festival began with a tribute to the late Frank Buxton, who had a lengthy and busy career in TV, movies, and radio (he was a writer on Happy Days and directed episodes of Mork and Mindy, to name a few things). He had been an indispensable member of the festival board, and it was clear how much he was already missed.

Then the lights went down, the great curtains parted to reveal the screen–I do love that quiet, magical moment of anticipation–and the 5-day festival of beautiful restorations and the world’s finest live accompaniment had begun!

Continue reading

Advertisements

The SFSFF Is Coming!

…That is, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which starts May 30. And yes, I’M COMING BACK, BABY!!

Image Credit: Pamela Gentile for silentfilm.org

Last year, as some readers may remember, I had to skip the event due to a family vacation abroad claiming most of my travel funds. But this year, I’m making up for it–I’ll be returning to the Castro theater for the entire beautiful festival, and am planning on attending every showing if I possibly can. I might add that the festival spans five days this year, so this is not a challenge I accept lightly. I AM READY. Continue reading

A Little Tour For New Readers

Hello all! As Silent-ology continues to try and spread the joy of silent cinema to anyone who happens to stumble by, I’m considering writing brief “welcome” posts like this every once in awhile. I know what it’s like to visit a new blog and feel like someone who just popped into a trendy new cafe and is trying to figure out the complicated chalk-written menu.

Image result for silent film star head scratcher
“The menu includes ‘add ons’ AND ‘extras.’ Aren’t they the same thing?!?”

Of course, the “About” page of a blog always helps, but it’s nice to know you’re in the writer’s thoughts right here, right now.

So here’s the most basic tour: I’m interested in pretty much every detail of the entire silent era, so if there’s a topic you’re interested in, there’s a good chance I’ve got it covered–and if not, it’ll likely be written about in the future! Take a look at the My Articles page, or simply use the Search box. I gravitate toward silent comedy a bit more than drama, so searching for “comedians” or “silent comedy” should bring up a lot of results. (There’s oodles of Buster Keaton, by the way–especially since I host an annual Buster blogathon!)

Image result for buster keaton

Buster’s obviously psyched about being so well-represented.

I like to do theme months a couple times a year, and so far these have included: Forgotten comedians, Georges Melies, Mary Pickford, the Comique shorts (made by Roscoe Arbuckle and co-starring Buster Keaton) and my latest, Flapper Month. I also enjoy covering German Expressionism and other silent horror-type films every October, so there’s plenty of tags for those topics too.

If you’re brand new to silent films, you might appreciate these early articles:

But let’s say you already like silents, and are specifically interested in Really Super Old silents. Consider checking out:

Or maybe you want to know more about the early moviegoing scene. You’ll probably enjoy:

Or perhaps you’re looking to learn more about silent era actors. I try to cover both the big personalities and the obscure ones. Here’s a few:

Gravitate toward the artsy side of the era? Take a look at:

Planning a trip to Hollywood? Looking for some tips on finding silent-related sites, and how to get there? I’ve got you covered!

And as long as we’re on the topic of visiting silent Hollywood, if you’re as interested in research as I am, you’ve no doubt heard of the prestigious Margaret Herrick library. Plan on going there one day? Here are some tips on how to do research there:

A Newbie’s Visit To The Margaret Herrick Library

There’s a lot more, of course, but I hope this brief tour was helpful. And as always, feel free to leave comments (even on older articles). We have a very friendly crowd here, so don’t be shy!

Happy reading!

Image result for silent film star reading

 

My Experience At The 2017 Buster Keaton Convention

This is my own post for the 4th Annual Buster blogathon–hope you guys enjoy!

In case you haven’t noticed, I kind of made a big deal out of Buster Keaton’s 2017 film centennial here on Silent-ology. From book reviews to July’s Comique Month, there was plenty of nods to that year-long celebration. But there was one more thing I did in honor of the centennial that I haven’t really shared with you guys yet–attend the 23rd Annual Buster Keaton convention in Muskegon, Michigan, hosted by the lovely Damfinos!

Image result for 23rd annual buster convention

I’d heard a lot about the beloved convention from fellow Buster fans, who shared photos and raved about its great events and friendly atmosphere. The fact that it’s held in Buster’s adopted hometown was the cherry on top. After wanting to attend for ages, the chance to go during the centennial was simply too much for me to pass up.

Plus, I must humbly add, I had been invited to give a presentation there–a 40 minute presentation–me. More to follow! Continue reading

Silent-ology Turns Four Today!

Four years? Have I really been blogging about silent films for four whole years? 

birthday cake

The Indianapolis Circle Theater circa the 1920s sends its regards.

It sure doesn’t feel like it, my friends. Why, I haven’t even started covering the Hairbreadth Harry silent comedy series, and I haven’t even come close to researching the dramatic career of Eugenie Besserer, so you might say I’ve been slacking. Nevertheless, to all of you who been keeping up with Silent-ology these last few years and to all of you who are just starting to drop by, I offer a big, hearty, Art Deco: Continue reading

It’s Not Just A Movie–Musings On “The Last Jedi” Backlash And Why Cinema Matters

Note: These musings are free of clear TLJ spoilers. 🙂 

So you may have heard of a little film called The Last Jedi. Came out during Christmastime, made a bit of a splash, did pretty well at the box office and all.

And by now you’ve probably heard about the backlash against the film (much of which I, a major Star Wars fan, agree with). Although critics–surprisingly–seemed to embrace it with uncharacteristic enthusiasm, many fans have been lukewarm. Some outright hate many of the choices it makes, as you can see in numerous online articles and videos and doubtless in some face-to-face discussions as well.

Related image

Let’s just say obvious ploys to sell oodles of plushies are the least of its problems.

I’ve noticed that some folks have been countering the backlash with the retort, “Oh calm down, it’s just a movie.” (Fans of just about anything are sure familiar with that.) And I’ve been thinking over that retort, my friends, and it simply doesn’t sit well with me.  Continue reading

See Ya, 2017: The Silent Community Year In Review

Happy 2018, everyone! Now that 2017 is officially  behind us, once again it’s time to recap the various silent film-related discoveries, restorations, events, DVD/Blu-ray/book releases, etc. from the past 12 months.

Image may contain: 2 people

Louise is ready to help you with your New Year’s resolutions!

Now, I normally keep a running file of these kinds of stories which I update whenever they catch my eye. A couple months ago, however, my 9-year-old laptop breathed its last (or maybe it drowned–I kind of spilled water all over its keyboard). I had copies of nearly every file I owned backed up online–EXCEPT for, you know, a couple irreplaceable things like my 2017 film news file. Yes, about 15 dumb memes were safely tucked away but NOT THAT FILE. So forgive me if I missed anything absurdly obvious–I tried my best to get caught up again! Continue reading

A Halloween Post Roundup!

Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!

This wonderful illustration is from Dennison’s Bogie Book, a book of Halloween decoration and party ideas that seems to have been published every year, with updates I presume. This comes from the 1925 edition–isn’t it priceless? Here’s another  illustration:

Related image

To celebrate this spooky holiday, here’s a roundup of all my Halloween-inspired posts from the past. Counting my posts from this month, this includes the films: Continue reading

Win A Copy Of “London Symphony” (2017), A Silent Film For The 21st Century!

UPDATE 10/18/17: The winner of the drawing (conducted by me literally writing names on paper strips and putting them in my ’20s-style cloche hat) is MovieMovieBlogBlog! Congratulations–we will be in touch. 🙂 

The latest Halloween-flavored post is on the way, folks–here’s a clue:

Related image

Hmm, not quite, but you’re close! In the meantime, here’s the latest giveaway I’m hosting, which involves a particularly inspired project.

A few years ago an independent filmmaker named Alex Barrett contacted me about a silent film he was making. He described it as a modern-day “city symphony,” the genre of documentary from the 1920s that created artistic portraits of cities such as Berlin. This time, however, the subject would be the great city of London, which had never been given a “city symphony” of its own (and which happens one of my very favorite places to visit, as countless others would agree!). I thought it sounded like an excellent project, and I agreed to help spread the news about its crowdfunding campaign.

Well, several years and 300 London filming locations later, and with the support of such notables as Kevin Brownlow, BFI and the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Barrett’s project is complete! His film’s been screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017 (and was nominated for the Michael Powell Award for Best British Film!), is currently being shown in select cinemas around the world, and just yesterday was released as a region-free MOD by the venerable Flicker Alley (a distributor I probably couldn’t live without–where else am I going to get beautiful copies of True Heart Susie and Tol’able David?) Continue reading

Do We Pre-Judge Mary Pickford?

Not too long ago I read some delightful Facebook comments by a teacher who was talking about how she occasionally showed silent films to her high school class (I think it was high school….maybe it was middle school…hmm…anyways.). She shared a funny story about the way her students reacted to a viewing of One Week (no one saw that last gag coming!) and mentioned a couple other silent stars her class had really liked.

But the one star she couldn’t quite talk them into watching? Mary Pickford. Apparently, they were a little leery to take that step.

Image result for mary pickford

Way too intimidating.

Continue reading