Well Look At That, Silent-ology Turns 6 Today!

As I finish up post #1 for Soviet Silents Month (I wanted to publish it yesterday but I’m not satisfied with it yet), I of course had to share that today’s Silent-ology’s SIXTH birthday!

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Why yes, Clara, you may cut the cake.

Good lord, that’s over half a decade. That’s getting us closer to a decade, my friends. And this is all thanks to your support and mutual love of this fascinating, game changing era of film. A project like Silent-ology isn’t undertaken lightly–to call it “time-consuming” is a understatement–and knowing you guys appreciate what I write makes me feel…well, like a dancing Louise Brooks!

So now, let’s review how Silent-ology did in the past 365 days! Continue reading

Interview With Steve Massa, Author of “Rediscovering Roscoe”

Silent-ology is pleased to present this exclusive interview with the prolific silent comedy historian Steve Massa, author of the new Rediscovering Roscoe: The Films of “Fatty” Arbuckle. We talk about why a book on Roscoe’s films was overdue, about his considerable directorial skills, about his wonderful friendship with Buster and Al St. John, and just how many hours he would put into filming a single difficult gag…and more!

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I must say, after the impressively hefty Slapstick Divas volume I was surprised (and delighted) to see another sizable book from you so soon! How long has Rediscovering Roscoe been in the works?

I have to say that I was a bit surprised too at how hefty Rediscovering Roscoe turned out to be. It was originally planned to be a smaller format book, like Lame Brains and Lunatics and Divas, but it grew too large. I got very lucky finding material and I wanted each film entry to be as thorough as possible. Every one would have credits, cast, working title, contemporary reviews, and archive sources, in addition to a commentary on surviving films and as much as I could find on missing ones. I have to admit that I “borrowed” the format of the book from Rob Stone’s excellent Laurel or Hardy, one of my favorite film books. Continue reading

Ask Me Anything!–Silent-ology Edition

HAPPY ’20s, FOLKS!!

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It’s been a week and we’re still partying!

To kick off this glorious and familiar-sounding new decade, I thought we’d shake things up a bit and do Silent-ology’s very first AMA: Ask Me Anything!

How it works is pretty simple: you guys ask me whatever silent cinema-related question that pop into your heads, or whatever you like really, and I’ll post my responses in a few days. It’ll be a kind of “come and know me better, man” post.

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Pictured: Jobyna participating in her own AMA.

Want to know my (brief) thoughts on films I haven’t written about yet? Looking for obscure factoids about silent cinema and wondering if I can help? Wondering what some of my favorite talkies are? Want to know my favorite color or how I’d rank all the Star Wars movies? 😉

Yes, you can even drop the oh-so-cliched “Keaton or Chaplin?” on me. Ask away!

9 Treasures From The NFPF Site

Love cinema, especially obscure cinema? So do I, obviously. I’m always on the hunt for all things quaint and curious, and aside from those random YouTube playlists, there’s one site in particular that has a fascinating library of free films that I highly recommend: The National Film Preservation Foundation’s website.

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This foundation, as you suspect, does God’s work. As their site describes:

The National Film Preservation Foundation is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. We support activities nationwide that preserve American films and improve film access for study, education, and exhibition…Our top priority is saving American films that would be unlikely to survive without public support. Over the past decade, we have developed grant programs to help archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and universities preserve films and make them available for study and research. Our grants distribute federal funds secured through the leadership of the Library of Congress and preservation services donated by public-spirited laboratories and post-production houses. Congress increased the authorization for this work in 2005 and 2008. Every penny of these federal funds goes out to the field and we raise operational support from other sources.

Comedies, dramas, cartoons, documentaries, avant-garde, westerns–you can find a little of everything on the NFPF’s site, most films being from the early 20th century. Since it contains a good helping of silents, I thought I’d share nine of my favorite finds (so far). Think of it as suggestions for a DIY at-home film festival: Continue reading

“Stark Love” (1927) And The Very Brief Career Of Helen Mundy

While browsing through old film magazines online (how often have I said that), an unusual photo caught my eye–a young woman with intense eyes, peasant-like clothing and long, unkempt hair. Oh, and she was gripping an ax.

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Happily the full version is online.

Not something you see in those polished magazines every day! I had to find out the story behind it, and what turned up was one of those “rags to riches” types of Hollywood tales–with a unique twist. Continue reading

The Strange Saga Of “Nosferatu”

One of the few silent classics virtually anyone’s willing to watch, Nosferatu has been iconic practically since its release in 1922. The strange, hunched Count Orlok has a permanent place in cinema history, a unique pedestal that keeps him apart from the suave villains of later pop culture.

Max Schreck in Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)

I’ve reviewed this gothic masterpiece before, but didn’t delve much into the details of how or why it was made. A few of you may already know the tale, with its background of modern art, WWI, occultism, flu epidemics, and gleeful copyright infringement. But if not, do read on.  Continue reading

Caligari’s Controversial “Bookend” Scenes: Yea Or Nay?

In October, the cinephile’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of German Expressionism. Accordingly, I thought we’d discuss an intriguing topic–those “bookend” scenes (otherwise known as a “frame story”) from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. 

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920)

If you haven’t seen Caligari, be forewarned now that this post discusses spoilers–nay, it depends on spoilers. So if you haven’t gotten around to watching one of the most important films of the 20th century, well…ya oughta! Continue reading