The Fifth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon

The big day has arrived!! After 364 days of waiting, it’s finally time for:

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Today and tomorrow, me and many of my fellow bloggers are celebrating the legacy of one of the cinema’s finest comedians–if not the finest. Each year I’m excited about the wealth of creative topics and thoughtful essays in store, and this year is already proving to be just as fantastic. So get cozy on your couch with your laptop/Ipad/phone, my friends–it’s time to start reading about all things Buster!

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Bloggers: Please send me the link to your post whenever it’s ready today or tomorrow (and thanks to those of you who sent me a link early!). I’ll be updating periodically throughout the blogathon. Don’t forget that I’ll be holding a drawing for the participants, the winner receiving a copy of the book Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton  by John Bengtson. The drawing will be held on February 20th–I’ll be in touch with the winner!

Readers: Drop by often to see the latest posts–and don’t forget that we bloggers adore comments. (We adore them almost as much as Buster himself. They’re a close second, is what I’m saying.)

And of course, here are the links to the First, SecondThird and Fourth Annual Buster Blogathons.

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The Roster:

Silent-ology | Buster’s Wife’s Relations: Getting To Know The Talmadge Family

MovieRob | Limelight

Silver Screenings | Buster Keaton Goes to MGM

A Person in the Dark| Meeting Buster Backwards: A Hard Act to Resist

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films | Sherlock Jr.

MovieMovieBlogBlog II | Seven Chances and the article Buster Keaton and

Lucille Ball–Together on TV in 1965

Julia Hut | Buster illustrations for posts by MovieMovieBlogBlog II

A la rencontre du Septième Art | Our Hospitality

wolffian classic movies digest | Buster Keaton: The Art of the Gags

Welcome to My Magick Theatre | Spite Marriage

The Stop Button | Hard Luck

Big V Riot Squad | Comique: Roscoe, Buster, Al and Luke

Silver17 Productions | Keaton Vs. Surrealism (video)

       Grace Kingsley’s Hollywood | Humorists All At Sea: Writing The Navigator

Taking Up Room | How To Stuff a Wild Bikini

TheScriptLab | Five Comedy Lessons From Five Buster Keaton Classics

The Wonderful World of Cinema | The Great Buster

Critica Retro | The Saphead

The Thoroughly Lost Art Of The Title Card

A version of this article was originally written for Classic Movie Hub, where I write a monthly column on–you guessed it–silent films. Hope you enjoy!

When you think of jobs that have gone the way of the dodo, certain ones spring to mind right away: chimney sweeps. Switchboard operators. Bowling alley pinsetters. Organ grinders’ monkeys. Almost every flea circus ringmaster. Well, just imagine what it was like to have a career as a title card artist or title card writer in the late 1920s when talkies were coming in–it must’ve been pretty intense.

It must’ve been a little sad, too. For even though titles (or “captions,” or “subtitles,” or “leaders,” as they were variously called–today we often call them “intertitles”) were sometimes considered a tad intrusive even back then, they did evolve into their own skilled artform.

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Forbidden Fruit (1921)

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Fan Magazine Fun: “Film Titles Travestied” And Other Cartoon Odds And Ends

Today let’s take a gander at Pictures and The Picturegoer, a British movie magazine that first came off the presses in 1911 and had a lengthy run until 1960 (it was eventually called just Picturegoer). The following cartoons, which filled in space at the editors’ whims, are all from October and November 1915 issues. They serve as fine opportunities for “humor archaeology”–in other words, trying to figure out what the heck they meant.

Here, for example, is “Film Titles Travestied.” Can you decipher it?

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Book Review: “‘Bare Knees’ Flapper: The Life And Films Of Virginia Lee Corbin”

If I tell you to picture a child star from the silent era, two that will come to mind are likely Jackie Coogan or Baby Peggy. Likewise, if I tell you to picture an actress famous for portraying flappers, you’ll probably think of Clara Bow or (I hope) Colleen Moore. But one actress who probably won’t occur to you is Virginia Lee Corbin, a former child star who also managed to transition to flapper roles as she matured. But happily, writer and researcher Tim Lussier is determined to get you acquainted with this overlooked actress with his fine biography “Bare Knees” Flapper: The Life and Films of Virginia Lee Corbin. Continue reading

A Simple Thanks

Since today is Thanksgiving here in the good ol’ US of A, like many others I’ve been musing over what I’m thankful for: my loving family, my good friends, my little apartment, simple pleasures like home cooked meals, the big beautiful outdoors in this fine state of Minnesota, and of course the marvels of modern technology, which allows me to access and research old films like never before. And speaking of the latter, I’m also very thankful for–you!

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Even more thankful than Eddie Nugent and Josephine Dunn are for turkey (Motion Picture, December 1928).

Recently I updated and tweaked the “My Articles” page (which I hadn’t done in–well, let’s just say an embarrassingly long time) and realized that Silent-ology is now over 300 articles strong. 300! And counting. And this is all due to you, reader, whose visits and comments and appreciation keep me excited and motivated to research this fascinating, one-of-a-kind era in art.

And so–thank you! Without you, this blog wouldn’t be what it is today. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing on this fine Thursday, just know that you are in my thoughts today. And it’s not only on Thanksgiving that I’m grateful.

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Fan Magazine Fun: “The Haunted Home Of Movie Ghosts”

One of my favorite days of the year has arrived! A very HAPPY HALLOWE’EN to all, and if you haven’t watched all the silent horror movies you’ve been planning to, get crackin’, there’s still time!

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Lon’s waiting patiently for you!

While this mournful article I found doesn’t quite fit the “Fan Magazine Fun” title, it seems appropriate since it’s silent Hollywood’s idea of a truly haunted place. It comes from the August 1926 Motion Picture Classic, and is a deeeeeply sentimental look at the site of the old Famous Players-Lasky studio just after it was torn down. A taste: “Once upon a time these shadows of the past walked triumphantly thru the sets. Now they hover unseen in the background, and the world looks upon them as memories.” (Click on the images to to read the article.)

 

“Ghosts…ghosts that seem to tread softly in the gathering darkness, ghosts that will soon be homeless, wandering sadly thru a new maze of buildings that will spring up on this site…” Man, just from that you’d never guess this article was talking about famous names from a mere ten years (or less) prior!

To be honest, though, I truly love that magazines published such unabashedly sentimental articles back then. No holds barred, dripping with feeling and “poetic fancy.” Sometimes they can be funny, but often they’re refreshing.

Once again, happy Halloween my friends, and have a safe and spooky holiday!

 

Happy 100th Birthday To Diana Serra Cary! (Aka Baby Peggy)

This is a special day, my friends. Join me in raising a glass to Diana Serra Cary, the world’s last living silent film star, who turns 100 today!

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Known to 1920s audiences as Baby Peggy, Diana began appearing in films when she was only a toddler. After starring in shorts she soon began acting in features, all cranked out at an amazing rate. Audiences loved the expressive, round-cheeked youngster, and she swiftly became one of the most famous child actors in Hollywood–her main rival being Jackie Coogan. She later credited her success to her extremely obedient nature–directors were impressed by her ability to follow orders unhesitatingly.  Continue reading

Book Review: “How To Film Moving Pictures in the 1910s” by Darren Nemeth

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I’m happy to say that the author of 1907 Chicago Projecting Co’s Entertainer’s Supplies Catalog No. 122: Deluxe Reprint Edition has done it again! (Have you not read 1907 Chicago Projecting Co’s Entertainer’s Supplies Catalog No. 122: Deluxe Reprint Edition? You should!) This time, as part of his newly-dubbed “Moving Picture Reprint Series,” Darren Nemeth is offering How To Film Moving Pictures in the 1910s. Much like his first book, it already promises to be an important part of my film history library. Continue reading

Ormer Locklear, Hollywoodland’s Daredevil Of The Air

Let’s all take a minute and look at this marvelous photo:

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If I asked you to picture a daring pilot from the 1910s or 1920s, this is exactly who you would picture, am I right? The leather aviator helmet, the goggles, the cool jacket, the air of cheerful self-assurance…he’s the very personification of the flying ace Snoopy always aspired to be. And yes, he’s the real deal. This is the forgotten barnstormer Ormer Locklear, achiever of mind-boggling aerial stunts, and yes, of course he has a fantastic name, I would expect nothing less.

Really, all he needs is a tiny 1920s mustache and…stop the presses. 

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He is complete.

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