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.
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!)
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:
- Getting Into Silent Films–Where To Begin?
- How To Watch a Silent Film (If You’ve Never Seen One)
- What’s Your Silent “Gateway” Film?
- My Handy Glossary page might, well, come in handy. It explains the movie-making terms you’ll be stumbling across as you read up on the era.
But let’s say you already like silents, and are specifically interested in Really Super Old silents. Consider checking out:
- From Magic Lanterns to Fred Ott’s Sneeze–Cinema Begins
- What Are The World’s Oldest Horror Movies?
- Thoughts On: The Four Troublesome Heads (1898)
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:
- Will The Real Mary Pickford Please Stand Up?
- Forever Debonair: The Enduring Legacy Of Comedy Pioneer Max Linder
- Sybil Seely, Buster’s Most Charming Leading Lady (I’m proud to say that this one’s an example of my very own research!)
- A Mesmerizing Talent: The Life And Career Of Conrad Veidt
Gravitate toward the artsy side of the era? Take a look at:
- So Just What Exactly Was German Expressionism?
- Thoughts On: Ghosts Before Breakfast (1928)
- Timelessly Cool: The Art Of 1920s Soviet Film Posters
Planning a trip to Hollywood? Looking for some tips on finding silent-related sites, and how to get there? I’ve got you covered!
- My Very First Visit To Hollywoodland
- Silent-ology’s Handy Tips For Visiting (Silent) Hollywood (This includes my Handy Map)
- The Return to Hollywoodland
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:
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!
Note: This is a repost of a Silent-ology article from August 7, 2014.
Everyone’s heard of “the cat’s pajamas” and “the bees knees,” but here are some slang terms from the early twenties that I’ll bet you’ve never heard of:
Airdale — a homely man
Alarm clock — a chaperone
An alibi — a box of flowers
Bean picker — one who tries to patch up trouble
The berries — applied to express surprise, disgust, indignation: “Ain’t that the berries!” Continue reading
Proving once more that movie fan magazine writers could turn anything into an article, presumably if deadlines were looming darkly enough (see: Kneeology), here is a 1918 Picture-Play Magazine article all about…movie star mouths.
Now now, do not laugh. For this is some hard-hitting journalism right here. Face it, without this article you likely never gave the psychology of movie star lips a second thought. But now you’re thinking about it, and that’s a thought that wasn’t in your brain a mere few minutes ago, so…hooray!
Another successful blogathon has come to a close, my friends! And thus I would like to offer:
Every year you classic film bloggers outdo yourselves writing insightful, touching, and well-researched posts about our favorite comedian, and I and all the Silent-ology readers could not be more appreciative! I’m sure that Buster, somewhere out there, was doing plenty of smiling in the last couple of days.
As promised, I conducted the drawing with my trusty gray cloche hat, and am happy to announce that the winner of The Saphead DVD is….
Congratulations! I’ll be in touch as soon as I can. And if you see this post first, contact me on my “About Silent-ology” page so we can email each other. (NOTE: I know that many of us Buster fans will snap up as much merchandise as we can, so if you already have the DVD let me know if you’d like to give it to someone who’d appreciate it or if I should draw another name.)
Thanks again, everyone! Here’s to next year’s Busterthon.
Our yearly celebration of all things related to porkpie hats is just under a week away!
I’m excited to see many bloggers returning for a second or third time–a few of you are even here for a fourth time, fantastic! I’m also happy to welcome newcomers to this fine event–hope you enjoy!
For this year’s drawing for participating bloggers I will giving away a copy of Kino’s Blu-ray The Saphead, Buster’s earliest appearance in a feature film. This set also includes the complete alternate version of the film, a featurette, and a rare 1962 recording of Buster entertaining his friends with vaudeville stories.
Bloggers: Once the 12 and 13th roll around, send me your posts whenever they are ready! Posting a day or two early is fine, just send the link my way and it’ll be up by the 12th. A handful of you have posted your contributions already (which must be some kind of record, lol), which is grand, but if you could maybe drop Silent-ology a nod during the blogathon days too that would be grand as well.
If you are just learning about this blogathon and would like to join, go right ahead! Any and all latecomers are welcome.
And here is the updated roster! Let me know if everyone is present and accounted for.
Silent-ology | Recap of the 23rd Annual Buster Keaton Convention 2017
MovieMovieBlogBlog | The Railrodder and an essay on Buster’s Educational and Columbia sound shorts
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films | Essay on why she’s a Buster Keaton fan
Grace Kingsley’s Hollywood | Kingsley’s 1920s interviews with Buster
Once upon a screen | Convict 13
Big V Riot Squad | The influence of Buster’s WWI experiences on his films
It’s Rob | Reflections upon visiting Buster’s gravesite
Christina Wehner | Our Hospitality
An Ode to Dust | TBA
Movies Meet Their Match | The General
Welcome To My Magick Theatre | Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Silent Wierdness | Article on work with Roscoe Arbuckle and Al St. John
Silver17 Productions | Mock trailer for The Rough House
Wolffian Classic Movies Digest | Tribute to Buster Keaton
Old Hollywood Films | The history of the Italian Villa
Silver Screenings | College
In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood | The Cameraman
Critica Retro | The Villain Still Pursued Her
The Wonderful World of Cinema | The Blacksmith
L.A. Explorer | The Navigator
tgreywolfe | Poem about Buster
A Person in the Dark | If Buster were president
While combing through an online copy of a 1920s magazine just for amateur movie makers (it’s called, in case you’re curious, Amateur Movie Makers) I stumbled across a name that seemed familiar: “Norman McLeod”. Hmm, why did that ring a bell?
He was mentioned in an article on “art titles” (title cards with illustrations) which referred to “the famous skeleton cartoons” which “were made familiar by the clever pen of Norman McLeod, who has illustrated Christie Comedy titles for a number of years.” (You might be picturing Silly Symphony-style skeletons, but they were actually stick figures.) Having seen a few of the Christie Comedies, I had a little “ah-ha!” moment of now knowing who was behind those funny cartoons.
For decades, silent star Marion Davies was known mainly for two things: for being the mistress of uber-powerful newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, and for supposedly being the inspiration for the untalented Susan Alexander in Citizen Kane. Well, the latter isn’t true–Susan was based on the wife of a different uber-powerful magnate (as Orson Welles himself finally revealed). And as for the former, while Marion was certainly part of a faithful “arrangement” with Hearst right up until his death, it didn’t define her. A look at her films proves that she was a warm, hardworking, immensely talented woman who likely had the charisma to make a name for herself in Hollywood without Hearst’s help. (I’d say she was mighty lucky to have him on her team, but she was already working on her acting career before he swooped in with 5-gallon buckets of money.)
“I only fell in love once with a movie actor. It was Conrad Veidt. His magnetism and his personality got me. His voice and gestures fascinated me. I hated him, feared him, loved him. When he died it seemed to me that a vital part of my imagination died too, and my world of dreams was bare.”
Quoted from one of the documents compiled in British Cinemas and Their Audiences by J.P. Mayer.
He had a lean, chiseled face that could’ve belonged to a regal nobleman, a sickly poet, or a sinister villain. His blue eyes could burn with the fury of a madman, or grow wide and distant as if trying to forget terrible secrets. But they could become warm and friendly too, especially if you were chatting with this tall, distinguished man about his greatest passion: dramatic acting. “I must have the dramatic, the ecstatic,” he told an interviewer in 1928, “something with great mental force.”
Known today for such horror classics as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Man Who Laughs, Hans Walter Conrad Veidt (nicknamed “Connie”) came from a quiet and sensible background. Continue reading