A Big THANK YOU To All!

Another successful blogathon has come to a close, my friends! And thus I would like to offer:

Thank you from Buster 2018

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….

The Wonderful World of Cinema

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.

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BLOGATHON UPDATE: The 4th Annual Busterthon Is Coming Up Fast!

Our yearly celebration of all things related to porkpie hats is just under a week away!

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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.

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If you like, here are the links to all the posts in the First, Second and Third Annual Buster blogathons.

And here is the updated roster! Let me know if everyone is present and accounted for.

The Roster:

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

Special Purpose Movie Blog | TBA

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 CinemaThe Blacksmith

L.A. ExplorerThe Navigator

tgreywolfe | Poem about Buster

A Person in the Dark | If Buster were president

 

The Funny (And Forgotten) Stick Figures of Norman Z. McLeod

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.

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Loose Change (1928)

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Book Review: “The Silent Films of Marion Davies” By Edward Lorusso

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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.)

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A Mesmerizing Talent: The Life And Career Of Conrad Veidt

“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.”

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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

Why You Should Learn To Stop Worrying And Start Loving The Title Cards

Happy Thursday, y’all! Here’s a Silent-ology “oldie-but-goodie,” my impassioned defense of the old-timey title card. My readership has definitely grown since the last time this was published! By the way, point #4 is always worth sharing with any silent film skeptic friends.

Silent-ology

So you’ve decided to give those funny old black-and-white silent movies a try. You pop in a DVD with a quaint title and relax on your couch (or you rev up the Netflix, either one).  An organ tune plays as you see the scene of a busy town street. There are Model Ts, and people in clothes that look less like a Roaring Twenties party than you‘d assumed, and hey, does that old guy have a handlebar mustache? And was that a streetcar? Why, you could get used to this! And then it happens. The screen goes black…and there are words. Words that you must read. Words that are inflicted upon you. This, my friend, is your very first exposure…to a title card.  

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Thoughts On “Coney Island” And A Shout-Out To “A Country Hero”

Coney Island (1917)

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For decades, Coney Island was one of the most-watched Comiques, thanks to 16mm copies being in the public domain. Since few other Arbuckle films were available, it was sometimes cited as the “only” film where Buster actually smiled on camera–not true, as we’ve seen. Still, we’re lucky the lovable, crowd-pleasing Coney Island got to be one of those available few. It’s not only very funny, but treats us to all the period charm of an Edwardian afternoon at the famed amusement park.

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Silent Ireland: 5 Dramas From The Emerald Isle

I’m guessing that many of you have seen silent films from a number of countries, like Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, and possibly even Japan. But have you ever watched one from Ireland?

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Sure and there are Irish silents, indade! And they captured snapshots of traditional rural life in Ireland several years before the famous Easter Rising. Thanks to Trinity College in Dublin, several Irish dramas are available for your viewing pleasure on their official YouTube channel. Continue reading

Book Review: “Like Any Other Monday” By Binnie Brennan

When I began writing book reviews I decided Silent-ology would be concentrated on nonfiction, with maybe a very rare exception for a well-written historical fiction novel. For one thing, silent fans are always seeking out nonfiction with good info about the era. Plus, I’m come to the sinking realization that I’m turning into one of those awful nitpickers who notices and actually kind of cares if a novel has some minor historical inaccuracies. (“It’s supposed to be 1917 and he just used a slang term that wasn’t popular until 1923? This shall not stand!“) It’s getting bad, folks.

But, as I said, there are those rare exceptions, and I dare say that Binnie Brennan’s Like Any Other Monday is one of them. Continue reading

“Splashes of Fun and Beauty”–Sennett’s Famous Bathing Beauties

Being in the midst of preparing an article for the upcoming issue of The Silent Film Quarterly (have I mentioned that I have a column there now? No? Oh. Well, I do), I decided to do a repost of one of my favorite 2015 articles. It was written especially for Keystone Month, and was a lot of fun to write. Hope you enjoy!

Silent-ology

If you’re ever having an earnest discussion about silent comedy (and who wouldn’t), there are a few topics that will often bring out a smile: fake mustaches, cream pies, satirical twirling of said fake mustaches, the Ton of Fun. And there’s one topic that always seems to make people smile: Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties.

Bathing beauties

Once considered mildly risquébut now considered surprisingly innocent, the playful, perky, mischievous girls popped up in Sennett’s comedies time and time again. Admittedly the plots would sometimes screech to a halt just for them, but at least half of the theater audiences were too appreciative to mind.

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