Many Thanks And High Fives All Around!

Because Roscoe and Al always supported their good friend Buster–and I’m sure they appreciate these blogathons too!

Well my friends, another successful blogathon has come to a close! We had a beautifully curated selection of posts this year, and I extend both an official high five and a hearty THANK YOU to each of you fine bloggers who participated! Your time and efforts are so appreciated.

Buster keaton GIF - Find on GIFER
Buster’s ecstatic!

High fives go out to all the readers who stopped by, too! And if you’re new here, feel free to visit again–I cover everything about the silent era from soup to nuts!

According to hallowed tradition, I held my Very Official Cloche Hat Drawing for this year’s blogathon participants. This year the prize is the essential book Buster Keaton: Interviews, a must for any Buster fan’s personal library. (I praise it from personal experience!)

Here’s the hat waiting patiently for me to draw a name:

And that name is:

Congratulations, Once Upon A Screen, we’ll be in touch! If you see this post before hearing from me, feel free to contact me on my “About Silent-ology” page so we can email each other.

And that’s a wrap! See you at next year’s ‘thon, folks–year 8!

Incredible…

Buster Keaton Posters and Prints | Posterlounge.com

“The Best Summers Of My Life”–Buster Keaton’s Boyhood In Muskegon

This is my own post for the Seventh Buster Keaton Blogathon. Enjoy, and please check out all the other wonderful posts, too!

When you love a performer from classic Hollywood, it’s not uncommon to make little “pilgrimages” to the places where they used to live and work: studios, filming locations, former homes, gravesites, and, of course, their hometowns. Seeing where your favorite star grew up can give you insight into what shaped them and their future career. And, of course, it’s just plain fun–some towns are tourist destinations simply by for being the hometown of a beloved performer.

But what of a performer like Buster Keaton? Since he was the child of travelling medicine show performers, his birthplace was a matter of happenstance. Joe and Myra Keaton were travelling through the tiny town of Piqua, Kansas (today its population hovers a little above 100) when Buster arrived. Their stay was necessarily short, so while tiny Piqua had the honor of being Buster’s birthplace it would be a stretch to call it his hometown. (Fun fact: in the 1960s Buster and his wife Eleanor did stop there briefly while they were on his State Fair tour!)

1093 Birthplace of BUSTER KEATON Piqua Kansas - Jordan The Lion Daily  Travel Vlog (8/4/19) - YouTube
Another fun fact: Piqua’s also home to a tiny Buster museum.

But despite an upbringing spent travelling from theater to theater, there was a spot on earth that Buster considered his true hometown: Muskegon, Michigan. A mid-sized town with the vast waters of Lake Michigan along one side and sparkling Lake Muskegon along another, the Keatons chose it for their summer home in the 1900s. It turned out to be a match made in heaven. In his biography on Buster, written not long before Buster passed away, Rudi Blesh wrote: “Those long-ago summers must have been, in a special way, one of the wonders of his life. Whenever he speaks of them he seems to be turning on the lights of a faraway stage.”

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The Seventh Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon

UPDATE: Day 2 of the blogathon has begun! More posts will be trickling in today, so make sure to check back and see what’s new!

Well that was a long 12 months, wasn’t it? But happily, in spite of everything, we’ve made it back to:

Our excellent Buster Keaton Blogathon has made it to year 7! Once again we will be celebrating the life and brilliant legacy of one of cinema’s most beloved comedians–the guy whose work is the gift that keeps on giving.

BusterLove on Twitter: "Austrian poster for "Spite Marriage", 1929. # BusterKeaton #DorothySebastian #BusterArt #posterart #movieposter  #BusterLove🍀… https://t.co/wAgUnucuJ8"

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, as a little “thank you”! The winner will receive a copy of one of my favorite Buster books, Buster Keaton: Interviews. The drawing will be held on Wednesday, March 24th, barring any wacky unforeseen difficulties. (After 2020, you just…never know anymore.) I’ll be in touch with the winner!

Readers: Please drop by often today and tomorrow to check out the latest posts–and don’t forget that we bloggers live for comments!

vintage Russian poster - The General Buster Keaton 1929

Wondering what the previous ‘thons were like? Here are the links to the First, SecondThird, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Annual Buster Blogathons–whew! I guess you could say if you’re looking for anything Buster-related, we’ve probably got it. 😀

Let the binge-reading begin!

The Roster:

Silent-ology | Buster’s boyhood summers in Muskegon, Michigan

Once Upon A Screen | The High Sign (1919) and Hard Luck (1921)

The Thoughts of One Truly Loved | Free and Easy (1930)

MovieMovieBlogBlog | Cops (1922)

Big V Riot Squad | Buster’s 1920-21 Silent Shorts

Cinematica | Steamboat Bill Jr (1928)

Century Film Project | The Goat (1921)

Taking Up Room | The General (1927)

Critica Retro | The 1954 TV episode “The Awakening”

Interview With Ben Model And Steve Massa, Creators Of The Silent Comedy Watch Party

Throughout 2020, numerous theaters and film festivals have faced unprecedented shutdowns and cancellations thanks to COVID-19. With so many film lovers stuck in their homes, many hardy souls have devoted time and resources to offering streaming films and online shows. In my opinion, one of the best shows has been the delightful weekly Silent Comedy Watch Party, hosted by historians Ben Model and Steve Massa. They’ve been streaming live every Sunday at 2 p.m. for the past 12 months!

The Silent Comedy Watch Party – Ben ModelLogo by the talented Marlene Weisman.

Each Watch Party showcases 2-4 silent comedy shorts, some starring famous names like Chaplin and Lloyd and others featuring some of the countless obscure performers from the 1900s-1920s. Model and Massa discuss each short beforehand, giving backgrounds on the performers, historical contexts and other insights, and Model accompanies every film live with piano. Model’s wife Mana and Massa’s wife Susan work behind the scenes to ensure everything’s running smoothly–it’s a real team effort. All episodes are available on the Model’s YouTube page (definitely go and subscribe!), which means there’s a virtual smorgasbord of classics and rarities for comedy fans to binge their way through.

For many people, the Watch Party’s become a bright spot in their week, and they’ve been happily tuning in each Sunday to laugh and relieve a bit of stress–which is no small service nowadays. In celebration of the one year anniversary of the Watch Party on March 21st–which also happens to be their 50th episode!–Silent-ology’s conducting a little interview with the two masterminds behind it. I hope you enjoy!

The Silent Comedy Watch Party – Ben ModelImage from Model’s site.

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12 Days Until Buster Blogathon 7!

Well well–it’s a little under two weeks until the Buster Keaton Blogathon returns for a seventh year in a row!

If you’re a participant, know that I’m really looking forward to seeing your posts! Every year our blogathon has such an excellent selection of thoughtful writing and really stellar research. I know year 7 will be awesome as well.

If you haven’t signed up and are interested in joining, go right ahead! I’ll even accept new participants on the days of the blogathon, because why not. The more the merrier!

Seven Chances 1925 poster Buster Keaton | Old film posters, Buster keaton  movies, Cinema posters
Here come all the bloggers!

Important update: Every year I hold a little drawing for blogathon participants. This year I’ve decided to give away a copy of Kino’s lovely DVD of Our Hospitality (1923), one of Buster’s classic features. Don’t you love that cover?

Our Hospitality
I’ll try not to keep it for myself.

12 days to go, everyone–happy blogging!!

The Roster:

Silent-ology | Buster’s childhood summers In Muskegon, Michigan

The Thoughts of One Truly Loved | Free and Easy (1930)

Big V Riot Squad | Buster’s silent short comedies

Cinematica | Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

Once Upon A Screen | The High Sign (1919) and Hard Luck (1921)

Taking Up Room | The General (1927)

Critica Retro | TV episode “The Awakening” (1954)

Whimsically Classic | The General (1927)

Century Film Project The Goat (1921)

MovieMovieBlogBlogII | Cops (1922)

Acting Funny | Article on American vaudeville in young Buster’s time

Thoughts On: “Orphans Of The Storm” (1921)

By the time the Roaring Twenties dawned, D.W. Griffith was well-established as a Filmmaker of Renown. Rising to acclaim with his Biograph shorts and becoming an industry giant with his epics The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916), he reached new heights of artistry with Broken Blossoms (1919) and even managed to transform an old-fashioned stage melodrama into the mega-hit Way Down East (1920). With a new decade before him and the ever-changing film industry gaining new directors and stars every day, he must’ve wondered how to keep up the pace. What should his next big project be? Could he keep that level of acclaim high?

Reportedly at Lillian Gish’s suggestion, Griffith decided to adapt another old-fashioned stage melodrama to the big screen: The Two Orphans, about the plight of two sisters who are separated in 18th century Paris. In keeping with his love for the Epic and Emotional, he shifted the setting to the violent heart of the French Revolution.

Was it a success? It was respectably well-recieved at the time, but doesn’t seem to have made much of a splash. Watching it today with Griffith’s other Epic Emotional films in mind, I think I can see why. And yet…I find myself popping it into my Blu-ray player at least once a year.

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How Silent Films Help You Understand History (Better, Much Better)

A couple stories circulating in the media recently had levels of ridiculousness so high (admittedly an easy bar to reach nowadays) that they inspired me to explore a topic near and dear to my heart: how silent films can help us understand history. Better. Much better, since it helps to, you know, see history, at least from the 1880s onwards. And I want to show how a deeper understanding of history isn’t just some neat perk to help add more trivia nuggets to your noggin, but something that can have huge real-word ramifications–especially today.

Image result for 1920s newspaper reading
“Yup, those are high levels of ridiculousness alright.”

Now, I like discussing overall societal trends in this blog in a generalized fashion, but I usually avoid specific news stories. Partly because the blog doesn’t need to get super dated (my blog topic’s already dated, thank yew very much), and mainly because I really don’t feel like bringing the soul-sucking, fang-dripping, grinning, oozing specter of politics into my teensy corner of the blogosphere. That denizen of the Hellmouth can stay in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe, okay–and besides, it’s infesting everything enough as it is. So while the following two stories are easy to discuss in a polarizing political fashion, they’re also very much related to general societal trends. I’ll allow it!

First up: the viral Cracker Barrel infographic-of-sorts–my apologies for the smattering of uncouth vernacular therein:

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It’s Silent-ology’s Seventh Anniversary!

While it sometimes seems like only yesterday when I started Silent-ology, today marks seven whole years since I first hit “Publish”! Seven years–and 460 posts exactly! Add that to the few dozen articles I’ve written for Classic Movie Hub, articles for the likes of Silent Film Quarterly and The Keaton Chronicle and other such works, and we’re looking at over 500 pieces of silent film love. Half a thousand, if you will (it sounds cool) averaging around 1250 words. Not too bad of an archive!

Why thank you Elaine Hammerstein in Picture-Play Magazine!

But I never would’ve built this archive in the first place if it wasn’t for–you! Yes you, fellow silent film lover, who is kind enough stop by and read my pieces and maybe leave a comment or two. Whether you’re a long-time reader or someone popping in for the first time today, I couldn’t be more grateful for you!

Here, have some champagne:

Maybe not from a slipper.

So like always, let’s do a review of the past year! It was a challenging 365 days, to put it lightly, and I gotta say it’s sure nice to have a project like Silent-ology to rely on for a bit of purposeful distraction. Here are my Top Five Most-Read Posts Published in 2020:

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Helen Gibson, Pioneer Stunt Woman

There seems to be a common stereotype, fondly believed by too many people to count, that women in “the olden days” weren’t allowed to do…much of anything, really. That while not being squeezed into rib-cracking Victorian corsets (even when it wasn’t even the Victorian era, apparently) and dressed in twenty layers of clothing, they were basically confined to fainting couches or forced to stitch samplers. Why they weren’t just stuck in closets and taken out once in awhile to make sure they didn’t loosen those corsets is beyond me.

Based on my various attempts to comment on corset-related or otherwise women-in-olden-days-related threads on social media (said attempts being obviously authoritative and scientific), any sort of mild pushback on this black-and-white view is…surprisingly unwelcome. Of course women had a rougher time back in the day–of course they had less freedom and fewer options outside of marriage, as is patently obvious to anyone who takes a look at history. But *she puts forth meekly* that doesn’t mean it was abnormal for women to, you know, do things. Like ride horses, or play sports, or get jobs, or even own stores or patent inventions. Yes, even with corsets on. By the way, normal corsets weren’t that–

“What!” folks reply, shocked to the cores over such unwelcome and offensive information. “Are you trying to say women weren’t repressed? Because they were.” *Drops mic they carry around for just such occasions*

“Of course I’m not saying that–just that your idea of a ‘typical’ meek, seen-and-not-heard early 20th century woman is a little off the mark.” And here’s where I could’ve added: “Have you heard, for instance, of stuntwoman Helen Gibson?”

Still from To Save the Road (1916)
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ANNOUNCING: The Seventh Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

IT HAS RETURNED!! (In spite of everything, I might add. *wink*) Yes, my friends, at long last this is the official announcement of the 7th Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is busterthon-7-3.png

When: Monday, March 22 and Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

Where: Right here on Silent-ology!

How: To join in, please leave me a comment on this post and let me know which Buster film or Buster-related topic you want to cover! (Or feel free to send me a message). Please help spread the word about the event by adding one of my vintage poster-inspired banners to your blog (aren’t those illustrations fun?). During the blogathon itself, when you publish your post leave me a comment with the post’s link (or again, you can send me a message). Please mention my blog and the name of the event too (such as “This post is part of Seventh Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon hosted by Silent-ology.”) Post whenever you have time during March 22nd and 23rd, no pressure at all! If you post before the 22nd that’s fine too, just give me a head’s up. (Keep in mind Silent-ology will make all the links to the posts “live” only on the blogathon dates, even if you send it way in advance.)

What to write about: Anything and everything related to our talented Buster Keaton’s busy life and career! (Check out his filmography for some ideas.) Articles about his crew and the many wonderful actors who appeared in his films are welcome, too. Don’t be afraid to get creative–in the past people joined in with fan art and even a comic book, so the sky’s the limit! Also: Duplicates are 100% allowed! Everyone has a different perspective, so 2-3 posts on the same film are welcome.

I will be hosting a drawing for all blogathon participants, to be held on March 24th as a “thank you” to everyone who joined in. The prize will be announced closer to the blogathon dates (but you can guess that it’s likely a great Buster book or DVD!).

As always: Make Buster proud! There’s a lot of dubious information out there about his life and career, so let’s try and steer clear of those myths and rumors. Our goal is to make Buster smile, folks. (And I highly recommend checking out the Buster Mythbusting page on the Damfinos’ site!)

For ideas and inspiration, here’s the links to the FirstSecond, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Buster Blogathons. Man, we’re creating a virtual Buster library of our very own!

Banners:

The Roster:

Silent-ology | Buster’s childhood summers In Muskegon, Michigan

The Thoughts of One Truly Loved | Free and Easy (1930)

Big V Riot Squad | Buster’s silent short comedies

Cinematica | Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

Once Upon A Screen | The High Sign (1919) and Hard Luck (1921)

Taking Up Room | The General (1927)

Critica Retro | TV episode “The Awakening” (1954)

Whimsically Classic | The General (1927)

Century Film Project | The Goat (1921)

MovieMovieBlogBlogII | Cops (1922)

Acting Funny | Article on American vaudeville in young Buster’s time