At first glance, he appears to be an actor from society dramas. He had perfectly creased trousers, well-shined shoes, a coat and tie, white gloves, and, most impressively of all, a high silk top hat brushed to a fine sheen. But then there’s those big, practically bulging eyes–eyes that could only belong to a comedian.
These are the eyes of Max Linder, a film comedy pioneer that paved the way for all the great comedians of the silent era and beyond. If there’s a comedy routine you like, chances are Linder got there first. While he isn’t as well-known today as folks like Buster Keaton or Mabel Normand, Linder shares their aura of timelessness. All he needs is to be introduced to new audiences–for who today in this era of steampunk and all things vintage can resist comedies starring a dapper Edwardian gentleman with a tidy mustache and a top hat? Continue reading →
Happy New Year’s, everyone! With only a few hours left of 2016, it’s time for Silent-ology’s annual roundup of silent film-related news from the past 12 months. I try to make these posts fairly thorough, but let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to add!
Do you collect vintage Christmas decorations? Love singing vintage Christmas songs? Maybe even enjoy trying out vintage holiday recipes? Then how about taking the next step and trying out some very vintage Christmas films?
Exposure to forbidding vintage Santas is well worth the price.
I’m not talking about the familiar holiday staples like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life or the hallowed classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians–I’m talking about the very earliest Christmas films ever made, pre-dating our more commercialized era. Heck, they pre-date the widespread use of electricity. The discovery of penicillin. Even the Coca-Cola Santa Claus. These are holiday movies over a century old, from the literal horse and buggy era, and they are charming peeks into a long-gone world. Let’s start with: Continue reading →
‘Tis the season to bring back this post! This Harry Langdon classic might not have anything to do with Christmas directly, but its story is very much in line with the holiday spirit. Beautiful winter cinematography, too. I highly recommend adding it to your regular seasonal fare, Harry will appreciate it!
This being a gift-giving time of the year, my friend Steve over at MovieMovieBlogBlog got an intriguing idea for a blogathon: If you could give only one movie to someone this Christmas, what would it be, and what person (or kind of person) would you give it to?
After thinking it over, I decided that my gift would be a silent film (of course) to a fellow silent film lover (who just might appreciate it the most). And it wouldn’t be just any good pre-talkie from whichever genre I choose; it would be a film particularly suited for Christmastime.
I’m thrilled not just because this is a fantastic annual event celebrating one of the finest, most beloved comedians who ever walked this earth, but because 2017 marks 100 years since Buster first entered the movies on that fateful day in NYC back in 1917. That makes this blogathon an extra special one, and frankly, I’ve been waiting for it for years. Continue reading →
Did you know that you can add a real, honest-to-goodness silent film star to your Christmas card list? You most certainly can! The world knew her as “Baby Peggy,” an adorable little girl once as well known as Colleen Moore, and today Diana Serra Cary is a noted film historian and the last living major film star of the 1920s, turning 98 just last October.
Last year I suggested that we send her some Christmas cards, and I’m going to suggest that we do it again this year, too! So gather up your nicest, most festive holiday cards and send them to this address:
Diana Serra Cary
738 Fifth Avenue
Gustine, California, United States 95322
She also offers autographed 8 x 10 photographs as a way of supplementing her income. According to this site, the photos are $60.00 each (plus $7.50 shipping and handling), and you can order one by contacting the family via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you all the best during this Advent season!
There’s an old quote you may have heard, attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “…In this world, nothing can said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I’d like to amend that: “…In this world, nothing can said to be certain, except death, taxes, and fans of silent comedy debating about the ranking of the Big Four.” (Or the “Big Three,” for the multitudes of you who haven’t made Harry Langdon an integral part of your lives yet.)
There’s a reason Harry’s wiping away a tear.
General film enthusiasts take the informal-yet-widespread ranking of Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd as the all-time best silent comedians for granted (and more would include Harry if they would actually watch Harry, harumph), but for some time now the tide has been changing among silent comedy fans. It’s not uncommon to find arguments in favor of less emphasis on “The Big Four,” of adding or replacing a comedian or two, or even of ditching the ranking all together. Those in favor of the latter say there were lots of popular comedians back in the silent era, and furthermore, these unjustly overlooked folks could be just as funny as Lloyd or Keaton. Thus, the ranking is unfair and not even historically accurate. Right? Continue reading →
Happy Turkey Day, and warmth and good wishes to all! This is a day where we take a moment to be thankful for all the good things in our lives–family, friends, food, shelter, and other blessings. No matter how much or how little you have, there’s always something to be thankful for.
Recently it struck me that we classic film fans have a lot to be thankful for. Not only are old movies more accessible than ever thanks to the Internet, but new finds are turning up all the time, new restorations are always ongoing, research is easier than ever, and best of all, we can connect with film fans across the globe.
Speaking of “new finds,” and connecting with fans, here’s a prime example. CineMuseum, the team behind the Roscoe Arbuckle and Mack Sennett sets, just took custody of this amazing piece of history–Roscoe Arbuckle’s 100 year old makeup kit that he used while acting on the stage! Paul Gierucki shared this photo below, and there was much rejoicing:
How incredible is that?! All these decades later it’s still intact and still looks just how Roscoe left it before joining the Keystone company.
Thanks to the Internet and to generous historians, fans can now get the first look at amazing artifacts like this. It’s this kind of happy event that makes me feel thankful to be a classic film fan not just on Thanksgiving, but all year round.
When I find myself not liking a film, it’s usually because it just isn’t my taste, or because I find it boring. Maybe the subject matter doesn’t interest me, maybe it’s poorly made, or maybe there’s way too many giant robots and the stupid things all look practically the same.
But then there are a few films, a very very few films, that not only aren’t to my taste but make me want to stand up, grab my little flat screen TV, and throw it straight through the wall. L’Inhumaine (1924) is one of those films.