The time has come! On this October the 31st, as the leaves are fluttering off the trees and a chill fills the air, it’s time to examine a film that would be a Halloween classic if it wasn’t so thoroughly and completely lost. Ah yes, the one and only…the famously misplaced…drumroll please…
…London After Midnight (1927).
By the way, have you ever thought about what a great title that is? London After Midnight–the spooky scenes practically write themselves! No wonder it’s lodged itself in our imaginations.
As you sit down to sometime this weekend to enjoy the great German Expressionist classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (just ahunch, but something tells me you will!), keep in mind that 2022 has a special significance: it’s the 100th anniversary of this milestone piece of cinema!
Its “birthday” of sorts is technically March 4, 1922, when the studio Prana-Film hosted its grand premiere at the Marmorsaal (“marble hall”) of the Berlin Zoological Garden. It was released in German theaters on March 15, and then slowly made its way around the Netherlands, France, Estonia, a few other European countries…and that’s about it, until it was finally released in the U.K. in 1928 and the U.S. in 1929.
If you’d never seen a photo of Tod Browning and I showed you a couple portraits of him, you might be forgiven for thinking he was an average 1920s Joe, maybe someone who worked as an accountant or a store manager. Would you have ever guessed he was one of the legends of horror film whose name was practically synonymous with “grotesque”? That the gothic Dracula (1931) and the shocking Freaks (1932) were concocted by this somber man, who probably looked fifty ever since he was 25?
Yet a legend of horror he was, and given his attraction to mysterious themes it might be fitting that his conventional appearance was also bit of a head-scratcher. Lest you think his early life was equally conventional, his background was actually one of the most colorful in the business–indeed, the kind that he’d often give to characters in his own films. In Browning’s case, art was very much drawn from life.
Originally posted on Silent-ology: So you want to dress up as a flapper or a Prohibition-era gangster for Halloween!! (Don’t we all, at some point?) And you probably already have some visions in mind–a fringed dress paired with a feather…
Many of you have seen it, a lot of you probably love it, and I think it’s safe to say that some of you find it…unsettling. Oh yes, it’s one of the most viral bits of Edwardian film footage in existence–the split-reel oddity Le Cochon Danseur (1907) that many of us simply know as The Dancing Pig.
First bursting into the Internet in the 2000s, it’s become a go-to all-purpose “check out this creepy old film” film. YouTube alone has dozens (and dozens) of copies of it, and GIFs of it float about generously on social media. There are memes. There’s fan art. There’s even Creepypastas. But aside from all this 21st century hullabaloo, it’s also been a film festival mainstay since the ’80s, when the late, great historian David Shepard had a copy of it struck from an original negative.
Happy Buster Keaton’s Birthday!! In his honor I’m reposting this piece I wrote on one of his classic shorts. It also makes me nostalgic since I headed to my first Damfino convention shortly after writing it. Ah, memories!
Not only was yesterday Buster’s birthday, but this weekend I’ll be heading to Muskegon, Michigan for the official Damfino convention! This will be my very first time at this event (I’m giving a presentation too, so wish me luck!). Thus, it only seemed fitting to start out this Halloween month with one of Buster’s more well-known shorts.
There seemed to be certain plots and tropes that all silent comedians tried out in turn. Everyone did food preparation gags, everyone went to the beach, everyone (everyone) from Harry Langdon to Chaplin himself showed up as a white-clad street cleaner at some point. In 1921, it was Buster Keaton’s turn to try his hand at the familiar gag-rich setting of The Spooky Haunted House.
Aaaaand the second Silent Movie Day Blogathon is a wrap! To all the talented bloggers who took the time to participate, a very hearty:
We had a fine variety of posts this year on topics ranging from 1922 box office hits to Sennett’s Bathing Beauties, and I know I’m still going through them all myself! Many thanks as well tothe many readers took the time to stop by and read the posts–and are still stopping by, might I add.
Will it be back next year, becoming an annual tradition much like our Buster blogathon? Hmm…it’s always a possibility!
This is my own post for the Silent Movie Day Blogathon 2022. Hope you enjoy!
I think we can agree that there are too many great silent film performances to count. Just try making a list sometime–from Emil Jannings in The Last Laugh to Lillian Gish in The Wind to Buster Keaton in The General, picking out the cream of the crop is surprisingly difficult. So for this post I decided: why not write about some performances that were particularly moving to me, personally? Performances that really struck a chord?
So that’s exactly what I decided to do. In no particular order, here are ten wonderful silent era performances that made a deep impression on me. In no particular order, that is, except for the final three.
Yes, I know it was technically an MGM feature (gasp!) but oh what a sweet and very funny comedy The Cameraman is, and how equally sweet and funny Buster is in it. Buster is wonderful in everything, of course, but he’s extra endearing here, even letting himself be surprisingly vulnerable in the seaside scene near the end. I for one certainly think his time at MGM had a honeymoon period.
It’s here!! Welcome, everyone, to the Silent Movie Day Blogathon–back for a second year in the row!
We’ve have another great lineup of posts on a wide variety of silent film subjects–just how I like it! I’ll be adding the new posts periodically throughout the day, so be sure and check back to see what’s new!
Sound good? I agree! Let’s get today’s celebration of non-talkies started.