10 Great Silent Film Performances That Have Stayed With Me

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.

10. Buster Keaton in The Cameraman (1928)

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.

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The Silent Movie Day Blogathon 2022

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.

The Roster

Silent-ology | “10 Great Silent Film Performances That Have Stayed With Me.”

Realweegiemidgetreviews | Sunset Boulevard (1950)

The Thoughts of One Truly Loved | My Best Girl (1927)

Silver Screenings | Mickey (1918)

Nitrateglow | The greatest hit films of 1922

Taking Up Room | White Tiger (1923)

Brooksie at the Movies | “Cherie Rich, Australia’s Only Mack Sennett Bathing Beauty.”

The Everyday Cinephile | “12 Genres, 24 Must-See Silent Movies.”

LaurelandHardyBlog | Liberty (1929)

That William Powell Site | The Great Gatsby (1926)

Critica Retro | The Finances of the Grand Duke (1924)

Silver Screenings | “Why Audiences (Still) Fall in Love With Mabel Normand.”

Whimsically Classic | The Freshman (1925)

L.A. Daily Mirror | “Hollywood Heights: Mabel Normand Studio Leads the Way.”

UPDATE: Less Than A Week Until The Silent Movie Day Blogathon!

It’s coming closer! The Silent Movie Day Blogathon hosted by myself and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is a mere six days away!

Silent Movie Day–destined to be one of your favorite holidays, behind Thanksgiving and Christmas–is an official yearly celebration of the silent era. Anyone can participate in any way they choose: by watching silent films, sharing the love of them on social media, hosting a screening, donating to an archive…whatever works for you! We decided to host a silent film blogathon for the second year in a row, and happily quite a few people have signed up. (If you’re interested, there’s still time–no pressure!) We’re almost there, folks!

Hooray!

I did want to add that goodness, I’ve been a bit AWOL this month, haven’t I? Probably the most since Silent-ology started, surprisingly enough. But it’s for a good reason–on top of a couple other non-blog-related writing projects, I’ve been asked to contribute a program essay to one of my favorite film festivals. So happily, my writing time and attention has been well occupied lately! So never fear, Silent-ology is rarely far from my mind, and if I’m ever AWOL it’s probably because it lead me to an exciting opportunity (and I can’t get by without sleep, ha ha).

Also, a reminder: October is coming.

“Excellent.”

Without further ado, a copy of le roster:

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“Singin’ In The Rain” And The Silent Era–What It Got Right (And Wrong)

What’s my favorite movie, you ask? Not just my favorite silent movie, but my very favorite movie in the whole wide world? You could ask me that question today or go back in time to when I was 8 years old, and the answer would still be: Singin’ In The Rain! (Since you have a time machine, go ahead and zoom forward a few decades–my answer’s still the same, isn’t it?)

Irresistible!

Of all the classic old movies my family enjoyed while I was growing up (my mom loved them so our home movie library was practically all pre-1960s), we might’ve watched Singin’ In The Rain the most. Its pitch-perfect blend of music, dance, art, humor, vibrant color and sheer unadulterated joy never, ever got old. Film history would be much poorer without it, in my confident opinion.

And speaking of film history, I have a confession to make. It didn’t dawn on me until recently that, hey, Singin’ In The Rain is all about the transition from silents to talkies, and I know quite a bit more about silents than I used to–maybe write a post on my favorite film in the world? Why didn’t I think of that before?! (Okay, I think I know why–this film is just that familiar. It’s like Desi Arnaz’s singing voice. My dad once mentioned to me that he never cared for Desi’s singing, and–having grown up with I Love Lucy episodes too–I realized I literally could not judge Desi’s voice objectively. To this day I have no idea if it’s good or bad, it’s just Desi’s singing voice and that is that. Anyways.) Since this is the 70th anniversary of Singin’ In The Rain and The Classic Movie Muse is a hosting a blogathon in its honor, the time has finally come for Silent-ology analyze what this classic film got right about the silent era and where it was off the mark. A blow-by-blow post would be pretty long, so let’s do some general analysis and then focus on a couple of key scenes. Let’s get to it!

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The Eighth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon

UPDATE: Day 2 of the blogathon has begun! Be sure to check out any new posts, more are trickling in!

And just like that, our annual Busterthon is back–for year eight!!

And I’m proud to say that we have a great turnout this year and a wide range of topics–participants always do an amazing job, and this year’s no exception. So find your coziest chair, make a pot of your favorite tea, and please enjoy!

Bloggers: Please send me the link to your post whenever it’s ready today or tomorrow. (Many thanks if you already have!) I’ll be updating periodically throughout the blogathon. Don’t forget that I’ll be holding a drawing for all participants, the winner receiving a copy of the fabulous new James Curtis biography Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life. The drawing is scheduled for March 16.

Readers: Drop by often to see the latest posts–and don’t forget that we bloggers adore comments!

Wondering what the previous ‘thons were like? Here are the links to the First, SecondThird, FourthFifthSixth and Seventh Annual Buster Blogathons–whew! Just in case you were hoping to find something to read about Buster…!

The Roster:

Silent-ology | Reviewing All of Buster’s MGM Features

Cinematica | The Scarecrow (1920)

University of Iowa Libraries blog | Article on the Marion Meade research paper collection

La Pantalla Enmudecida | “Buster and My Nieces: A Personal Story” essay

Silver Screenings | The Haunted House (1921)

Realweegiemidget Reviews | Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)

dream in dizzy sunlight | Go West (1925)

The Thoughts of One Truly Loved | “How I Fell For Buster Keaton” essay

Taking Up Room | College (1927)

Way Too Damn Lazy to Write a Blog | “Mr. Keaton Goes to the Columbia Shorts Department” article

Big V Riot Squad | “Buster’s Silent Shorts–Reel 2” article

Century Film Project | Cops (1922)

nitrateglow | Reviews of the books The Vampire Diary of Buster Keaton and Bluffton

Whimsically Classic | The Great Buster (2018) documentary

MovieRob | The Cameraman (1928)

Inimitable BK | “Adventures With Horses” essay

The Wonderful World of Cinema | Buster Keaton’s appearance on The Donna Reed Show

Critica Retro | Buster Keaton: The Genius Destroyed by Hollywood (2016) documentary

Rekha’s Sousaphone | Modern adaptations of Our Hospitality in Indian cinema

One Week Until Buster Blogathon 8!

Only seven days to go, everyone, until the great annual Busterthon returns for the 8th year in a row!!

I’m excited to see all your posts, everyone! (And I’m, ahem, still working on my own…!) The official roster is below–and if you’re a Keaton-loving blogger who’s just hearing about all this, you’re still welcome to join! The more the merrier, I say.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: The Eighth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

I’m sure you knew it was coming–and it’s here! I’m officially announcing that the great Busterthon is coming back, for an eighth year in a row!

When: Monday, March 14 and Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Where: Right here on Silent-ology!

Senseless Cinema: Buster's Blockbusters: The Commercial Success of Buster  Keaton's Features

How: To join in:

  • Please leave a comment on this post and let me know which Buster film or Buster-related topic you’d like to cover. (Or you can feel free to send me a message).
  • Help spread the word about the event by adding one of my banners to your blog! (I went with more of a “classic banner” look this time–it’s always fun coming up with different designs!)
  • During the blogathon itself, when you publish your post please leave me a comment with the link to it (or you can send me a message). Publish whenever you have time during March 14th and 15th!
  • Don’t forget to mention Silent-ology and the blogathon in your post, if you please, to help publicize the event.
  • You can definitely publish your post before the 14th if you want (many do), just give me a head’s up. Just know that Silent-ology will be putting up the official blogathon post with all the new links only on the blogathon dates.

What to write about: Anything and everything Buster! (Check out his filmography for some ideas.) You can write about one of his short films, one of the actors who appeared onscreen with him, his costume in a particular film, his influence on a certain actor/director, an experience you had at a Buster screening, a piece of art you made about him–whatever you like! There’s infinite ways to celebrate our brilliant comedian. Also: Duplicate topics are 100% allowed! Everyone has a different perspective, so 2-3 posts on the same film are welcome.

Buster Keaton! | Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival

I will be hosting a drawing for all blogathon participants on March 16 as a “thank you” to everyone who joined in. The prize will be announced closer to the blogathon dates–although I already have a good idea of what it’s going to be!

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 as best we can. Just imagine you were going to have Eleanor Keaton look at your piece before you published it. *wink*

Buster Keaton, 1960 | Hollywood, Busters, In hollywood

For ideas and inspiration, here’s the links to the FirstSecond, Third, FourthFifthSixth and Seventh Buster Blogathons. Just look at all those links–what a library! I love it, my friends.

Banners:

The Roster:

Silent-ology | Reviewing All Of Buster’s MGM Features

The Thoughts Of One Truly Loved | How I Fell For Buster Keaton

Cinematica | The Scarecrow (1920)

nitrateglow | Reviews of the books The Vampire Diary of Buster Keaton and Bluffton

Taking Up Room | College (1927)

Whimsically Classic | The Great Buster (2018) documentary

Realweegiemidget Reviews | Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)

The Wonderful World of Cinema | The Donna Reed Show episode “A Very Merry Christmas”

Century Film Project | Cops (1922)

Critica Retro | Buster Keaton: The Genius Destroyed By Hollywood (2016) documentary

Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog | Buster’s Columbia shorts

Big V Riot Squad | “Buster Keaton’s Silent Shorts — Reel Two”

Silver Screenings | The Haunted House (1921)

Rekha’s Sousaphone | Our Hospitality adaptations in Hindi pop cinema

Silent Locations | Video tour of Buster’s 1920s studio

University of Iowa Libraries blog | Article on the Marion Meade research paper collection

The Silent Movie Day Blogathon

Happy Silent Movie Day, everyone! (Man it feels good to say that…! Dream come true, and all.) Me and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood are happy to be celebrating it with you all with you today! The founders of this new holiday–one of the best since Christmas–wrote:

“National Silent Movie Day is an annual celebration of silent movies, a vastly misunderstood and neglected cinematic art form. We believe that silent motion pictures are a vital, beautiful, and often powerful part of film history, and we are united in the goal to advocate for their presentation and preservation.”

Couldn’t agree more! So let’s get to it.

Bloggers: Please send us the link to your post whenever it’s ready today–if you signed up with me, send me the link, if you signed up with Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood, send it to her. Our rosters will be updated periodically throughout the blogathon.

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

The Roster:

Silent-ology | What is the greatest silent film?

Silent Locations | Honoring the Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley

MovieMovieBlogBlogII | The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez (1991)

RealWeegieMidget Reviews | Silent Movie (1976)

The Classic Movie Muse | Hot Water (1924)

Hometowns to Hollywood | Girl Shy (1924)

Cinematica | Coney Island (1917)

Better Living Through Television | The relationship between silent film and television

Nitrateglow | The hit films of 1921

Caftan Woman | The Last of the Mohicans (1920)

Silver Screenings | The Hoodlum (1919)

The Story Enthusiast | The Scarlet Letter (1926)

The Thoughts of One Truly Loved | The Circus (1928)

Laurel and Hardy Blog | The Battle of the Century (1927)

Strictly Vintage Hollywood | The lost silent Uncharted Seas (1921)

Grace Kingsley’s Hollywood | “What Does Hollywood Think of Herself?”

Wild About Harry | The silent cinema of Harry Houdini

MovieRob | The Conquest of the Pole (1912)

Critica Retro | Souls For Sale (1923)

Brooksie at the Movies | “Who Taught Valentino to Tango?”

The Classic Movie Muse | Hot Water (1924)

LA Daily Mirror | The first permanent studio in Hollywood

Silent Film Music | Article on silent film projection speeds

Century Film Project | The Nut (1921)

Taking Up Room | Show People (1928)

The Everyday Cinephile | Pre-1920 cinema

Lokke Heiss | The Crowd (1928)

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Silent Movie Day Blogathon!

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Not too long ago my fellow blogger Crystal, who runs the fine site In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood, contacted me with an idea: How about we cohost a blogathon in honor of Silent Movie Day? Well well well, that sure sounds right up my alley.

Beautiful Lady on Wicker Chair Reading Letter. Pre-1920. “I loved reading,  and had a great desire of attaining knowledge; but w… | History articles,  Wicker, Vintage
“Why yes, I do believe I’d be on board.”

“Wait, ‘Silent Movie Day’? Is that a real thing>” you ask. Why yes, it certainly IS a real thing! Just this past January, Chad Hunter, executive director of Video Trust and director of the Pittsburgh Silent Film Society, archivist Brandee B. Cox of the Academy Film Archive, and archivist Steven K. Hill of the UCLA Film & Television Archive all put their heads together and decided to create a National Silent Movie Day. Described simply as “a day to celebrate and enjoy silent movies,” it will be held on September 29. And it won’t be celebrated just this year, but every year! As its founders wrote:

Anyone can participate! Ask your local cinema to show a silent picture with live music; watch a silent movie on a streaming platform or on disc; write a blog or an article for your local newspaper; read a book about your favorite silent movie star; or create a podcast. Use your imagination and post on your social media on September 29 to show how you celebrate the day. This is our moment as silent movie fans, academics, programmers, and newcomers to share our mutual love and appreciation for this unique period in motion picture history. It is also an opportunity to rally around surviving silent pictures that are still in need of preservation.

There’s even a logo!

So in honor of this brand-new rival of Easter and Christmas, Crystal and I are hosting a one-day Silent Movie Day Blogathon–and all bloggers are invited!

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