Thoughts On: “Aelita: Queen of Mars” (1924)

4/9/18, 9:30 pm: As I’m writing this, it’s been a few years since I’ve beheld the 1920s Soviet sci-fi extravaganza Aelita: Queen of Mars. My memories of it are somewhat murky, because truth be told,  I fell asleep halfway through it. But! It’s always good to give half-watched films a second chance, and since I have a bit more knowledge of Soviet cinema under my belt right now methinks I shall sit down and behold it once more.

4/10/18, 8:15 am: Darn it, I fell asleep again! 

Related image

Someone ain’t happy.

Aelita is somewhat familiar to silent film fans, but mention it to the fabled “regular folks” and you’ll get a “Huh”? It was an ambitious film once meant to rival the masterworks of Germany and the U.S., and while it was popular in the Soviet Union it didn’t seem to make a big splash anywhere else (at least not in the US, where it wasn’t released until 1929). Today, despite nicely-scored restorations being available and occasional photos being shared on social media, it can’t quite climb out of obscurity.  Continue reading

The Fourth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon

Welcome back, everyone, to the Buster Keaton Blogathon–fourth edition!

Image result for buster keaton

UPDATE 2/13/18 Day two of the blogathon has begun–looking forward to what the day has in store!

Once again we’re paying tribute to one of the most unique and beloved comedians of all time. An excellent variety of topics is being covered, and more are on the way!

Bloggers: Please send me the link to your post whenever it’s ready today or tomorrow. 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 Blu-ray/DVD of The Saphead! The drawing will be held on February 14 (Valentine’s Day).

Readers: Drop by often to see the latest posts–and don’t forget that we bloggers adore comments. (We adore them almost as much as Buster adored pratfalls.)

And once again, here are the links to the First, Second and Third Annual Buster Blogathons.

Image result for Buster Keaton comedians

The Roster:

Silent-ology | Recap of the 23rd Annual Buster Keaton Convention 2017

Silver Screenings | College

MovieMovieBlogBlog | The Railrodder and an essay on Buster’s Educational and Columbia sound shorts

Wolffian Classic Movies Digest | The Joys of Silent Comedy essay

Maddy Loves Her Classic Films | Why I Love Buster essay

A Person in the Dark | Yay for the Porkpie Party!

Big Riot V Squad | Buster Goes to War

Silver17 Productions | Trailer for The Rough House

An Ode to Dust | Curating a Buster Keaton retrospective

Grace Kingsley’s Hollywood | Kingsley’s 1920s interviews with Buster

Welcome To My Magick Theatre | Steamboat Bill, Jr

Special Purpose Movie Blog | Twilight Zone episode “Once Upon a Time”

It’s Rob | On visiting Buster’s gravesite

Silent Wierdness | Buster, Roscoe, and Al’s Comique films in New York

Once Upon a Screen | Convict 13

Le Monde de Dyajesse | Reviews of various Buster features (French language)

Senseless Cinema | Buster’s Blockbusters

Critica Retro | The Villain Still Pursued Her

Christina Wehner | Our Hospitality

The Wonderful World of Cinema | The Blacksmith

tgreywolfe | “Visage”–a poem

Old Hollywood Films | The history of the Italian Villa

Movies Meet Match | The General

Thoughts On: “Nanook Of The North” (1922)

It’s one of the most famous documentaries of all time, familiar to folks around the globe. Most people at least know the title, even if they haven’t seen a frame of the film. And for those who have seen it, the story of “Nanook” and his family remains as charming and fascinating as it was back in 1922.

Continue reading

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!

Busterthon 4-2

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.

Image result for buster keaton the saphead

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

 

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Fourth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

Is it that time of the year already? Why yes, it is! Time to start preparing for:

Busterthon 4-1

Time sure sped by in the past year, didn’t it? 2017 being Buster’s centennial of appearing in films, we of course were celebrating him all year long (I sure did!). Now that the centennial is over, it’s time to get back…to our usual 24/7 celebration of all things Buster!

…What? Continue reading

Thoughts On: “The Freshman”

Nearly every major 1920s comedian couldn’t resist putting their own spins on certain characters and comedy situations. Everyone from Stan Laurel to Buster Keaton showed up as inept boxers, white-clad street cleaners, and waiters in busy cafes–and sooner or later, most of them went to college. In 1925 it was Harold Lloyd’s turn, and the result was one of his biggest moneymakers: The Freshman!

Continue reading

The Power Of “Greed”…And “McTeague”

A few years ago I watched the hallowed classic Greed (1924) for the very first time. It was the shortest version, a fuzzy YouTube copy that probably makes Eric von Stroheim spin in his grave every time a viewer clicks on it (spinning while being immaculately dressed in his white Prussian uniform, mind you). And like any cinephile who makes an honest effort to appreciate film history…I liked it. It involved unusual characters. Its plot has interesting twists. It was obviously well-made. It was insanely dark. All in all, I was glad I watched it. I decided to put it on my “future re-watch” list, intending to study its skillfulness a little more at some point.

Now let’s fast-forward a bit to two summers ago. I was in North Carolina visiting friends, and one afternoon we decided to visit a used bookstore (they’re fellow bookworms). I was scanning some of the fiction shelves (okay, after first scrutinizing the few early Hollywood books they had with great concentration) and a familiar word caught my eye: McTeague. Ah! That was the novel that inspired Greed, wasn’t it? It even had a still from the film as its cover art. I almost put it back on the shelf, but it occurred to me that it would be a useful addition to a silentcinephile’s library. And I bought it. Continue reading

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Second Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

Because good news can never be shared too early, I am psyched–simply psyched–to be announcing:

Buster Blogathon second 1

It’s back! Once again I would like to extend a warm invitation to movie-loving bloggers to pay tribute to the one and only Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton, our solemn-faced funmaker in the flat hat. Buster’s work has not only delighted generations of fans from around the world, but has inspired countless filmmakers, from Martin Scorsese to Werner Herzog to the fine folk at Pixar. He is one of our most beloved screen legends, and this February we’re going to celebrate his legacy. Continue reading

Obscure Films: “Moran of the Lady Letty”

And once again, one blogathon is hot on the heels of another! I’m happy to be participating in the Rudolph Valentino blogathon, hosted by Timeless Hollywood

One of Valentino’s lesser known vehicles, watched mainly by his fans and not often discussed outside of that circle, is the seafaring drama Moran of the Lady Letty (1922).

Valentino moran with dalton photoplay '22

Photoplay, 1922.

Some time ago, before viewing Moran for the first time and after reading some fairly enthusiastic but slightly tepid reviews, I was all set to either like it or consider it merely another interesting artifact of film history under my belt. But midway into the film I not only liked it, but was happily absorbed by its straightforward, entertaining charm. Continue reading