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!

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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

A Hearty Thank You!

Blogathon 1 buster eleanor thank youMe and a very elated Buster and Eleanor want to thank all of you for the rousing success that was First Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!!

Bloggers, you rock. Your participation and all your hard work are appreciated 1000%. I’m sure Buster is doing an “aw shucks” routine somewhere up there.

Readers, thank you so much for taking the time to read our work and help celebrate one of the geniuses of comedy (and I know a lot of you are still dropping by–it’s been quite a turnout!).

And happily, this is only the beginning–the start of an annual tradition that I’m happy to host. With that in mind, fellow bloggers, see you all next year!

p.s. Kudos to my friend Bob Borgen for sharing this incredible photo with a group of us FB Buster fans!

All About Arbuckle’s “A Country Hero”

This is my own post for the First Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon, right here on Silent-ology!

One of most sought-after lost silent films–part of a list including Hats Off, Heart Trouble, and some flick called Midnight London or something like that–is a two-reel short directed by Roscoe Arbuckle, A Country Hero (1917). Fans are dying to find it not only because it’s part of Arbuckle’s excellent filmography but because it’s the only film of Buster Keaton’s silent career that’s missing. Everything else is available except this. One. Film. Continue reading

The First Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon

Day two of the blogathon has begun! More posts will be added throughout the day–be sure to check in and see what’s new!

It has arrived at last! Welcome Keaton fans, fans of great comedy, and fans of great filmmaking in general, to:

Buster Blogathon 2

We are paying tribute to one of the greatest comedians of all time, an artist whose work makes us laugh, makes us gasp, and inspires us every time we watch it.

Bloggers–I will be updating this page periodically throughout the day today and tomorrow. When your post is ready, please leave a comment with the link (or send me a message). Readers, check back often as the posts roll in–there’s a lot to look forward to!

The Blogathon List

Silent-ologyA Country Hero

Silver ScreeningsGo West

MovieMovieBlogBlogSherlock Jr.

Sister Celluloid | Childhood memories of Buster Keaton

Wolfgang Classic Movies Digest | Sunset Boulevard

Wolfgang Classic Movies Digest | In The Good Old Summertime

BOOKSTEVE’S LIBRARY | Keaton’s 1960s television work

My Classic MoviesThe Villain Still Pursued Her

Public Transportation Snob Day Dreams

In the Good Old Days of Classic HollywoodThe Navigator

Caftan WomanNeighbors

Special Purpose Movie BlogThe Awakening TV episode

Moon in Gemini | “Once Upon a Time” Twilight Zone episode

Nitrate GlowOur Hospitality

Wide Screen WorldSteamboat Bill Jr.

Big V Riot Squad | The Keaton family in vaudeville

Critica RetroSpeak Easily

Buster Keaton’s Name | History behind the name Buster

Once Upon a ScreenWhat! No Beer?

Way Too Damn Lazy To Write a BlogParlor, Bedroom and Bath

Girls Do Film | Keaton’s development as a screen artist in his short films

Second Sight CinemaThe General

MovieFanFair | A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Movies Silently | 1920s reviews of Keaton films vs. modern reviews

Mythical Monkey | Keaton in Arbuckle’s Comique films

The Lone Wolf Says…Cops

Mildred’s FatburgersThe Cook

Margaret Perry | Keaton after silents

The Wonderful World of CinemaFree and Easy

Silent, Please!One Week

Contrary to Popular Opinion: Thoughts on “Pandora’s Box”

This post was written especially for the Contrary to Popular Opinion blogathon, hosted by Sister Celluloid with the help of Movies Silently. This ‘thon is all about unpopular opinions–maybe one blogger thinks a reviled film is a secret classic, or maybe another feels that a critically-acclaimed masterpiece is overrated. Whatever the case, we’re sharing our opinions this weekend and I thank you for stopping by to check out mine!

The young woman sits quietly in court, wearing a fetching black mourning dress and veil, as her lawyer provides a rousing defense of her innocence in the sudden death of her husband. She thanks him with an attractive smile as he–rather familiarly–kisses her hand. The prosecutor rises, a serious man of the law, and begins to deliver his damning speech: “Your honors. Members of the jury. The Greek gods created a woman: Pandora. She was beautiful, charming, versed in the art of flattery…but the gods also gave her a box containing the evils of the world…” From across the room he catches the eye of the woman he’s condemning. She smiles slowly, beguilingly. Serious Man of the Law stops, too charmed for a moment to go on.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: The First Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon!

Well, after the last couple posts I simply can’t hold it in any longer!  My friends, I am thrilled to announce:

Buster Blogathon 1

Buster Keaton. The solemn-faced little man in a flat hat. The multi-talented performer. The incomparable filmmaker. The humble, hardworking man who loved to make people happy. He’s inspired countless filmmakers, has brought joy to several generations, and is probably the main reason why I’m typing this on my silent film-related blog right now. If anyone deserves his very own blogathon event, it’s the legendary Keaton.

…And heck yes, it’s going to be an annual event! Continue reading

Thoughts On: “Ella Cinders”

This post was written especially for Movies Silently’s Fairytale Blogathon, where many great posts on fairytale-themed classic films await you. Thank you so much for stopping by–feel free to take a look around and don’t be shy about leaving comments! I love comments like Charlie Chaplin loved pathos (very, very much).

“Cinderella”–it’s a story that’s long been told, retold, analyzed, pop culturalized and even subjected to those “fresh spins on classic tales” that are so popular nowadays. (Thankfully there haven’t been any gritty reboots…yet.) It’s one of the most familiar of all stories, endearing not only due to little girls’ love of princesses but because of its message of the neglected, oppressed heroine whose goodness is finally rewarded, spectacularly.

During the Twenties, when everyone’s goal was to “make good” and where prosperity was certain to be just around the corner, you could say that the rags-to-riches Cinderella story had extra significance. There were several film adaptations back then, and one that survives today is Ella Cinders (1926), starring the popular “Flaming Youth” herself, Colleen Moore.

Ella Cinders ad

As seen here in this perfectly gorgeous ad.

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