Wishing You A Fine Fourth Of July

EDIT 7/13/20: New posts are on the way, folks! I had some time consuming projects to finish–am happy to get back to my regular postings! 

Happy Independence Day to my fellow U.S. readers! And lookee what I found:

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Is this not one of the most glorious patriotic images you’ve ever seen? It’s an ad for Mary Pickford’s The Little American (1917), made during WWI’s Great Wave of Patriotic Fervor. And I’d like to offer a challenge to the folks who like colorizing images–see what you can do with this! (I’d like vintage-y colors, myself.)

Well, 2020 has certainly been the strangest and most offkilter of years so far–this is definitely not how I planned on welcoming the New ’20s. However, holidays always provide opportunities to reflect and to remember the many silver linings in life. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions of the moment, but holidays can ground us in ways nothing else can. And dang it, there’s few things better than a Fourth of July BBQ with your family and friends on a steamy summer’s day. To take a slightly modified sentence from Dickens, who was writing about a completely different holiday: though the Fourth of July has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket,  I believe it has done me good, it will do me good, and I say, God bless it!

Readers, I hope all of you have a fine summer weekend, no matter where you are. And now, I’m off to light some sparklers.

 

Fan Magazine Fun: “Cut-Out Caricatures” And Other Century-Old Art

Haven’t done one of these posts in awhile! It’s time to poke through the ol’ antique fan magazines and see what they’ve been hiding for 90-100 years. Today, let’s focus on those artsy illustrations!

These charmers are from a two-page spread in the November 1923 issue of Motion Picture Magazine, called “Cut-Out Caricatures.” Well whaddaya know, this minimalist style just happens to be all the rage today:

So that’s Nita Naldi, Buster, Richard Barthelmess, Norma Talmadge, Mary, and Doug, respectively. Let’s not forget Bull Montana, because I almost did:

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How Did You Get Into Silent Films?

It’s been a cool, grey, rainy couple of days up here in Minnesota, so I’m in an introspective mood and decided to write a “get to know me better” kind of post. Feel free to share your own stories!

When folks ask me how I got so enamored with silent films (apparently this isn’t common…?) I usually have a ready answer–because I’ve thought the question over myself. It’s been interesting to ponder: how did I get so obsessed with century-old movies? Why am I more compelled to study them than more recent films like ’50s musicals or ’30s comedies? Is it just because those are so alarmingly recent? (Okay, fine–comparatively recent.)

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See, to me, this came out yesterday.

Now that I think of it, there were several stepping stones that lead to this love of super old movies.  Continue reading

Thoughts On: “Chaplin” (1992)

With the biopic Stan and Ollie now in theaters (although not playing anywhere near me, sadly) I thought I’d take a look at one of the more well-known silent star biopics, Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin. Most old movie fans seem to love it. As for me? Well, read on!

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Biopics are a dicey genre. How do you, say, capture a legendary talent from a century ago and showcase him to modern audiences, especially if many of them (likely) haven’t seen one of his films? Naturally, an overview of his entire career is a lot to ask–after all, there were tons of personal and professional events packed into those decades, and it would be tough to do justice to all of them.

Well, Richard Attenborough saw your reservations, and decided to raise you a busy tour throughout the entire life of Charlie Chaplin, ups and downs and all. And if you ask classic film fans about this biopic today, most seem to think it’s the best–why, it has great performances! Moving moments! It’s a fascinating, touching experience! It’s the bee’s knees to most folks, is what I’ve gathered.

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As you’re suspecting, I don’t have quite the same enthusiasm towards the 2 1/2 hour film, nor do I exactly understand why so many fans accept it so uncritically. There’s plenty I do like about it, but too much of it is bothersome to be a definitive look at the great comedian’s story–in my humble opinion. Continue reading

The Great Chaplin-Pickford-Fairbanks Liberty Loan Tour Of ’18

On this day back in 1918, Bapaume, France was retaken by the British forces and the Second Battle of Noyon ended.

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You’ve watched clips of girls screaming at the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, and you’ve seen footage of the vast crowds at the original Woodstock. Maybe you’ve sighed, “Those were the days of true rockstars–man, that must’ve been exciting!” (Or maybe you sighed because you remember that time and wouldn’t mind reliving it). But that spirit of rockstardom was around earlier than the 1960s, or even the ’50s–many decades earlier, in fact. For if you ask me, few events would ever rock harder than the Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin United States tour for the benefit of the third Liberty Loan drive of 1918. Bear with me.

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Planning the Liberty Loan “route.”

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Do We Pre-Judge Mary Pickford?

Not too long ago I read some delightful Facebook comments by a teacher who was talking about how she occasionally showed silent films to her high school class (I think it was high school….maybe it was middle school…hmm…anyways.). She shared a funny story about the way her students reacted to a viewing of One Week (no one saw that last gag coming!) and mentioned a couple other silent stars her class had really liked.

But the one star she couldn’t quite talk them into watching? Mary Pickford. Apparently, they were a little leery to take that step.

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Way too intimidating.

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Thoughts On: “Stella Maris”

This is the slightly belated final post for Mary Pickford month (thanks, combo of extra time at work and Internet issues!). I really hope you enjoyed March’s extended tribute to a fantastic–and immensely important–early actress! 

If we could take all the qualities that Mary Pickford’s work was celebrated for–drama, sweetness, comedy, tragedy–and sum them up with just one of her films, we’d probably mull over Sparrows or Daddy-Long-Legs, or perhaps her classic Stella Maris (1918). But if we were going to prove what an incredible actress Pickford was, we would definitely choose Stella Maris.

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Charlie, Doug, and Mary–An (Almost) Ideal Friendship

The mischievous Little Tramp, the all-American daredevil, the Girl with the Curls–in the late 1910s they were three of the most famous faces in the world. And back in that smaller, more laid-back Hollywood, they just happened to be close in real life, too. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford’s marriage made them the cinema’s version of royalty. Doug and  Charlie Chaplin basically had a bromance. The trio clowned for publicity cameras, travelled together, gave advice on each other’s films. To fans they must’ve seemed like the veritable Three Musketeers of the movie business.

Rantings Of A Modern Day Glamour Girl - Charlie Chaplin, Mary ...

And in a way, they were…up to a point. Charlie and Doug were practically inseparable, and Doug and Mary were arguably the loves of each other’s lives. But Charlie and Mary? Well… Continue reading

Obscure Films: “The Hoodlum”

Typically, there’s a mere handful of Mary Pickford films that get discussed regularly, Stella Maris (1918), Sparrows (1926,) and Daddy-Long-Legs (1919) usually reaching the top of the list. But happily for us, Pickford was one of the hardest working women in Hollywoodland and left behind a generous filmography to explore. Seek and you shall find a number of gems–such as the quirky light comedy The Hoodlum (1919).

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Defending Jack Pickford

I’ve been dying to share the following posts for a long time, and rather than just hit “reblog” a few times and call it a day I’m going to give them a proper introduction!

As Mary fans know, she wasn’t the only Pickford in Hollywood. Her two younger siblings, Lottie and Jack, were also in the movies. Lottie had numerous (mainly small) roles in films from 1909-1912. Post-1912 her career became sporadic and her personal life grew increasingly messy (according to the more reliable accounts).  Jack, on the other hand? He not only had a prolific career, but he became a star in his own right.

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Motion Picture Magazine, 1917

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