The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Movie Star Biographies

Note: This article focuses specifically on biographies about silent film personalities, rather than their autobiographies–which in some ways are a whole ‘nother ballgame.

Every film fan wants to find out more about their favorite silent film stars or even directors. I know I always do, even though I always run the risk of dashing all my rosy preconceptions (“so in real life that sweet dimpled actress was actually a thrice-married drug smuggling blackmailer who drank a quart of whiskey a day and ran a dog fighting ring? DANG it!”). However, this hasn’t stopped me from devouring as much information as possible about my favorites. During this process it became clear to me: Think Before You Read.

Being attacked by a mutant doll is the least of your worries.

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Check Those Sources!–A Handy Guide

It’s time to go over something so important, so essential to research, that colleges should teach entire courses on it: how to tell good sources from bad ones.

Now, a “source” is not merely some dry technical thing that only interests college professors and newspaper writers.  Sources of information are a part of daily life.  When you look up a recipe in a book, that book is a source.  When you go on a website to see what time a store closes, that site is your source.  When you ask someone where your sunglasses are and they reply “On your head, stupid,” that person is a source. Continue reading