What’s Your Silent “Gateway Film”?

We silent fans all know a certain type of person. This is that person who, when you share your deep and abiding love of movies made before the Great Depression, chortles incredulously. When he realizes you’re being serious, he tries to feign interest in your quaint obsession with cobbled-together Victorian melodramas (as he assumes) and nods obligingly as you try to find words to describe the wonder and excitement of that pioneering era. (This is always when regular ol’ words fail you, too.)

You probably know more than one of these people. Okay, quite a few of these people. Alright, just about everyone you come into contact with during your daily life. 


I feel ya, classical statue.

What to do, then, when you’re aching to share your passion for movies that most uninitiated friends and family dismiss with an eyeroll? Continue reading

“Splashes of Fun and Beauty”–Sennett’s Famous Bathing Beauties

If you’re ever having an earnest discussion about silent comedy (and who wouldn’t), there are a few topics that will often bring out a smile: fake mustaches, cream pies, satirical twirling of said fake mustaches, the Ton of Fun. And there’s one topic that always seems to make people smile: Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties.

Bathing beauties

Once considered mildly risquébut now considered surprisingly innocent, the playful, perky, mischievous girls popped up in Sennett’s comedies time and time again. Admittedly the plots would sometimes screech to a halt just for them, but at least half of the theater audiences were too appreciative to mind. Continue reading

Sybil Seely, Buster’s Most Charming Leading Lady

This article originally appeared in the spring 2015 issue of The Keaton Chronicle, a quarterly publication of the International Buster Keaton Society. I am beyond pleased to be presenting it here on Silent-ology, with a couple bonus photos and clippings too!

If you ask Buster Keaton fans to name their favorite leading lady, chances are they’ll respond right away with “Sybil Seely.” Charming, natural and gracefully spirited, the brunette ingénue appeared in only five shorts with Buster but has been leaving a fresh impression on viewers ever since.


Even with all the praise, little has been known about Sybil. Who was this young woman who just happened to enhance some of the greatest short comedies of all time? Continue reading

Thoughts on Keaton’s “One Week”

“To sit through dozens and dozens of short comedies of the period and then to come upon One Week is to see the one thing no man ever sees: a garden at the moment of blooming.” –Walter Kerr

Everyone has a soft spot in their hearts for certain things–certain songs, certain places, certain holidays or paintings or animals. In a spot in my heart I’m pretty sure there will always be a crazy little spinning house.

Continue reading