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Search CinemaSpot or Google |   Great Must-See sites   |   Read Articles and Lists | Find answers | Did you know?  
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Silent Film

Ah, the good old days! Long before stadium seating, surround-sound, Technicolor, and even the Vitaphone, audiences flocked to watch flickering images accompanied by a live organist. Though some would argue that silent films unwatchable, and others would fume at such heresy, there's no question that a familiarity with the films that first graced the silver screen is a must for any cinema buff.

Silents are Golden is a great place to get started. There are vintage reviews of silent films and essays on the silent era. They can recommend helpful readings and tell you what silent movies are available on video and TV. Be sure to check out the photo galleries of the silent stars - and of their homes!

The Silents Majority is a monthly journal, with detailed information on a variety of silent artists, including those working behind the camera. Be sure to check out Cooking with the Stars and visit The Mary Pickford and Dreamland Theatres to view QuickTime video clips from silent films. Silent Era is an extensive site with screening information, a reader-compiled list of the top 100 silent films and an archive featuring vintage magazine covers and articles.

You'll find more links, articles, pictures and the like at Silent Movies, which also features information on silent film screenings. At Welcome to Silent Movies, you can learn exactly when film stars were born or died. Silent Films - Are They Worth the Watching? has some interesting points to make about silent films' relevance for today's movie watcher.




For those wanting visual resources, check out Silent-movies.com. You'll find Silent Ladies and Gents, with hundreds of photographs, divided into galleries like "The Silent Divas," "The Silent Flappers" and "The Great Silent Clowns." At Slapstick: The Silent Comedy Quicktime Cavalcade, you can view video clips of Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and many more.

Here are a few essential films for people interested in silent film and film history.

  • Intolerance
    Though 1920s audiences ignored this D.W. Griffith film in favor of his smash hit "Birth of a Nation," it is now considered to be his masterpiece.

  • Ben Hur
    At $3.9 million, this was the most expensive silent movie ever. Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Myrna Loy, Lillian Gish and Harold Lloyd were all uncredited extras in the chariot race scene.

  • Wings
    The first film to win the Academy Award as Best Picture, it contains aerial photography and special effects that were spectacular for the time.

  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
    This German expressionist film is generally considered to be the first horror movie.

  • Metropolis
    This German film by famed director Fritz Lang is considered to be the first science fiction film.

  • Orphans of the Storm
    This film unites D.W. Griffith with Lillian and Dorothy Gish, and while it's a perfect example of the mannered, sentimental acting usually seen in silent film, it's visually quite beautiful.

  • The Gold Rush
    Made shortly after Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith formed the United Artists Corporation, this is considered by most to be Chaplin's masterpiece.

  • The Thief of Bagdad
    A prime example of Douglas Fairbanks at his swashbuckling best!

  • Greed
    Erich Von Stroheim's masterpiece was originally 42 reels and ran for more than 8 hours. But the producers had some problems with the ideas expressed and cut it down to two hours. A four hour restored version has recently been shown, and there are those who hope that Von Stroheim's original is still hidden in an attic or vault somewhere.



   --- J. Walker

 
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