Silent Movies

Chapin, Murnau, Lang, Hitchcock, Eisenstein. Where in Silent Cinema does your heart belong? Chaney, Valentino, Fairbanks, Lloyd, Pickford, Astor, Swanson. In all the silents in all the world, which would you walk into?

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steamboatbilljr

Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. is a masterpiece.

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Anything by F.W. Murnau.

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Too many to name only 1 - but Buster Keaton is king

After that, the man of a thousand faces, Lon Chaney

Actresses? Gish, Garbo, Swanson, Anna May Wong. Marion Davies (in comedy), Bridgette Helm, Blanche Sweet, Asta Nielsen

Directors? Keaton (again), Victor Sjöström, Gance, yeah Murnau, Lang and Eisenstein

Movie: Passion of Joan of Arc would be my best of the era, but again, too many to number, Caligari, Nosferatu, Man With a Movie Camera, The General, Metropolis, Potemkin, and on and on…

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One of my very artistic and precise grandfather’s first jobs as a young man in Germany was painting title cards for UFA. I don’t know for sure because I only found that out after he died, but the timeline lines up and he may very well have done some of the original titles for Metropolis.

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Amazing. What films are you sure he worked on? And how were you able to discover this?

That particular scene is terrifying to watch because Buster actually stood there and if he’d been just an INCH out of place he would have likely been killed. That wall was weighted so it would fall correctly. Buster, at that point in his life, was acutely depressed; his wife was taking him for everything he was worth and his studio was not helping, so he later confided in a few trusted friends that if he had died doing the stunt it wouldn’t have mattered in the slightest. It’s amazing that a man so known for making people laugh could be in that much personal trouble, but as the saying goes, the saddest people smile the brightest (although “Ol’ Stoneface”, as Buster was known, wasn’t exactly a smiler)

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I’m fond of ‘Beloved Rogue’. John Barrymore just fills the screen.

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I’m a huge Harold Lloyd fan! I have a collection of his works that I’m sure would be worn out by now had they not been plastic discs!

Also own several Fritz Lang movies

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I don’t actually know what films he worked on. I just know he was there in 1927.

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I did a school project in eighth grade on Clara Bow. I have been fascinated by silent films since I was at least 12. Probably my favorite silent film is The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney. The reveal is truly frightening.

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Lon Chaney’s ability to do amazing horror films (Phantom of the Opera, etc.), character stuff (Tell It To The Marines) and stuff that was really wild and ahead of its time (He Who Gets Slapped) makes him my go-to silent movie pick.

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Possibly the greatest stunt of all time. Three inches miscalculation in any direction and he’s a dead man.

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Mostly because of being made aware of his comics last year, but I’m planning in the near future to get this silent movie:

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The complexity of Harold Lloyd runs circles around modern comics. The visual inventiveness and rollercoaster energy annex other genres enriching the enjoyment these films cater. Grandma’s Boy (1922), Safety Last! (1923), Girl Shy (1924), The Freshman (1925), The Kid Brother (1927), Speedy (1928). This is daredevil entertainment on top of the comedy they provide. Heartbreak, victory, affection, irony, the Lloyd silents are floods of humanity covered in charm.

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I will walk in to any movie where the audience is silent. Those are my favorite.

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Yup Lloyd and Keaton stand a the pinnacle for me. Nowadays I’ve been diving on occasion into all the classic silent films on Kanopy (my local library subs and I can watch 8 films a month.) They have a great selection. I’ve been going slowly through the early Arbuckle and Keaton shorts.

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My favorite Keaton is Sherlock Jr., especially because of this sequence, which just awes me since it was done totally in-camera.

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And that’s a hell of a thing, everything that you two have pointed out.

Glad things ended up well there! That wasn’t always the case for silent performers (gestures to everything the great Harold Lloyd suffered).

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Buster often got injured doing his stunts. That scene in… I forget the name of the movie, but he gets pulled off a moving train by grabbing the cord on a water tower and as he goes down the water turns on, drenching him? A doctor later determined he’d fractured several of his cervical vertebrae doing that. He also broke his ankle during a stunt involving a moving staircase and any number of other injuries.

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