Archive for category: Silent Cinema

Silents Please!: ‘Silent Ozu – Three Crime Dramas’

26 April, 2015 (08:23) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Silent Ozu – Three Crime Dramas (Eclipse 42) (Criterion, DVD) is an apt companion piece to Criterion’s previous set of silent Yasujiro Ozu films on their Eclipse line. The artist called the most “Japanese” of Japanese directors, famous for the quiet restraint and rigorous simplicity of his sound films, was a voracious film buff more […]

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Silents Please!: ‘The House of Mystery’ from Flicker Alley

25 April, 2015 (08:11) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The House of Mystery (La Maison du Mystère) (Flicker Alley, DVD) – Serials—the adventure cliffhangers what would play out in theaters before the main feature at a chapter a week—are commonly dismissed as kid stuff, glorified B-movies cranked out with little thought for story or character. France, however, produced some serials with high production values […]

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Two Raucous Silents: ‘What Price Glory?,’ ‘Sadie Thompson’

8 April, 2015 (08:14) | by Peter Hogue, Essays, Raoul Walsh, Silent Cinema | By: Peter Hogue

[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975] What Price Glory?, like the successful play from which it is drawn, works with some of the era’s anger is directed less toward war itself than toward some of the era’s topical themes—in particular, as the title implies, the disillusionment that had befallen many of the youthful […]

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Rene Clair’s Hat Trick

15 March, 2015 (13:53) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

A triumvirate of early sound comedies—Under the Roofs of Paris (1930), Le Million (1931), and À Nous la Liberté (1931)—made René Clair’s reputation as France’s master of modern screen comedy. They explored the possibilities of the new audio dimension as an expressive element without sacrificing the fluid style and creative imagery of the height of […]

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Milestones: ‘In the Land of the Head Hunters’

8 March, 2015 (17:13) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

In the Land of the Head Hunters (Milestone, Blu-ray, DVD) is not a documentary but it is an invaluable historical document nonetheless. Famed photographer Edward S. Curtis made a career documenting the native tribes on the west in the early 20th century, preserving the imagery of a culture that had almost entirely eradicated through resettlement […]

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The ‘Alt’ Oscars: The Silent Years

16 February, 2015 (16:30) | by Sean Axmaker, Commentary, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The Academy Awards were born in 1927, the brainchild of MGM’s Louis B. Mayer, a studio head whose original idea for an organization to negotiate labor disputes and industry conflicts evolved into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The awards themselves were an afterthought and initially more public relations gimmick than egalitarian celebration […]

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Presenting Thanhouser, the Greatest American Independent Studio of the 1910s

15 December, 2014 (16:04) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The title to Ned Thanhouser‘s documentary, The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema, isn’t mere hyperbole. Veteran stage actor and theater manager Edwin Thanhouser (the director’s grandfather) made his move from live theater to making movies for the growing market of cinema in 1909. By 1918, as the industry grew beyond Thanhouser’s ability […]

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Ten Silent Movies to Make You a Silent Movie Fan

8 December, 2014 (12:49) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, lists, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

“We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.” —Norma Desmond, Sunset Blvd. You say that you’re really into old movies and you can’t get enough of the classics but you just haven’t found a way to love silent cinema? You say that all your friends are doing the silents and you feel left out? You say […]

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Silents Please!: ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ and ‘Verdun’ restored

30 November, 2014 (09:50) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Editor

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD, streaming) is the grandfather and the godfather of German Expressionist cinema and one of the most influential films of its era. Directed by Robert Weine, it features Werner Kraus as the tyrannical Dr. Caligari, a sideshow barker in cape and top hat who commands the sleeping […]

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The Dialectics of Humor: Russian Silent Comedy

10 November, 2014 (16:16) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Let’s face it, Soviet silent cinema isn’t renowned for its sense of humor. And that’s a shame. Most of us were introduced to the silent era of Russian film through the dialectic exercises of Sergei Eisenstein, who combined the intellectual and the visceral in such films as Strike (1925) and Battleship Potemkin (1925) or the dazzling montage […]

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Essay: ‘The General’

5 October, 2014 (07:53) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Silent Cinema | By: Editor

This essay was originally written for the Silent Fall 2014 program presented by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival on September 20, 2014 No silent moviemaker ever engaged with the machinery of modern life as resourcefully as Buster Keaton did. From One Week (1920), his debut as a solo director after his apprenticeship with Fatty […]

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Silents Please!: Chaplin at Mutual and 25 Years of Mack Sennett

30 August, 2014 (09:09) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Flicker Alley releases two more collections of classic silent comedies. Chaplin’s Mutual Comedies 1916-1917 (Flicker Alley, Blu-ray+DVD) collects the greatest run of comedy shorts in Chaplin’s career in newly restored and remastered editions, and The Mack Sennett Collection: Vol. One (Flicker Alley, Blu-ray) collects 50 comedies of a variety of lengths (including one feature) from […]

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Streamers: See Orson Welles’ ‘Too Much Johnson’ and Amazon’s Third Pilot Season for Free

27 August, 2014 (08:06) | by Sean Axmaker, news, Orson Welles, Silent Cinema, streaming, Television | By: Sean Axmaker

Too Much Johnson, the Orson Welles film (or rather film project) that was long thought lost (the last print was reportedly destroyed in a fire in Welles’ Spanish home in 1970), was found a few years ago and restored. It’s not a feature or even a short, per se, more of an experiment shot to […]

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Rediscovery: Orson Welles’ ‘Too Much Johnson’

21 August, 2014 (08:19) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Orson Welles, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the slapstick stylings of Orson Welles, the boy wonder of Broadway! Not exactly how we think of Welles, is it? We know he had a rich career both on radio and on the New York stage before he made Citizen Kane, but the few comedies he made were far outnumbered by […]

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Blu-ray: ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ (1920)

26 July, 2014 (07:48) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Stage and screen legend John Barrymore took on the good doctor and his vicious alter ego from the famous Robert Louis Stevenson novel in this silent horror classic, adapted as much from the stage play by Thomas Russell Sullivan as from Stevenson’s original book. It wasn’t the first adaptation of the story but it became […]

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