Archive for category: Silent Cinema

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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Videophiled Classic: 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: Editor

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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Blu-ray: ‘Master of the House’

14 June, 2014 (10:13) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The theme of Master of the House, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1925 screen adaptation of Svend Rindom’s play Tyrannens fald, is better captured in the film’s original Danish title Du skal ære din hustru: Thou Shalt Honor Thy Wife. Viktor Frandsen (Johannes Meyer), the master of the house himself, is indeed the central character of this […]

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Blu-ray / DVD: ‘The Freshman’

28 May, 2014 (09:39) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Harold Lloyd was the collegiate kid to Chaplin’s underdog tramp and Keaton’s earnest social misfit, the young, modern guy full of energy and spunk taking on the world with the ambition of a go-getter and the smart-aleck attitude of a city boy. Yet for a young man who epitomized the up-and-comer in the modern urban […]

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Blu-ray: Lon Chaney’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’

6 April, 2014 (07:38) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Lon Chaney was the most unlikely of Hollywood superstar actors. Talented and ambitious, he fearlessly took on roles of tortured victims, twisted villains, and misshapen outcasts, parts that he brought to life with a mix of elaborate make-up, physically demanding incarnations, and emotionally intense performances. In some ways, you could see him as the De […]

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Louis Feuillade: An Introduction

5 November, 2013 (10:13) | by Sean Axmaker, Essays, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

In the rapid evolution of film style in the first twenty years of cinema, from the earliest shorts by the Lumieres, the Edison Studio and Méliès to the narrative storytelling of D.W. Griffith, editing is king. It is, we are told, the foundation of film grammar. It gives the filmmaker a tool to direct our attention, […]

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SFSFF 2013 Spotlights: The ‘Beauté’ of Louise, the ‘Safety’ of Lloyd, and those ‘Joyless’ Germans

19 August, 2013 (09:11) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Festivals, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

G.W. Pabst’s The Joyless Street (1925), the Centerpiece screening on Saturday night, is a landmark drama of social commentary, a savage portrait of Germany after World War II, when rampant inflation and record unemployment plunged an entire class into poverty and widened the gulf between rich and poor into a veritable ocean. Decadence and desperation […]

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SFSFF 2013 Premieres: ‘The Half-Breed’ and ‘The Last Edition’

12 August, 2013 (05:25) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Festivals, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

I surveyed the 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival for Fandor a few weeks ago, covering the highlights and landmarks in brief. But it was always my intention to explore the films, and my experience with them, in a little more detail, time permitting. As it turns out, time has not permitted much opportunity, so […]

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San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2013 Wrap

31 July, 2013 (08:50) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Festivals, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

I knew that San Francisco Silent Film Festival is the premiere silent fest in America, but I was elated to learn from Céline Ruivo, curator of the film collection at the Cinématèque Française and a special guest at this year’s festival, that in Europe, SFSFF has a reputation as one of the premiere silent film […]

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Blu-ray / DVD: ‘Safety Last’

25 June, 2013 (06:33) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The image of Harold Lloyd hanging from the hands of a clock high above the Los Angeles city streets may be the single most iconic shot that says “silent movies” and “slapstick comedy” to the general public without further explanation. It is of course one of the great set pieces in Safety Last! (1923), the […]

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Videodrone: ‘French Masterworks: Russian Émigrés in Paris 1923-1928′

18 May, 2013 (15:44) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

French Masterworks: Russian Émigrés in Paris 1923-1928 (Flicker Alley) presents of the stateside DVD debut of five silent classics from Film Albatros, a French studio founded by Russian artists: The Burning Crucible, Kean, The Late Mathias Pascal, Gribiche, and The New Gentlemen. Three of the films star Ivan Mosjoukine, the great Russian actor who fled […]

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DVD: ‘The Circle’

17 April, 2013 (23:00) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

“Man may select a wife – but he should be careful whose wife he selects.” The Circle, based on the 1921 play by W. Somerset Maugham and directed by Frank Borzage in 1925, is a fascinating and ultimately moving film that defies expectations. It slips between high melodrama and drawing room comedy, with jabs of […]

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