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Entries in silent films (51)

Sunday
Jan282018

100 years ago, the first filmed Tarzan hit.

by Nathaniel R

On this weekend in 1918 the first filmed version of Tarzan of the Apes movie appeared. You may recall that I have a bit of an...um... problem with Tarzan that stems from childhood. I'd never seen the first Tarzan but it is streaming on YouTube and is only 60 minutes long. It has all the typical Tarzan controversial flashpoints (whitewashed pro-coloniaism history and in-the-now-whenever-that-happened-to-be gender politics) plus the origin story and even the yodelling (you can't actually hear it, mind you, but he does beat his chest while wailing so you know that's what's happening. 

Despite the worst Tarzan wig that ever existed and the lack of jungle animals (it was shot in Louisiana) it's significant for having launched a now 100 year old franchise...

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Monday
Jan012018

Random Realization

Carey Mulligan would have been a huge silent film star 100 years ago.

Tuesday
Oct312017

Doc Corner: 'Dawson City: Frozen Time' is a Masterpiece 100 Years in the Making

by Glenn Dunks

If you have ever watched a Bill Morrison film, then you will have surely remember him for the way his films appear as if they are deteriorating before your eyes. Best known for works such as Decasia that are assembled out of weathered, beaten and sometimes even partly destroyed reels of film celluloid, Morrison’s films often play with the concept that film – the physical, tactile product of film itself just as much as the broad term for motion pictures as we know them – is not something we should ever be flippant about.

His movies are made out of parts of other movies, its true -- clips and excerpts taken from decaying reels that most could consider at home in a rubbish tip. Many may find his aesthetic challenging, but there is something so delightfully classical about the way he repurposes any image that sits atop a filmstrip. His work breathes new life into old, unwanted, and unused works so that they may be seen anew in a new light, a new form and allow somebody’s hard work to prosper once more...

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Wednesday
Apr192017

OTD: Don Cheadle debuts, Mae West sentenced, Marie-Antoinette marries (sort of) 

On this day (April 19th) in history as it relates to showbiz...

1770 Marie Antoinette married by proxy to Louis-Auguste. A month later she travels from Austria to the forest of Compiègne to meet her husband (essentially where Sofia Coppola's great 2006 film starring Kirsten Dunst begins) and the two soon have a ceremonial wedding.

1898 Silent screen star Constance Talmadge born (the year is disputed but around there!). One of many silent giants whose fame didn't transfer to "the talkies"...

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Monday
Mar202017

The Furniture: Thoroughly Modern Millie

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

Thoroughly Modern Millie opened 50 years ago this week, in the spring between San Francisco’s Human Be-In and the Summer of Love. None of 1967’s Best Picture nominees, immortalized as the birth of the New Hollywood in Mark Harris’s Pictures at a Revolution, had yet opened, but there was already something in the air.

Director George Roy Hill capitalized on this countercultural moment with an extravagant show of concentrated nostalgia. Thoroughly Modern Millie leaps back to the Roaring 20s, America’s last moment of liberated sexuality and conspicuous consumption before the Great Depression. Its flamboyant, frenetic ode to the flappers and their world was a big hit, making more than $34 million and landing 10th at the yearly box office. The film was nominated for seven Oscars including Art Direction-Set Decoration.

Yet its portrayal is not without contradictions...

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Friday
Jan272017

The Sex Appeal of Garbo, Valentino and a 150-Year-Old Novelist

By either bizarre coincidence or brilliant intuition, Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino began their careers in nearly the same way. Both achieved overnight success with adaptations of one Spanish novelist, a writer who has almost entirely faded from popular consciousness since then. At the time, though, he was more famous than either actor.

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