Silent Movies

Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 11:12am
Lately, I've been on a silent movie kick. Many are in the public domain now and are available on YouTube. My absolute favorite is "City Lights", and I've recently enjoyed "The Man Who Laughs". It's a shame TCM doesn't play them on Sunday nights anymore.

So everyone, what are some of your favorite silent movies? And not "The Artist", which I think is wonderful, but true silent movies/sketches from that era.
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 11:14am
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 11:16am
^ Yes! That's one of the next ones I want to watch. Conrad Veidt was incredible in The Man Who Laughs, so I need to see his work in that too.
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 11:19am
The Crowd is my favorite.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 11:22am
Caligari is a classic. A lot of the German Expressionism films are super creepy and really good.

Also, check out some D.W. Griffith films like Birth of a Nation and Intolerance.

Essentials:
The Battleship Potemkin
Metropolis
The Passion of Joan of Arc



Having listed those, the majority of really cool silents are very short. Your best bet is to find a set that collects a bunch.
There is a really good set of Méliès films that Kino has. And you must find a collection with The Great Train Robbery.
....but the world goes 'round
ghostlight2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/5/04
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 11:27am
I have always had a soft spot for Buster Keaton. He was known as stone-faced, because he never smiled, but he was incredibly expressive. He also did amazing stunts. Physically quite graceful. This one is my favorite. Watch it if you can find the time.


The General
Updated On: 10/3/12 at 11:27 AM
Roscoe
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 11:35am
TCM is still running silents on Sunday nights. Check out their website, they run a really great selection of silents. Just last month they ran a whole series of early Mack Sennett films.

I'm a huge fan of silent films. I go to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival every year now, and always have a great time. Nice to see others round here share the enthusiasm for silents!

Here are some favorites:

PANDORA'S BOX with Louise Brooks -- maybe the most radiantly beautiful ever to grace the screen.

THE GENERAL with Buster Keaton. Any film by Buster Keaton.

DIE NIBELUNGEN -- a German silent from Fritz Lang, a really amazing two-part epic of betrayal, revenge, passion, madness and all the stuff that makes for great big stories.

BIRTH OF A NATION -- sure, see it by all means, but be prepared to be appalled and revolted by a lot of what you see. The film's reputation for racism is entirely deserved.

METROPOLIS -- amazing, great operatic over the top fun. See it in the restored full length version released by Kino.

THE CROWD -- man oh man, if you make it through this one with dry eyes, you are far stronger than me.

HE WHO GETS SLAPPED -- starring Lon Chaney, not buried under tons of prosthetic makeup. Amazing from start to finish.

MANTRAP: a vastly entertaining little comedy starring Clara Bow, who is just irresistible. Check it out, a lot of fun.

And check out the short films Charlie Chaplin made for the Mutual Studios, they're probably the best things he ever did.

THE GOLD RUSH -- you owe it to yourself on this one, but only do it in the original silent version released by Criterion. There's another version that Chaplin did later for release in the 1940s, he cut about 15 minutes and added a narration voice-over, and it just ruins the movie.

"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/
Updated On: 10/3/12 at 11:35 AM
Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 11:47am
Thanks, Rosscoe, for correcting me about TCM. I think I was confused because, for some reason, I remember them being on earlier than 1 a.m. Maybe when I was watching them, that time didn't seem as late as it does now. Ah, aging.

Great suggestions everyone!
romantico
Broadway Legend
joined:3/6/05
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 12:34pm
Able Gance's 1927 NAPOLEON will always be my favorite silent film.

Having said that I've also enjoyed Douglas Fairbanks sr. THE IRON MASK,THE GAUCHO,THE BLACK PIRATE,and THE THIEF OF BAGDAD.The original PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and THE CAT AND THE CANARY are two great films for this time of year.You can never go wrong with Chaplin's film, IMO.Lon Chaney's THE UNHOLY THREE silent film is better than it's remake that was a talkie.There are so many great silent films out there.

Oh, and I just have to add Mel Brook's SILENT MOVIE to the list.That film always cracks me up!
'There are three sides to every story. My side, your side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each one differently' -Robert Evans-
Almira
Broadway Star
joined:12/6/09
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 12:36pm

Hands down, CITY LIGHTS is my favorite movie.

If you ever get chance to see (what exists) of Von Stroheim's GREED, take it.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt
doodlenyc
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/04
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 12:44pm
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Nosferatu
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strummergirl
Broadway Legend
joined:12/8/09
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 01:58pm
There is a lot already mentioned that I would recommend.

Nosferatu, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, Faust, and The Last Laugh- Murnau

Greed and Foolish Wives- Erich von Stroheim

The Gold Rush and The Kid- Chaplin

The Phantom of the Opera

Strike- Eisenstein (personally, I like this more than Potemkin just because it is less historical- heh- and more theoretical)

Safety Last!- Harold Lloyd (you have probably seen the image of Lloyd suspended in air holding onto a clock)

The Man Who Laughs- Conrad Veidt (who you best know from Casablanca and also in Dr. Caligari) plays a character who actually inspired the original aesthetics to the Joker in Batman.

Haxan- This oddity needs to be seen to be believed. A 'documentary' on satanic rituals and witchcraft from the 1920s.

Douglas Fairbanks Sr. also had a Robin Hood he was in and I remember liking the print I saw.

If you are interested in silent movie pastiche, I'd recommend early Guy Maddin.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 02:54pm
Good recommendation about Maddin.

I think my fave silent film director is Murnau, in general. Obviously the big ones are probably his German films The Last Laugh, Nosferatu, Faust, and his big Hollywood movie Sunrise (which doesn't have much going for it story wise--I actually have issue with some of the gender stuff--but it's so beautifully and artfully directed it barely matters).

It's interesting how sophisticated silent film got in the 1920s, particularly from German directors--and then just as we were getting films like Sunrise, sound came in and movies for a while seemed to regress--at least in terms of how they were directed, due to issues with microphones, etc. (Also of course, this led to foreign films being less marketable as they were harder to translate).
strummergirl
Broadway Legend
joined:12/8/09
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 02:58pm
I have issues with the gender stuff in Sunrise too. But damn, do I still cry like a baby in some of the scenes.
Roscoe
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 03:06pm
Never been a fan of SUNRISE -- as long as it's about a guy plotting to murder his wife, it is really something, very powerful stuff. Then comes that sticky sentimental Country Mice In The Big City stuff and I just get bored stiff -- very condescending to the two characters.

I much prefer THE LAST LAUGH or NOSFERATU.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/
ghostlight2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/5/04
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 03:15pm
"Safety Last!- Harold Lloyd (you have probably seen the image of Lloyd suspended in air holding onto a clock) "

Another really good one, strummergirl. I love Lloyd's work. What you may not know about "Safety Last!" is that a few years prior to that, Lloyd was doing some promo shoots, lighting a cigarette off a prop bomb - which turned out not to be a prop. He was blinded (though not permanently) when it went off, and lost the thumb, forefinger, and part of the palm of his right hand. He's clinging to that clock with a hand and a half.
A short excerpt of the clock scene.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/3/12 at 03:16pm
I actually didn't see that you listed all the Murnau films I did... :P But, it's good to list them again. And yeah--I tear up invariably, as well.

One thing I'm always interested with silent films is the score. For so long, the versions you could get on VHS (or that they'd air on TV--and TCM still often has this issue) would have the *worst* music just sorta plunking away in the background--rarely the original scores. As a kid I was obsessed with Buster Keaton and I remember it would be preferable just to watch them silently. I do like some of the modern scores that have been done--I got to see one of the outdoor showings of Battleship Potemkin in London with Pet Shop Boys playing their score which I thought was surprisingly effective.

(OK and I admit, I have a soft spot for the very cheezy Giorgio Moroder score/edit of Metropolis. I taped it off MTVCanada sometime as a kid in the 80s and grew up with it, though I completely get why purists loathe it--although it has been pointed out that Moroder at least helped re-ignite interest in the film and helped track deown some material that had long been missing).

Roscoe, I admit dramatically Last Laugh and Nosferatu, as well as the underated Faust are more interesting (and I think horror perhaps does that creepy surrealist horror gothic horror stuff better than anything else--asid from slapstick), but I think the camera work andeffects in Sunrise are just so powerful for me, I kinda don't care. But yes, the, as you put it so well, Country Mice stuff is a bit ridiculous.
capnkidd
Broadway Star
joined:9/11/04
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/4/12 at 10:38am
"Able Gance's 1927 NAPOLEON will always be my favorite silent film. "

I saw this at a special showing at Radio City years and years ago with (I think) three screens. A little overwhelming, really.
Roscoe
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/4/12 at 10:46am
I saw NAPOLEON when it toured the country in the early 80s. Think abou that. Abel Gance's NAPOLEON toured the country. In the early 1980s. Man oh man.

I got to see it again earlier this year, in the full length version, in Oakland. Full orchestra, real three-screen Polyvision, a real religious experience.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/
romantico
Broadway Legend
joined:3/6/05
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/4/12 at 11:00am
Roscoe, I heard Coppola cut so much of the original Napoleon that is was an entirely different movie. Not sure where I read it but there was something that mentioned how Coppola wanted HIS VERSION to be the only one (or something to that effect) For years I thought the Coppola version was the definitive one.After reading this article though, it really turned me off to Coppola.Are you familiar this story?

I wish more films would tour like NAPOLEON did in the 80's.

Oh, and going through some old books in the basement I discovered a couple books written by Kevin Brownlow,one being on Napoleon. I should dust it off and give it a good read!
'There are three sides to every story. My side, your side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each one differently' -Robert Evans-
Roscoe
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/4/12 at 11:18am
Well, I wouldn't say that the "Coppola Version" is an entirely different movie, but there's a lot missing -- there's a lot more about Josephine in the longer version, for one thing, and it doesn't seem like that marriage is going to be a very happy one, and there are a couple of subplots that got cut altogether. Some of these cuts were made, I think, out of sheer economic necessity on Coppola's part, to get the film down to a more manageable length for an evening or afternoon showing. The full-length version, as brilliant and occasionally infuriating as it is, was an all-day event, taking over 8 hours including two intermissions and a nearly two hour dinner break.

Say what one will about the cuts and all that, Coppola's version got the film seen by more people than would have seen it otherwise. Yeah, Coppola does seem to have gotten it into his head that only that version can be shown in this country, but happily that seems to have been settled with the Oakland showings. If only we could get the damn thing shown more frequently, I think there'd be more of an audience than they expect. I know I'd go again. And again. And again.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/
romantico
Broadway Legend
joined:3/6/05
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/4/12 at 12:31pm
So, when Criteria EVENTUALLY releases it on DVD/BLU-RAY will both versions be available or just one? I like Carl Davis score but I REALLY Love Carmine's.I wish an expanded complete soundtrack would be released to Coppola's.
'There are three sides to every story. My side, your side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each one differently' -Robert Evans-
Playbilly
Broadway Legend
joined:3/30/12
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/4/12 at 12:39pm
GREED is the best silent movie, and one of the best ever without any qualifications. Just beautiful artistry.

"Through The Sacrifice You Made, We Can't Believe The Price You Paid..For Love!"
Updated On: 10/4/12 at 12:39 PM
morosco
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/04
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/4/12 at 12:59pm

A Trip to the Moon

morosco
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/04
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/4/12 at 01:00pm

Peter Pan (2924)

Roscoe
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Silent Movies
Posted: 10/4/12 at 01:03pm
"So, when Criteria EVENTUALLY releases it on DVD/BLU-RAY will both versions be available or just one? I like Carl Davis score but I REALLY Love Carmine's.I wish an expanded complete soundtrack would be released to Coppola's."

I doubt it's gonna happen either way. Alas.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog: http://www.roscoewrites.blogspot.com/

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