The Hidden Art of Silent Films


March 1, 2013 by liebestropfchen

Silent films are a lost art.  Hollywood really has gone overboard on special effects and underwhelming plot lines (that is, when they do something other than just remaking an 80’s film or re-vamping Superman for the zillionth time).

I took a trip back to my alma mater Ohio Wesleyan University last weekend.  As I meandered down memory lane, I was saddened to see my favorite professor, Helmut Kremling, was no longer teaching.  Not only was he a great mentor for me while proffing the courses of my major (German Studies), he also taught an Introduction to Film class that completely opened up a whole new world to me.  I had always been a lover of movies, but never before had I experienced so much fascination with a dying art form.  Much like the old celluloid films of the late 19th Century, the structural integrity of true trend-setting and cutting-edge films is in question.

Considering how many of us gripe about cell phones and computers causing social ineptitude (one can’t walk down the street without seeing earbuds as a social barrier – of which I am 100% guilty) it is miraculous to watch silent films, when facial expression and posturing was the only way an actor could connect with a viewer to channel the emotion in a particular scene.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to show 100% of your emotion in your face, and not through your words?  Often times when I find myself angry or hurt, and have to express that to another person, I really don’t feel like I can express myself fully unless I talk it out.  I can’t quite emphasize the level of screwed I’d be if I could never portray my emotions in words. I suppose that’s why I’m a better writer than actor.

The first silent film I watched in its entirety was “Broken Blossoms” starring Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess.  Gish stars as a battered child of “Battling Burrows”, an alcoholic boxer.  After being beaten severely by her dad, she is taken in by a very kind opium-smoking Chinese fella.  By modern standards, this film is incredibly insensitive in portraying old stereotypes of the Chinese culture.  However, it does show a kindhearted man who wants to fix a broken girl – the broken blossom – by nursing her back to health and hoping she will reciprocate his love for her.  Of course, the jerk of a father doesn’t like hearing his daughter is hanging with a “yellow man” as they called him (grrr), and he sought to beat the crap out of Barthelmess’s character as well.


Let’s just say Romeo & Juliet + Dirty Harry = sob story that makes “Steel Magnolias” look like a kindergarten play.

Gish and Barthelmess were the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan pairing of the early 20th century, going on to star in several popular films together before talkies dug significant divots into their careers.  It is no wonder to me why director D.W. Griffith was so enamored of Lillian Gish (he truly was in love with the girl!), seeing the depth of character in her tiny body and the abyss of emotion in her captivating eyes.  That film changed my life, and my ability to see film as an art form rather than just entertainment.

Perhaps it was the “damsel in distress” nature of the Gish/Barthelmess pairing, or it could have been the fact that both actors were unquestionably refined in their charming good looks. 

Broken Blossoms

Regardless, I felt like I lost myself in the film’s plot, and felt every single emotion Gish showed on her face.  What struck me most was that I couldn’t think of a single modern film that carried that much emotion.  Mel Gibson’s “FREEEEEEEEDOMMMMMM!!!!” or (more lightheardedly) Tom Cruise’s “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!” come close, but still have nowhere near the unbelievable pain or desperation the characters Gish portrayed as having in “Broken Blossoms” and (another Gish/Barthelmess match-up) “Way Down East.”

So what’s a girl to do when she wants to get a good cry going on up in here?  That’s right, I watch Lillian Gish.  I could choose to watch “Fried Green Tomatoes” for the umpteenth time, with a side dish of “When Harry Met Sally”, but I sometimes find myself losing the sappiness every time they tell a good joke.  The dialogue seems to get in the way.  You know that feeling when you’re so mad you could scream/cry/something-in-between/maybe-both, and then someone tells a joke that makes you laugh and you think “DAMN! I almost got a good cry in!”  With silent dramas, the cheesy dialogue only hinders the emotion, insomuch as one is willing to read the words on the screen.  If it’s too cheesy, my eyes are closed for that 7-8 seconds.  The pairing of the music with the acting gives the greatest connection with the plot I’ve ever found.  Go ahead, girls, cry it out!

But if you need a good laugh, nothing is finer than a Buster Keaton flick.  One of the most underrated comedians of the silent era, Keaton was a genius at slapstick and telling a joke with his body.  You almost felt sorry for the poor guy, with the incessant “Awwww, I just sat in dog shit” facial expression he mastered. 


Charlie Chaplin must have had a better manager to have surpassed Buster Keaton in the minds of our generation as *the* comedian in the silent era.  Chaplin, as talented as he was, could not hold a candle to Keaton.

My personal favorite of his, “Sherlock, Jr.”, is brilliant comedy mixed with aesthetically groundbreaking cinematography. Keaton portrays a poor movie theater projectionist who has high hopes for winning the favor of a beautiful girl.  Keaton’s character is studying to be a detective, so he dreams (literally) about how to solve the mystery of a stolen pocket watch to win her heart, since he has no money with which to impress her. Unbeknownst to Keaton, he has been framed for the theft by some douchebag of a baller also trying to win the girl over.  Douchebag gets the girl temporarily with his flashy money, but Keaton’s character is more savvy with the street smarts.

The dream sequence is a masterful mesh of Keaton conforming real-time acting to the scenery around him on screen as it constantly changes – creating the illusion that he had joined the movie being played in the theater in which he is snoozing.  Keaton was so dedicated to his physical comedy that he severely fractured his neck in one scene while falling from a water tower (which became the cut used in the final version of the film).  He doesn’t miss a beat in continuing the scene.  As much as I know that fall was painful, it is still so damn funny I can’t help but laugh when I see it.  Keaton gave his all in a comedic performance, and his acting makes most modern-day comedians seem like amateurs.

Be it comedy or drama, silent films have what modern films don’t – simplicity in design, but superiority in output. I will forever be grateful to Dr. Kremling for introducing me to film as an art form, and I hope this will inspire at least one person to embrace a dying art…so perhaps it won’t die after all.

136 thoughts on “The Hidden Art of Silent Films

  1. kitchenmudge says:

    I’ve spent some time browsing the old silents available on Some movies were done as well the first time as the fifth time.

  2. I have another tearjerker for you: “City Lights” starring Charlie Chaplin. I won’t give away the plot, but you’ll love the ending. And if you ever get the chance, try to see a silent film with a live piano or organ playing. It really takes you back to a simpler time, and how it must have felt in the audience back then. Great post. Reminds me when “The Museum of Modern Art” hosted silent films with live music back in the ’70s. Wow, I AM old!

    • Thank you for the suggestions! I have not yet seen “City Lights” but it is now on my list. 🙂

      Luckily there is a theater in my city that plays the CAPA film festival every summer, which always includes a silent film accompanied by a live organist. You are absolutely correct, hearing the organ really does take us back to a simpler time. That’s what really makes the experience that much more wonderful!

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. sortaginger says:

    I saw “Broken Blossoms” mentioned somewhere else recently and now I really want to find it. It is amazing the depth of the silent movies and how many actors just dropped off after the advent of talking pictures.

    • That’s great, people are still talking about it! I highly recommend “Broken Blossoms” as an intro to the silent arena (I can see now why Professor Kremling chose that as the first for us to watch in the film class). I’ve seen silent DVDs go for pretty decent prices on, and it’s definitely worth owning.

  4. lavenderowl says:

    Couldn’t agree more! Some beautiful films are lost to the masses, so sad! Love the post:)

  5. I’m not much for silent films, but now I’ll definitely have to at least look at “Broken Blossoms” now. It sounds pretty interesting, to say the least.

  6. jumeirajames says:

    I always like Buster Keaton. Chaplin, less so.

  7. Funny, I was just watching Keaton in “College” last night. You’re right, he’s amazing. I always preferred him to Chaplin. Chaplin seemed arrogant next to the humbleness of Keaton’s Everyman. (

    Something dawned on me while I was watching, though. I noticed something missing. Yes, there’s still the comic genius of Keaton’s body language and facial expressions to carry the film along and the plot line, though dated, is still marvelously poignant. The music, too, is significant and says a lot about the time period. But there’s something that’s conspicuous by its absence, and it’s big. It’s the one simple reason why you cannot get the full effect of a silent comedy by watching it on You Tube or a DVD today: there’s no laughter.

    The sound of an entire music hall roaring together with laughter or moaning simultaneously in sadness was the real accompaniment to the movie back then, not the guy in the corner on the piano. A big reason people went to the theater in the first place was the communal feeling of emotional validation and magnification as a hundred people backed each other up vocally in a visceral response to poor Keaton getting knocked down by life for the umpteenth time, then winning miraculously in the end. The audience was as big a player as the actors, themselves, and completely necessary to the experience.

    Today, the group experience is all but gone. A packed, boisterous theater starts us grumbling now. We complain to the management if we overhear any chatter around us and the sound is cranked up so loud, anyway, that you can’t hear the person you came in with. Modern theaters are designing their seats to operate as individual private pods so that you have as little access to the person next to you as possible while you all watch the film simultaneously–but not together. It’s more like a parking garage than a theater.

    You may want to take a picture of the seating area before the lights dim the next time you go out to the movies, it may be the last time you see anything like that again. Just ask drive ins and Blockbuster video:things change. Meanwhile, I’ll look forward in hope to the day my city shows a Keaton film outdoors on the side of a building in summertime so we can all share the laughter.

    • Wow, you are so right!! The missing laughter when watching on DVD is a huge void. I feel blessed that the first time I got to enjoy a Buster Keaton film at the Ohio Theater, they had played a double feature of “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” and “Seven Chances”. The live audience was absolutely roaring with laughter! It really is great when we all feed off each other’s enjoyment of the comedy.

      I remember looking around me to see oodles of elderly couples (most of them in their 80’s and 90’s) who were so tickled to see a silent comedy, as they hadn’t seen one since they were very little. Of course, some of them were hard of hearing, so they talked very loudly when they said “I remember when…..!!!” 🙂

      • Brace yourself: one day, in the distant future, there will be only one movie theater left and you will be among the 90-year-olds necking with their 95-year-old squeezes in the back rows between sneaking sips from concealed wine coolers because, you know, that’s how we did it in the olden days.

      • LOL!! Yes, I’ll be the old lady saying “Back in MY day….!”

  8. If you enjoy silent films, you should check out Lon Chaney’s movies (a.k.a.: The Man of 1,000 Faces). This man was incredible and really began Hollywood’s special effects through make-up and prosthetics craze.

    • Oh yes, Lon Chaney was amazing! I saw him in “Dracula”, and realized how sad it is that we are now so de-sensitized to true “horror” films by overstimulation to cheesy B horror flicks in the past 50 years. I see Chaney’s face in “Dracula”, and mofo creeps me out! Brilliant special effects, indeed.

      That, and “Nosferatu”. If I were to have a nightmare about monsters, it would manifest as Max Schreck’s face in the Nosferatu makeup LOL 🙂

  9. Mart Dawson says:

    My favourites are the classic duo, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Pure genious.

  10. I know it’s a modern film, but have you seen The Artist? Very good film!!

    • I know The Artist has gotten rave reviews, but I didn’t have a desire to see it at first because I felt I may not enjoy it if it were too “modern”. Recently, I’ve warmed up to the idea of seeing it, though 🙂

  11. Another suggestion for silents: Harold Lloyd. His movies didn’t have the poignancy or the insightful commentary on the human condition of Keaton or Chaplin’s but … well, not to put too fine a point on it, Lloyd was NUTS. The epitome of the stuntie who took a few too many blows to the head. Some of the things he did on camera you will SWEAR were done in Photoshop, decades before the first transistor was even invented.

    • Wow, that sounds great! I’ll have to search for some Harold Lloyd now :). Thanks so much for the suggestion!!

      • You can find good clips on YouTube — I don’t know if this will get through your spam filter, but it’s from “Safety Last,” one of his top ones:

        He was flat out of his mind but brilliant, sort of the Jackie Chan of his day.

      • Holy crap! This guy is amazing, thanks so much for sharing! I’m planning to watch the entire flick on YouTube when I get a chance

  12. husnainiqbal says:

    You should watch Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, it is the greatest romantic comedy ever made. And also watch Metropolis (1927), its science fiction.

  13. L. Palmer says:

    1. I too prefer Buster Keaton to Charlie Chaplin.
    2. I have a degree in Film Studies, so I’ve watched many, many silent films. What I find amazing is how the world brings you in, and you forget its silent. At the end of two hours, as the lights come up and people begin moving around, I would have to remind myself that sound exists. The techniques and tricks alone are innovative and impressive, and the acting, when done well is good.
    3. The Artist is a good homage to silent films, but not a great film on its own. There are some interesting technical choices that add to the fun.
    4. If you’re going for a melodramatic film that tugs at your heart strings, I highly recommend King Vidors The Crowd.
    5. My favorite silent film artist is George Melies.

    • Thank you for the input! I will definitely take a look at “The Crowd”. George Melies was a huge innovator in the film industry, for sure! I loved his “Trip to the Moon”. 🙂

  14. Jnana Hodson says:

    Silent films truly offer us their own artistic world. It’s one I’ve found to be closer to ballet than any movie with soundtrack dialogue.
    But that experience was in the late ’60s, back in college.

  15. dan213 says:

    Great post. Definitely an interesting read.
    Check out this site…

  16. Have you ever seen Jazz Singer with Al Jolson? It’s a sort of hybrid silent/talkie film from the lat 1920’s. It’s a really beautiful film.

  17. segmation says:

    I really do miss silent movies. Perhaps they’ll make a come back like other things, right?

  18. Yelena says:

    I find it fascinating how fashion designers and trendsetters always find inspiration from silent films’ stars. I personally love to collect and analyse images of that time, particularly 1920s… Greta Garbo is my favorite:) Great post!!

  19. bart ingraldi says:

    A wonderful post.
    The depth and richness of silent films have been eclipsed by the wiz bang of modern Hollywood for too long. The fact that the foundation of this modern wizardry are the greats of the silent era is lost on too many people.

    I have a portrait of Buster hanging in my office (the one where he’s peeking over the newspaper) as a reminder of his genius and as a reminder to push the boundaries and think creatively.

  20. Simplicity in design is exactly it. I was pleasently surprised when I watched a silent film for the first time. I didn’t feel like it was lacking anything. It was as if the presence of dialouge actually got in the way of telling the story simply through an actor’s body and movement. Great post, thanks for sharing and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  21. passion, emotion, expression!

    • 🙂 thanks for reading!

      • thank you for writing!! I found it to be very inspirational and interesting.

      • I’m reading your blog now and I LOVE it!!!! Fantastic material! It’s good to know other gals have had adventures like those…I pondered sharing some of my dating world stories but haven’t posted any yet. Someday…LOL!

      • I’m glad you love it. I have found it is much scarier than I had anticipated, but what’s the worst that could happen?

      • Oh trust me….there are some Gems of Douchebaggery out there. I could write an entire entry about my worst date ever…where the guy solicited me and stormed off like a little kid when I told him no. That was just the last 20 minutes, though! The rest of the date was a disaster as well. Always hold onto the standards you set for yourself, and stay in public places until you get to know them, and the rest will fall into place (weeding out the bad ones, hanging on to the good one). Dating is an adventure fo’ sho’ 🙂

  22. ravensmarch says:

    I’m in accord with you on the ascendancy of Buster Keaton’s work (and I set him above Lloyd, to be honest), and in my regard for Nosferatu as a source of spine-trembles. Despite the horrifying mismanagement, which I think is all down to grabbing a contract when it was offered out of concern for his family’s security, even his slumming was pretty brilliant, and he survived the jump into sound rather better than many.

    I don’t think that the sort of powerful non-verbal communication we see in the silent era is entirely lost with the coming of sound, but one generally has to look to British actors to find it. I’m drawing a bit of a blank on real heart-stopping examples from the past couple of decades, but the 1995 version of Persuasion has some brilliant “going insane inside, must keep up reserved facade” stuff done by Cairan Hines and Amanda Root. Alan Rickman is also quite good at this sort of thing.

    Going back to 1960, I think one of the finest talkie examples is in Sink The Bismark, when Kenneth Moore’s character gets news that his son’s plane has been lost. It’s just a moment, and all he really does is close his eyes tightly, but the volume of sorrow he conveys is stunning (I’m actually crying a little now, just thinking about it).

    Something you might want to track down for a laugh is a recent silent film made out of the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Call of Cthulhu.” It’s the work of a gang of semi-amateurs and done on the tiniest of budgets, but they care so much about the material and getting the look right (the conceit is that the film was made the same year as the story was written) that it’s quite impressive.

    • Thank you for reading, I am very delighted you shared some new pieces for me to look at! You seem to really have a vast film knowledge, which is great to tap into. Danke schön!

  23. Barbra Brady says:

    Reblogged this on Curator of Curiosities.

  24. Wordy Girl says:

    What a joy to stumble upon another silent film lover! My friends tease me for choosing the black and whites over their mind-blowing Imax hits, but I just can’t get over the level of communication that silent films employ. Admittedly, I reach for old horror movies the most, simply because they make me laugh. However, I do appreciate their honest communication. It’s intriguing how much can be said with nothing more than an image, expression, tune, or a few words.

    • Thank you for your kind words! Glad to be in good company with the love for classic films :). Keep being who ya are, your friends should understand someday when they see enough of them LOL

  25. M.L.Gardner says:

    Reblogged this on Playing in the Past.

  26. Interesting that you should mention Wesleyan University. I have just completed a 5 week course on conducted by Scott Higgins of Wesleyan University on “The Language of Hollywood” in which the first week was all about silent film. I wonder if you met him or know him.
    While I have been a film buff for years, this course really helped me to deconstruct and understand the film making techniques of the time. I do agree with you that silent films had a wonderful visual aesthetic which is lost to the film going public of today.

  27. Maria says:

    I grew up with silent movies — in the 1960’s, oddly enough. That was before videocassetes and DVDs, before cable movie stations. Movie selections on TV were slim. But you could borrow movies from the public library — provided you had a projector to show them on. Well, sound projectors were expensive, something you found only in a school AV department perhaps. Our home, like so many at that time, had an 8mm silent home movie projector. So we brought home every silent movie we could find in the local library system — Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, the Gish sisters, Richard Barthelmess, Lon Chaney, Tom Mix, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks — all projected on the walls of our living room, accompanied by vinyl albums of piano music and popcorn from a burnt saucepan. Our favorites, the movies we kept taking out of the library so often that nobody else got a chance, were Keaton in “The General”, the Gishes in “Orphans of the Storm”, Fairbanks in “Zorro”, and Pickford in “Sparrows”. The generation that followed ours had the whole world of talkies available on TV, so they never had the same incentive we had to fall in love with silents. I still love ’em, and rejoice in the weekly “Sunday night silent” on TCM.

    • WOW!! What an incredible opportunity to grow up seeing all the classics! 🙂 Gosh, that makes me want to set up a projector right now, haha!

      “Sunday Night Silents” is one of my favorite blocks of TV time. Gotta love spending a few hours watching well-known and rare silents back to back.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

  28. […] The Hidden Art of Silent Films. […]

  29. I totally agree with you. It’s really sad to see this kind of art die. This art just proves how good an actor could be. Cause these days, anyone can be an actor/actress as long as they have the looks, you know. Well i think before, it’s not all about that. It’s about the talent.

  30. kepagewriter says:

    You really made me want to see Broken Blossoms. I love Sherlock Jnr although my favourite Keaton film is probably The General.

  31. adamjasonp says:

    Chaplin, as talented as he was, could not hold a candle to Keaton.  Damn, straight.  With all of his sometimes-dangerous stunts, Keaton even broke his neck in a way that he didn’t even know he had broken it, and didn’t find out about it till it was discovered long later.

  32. thatjulietgirl says:

    this is so true, I remember when I first watched singing in the rain and it brought some of those points to public …. how wrong some peoples voices can be for the public, ect. in a way, those actors will always be better than our own of this generation because we will never have to be faced with a challenge like that again

  33. Ben says:

    In the last year of my degree (I studied Exhibition Design), I decided to design an exhibition on silent cinema for my final major project. Had only seen a couple of Chaplin films before then, but it really gave me a new appreciation for the whole silent era. Not sure if they’re on Youtube but in the UK, a comedian called Paul Merton made a string of programmes about silent cinema, so if you’re able to find them, then they are worth a look.

  34. I was thoroughly engrossed in your examination of silent films. I’ve been a fan of the silents since my late Uncle Harold brought his projector and an old Laurel and Hardy silent film over one New Year’s Day, many, many eons ago. (Everybody else wanted to watch football.) I was enchanted by the magic of how they said volumes without speaking a word.
    Later on, I began devouring books on silents, and Jay Ward/Bill Scott (the guys behind “Rocky and Bullwinkle”) had “Fractured Flickers” on TV for a while, but when I saw the real thing projected on a screen (in my first year of college), it was transformative.
    I agree that Keaton was the better comedian than Chaplin; I think it had to do with the audience’s attitude of the day, because they were nostalgic for the milieu Chaplin presented. Keaton demonstrated a post-modern, nihilistic view, and that rings truer with audiences after the Second World War.
    What did you think of “The Artist”? In my opinion, they pulled off a better-than-average representation of the period than any film in recent days.

    • I like your assessment, it’s very well-stated! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Honestly, I haven’t seen “The Artist” yet, partially because I was afraid I’d be disappointed. Being a lover of silents is due in part to the nostalogia and the appreciation for how much they did with far less technology than we have today…which makes it hard to see something done recently and have the same excitement. I think I’ll watch it soon, though :).

  35. hmmm, your post has me thinking that i might need to revisit my thoughts on silent films. I recently saw my first silent film, it was actually the 17 remaining minutes that had been restored from the worlds oldest feature film. I wrote about my experiences of it on my blog but after reading your post i feel that i should possibly find a Buster Keaton film to get a better sense of how entertaining silent films could be at their peak rather than when the industry began.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed 🙂

    • Thank you!
      Yes, definitely find something in the comedy or drama genres to fully grasp the art of the silents. I can see why the one you saw could have been a bit underwhelming 🙂

  36. uncald says:

    Keaton and Chaplin were really great, I couldnt believe how they were able to give so much emotion without using any words!

  37. maryangelis says:

    Thank you so much for this sensitive insightful respectful post about a fine craft and tradition that deserves more attention.

    Goodness, another Buster Keaton fan! And try reading his biographies; they are even more remarkable and implausible than his films.

    What a heartbreaking life.
    There is a child protective services office in New York City that STILL has a thick file on the Keaton case, recording all the times people tried calling the police for the treatment the little boy received in his parents’ vaudeville act, where they used to throw him all over the stage.
    He had about one hour of schooling, total; on his first and last day the teacher called on little Buster and asked him questions, but all he knew of life was pleasing a comedy audience, so he innocently ad-libbed such brilliant sassy answers that the school threw him out. Keaton was basically illiterate, and wasn’t really able to read the terms of his film contracts; Chaplin on the other hand was a politically astute business manager who handled money and publicity very well.
    Buster’s films were all lost and forgotten in a potting shed (!) and he himself never ever mentioned his movie career to anyone, until a random fan happened to track him down and found the reels and restored them. His best piece of luck happened in his final years, when a much younger woman suggested marriage; she became his third wife, his secretary, his manager, and the caretaker he never had before.

    Jackie Chan had very respectful things to say about Keaton’s influence.
    To this day, no one has duplicated Keaton’s stunts. But then, no one would want to try.

    • Wow, thank you for reading and for giving such fascinating detail on Keaton’s life! It’s sad he experienced no formal schooling. I had no idea he was nearly illiterate, but that definitely explains why he didn’t have a worthy contract to secure his wealth. I would love to see that file the CPS has on him, I bet it’s (while very sad) amazing insight to the things he was able to withstand as a child. Perhaps that’s why he was so tough when he fractured his neck and didn’t get it treated for so long.

      I love catching clips of television shows where Keaton would make special appearances – “This is Your Life” comes to mind – because Keaton was so incredibly humble, yet never failed to draw side-splitting laughter from an audience. Self-deprecating humor was his wheelhouse.

      • maryangelis says:

        Self-deprecating is right, it was absolutely his trademark though he was an extraordinary natural engineer with a great gift for understanding machines, especially cameras.
        Oh my goodness — “This is Your Life” would have been his idea of hell! I saw him on “What’s My Line,” and as the panel guessed his identity and the house exploded with applause, he slipped out of his chair and vanished without a word.
        Apparently in the child comedy act, whenever he winced or cried or laughed he was beaten, so he learned to show no facial expression at all and kept that stone-faced mannerism all his life. His parents tried to tour England, but the audiences were outraged by the cruelty and practically ran them out of the country.
        Remember the scene where he’s standing in front of a house and the whole facade falls, but the window falls exactly over his head and nothing touches him? He had that planned & measured out to the nearest half inch. It was his most dangerous stunt, and he really did come that close to getting killed.Right before the shooting, his first wife informed him that she was tired of being married to him. Then he went to the filming, and afterwards people were STUNNED that he was able to stand it without flinching, and asked him for his secret. He said “Because I didn’t care if I lived or died.”

        I hope that somewhere in some realm he has some idea of how fondly people see him now.
        What a treat it was to find your blog! I was so pleased to see such a thoughtful open-hearted approach to his work!
        Very best wishes, Mary

      • Thanks so much, Mary! I agree, the appearance on What’s My Line was so humbling to watch…the poor guy was so beat down in his youth and troubled marriages he probably had no idea he was so loved.

  38. Silent film is one of those genres I know very little about, admittedly. But I understand exactly what you mean about transferring emotions from the expressions of silent characters to the audience. Dr. Kremling would be thrilled knowing you have kept your interest, though! Maybe some day silent films will make a comeback. If you ever want to take a look at what is recently coming out through reviews or movie news, check out

  39. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  40. Totally agree with you!

  41. Coach Muller says:

    I love the Silent Movie era! This blog was awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  42. The beauty of silents is really brought out by the composition within the screen. IT truly is an art and a language. Gish really gave Griffiths her all, and almost her life in some of those movies!

  43. kellyscott57 says:

    In 1928/29 In Eugene,Oregon on the University Of Oregon campus a silent movie was made, Eds coed .

  44. jumpcms says:

    The great post. Thank you

  45. It’s really a great and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  46. Don Ostertag says:

    Nice writing. Nice perspective.

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