Beneath glimmering chandeliers at an Art Deco movie house built into the side of a mountain, 150 silent-movie buffs sat wide-eyed as snippets from films lost decades ago lighted up the screen. Their quest: Name the film, or at least spot details that will advance the cause. The fans shouted clues as a piano player wearing an old-time parlor vest and a thick period mustache improvised jaunty scores. They scoured vintage magazines on their laptops, checked film databases on their tablets, and scrubbed their brains for odd bits of early 20th century cultural history. Every frame had the potential to unlock a secret.
Forgotten Silver tells the story of pioneering filmmaker Colin McKenzie. This legendary New Zealander created the worlds first colour film and first talking film. He created the first tracking shot and captured footage of a pre-Wright brothers flight. This "documentary" made by Peter Jackson & Costa Botes caused a furore in New Zealand when it was released 20 years ago today. Watch the first 10 Minutes for free. Rent or buy here. [more inside]
"To be a Warrior would mean running all night, every night, through the sweltering summer streets of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. It would mean showing up for work at six in the evening and not wrapping until the crew could see the sun rise over the East River. It would mean hopping subway turnstiles and enduring the taunts of the local street gangs. The line separating art and life would become blurred, the making of the film an adventure in and of itself." Jackson O'Connor of the Village Voice on the 1979 cult classic "The Warriors."
"Jaws" ridiculous, say kids who owe everything to "Jaws." Richard Dreyfuss's kids re-visit film history. [alt url]
Most of America's silent films are lost forever, according to the newly released Library of Congress report The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912–1929. (You can look up the ones that survive in this handy database). [more inside]
These movies offer not just a twist, but a twist atop a twist, and a joke atop the joke: the “superjoke,” as Billy Wilder called it. Those themes repeat: the lively, often-painful love triangle, the sexual and romantic jealousy, the thrill of sex, and in this case, the carnal kicks co-mingling with the art of stealing, an act more erotic than gold-digging. (Gold-fleecing is much more penetrating.) And then—important during one of the worst economic times in America’s history—there’s Lily and Gaston’s hard, artful work, something to respect.
Ernst Lubitsch’s charming pre-Code transgressions
Ernst Lubitsch’s charming pre-Code transgressions
Lois Weber was an important early American film-maker who pushed the boundaries of film-making so she could better tell the stories she wanted to tell. Several of her early silent films are on youtube: Suspense (1913; ~10 minutes) (she directs herself, experiments with the split-screen view and unusual and effective camera angles including shots from above and using the car's side mirror); Hypocrites (1915; ~4 minutes) (featuring dual roles, nudity, and a strong use of techniques like multiple exposures and complex editing - as well as a strong moral message); and Where Are My Children (1916, ~1 hour, 10 minutes) (a complex and controversial film even then about birth control (pro) and abortion (anti)). [more inside]
Lantern--a search platform for the collections of the Media History Digital Library that enables access to over 800,000 pages of digitized texts from the histories of film, broadcasting, and recorded sound (from 1904 to 1963)--has gone live. (Previously.)
“Highbrow critics talk in ornate polysyllables about the ingenuity and art of the German filmmakers. If they condescended to witness the nonsensical genius of a Charley Bowers comedy they could drool dictionaries.” Educational Pictures Press Book for THERE IT IS, January 23, 1928Charley Bowers is a genius of silent film and animation that never got the level of attention of his peers Buster Keaton or the Fleischer Brothers. You'll have to search hard to find him in film literature. But watching his work—as a bird lays a Ford Model T or a scruffy ghost tortures a Scotsman and his insect sidekick—you can see the inspiration for the later sight gags of Ernie Kovacs, the visual non sequiturs of Looney Toons, the cut paper trickery of Terry Gilliam and surrealist Andre Breton citing one of Bowers' shorts as the most influential film of 1937. [more inside]
I would like to get back to the censor and agree to...take the odd 'Jesus Christ' out and lose 'Oh fuck off', but to retain 'fart in your general direction'.
"This flickr site is my way to share images that are rare or special in some way for the fans of Star Trek TOS - most of the images are digital scans and restorations from film frames I possess, some are my restored digital images from photos or film clips I have borrowed from others." Including exotic women, clapper boards, special effects, naked Gorns, between-filming breaks, and, of course, stalagmites . via
Each December, the United States National Film Preservation Board chooses up to 25 films they deem worthy of taking special action to preserve in the Library of Congress. It’s a new year, and that means 25 more films are welcomed in the vault of the National Film Registry. Three of the 2008 picks can be viewed on Internet Archive as well as nearly 40 picks from years past.
What's the relationship between the rise of film noir and the national mood of post-war (WWII, that is) America? "Was noir simply a way of reanimating the tired conventions of the pre-war crime film? Or did we need melodramatic illusions potent enough to overcome whatever disillusions strayed briefly into our minds as we surrendered to the mighty engines of prosperity? Or was it one of those cycles - like biopics, westerns, sci-fi, etc. - that Hollywood mysteriously embraces and then just as mysteriously abandons?" Via.
Josie Hayes' Great Moments in Film History. "Being a series of pictorial essays on some of the defining moments in cinema...at least the way I see it." [Not unsafe for work, but perhaps unwise]