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]
has posted several stunning examples of his grandfather's
Kodachrome 40 8mm home movies.
Previously with less, but now with more!! [more inside]
The bumping off of a famous person is the
sort of oyster that any detective delights to open, so you can just bet the
family jewels that I was pretty much elated when my Chief, the late Thomas
Lee Woolwine, District Attorney of Los Angeles County, called me into his
private office on the morning of February 3rd, 1922, and assigned me to
represent his office in the investigation of this greatest of all murder
-- Excerpted from an article archived at Taylorology
, a site exploring the life and death of William Desmond Taylor, a silent movie actor and director whose unsolved murder was among the earliest Hollywood true crime scandals. Researcher Bruce Long
first published his accumulated information about the case as a small fanzine which evolved into a monthly electronic newsletter and is now a vast archive of articles and interviews, official documents, photos, and more. Although the Taylor case is the main focus, there's also a wealth of supplemental information about the silent film industry and its stars. [more inside]
Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.
He was a comic actor, who, despite his girth, was capable of acts of astounding physical grace
(link goes to tiny Quicktime clips). But what Fatty Arbuckle
is best remembered for is scandal.
On Labor Day of 1921, Arbuckle hosted a party that ended with the death of an actress, Virginia Rappe
. On this day in 1921, Arbuckle was arrested for her rape
. Although he was acquitted twice, the event would ruin his career. (Previously
Forgotten silent film comedian Larry Semon. Part II - Heyday
. Part III - Trouble Brewing
. In 1920, he was the world's 2nd-most-famous Hollywood star, with a contract and creative control rivaling Chaplin. In 1921, he made a popular series of films with Oliver Hardy as his main comic foil, six years before Laurel & Hardy became a household name. In 1925, he directed a truly bizarre silent version of The Wizard of Oz
, just as wild overspending, erratic behavior and lawsuits ruined his career. The Larry Semon Research site
has an interesting picture gallery
Silent movie star, now largely forgotten.
With a new biopic in the works
, the spotlight will soon return to this silent-movie legend. The beautiful
and enchanting Brooks set the mold for the stereotypical bobbed-hair flapper of the 1920s, though her Hollywood work is largely forgettable. Her most famous film, Pandora’s Box [script, mirror]
(directed by G.W. Pabst
) was filmed in Germany. She didn't make a successful transition to talkies, and after a long reclusive period, she had a second career writing essays
. -- For further reading, Ken Tynan's 1979 essay
"The Girl in the Black Helmet" [mirror]
in the New Yorker
gives an excellent overview of her life.