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Author Topic: Silent era films: what are your favorite ones?  (Read 489 times)
Rawhide7
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« on: August 11, 2020, 11:17:37 PM »

I have been wanting to add a few silent era movies to my collection for some while now. I've ordered The Gold Rush Charlie Chaplin film. Few years ago I watched a couple silent films on TCM channel and actually enjoyed them. It's nice getting a sense of what people watched back in the 20s and 30s. But theres something unique and different about them. Do any of you like silent era films?  What are some of your favorite ones? 
« Last Edit: August 11, 2020, 11:18:52 PM by Rawhide7 » Logged
Gant
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2020, 09:58:30 AM »

I can watch anything with Buster Keaton. The man was a genius... also Laurel and Hardy Silents. I?m not big on Chaplin but I?d be willing
to try again..
Also horrors.... Caligari, Nosferatu, Golem, Lon Chaney?s Hunchback and Phantom of the Opera etc..
« Last Edit: August 13, 2020, 10:52:58 PM by Gant » Logged

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Rawhide7
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2020, 08:21:45 PM »

Thanks Grant

Yeah seems like Chaplin and Keaton were the two biggest stars back then. Ive read great things about The Gold Rush. And also Buster Keaton?s The General. The General looks pretty good. Have you seen either one of those Gant?  And thanks for replying.
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Matt
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2020, 10:12:25 PM »

If you like Gold Rush, I'd go with City Lights (also Chaplin) and another Chaplin favorite of mine is Modern Tmes. I also like Harold Lloyd's Safety Last.
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Doug
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2020, 02:54:48 AM »

My all-time favorite silent movie is Metropolis. One of my favorite movies of any era, and I've seen it multiple times and I even have a large movie poster for it. Another great silent movie no one's mentioned is Sunrise. The General is great for its stunts but it doesn't do much for me and I like other Keaton films better, like Steamboat Bill, Jr. and Sherlock Jr. I haven't seen very many more of his films, though. I love Chaplin and you can't go wrong with him. City Lights and Modern Times are masterpieces but while mostly silent movies, they were made after the silent era had ended. And The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was probably the first silent movie I watched and I loved it instantly and still do. A really great, underappreciated silent movie is The Phantom Carriage, kind of a dark fantasy horror film with great effects. It was apparently Ingmar Bergman's favorite film and it contains a scene that certainly influenced Kubrick's "Here's Johnny" scene in The Shining.
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Rawhide7
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« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2020, 03:02:45 PM »

Thank you Matt and Doug. I will have to watch those y?all recommend.
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Christopher
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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2020, 04:40:09 PM »

Strike and The Passion of Joan of Ark are two that stick out to me from a film class I took in college. I enjoy Buster Keaton too. I don't think I've seen any Chaplin movies.
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Rawhide7
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« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2020, 12:10:26 AM »

Thanks Christopher

Looking forward to seeing these that everyone has mentioned. Amazing how entertaining these movies are with no sound. Ive heard mostly about Chaplin. But I?m planning on seeking out some Buster Keaton movies. From what I?ve read about him and from what y?all are saying sounds like he?s a tremendous silent era actor. Several yrs ago back when my cable tv had the TCM channel they showed some silent movies. At first I didn?t care for them. Cause I?m so use to movies with sound. But after watching a few I started liking them. Something different and there actually pretty funny and entertaining. And you get to see what people in the 20s and 30s watched back then.
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AKA23
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2020, 12:45:41 PM »

I've never seen a silent movie. I don't think I'd enjoy it. I didn't even seen "The Artist" when it won Best Picture. I am obviously in the minority, but I don't think I have the patience to sit through a completely silent movie. The closest I've ever gotten is "All is Lost" with Robert Redford, but that movie did have sound, and a ton of action as well. It held my interest, but I still think I would have preferred it more if it had more dialogue.
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Rawhide7
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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2020, 09:07:29 PM »

Yeah AKA23 I use to come home late at night after work and put on the TCM channel. Cause I like older Classic movies. The older classic movies with sound that is. Like Rear Window, 12 Angry Men, it's a wonderful life etc. Every now and then they would be showing silent era movies. I didn't like them at all. Couldn't watch them. Cause too use to movies with sound. So one night I said what the heck I'll make myself watch some. Give it a chance. I gradually started enjoying them. They grew on me. I actually found them to be funny and entertaining. I feel like it's something different. And plus those movies are the beginning of movie making. And it's cool getting a sense of what people back then use to watch movie wise. With all that said can't say I'm just a huge fan of silent movies. Don't think I could spend all day watching a marathon of them. I still prefer watching older classic movies 40s, 50s, 60s  and movies from 70s, till now which all have sound. But I have come to appreciate and enjoy watching a silent movie from time to time. I actually don't remember what silent ones I watched on TCM channel cause it was several yrs ago. But I am going to add maybe 5 to 10 of them to my movie collection. I've got The Gold Rush that came in yesterday. And I've got City Lights ordered. Starting with those two. I like Charlie Chaplin a lot. Mostly getting his movies. But plan out getting a couple Buster Keaton ones too.
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Gant
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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2020, 11:18:56 PM »

I always really enjoyed the stunts in silent movies and then trying to read up how they were accomplished... so dangerous sometimes...
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Rawhide7
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2020, 08:13:22 PM »

Yeah the stunts are really cool. That's what kind of sparked my interest. Watched The Gold Rush last night. The stunts at the end we're really cool.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2020, 12:19:51 AM »

I wouldn't call it a favorite but The Birth Of A Nation is definitely up there for historic silent films.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_a_Nation
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Doug
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« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2020, 12:44:54 AM »

I wouldn't call it a favorite but The Birth Of A Nation is definitely up there for historic silent films.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_a_Nation

Um, yeah... that's a movie about the birth of the KKK. I've seen it, but I'd never recommend it except to film buffs who wouldn't need me recommending it.

A movie I forgot to mention was Nosferatu, one of the creepiest movies ever made.

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Rawhide7
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« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2020, 01:37:21 PM »

Yeah I've heard about Nosferatu. Never seen it before. I'm a horror movie fan. Is Nosferatu pretty good? 
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Rawhide7
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« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2020, 10:23:01 PM »

My dvd of The Gold Rush doesn?t have the original 1925 soundtrack from the original movie. On the back of my dvd case it says all new music score by Keith Taylor piano. Just wondering if any of you know why they wouldn?t keep the original soundtrack on this dvd?  The piano sounds good and everything. But just wondering why they wouldn?t keep the original soundtrack?  It appears they?ve done that to many other silent era films too.
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KC
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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2020, 11:10:18 AM »

Many silent films didn't have an "original soundtrack," or actually, none had a soundtrack per se that was part of the projected film. That's why they are called "silent" films. They were (mostly) intended to have live musical accompaniment, however, and some did have full scores that could be played by an orchestra in big city theaters, and larger theaters also sometimes had an in-house musical staff that could prepare scores for films that didn't have them. But most films, in most theaters, would be accompanied only by a pianist or organist, guided by a cue sheet that came with the film, suggesting what kind of music would be needed, and for how long, to accompany a chase scene or a romantic interlude. You can check out this story in the New York Times for more information:
https://www.nytimes.com/1981/02/08/movies/silent-films-had-a-musical-voice.html

In the case of The Gold Rush, the situation is a bit more complicated. There is more than one "original" score:

Quote
It is clear that even before this, from his first silent features, [Chaplin] took a keen interest in the musical arrangements of his films. For the premiere performance of The Gold Rush on 26 June 1925 it was accompanied by an orchestral score compiled by one of the most distinguished musical directors for silent films, the Rumanian-born Carli D. Elinor (1890-1958). Grauman's Egyptian Theatre Orchestra was conducted by Gino Severi, with Julius J. Johnson at the mighty cinema organ. For the first run of the film in the same theatre, however, the film was supplied with a new score by Carl Minor, mostly compiled, like Elinor's, from existing compositions, both popular and classical.

Chaplin himself composed two songs, "Sing a Song" and "With You Dear in Bombay," and even recorded them for the gramophone, with himself conducting Abe Lyman's orchestra: copies of the disc were sold in cinemas where The Gold Rush was shown. For the British premiere run, a new score was compiled by Chaplin's French assistant director, Henri d'Abbadie d'Arrast, who chose as Georgia's theme an 1899 ballad, Chauncey Olcott's "My Wild Irish Rose."

When in 1942 he decided to reissue The Gold Rush, adapting it for a new audience accustomed to sound films, Chaplin composed and recorded an entirely new score, working with a well-known popular musician, Max Terr, as musical director. Terr was nominated in the 1943 Oscars for The Gold Rush score, in the class of Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.
https://www.charliechaplin.com/en/films/2-The-Gold-Rush/articles/248-The-Music-of-The-Gold-Rush

So even if the DVD company didn't want to use the "original 1925" score, or one of them, you would think they would have wanted to let audiences hear what Chaplin's own score from 1942 sounded like, at least on an alternate track. I wonder, like you, why they wouldn't have done this.
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Rawhide7
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« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2020, 12:41:54 PM »

Thanks KC
That helped a lot.
The new piano score on my dvd is actually pretty good. It seems to fit well. I still would have preferred the original music from 1925. Or Chaplin?s 1942 score. But it?s still the same movie and comedy.
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AKA23
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« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2020, 04:36:50 PM »

Any suggestions for a short silent film for someone who has never seen one before and is skeptical that they'll like them?
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Doug
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« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2020, 01:31:15 AM »

Any suggestions for a short silent film for someone who has never seen one before and is skeptical that they'll like them?

Maybe try Charlie Chaplin's The Kid. It's only 52 minutes and it's generally ranked amongst Chaplin's best films. Besides being a comedy, it's actually a very touching movie. And it's available on youtube:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/LQE0c1Zugx8" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/LQE0c1Zugx8</a>
« Last Edit: September 02, 2020, 12:14:35 PM by Doug » Logged

"Yes, well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of a park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy."  Frank Drebin, Police Squad.
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