Silent SOS!!!

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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ChrisStockslager

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Silent SOS!!!

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 7:55 pm

HELLLLLLP!! So,I am going to go on a first date tomorrow night with a guy. In passing conversation via text, he said he loathes all silent films -- simply because he saw Nosferatu (literally the only silent he's seen) live in a theater, got bored, and walked out. Naturally, I got understandably offended and lectured him about how he's not able to say he hates thousands of films over fifty-ish years simply because he hated some of Nosferatu.

However, there is hope for this dude: he said he'll try it / another silent film again.

Question is: What on earth should I show him?? He loves horror films in general.

I need your folks' advice - what on earth should I show him that's silent and preferably horror???
Nosferatu (Blu Ray) again? Phantom ('25 or 29?)? Caligari? The Unknown? Faust? Something non-horror???

I'll try not to stake him in the heart tomorrow night. :P
Thank you very much for your opinions!!
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Mike Gebert

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 8:17 pm

The Man Who Laughs. If you don't respond to Conrad Veidt in that... it's never happening.
“One of the wonders of the internet is that it's a totally open forum. The world's greatest expert—or greatest idiot—is free to post.” —David Shepard, quoted by Richard Bann
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Danny Burk

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 9:06 pm

Much as I love MAN WHO LAUGHS, I'd suggest THE UNKNOWN. It's short, fast-moving, and like nothing else. (MWL is like nothing else either, but I don't see it as an ideal choice for someone who didn't like his only previous silent film.)
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Harold Aherne

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 10:26 pm

You could also try a non-horror film that makes the silent form seem less alien -- perhaps the all-Technicolor The Toll of the Sea or Modern Times with its little bits of talking.

-HA
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Christopher Jacobs

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 10:33 pm

THE MAN WHO LAUGHS and THE UNKNOWN could both be good choices if you're sticking to creepy horror, and the Browning-Chaney WEST OF ZANZIBAR is another intense creepy thriller that's probably more jungle adventure than true horror except for its psychological/Freudian undercurrents.

I think that a really good sort-of horror film for silent newbies would be Paul Leni's THE CAT AND THE CANARY. It's an iconic "old dark house" movie that helped establish a still-common formula, it's a mystery-thriller with a semi-horror undercurrent and a crime element, it's beautifully shot and edited, and it also does not take itself terribly seriously, with plenty of comedy relief that usually goes over well today (as well as some that's a bit on the corny side).
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Arndt

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 4:24 am

I would definitely second THE UNKNOWN. Many other Chaneys come to mind, e.g. THE PENALTY. FAUST seems like another good idea. Or THE THIEF OF BAGDAD.
But if it is a date, why not show something romantic.How about LUCKY STAR?
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Wm. Charles Morrow

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 4:33 am

You might consider Sunrise. Not in the horror genre but dark, even something of a precursor to film noir, and of course it's brilliantly made, and visually beautiful.
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Stacia

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 6:40 am

Hope I'm not too late with a suggestion: I know he likes horror movies, but you might consider a lighter comedy. My first thought was The General, which is very accessible for modern audiences and a whole lot of fun.

I'd be concerned that if he likes modern horror movies, he'll be bored stiff by the classics. Does he like the Universal Horror movies of the 1930s? If so, then I think any of the Lon Chaney films suggested would be great. Maybe Phantom of the Opera, which my mother, who hated silents, really enjoyed.
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maliejandra

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 7:10 am

Horror movies today are nothing like they were in the silent era. If you want to go with something macabre, I'd second The Unknown, but I think you might be better off showing something in a different genre. Maybe something like My Best Girl or Old Ironsides or Girl Shy or Quality Street.
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pathe16mm

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 7:26 am

I'd go with The Unknown, or The Cat and the Canary, for the reasons stated. The Man Who Laughs may be a bit too sentimental for a modern viewer used to media dripping with cynicism and irony. If he wants something genuinely dark and jaw dropping, did you pre-order the Behind the Door Blu Ray? Though frankly, if he doesn't like Cat and the Canary, he isn't worth it.
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Jim Roots

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 8:15 am

maliejandra wrote:Horror movies today are nothing like they were in the silent era. If you want to go with something macabre, I'd second The Unknown, but I think you might be better off showing something in a different genre. Maybe something like My Best Girl or Old Ironsides or Girl Shy or Quality Street.


I agree, you've hit the nail on the head with the observation that horror movies today are absolutely nothing like they were in the silents. My own son and daughter are both horror addicts and the bloodier the better; there's no blood in silent horror.

Go with comedy. We have multiple threads on this board that have all reached the conclusion that comedy is by far the best way to introduce a newbie to silent films. Show him Keaton -- the most modern-day comedian of the silent era.

Jim
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odinthor

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 9:38 am

Yes, go different genre. Considering circumstances, Flesh and the Devil (make him promise to watch to the end). Oh, yes: Flesh and the Devil...
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silentfilm

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 11:22 am

Why try a feature? There are plenty of great slapstick comedies by Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd and Laurel & Hardy. I'd try Big Business or The Boat or Keaton's short feature Sherlock, Jr..
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ChrisStockslager

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 11:28 am

Thank you so much for all of the replies / advice, everyone!!

Ironically, the asshole canceled..... sooooooooo... solo movie night. Goody.
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wich2

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 12:12 pm

Well, for next time...

I'm a horror fan too, but in this case, for a REAL hardcore cynic about the medium, I go for something like Keaton's THE GENERAL.

- Superbly crafted film - Great Comedy, but with some solid dramady - Available in terrific looking & sounding editions.

-Craig
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Arndt

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 1:16 pm

ChrisStockslager wrote:Thank you so much for all of the replies / advice, everyone!!

Ironically, the asshole canceled..... sooooooooo... solo movie night. Goody.


Look on the bright side. Now you can watch whatever YOU feel like.
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Frederica

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostThu Apr 13, 2017 2:22 pm

Arndt wrote:
ChrisStockslager wrote:Thank you so much for all of the replies / advice, everyone!!

Ironically, the asshole canceled..... sooooooooo... solo movie night. Goody.


Look on the bright side. Now you can watch whatever YOU feel like.


It might have been the lecturing. But I agree with Bruce, why go serious if you're trying to win over someone whose previous experience with a serious silent was a bad one? There are so many wonderful, charming silent comedies, how about My Best Girl?
Fred
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silentmovies742

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 8:17 am

You study opera and you adore silent film. The man who bailed was a fool!

I would have gone for The Unknown too. It's pretty nuts so you can't get bored, and it runs for 50 minutes - and length on a silent film to someone who isn't used to them probably has quite an impact on enjoyment. To be fair, Nosferatu would have put me off too if it was the only one I'd seen.

On the other hand, you could have shown him Different from the Others just to see his reaction to a gay rights film from 1919!
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Bob Furem

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 9:38 am

Kevin Brownlow's axiom is that if you want to make a silent film fan out of someone, show a Harold Lloyd film.
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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 12:26 pm

ChrisStockslager wrote:Thank you so much for all of the replies / advice, everyone!!

Ironically, the asshole canceled..... sooooooooo... solo movie night. Goody.



Just out of curiosity Chris, what did YOU end up watching?? Also I was wondering if you've ever seen
PANDORA'S BOX - one of my absolute favorite films- silent or sound. And it might be of additional interest to you since it's based on the same work as Alban Berg's opera LULU.
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Smari1989

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 1:23 pm

Bob Furem wrote:Kevin Brownlow's axiom is that if you want to make a silent film fan out of someone, show a Harold Lloyd film.


I tend to agree with this, although I have to say that when I recently decided to run THE KID BROTHER to three friends, none of whom are particularly into silents, one of them didn't care at all for it... then again, I don't think he'd have cared more for another silent either. The two others loved it (esp the scenes with the monkey, predictably).
Last edited by Smari1989 on Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 1:31 pm

Smari1989 wrote:
Bob Furem wrote:Kevin Brownlow's axiom is that if you want to make a silent film fan out of someone, show a Harold Lloyd film.


I tend to agree with this, although I have to say that when I recently decided to run THE KID BROTHER to three friends, none of whom are particularly into silents, one didn't care at all for it... then again, I don't think he'd have cared more for another silent either. The two others loved it (esp the scenes with the monkey, predictably).


I have to confess I saw Speedy for the first time a few weeks ago, and didn't find much enjoyment in it myself. Not sure why - had been rather looking forward to it, too!
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Smari1989

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 1:35 pm

I've found SPEEDY to be rather slow in the beginning (never cared that much for the Coney Island part, though granted it's been several years since I last saw it now) but the "race" in the second half is superbly crafted, IMO. Also, the cab scene is hilarious, from what I recall.
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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 2:33 pm

On the Brownlow kick, why not give him a copy of HOLLYWOOD (easier for a novice than THE PARADE'S GONE BY) and let him mull over a few stills. Sounds a big challenge to me...
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Wm. Charles Morrow

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 2:37 pm

Smari1989 wrote:I've found SPEEDY to be rather slow in the beginning (never cared that much for the Coney Island part, though granted it's been several years since I last saw it now) but the "race" in the second half is superbly crafted, IMO. Also, the cab scene is hilarious, from what I recall.


I've seen it with an audience (twice), and watched it at home with one other person, and it's no contest: Speedy demands an appreciative crowd. That's true of all silent comedy really, but especially Lloyd. Gags that seem mildly amusing when you watch at home are suddenly and genuinely hilarious in an auditorium.
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Michael Arlt

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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 10:23 pm

The next time your friend comes by,
tie him to a chair and force him to watch the 1925 Wizard Of Oz as punishment for bailing out.
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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostFri Apr 14, 2017 11:43 pm

I will cast a vote of sympathy to anyone who loves horror films from the 20s and 30s - they are horror in the traditional sense, and they are all but dead in today's market. Today it's all about zombies and slasher movies, essentially both action/thriller/Western films with horror elements. The saddest part is that most people under 30 have grown up with these new films and can't tolerate the slower pace of the earlier films. For exhibit A, I call upon the two Mummy films, the first with Karloff and then the more recent remake. Anyone I talk to under 50 can't tolerate the Karloff film (way too slow), and I can't tolerate the recent film. There is not going to be a meeting of the minds here.
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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostSat Apr 15, 2017 12:26 pm

I have always favored Keatons "Sherlock, Jr". Its funny, visually stunning and fast paced. Its just perfect.
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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostSat Apr 15, 2017 6:10 pm

Lokke Heiss wrote:I will cast a vote of sympathy to anyone who loves horror films from the 20s and 30s - they are horror in the traditional sense, and they are all but dead in today's market. Today it's all about zombies and slasher movies, essentially both action/thriller/Western films with horror elements. The saddest part is that most people under 30 have grown up with these new films and can't tolerate the slower pace of the earlier films. For exhibit A, I call upon the two Mummy films, the first with Karloff and then the more recent remake. Anyone I talk to under 50 can't tolerate the Karloff film (way too slow), and I can't tolerate the recent film. There is not going to be a meeting of the minds here.


Well, if you're talking about the 1999 film with Brendan Fraser, it's only a very loose remake anyway. But it's hardly surprising people find the Karloff film slow. It might be a great film, and it might be a classic, but it clearly doesn't have much to do with modern Hollywood releases anymore than a Doyle Sherlock Holmes novel has much to do with James Patterson novels today. So, I don't think this has anything to do with age, it's just due to changing times - and that has always occurred. Were many people under thirty in the 1960s reading Dickens for pleasure? I doubt it. But as for the state of horror films today, these things all go through cycles. The Lon Chaney "grotesques" of the 1920s were outdated by the mid-1930s - and yet there are certainly similarities between something like The Unknown and the "torture porn" cycle of ten years ago. Likewise, there are very few slasher films in recent years, that cycle also died out ten years ago for the most part.
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Re: Silent SOS!!!

PostSat Apr 15, 2017 7:31 pm

A person like yourself who is interested in opera and silent pictures should probably go for those silent epics such as "Faust" or "Siegfried" etc., - which of course might be just a tad heavy for the average punter.

It's hard to know what to show a silent picture novice - perhaps you can get them warmed up on a Buster Keaton two reeler - just to test the waters.

Most of the complaints I have had over the years from those experiencing a silent picture for the first time - apart from "It's not in colour!", "Why don't they say anything?" or "Why's the screen so small?" are that the film is not in very good quality or the speed of it is all wrong. Luckily, living in the age in which we do with all the positively marvelous restorations that are available, that complaint should not be surfacing quite so often.

My son, who is of the same persuasion as your good self has professed an interest in watching films that portray gay characters. I have been able to dig out some European silent films where the subject is dealt with in more depth than say the campiness displayed by character actors such as Franklin Pangborn and Edward Everett Horton. Maybe you could set up a few nights of retrospective cinema along this theme with any future person you may be walking out with?
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