How do you discover films to watch?

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
Battra92
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How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Battra92 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:11 am

I was talking about this topic with someone recently and thought I'd pose it to all of you.

With a limited supply of silent films out there on the market, how do you end up seeking out films to watch?

Now I'm not as old as some of you (and maybe older than others, I don't know) but back in the mid 90s when I started watching silent films I was at the mercy of whatever AMC showed. I remember getting up really early to see The Iron Horse and recording 24 hours straight of Buster Keaton's 100th birthday on three 8 hour VHS tapes (which I really wish I could find because of the different music for Sherlock Jr. and Go West.

Now I have access to ordering films from all over the world (thank you multi-region BD/DVD player!) and there's YouTube, Amazon Prime etc. so in a strange way it's a bit overwhelming.

I find recommendations from here and the silent film group on Facebook help but a lot of times I feel a bit lost. So how do you decide what to watch?

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Mitch Farish
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Mitch Farish » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:36 am

Other than monitoring this site and browsing vendors' catalogs and YouTube, I find a lot of references in books. James Card's Seductive Cinema is where I learned about The Cossack Whip (1916). Blum's Pictorial History of the Silent Screen and all of K. Brownlow's books are good.

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Hamilton's Grandson
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Hamilton's Grandson » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:50 am

I look for kickstarters and peruse very often sites like Grapevine,YT, other sites etc. to see if there are titles available that I have not seen yet.

Otherwise, I have a few lost 35 mm reels that I am trying to get into the public domain and hopefully then everyone can see them and add to material that are not considered lost. The later is an expensive hobby.

Dana
Mark Hamilton (I) is on imdb.com
Joseph Hamilton (I) is on imdb.com
Gertrude Brooke Hamilton is on imdb.com

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boblipton
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by boblipton » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:07 pm

I look at anything that comes my way. Fortunately, I have a somewhat academic approach to films, so I gain some perverse pleasure in fitting almost anything into the mosaic. In addition, living in Manhattan and having a MOMA membership, I get to see a lot of oddities and rarities and there are some good sites for very early movies on the Site We Do Not Name. Which reminds me, Ben, when’s the next CRUEL AND UNUSUAL COMEDY series?

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

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drednm
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by drednm » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:15 pm

boblipton wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:07 pm
I look at anything that comes my way. Fortunately, I have a somewhat academic approach to films, so I gain some perverse pleasure in fitting almost anything into the mosaic. In addition, living in Manhattan and having a MOMA membership, I get to see a lot of oddities and rarities and there are some good sites for very early movies on the Site We Do Not Name. Which reminds me, Ben, when’s the next CRUEL AND UNUSUAL COMEDY series?

Bob
I don't live in NYC and don't have a MOMA membership, but I still see a lot of "oddities and rarities" ... wandering around the local towns.
Ed Lorusso
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-------------
https://wordpress.com/view/silentroomdo ... dpress.com" target="_blank

Battra92
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Battra92 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:26 pm

Mitch Farish wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:36 am
Other than monitoring this site and browsing vendors' catalogs and YouTube, I find a lot of references in books. James Card's Seductive Cinema is where I learned about The Cossack Whip (1916). Blum's Pictorial History of the Silent Screen and all of K. Brownlow's books are good.
I remember reading The Movies in the Age of Innocence while on my honeymoon back before I had a smartphone and instant access to look stuff up and had a lengthy list of films I wanted to see. It was so discouraging to find how few had survived or were unavailable for viewing but it was a nice start.

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Rodney
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Rodney » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:38 pm

I’ve seen many of what are considered to be “classics,” but I pick up a lot of rare films — many quite good— at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The last festival had only about three films I’d seen before! The series in New York serve a similar purpose. If you get TCM, I’m pretty sure you can search the upcoming TCM schedule for films made in 1929 and before as well.
Rodney Sauer
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oldposterho
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by oldposterho » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:47 pm

I'm partial to the genres I favor so start there but the What's the Last Movie You Watched threads here are an immense service to alerting me to things that should be seen. I'd also add that documentaries are invaluable to making me aware of even more films that need to be on 'the list.' Most recently the Kracauer documentary pointed me to some German films, which then led me to an old 2008 thread here, which included a list by Arndt that has been a revelation.

I blame you all.

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mwalls
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by mwalls » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:00 pm

I have the same problem for the most part in bias towards what I know. I scan the TCM guide, or on-line catalog, and I have a tendency to key on the ones I have seen ---- "Wow, that is a great movie" --- and possibly blow right past a really great movie I have not seen. That is one of the reasons I have so enjoyed "Noir Alley" on TCM. I very much enjoy Noir, and because I have relied upon Eddie/TCM to choose the films, I have been treated to a number of films that I really enjoyed that I likely never would have circled on the calendar to tape/watch.

Matthew

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Smari1989
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Smari1989 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:06 pm

These days -- like the majority of people, I assume -- I discover films to watch almost exclusively on the Web... other than occasional suggestions from friends, of course. I'll typically browse through the filmographies of actors / directors I like (without having seen all of their films), and go from there. I've been through a bit of a Film Noir craze lately, and have gotten to see some classics I'd yet to watch, such as THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and LAURA. As much as I'm eager to point out the more harmful ways of the Internet, I somehow wouldn't want to be without the technology's benefits for too long.

earlytalkiebuffRob
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:45 pm

Mitch Farish wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:36 am
Other than monitoring this site and browsing vendors' catalogs and YouTube, I find a lot of references in books. James Card's Seductive Cinema is where I learned about The Cossack Whip (1916). Blum's Pictorial History of the Silent Screen and all of K. Brownlow's books are good.
Seconded!

earlytalkiebuffRob
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:01 pm

I find the problem is finding time to watch them! A bigger selection by far than years ago, even if one cannot travel distances as one used to. Even my local cinema at Portsmouth Dockyard show the occasional silent, with POTEMKIN, ZEEBRUGGE (1924) and NELSON (1918) this month, together with a documentary on the Dawson City discoveries.

Some of these I have to pass on, what with budgeting, work hours and feeding my cat*. I guess the thing to do is follow your nose, starting with favourite directors, studios, stars and genres, and then just wading in as best you can, with perhaps filtering out poor copies and those with no* / awful music.

And certainly James Card, Brownlow and Everson are excellent guides just so long as you don't follow their advice religiously. After all they watch / watched films for a living and would see several in a day perhaps whereas one might watch just a few in one week.

Elvey's NELSON is a case in point, being uploaded mute, but scheduled to be shown with an accompaniment just a few hundred yards from HMS Victory...

* My bookshop is at least twice as far from the cinema as it is from home, so I either have to be pretty quick, or arrange for one of my cat's 'aunties' to do the work! And the cat comes first, otherwise there's big trouble!

tguinan
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by tguinan » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:19 pm

Enter contests like the 3 I just put up!

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Jim Roots
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:00 am

I follow the recommendations in those wonderful books written by James Roots about silent comedies. It is really amazing how much we think alike, so if he enjoys a certain film, I'm pretty confident I will enjoy it too.

Jim

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milefilms
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by milefilms » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:10 am

I think here is the best place (the written word) to hear about films and where you can get them. However, if I was just starting out (too late for that!) I wouldn't be buying discs or online screenings -- I'd be saving my money to go to Bologna or Pordenone. Beyond the cultural experience, you can meet the archivists and other film lovers, and discover more new films in a week than you have time to see in half a year.

And yes, I know this isn't feasible for most people -- I'm not going to Pordenone this year due to my workload and lack of available money -- but it still would be my suggested aspiration.
Dennis Doros
Milestone F&V

Battra92
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Battra92 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:46 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:01 pm
I find the problem is finding time to watch them!
I can definitely attest to that! Last night by the time I got my daughter cleaned up, put to bed, popped some popcorn and decided on a movie (went with Dinty) I ended up only able to watch half before I got too tired and had to go to bed. I'll finish it tonight.

Battra92
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Battra92 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:48 am

Jim Roots wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:00 am
I follow the recommendations in those wonderful books written by James Roots about silent comedies. It is really amazing how much we think alike, so if he enjoys a certain film, I'm pretty confident I will enjoy it too.

Jim
That's funny. I've never heard of him. Maybe he should become a member here and post from time to time. :wink:

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Jim Roots
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:00 pm

Battra92 wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:48 am
Jim Roots wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:00 am
I follow the recommendations in those wonderful books written by James Roots about silent comedies. It is really amazing how much we think alike, so if he enjoys a certain film, I'm pretty confident I will enjoy it too.

Jim
That's funny. I've never heard of him. Maybe he should become a member here and post from time to time. :wink:
I'll tell him next time I see him.

Jim

earlytalkiebuffRob
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:00 pm

Battra92 wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:46 am
earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:01 pm
I find the problem is finding time to watch them!
I can definitely attest to that! Last night by the time I got my daughter cleaned up, put to bed, popped some popcorn and decided on a movie (went with Dinty) I ended up only able to watch half before I got too tired and had to go to bed. I'll finish it tonight.
Hope you remembered to feed the cat!

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odinthor
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by odinthor » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:46 pm

I'll like an actor (not necessarily a top-liner) in a film, or a director, then go to IMDB to see what other films he or she is associated with, then throw myself on the floor and flail about in frustration because most of the films are unavailable.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, because my floor has become spotless.
_____
"She confessed subsequently to Cottard that she found me remarkably enthusiastic; he replied that I was too emotional, that I needed sedatives, and that I ought to take up knitting." —Marcel Proust (Cities of the Plain).

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Donald Binks
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Donald Binks » Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:43 pm

When I was a young whippersnapper - probably about 13 or 14, I developed an interest in silent pictures. Most likely this developed from seeing programmes on the television such as "Silents Please" and "Fractured Flickers". In those days it was virtually impossible to see a full length silent picture, so I made do with reading and collecting books about pictures I wanted to see.

Jump ahead to the 1980's and lo and behold, silent pictures were being shown in my hometown with an orchestra in the pit! Something I had only dreamed of. Also, one could purchase copies of films on video tape. Would wonders never cease?

Over the years I have been ticking off films that I had on a list from long ago, now there are so many silent pictures being found and restored I am overwhelmed by what is available.

I now sit in awe in my living room watching pictures I never, ever dreamed I would see let alone own.
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Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

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Jim Roots
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:05 am

odinthor wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:46 pm
I'll like an actor (not necessarily a top-liner) in a film, or a director, then go to IMDB to see what other films he or she is associated with, then throw myself on the floor and flail about in frustration because most of the films are unavailable.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, because my floor has become spotless.
Except for the tear stains, right?

Jim

Battra92
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Battra92 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:52 am

earlytalkiebuffRob wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:00 pm
Hope you remembered to feed the cat!
No animals in my house (unless you count the kiddo!)
Donald Binks wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:43 pm

I now sit in awe in my living room watching pictures I never, ever dreamed I would see let alone own.
I'm sad that I'll never get to see much of Theda Bara and there are so many things lost to time completely like London After Midnight and the complete version of Greed. That said, I am floored that I have several shelves full of VHS, DVD and BD (and a couple of laserdiscs) that I can watch silent films off of in the comfort of my own house.

Dave Pitts
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Dave Pitts » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:08 am

You need to gain entrance to the collector's market, otherwise known as The Enchanted Forest of Celluloid. Get any copy of Classic Images and scan the dealer ads. Find out where the nearest film festival w/ a dealers' room is going to be. I suppose you could write to the Estate of Corinne Griffith, but I don't know anyone who's done that. Another Plan B, but even more remote, in every sense: find out if there's another filled-in pool in Dawson City. (Sorry, couldn't stop. My first 2nd and 3rd sentences are the true gen, and you'll find more and more points of contact if you start there.)

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Jim Roots
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:22 am

Dave Pitts wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:08 am
You need to gain entrance to the collector's market, otherwise known as The Enchanted Forest of Celluloid. Get any copy of Classic Images and scan the dealer ads. Find out where the nearest film festival w/ a dealers' room is going to be. I suppose you could write to the Estate of Corinne Griffith, but I don't know anyone who's done that. Another Plan B, but even more remote, in every sense: find out if there's another filled-in pool in Dawson City. (Sorry, couldn't stop. My first 2nd and 3rd sentences are the true gen, and you'll find more and more points of contact if you start there.)
There are no more ex-pools in Dawson City, but further along the rivers there are hundreds of abandoned mining shafts that have been filled in. The question is: were any of them filled in with the same kind of "materials" that were used to fill in the pool?

Some of them were deep enough to hide all 82 original reels of Greed!

Yukon Jim

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Jim Roots
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Re: How do you discover films to watch?

Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:36 am

If I can get serious for a minute here ...

(Oh, relax, seriousness never lasts more than a minute with me!)

1) Read books, especially "greatest silent films" books because they will give you a broader list of films that might excite you. Robert Klepper did a very useful one 20 years ago (tip: if he hates it, it's a good film; if he loves it, it's usually a stinker). Kalton Lahue wrote a pile of books that are still fun and inspiring. Walter Kerr, Glenn Mitchell's encyclopedias, Jeffrey Vance's coffee-table epics, anything by Kevin Brownlow. Maltin's "Classic Films Guide" is very good, though not up-to-date anymore (hundreds of old films have become available in the two years since the last edition). Check out books on stars you like, such as Michael Blake's three books on Lon Chaney.

2) Sign up for email notifications from Criterion, Flicker Alley, Grapevine Video, maybe even Oldies.com. Flicker Alley just sent out an update about two new Valentino MOD sets.

3) Follow some of the blogs that specialize in silent movies.

4) Did I mention those wonderful books by James Roots? Oops, my serious minute is up.

Jim

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