Tag Archives: silent movies

TWENTY-FOUR GREAT SILENT HORROR FILMS

Halloween month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at two dozen of my favorite silent horror films.

The Crimson Stain MysteryTHE CRIMSON STAIN MYSTERY (1916) – This was a 16 chapter silent serial that contained multiple horrific elements. The fact that it is so little remembered these days makes it perfect for this list, given Balladeer’s Blog’s overall theme. A mad scientist calling himself the Crimson Stain experiments on human guinea pigs in an attempt to create an intellectually superior race. His experiments all fail, producing hideous, mutated monsters. The Crimson Stain organizes his misbegotten menagerie into a villainous organization and wages a campaign of terror on the world at large. A heroic detective leads the opposition against them and tries to learn the identity of the Crimson Stain. Chapters in this serial boasted wonderfully campy titles like The Brand of Satan, The Devil’s Symphony, Despoiling Brutes and The Human Tiger.  

THE MAN WITHOUT A SOUL (1916) – A man returns from the dead bereft of any trace of morality or humanity. He now views the people around him as victims and prey. 

THE GOLEM AND THE DANCER (1917) – In the very first known horror movie sequel Paul Wegener starred and directed himself once again as the clay monster called the Golem. In this enjoyably “meta” production decades before Scream or The Human Caterpillar II, Wegener played himself. Continue reading

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AMERICA (1924): A SILENT FILM FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY

America 1924Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my fondness for old Silent Movies. America was D.W. Griffith’s 1924 production about the Revolutionary War. The movie is pleasant enough for the July 4th holiday season, but don’t expect a classic like The Phantom of the Opera, The Mark of Zorro or many other masterpieces of the silent era.

Batman fans may enjoy the fact that a very young Neil Hamilton – Commissioner Gordon on the much later Adam West Batman show – starred in America as Nathan Holden, a rebel Minute Man in Massachusetts. Nathan is part of a Romeo and Juliet-styled romance and is in love with Nancy Montague (Carol Dempster), who belongs to a Tory family still loyal to England.

America 1924 2The Holdens can’t stand the snobbish Montagues and the Montagues pompously look down on the Holdens and the rest of the rebels. Nancy’s father would rather see Nancy married off to the prominent British military officer Captain Walter Butler, played with aristocratic and sadistic flair by THE Lionel Barrymore.

The star-crossed lovers Nathan and Nancy struggle to keep their romance alive against the backdrop of historical events like the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, the Battle of Bunker Hill and many others.Various actors portray figures like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, William Pitt, King George III, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and, of course, George Washington. Continue reading

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EASTER SILENT FILM: LIFE AND PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST (1907)

Since today is BOTH Easter Sunday AND April Fool’s Day I figured people might think my usual Easter examinations of Apocryphal Gospels were just made-up April Fool’s Day pranks. Instead I went with this 1907 silent film about Jesus from the cradle to the crucifixion. 

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AMERICA (1924): SILENT FILM

America 1924Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my fondness for old Silent Movies. America was D.W. Griffith’s 1924 production about the Revolutionary War. The movie is pleasant enough for the July 4th holiday season, but don’t expect a classic like The Phantom of the Opera, The Mark of Zorro or many other masterpieces of the silent era.

Batman fans may enjoy the fact that a very young Neil Hamilton – Commissioner Gordon on the much later Adam West Batman show – starred in America as Nathan Holden, a rebel Minute Man in Massachusetts. Nathan is part of a Romeo and Juliet-styled romance and is in love with Nancy Montague (Carol Dempster), who belongs to a Tory family still loyal to England.

America 1924 2The Holdens can’t stand the snobbish Montagues and the Montagues pompously look down on the Holdens and the rest of the rebels. Nancy’s father would rather see Nancy married off to the prominent British military officer Captain Walter Butler, played with aristocratic and sadistic flair by THE Lionel Barrymore.

The star-crossed lovers Nathan and Nancy struggle to keep their romance alive against the backdrop of historical events like the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, the Battle of Bunker Hill and many others.Various actors portray figures like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, William Pitt, King George III, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and, of course, George Washington. Continue reading

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AMERICA (1924): A SILENT FILM FOR INDEPENDENCE DAY

America 1924Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog are familiar with my fondness for old Silent Movies. America was D.W. Griffith’s 1924 production about the Revolutionary War. The movie is pleasant enough for the July 4th holiday season, but don’t expect a classic like The Phantom of the Opera, The Mark of Zorro or many other masterpieces of the silent era.

Batman fans may enjoy the fact that a very young Neil Hamilton – Commissioner Gordon on the much later Adam West Batman show – starred in America as Nathan Holden, a rebel Minute Man in Massachusetts. Nathan is part of a Romeo and Juliet-styled romance and is in love with Nancy Montague (Carol Dempster), who belongs to a Tory family still loyal to England.

America 1924 2The Holdens can’t stand the snobbish Montagues and the Montagues pompously look down on the Holdens and the rest of the rebels. Nancy’s father would rather see Nancy married off to the prominent British military officer Captain Walter Butler, played with aristocratic and sadistic flair by THE Lionel Barrymore.

The star-crossed lovers Nathan and Nancy struggle to keep their romance alive against the backdrop of historical events like the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, the Battle of Bunker Hill and many others.Various actors portray figures like John Hancock, Samuel Adams, William Pitt, King George III, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and, of course, George Washington. Continue reading

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OLD SCROOGE (1913)

Old Scrooge 1Christmas Carol-A-Thon 2014 continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! Previously I’ve reviewed the 1910 and 1923 silent film versions of the Dickens classic. This time I’ll take a look at the 1913 adaptation Old Scrooge, which clocks in at just over forty minutes.

Old Scrooge stars Seymour Hicks, the only English-language actor to portray Ebenezer Scrooge in both a silent AND a sound era adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Hicks went on to star in the 1935 version titled Scrooge, a version so cheapjack and rushed it was riff-fodder for Randy and Richard on The Texas 27 Film Vault in the 1980’s. If you’ve seen it you may recall the “pioneering” way that the visit from Marley’s Ghost was presented by having Scrooge talk to an empty chair while Marley’s lines were provided through a voice-over.  

The ghost shows Scrooge images from his past.

The ghost shows Scrooge images from his past.

Getting back to Old Scrooge, though it came out just three years after the Edison Studios version it is light-years ahead of that adaptation in terms of its effectiveness. Long stretches of dialogue and narration lifted straight from the novel fill most of the dialogue boards plus Tiny Tim is NOT edited out like he is in the joyless and soulless 1910 version. Due to the limited time Marley’s Ghost not only gives his usual warnings but takes Scrooge on his visits to Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. No additional locations were used for those visits – the visiting spectre merely projects the images on the rear wall of the office at Scrooge and Marley’s, where Ebenezer spends his nights in this adaptation.     Continue reading

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CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2014 BEGINS WITH THE 1923 SILENT FILM VERSION

Christmas Season is upon us! Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog will remember that from the Friday after Thanksgiving until Christmas Day I conduct a yearly Christmas Carol-A-Thon in which I examine some of the out of the way versions of what I consider to be THE Christmas story! As always I will mix in new reviews with some popular hits from the past. 

A Christmas Carol (1923)

A Christmas Carol (1923)

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1923) – Not only am I an enthusiastic fan of this Dickens story but I’m also a lover of silent movies. There were plenty of adaptations of A Christmas Carol in the silent era but this one has got to be the most disappointing. By the 1920’s the art of silent filmmaking was at its creative peak with many of the masterpieces of the pre-sound era premiering during the decade. This British film adaptation is an undeniable bomb which sucks the soul out of the story as effectively as the 1910 Edison Company version. 

At least the 1910 version had the excuse of coming out when silent movies were still finding their way creatively, but this 1923 Hi-Mark production is an embarrassment and a definite step backward in the storytelling technique of silent films. This film was screened only at museums in England for several decades before finally being released on home video in 2007. The lack of exposure built up a certain mystique around this movie and its British pedigree enhanced the feelings of anticipation surrounding its release.

Watching the film quickly disillusions anyone expecting the usual 1920’s silent movie magic. There are Continue reading

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CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2012: THE 1923 SILENT MOVIE VERSION

A Christmas Carol (1923)

A Christmas Carol (1923)

Balladeer’s Blog resumes its annual orgy of reviews of the various versions of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1923) – Not only am I an enthusiastic fan of this Dickens story but I’m also a lover of silent movies. There were plenty of adaptations of A Christmas Carol in the silent era but this one has got to be the most disappointing. By the 1920’s the art of silent filmmaking was at its creative peak with many of the masterpieces of the pre-sound era premiering during the decade. This British film adaptation is an undeniable bomb which sucks the soul out of of the story as effectively as the 1910 Edison Company version. 

At least the 1910 version had the excuse of coming out when silent movies were still finding their way creatively, but this 1923 Hi-Mark production is an embarrassment and a definite step backward in the storytelling technique of silent films. This film was screened only at museums in England for several decades before finally being released on home video in 2007. The lack of exposure built up a certain mystique around this movie and its British pedigree enhanced the feelings of anticipation surrounding its release.

Watching the film quickly disillusions anyone expecting the usual 1920’s silent movie magic. There are Continue reading

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THE BEST SILENT HORROR FILM SHORTS 1896 – 1909

http://cpshaw.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/manoir.jpgI’ve never made any secret out of the fact that I’m a hopeless silent movie geek. As we get closer to Halloween Balladeer’s Blog will examine the greatest silent horror films of all but for this little teaser I’ll take a look at the best silent horror shorts from 1896 to 1909.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (1896) – Unless an earlier example turns up this is the very first horror movie with a semblance of a story. This 3 minute film from THE Georges Melies features the Devil setting up housekeeping in a creepy mansion and conjuring up his infernal lackeys like witches, goblins and a living skeleton man to keep him company. Much as the early film world owes to Melies we all know if you’ve seen one of his flicks you’ve seen them all so this will be the last work by him that I cover for this list. His camera trickery and broad characters get old REALLY fast.

FAUST AND MEPHISTOPHELES (1898) – George A Smith, a British stage magician, presents this very brief depiction of Faust selling his soul to the devil named Mephistopheles.

THE MISER’S DOOM (1899) – Like an 1899 Twilight Zone episode this Walter Booth short features a clutching, grasping miser getting his comeuppance in the form of a fatal encounter with a woman’s ghost. 

THE FREAK BARBER (1905) – In a sort of “Extreme Sweeney Todd” story a mad barber decapitates his customers until the tables are turned and he himself gets his head chopped off in the finale. 3 minutes of weirdness.

THE THIRTEEN CLUB (1905) – A group of Continue reading

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