The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was refused a showing in Los Angeles, after protests from the American Legion, Actors’ Equity, and the Motion Picture Directors Association, although it was screened when the fuss had died down. German pictures were morbid and pessimistic because, general opinion asserted, the Germans liked horror and suffering on the screen - not to sympathize with the sufferer but to enjoy watching the sufferings.”

~Kevin Brownlow, The Parade’s Gone By…
"There's a renewed interest in silent films": Kenneth Turan -

“For, as the late silent historian William K. Everson insisted, "this was not a shoddy little flickering art medium, not the primitive forerunner of anything. This deserves to be seen as a completely separate art, something unique and full blown.” Added Kevin Brownlow, one of the great living authorities on the medium, “they were the movies until sound came in; calling them silent suggests they were lacking something.”

Key to appreciating vintage silents on their own terms is the realization that the absence of spoken dialogue is not a handicap to endure but a virtue to enjoy. For the hidden, unexpected pleasure of silent films is the way they seduce audiences into becoming, in the most modern way, full, interactive participants in the movie experience.

“You’re not told what to think or feel,” said Michael Friend, an archivist for Sony. “A kind of emotional space is produced which is open for you to enter, a space for reflection between the film and the music.”

For while sound particularizes, silence turns out to universalize, allowing an audience to share completely in the on-screen dream. No one spending quality time with silent films could fail to agree with Mary Pickford’s famous statement that “it would have been more logical if silent pictures had grown out of the talking instead of the other way around.”“

(full article at the link)


The documentary “Unknown Chaplin” - over 3 hours, in 3 parts

“My Happiest Years”, “The Great Director” & “Hidden Treasures” & lots of little extras.  To accompany the documentary I highly recommend reading “The Search for Charlie Chaplin” - Kevin Brownlow’s account of what it took to get this documentary to the public, 

Watch on

Got about 13 hours to kill?  "Hollywood:  A Celebration of the American Silent Film" is an awesome series by Kevin Brownlow.  Loaded with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, promos and reviews, it’s a wonderful primer for silent film buffs and noobs alike.  

In 13 parts (each almost an hour long) - it’s a long but in-depth view.  One downside, it’s a bit short on Buster, but Brownlow more than made up for this shortfall by following up with “Keaton: A Hard Act To Follow,” so we Busterphiles can excuse him.  (and BK shows up in Part 8, albeit pretty sparsely considering his contribution to the form).

Some of my favorite bits - the poignant story of Viola Dana’s romance with Ormer Locklear, Lillian Gish’s WWI trip to France, descriptions of the weekly parties at the Hollywood Hotel and Sunset Club, Agnes DeMille’s prosaic descriptions of early LA.  All-in-all, this series is a great excuse to don your fuzzy PJs, curl up with a nice hot toddy, and immerse yourself in the magic that was the Golden Age of Hollywood.

OH!! OHH!!!! I met Kevin Brownlow this weekend...

 I’ve seen his stuff, obsessed over it, even, but had no idea what he looks like. So I was nattering away about the fact I wouldn’t be wearing lippy if I was just an everyday non actress in the 20’s when I saw him in the hotel lobby on Friday and he came up to tell me I was perfect, but where was my lipstick?

I decided to make sure to wear lippy the next day, in case I saw him, because he was such a sweet man. Then, there he was, introducing the Big Parade. And there I was feeling like a complete dolt, realizing I had been attempting to school Kevin Brownlow on 1920s make up trends.

 But then I saw him at a talk by the amazing John Bengston yesterday, and I had on lippy yet again, just in case I saw him, so I made a point of going over to say hello again. :D  He said I looked absolutely perfect and period exact. And THEN HE TOOK PICTURES OF ME!!  He was so sweet and such a lovely gentleman. I wanted to hug him, but refrained . 


So thrilled :D
Kevin Brownlow’s Top 10 Silent Comedies « Bristol Silents

Speaking of Kevin Brownlow, some of you might be interested to see his response to the topic of “top ten silent comedies.” The link specifies that “there are equally wonderful films I’ve had to cut out” and “I’ve limited it to one title per comedian.” Anyway, list at the link!

** Personal Note: I always feel like something’s wrong with me because City Lights isn’t my favorite Chaplin, The General isn’t my favorite Keaton, and Show People isn’t my favorite Marion Davies. Not that I don’t love them, they’re just not my ohmigosh favorites, yet they’re always the ones on all these “lists.” I know, favorites are by definition subjective, but when I see the same ones on every list I start to wonder. :)


I can’t say enough great things about this incredible series created by Kevin Brownlow & David Gill. 

It is an absolute must for anyone that is interested in Charlie Chaplin and especially how he created his timeless films. I watch it at least once a month it seems, always come away with something.

 - a scene from “The Circus” shot but ultimately omitted from final release.

Appears to fit into the scene where he over hears Merna saying she is in love with Rex the tight rope walker. He then has to go out perform and be funny.
Video & Audio: Kevin Brownlow: The Impact of Silent Film

“Kevin Brownlow, winner of an Honorary Award at the 2010 Oscars.

Kevin Brownlow is coming to give a lecture on the impact of silent film. The silent era was the richest in the cinema’s history. Every visual advance (except CGI) was invented before talkies. This presentation will show the astonishingly rapid advance from the single-shot films of 1893 to the monumental epics of the 1920s.”

The talk is about 90 minutes long and can be viewed in its entirety at the link.

Unknown Chaplin by dasinfogod on Flickr.

I highly recommend “UNKNOWN CHAPLIN”(1983), it is on DVD and you can find it for a reasonable price, I found mine for $22.00, it is approximately 3 hours long,  shows out takes from “The Cure”, The Adventurer, The Immigrant, Charlie directing, interviews with Virginia Cherrill (flower girl City Lights), Georgia Hale (the Gold Rush), Lita Grey (Charlie’s 2d wife), Jackie Coogan etc and so much more.

The producers of “Unknown Chaplin”  Kevin Brownlow and David Gill also produced the phenomenal documentary “HOLLYWOOD” in 1980, a 13 part series on the Silent Film Era…just excellent

A perfect accompaniment to this, the book Kevin Brownlow wrote - how this all came together “The Search for Charlie Chaplin”

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Tuesday, October 22, 7:30 p.m.
THE CROWDThurday, October 24, 7:30 p.m. THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERGSamuel Goldwyn Theater
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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