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Posts tagged ‘Silent Westerns’


Festival Report – Cinesation 2011, Part 2


Cinesation 2011 Day 2 – Saturday, September 24

White Oak (1921)

White Oak is a late William Hart Western with an 1850s St. Louis and Independence “gateway to the West” setting. If you’ve seen one Hart film, then you have a good idea of the story and characters of this one (which is NOT the same thing as “seen one, seen them all”- his films work a common theme without sliding into interchangeability). The balance here tilts in favor of action and away from morality play. Hart and his production team were in good form. The 1850s Missouri setting allows for a riverboat, wagon train, Hart in the outfit of a casino dealer and other costumes from a less-familiar Western era, and muzzle-loading rifles. Plus the heroine’s dog saves the day. Some continuity errors are the byproduct of lost footage that was cut for the film’s re-release; the abridged print is the only material known to survive for two of the reels. Read more »


Festival Report – Cinesation 2011, Part 1


Cinesation 2011 Day 1 – Friday, September 23

The Gun Woman (1918)

Friday started with two incomplete films. The Gun Woman was incomplete only due to personal circumstances: it was the first feature of the day and Indianapolis is a five hour drive from the Lincoln Theater in Massillon, Ohio. What I saw of it was of interest as an early work by director Frank Borzage and for its saloon owner heroine, played by Texas Guinan. She’s a curious mixture of wronged woman and “good badwoman,” a sort of female William S. Hart. The story plays out much like a Hart film would play out- which is not the ending one expects a heroine in a film of that era to meet. Read more »


Cinecon 2008 Festival Report, Part Two


Parts one and two of my Cinecon wrap-up might fairly be characterized as “the best” and “the rest” of the festival. But while the first three were the best-made and most enjoyable silent films in the program, each of the succeeding films also had something to offer the enthusiast. Read more »


Silent Reflections – More Treasures from American Film Archives 1894-1931, Disc 1


Intro to the “American Film Archives” DVD Anthologies:

More Treasures from American Film Archives 1894-1931 is the second in a series of four box sets produced under the auspices of The National Film Preservation Foundation. The series is a showcase for the vital work being done by American film archives to preserve neglected films. Read more »


Silent Reflections – Three 1920s Westerns


There is a widespread tendency to view the cinema of the studio era (roughly, beginning in the mid 1910s and ending in the mid 1950s) as different in kind from contemporary cinema. This tendency takes many forms. Among avid classic movie buffs, it is expressed in a belief that movies were better back then. To a public with little knowledge about or interest in movies older than whatever year they themselves became moviegoers, early cinema is variously dismissed as archaic, irrelevant, primitive, the province of specialists. Nostalgia merchants encourage the characterization of old movies as wholesome products of a more innocent age. Film critics and culture critics of all stripes exalt the past to derogate the present, or less often, reverse the direction of that comparison. Read more »


Silent Reflections – The Iron Horse (1924) and The Lodger (1927)


The Iron Horse (1924)

Most of John Ford’s silent films are lost, but thankfully the extant work includes his great films of the ‘twenties 3 Bad Men, Four Sons, and The Iron Horse. Though still shy of 30, Ford was an industry veteran of nearly ten working years in Hollywood and dozens of directing credits when he made the first of these, The Iron Horse, in 1924. Read more »


DVD of the Week – “Ford at Fox” Box Set


There are people who maintain that every movie ever made by Hollywood is available on DVD, or if not on DVD, then at least for viewing on some obscure satellite channel or download from some questionable internet source. These people are not classic movie lovers. Festivals, revival theaters, and the odd special event screening remain the only way to see most silent films and many early sound films as well. And it’s not just minor films that aren’t available. Major studio films and the greatest works of renowned filmmakers suffer in obscurity alongside forgettable programmers. Read more »


Cinevent 2007 Festival Report


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This year was the 39th annual Cinevent festival, a silent and early sound film festival held over Memorial Day weekend in Columbus, Ohio.

Cinevent is half movie festival, half movie memorabilia show. It’s not an ideal forum for watching movies. The films are screened in a conference room in the basement of an interstate interchange hotel, with the memorabilia show in the next room; the chairs are hideously uncomfortable and the temperature more years than not frigid (this year was not an exception), and the size of the screen is modest. But the movies are projected from film, the silents have live piano accompaniment, the programs are varied and interesting and the registration charge is negligible. I’d pay a whole lot more just to see the silent program. Read more »


Silent Reflections – Hell’s Hinges (1916)


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William S. Hart is a towering figure in the 1910’s feature era. His films were critically acclaimed and he rivaled Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford in popularity. Hart made westerns almost exclusively, pioneering the good badman character in western films. He worked within a narrow, but rich set of themes, exploring the meaning of goodness and moral strength through stories of personal redemption. Hart is the great moralist of American silent film. He was also a consummate entertainer, and his movies feature gunfights, fistfights, chases, showy stunts, barroom brawls and moments of wry humor. Read more »