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Guest Alix

Favorite Silent Actresses

258 posts in this topic

Guest TCMhost-Claire

I'm interested in hearing your take on the AFI Top 100 Movies List...especially what you find hysterically funny! There are certainly a couple of films in the list that raised my eyebrows.

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Guest jeryson

Alix, I was too dumbstruck to find myself with a woman who truly earned the title of "legend." I've seen many celebrities here in Manhattan but Swanson was the only one who just jumped out as being someone from another world. Her clothes that day were absolutely stunning--like she were in a Cecil B. DeMille spectacle with hidden cameras. I remember how extraordinary her blue eyes looked. The only other star who could match her in real life is Elizabeth Taylor. I saw her one night in the eighties when she was leaving the theater where she was performing in The Little Foxes. Out of the stagedoor came this tiny creature, swathed in white ermine, jewels, silk. Her face, though, was simply hypnotic! Her eyes, like Swanson's, were fabulous. They sparkled with a lavendar glow. Her face was so incredibly beautiful that everyone gaped--including myself. There's no one today who could come close to Swanson or Taylor in sheer star electricity!

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Guest Alix

I think they publish these lists just to get a rise out of people! Here are some I don't think belong on this list: RAGING BULL, DR. STRANGELOVE, ANNIE HALL, PULP FICTION, DANCES WITH WOLVES--good movies all, but just not the top 100 material, IMHO.I am saddened by the inclusion of only 5 pre-Codes: #35 IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT; #43 KING KONG; #76 CITY LIGHTS; #85 DUCK SOUP; #87 FRANKENSTEIN. Where are the other greats from the 1929-1934 period? Where is THE THIN MAN? MANHATTAN MELODRAMA? TROUBLE IN PARADISE? BABY FACE? Also, where are the great silents listed? With the exception of #44 BIRTH OF A NATION and the transitional film #90 JAZZ SINGER that's all there really is! No movies with Doug Fairbanks, Sr. or Mary Pickford appear. Didn't see SUNRISE, THE BIG PARADE, IT, or THE CROWD anywhere on the list. Can't believe they were omitted! Now...if I was to rewrite the top 5, my list would look like this:1) GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)2) CASABLANCA (1942)3) WIZARD OF OZ (1939)4) SUNSET BLVD. (1950)5) THE CROWD (1927)I am always amazed that CITIZEN KANE is always ranked #1. Not on **my** list!

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Guest jeryson

Alix, we seem to have the same wave lengths. Your objections to the AFI's top l00 exactly reflects mine. The really great silents, like "Tol'able David," "Intolerance," etc. are never ever listed. the AFI chooses junk like "Pulp Fiction," etc. And why,oh, why do they always put "Citizen Kane" as the Greatest Movie Ever Made always infuriates me. If there had been no "Intolerance," "Cat and the Canary" (the silent version with its revolutionary photography, editing, etc.) and especially "Gone With the Wind", there would have been no "Citizen Kane." GWTW absolutely revolutionized film making all over the world with its knockout photography, boom shots, etc. Yet, it's fashionably today to knock GWTW for being 'old fashioned...hokey..." You can have your "Chinatown" and "Pulp Fiction," etc. Gimme the old goldie oldies like GWTW, Wizard of Oz, etc. anyday.

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Guest Alix

For the life of me, I cannot see what constitutes a #1 rating for CITIZEN KANE in practically every list ever published. In fact, I've never understood what the big fuss was over this one. Yeah, it's okay, but great??? Not in my book.As far as GWTW being "hokey," I've heard that before too, but let's face it, stories like GWTW are one in a million! It has to be the most perfect movie ever made. It took years to assemble the correct cast, get a working script, design and make thousands of period costumes, house interiors, etc. And what about that scene at the train depot with all the injured and dying men in Atlanta? I'm sorry, but if that's what critics think defines hokey, then I say we'd all be a little better off if there was more hokey being produced today!

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Guest jeryson

i've talked to a number of young film students here in NYC about what they think is the greatest film ever made. They always say "Citizen Kane." When I ask why, they give the usual stock reasons. But then I discover this is the OLDEST movie they've ever seen! They've never even heard of "Greed," "Intolerance," "The Big Parade" or the great stars like Clara Bow, Garbo, Valentino. They're just mimicking what their know-nothing professors tell them. They're taught to laugh at the great classics like Gone With the Wind, Dark Victory, Grand Hotel because they're all "love stories." If these are our future filmmakers, then God help Hollywood!

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Guest drednm

Having taught film courses and written a film column for years, I can attest to the general ignorance of the general public when it comes to films. There seems to be a 20-year collective memory. Anything beyond that is old timey. I've had students groan about having to watch a b&w film--any b&w film! It's truy sad that a film like Intolerance, which boasts the greatest sets (Babylonian) ever, US film's first feminist heroine (Constance Talmadge as the Mountain Girl), and innovative cross cutting techniques that heighten the "modern" story's dramatic impact as well as terrific acting from Mae Marsh, Robert Harron, and Miriam Cooper (the modern arc), is unheard of by almost everyone today. There may be a vague familiarity to names like Garbo, Valentino, Swanson, Gish, Pickford, etc. but few have actually seen one of their films--or any silent film other than a Chaplin or Keaton comedy. And this is why it is so important for TCM to schedule MORE silent films and transition talkies and to do more specials or R. Osborne intros of them and not just bury them in "wee-hour" timeslots. Judging from his message board, there are plenty of TV watchers who want to see these films. Discovering an early Norma Shearer or William Haines talkie or a silent film only read about is a true treat. TCM has done the big MGM 40s and 50s films to death--we seen them. Show us something "new."

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Guest Lcacicia

When I hear someone saying how great Citizen Kane is, they are usually young. I ask them then if they have ever seen the film. Most say either NO or have only seen film clips. I then launch into my routine about why Kane isn't such a great film. Afterwards they always look at me and say the same thing..they didn't know any other B&W films yet alone anything made before Kane. I guess you could say I was blessed in a way because my 5th grade teacher introduced me to silent films many years ago. I will never forget watching BIRTH OF A NATION and hearing the scratchy music in the background. What can I say except that it was like discovering a new world. That set me on my path of working in television.

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Guest drednm

I think Citizen Kane is a great film, perhaps not the greatest, but that's debatable. BUT it is not the point from which American film history starts. And it's not Gone With the Wind either. It is one of the saddest things I can think of (art-wise) that so many silent films are lost forever and that even those that do exist are so rarely seen. There was an almost 30-year history of film before talkies happened. The fact that studios purposely destroyed silent films so they could remake them as talkies or to re-use (as I've heard) the film stock is a tragedy. Some stars (Pickford for one) was smart enough to OWN her films. Others were not so lucky and exist now as shadow figures in film history because their films are gone. They exist in snippets of film and movie stills. It's like a rumored great novel existing in first draft form and margin notes. When you consider that the bulk of silent films by Norma Talmadge, Constance Talmadge, Marion Davies, Wallace Reid, Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson, Milton Sills, etc are gone.......

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Guest jeryson

When I hear that nearly 95 per cent of our silent films are lost, I get sick to my stomach. The very few that are available for viewing are never even shown anywhere! That's why I get angry at the great silent stars for not demanding a print of every movie like Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin did. You would think Gloria Swanson would have demanded this, too. She only had personal prints to "Sadie Thompson" and "Queen Kelly." I don't think TV has ever aired any surviving work of Pola Negri, Constance and Norma Talmadge, Wallace Beery, etc. About the only time you ever see a silent film on TV, it's always the same people: Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. I'm sick of them both. I know film students here New York who've never even seen a silent film and have zero interest in our silent past. To them, "Pulp Fiction" is a "classic," and oh, yeah, "Citizen Kane" is the greatest film ever made--although almost none of them have ever even seen it. But their film professors told them so, then it must be true.

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Guest drednm

If I remember correctly, Swanson "owned" her own films only after she formed her own production company---late in the silent era--so all her earlier work was owned by the studios. The myopic studios were famous for not knowing the value of their own product. Films were rarely re-issued, so once they had finished their run, they were just so much film-in-a-can. Only a few artists seems to have the foresight to know the "value" of film........

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Guest Alix

Didn't Harold Lloyd save all of his prints? I thought I read/heard that someplace. If so, he certainly was a forward thinking man!

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Guest Lorusso, Ed

TCM is sitting on some silent treasures that feature major silent ladies. Let's see if we can get them to air these films: The Merry Widow with Mae Murray and John Gilbert; The Red Mill with Marion Davies; Lilac Time with Colleen Moore and Gary Cooper. They also have the early talkie Chasing Rainbows with Marie Dressler and Besslie Love !!!!

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Guest Son, Jery

Ed, I'm with you all the way on this! I'd also love to see Pola Negri in her prime, along with Corrine Griffith, Sally O'Neill (one of the Clara Bow flapper types), the weird Miss Dupont who was a novelty at the time, the Talmadge sisters. TCM has scheduled yet another boring, over-seen Charlie Chaplin festival in December. As I've ranted before, I am so sick of seeing Chaplin, Chaplin and Keaton. You'd think they were the only comedians in the 20s. I want Fatty Arbuckle and Harry Langdon for a change.

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Guest Lorusso, Ed

I've seen only a couple Harry Langdon talkies (Hallelujah I'm a Bum, etc.), but I think the silents I'be seen (Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, etc.) have been on AMC. I still wonder WHY oh WHY is Marion Davies or Mary Pickford or John Gilbert or Gloria Swanson or William Haines star of the month??? Haven't we seen enough of Robert Taylor or Lana Turner? TCM is sitting on a trove of silent films they never show. Bad condition? No score? Doesn't Turner have more than a few bucks? Why have this stuff in a vault and never air them? And IF they are being restored, how about some news updates stating so? And yes Chaplin and Keaton and Lloyd are great, but we've seen them all before.

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Guest Alix

Although I'm certainly not "in the know," I'm sure many of those silents no longer have musical scores. But shoot, how tough must it be to hire some graduate level composers to write a score of music? I definitely agree! Let's have Davies, Haines or "babe-a-licious" Gilbert as star of the month!

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Guest Lorusso, Ed

I have meagre musical talents but could certainly create a serviceable score for a silent film (what with my interest in all things 20s..... But all my offers to help the folks at TCM are met with silence (lol)...............

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Guest Clara_Keaton

Miss Dupont WAS weird....seeing her in "Foolish Wives" gave me the willies for sure. Why don't they show more Mary Miles Minter films? People seem to forget that she was a seriously popular actress that WOULD have had a great career if William Desmond Taylor hadn't been murdered, and her name been dragged through the mud. I know for a fact that "Nurse Marjorie" is available and can be seen....for crying out loud, Ted, get with the program! There's more to silents than Chaplin and Griffith!!!!!

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Guest Son, Jery

Clara, I've got one Mary Miles Minter film, "The Eyes of Laura Depp" or something to that effect. She was pretty and looked like a clone of Mary Pickford with those long curls. This was very early 20s and the "flapper" hadn't yet taken over so I don't know how well Minter would have adapted. I just can't see her having bobbed hair, wearing one of those jazz baby outfits. She translated well on film, being natural and charming. Oh, boy, could she tell some stories and probably knows who really murdered William Desmond Taylor. Mary died in the eighties, having lived in a small wooden house in Hollywood. She had become a recluse and saw no one. Bette Davis supposedly based her Baby Jane character on Minter.

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Guest Alix

There are some interesting books out about the subject of William Desmond Taylor and the connection with Mary Miles Minter. I've never seen any of her films, so I cannot fairly judge her work, but would love to have a chance. One book I read theorized that it was Charlotte Shelby, Minter's mother, who murdered Taylor. Apparently, according to this author, both mother and daughter were in love with Taylor, and when Shelby went to confront Taylor, she shot him. Another theory is that his common law wife killed him. I believe this was quite a scandal--one that impacted several careers. Mabel Norman's career also took a hit because her name was linked to Taylor's after the murder. I wonder who actually did it???

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Guest Lorusso, Ed

From the books I've read, it's pretty well determined that Minter's mama did the shooting for the reason listed above. Spookie. Minter was a serious rival of Mary Pickford's but her career went into the dumpster after the Taylor murder. But the great Mabel Normand also lost her career because of her involvement with Taylor. Hollywood was still reeling from the Fatty Arbuckle scandal and any hint of wrongdoing (that the studios couldn't squelch) was cause for ruin. Normand is another I'd like to see more of. Tillie's Punctured Romance is the only Normand film (with Chaplin and Dressler) I've seen. I've heard her The Extra Girl was a big hit in its day. After her fall from grace (also Minter), their films were pulled from distribution and probably destroyed. Gee Hollywood, great going!

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Guest Alix

I've always wondered why Normand's career hit the skids. By all accounts she was very talented and she really had no connection with the murder, except for being at Taylor's home earlier in the evening and being a friend of his. I've read that she was also a drug addict, and I wonder if the studio, who would have **had** to have known about her habit, used the Taylor murder as a convenient way to get rid of her. At the time of the murder, she was still a top box office draw, wasn't she? And yes, it's very sad that movies like those of Minter's, Arbuckle's and Normand's disappeared when they fell from grace. From what you read about the 1920's, it was a very loose, fast time--booze, sex, drugs--and it surprises me that the public, as well as the studio execs, came down so hard on people who transgressed. I sure wished they'd cut them some slack, so that people 80 years later could view the work of these actors!

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Guest Alix

OOOps! I goofed! I got the Paul Bern murder (or suicide) confused with Taylor's! The "common law wife" theory is one of Bern's possible explainations, not one for Taylor's! My error. I guess there are too many scandals to keep straight. That'd be an interesting "folder" to discuss here. There were lots of scandals in the 1910's-1930's in Hollywood!

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Guest Clara_Keaton

Hey Alix, Taylor DID have a wife and kid back in New Jersey! :o I've also heard that the person who offed WDT was a Hollyweird Drug Lord! It *could* make sense. Supposedly Taylor was trying to get Mabel Normand straight...who knows? The only thing I know was that the murder of Taylor really did a number on Early Hollywood!

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Guest Alix

There are just too many scandals to keep all the stories straight: Olive Thomas, Roscoe Arbuckle & Virginia Rappe, William Desmond Tayler & Mary Miles Minter/Mabel Normand, Wallace Reid...The 1920's were definitely a time of scandalous doings!

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