By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin February 18, 2012 at 1:00AM
It’s no longer news that the most acclaimed movie of the past year, well on its way to earning an Oscar or two, is a modern-day French silent picture called The Artist. But it’s not the only silent film making news. USA Today’s Susan Wloszczyna found other aspects of silence in contemporary cinema for a piece that ran in Friday’s paper, which you can read HERE. She even quoted yours truly.
Another piece was posted yesterday by the Associated Press regarding the mystery of Charlie Chaplin’s birth. That in itself isn’t “new,” but some facets of the story are. Read it HERE.
Meanwhile, silent-film location sleuth John Bengston has posted a number of fascinating stories on his BLOG (silentlocations.wordpress.com/) about Los Angeles locations used in The Artist, including streets and buildings employed by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd some ninety years ago! No one else has drawn these connections, to my knowledge.
And if you’re hankering to see a silent film you’ve never encountered before, the National Film Preservation Board has posted several on their website, including one that has special meaning to my old friend, film historian Frank Thompson. He writes, “Billy and His Pal (1911), a heretofore lost film produced by Gaston Méliès in San Antonio, showed up in New Zealand in 2010. When I suggested funding its preservation my wonderful wife Claire agreed immediately. By rights, her name should be on this, too. I'm delighted that the National Film Preservation Foundation has put the film up on its website with new music composed by the great Michael Mortilla. With the release of the Blu-Ray of Wings this has been a wonderful month for silent movies made in San Antonio. Oh, by the way, when it got to New Zealand 101 years ago, they inexplicably changed the title to Bobby and his Pal. Just so you know. By the way, I also wrote the program notes that accompany the film.” To watch, click HERE.
And no, I haven’t forgotten the upcoming showing of Abel Gance’s Napoleon in Oakland, California. I’ll have more news about this landmark presentation very soon. If you’re unaware of it, or want to purchase tickets now—which you should—click HERE.