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Silent Films In The News

by Leonard Maltin
February 18, 2012 1:00 AM
1 Comment
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Jean Dujardin-321
Charlie Chaplin-321


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


SilentLocations-John Bengston
courtesy of John Bengston and

Meanwhile, silent-film location sleuth John Bengston has posted a number of fascinating stories on his BLOG  ( 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.

National Film Preservation Board

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

Abel Glance Napoleon restoration-300

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.  


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1 Comment

  • Dan Navarro | February 27, 2012 4:25 AMReply

    As a fervent fan of silent pictures, what did you think about the Oscars won tonight by the "new" silent film "The Artist"?

    Are you for it, or ag'in it?


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