“You turned around, screamed at the scene,
Grabbed my hand and leapt out of the screen.”
When Roger Miller sang—or rather, barked—these words on the song “Outlaw,” from Mission of Burma’s seminal 1981 Signals, Calls, and Marches EP, I’m sure nothing was further from his mind than silent films. At the time Mission of Burma was on the cutting edge of the American post-punk scene, vying with bands like the Talking Heads and Devo for critical acclaim (if not market share). Miller was lauded by many as a leading poet of the genre, with lyrics exhibiting a cerebral nature that the previous generation of punk had largely lacked. Jaded art school kids and volatile punks alike gathered for the band’s notoriously loud and raucous shows.
Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation claims that 90% of films made before 1929 are lost. The Library of Congress found that 75% of silent films made my major studios are lost. These numbers, on the surface, are harrowing to say the least. If all we have is 10% of the silent films ever made, what brilliant, ground-breaking, revolutionary pieces of art are we missing out on?
My answer: probably not that many.
C.K. Farnsworth is a familiar face to anyone who has attended a vintage lifestyle event in the Los Angeles area over the past few years. Impeccably dressed in white and typically riding a bicycle outfitted with an ice box, Farnsworth’s vintage ice cream-slinging persona is a welcome sight to many a famished flapper. I can personally attest to how wonderful one of his ice cream sandwiches tastes on a hot summer day.
Author and Hollywood Forever Cemetery tour guide Karie Bible meets historian Kevin Brownlow.
I will preface everything that follows by staying this: the programming at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival was, in a word, extraordinary. A balance of genres, countries of origin, and artistic styles meant that each day remained stimulating and unexpected (we at SFQ will be reviewing the specific titles in the forthcoming issue of the magazine). As much as it sounds like a cliché, there truly was something for everyone.
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Kevin Brownlow‘s The Parade’s Gone By…, the first of many books he would write on his way to becoming the preeminent name in silent films. With Brownlow’s 80th birthday celebration at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival just a few days away, I felt it was worth revisiting a book which, in my opinion, has done more to advance the study of silent film than any other.
by Silent Film Quarterly contributor Lewis Walker
In 1920 Roscoe Arbuckle made his first feature film for Paramount. Making the move from two-reel comedies to feature length pictures preceded any of his contemporaries—Chaplin and Lloyd did it in 1921 and Keaton in 1923—but for Roscoe this was more than elongating his twenty odd minute films. He also made the switch from comedy to drama, and in particular the western. Cinemuseum has recently released Arbuckle’s The Round-Up on Blu-ray for the first time ever, and hopefully offers the start of a re-evaluation of Roscoe’s career.