Interview: Roger Miller of Alloy Orchestra, Mission of Burma

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“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.

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When Pictures First Moved! (1932)

The following article is reprinted from the December 3, 1932 issue of Pictorial Weekly, a British publication focused primarily on popular culture and sports. The cover caught the eye of Olivia Gilmer while antique shopping in Brighton over the summer; the now-famous image of spooked filmgoers fleeing as a cinematic train pulls into the station was apparently already a trope at this early date. I have always been fascinated by retrospective articles written not long after the birth of the moving picture, and this cover story fit the bill exactly. Focusing on Mr. Ernest BlakePictorial Weekly presents a fascinating account of the earliest days of cinema in the British Isles.

The article is presented here in its entirety, with original images, and only minor stylistic changes made. This is the first time it has been made available to a wide audience in 86 years.

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No More Tears Over Lost Films

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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.

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Silent Film Used to Promote “New” Soda Fountain

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.

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San Francisco Silent Film Fest About Much More Than The Movies

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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.

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Five Decades Later, “The Parade’s Gone By…” Is Still the Most Important Book on Silent Film

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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.

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“The Round-Up” (1921) – A Review

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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.

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