Thursday, February 25, 2010

King of the Movies

Knighthood suited him well -
Ivanhoe, sure-hearted and true;
Nitrate formed his sword, the
Glow from the projector his armor.

Before he appeared, all others toiled
Anonymously, unknown faces; but the
Game was changed by him - too handsome, too
Gifted to not be named. Second
Only to Lawrence, the IMP Girl, he was
The Most Photographed Man in the World.

King Baggot

Friday, February 19, 2010

Upon Looking Through "A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen"

Bessie Barriscale.

I've never seen any of your pictures...
most have crumbled into
century-old dust
but when I turned the page
you had the most haunting eyes --
dark watery beacons
deep enough to swim in,

untouched, undiminished by time.

Bessie Barriscale

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Swan

In vaudeville she was a talent bonanza,
(A star even bigger than Trixie Friganza!)
Wasn't even in flickers until 1910,
But in 1914 Sennett entered - and then
He gave her, with Chaplin, a fortunate chance
To be featured in Tillie's Punctured Romance.
Fame and success at last on the screen!
(At least 'til she left it in 1918)
A nine-year hiatus, blacklisted to boot
(It was due to her views on a labor dispute),
But returned to success as Mrs Callahan
Alongside Mrs Murphy (Polly Moran)...
Yet these are just facts, and they don't begin
To explain how she graced every film she was in;
Expressive and earnest, funny and real,
This sweet "ugly duckling" was truly ideal.

Marie Dressler

Friday, February 5, 2010

Roy D'Arcy Double Feature! (and that other guy, too)

Bardelys the Magnificent (1926)

For many years, Bardelys was believed to be a lost film.  Then, in 2006, an almost complete print was discovered in France - and what a delightful find!  John Gilbert is at his charismatic best as Bardelys, gallant and dashing with all the ladies but actually falling for one (Roxalanne, played by Eleanor Boardman).  Roy D'Arcy is the menacing roadblock between the two.  This picture is a fun send-up of costumed swashbucklers a la Fairbanks, and the reconstruction of reel three using production stills is brilliantly seamless.  Recommended!

I give this one:

The Merry Widow (1925)

I came away from this picture with two thoughts: 1) von Stroheim was kinky, and 2) I NEED TO SEE MORE.  This was a level of sophistication unilke anything I've experienced in a silent film.  A dark romance thick with the seedy sludge of lust and revenge.  John Gilbert gives an ardent performance as Prince Danilo, the lovestruck "good" prince tortured by society over his love for dancer Sally O'Hara (an over-the-top Mae Murray)...but this picture was stolen by Roy D'Arcy as the sadistic, creepy, sardonic Prince Mirko, ready to destroy his cousin Danilo at every turn.  A film rife with sexual imagery, bitter jabs at social mores, and exquisitely directed.  Top-notch!
I give this one:


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Silent Stanzas: The Book?

My dream, when I first started this project, was to turn it into a book - a lovely glossy coffee-table tome filled with beautiful pictures. Something you could leave out as a conversation piece, and maybe open the world of silent film to someone new.

Dear Readers, would you be interested in such a book? Why or why not? The poetry would not merely be this website on paper - it would be new pieces, new stars. I'd love your opinion on this.