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Silent Movie History

               Silent Movie History Film Clips

''The Biggest Laugh in the History of Silent Film'' (Coronet Magazine, 1959)

"The longest, loudest laugh in movie history exploded in theaters all over the world in 1920. That colossal, eruptive, cumulative bellow of laughter closed a two reel silent comedy called HARD LUCK, starring that master of slapstick and deadpan pantomime, Buster Keaton."


The Monstrous Movies (Vanity Fair Magazine, 1921)

By 1921 the city of Los Angeles began to seriously grow, and the expansion was not simply due to the arrival of performers and extras and all manner of craftsmen that are required to launch a film production - but the city was also bringing in the sorts necessary to support a wealthy urban environment. Every thriving city needs a support system, and Hollywood imported tailors, milliners, chefs, architects and various other tastemakers who in turn attracted realtors, contractors, merchants and entrepreneurs.


Seussue Hayakawa (Photoplay Magazine, 1916)

The attached article is about Sessue Hayakawa (1889 – 1973), the first Asian actor to achieve star status in Hollywood:

"No, Sessue Hayakawa, the world's most noted Japanese photoplay actor, does not dwell in a papier-mache house amid tea-cup scenery. He is working in pictures in Los Angeles, and he lives in a 'regular' bungalow, furnished in mission oak, and dresses very modishly according to American standards."


A New Word for the Dictionary (NY Times, 1914)

In our era it doesn't seem terribly odd that a fresh, exciting and highly popular industry would begin generating new words to fill our dictionaries, and 1914 was no different. The attached article introduced the readers of THE NEW YORK TIMES to a new verb contributed by the early film industry:

"The verb 'to film' having gained currency, it must be graciously admitted to the language. It will soon be in the 'advanced' dictionaries and it must be recognized. The old idea of protecting the English language from invasion is extinct. To 'film' means to make a picture for a 'movie' show'".

During the past twenty years, Hollywood provided us with a whole slew of terms, such as "dramedy" (a combination between a comedy and a drama) and “romcom” (romantic comedy), "sitcom" (situation comedy) to name only a few.

Click here to read another article about the impact of film on the English language.


The Founders of the Hollywood Film Colony Gather Together
(Film Daily, 1939)

A notice from the pages of a 1939 Hollywood trade publication announced an organization for the silver-haired alumni of Hollywood's silent film business:

"Early this summer there came into existence a new organization known as Picture Pioneers, consisting of veterans who have been in the industry 25 years."

Click here to read about the movie moguls of 1919.


European Praise for American Silent Comedies (Photoplay Magazine, 1931)

Written at a time when it was widely recognized that the silent film era had finally run it's course and talking pictures were here to stay, the film critic for the Sunday Express (London) stepped up to the plate and heaped praise on the Hollywood film colony for having produced such an abundance of sorely-needed comedies which allowed Europe to get through some difficult times:

"While German films were steeped in menacing morbidity and Russian films wallowed in psychopathic horrors; while Swedish film producers turned to Calvinistic frigidities, and Britain floundered in apologetic ineptitude...Hollywood's unfailing stream of fun and high spirits has kept the lamp of optimism burning in Europe."


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