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Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots

"With only a few scenes at her disposal, Samantha Morton was an amazing, amazing Mary Queen of Scots in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age". Don't expect that portrayal of the lady will ever be topped." -Ken

"Saoirse Ronan is an inspired choice for Mary. But... Who signed off on Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I? What is this madness." - BillyBob

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Entries in silent films (48)

Wednesday
Apr192017

OTD: Don Cheadle debuts, Mae West sentenced, Marie-Antoinette marries (sort of) 

On this day (April 19th) in history as it relates to showbiz...

1770 Marie Antoinette married by proxy to Louis-Auguste. A month later she travels from Austria to the forest of Compiègne to meet her husband (essentially where Sofia Coppola's great 2006 film starring Kirsten Dunst begins) and the two soon have a ceremonial wedding.

1898 Silent screen star Constance Talmadge born (the year is disputed but around there!). One of many silent giants whose fame didn't transfer to "the talkies"...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Mar202017

The Furniture: Thoroughly Modern Millie

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

Thoroughly Modern Millie opened 50 years ago this week, in the spring between San Francisco’s Human Be-In and the Summer of Love. None of 1967’s Best Picture nominees, immortalized as the birth of the New Hollywood in Mark Harris’s Pictures at a Revolution, had yet opened, but there was already something in the air.

Director George Roy Hill capitalized on this countercultural moment with an extravagant show of concentrated nostalgia. Thoroughly Modern Millie leaps back to the Roaring 20s, America’s last moment of liberated sexuality and conspicuous consumption before the Great Depression. Its flamboyant, frenetic ode to the flappers and their world was a big hit, making more than $34 million and landing 10th at the yearly box office. The film was nominated for seven Oscars including Art Direction-Set Decoration.

Yet its portrayal is not without contradictions...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan272017

The Sex Appeal of Garbo, Valentino and a 150-Year-Old Novelist

By either bizarre coincidence or brilliant intuition, Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino began their careers in nearly the same way. Both achieved overnight success with adaptations of one Spanish novelist, a writer who has almost entirely faded from popular consciousness since then. At the time, though, he was more famous than either actor.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep052016

"Colossal Spectacle!"

Happy Labor Day, all! To mark this occassion I will be working very hard today because I have much to accomplish before I leave for TIFF, the best film festival on the planet, according to me, for its ease, it's breadth, and the quality of its movies. Any big plans today, whether or not its Labor Day where you live?

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

1916 One hundred years ago today the other über famous and influential D.W. Griffith epic, the one its OK to care about, opened. Intolerance, sometimes subtitled "love's struggle throughout the ages," was three and a half hours long and prominently advertised its then insane budget of $2,000,000. Wouldn't it be funny if today's movies were all "we cost $300,000,000 to make" (and all you get is a glossy commercial for merchandise / sequels)" on the posters? The epic stretched from Ancient Babylon through the Christ story and on to 1914 in its quartered parallel storylines to paint a morality story for audiences. The sick cosmic joke in retrospect was not that Griffith was apologizing for his own racist intolerance in The Birth of a Nation but offering a rebuke to people who he felt were intolerant to him because of that picture.

SIGH (Dir. Nathaniel R, running time ∞)

Other debuts on September 5th
Outlaw Jesse James who has been played by a gazillion actors, Old Hollywood titan Darryl F Zanuck, the inimitable prolific auteur Werner Herzog, charmed and outspoken Rose McGowan, Reigning Oscar good luck charm Michael Keaton (Birdman, Spotlight), Dan Gilroy's sick gripping Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal, 60s sex goddess and Myra Breckenridge herself Raquel Welch, Jack Kerouac's On the Road is published, Disney's pre-Mickey Mouse character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit premieres in his first short, one time Bond George Lazenby, and Black Book/Game of Thrones sensation Carice Van Houten.

And we'll close out our birthdays in history list with the iconic Freddie Mercury (remind me again why the Queen frontman STILL doesn't have a biopic?). This music video was chosen because it felt like something D.W. Griffith would approve of in all its "subtlety" and largesse...

Happy birthday / anniversary to all!

Sunday
May222016

Great... Train Robbery, Detective, Balls of Fire

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

1859 Arthur Conan Doyle is born. Probably rolls over in his grave 150 years later when Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes premieres and the great detective becomes a slo mo action hero
1868 The Great Train Robbery happens. It's the subject of a highly influential 10 minute silent film (embedded above) as soon as people figure out what to do with cameras and celluloid in 1903. Cross-cutting, breaking the fourth wall, inventing the western action movie genre? It's all happening right here. 
1907 Laurence Olivier is born. Not yet a "Sir" but already expecting a cooing audience
1945 Paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren are married. They become the fab Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in The Conjuring (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016) 

1958 Jerry Lee Lewis tells the world he's married his 13 year old cousin Myra. Later they look just like Dennis Quaid and Winona Ryder in a movie
1967 Brooke Smith, the girl in the pit, is born
1973 Nikolaj Lie Kass, Danish actor of underappreciated hotness (Brothers, The Idiots), is born 
1998 The Opposite of Sex hits theaters, Christina Ricci gets a well deserved Golden Globe Best Actress nod for her inspired star turn 
2005 The razor sharp Cronenberg film A History of Violence was stiffed of any prize at the Cannes Film Festival despite a strange round of winners which at least included Michael Haneke as Best Director for the brilliant Caché. Both films went to to make the Best Picture lineup right here at The Film Experience.
2016 The 69th annual Cannes Film Festival closes. Awards ceremony tonight in France so come back for the winners in the late afternoon!

Friday
Mar042016

Links: Nina, Natalie, Sebastian, and Shang-Chi

THR profiles the last living silent star: Baby Peggy who is now 97 years old and at peace with the lost fortune her parents spent
The Cut talks to the immortal Bernadette Peters about her diet and exercize regimen. Takeaway: never aging in the past 30+ years is strictly regimented work!
Decider Today in TV History looks back at that great Natalie Portman episode of SNL  


AV Club Steven Spielberg's career in 30 iconic shots
Angry Asian Man the nonsense Asian actors have to deal with for bit parts 
MNPP The Sebastian Stan Strut 
THR Have you been keeping up with this Nina biopic drama? The Nina Simone estate is NOT having it with the new biopic starring Zoe Saldana (opening in April). But Simone's daughter feels bad for the backlash against Zaldana 
Variety R2-D2's model builder Tony Dyson dies at 68 years of age 
i09 More diversity blunders/handwringing: Marvel is adding an Asian character to Iron Fist but Iron Fist himself they still cast with a white actor (Finn Jones) despite everything about his history screaming to correct the character (the 1960s were a lot different people. You don't have to adhere to fear of creating ethnic heroes now! 

Gayness
The Advocate Caitlyn Jenner continues to reveal that she's one dense trans woman and hasn't absorbed all the wisdom the LGBT community has been trying to give her. She's supporting virulently anti-gay Ted Cruz for president
Towleroad Mark Hamill "Of course Luke Skywalker might be gay". Oh my. Despite being a big 'mo I have to say that I am entirely unamused by this retroactive teasing that's becoming popular from storytellers -- like JK Rowling's thing with Dumbledore. If storytellers are going to have a gay character just have a gay character. Stop being so coy and don't try and take credit for having gay characters when you don't actually have them.
Playbill Luke Evans tweets out a picture from a recording session of Disney's upcoming live action Beauty and the Beast (2017) - a 93 piece orchestra! (the movie's getting three new songs)