A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen

A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen

A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen

A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen

Excerpt

THE NICKELODEONS, as the first movie theatres were called, in no way resembled the luxurious picture palaces of today, but what an aura of magic and mystery, of laughter and tears clung to them! There, to the sounds of a tinkling and appropriately emotional piano, Pearl White faced her perils, Francis X. Bushman caused fluttering hearts, Theda Bara wrecked homes, Chaplin and Arbuckle and Mack Sennett set zany standards, never to be excelled, and a host of beautiful ladies smiled and wept and were alluring. It was a realm of fantastic and childish make-believe situated in a never-never land called Hollywood, but gradually the whole world came to treasure its heroes and heroines and clowns, and to ape them.

Whatever role the silent screen has played in our social history -- and I believe it was an important one-no one can underestimate the enormous pleasure the films of this era gave to audiences everywhere. It has been my thought in compiling this book to recall the varied and fascinating personalities and photoplays of the years from the earliest films to the advent of the sound screen, when stars were really stars, when the fashions and activities of the Hollywood greats echoed around the world and 100,000 people could gather in London and even in. Moscow to greet Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks on their triumphal tour of Europe.

Here was an art peculiarly American and yet universal. Its essence was entertainment; its success, financial and otherwise, was stupendous. Perhaps today, in a more troubled age, we can look back on these people and their films not only with nostalgia but also with a sincere desire to learn what made glamor so glamorous and laughter so hearty, and the world a happier place to live in. It was a memorable age, and I hope I have captured some of its quality to preserve in this book.

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