American Film Cycles: The Silent Era

American Film Cycles: The Silent Era

American Film Cycles: The Silent Era

American Film Cycles: The Silent Era


Examining 40 cycles or themes and more than 1,000 silent films, the author attempts to discern how the screen reflected contemporary social, political, and national trends during the silent years. The period has been divided into the early silent years (1900-1919), with films of one or two reels dominating for the first 15 years, and the later silent period (1920-1929), known as the Golden Age of the Silents, in which feature-length films dominated. One of the author's goals is to establish the success, and sometimes the failure, of these films to capture the social and political times of their release. Other film books approach the dramas and comedies by genre, not by specific cycles, which makes this work unique.


American Film Cycles. The Silent Eradiscusses more than one thousand silent dramas and comedies released from before 1900 through 1929, all of which help to develop the dozens of cycles that have dominated the silent screen for three decades.

The book focuses on both short works and feature-length films, all of which are generally arranged chronologically under specific chapters. Each entry lists the title, year of release, director and original source, if provided by the film. The major players are often included within the plot summary and analysis. Remakes and films with alternate titles are noted as such. If the plot of a remake is similar to that of the original, the remake is given less space.

Historical sources sometimes fail to list the director or cast members. Where more recent published references have corrected these omissions, the corrections have been added to the text. On occasion, a player's name is spelled differently from one film to another. As a general rule, we have kept the spelling of names uniform so that readers will not falsely assume that a different spelling implies another player.

The length of a film entry does not necessarily reflect upon the work's artistic quality. A particular aspect of a low-budget, routine drama may have a special interest that lends itself to greater analysis and discussion. Also, the circumstances under which a film was made or how it was accepted upon its release may be of particular concern. These points were taken into account in presenting the entries.

Unfortunately, because of limitations of space and the general scope of the work, certain genres have been omitted. Serials, series and documentaries, many of each category no doubt of particular interest to the general reader, will have to be sought elsewhere. Several detailed and comprehensive studies of these genres are readily available. In addition, the Name Index includes the major players and all the directors, but not the original authors.

The author hopes that the reader will find the individual introductions to each chapter helpful, informative and entertaining.

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