Magazine article American Cinematographer

A Guide to American Silent Crime Films

Magazine article American Cinematographer

A Guide to American Silent Crime Films

Article excerpt

A Guide to American Silent Crime Films by Larry Langman and Daniel Finn Greenwood Press, cloth, 384 pages, $69.50

A companion work to Langman's A Guide to Silent Westerns, this reference book covers the whole crime front as well as possible, to the tune of some 2,000 alphabetical entries. These range from very primitive stuff, such as Edison's brief 1897 subject, Arrest in Chinatown, San Francisco, Cal., to the rash of old-house mysteries, comedy thrillers and gangster dramas that closed the silent era and exploded noisily into the talkies.

Many of the feature-length films are represented in greater detail in the indispensable AFI catalogs, but Langman and Finn also cover serials and short subjects. Except for a few obscure independent productions on which such information has not been found, each title features a fast plot summary and lists directors, writers, and major players.

There is also a good introduction tracing the evolution of crime in cinema and a listing of the many production companies represented. This is a valuable library-bound volume for the serious researcher, but it's a bit pricey for the casual reader, especially as it's presented as plain vanilla, sans pictures or even a pictorial jacket.

Music and Cinematography

The harmonious relationship between cinematography and music was brought to mind at a recent autograph party at Dutton's Books in Brentwood, California. The honoree was Hans J. Salter, 98, the Vienna-born composer-conductor who scored literally hundreds of motion pictures. The occasion was the release of a new CD by the RTE Concert Orchestra of Dublin of two Salter scores, The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) and House of Frankenstein (1944). The Marco Polo disc was manufactured in Germany, where Salter conducted theater orchestras and scored UFA films before coming to the U.S. The selected works are appropriate, inasmuch as Salter is best remembered for these and about 30 other mystery and horror pictures he worked on as a musical director at Universal between 1937 and 1947. …

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