Fire!!

Don’t snub the Snub!

He’s not Keaton or Chaplin, but Australian-born silent film comedian “Snub” Pollard, born Harold Hopetown Fraser, had a pretty dang impressive career.

Pumping out films like mad, he left 600+ credits on IMDB — many of which, unfortunately, have been lost to the passage of time.

One which endures is this fast ‘n frantic tale of a house detective turned fire inspector who creates havoc at a hotel.

Snub is hot on the heels of winsome Gladys Harvey, who appears to have retired after this film, and out to get in as much trouble as possible.

 

Sherlock, Jr.

A landmark in every way.

Buster Keaton, my pick for the best silent film comedian, knocks it out of the park with this rom-com, which accomplished unheard-of technical achievements.

Operating at the dawn of motion pictures, “The Great Stone Face” didn’t have CGI, instead creating his often-mesmerizing effects through hard work, camera tricks, and putting his own safety into question.

Keaton broke his neck during a stunt here, then endured horrifying headaches, not finding out the full extent of his injury for NINE YEARS.

You can endure sitting in a recliner for 45 minutes to appreciate this masterpiece.

Just sayin’.

 

The Gold Rush

My kingdom for a nice boiled shoe!

Making do with what he has, Charlie Chaplin scrapes out a life (barely) as a hapless gold prospector in this landmark silent film.

He has few skills, and quickly gets himself into substantial trouble.

Whether stuck in a cabin perched atop a precarious cliff, or having a stare-down with another prospector who hallucinates that he’s a juicy chicken prime for plucking, danger lurks behind every laugh.

Chaplin was quoted numerous times as saying this was the film he wanted to be remembered for, and he chose well from his collected works.

 

Modern Times

Fear technology.

Charlie Chaplin bids farewell to his enormously-popular Little Tramp persona, offering up a swan song which is equal parts hilarious and bittersweet.

Run through the ringer at the factory where he works, including a memorable encounter with a machine which force feeds him corn on the cob, our hero fights back against the powers that be, and is almost crushed.

Providing a glimmer of hope is an orphaned girl played by Paulette Goddard, who inspires the plucky lil’ man with a mustache to fight for his sliver of happiness.

A film of great, enduring beauty and wit.

 

The Artist

What kind of bliss is this?

A black and white, almost entirely silent film, financed by the French, and it still somehow beat the odds (and films from Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Woody Allen) to take home five Oscars, including Best Picture.

To which I said then, and say now, yes!

Documenting that moment in time when the “talkies” swept in and forever changed Hollywood, director Michael Hazanavicius captures pure, infectious fun, with big help from stars Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.

He’s a (possibly) falling star, she’s an ingenue on the rise, and they make sweet music together.