I wonder how many reading this can name all three of the gentlemen above? Probably just about everyone knows Charlie Chaplin (far right), but the other two? The man in the middle is Buster Keaton and the guy leading the pack is Lon Chaney. These men were the stars of their day, when movies had no sound.
My guess is we lost a few readers when they saw the title of this post and even more dropped off before getting this far. If you’re reading now you’re hopefully either a fan of silent movies or are open to checking some out. As for me, I’m a fan.
Most folks who like silent movies started with the comedies. There were so many made by greats such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy and Fatty Arbuckle. The great thing about silent film comedy is that most of the gags are ageless. The first silent movies I remember seeing were comedies, but my enjoyment of silent film really took off with the discovery of silent horror movies.
Lon Chaney was the king of silent horror films starring in classics such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Unknown, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and so many others. Chaney was equally adept in crime films and dramas. Known as The Man of 1,000 Faces, Chaney created his own make-up for each role. If you lean more to horror, crime films and dramas, then Lon Chaney is the star to look for.
If comedy is more to your liking, then I’d suggest checking out Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr., The General or Sherlock, Jr. Perhaps you want to go to the best known silent film star, Charlie Chaplin. My suggestions for you would be The Kid, The Circus, Shoulder Arms or almost any of Chaplin’s work in silent films. Charlie Chaplin is one of the few silent film stars who transitioned to talkies and continued to be successful.
TCM is a great source for silent films. I recorded and have been making my way through many of Charlie Chaplin’s films that are new to me. TCM runs silent films each week late on Sunday night and at various times throughout each month. Check your listings and give some a go. You, of course can also find great silent movies on other channels, streaming and dvd.
If you’re a fan of silent films or check some out, let me know your thoughts and send some recommendations my way. Don’t be silent about your favorites. ; )