Book Review: 100 Silent Films
Worldcat Link: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/719415465
Full Citation: Bryony Dixon. 100 Silent Films. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011.
This guide has provided me with about twenty leads for this project; all of them very interesting so far. The bulk of the movies listed are from the “golden age” of silents in the twenties. Most of the major ones you’ve heard of are here, but Dixon makes a special effort to include lesser-known gems that will surprise and delight. She also sneaks in mentions of more than 100 movies, if you are attentive. One example is the review of D.W. Grifftih’s “Adventures of Dollie,” which begins with a full paragraph about its predecessor “Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest,” Griffith’s first starring vehicle as an actor. Of course, any fan will dispute this or that entry and why not an entry for this or that film, but as a general introduction it is excellent.
I enjoyed Dixon’s easy style and her profound knowledge of her subject. Were I her grading TA, I would criticize her for spending a bit too much time describing, rather than analyzing, the films she covers, but this probably makes the book more accessible to a general audience. The book includes many nicely reproduced photos from the films, including some you’ve probably not seen before, and which heighten the interest in seeing the movies. There is also a brief bibliography, a short introduction, and a small but functional index. The meat of the book, however, is the movies, and if you are interested in the history of film at all, this is a fine source which proves that the film guide is not yet dead.
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