In a special double issue of the all too infrequently published Bioscope Newsreel, we bring you news of some of the books on silent cinema recently published or due for publication soon (publication dates are for the UK, please note). Some of these titles I’ll be writing on in greater detail later.
United Artists 1919-1950
Tino Balio’s United Artists: 1919-1950 – The Company Built by the Stars, to be published in April, recounts the history of the studio founded by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith.
Shakespeare on Silent Film
At last a work to challenge Robert Hamilton Ball’s Shakespeare on Silent Film (1968), Judith Buchanan’s Shakespeare on Silent Film: An Excellent Dumb Discourse shows how the early cinema went about tackling high culture. It is published in May.
In Weimar Cinema: An Essential Guide to Classic Films of the Era Noah Eisenberg discusses sixteen iconic German films, silent and sound, made between the two world wars.
The Screen Decades is a series from Rutgers University Press, designed for course use and scholarly research. The first three volumes under American Cinema are André Gaudreault, American Cinema 1890-1909: Themes and Variations (yes, it does say 1890 as a start date); Charlie Kiel and Ben Singer, American Cinema of the 1910s: Themes and Variations; and Lucy Fisher, American Cinema of the 1920s: Themes and Variations.
Ghosts on the Somme
Alistair H. Fraser, Andrew Robertshaw and Steve Roberts have produced an intensive analysis of the classic 1916 documentary, The Battle of the Somme, investigating it in unprecedented depth and with many exciting discoveries. Ghosts on the Somme: Filming the Battle, June-July 1916 is published in March.
The Fun Factory
Academia takes on Keystone in Rob King’s The Fun Factory: The Keystone Film Company and the Emergence of Mass Culture, described as viewing “the changing politics of early film culture through the sociology of laughter”.
Klaus Kreimeier and Annemone Ligensa are the editors of Film 1900: Technology, Perception, Culture, a collection of essays which look at early cinema as media history, comparing its impact to that of the current digital revolution.
The important connection between Griffith’s film career and his stage inheritace is dealt with in David Mayer’s Stagestruck Filmmaker: D.W. Griffith and the American Theatre, which explores early cinema’s theatrical roots. Published in March.
Paul Merton, the British comedian who is dedicated to introducing classic silent comedy to new audiences, has his book Silent Comedy published in paperbackin May to coincide with his new Silent Clowns tour.
The Man Who Made Movies
Paul Spehr’s magnum opus, The Man Who Made Movies: W.K.L. Dickson, is a enjoyable biography of the man who deserves more than anyone else the accolade of the inventor of cinema, and an exceptional technological history.
Picturing American Modernity
In Picturing American Modernity: Traffic, Technology, and the Silent Cinema Kristen Whissel takes an innovative look at early cinema in the context of turn-of-the-century American culture.
The Silent Cinema in Song
Ken Wlaschin’s The Silent Cinema in Song, 1896-1929: An Illustrated History and Catalog of Songs Inspired by the Movies and Stars, with a List of Recordings brings together songs about movies and moviegoing created between 1896 and 1929, biographies of the stars with the songs that were dedicated to them, and a discography with availability information.
‘Til next time!