From one of America’s most renowned film scholars: a revelatory, perceptive, and highly readable look at the greatest silent film stars — not those few who are fully appreciated and understood, like Chaplin, Keaton, Gish, and Garbo, but those who have been misperceived, unfairly dismissed, or forgotten.
Here is Valentino, "the Sheik," who was hardly the effeminate lounge lizard he’s been branded as; Mary Pickford, who couldn’t have been further from the adorable little creature with golden ringlets that was her film persona; Marion Davies, unfairly pilloried in Citizen Kane; the original "Phantom" and "Hunchback," Lon Chaney; the beautiful Talmadge sisters, Norma and Constance. Here are the great divas, Pola Negri and Gloria Swanson; the great flappers, Colleen Moore and Clara Bow; the great cowboys, William S. Hart and Tom Mix; and the great lover, John Gilbert. Here, too, is the quintessential slapstick comedienne, Mabel Normand, with her Keystone Kops; the quintessential all-American hero, Douglas Fairbanks; and, of course, the quintessential all-American dog, Rin-Tin-Tin.
This is the first book to anatomize the major silent players, reconstruct their careers, and give us a sense of what those films, those stars, and that Hollywood were all about. An absolutely essential text for anyone seriously interested in movies, and, with more than three hundred photographs, as much a treat to look at as it is to read.
About Jeanine Basinger
Jeanine Basinger is the chair of film studies at Wesleyan University and the curator of the cinema archives there. She has written nine other books on film, including A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930–1960; Silent Stars, winner… More about Jeanine Basinger