Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A casual book review: The Matinee Idols

The Matinee Idols by David Carroll; 1972  Hardcover, first pressing
Tagline: Here is the real, behind-the-scenes story of the magnificent stars of stage and early screen who held America's women in thrall...

I like this book, it's full of great studio stills of good looking guys- what's not to like about this....

Lou Tellegen
achingly handsome;
heartbreakingly tragic

I wouldn't call this a picture book though.  It has plenty of text, and about 25 mini biographies of the most swoon worthy guys of the early 20th century. 

As a lover of classic cinema (what I wouldn't give to have dinner with Robert Osborne) the subject matter is right up my alley. 

The glowing, hazy atmosphere of early film mesmerizes me.

Ramon Novarro and Alice Terry
The Arab, 1924

There is a modern bias against silent films.  People don't think it is possible to present a feature length plot using only gestures and a few written words. 

There is a preconception that you will be trapped into something very boring.

John Barrymore
The Beloved Rogue, 1927

But interesting things happen when you watch a silent film.. you get into the flow, you become unaware that you are reading, and suddenly you are having a unique film experience!


And there are some amazing silent films... some rival the best films of today.  One of my favorite is Sunrise (1927).  So, so good!  But my all time favorite silent film and maybe favorite film ever is Buster Keaton's The General (1926).  I think everyone should see it at least once, and I could watch it on a loop.

If you've never seen a silent film, I encourage you to give it a try! 

Wallace Reid
Joan the Woman, 1916

"Silence is of the gods; only monkeys chatter." 
                               ---- The Great Buster Keaton

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