Today marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I and I’m honoring the day by looking at two of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.’s films about the Great War.
Mabel Normand is one of those names. Fans of early cinema know it well and are aware of its significance to both film history and women’s history. To casual film fans it might ring a bell but probably mostly in relation to Charlie Chaplin or to scandal. To the majority of people, (let’s face it, us early film fans aren’t as common as we wish) it is a name that doesn’t ring any bell at all. And isn’t that the awful truth for countless names of great women in history? This is my attempt to share with the world one of those great women who are all too often forgotten.
It is a well-known fact among movie fans that Buster Keaton is the Great Stoneface. The world could be falling to pieces all around him, comedy chaos ensuing, romance a-buzzing, and his face would remain stoic with an expression that says “to hell with it all.” And it is that very expression that makes us, as the audience, fall to pieces laughing. It is a component of his comedic genius that harkens back to his days on vaudeville as a child when he would perform his highly physical slapstick with a deadpan stare. He had mastered this look so well by such a young age that his father was even accused by some of child abuse for their family skits. But when Keaton entered the movies in 1917, he hadn’t yet established the Great Stoneface as his signature screen persona. In these shorts, he smiles, he laughs, and shows a wide variety of facial expressions. We see a Keaton that is just beginning to embark on one of the greatest comedy careers of the silent era. And it is that, along with the equally genius Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Al St. John, that makes the Keaton shorts of 1917 such a treat.
In 1930, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. told The New Movie Magazine the story of the life-changing moment that he realized he wanted to break free of the Fairbanks name.
I discovered the #PayClassicsForward Challenge on Aurora’s wonderful blog Once Upon a Screen (Click HERE to see the challenge!) and I thought it would be a fun challenge to take on this holiday season!
So here’s the challenge: There are 12 categories (in the same tradition as the 12 days of Christmas) that can literally be anything related to the movies. It’s all about creativity here which was a huge part of the fun! The idea is to spread the love of classic movies to others and particularly to those who are not already classic movie diehards like the rest of us. Therefore, if you are a serious classic movie fan, these movies probably won’t surprise you or be new to you. However, they are movies that I felt could be enjoyed by everybody, even by those who are not as accustomed to watching old movies.
My twelve topics were chosen pretty randomly so I wouldn’t dare you to try to make sense of it but I’ve tried to cover most genres and subjects to try to encompass all interests. I kept descriptions short and only posted one photo per film. I’ve also made sure that I chose titles that are easily available to watch. You can click each title and it will take you to the IMDb page if you are interested in more information on the film.
As TCM would say… Let’s Movie!
In honor of the 107th birthday of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., I decided to share 50 entertaining facts about him!
I admit, I’ve not posted for the entire month of November! But I have a few things up my sleeve for December. I wanted to try something new and post an update here that may be of interest to my readers and/or other old Hollywood fans of what is happening this month.
First off, I will begin my saying that December is the birthday month of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. He would be 107 years old! His birthday is on December 9th (which is also the 100th birthday of Kirk Douglas!) so I expect to have a post ready for that day. TCM will be showing four Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., films this month – Gunga Din (1939), Having a Wonderful Time (1938), Joy of Living (1938), and The Young in Heart (1938). I highly recommend checking out one of these if you are new to Fairbanks! Here is the schedule:
I have also recently been made aware of the Buster Keaton 100 event that is taking place throughout 2017. The year-long event was created by the International Buster Keaton Society, Inc. and celebrates the centennial of Keaton’s film career. My silent film watching goes all the way back to elementary school when my mom and I would stay up late watching the Silent Sunday features on TCM. But it wasn’t until I discovered Buster Keaton that I became completely obsessed with the silent era. It is now the era I study the most in my budding film historian career and I feel that I owe a lot to Keaton for that. Buster Keaton 100 is asking fans around the world to celebrate in a number of creative ways.
Read all about it here: http://www.keaton100.com/
On the website, you have the option to sign up as a presenter, volunteer, or audience member, or all three! I have decided to do everything in my power to host a film screening in my city where silent films are rarely ever screened. I also plan on volunteering through the use of social media and any other way that I can. If anyone has ever hosted a screening in their community, I welcome any type of advice!
The third major thing that I have been working on is my first exhibit commemorating the centennial of World War I at my local downtown library. I was brought onto the team for my knowledge on popular culture of the era and am putting together four exhibit panels that celebrate the films, music, literature, and sports of 1917-1919. I am also putting together a World War I film series in connection with the exhibit.
The films I plan to screen are as follows – Shoulder Arms, The Big Parade, Wings, All Quiet on the Western Front, Sergeant York, and Paths of Glory.
I am aware that this is a relatively small list of the many World War I films that exist but I felt that these are great films that represent different viewpoints and genres. (I can’t believe I didn’t even include Fairbanks, Jr.’s film Dawn Patrol!) That being said, I am open to any suggestions of other World War I films that would be worth considering for the series.
If you would like to get involved in your own community or wish to donate to the commemoration, visit this website: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/
I also finally got a Twitter so if you are interested in following a fellow film fan where I post more often than here and on more than just Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., please come join me: https://twitter.com/elizabethdfjnr