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Film scholar Jeanine Basinger offers 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 misrepresented, unfairly dismissed, or forgotten.
Included are Valentino, "the Sheik," who was hardly the effeminate lounge lizard he's been branded; 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. Basinger also includes 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.
Through concise biographies, explorations of filmographies, and captivating still shots, Jeanine Basinger offers remarkable insight into both the on- and offscreen lives of the cinema's first stars. Basinger shows an incredible knack for getting past the average movie fan's barriers to appreciating silent film actors: the larger-than-life acting style, frequently goofy plots, and general difficulty in finding films of all but a few luminaries like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Deft plot synopses, careful explanations of the skills needed for silent acting, and a genuine affection for the movies she's describing allow Basinger to give the reader a real sense of why these early actors were so beloved--and why they are so deserving of tribute. Mary Pickford, long unfairly maligned for playing saccharine little girls, is revealed to be a shrewd and highly professional performer, involved in every aspect of film production, careful to expand beyond her audience's expectations of her, and possessing deft comic flair. The lives and careers of two silent cowboys, the soulfully stoic William S. Hart and the flamboyant Tom Mix, are also compared and contrasted--oddly enough, to the detriment of neither. The book also covers the great sex symbols like Pola Negri and Rudolph Valentino and takes a welcome dive into the comedies of Mack Sennett. Equally engaging as browsing material or a cover-to-cover read, Silent Stars gives voice to both the sung and unsung pioneers of film. --Ali Davis
Buy Silent Stars by Jeanine Basinger from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780819564511 & 0819564516
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