Silent Vignettes: Stars, Studios and Stories from the Silent Movie Era (paperback)
Silent Vignettes: Stars, Studios and Stories from the Silent Movie Era
By Tim Lussier
Foreword by Lon Davis
Pickford, Lloyd, Keaton, Garbo. You’re familiar with these icons of silent film, of course — and they are here within these pages. But are you familiar with Francelia Billington? No? How about Harold Lockwood, Edna Flugrath, Marion Byron, Virginia Brown Faire? Still, no? Well, fear not. Film historian and author Tim Lussier (“Bare Knees” Flapper: The Life and Films of Virginia LeeCorbin) shines a belated spotlight on these unjustly forgotten men and women, each of whom brought untold joy to millions of fans in the years before movies learned to talk. When you read their stories in Silent Vignettes, you’ll understand why.
“Silent film fans know there is a vast world of long-forgotten studios and stars just waiting to be rediscovered. . . Tim Lussier helps bring a complex era to life with these tales of ‘film folks,’ both familiar and obscure.”
-- Lea Stans, webmaster,
"More than two decades ago Anthony Slide wrote a magnificent book titled Nitrate Can't Wait, featuring documentary write-ups about silent movies that have since become lost due to lack of preservation. Slide not only documented what was considered a "lost" silent gem, but helped preserve some of those films we will never see. Flash forward to today and we have Tim Lussier carrying the torch. For almost three decades, Tim posts on a regular basis an essay (or news brief) about films and film stars from the silent era before the major motion pictures switched to synchronized sound.
Silent movies are Tim's pill of choice... and an addiction. Tim is more than a collector -- he is a collector, educator, and writer with enthusiasm for silent movies. His insightful articles on actress Virginia Lee Corbin (written with the full cooperation of Virginia's surviving sons) led to the publication of the first-ever biography on that quintessential flapper, Bare Knees Flapper: The Life and Films of Virginia Lee Corbin, published by McFarland in 2018. So dedicated was he to the subject, in fact, that he personally paid to restore one of Corbin's feature films, Headlines (1925), held at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and eventually released to the silent film video market.
So it comes as no surprise that he authored a new book of lively essays about various silent screen actors, from Pickford, Chaplin, Keaton and Garbo -- as well as profiles on Reginald Denny, Francelia Billington, Virginia Brown Faire, Harold Lockwood, Viola Richard, George Fawcett and Anita Garvin. There is also a three-part dissertation on the beautiful Novak sisters, Jane and Eva. In his book, Silent Vignettes, Tim reveals how much water played a role in many of Keaton's stunts, the incomparable Betty Compson, the rise, reign and requiem of the Lubin Manufacturing Company, the mysterious death of Olive Thomas, a chapter on the stuntmen who risked their lives, the war-themed movies and bond drives of Mary Pickford, the silk hat comedian known as Raymond Griffith, and the silent ladies of Chaplin's films.
As you might surmise, these are not just biographies of silent screen actors and actresses. Let us be honest, there are plenty of books that serve that purpose. (I have a few on my bookshelf.) This book documents various aspects of silent screen stars and studios that make this book worth reading. If you love silent movies, this is a must-have for your bookshelf."
-- Martin Grams Jr.