Seductive Cinema: The Art of Silent Film

Overview

From a distinguished film historian - an exhilarating celebration of silent movies, a book that offers a new understanding of the art, the directors, the cinematographers and the stars of the great silent films. In it James Card - pioneer collector of silents since the twenties, founder of the George Eastman film archive and the Telluride and Montreal film festivals - strips away the formulaic praise that has encrusted the reputations of such filmmakers as D. W. Griffith (who, he says, did not invent the close-up...
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Overview

From a distinguished film historian - an exhilarating celebration of silent movies, a book that offers a new understanding of the art, the directors, the cinematographers and the stars of the great silent films. In it James Card - pioneer collector of silents since the twenties, founder of the George Eastman film archive and the Telluride and Montreal film festivals - strips away the formulaic praise that has encrusted the reputations of such filmmakers as D. W. Griffith (who, he says, did not invent the close-up or film editing) and discusses their real achievements. He rescues the reputation of Cecil B. DeMille and enriches those of such long-underestimated pioneers as King Vidor and Josef von Sternberg. Drawing on his close association with Gloria Swanson, Louise Brooks and Joan Crawford ("Crawford acted too soon; if only the movies in the twenties had been more respected, she might have been acknowledged as the formidable actor she was"), Card discusses the silent film's attitudes toward sex, the vamp and the good woman. He describes overlooked silent movies of social concern, among them The Cry of the Children, directed by George Nicholls; such classic thrillers as Herbert Brenon's Beau Geste and such early avant-garde American masterpieces as J. Sibley Watson's The Fall of the House of Usher. Seductive Cinema is a book that everyone seriously interested in moviemaking has been awaiting for years: the book on the silents by the man who knows more about them than anyone else.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this lively, opinionated, delightful chronicle of the silent film era, film historian Card deflates the ``near-hysterical devotion'' to D. W. Griffith, arguing that his Biograph movies were not revolutionary in comparison with European silents. Moreover, asserts Card, the oft-repeated claim that Griffith invented the closeup and film editing is false; that honor here goes to British filmmaker James Williamson. Card, a pioneer collector and founder of the George Eastman film archive, praises the underrated pretalkie achievements of King Vidor and Cecil B. DeMille, while panning director Josef von Sternberg's ``incredible lapses.'' Studded with glimpses of Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, John Barrymore, Greta Garbo, plus dozens more, and marvelously illustrated with photos and stills, this engaging blend of criticism, history, autobiographical reminiscence and film lore will captivate even those with only a passing interest in the silents. (May)
Library Journal
With television sitting on the brink of the 500-channel universe, will the silver screen someday go dark? Card, a true lover of cinema and a lifelong devotee of the art of filmmaking, presents numerous arguments on why such a situation should never occur. Card takes the reader on a historical journey through the archives of silent film. All historically relevant film world findings are discussed, including the discovery of motion on a piece of film, the advent of the zoopraxiscope, and the essential close-up shot. The book is such a good read that one can almost smell the nitrate of cellulose. Highly recommended for specialized motion-picture film collections.-Marty D. Evensvold, Magnolia P.L., Tex.
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A distinguished film historian strips away the formulaic praise and discusses the real achievements of such filmmakers as D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, & King Vidor. Examines silent film's attitudes toward sex, women, more. B&W photos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816633906
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 319
  • Sales rank: 859,243
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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