When Charlie Chaplin comes to town

When Charlie Chaplin comes to town

The silent Keystone comedy, Kid Auto Races at Venice, should have been exactly that — a newsreel documenting a soapbox derby race. But as children race along an audience-lined pathway, a curious fellow wearing a bowler hat and baggy pants emerges into the frame, constantly interrupting the shot. The man is Charlie Chaplin. In cinematic terms, he was the original photobomber. Released in February, 1914, the film marks Chaplin’s first publicly screened appearance as the…

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Modern-day silent films at the Toronto Silent Film Festival

Modern-day silent films at the Toronto Silent Film Festival

When Shirley Hughes launched the Toronto Silent Film Festival in 2009, she never thought that a modern-day silent film like The Artist could claim the Best Picture Oscar, sparking a revival of interest in early cinema. Closing tonight, the festival has long placed importance on connecting the past to the present. The opening night film, Our Dancing Daughters (1928), starring a young Joan Crawford, draws many parallels to the Oscar-winning film. “It’s a great example…

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Reviving the sounds of silents

Reviving the sounds of silents

Musicians breathe new life into mute movies at Toronto Silent Film Festival. The films of the silent era were a varied lot, from slapstick to melodrama, featuring high society folk, cowboys, swashbucklers, vamps, flappers and rascals. Nearly a century later, these films are anything but silent. Plenty of music, both traditional and modern, will be heard during the Toronto Silent Film Festival, which runs March 30 to April 7. The lineup — seven screenings held…

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Festival celebrates lost art of silent films

Festival celebrates lost art of silent films

In the early days of movie-going, when silent films reigned supreme, there were no snack bars, reclining seats, or disclaimers discouraging cellphone use (although friendly title-cards kindly asked ladies to remove their hats); coming attractions were projected on glass slides and hand-painted posters graced sandwich boards placed outside the street-front cinemas. When talkies arrived in Toronto in late 1928, silent films disappeared, replaced by the chatter of jazz-babies and tough-talking heavies as theatres were quickly…

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