Archive for March 21, 2023

Small Talk

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2023 by dcairns

The talk I’m doing with Chris Heppell of Changing Faces for the Bo’ness Silent Film Festival is tomorrow. You can find out more here. As far as I can tell it’ll be watchable online both live and on instant replay. I’ll post a link to the YouTube version as soon as I can.

My part of the talk is all written and I’ve timed it, though depending on how fast I talk it comes out massively overlong or massively overshort. Which proves that it CAN be the right length.

It’s about “visible difference” in silent cinema. I belatedly realised that though I have stuff on little guys Angelo Rossitto (THE BELOVED ROGUE) and Harry Earles (THE UNHOLY THREE), I left out big guys Ingram B. Pickett (THE HIGH SIGN, pictured) and John Aasen (WHY WORRY?)

Incidentally, if anybody has a fondness for correcting the IMDb, you might want to tell them that Big Joe Roberts does not play the leader of the Blinking Buzzards in Keaton’s first short, Pickett does. A difficult mistake to account for if you look at images of the two men side by side: a tall, fat man does not resemble overmuch a gigantically tall, reasonably thin man.

The Inaccurate Movie Database suffers from the fact that it was initially quite easy to input information, and then they made it harder to get edits, made, so that correcting all the accumulated mistakes of the early years is going to be a decades-long process. And Eric Blore does not appear in GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933, so there.

Still, the talk isn’t intended to be a complete encyclopedia of different-looking character actors. But I think it’ll give a sense of silent era filmmakers’ attitudes to difference. Happy to hear if I’ve missed any other notable examples of thesps who capitalized on the features that made them stand out from the crowd.

I’m impressed by the line-up of talks at Hippfest this year: here’s Christine Leteux on Maurice Tourneur.