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The Last Days of the Silent Films, Part 1

In the first of a two-part episode, Lon Davis, author of the critically acclaimed “Silent Lives,” offers a fascinating insight on the tumult and career disruptions brought about when the microphone entered the movie studio and the silent film stars were expected to talk on the screen.

The episode can be heard here.

“The Online Movie Show” is produced at the Platinum Wolfe Studios.

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The Bootleg Files: Ben Hur

BOOTLEG FILES 634: “Ben Hur” (1907 short film).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube and Internet Archive.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: It has been included in anthologies of early silent films.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A groundbreaking example of copyright infringement.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is out there, but why would you want to find it?

One of the most important films in the legal history of intellectual property is also one of the least interesting productions ever captured on camera. If anyone pays attention to this bad old movie today, it is strictly to appreciate its place in copyright protection and not to pay tribute to its artistry.
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Lon Chaney Speaks!

Lon Chaney was one of the most popular film stars of the 1920s, but he was also among the most mysterious due to his aversion to publicity. In this episode of “The Online Movie Show,” writer Kevin Scott Collier talks about his book “Lon Chaney: In His Own Words,” which collects all known interviews that Chaney did and pieces together the true personality of the Man of a Thousand Faces.

The episode can be heard here.

“The Online Movie Show” is produced at the Platinum Wolfe Studios.

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The Bootleg Files: The Story of the Kelly Gang

BOOTLEG FILES 620: “The Story of the Kelly Gang” (1906 Australian production that is widely credited as the first feature-length narrative film).

LAST SEEN: A reconstruction using the surviving film fragments is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It is nearly unknown outside of Australia.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: There is an Australian DVD of the reconstructed version, but it is not commercially available in the United States.

On December 26, 1906, film history was made in Melbourne, Australia, with the premiere of “The Story of the Kelly Gang,” a cinematic retelling of the rise and fall of that nation’s most colorful 19th century outlaws. At the time, however, no one realized they were witnessing history in the making. And even at this late date, many people are not aware of the film’s importance to the development of the motion picture industry.

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Ricardo Cortez: The Magnificent Heel

During the 1920s and 1930s, Ricardo Cortez was one of Hollywood’s most versatile leading men. His best known films include D.W. Griffith’s “The Sorrows of Satan,” Greta Garbo’s first American film “Torrent” and the original 1931 version of “The Maltese Falcon.” In this episode of “The Online Movie Show,” we celebrate the life and career of this remarkable talent with Dan Van Neste, author of the book “The Magnificent Heel: The Life and Films of Ricardo Cortez.”

The episode can be heard here.

“The Online Movie Show” is produced at Platinum Wolfe Studios.

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Marion Davies: A Second Look

In this very special episode of “The Online Movie Show,” we offer a new appreciation of the much-maligned actress Marion Davies, who is now receiving a long overdue reconsideration thanks to the re-release of three of her long-unseen silent features on DVD and Blu-ray. Film historian and composer Ben Model joins us to celebrate the beauty and talent that Marion Davies brought to the silver screen.

The episode can be heard here.

“The Online Movie Show” is produced at the Platinum Wolfe Studios.

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The Bootleg Files: A Free Ride

BOOTLEG FILES 602: “A Free Ride” (the oldest surviving extant pornographic film made in the United States).

LAST SEEN: It can be found on Wikipedia.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: It was included in at least once porn anthology and a documentary on erotic cinema.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The difficulties in releasing this type of film back in the day.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Eh, you can watch it online for free.

One of the most historically significant films in the development of the American cinema is also one of the most mysterious and obscure. And if you never heard of the silent short film called “A Free Ride,” do not consider yourself ignorant – this is not the kind of film that you will see in a college film appreciation class or in a TCM showcase.

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When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922)

Barely seen since its 1922 theatrical release, this silent epic is a major surprise: a charming, entertaining adventure that contradicts the long-held prejudices by film scholars against the costume dramas starring the much-maligned Marion Davies and produced by her lover, publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst.

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