Ah, the good old days! Long before stadium seating, surround-sound, Technicolor, and even the Vitaphone, audiences flocked to watch flickering images accompanied by a live organist. Though some would argue that silent films unwatchable, and others would fume at such heresy, there's no question that a familiarity with the films that first graced the silver screen is a must for any cinema buff.
Silents are Golden is a great place to get started. There are vintage reviews of silent films and essays on the silent era. They can recommend helpful readings and tell you what silent movies are available on video and TV. Be sure to check out the photo galleries of the silent stars - and of their homes!
The Silents Majority is a monthly journal, with detailed information on a variety of silent artists, including those working behind the camera. Be sure to check out Cooking with the Stars and visit The Mary Pickford and Dreamland Theatres to view QuickTime video clips from silent films. Silent Era is an extensive site with screening information, a reader-compiled list of the top 100 silent films and an archive featuring vintage magazine covers and articles.
This German film by famed director Fritz Lang is considered to be the first science fiction film.
Orphans of the Storm
This film unites D.W. Griffith with Lillian and Dorothy Gish, and while it's a perfect example of the mannered, sentimental acting usually seen in silent film, it's visually quite beautiful.
The Gold Rush
Made shortly after Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith formed the United Artists Corporation, this is considered by most to be Chaplin's masterpiece.
Erich Von Stroheim's masterpiece was originally 42 reels and ran for more than 8 hours. But the producers had some problems with the ideas expressed and cut it down to two hours. A four hour restored version has recently been shown, and there are those who hope that Von Stroheim's original is still hidden in an attic or vault somewhere.