Cover image for American film cycles : the silent era
American film cycles : the silent era
Langman, Larry.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xxii, 400 pages ; 25 cm.
Reading Level:
1250 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995.75 .L37 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Examining 40 cycles or themes and more than 1,000 silent films, the author attempts to discern how the screen reflected contemporary social, political, and national trends during the silent years. The period has been divided into the early silent years (1900-1919), with films of one or two reels dominating for the first 15 years, and the later silent period (1920-1929), known as the Golden Age of the Silents, in which feature-length films dominated. One of the author's goals is to establish the success, and sometimes the failure, of these films to capture the social and political times of their release. Other film books approach the dramas and comedies by genre, not by specific cycles, which makes this work unique.

The book focuses on both short works and feature-length films that are generally arranged chronologically under specific chapters. Each entry lists the title, year of release, director, and original source, if provided by the film. The major players are often included within the plot summary and analysis. Remakes and films with alternate titles are noted.

Author Notes

LARRY LANGMAN is a freelance writer who has taught the art and history of film for many years. He has written or coauthored several titles, including Guide to American Silent Crime Films (Greenwood, 1994), A Guide to American Crime Films of the Thirties (Greenwood, 1995), A Guide to Crime Films of the Forties and Fifties (Greenwood, 1995), Guide to Silent Westerns (Greenwood, 1992), Return to Paradise (1997), and The Media in the Movies (1997).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Expanding his previous work on silents (A Guide to Silent Westerns, CH, Jun'93; A Guide to American Silent Crime Films, CH, Jun'94), Langman has assembled a mammoth, detailed discussion of silent American film themes (NOT genres). Categories range from the usual--biographical films, jungle movies, and detective and courtroom dramas--to the odd and fascinating-- "Black Hand," " Eugenics," "Greenwich Village." Romantic comedies and dramas, such as flapper films, are not addressed; Langman showcases cross-dressing, seduction and abandonment, and childbirth. (But where are films like Chaplin's Easy Street in Langman's "Gangs and Gangsters" or "Slums" cycles or Harold Lloyd's Why Worry? in the "Mythical Kingdoms" category?) The essays in this work offer more descriptive material than The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures (1971- ), with Langman deftly noting the general social and political contexts of more than a thousand films and providing a cornucopia of topical synopses. The work acknowledges a limited set of bibliographical sources but misses some important works--e.g., Kay Sloan's Loud Silents (CH, Jun'89) and Eileen Bowser's Transformation of Cinema (CH, Jun'91). Still, this thorough, dense, and original catalogue is a valuable resource for those who encounter or are investigating the broad and diverse topics that silent film addressed. All collections. T. Lindvall Regent University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Abandoned Spousep. 1
Alcoholismp. 11
Amnesiap. 23
Avenging Spousep. 33
Backstagep. 43
Battered Womenp. 53
Biographiesp. 63
Black Handp. 73
Burglaryp. 81
Capital Punishmentp. 91
Capital vs. Laborp. 101
Childbirthp. 113
Circumstantial Evidencep. 121
Circusp. 129
City vs. Countryp. 139
Class Distinctionp. 149
Courtroomp. 159
Cross Dressingp. 169
Detectivesp. 179
Divorcep. 189
Drugsp. 199
Eugenicsp. 211
Gangs and Gangstersp. 219
Greenwich Villagep. 231
Junglep. 241
Mythical Kingdomsp. 251
Patriotismp. 263
Political Corruptionp. 275
Prejudicep. 285
Prostitutionp. 297
Red Scarep. 307
Seduction and Abandonmentp. 319
Slumsp. 333
Vampiresp. 345
White Slaveryp. 355
Women's Rightsp. 363
Bibliographyp. 371
Name Indexp. 373
Title Indexp. 387