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American Silent Film Paperback – August 22, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press ed edition (August 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306808765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306808760
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

LJ's reviewer predicted this book was "bound to become the standard work on the period" (LJ 6/1/78), especially since it offers an in-depth look at "flickers" made prior to the 1920s boom that have been neglected in other histories. In addition to the early features, chapters cover D.W. Griffith and The Birth of a Nation, the Western, comedy, art direction and production design, the European influence, genres, directors, and the transition to sound. This survey remains "a readable, informed history of the period."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

William K. Everson (1929–1996) was the author of The Art of W. C. Fields, Classics of the Horror Film, and The Western.

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Customer Reviews

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I gave this book as a gift to my wife who is a silent film and history fan.
Francis B. Morganti
While the scope of the book is American films, he devotes time to the influence of European films and filmmakers on American films.
Bruce Calvert
I am so glad that Da Capo put this old Oxford University Press book back in print.
Maria Aragon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Calvert on December 15, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, written by the late film expert William K. Everson, is one of the best that you will read on silent film. Everson covers the entire silent film era from its beginnings to the coming of sound. This book focuses on the artistic successes more than the business end of the topic. While he completely covers D.W. Griffith's career, he also champions other early directors like John Collins. He covers interesting topics like art direction (or the lack of) in many early films. While the scope of the book is American films, he devotes time to the influence of European films and filmmakers on American films.
This books is an excellent introduction to silent film, yet a person familiar with the topic will not be able to put it down either.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Maria Aragon on April 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am so glad that Da Capo put this old Oxford University Press book back in print. I had read it back when I was a teenager in Chandler, Arizona and found its descriptions of these elusive films fascinating. For instance, this book was the first place I had heard of FW Murnau's excellent Sunrise, which is now a favorite of mine. Get this book for your private Silent Film Genre Reference Library.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By anonymous on July 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a classic. If you own only two or three film books, this should be one of them. Everson was the man. He saw everything, and what's more, he understood what he saw. There is no better introduction to the world of silent film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
I first read this Oxford University Press book back when I was still in high school. It was exhaustive and tantalizing in its descriptions of films I'd never heard of before, let alone seen. For instance, it was the first place I'd heard of the great film SUNRISE many years before I finally saw it on AMC this past year or so. Unfortunately it has gone out of print and I haven't heard whether Oxford Univ. Press is going to release it again - and I did write them to ask about it, too. If you ever land a copy, hang onto it. Me, I'm still on a quest for a copy of this invaluable book.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
This 1978 book from the late, great William Everson is , in my opinion, one of the five best books ever written on the subject.Any serious scholar of silent film should have a copy. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Angie2 on May 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are truly serious about the Silent Film Era,then this book is a must for your Library.

The author (who has since died) is very thorough in his research, from start to finish. The B&W photos are also fun to look at.

You might,though, find some of the chapters a bit "dry"...but then, most comprehensive history books (on any big topic, as this one) can seem as such.

Note that this film history book was written in the 1970's, so possibly a few more films may have been discovered or have been restored by now. Still, this 1970 film history book holds up very well , even in 2007.

The actual silent film "facts" presented by the author have not changed all that much since the 1970's, since the silent film experiences from the 1900's to the 1920's have basically remained the same. Infact, the author lists a thorough time-line in the appendix of this book, listing most American silent films that have been found and restored in the last century! Quite a feat in itself, and so interesting!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Howard Reid on November 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
All William K. Everson's books make fine reading, but "American Silent Film" I find especially valuable now that so many great silent classics are surfacing on DVD. Everson's research is thorough, his comments are usually most apt, and his enthusiasm unmistakable. It's great to see him drawing attention to brilliant film-makers like William K. Howard and Rex Ingram who are not usually highly regarded by the critical fraternity. All the same, Everson does have his idiosyncrasies. William S. Hart's superb achievement, "Tumbleweeds", rates but a single sentence, and the film's gifted co-director, King Baggot, is not mentioned at all, even though Baggot then went on to direct a marvelous film called "The Notorious Lady" with the star of Hart's western epic, Barbara Bedford. This film is available on DVD in a beautiful print as noted in my book, Silent Films & Early Talkies on DVD: A Classic Movie Fan's Guide. Everson's other most notable omissions include Edwin Carewe's "Evangeline", Ernst Lubitsch's "Lady Windermere's Fan", Robert G. Vignola's "When Knighthood Was in Flower" (in its day, the most expensive movie ever made), Charles Ray's "Sweet Adeline" and Henry King's "The White Sister". Of course, many movies that are now available on DVD, were not in circulation when Everson wrote this book. All the same, neither Carewe nor Vignola are listed at all, while some other extremely talented directors like Donald Crisp rate an unjust dismissal as "undistinguished". Everson is always at his best, however, when discussing the virtues and defects of mystery thrillers like "Sherlock Holmes" and "The Cat and the Canary".
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