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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty-year old book is still one of the best on silent film
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...
Published on December 15, 1999 by Bruce Calvert

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes fascinating, sometimes a bit dry
According to his Wikipedia page, William K. Everson led a very interesting life as a film critic, student, teacher, and more. This is the first book of his that I've read, and it covers many different aspects of the silent film era: the business, the distribution, the directors (most prominently, D.W. Griffith), the stars, the editing, the story lines, the subtitles, the...
Published 18 months ago by Richard DiStefano


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty-year old book is still one of the best on silent film, December 15, 1999
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This review is from: American Silent Film (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to the Silent Film genre., April 13, 2001
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Maria Aragon (Landover Hills, Maryland United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: American Silent Film (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC, July 22, 2000
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anonymous (san francisco, ca United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: American Silent Film (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A much longed for book, May 14, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: American Silent Film (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
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE FIVE GREATEST BOOKS ON SILENT FILMS!, February 13, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: American Silent Film (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice BASIS for your Film Library, May 27, 2007
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This review is from: American Silent Film (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history and critique of silent film era, July 2, 2011
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This review is from: American Silent Film (Paperback)
Much is misunderstood about the history of silent films. Everson has throughly researched the era and writes not only as historian, but as film critic, revealing many classics of the cinema you may not have heard of. He is detailed in his assessment, writing with conviction and authority. There are many stills from films as well as portraits of stars. This is a must for film students, fans, critics, and for those who want to learn about culture from a bygone era. Everson begins with Edison, covering an era not touched before by many writers, going through the evolution of film art, up to and including the first sound films. Did you know "The Jazz Singer" was not the first talkie? There is also a chronology at the end of the book along with suggested readings. Though Everson died in 1996 this book is still relevant. Everson along with James Agee are perhaps the foremost writers on about film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everson's Research and Enthusiasm Make This Book Essential Reading, November 11, 2008
This review is from: American Silent Film (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A standard text on the granddaddy of film technique, December 24, 2010
This review is from: American Silent Film (Paperback)
I purchased this book when it originally came out and still have my copy, which I preserved in a Bro-dart almost immediately. Incredibly readable and perhaps Everson's finest work, this will make those who consider black-and-white films ancient history take a second look at the creation of this art form and the beginning of the grammar of film. When I taught silent film as a grad student, this, along with Brownlow's works and Kerr's THE SILENT CLOWNS were my go-to texts for lectures and discussions. Anyone who considers themselves a cinema scholar has to have this book.Unknown Chaplin: The Master at WorkThree Silent Classics By Josef Von Sternberg (Underworld / Last Command / Docks of New York) (The Criterion Collection)Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film, Complete Set 1-13 [VHS]Treasures From American Film Archives - Encore EditionMurnau, Borzage and Fox Box Set
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5.0 out of 5 stars My wife loved it!, July 14, 2014
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I gave this book as a gift to my wife who is a silent film and history fan. She just loves the book. The used book was as described by the seller and my wife buried her nose in the book for days. If my wife loved the book and you are a silent movie buff; my guess is you'll love it as well.
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American Silent Film
American Silent Film by William K. Everson (Paperback - August 22, 1998)
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