Jack Mulhall

Silent Room

JACK MJack Mulhall is probably not a name that springs to mind when buffs talk about silent films, yet he appeared in hundreds of silent films. He never really became a major star like John Gilbert or Rudolph Valentino, but he served as leading man to many of the era’s biggest female stars.

Mulhall was a mainstay of First National/Warner Bothers films for many years, where he appeared in 13 films with Dorothy Mackaill. He also appeared in films with Gloria Swanson, Colleen Moore, Marion Davies, Constance Talmadge, Norma Talmadge, Mae Murray, Blanche Sweet, Bebe Daniels, May McAvoy, Madge Bellamy, Viola Dana, Marie Prevost, Alice White, Billie Dove, Mabel Normand, Corinne Griffith, and (going back to 1910) with Mary Pickford.

Jack Mulhall got his first sizable role in The Fugitive (1910), a Civil War drama directed by D.W. Griffith. That same year he appeared in Sunshine Sue and A Child’s Stratagem

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Marvellous Melbourne 1915

An early documentary film about the City of Melbourne, then the interim capital city of Australia. Made in 1910.

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The director Charles Cozens Spencer was famous for his bushranger films: “Captain Starlight” (Robbery Under Arms), “Captain Midgnight – The Bush King”, “The Life and Adventures of John Vane, The Notorious Australian Bushranger”, “Dan Morgan, The Terror of the Australian Bush” (Mad Dog Morgan). He also made the 1915 Film “The Shepherd of the Southern Cross.” He introduced Australia’s greatest silent film-maker, Raymond Longford, to the business. He died in September 1930 (he shot himself after going on a killing spree in Canada).

Special contents of this edition copyright 2010 Shane I Sullivan. Permission to use these items is granted under creative commons licence.

Im Lebenswirbel 1918

Also known as In the Life Spine

German film with English subtitles

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Marriage between Margit and artist Erik Lind is interrupted by her infatuation with squire *Arvid Sund. She gives up the relationship because of Erik’s illness and death. Arvid’s brother however, brings the two back together.

Director: Heinz Schall
Writer: Louis Levy (screenplay)
Stars: Asta Nielsen, Bruno Eichgrün, Walter Wolffgram

 

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1912)

Mark David Welsh

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1912)‘Help! Help! That monster Hyde is in my master’s study!’

Keen to prove his theories on the duality of human nature, Dr Jekyll experiments on himself with untested drugs and transforms into his deadly alter-ego, Mr Hyde. The monster runs rampant, but the police are quickly closing in…

Robert Louis Stevenson’s cautionary tale of addiction and dodgy pharmaceuticals first hit the movie screen as a filmed stage play in 1908, a version now lost. Many silent adaptations followed and there seems to be some confusion among commentators as to which order they arrived in! However, it seems pretty clear that this short, made for the Nickelodeon circuit, is the oldest surviving example. Nickelodeons were small theatres located in local neighbourhoods that showed single-reel subjects like this 12-minute dash through the classic story’s highlights.

The film begins with a shot of Jekyll’s chosen text for a discussion with a colleague. This…

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Le charmeur 1907

 

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A Brahman stuffs a serpent into a cocoon, and a butterfly woman comes out. She makes more butterflies come out of the same cocoon till a whole crowd of them are swarming the jungle. When the Brahman tries to catch the queen she turns him into the serpent who slinks off into the jungle.

—Tornado_Sam

Director: Segundo de Chomón

Director: Segundo de Chomón

10 lost silent films that I’d love to see

Silents, Please!

As an art form, silent film lasted for a mere 40 years, c.1895-1935. It’s well known that the great majority of films from the silent era are now lost, whether due to destruction (either deliberate, as by many studios, or accidental, as the famous Fox fire of 1937), deterioration, or simple indifference and neglect. Survival percentages vary by country; Imperial Russia fares quite well, with about a sixth of the total production surviving1, whereas it is estimated that less that 5% of Japanese silent film production is extant2; in Australia, less than 10%.3  India has one of the worst film survival rates of all countries; of the 1700 silent films made in India, only 5 or 6 survive complete, with another 10 or 12 in fragments.4

As for the US, in 2013 a detailed study on American feature films was undertaken by David Pierce (also known…

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