Ivor Novello in Alfred Hitchcock's 1926 silent movie thriller.

Blu-ray: ‘The Lodger’ – Alfred Hitchcock begins on Criterion

The Lodger (1926) isn’t the first film directed by Alfred Hitchcock—it’s actually his third, though it does mark his first feature produced in Britain after directing two co-productions in Germany—but even Hitchcock embraced it as the first “Alfred Hitchcock film.” He announces his arrival in the cinematic jolt of the opening scene: a close-up of […]

Blu-ray: Gloria Swanson is ‘Zaza’ and Rudolph Valentino is ‘The Sheik’ and ‘Son of the Sheik’

Zaza (Kino Lorber) Gloria Swanson plays the music hall star Zaza (1923), Allan Dwan’s spirited silent film adaptation of the 19th century play by Pierre Berton and Charles Simon. This is “the Zaza of today,” reads the introduction, a 20th century version with Swanson as the temperamental star attraction of the top music hall in […]

Harold Lloyd in 'Safety Last,' his most famous thrill comedy.

Criterion Streams: Harold Lloyd’s ‘Safety Last’ on Hulu

Safety Last (1923) is the most famous of Harold Lloyd’s silent comedies and first of his “thrill pictures,” films that he built around slapstick ingenuity in the midst of daredevil stunts. This one has a doozy: Lloyd scales an office building in downtown Los Angeles, fumbling and fighting with obstacles the entire way. The image […]

Yasujiro Ozu's 1932 silent family comedy 'I Was Born But.'

‘I Was Born, But…’ – Ozu’s cheeky comedy on FilmStruck and Criterion Channel

If all you know of Yasujiro Ozu, Japan’s national treasure of a film director in the 20th century, is the quiet restraint and rigorous simplicity of his sound films, then you only have half of the story of the director’s remarkable career. The artist called the most “Japanese” of Japanese directors was a voracious film […]

The delirious cinematic dreamscape world of Guy Maddin's 'The Forbidden Room'

‘The Forbidden Room’ on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Fandor

Canadian iconoclast Guy Maddin has been making strange, surreal films that evoke the images and storytelling traditions of silent movies for decades. The Forbidden Room (2015), which he co-directed with his former student Evan Johnson, is like a compendium of his obsessions and cinematic fetishes. It opens on a mock-instructional film on “How to Take […]

Making the original 'Ben-Hur,' featured in the documentary 'Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film' by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill

Watch This! ‘Hollywood,’ Kevin Brownlow’s epic documentary on American Silent Cinema

Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film, a 13-part documentary series written and directed by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, is one of the greatest documentaries on cinema history and a tremendous artifact in its own right. Brownlow, a British filmmaker and historian, took a camera crew to the U.S. in the late 1970s […]

Charles 'Buddy' Rogers and Clara Bow in Wings

‘Wings’ – The First Best Picture on SVOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Clara Bow takes top billing in Paramount’s lavish 1927 war drama Wings (1927) and Charles “Buddy” Rogers and Richard Arlen (both virtual unknowns at the time) play the buddies and fellow pilots at the center of the film, but the real star of this World War I picture is the amazing aerial spectacle: the dogfights […]