The Great Train Robbery (1903)

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The Great Train Robbery (1903)

The Great Train Robbery (1903). 12 minutes. Directed by Edwin S. Porter. Starring Alfred C. Abadie (as sheriff), Broncho Billy Anderson (as bandit, shot passenger, and dancer), Justus D. Barnes (as bandit who fires at camera), Walter Cameron (as sheriff), Donald Gallaher (as little boy), Frank Hanaway (as bandit), Adam Charles Hayman (as bandit), John Manus Dougherty, Sr. (as bandit), Marie Murray (as dancer), and Mary Snow (as little girl). Written and produced by Edwin S. Porter.

The silent short The Great Train Robbery is considered to be a landmark in early film. It is the first Western (although it was not shot in the American West), the first action film, and one of the first narrative films. It features legendary Western actor Broncho Billy Anderson, who would go on to found Essanay Studios near Fremont, California. It also contains one of the most iconic final images in all of film: in the last frames, a bandit (played by … Read the rest

King of Jazz (1930)

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The King of Jazz (1930)

King of Jazz (1930). 105 minutes. Directed by Paul Fejos and John Murray Anderson. Starring Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, The Rhythm Boys (Bing Crosby, Al Rinker, Harry Barris), Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Willie Hall, Jeanie Lang, George Chiles, John Boles, Wilbur Hall, Al Norman, Jeanette Loff, Stanley Smith, The Russell Markert Girls, The Sisters G, Glenn Tryon, Laura LaPlante, and The Brox Sisters. Art direction by Herman Rosse. Animation by Walter Lantz and William Nolan.

The American King of Jazz, like the British Elstree Calling (1930), is a surviving musical revue from the early days of sound. Filmed in two-strip Technicolor, which emphasizes shades of turquoise and rose, it, unlike Elstree Calling, is a lavish production with impressive sets and gorgeous costumes. Herman Rosse, who created King of Jazz’s often remarkable visual style, won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction for his work on the film. King of Jazz was not successful upon its initial … Read the rest

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

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A Trip to the Moon (1902)

A Trip to the Moon (1902). 16 minutes. Directed by Georges Méliès. Starring Georges Méliès (as Professor Barbenfouillis); Bleuette Bernon (as Phoebe); François Lallement (as officer of the marines); Henri Delanney (as captain of the rocket); Jule-Eugène Legris (as parade leader); Victor André, Delpierre, Farjaux, Kelm, and Brunnet (as astronomers); Ballet of the Théâtre du Châtelet (as stars and cannon attendants); and the acrobats of the Folies Bergère (as Selenites). Written and produced by Georges Méliès.

A Trip to the Moon is without a doubt one of the most iconic movies ever made. Fritz Kramer has argued that the film’s moon, which is styled as a human face, is so famous that it “is instantly recognizable even to people who have never seen a single silent film.” The movie is based on the Jules Verne novels From the Earth to the Moon (1865) and Around the Moon (1870), as well as H. G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon Read the rest

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

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"The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946)

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). 172 minutes. Directed by William Wyler. Starring Frederic March (as Al Stephenson), Myrna Loy (as Milly Stephenson), Dana Andrews (as Fred Derry), Teresa Wright (as Peggy Stephenson), Virginia Mayo (as Marie Derry), Harold Russell (as Homer Parrish), Cathy O’Donnell (as Wilma Cameron), Gladys George (as Hortense Derry), Roman Bohnen (as Pat Derry), Hoagy Carmichael (as Butch Engle), Ray Collins (as Mr. Milton), Minna Gombell (as Mrs. Parrish), Walter Baldwin (as Mr. Parrish), Dorothy Adams (as Mrs. Cameron), Don Beddoe (as Mr. Cameron), and Michael Hall (as Rob Stephenson). Cinematography by Gregg Toland. Music by Hugo Friedhofer and Emil Newman.

The Best Years of Our Lives tells the story of three servicemen returning to their Midwestern hometown after World War II and the difficulty with which they adjust to life as civilians, family members, and husbands or boyfriends. It is notably rather frank about the challenges involved in their re-immersion into domestic life, presenting … Read the rest