Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend update #2

Here are some brief bits of news - offered on a regular basis - from the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and the world of silent film:

1) A few days ago, the Los Angles Times ran an article about one man's struggle to make a documentary about his search for the lost sets of Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments (the 1923 silent version). An epic film - the sets were in turn a "colossal Egyptian dreamscape" located along the California Coast. Year's later, in his autobiography, DeMille considered the prospect that his lost city would be unearthed: "If 1,000 years from now archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe . . . . I hope they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilization . . . extended all the way to the Pacific coast of North America."

More than 30 years ago, film school graduate Peter Brosnan embarked on a journey that has yet to end - a quest to find DeMille's set, exhume it, and produce a documentary about this unusual piece of Hollywood history. Read more here 

2) A follow-up to our March 19th blog about a recently begun project to digitize old American film publications and put them online. As of now, the Internet Archive hosts four years of Photoplay, and one volume each of Motion Picture Classic and Moving Picture World, with more to come. Researchers, film historians, and silent film enthusiasts should also be aware of another website, Issuu, which also hosts vintage film publications. (Issuu is a Flickr-like site for pdf documents - both vintage and contemporary.) When last we checked, Issuu had long runs of both The Reel Journal and Boxoffice on it's site. A keyword search on either title will turn up plenty!

3) Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle is an elaborate and truly amazing miniature "doll house" created by the silent film star in the 1930s. It is full of antiques and priceless one-of-a-kind objects - all in miniature. The Fairy Castle includes murals painted by Walt Disney; chandeliers adorned with real diamonds; the tiniest Bible ever written (dating to 1840); and ancient statues more than 2,000 years old. There are also pieces donated by Rudolph Valentino, and what is reported to be "a sliver of the true cross." The library is full of minature books - most handwritten editions by authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. In 1949, Moore donated the Fairy Castle to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, where it remains on display. If you should ever find yourself in the Windy City, be sure and check it out. [Picture below of actress Colleen Moore within her Fairy Castle via the Museum of Science and Industry website.]


  1. Introduction for Silent films for kids

    Interview with Ben Model, silent film pianist and historian.

    Learn about the important role music plays in all kinds of films, especially silent films! This virtual field trip takes kids back to world before talkies. Our young host Morgana (age 11) talks to Ben Model about his work with silent films.

    MEET ME AT THE CORNER, Virtual Field Trips for Kids (
    is a series of free educational video pod casts is directed at kids ages 7-12. Each three-minute episode includes links to fun websites, a list of recommended books and a Learning Corner of questions and extended activities about the topic.

    Please take the time to look at this site and perhaps review it for your readers.

  2. Sorry to post this here; I couldn't find a contact e-mail for you!

    My name is Jared Grove and I'm with We'd like to give you $50 to link to our SF pages. Please give me a call back at (800) 450-7805x106 or e-mail me at to get a hold of me.

    Thanks very much!