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In Its Second Week, TCM’s ‘The Story of FIlm’ Reaches Silent Film’s Glorious Peak

'The Story of Film,' Week Two

Every Monday through December 9th, Criticwire will offer an annotated guide to Turner Classic Movies’ ‘The Story of Film,’ built around the 15-part documentary series by Mark Cousins. Read previous coverage of The Story of Film here.

Monday, Sept. 9

8 p.m.: One Week (1920) (U.S.A.)

8:30 p.m.: The Three Ages (1923) (U.S.A.)

10 p.m.: The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011). Episode Two: “The Hollywood Dream (1920s)”

11:15 p.m.: The General (1927) (U.S.A.)

From the Los Angeles Times, “End of the Line for an Independent Keaton” by your humble Criticwire editor.

Buster Keaton Rides Again, an hour-long documentary by John Spotton about the making of 1965’s The Railrodder, which features the only known footage of Keaton at work.

12:45 a.m.: The Kid (1921) (U.S.A.)

David Robinson’s “Filming The Kid,” from the notes to MK2’s European DVD.

1:45 a.m.: City Lights (1931) (U.S.A.)

Mental Floss’s short history of Chaplin’s masterpiece.

3:30 a.m.: Never Weaken (1921) (U.S.A.)

4:15 a.m.: Safety Last (1923) (U.S.A.)

One of the most striking aspects of Harold Lloyd’s death-defying comedy is his use of real locations, and the pin-sharp focus that allows you to see the cars moving below as Lloyd dangles high above the street. John Bengtson’s visual essay shows the locations as they stood then and do now. 

From the Criterion Collection’s site, an appreciation of Lloyd and Safety Last from veteran comedy writer Stephen Winer.

Tuesday, Sept. 10

8 p.m.: Nanook of the North (1922) (U.S.A.)

Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North is a founding text of documentary cinema, and still one of its most beautiful and problematic. For the Criterion Collection, Dean Duncan offers a sympathetic perspective, while Jay Ruby authored a landmark re-appraisal of Flaherty’s work in 1980. The National Film Board of Canada offers a guide to its collection of Inuit films, which offer a markedly different perspective on their lives. The Flaherty Seminar continues on in Flaherty’s tradition of exploring the many ways documentary (and documentary-inspired) films can be brought to bear on the world around us.

9:15 p.m.: The Thief of Bagdad (1924) (U.S.A.)

This early Hollywood depiction of the Occident overlaps with TCM’s series, “Race and Hollywood: Arab Images on Film.” David Sterritt goes deep on the film. 

11:15 p.m.: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) (France)

“You cannot know the history of film unless you know the face of Renee Maria Falconetti,” Roger Ebert justly observes at the beginning of his “Great Movies” essay. Here’s director Carl Theodor Dreyer himself on the film’s “realized mysticism.”

1:15 a.m.: The Crowd (1928) (U.S.A.)

Press Play‘s Robert Nishimura gives “Three Reasons” to love The Crowd.

Director King Vidor on the filming of his hugely influential, too rarely seen masterwork.

3:15 a.m.: The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011). Episode Two: “The Hollywood Dream (1920s)”

4:30 a.m.: Greed (1924) (original release version) (U.S.A.)

From Film Comment, 1974, Jonathan Rosenbaum on the forever-incomplete oeuvre of Erich von Stroheim, and from his blog, on the restored 4-hour version (TCM is showing the shorter theatrical cut). 

6:45 a.m.: Vampyr (1932) (Germany)

On Fandor, Kevin B. Lee explores “How Carl Dreyer Created a ‘Cinematic Uncanny.'”

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