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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

HOT SPOTS... On the Internet!!!

As any movie lover knows, in this modern age of consumerism it is never enough to see a movie just once. When you fall in love with a film, just like any other romance, you are filled with an unquenchable need to possess the object of your desire. Unfortunately, we true movie-buffs find this difficult, because sometimes the most sought-after and adored films of all time are unavailable to the general public. Sure, there's the occasional re-release of a beloved classic and great venues like The Egyptian or The Silent Movie Theater that will unlock the vault of cinematic past for our present pleasure, and there is nothing like seeing a feature on the big screen. However, if you are as compulsive as I am, when you see something you like, you want it! Even though you know your bank account is low; even though you know buying new shoes would be a wiser choice of expenditure.

I have sought in vain for many a film, particularly when I am deep in researching a certain individual. The number of titles that are either completely lost or being held hostage astound and frustrate me every time. So many great storylines and brilliant performances have either deteriorated, been burned for silver, or are sitting in a lonely vault somewhere. But, through my diligence i.e. obsession, I have been able to find quite a few sites that can offer the needle-in-a-haystack pieces that even the almighty cannot provide, (though praise be to Allah that such a site exists too)! Since I consider us comrades in arms, I want to aid you in your common quest. Here is a list of sites for the most loyal of you movie-hunting lovelies. I would say don't spend your money all in one place, but if you live in a glass house, you shouldn't throw stones! Haha ;)

See it through the Grapevine:

When I randomly stumbled onto Grapevine Video's website, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! So many films from the silent era, starring its biggest as well as its lesser remembered stars, are here for the plucking! Salivating at the mouth, I managed to put 4 movies in my cart before I remembered that I had rent to pay and should probably restrain myself. The great thing about this site, aside from the number of titles and the great quality of the films, is that the majority of the discs are double-features or include some sort of short film or comedy, so it's more bang for your buck. The site is also easy to navigate, because it allows you to search by title, director, genre, or performer, so if you have a favorite actor, he and his work will be easy to find. If Rudy's your man, look no further. If you're partial to Blanche Sweet (above, left), it doesn't get any sweeter! They accept credit or Paypal, so the money exchange is a cinch. 

Vintage is always in fashion:

Vintage Film Buff has quite the plethora of forgotten 1930s and 1940s productions. If you like B-movies, horror films, westerns, or noirs, you will find great flicks and hidden jewels at this website. Overlooked stars like George Raft, Miriam Hopkins and Anna May Wong (right) are finally given a chance to shine here, and there are fabulous and scandalous pre-code films sure to aid you in indulging your naughty side. Many of these films are boundary pushing oddities, which makes them interesting to watch and easy to enjoy.

Unknown, But Not Forgotten:

I was able to find this company after buying a couple of their dvds through Amazon. Unknown Video houses a great deal of silent classics, particularly comedies and westerns. Mabel Normand and William S. Hart (left) are highly favored here, as well as racing gent, Wally Reid. The website doesn't seem to list all of their available movies, but each time I order from them, a small catalog is provided, which includes more of their releases. A cute bonus about these films is that they each come with a collectible magnet. I now have Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel hanging on my fridge.

Clara Bow Bound:

If you love Clara-- and let's face it, who doesn't-- this website is fantastic for finding nearly all of her films!!! Yeah, I know; I too found it almost too good to be true. Yet, there it is. The Clara Bow Page contains Bow's greatest silent and talkie films, so you can sink your teeth into Mantrap and Hoopla with no trouble at all! (Who needs the Library of Congress)?! These films are burned onto a dvd at your specification, and you get two for the price of one! The quality is great and the transaction is easy, with the option of checks, money order, or Paypal. There are also several other titles available with various stars, such as Ann Harding and Pola Negri. Definitely worth the gander.

Lon Ain't Gone!

Since Chaney remains my favorite actor, and it seems that his throne is secure from future usurpation, I was more than miffed when in the beginning of my adolescent studies, I was unable to find the majority of his titles on video (this was back in the age of VHS). Still, with the coming of Digital Video Discs, he was nowhere to be found. I sadly cherished my copy of The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame and considered all other films exiled into oblivion. Not so! Unique Dvd has an ENTIRE collection of Chaney's greatest films in one fantastic pack! The downer is that you can't purchase one film alone, and you have to get the whole shebang; but for $50 you get 20 films, plus a copy of a Lon Chaney documentary. Where East Is East, Tell It To the Marines, and While the City Sleeps... They're all there! Chaney's diverse film work is available at long last, and the "Man of a Thousand Faces" can finally be appreciated for some of his less monstrous ones! Each film is the best known surviving copy of its kind, and a few incomplete films are included and edited together for the best possible version. For a true fan, it's like a dream come true. (Also available at the site are a collection of fascinating, banned cartoons and other various series). (Unfortunately, it looks like this site has been shut down. I hope it is only temporary, as avid Lon fans need access to his work. Stop holdin' it hostage, people!).

I hope that this information helps you all in your quest for the preservation of our cinema's history. If you purchase from these sites, be sure to thank them for the great contribution and honor they are doing for our artistic heritage. It is a truly noble effort, too little recognized. So, spoil yourself, get a little movie treat, and enjoy!


  1. Oh thankyouthankyouthankyou!!
    This is amazing.

  2. AHA! Lon Chaney is your favorite. I knew it! No I didn’t. Great article Meredith. My problem of late has been purchasing books. besides your recommendations, the McFarland co. is killing me. Latest one being about Olive Borden. I do not own many films. I rely mainly on TCM or the Silent Theatre on Fairfax when I’m in LA to avoid burnout. I know it’s nice to have a film library at your command but I would probably overuse them. Unless I could find a company that carries the complete works of Monta Bell or a Stanley Blystone. lol . Thanks

  3. Thanks so much! Most of these sources were unknown to me - but I've a feeling they and my wallet are going to be getting pretty well acquainted in the near future...

  4. Felix & Matt: You're welcome!!! I hope you find all sorts of gems. I can see you are suckers just like me!

    Bill: Believe me, $ burns a hole in my pocket where books are concerned too! I will need a vast library one day when I build my dream house. :) Glad you are utilizing TCM... Definitely the smarter route.