DOUGH AND DYNAMITE (1914): Charlie Chaplin in one of his Keystone shorts. Not so much of a story as an excuse to through dough, flour, etc. at everyone in a bakery. So, of course, it was very funny.
THE SPORTSMAN (1921): Larry Semon stars, leading to a rather interesting label on the film reel. And it's a pretty funny film where he plays a hunter (a sportsman, duh!) who gets into all sorts of wacky hijinx crossing the local lord.
Then intermission, and on to one of my favorite films.
THE LOST WORLD (1925): Starring Wallace Beery, but especially starring Willis O'brien stop-motion effects (the first time stop-motion animation was used in a feature length film.)
When people ask me why I care about silent films, this is a big reason. Because this film's influence can still be seen today. Have you seen the trailer for the new JURASSIC WORLD? Doesn't it look awesome!? Remember how the second JURASSIC PARK movie was called THE LOST WORLD? You better believe Spielberg was inspired by this silent film to create his own dinosaurs.
Oh, but that's not all. Willis O'brien followed this up with a little film called KING KONG. You better believe that inspired a lot of filmmakers, most notably Peter Jackson. Maybe you loved the LORD OF THE RINGS movies like I did (maybe you also think the HOBBIT films are getting to be a bit much, but that's a different question.) And I guarantee you his movies have inspired kids who will become the master filmmakers who blow your mind 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now.
Oh, and Willis O'brien mentored Ray Harryhausen, who became the master of stop-motion animation. And it can all trace back to THE LOST WORLD.
Oh, do you like Pixar films? Perhaps you recognize the influence on UP (which kind of makes me wish UP had actually been an unofficial sequel to THE LOST WORLD and they found dinosaurs instead of weird looking birds there.) This is not a coincidence, Pixar luminaries have spoken about how they studied silent film to learn how to tell the story of WALL-E, where large stretches have no dialogue.
So this is why silent films are so great, and so important. They're the start of a century-long conversation on film, with influence that stretches beyond generations and will continue as long as film does (and maybe even carry over into whatever medium is next.)
Oh, and do you want to know what the film is actually about? I think I've written about it before.
Total Running Time: 101 minutes
My Total Minutes: 374,882