Portal:Silent film

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Introduction

Scene still of Belshazzar's feast in the central courtyard of Babylon from D. W. Griffith's 1916 silent film Intolerance.

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound (and in particular, no audible dialogue). In silent films for entertainment, the plot may be conveyed by the use of title cards, written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines. The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as film itself, but because of the technical challenges involved, the introduction of synchronized dialogue became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system. During the silent-film era that existed from the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, a pianist, theater organist—or even, in large cities, a small orchestra—would often play music to accompany the films. Pianists and organists would play either from sheet music, or improvisation.

The term silent film is a retronym—a term created to retroactively distinguish something. Early sound films, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, were variously referred to as the "talkies", "sound films", or "talking pictures". Within a decade, the widespread production of silent films for popular entertainment had ceased, and the industry had moved fully into the sound era, in which movies were accompanied by synchronized sound recordings of spoken dialogue, music and sound effects.

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a 1921 American silent epic war film produced by Metro Pictures Corporation and directed by Rex Ingram. Based on the Spanish novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, it was adapted for the screen by June Mathis. The film stars Pomeroy Cannon, Josef Swickard, Bridgetta Clark, Rudolph Valentino, Wallace Beery, and Alice Terry.

The film had a huge cultural impact, becoming the top-grossing film of 1921, beating out Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, and going on to become the sixth-best-grossing silent film of all time. The film turned then-little-known actor Rudolph Valentino into a superstar and associated him with the image of the Latin Lover. The film also inspired a tango craze and such fashion fads as gaucho pants.

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Rudolph Valentino.jpg
Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla, professionally known as Rudolph Valentino (May 6, 1895 – August 23, 1926), was an Italian-born American actor who starred in several well-known silent films including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle, and The Son of the Sheik. An early pop icon, a sex symbol of the 1920s, he was known as the "Latin Lover" or simply as "Valentino". He had applied for American citizenship shortly before his death, which occurred at age 31, causing mass hysteria among his female fans and further propelling him into iconic status.

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Photoplay, October 1921
[Talking pictures are] like putting lip rouge on the Venus de Milo.
Mary Pickford, Los Angeles Times, March 18, 1934

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