Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sure They Could Talk, But Did They Have Faces?

Ever since the 'Talkie Revolution'  there has been many stories spun about the silent stars who couldn't make the transition:  the Europeans, John Gilbert, Harry Langdon etc.  But an interesting chat sprung up on day on the Columbia lot in 1942 that turned that topic on it's head.

Hedda Hopper paid a visit to the set of  "My Sister Eileen" and soon the producer and director of  "Commandos Strike At Dawn"  came over to do their time in the presence of Herself.  (above:  Commandos prod. and dir.  Lester Cowan and John Farrow are on far right and left flanking Eileen star and dir. Roz Russell and Al Hall.  Hopper is at center) 

John Farrow suggested that very few stars of '42 would be able to make it in the silents and offered his list of those that he thought could.  They were:  Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, Charlie McCarthy, Harpo Marx, Roz Russell, James Cagney, Rochester, Barbara Stanwyck, and Jimmy Gleason.

I'll discount the following:  Chaplin as he had reached the heights during that era, Charlie McCarthy was a wooden dummy and not an actor, and Harpo Marx as silence was his shtick.  But it's a curious question and one I'd like to have you weigh in on.  Soooo........

Who do you think, from the Golden Era (let's say 1930-1958), could have made a go in Silents?  And what of today's crop, anybody?


normadesmond said...

so far, all i can think of is jim carrey.

The Cool Cookie said...

I'm with Norma, Jim Carrey.

But I would also add in Meryl Streep (She can do anything), Shirley McClain (in her youth, she could do the facial expressions), Sean Hayes (all that mugging on Will and Grace) and Tom Hanks (See Meryle Streep). Oh, I forgot Steven Segal (Just kidding!)

Jon said...

Dame Maggie Smith needs do very little except raise an eyebrow to electrify the screen, so would be perfect, except that her heyday is from the 60s onwards. Mind you, Normadesmond and Cookie have both come up with some more modern suggestions... Jx