Recommended Reading

"The Movies Are: Carl Sandburg Film Reviews and Essay 1920-1928 by Carl Sandburg"

edited and with historical commentary by Arnie Bernstein (Lake Claremont Press (web site, 2000, 397 pages)

Remember studying Carl Sandburg's poems in school? I'll bet your instructor never told you Carl Sandburg wrote film reviews, though! For anyone who loves to get a vintage perspective on silent movies, nothing beats reading the reviews of the time (one of the mainstays of "Silents Are Golden), and this collection by Sandburg is just the thing. There's so much to recommend this book for the silent movie fan. First of all there are hundreds of films reviewed here. Bernstein has done a good job of selecting films we can identify with today - a large number of which can be viewed on videocassette and DVD. But even more appealing, Sandburg isn't your average reviewer of the time. For example, his review of "Robin Hood" (1922) tells of the presence of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford at the showing. He even recounts a few lines of a speech Fairbanks gave at the screening - "I'm so nervous and excited I don't know what to do with myself - I hope you'll like my picture. If you like the picture, I'll be tickled to death." He concludes the review by noting that Charlie Chaplin sent a floral piece inscribed "Sure to hit the bull's eye." This type of thing is prevalent throughout Sandburg's reviews and makes them much more fun to read. And don't make any mistake about that - it's not dry - you'll take great delight in reading ALL of this book - but you may skip around to seek out favorite film titles first. Adding spice to an already worthwhile volume are some of Sandburg's musings on such topics as Bernard Shaw's view of the movies ("Asking one to write a dumb show is rather like asking Titian to paint portraits in black and white," Shaw is quoted as saying), the world of comedies ("The public wants its laughter, its looney guffaws, short, quick and sure.), Josef Von Sternberg (". . . he seems to know more about what ought to be done in motion picture art than any one we have met in recent months."), and the use of subtitles in movies ("Among the women in the movies Mabel Normand may be named as one who understands pantomime down to fine points.") Thanks to Mr. Bernstein and Claremont Press for bringing us these treasures to enjoy today!!

Purchase this book from

Just click on the link above and type in the author's name

or the book title in Amazon's search field.

Return to "Recommended Reading" page