The Birth of Film and Movie Entertainment

Silent films: Bessie and her family loved going to the movies and first saw silent films. Although actors didn’t talk in silent films, the films were accompanied by music either in the film or played on an organ in the theater itself.  Popular silent films that would have played in New Rochelle included The Perils of Pauline with Pearl White (1914), Birth of a Nation directed by D. W. Griffiths (1915), The General with Buster Keaton (1927), and City Lights with Charlie Chaplin (1931).

Watch “Chapter One” of The Perils of Pauline: The Perils of Pauline (30 min)

Watch a clip from City Lights. Charlie Chaplin pretends he’s a boxer in order to raise money for a blind girlBoxing Match

See the top 100 silent films: Top 100 Silent Films

Golden Age of Hollywood: The 1930s brought talking into the movies. Considered the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” the films, usually in black and white, ranged from drama to comedy to westerns to the first cartoons. Bessie’s family would watch a newsreel and a cartoon before the feature film. Movies included Tarzan, the Ape Man with Johnny Weissmuller, the Olympic swimming champion (1932); The Great Ziegfeld, lasting 2 hours and 59 minutes with lots of singing and dancing (1936); Baby Burlesks, Shirley Temple’s first movies (1933), and The Wise Little Hen, featuring the first appearance of Donald Duck (1934). Laurel and Hardy, the famous comedians who began their movie career with short silent films, made their first talking film, Unaccustomed as We Are in 1929.

Watch the trailer for The Great Ziegfeld: Official Trailer for The Great Ziegfeld

Laugh at Laurel and Hardy: Clips from Laurel and Hardy (6:51)

See Donald Duck in The Wise Little Hen: Early Walt Disney (7:41)

View a list of movies in the 1930s: 100 best films of the 1930s