Charles Ashton and British Silent Films

British Silent Film Star – Charles Ashton

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Pordenone’s Le Giornate del Cinema Muto festival pays tribute to W.W. Jacobs’ films

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The Giornate del Cinema Muto international silent film festival held in Pordenone, northern Italy, is now in its 31st year.  Within its eight day programme there were screenings of well over 300 films , plus there was screen tribute to the Wapping-born ‘storyteller’ William Wymark Jacobs (1863-1943) hence my post.  Between 1922 and 1927 several of W.W. Jacobs’ maritime novels were adapted by director H. Manning Haynes and screenwriter Lydia Hayward into popular comedy films, some of which starred Charles Ashton and were shown at the festival  – The Head of the Family, A Will and A Way (both films were also shown at the 15th British Silent Film Festival, Cambridge), Skipper’s Wooing , The Boatswain’s Mate and Sam’s Boy.   Jacobs most famous short horror story, The Monkey’s Paw, was made into at least ten films over the years including the 1923 version starring Charles Ashton and Marie Ault.  Many of Jacobs’ books are now out of print but they can be found secondhand on Amazon, eBay and through various book dealers.  Fortunately the stories have been preserved online through Project Gutenberg, and some are available on the Kindle.  Thanks to David Robinson for his notes on W.W. Jacobs and the film adaptations in Le Giornate del Cinema Muto’s 2012 programme (available as a pdf).  Jacobs’ biography can also be found on the Online Literature website

Reviews of  the films and events at the Pordenone festival can be found on Silent London blog and News from the BFI.

William Wymark Jacobs (1863-1943)  Source of image:

William Wymark Jacobs (1863-1943) Source of image:


Written by anneramsden

December 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Five things we learned from the British Silent Film Festival

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Pamela Hutchinson, film blogger for Silent London, writes in the Guardian’s Film Blog of the five things she learned while immersed in some of the silent film industry’s gems screened at the British Silent Film Festival in Cambridge in April.

Written by anneramsden

June 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm

British Silent Film Festival’s greatest hits

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It was well worth visiting the Cambridge hosted 15th British Silent Film Festival which offered a great programme of some of the best silent films made, and all screened with live music thanks to  John Sweeney, Gunter Buchwald, Neil Brand, Dodge Brothers, Rob Harbron and Miranda Rutter.  It wasn’t possible to see all 30+ films in this ambitious programme, but I did manage to see nine of the films.  The highlight for me, of course, was the screening of two of H. Manning Haynes 1922 films of W.W. Jacobs’ stories : The Head of the Family and A Will And A Way, both of which starred Charles Ashton and Cynthia Murtagh.  These two films were well attended and appreciated by the audience for their gentle and rustic humour.    Other connections with Charles on the programme were Ellen Terry, Edwardian film actress, who appeared in her last film role in The Bohemian Girl.  She had a small role as Widow Bernick in Rex Wilson’s film, The Pillars of Society (1920) (lost film).  Two of Charles’ old actor friends, Milton Rosmer and Irene Rooke, appeared in Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925).  Rooke was Martha Karsten in The Pillars of Society and Rosmer was director for two of Charles’ 1926 films, Cash on Delivery and The Woman Juror (both lost films).

In addition, there were gala screenings of two of the great films of the silent era: The Great White Silence (1924) shot by Herbert Ponting, a cameraman on Scott’s expedition to the South Pole in 1910; and the masterpiece of French silent film,Visage D’Enfant (1925) by Jacques Feyder, who later went on to work with Marlene Dietrich and Robert Donat.

More information can be found on the festival website

Written by anneramsden

April 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm

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