Latest Blogs
Popular Posts

Latest Blogs


Look up and relax

American dental office with ceiling TV, from

Video screens are everywhere nowadays. TVs, tablets, phones, railway stations, bus shelters, airplane seats, tube station walls, you name it – but until last week I had never seen a video screen on a ceiling. This new experience came about when I had to go to the dentist. I sat back in the chair, stared… Read More

It speaks for itself


‘A million minutes of filmed history’ – someone in the communications team of the AP Archive must have been mightily pleased when they came up with that tag line for promoting their release online of the entire British Movietone newsreel archive onto YouTube. For that is what the have done. Apparently every story from every… Read More

Past posts


This website has had a bit of a redesign, chiefly to make it responsive so that I no longer have to peer at minute print whenever I look at one of the posts on my mobile phone. A few more tweaks are required, but in general I’m pleased with the template and the results. I’ve… Read More

Peter and John


I live next door to a castle. This is quite a privilege, and though in summer time the leaves of a large tree hide the building from my window, in winter-time I enjoy castle views (as the estate agents like to say around here). Rochester Castle looks very fine from the outside, though it is… Read More

In Bologna

Haydée Chikly (right) (the festival's online catalogue says this is from Zohra but I think it is her other film Ain el-Ghezal), via

I spent three days last week at Il Cinema Ritrovato, the renowned festival of restored and classic films held each year in Bologna, Italy. To my great shame it has been twenty-two years since I last attended the festival (though I was in the vicinity for a talk I gave three years ago). The reason… Read More

What is cinema history?

The Cinema Palace, Smyrna, c.1920, from

The art of Biography Is different from Geography. Geography is about maps, But Biography is about chaps. I thought of E.C. Bentley’s pithy poem while I was attending the What is Cinema History? conference in Glasgow. The conference was organised by the Early Cinema in Scotland project (on whose advisory board I sit), and addressed… Read More

I remember # 11

I haven’t produced one of these in a while… 315. I remember the Gang Show. 316. I remember bagatelle boards. 317. I remember The Flashing Blade, with its thinly-defended but endlessly besieged castle and its thrilling theme song (“You’ve got to fight for what you want for all that you believe / It’s right to… Read More

News of the Week as Shown in Films

Motography, 28 November 1914, via the Media History Digital Library

One of my favourite items popping up on my feed reader (thank you NetVibes) is the weekly News of the Week feature from the splendidly named The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion blog. The blog is produced by Joe Thompson, a San Franciscan enthusiast for silent film and cable cars. The blog is mostly about passing… Read More

In Copenhagen

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

I’m just back from Copenhagen, a city that I’ve been to four times now in as many years. No complaints about that – it’s a city of great charm and calm. It’s a place through which to drift on an even tenor. The streets are intriguing, the shops (frequently with basement-level windows) are inviting, the… Read More

Gaston, Maurice and Mary

Huguette Duflos and Charles de Rochefort in La Princesse aux clowns, via Media History Digital Library

Back in 2009 I was set an interesting challenge. I was invited on behalf of a group investigating the lives of British women who had worked in silent film to take on the research into one of those about whom nothing much was known. I picked the name Mary Murillo. I knew nothing of her,… Read More