For D.W. Griffith, I would choose Kino's Broken Blossoms or Intolerance
rather than Birth of a Nation. My favorite is actually Romance of Happy
Valley, but sadly, a good quality version is not out on home video.
I would also include Kino's C.B. DeMille's The Cheat which is, despite his
later "commercial" reputation, a great work of art. Add a Douglas Fairbank's
film, The Black Pirate or one of his early comedies.
I would also consider Facet's collection of Georges Melies.
And above all, Criterion's DVD of The Passion of Joan of Arc.
Just to add a thought on the limit of titles, I would start with 10. Place
them on a special shelf with copies of Kevin Brownlow's "The Parade's Gone
By" and any books by John Canemaker, Bill Everson, Scott Eyman and James
Curtis (to name just a few) and you'll be amazed how quickly your audience
will fall in love with the films.
How I describe it is comparable to going to a museum where only paintings
from the last year are displayed. It would hardly represent the great wealth
of the art of humankind. Cinema is 110 years old which makes the silent era
about 35% of that time and comprises probably 45% of the films ever created.
And like Picasso, Monet, Miro, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Ives, Gershwin, there
were magnificent artists in film every bit as brilliant -- Keaton, Chaplin,
von Stroheim, Feulliade and WAY too many to name. And they are just as
remarkable and exciting as anything made today.
Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: (201) 767-3117 or in the US (800) 603-1104
Fax: (201) 767-3035