Asheville Movies, Vol. 1: The Silent Era

Frank Thompson. Men with Wings, $15.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-0-9987699-0-5
In a pleasant stroll through a nearly forgotten part of the early movie industry, film historian Thompson (Texas Hollywood: Filmmaking in San Antonio Since 1910) gathers up tales of silent filmmaking in bucolic Asheville, N.C. By the late 19th century, Asheville was well-known as a resort area and playground of the wealthy—George Vanderbilt erected Biltmore House, a 250-room mansion, as a summer home there in 1895—and was easily accessible by railroad. With views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to provide picturesque scenery, the city also possessed plenty of visual appeal. By 1900, films were being shot there by two of the largest studios then operating, Vitagraph and Biograph. Thompson finds stories of Asheville locals eagerly volunteering, and even paying, to become actors and extras. Quotations from local newspaper interviews with actors and film crews describing how much they’re enjoying their time in Asheville also make it amusingly evident that even then the film industry knew how to endear itself to its fans. Only marred by the occasional slip into a gratingly folksy prose style, this is a well-researched and carefully indexed book that joyfully chronicles a bygone era. 133 photos. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 08/14/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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