Viewing The Birth of Motion Pictures: An Illustrated History of Silent Cinema 1910-1929

Now, I pride myself on being on top of SoCal events particularly the classic film ones. If there’s a screening, exhibit or festival chances are I know about it. But every once in awhile something falls through the cracks. Recently I was reading a post on Spellbound By Movies on LA area classic films exhibits. The FIDM costume exhibit – knew of it. The Jean Harlow exhibit at the Hollywood Museum – visited it. The Silent Cinema exhibit in Brea…wait, what now? Somehow I had not previously been aware of it and it started in February! I knew just what I had to do. Head on over to Brea lickety split and check it out.

The Birth of Motion Pictures: An Illustrated History of Silent Cinema 1910-1929 is on display at the City of Brea Art Gallery and features an array of silent film posters and accompanying memorabilia.  The collection belongs to Dwight Manley, a Brea native, who started amassing it 8 years ago after a visit to Leonardo DiCaprio’s house. After admiring his collection of classic film posters Manley decided to purchase his own to decorate his new home. That simple idea led to a true passion for the silent film poster in particular and a quest to own one for each film made during the era. Now, 2.000 pieces strong he has decided to publicly display some of the highlights to commemorate his hometown’s 100th anniversary.

The exhibit is simply incredible. Based on the venue I had expected it to be quite small but was instantly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of pieces on display. Covering every genre of silent film and featuring several of its brightest stars it’s an extensive overview of the era.

And the pieces are stunning. All in amazing condition they’re filled with color and incredible artistry. To think that this much work was put into something that was pasted on a wall for a short period and then thrown away is simply astounding. If only that much care was put into posters today.

And the fact that they survived! How lucky are we to still possess these incredible works of art. I’m so glad that Mr. Manley decided to share his collection with the public (and that Spellbound by Movies clued me in to its existence!). It closes this weekend and I strongly encourage you to go check it out.



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