Shooting Stars 1928
Shooting Stars is a must for any Silent cinema fan. Offering a rare insight into the workings of a 1920s film studio, there are location scenes, comic stunts and an on-set jazz band which demonstrate just what life was like in the early days of cinema.
The context for the story is the British studio system of the period, in which a slapstick comedy and a Wild West romance might be being shot back-to-back in the same studio.

The central story thread is a romantic triangle. Self-absorbed star Mae Feather (Annette Benson) is married to her co-star Julian Gordon (Brian Aherne), but is involved in an affair with popular comedian Andy Wilkes (Donald Calthrop). Wilkes is being lured away by Hollywood and he wants Mae to go with him; she actually signs a contract with American producers, but it includes a morals clause which binds her to do nothing which would bring disrepute on the company or sully her public image. When circumstances reveal the affair to Julian, Mae feels trapped and takes a desperate measure to free herself, but the plan misfires tragically...

Directors: Anthony Asquith, A.V. Bramble
Cast: Annette Benson, Brian Aherne, Donald Calthrop
Country: UK
Genre: Drama

BD50 + DVD9 | 1080p AVC, PAL 4:3 | 01:41:14 | 37.2 Gb + 6.33 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English intertitles
Subtitles: none

BFI has included various shorts from the silent period that showcase behind the scenes of movie studios and other related footage.

• "Pathe's Screen Beauty Competition" (1920) (2:00)
A “star-search” contest at the Welsh-Pearson Studios. We see director George Pearson at work, with performers Hugh E. Wright, and also Moyna MacGill, whose daughter became an incredibly famous actress many years later!

• "Around the Town: British Film Stars and Studios" (1921) (2:29)
A behind the scenes look at the Gaumont Studios at Shepherds Bush.

• Topical Budget: The Lovely Hundred" (1922) (0:25)
Another “star-search” short features the Talmadge Sisters finding a “new face” in London for their next feature, in which they chose Margaret Leahy. Sadly, Leahy did not impress the director of the picture, though went on to make her first and only acting role as the girl in Buster Keaton’s “The Three Ages” (1923) but her career stalled. She never went back to England and lived in Los Angeles until her death by suicide in 1967.

• "Secrets of a World Industry - The Making of Cinematograph Film" (1922) (7:59)
An excellent behind the scenes look at the preparation of film. From the preparation of the negative, development of film, printing positive film, and storing it in a film canister for theatrical use. No mention of the fire hazard of nitrate film! The droning ambient music is by Chris Zabriskie, in vein to darker Brian Eno compositions and the score to Bill Morrison’s “Decasia”.

• "Meet Jackie Coogan" (1924) (10:41)
10 year old Jackie Coogan, who made his big break in Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid” 3 years prior and became one of the biggest child stars of the time, arrives in England for a public relations visit. He is taken on a tour of Cricklewood Studios, where “Shooting Stars” would be filmed a few years later. Yes, this cute little kid would eventually play Uncle Fester on The Addams Family!

• "Starlings of the Screen" (1925) (15:29)
Another “star-search” film, in which a magazine’s competition leads to screen tests and eventual audition for the movies.

• Opening of British Instructional Film Studio" (1928) (3:44)
The opening of the new studio by British Instructional which made “Shooting Stars” a year prior, is documented here.

• "Stills and Specials Collections Gallery" (6:22)
A slideshow which includes black and white and sepia stills from the film set, promotional stills, press book from 1928 with colorized stills (with a synopsis that gives away too much the story), and a press sheet.