Arts and Entertainment Theda Bara in 1917’s silent movie ‘Cleopatra’

With more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain

Word of Mouth, Radio 4<br/>Simply Absurd, Radio 4<br/>Laurel Canyon, Radio 2

I'd love to mind-map, but it's time for my lunch al desco

Hitchcock's forgotten silent films restored

A nationwide Alfred Hitchcock retrospective featuring nine of the celebrated director's rare silent films, made at the start of his career, will be staged in 2012 in a series of public screenings.

100 years of movies: Before 'talkies'

For the first two decades, the stars of the screen were mostly seen, not heard. But they were no less dazzling for that, says Geoffrey Macnab

Talent 2010: The fashion designer, Mark Fast

Mark Fast, the 27-year-old knitwear designer, first came to the attention of the fashion insider following his degree collection shown in 2006. A graduate of Central Saint Martins – he went on to complete an MA course there, too – he is known for hand-finished, one-off pieces which cling to the body's every curve and where the intention is to create clothing that is as proudly individual as the people who choose to wear it.

Sunnyside By Glen David Gold

Charlie Chaplin returns to life in this dazzling novel

Chaplin: The Tramp's Odyssey, By Simon Louvish

"Why another book?" asks Simon Louvish, at the beginning of this dense tome. It's more than 30 years since Charles Chaplin died, there's no anniversary in the offing, and there are lots of books about him, as the bibliography at the back of this one confirms. Louvish's sources are mainly secondary and he makes no boasts about new revelations. Yet it's a mark of his rich scholarship (and the richness of his subject) that you finish this book feeling glad he wrote it, rather than wondering why he did.

Sean O'Grady: When it seems too good to be true...

How did Madoff's victims ever allow themselves to be taken in?

Observations: Puppetry out of the shadows

When most people think of old-fashioned puppets, they think of the Punch and Judy shows they used to watch at the seaside when they were little. That is unless they've seen the lovingly crafted paper characters of The Paper Cinema; a company which cleverly mixes animation, art and live music to make a surreal, nu-folk cinematic experience. A cult hit at the Edinburgh Forest Fringe last year where people queued round the block for tickets, now, creator Nic Rawling is putting on a new show as part of the East Festival, celebrating culture in east London (from 5 to 10 March).

Cirque du Soleil: Quidam, Royal Albert Hall, London

It might now be a global brand, but Cirque's current offering is as surreally inventive as ever

Sunset Boulevard, Comedy Theatre, London

Loyally, perhaps too loyally, based on Billy Wilder's great movie, Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1993 Sunset Boulevard, with outstanding book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, was the last of the 20th-century musical blockbusters. Despite great performances by Patti LuPone, Glenn Close and Elaine Paige as Norma Desmond, and a lush, baroque design of a Hollywood palazzo by John Napier for Trevor Nunn's production, the bubble burst over the big global franchise phenomenon.

Bob Anderson: Child actor in 'It's a Wonderful Life'

The child actor Bob Anderson has a place in silver-screen history for one performance, that of the young George Bailey in Frank Capra's classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Playing the character who, after he grows up, is portrayed by James Stewart, Anderson featured memorably in the scene in which a drunken chemist inadvertently makes up a prescription including poison, but is saved by George, who is rewarded by being boxed around the ears.

Il Trovatore, Opera Holland Park, London<br/>La Fanciulla del West, Grange Park Opera, Hampshire

An armoury of visual aids and one invisible lady: This year's open-air opera season kicks off with an all-Italian fixture, and an easy win for Puccini

The Night of the Hunter

Directed by Charles Laughton

Funny girls: Heroines of slapstick

All the biggest stars of silent film were men, but their leading ladies could throw a custard pie with the best of them. Geoffrey Macnab salutes the unsung heroines of pre-war slapstick
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