Hear ye! Hear ye! The Silent Film Festival is the most dazzling show in town!
By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka
Tickets are on sale now for THE 13TH ANNUAL SAN FRANCISCO SILENT FILM FESTIVAL, beginning Friday, July 11th through Sunday the 13th at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. “This is our most ambitious festival yet,” announced Artistic Director Stephen Salmons. “We’ll present 12 programs, all with live music, in the space of 30 hours – it’s an all-out silent film marathon, designed to showcase the astonishing breadth and depth of the silent era.”
THE KID BROTHER, 1927 – Walter James (as Sheriff Jim) and Harold Lloyd (as Harold Hickory)
Just do it! The Festival PASS (One Admission to all 12 Films) – $120 Members/$140 General admits you to ALL 12 movie programs including Opening Night, Centerpiece, Closing Night and all ten shorts films. Admission to the Opening Night Party requires an Opening Night PARTY TICKET. Immediately following the screenings, celebrate silent cinema with a Harold Lloyd-themed party accentuated by a cornucopia of culinary delights, high spirited drinks and live music by the FRISKY FROLICS, all served up on the mezzanine of the Castro Theatre.
For more ticket information: 13TH ANNUAL SILENT FILM FESTIVAL
BEGINNING SATURDAY NIGHT, July 11th, at 7:00 PM:
THE KID BROTHER, 1927 (Directed by Ted Wilde) Opening Night Film. Featuring Harold Lloyd (also contributed to direction), Jobyna Ralston, Walter James, Leo Willis. 35mm (tinted), 84 minutes. Harold Lloyd’s next-to-last silent comedy has it all: action, romance, and drama, on top of non-stop laughs. The sheriff of Hickoryville is father to three sons, two big brawny boys and timid half-pint Harold, who dreams of heroism while housekeeping with hilarious ingenuity. But when the town accuses them of theft, Harold must use his wits and fists to save his family. Lloyd considered this to be his best film, and it’s hailed as his masterpiece. Live accompaniment by: MONT ALTO MOTION PICTURE ORCHESTRA.
THE KID BROTHER is preceded by: BRONCHO BILLY’S ADVENTURE, 1911. A recently re-discovered 16-minute short starring Broncho Billy Anderson – also the producer, director, and writer. Featuring Edna Fisher as, “The Tavern Owner’s Daughter”.
GILBERT M. ANDERSON – aka, Broncho Billy Anderson, 1910
SATURDAY MORNING, July 12th: 10:00 AM – Noon– A FREE Event!
AMAZING TALES FROM THE ARCHIVES
Martin Scorsese says that George Eastman House is at the forefront of one of the most important tasks of our time – the preservation of film as part of our national heritage. You can get an education in precisely that at their L. JEFFREY SELZNICK SCHOOL OF FILM PRESERVATION. This afternoon’s free-admission program will show you how they teach the art and science of preserving, restoring and archiving movies. It may even inspire you to pursue your own career in film preservation! Live piano accompaniment by: MICHAEL MORTILLA. Even though this screening is free, you will need an actual hard ticket to enter the theatre. Program Length: 60 minutes.
SATURDAY, July 12th, 11:40 AM – 1:40 PM
THE SOUL OF YOUTH (Directed by William Desmond Taylor, 1920) – Featuring Lewis Sargent, Clyde Fillmore, Lila Lee, Judge Ben B. Lindsey. This gritty, heartbreaking drama combines a humanistic portrait of society’s unwanted babies, unloved orphans and unlawful urchins with the story of a power struggle between a reformer and a corrupt politician. William Desmond Taylor is remembered as the victim of a famous unsolved murder, but here’s proof that we should commemorate him as a director of singular artistry. Judge Ben Lindsey, the real-life founder of America’s juvenile court system, appears as himself. 35mm Print Source: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. Live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.
Preceded by short: THE OLD FAMILY TOOTHBRUSH (1925, 11 minutes)
STEPHEN HORNE, Pianist & LEWIS SARGENT (as The Boy) – The Soul of Youth, 1920
“The Soul of Youth” is available on DVD in a newly-released 4-disc collection of over 48 films. Click here to order: Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 (2007)
SATURDAY, July 12th, 2:15 PM
LES DEUX TIMIDES (TWO TIMID SOULS), Directed by Rene Clair, 1928 – Featuring PIERRE BATCHEFF, Jim Gerald, Vera Flory, and Maurice de Fraudy. In this playful farce by innovative comedy provocateur Rene Clair, a shy trial lawyer the charmingly Keatonesque PIERRE BATCHEFF must find the nerve to court the woman he’s in love with before her mild-mannered father unwittingly marries her off to a convicted wife-abuser. Clair peppers the proceedings with sight gags drawn from a bottomless bag of tricks: split-screen frenzy, slow-motion absurdity, phony tragedy and pure theatrical mayhem.
63 minutes, 35mm Print Source: CINEMATHEQUE FRANCAISE. Preceded by short: LES FROMAGES AUTOMOBILES (The Skipping Cheeses, 1907, 6 minutes). With live translation of French intertitles. Live accompaniment by BAGUETTE QUARTETTE. With generous assistance provided by the CONSULATE GENERAL OF FRANCE IN SAN FRANCISCO.
To order CDs by: BAGUETTE QUARTETTE
SATURDAY, July 12th 4:15 PM
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s MICHAEL (1924) – WALTER SLEZAK, as Mikaël
MIKAËL (Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1924) – Featuring Benjamin Christensen, Walter Slezak, and Nora Gregor. A landmark in the history of gay cinema, MIKAEL is an emotionally charged story of love, loss and enlightenment. Carl Theodor Dreyer (THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC) delves into the relationship between a renowned artist and the young man who is the source of his inspiration. As the artist, Benjamin Christensen (a noted director himself) displays astonishing psychological depth. Dreyer’s powerful vision has an accumulative impact that has a profound effect.
With live translation of German intertitles. Live piano accompaniment by: DONALD SOSIN. 35mm Print Source: DANISH FILM INSTITUTE. Preceded by short: L’HISTORIE D’UNE ROSE (1911, 8 minutes).
To purchase the DVD of: Carl Theodor Dreyer’s MICHAEL (1924)
SATURDAY NIGHT, July 12th, 7:45 PM
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (Directed by Paul Leni, 1928) – Featuring Conrad Veidt, MARY PHILBIN, Olga Baclanova, and Josephine Crowell. The Festival’s centerpiece film is a macabre tale of one man’s tortuous struggle for love, brought to life with nightmarish authenticity by German Expressionist director Paul Leni. Conrad Veidt (THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI) is “Gwynplaine”, an English nobleman’s son disfigured by a Gypsy doctor so that his face is fixed in the rictus of a grotesque grin, forever marking him as The Man Who Laughs. Batman creator Bob Kane credited Veidt’s hideous make-up as the visual inspiration for The Joker. Live organ accompaniment by CLARK WILSON. 109 minutes, 35mm Print Source: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. Preceded by short: THE VOICE INVISIBLE/MAKING A RECORD (c.1919, 7 minutes). Underwritten by: McROSKEY MATTRESS COMPANY.
To order the DVD: Paul Leni’s THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928)
SATURDAY NIGHT, July 12th, 10:45 PM
THE UNKNOWN (Directed by Tod Browning, 1927) – To begin the Director’s Pick series, Guy Maddin (“Brand Upon the Brain!” and “My Winnipeg”) will introduce and translate the French intertitles for this unusual 35mm print of THE UNKNOWN, Tod Browning’s horror-ode to unrequited love. Lon Chaney stars as Alonzo the Armless, who performs a knife-throwing act with his feet, and Joan Crawford is Nanon, who has a pathological fear of a man’s touch. It’s one of the most brazenly bizarre films ever made… hands down! Live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.
SUNDAY MORNING, July 13th, 10:30 AM
THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED (Directed by Lotte Reiniger, 1926) – the earliest surviving feature-length animated film, and the first ever made by a woman. Lotte Reiniger devised a cut-out silhouette animation technique, inspired by Indonesian shadow puppet theater, for her adaptation of stories from the 1001 Arabian Nights, and she uses it to dazzling effect to illustrate the fantastic exploits of Prince Achmed on the magic isle of Wak Wak. Live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin. 35mm (tinted) Print Source:Milestone Films. Special Guest: Simone Nelson, Bay Area Women in Film and Television. Preceded by short: THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1914, 1.5 minute fragment). Co-Presented by GOETHE-INSTITUT and SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA WOMEN IN FILM AND TELEVISION. Program Length: 80m
SUNDAY, July 13th, 1:10 PM
THE SILENT ENEMY (Directed by H.P. Carver, 1930) – Featuring Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, and Spotted Elk. The Ojibway Indians and their battle against hunger -the silent enemy- are the subject of this remarkable hybrid documentary. Set in the time before Columbus, it combines ethnographic authenticity with invented drama, and the nature photography is absolutely stunning. Chief Yellow Robe, who plays the head of the Ojibway tribe, introduces the story in a sound prologue. This documentary-drama contains graphic images of wild animals fighting and being killed. Live accompaniment by MONT ALTO MOTION PICTURE ORCHESTRA. 35mm Print Source: AMERICAN INDIAN FILM INSTITUTE The San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2008 Award will be presented to David Shepard at the beginning of this program. Co-Presented by AMERICAN INDIAN FILM INSTITUTE. Special Guest: Michael Smith. Program length: 95 minutes.
THE SILENT ENEMY (1930) – HER WILD OAT (1927)
SUNDAY, July 13th, 3:50 PM
HER WILD OAT (Directed by Marshall Neilan, 1927) – Featuring Colleen Moore, Larry Kent, Hallam Cooley, and Gwen Lee. Colleen Moore was America’s number one box-office star in 1926, but she’s almost forgotten today because so few of her films exist. HER WILD OAT, found two years ago in Prague and restored by the Academy Film Archive, is a fast-paced, wise-cracking romantic comedy about a lunch wagon owner who tries life as a lady of wealth for a weekend. Moore’s mix of down-to-earth charm and zany humor make it easy to see why she was such a phenomenon. Live piano accompaniment by Michael Mortilla. 35mm Print Source: ACADEMY FILM ARCHIVE. Preceded by short film, Mary Pickford Technicolor test for “THE BLACK PIRATE”, (1926, 5 minutes). Underwritten by Wells Fargo. Program Length: 90 minutes.
SUNDAY, July 13th, 6:10 PM
JUJIRO (CROSSWAYS), Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1928 – Featuring Akiko Chihaya, Junosuke Bando, Misao Seki, and Ippei Sohma. Japanese master Teinosuke Kinugasa (“A Page of Madness”) spins our senses in this heightened avant-garde blast of rampant symbolism, distorted architecture, flashbacks, flash-forwards, and deliriously subjective cinematography. Set in Tokyo’s red-light district of Yoshiwara, JUJIRO is jidaigeki (period film) that blows apart the genre to tell the tragic story of a brother and sister caught up in a fever dream of menace, hysteria and sacrifice. Live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne. 35mm Print Source: BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE. Special Guests: Yasumasa Nagamine, Consul General of Japan in San Francisco and Stephen Gong, Executive Director of Center For Asian American Media. Preceded by Short: KALEIDOSCOPE (c.1925, 9 minutes). Co-Presented by CENTER FOR ASIAN AMERICAN MEDIA. Program Length: 90 minutes.
MARIE DRESSLER and MARION DAVIES – THE PATSY, 1928
SUNDAY, July 13, 2008 8:45 PM
THE PATSY (King Vidor, 1928) Closing Night Film – Featuring Marion Davies, Marie Dressler, Dell Henderson, and Orville Caldwell. A natural-born comedienne, Marion Davies was largely a habitue of creaky costume drama until director King Vidor convinced her to cut loose in THE PATSY. Davies is hysterical as a neglected daughter trying to win a suitor away from her sister in a middle-class family ruled by a mother who’s an inveterate social climber (the wonderful Marie Dressler). An uproarious highlight is Davies’s spot-on impersonations of Mae Murray, Lillian Gish and Pola Negri. Live organ accompaniment by Clark Wilson. 35mm Print Source: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. Preceded by short: LOST-A YODEL (1920, 12 minutes). Underwritten by MICHAEL FREW & ALISON CANT. Program Length: 100 minutes.
MARION DAVIES and MARIE DRESSLER
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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: email@example.com.
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