SAN FRANCISCO SILENT FILM FESTIVAL – July 13th through 15th at the Castro Theatre

Leonard Maltin, Robert Osborne, William Wellman, jr. slated to appear

By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

Leonard Maltin, Robert Osborne and William Wellman, Jr. are among the special guests slated to appear at The 12th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, a 3-day, 11-program event showcasing archival silent films with live musical accompaniment, July 13-15, 2007 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street in San Francisco.

SILENTS PLEASE! – Alla Nazimova & Rudolph Valentino

Leonard Maltin will introduce HAL ROACH: KING OF COMEDY, a program of two-reel comedies produced by Hal Roach and starring Our Gang, Arthur Stone, Max Davidson and Charlie Chase; Turner Classic Movies Host Robert Osborne and Charles Tabesh, TCM Head of Programming, will attend a tribute to Turner Classic Movies which will include a showing of the flamboyant 1921 version of CAMILLE starring Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino; and William Wellman, Jr. will appear at a presentation of BEGGARS OF LIFE (1928), directed by his father William A. Wellman and starring Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen and Louise Brooks, with live accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

Other highlights include RETOUR DE FLAMME (SAVED FROM THE FLAMES), a program of rare French films made between 1900-1928, presented and accompanied on piano by collector/preservationist Serge Bromberg from Lobster Films of Paris; MISS LULU BETT (1921), a masterful kitchen-sink drama directed by William de Mille, and THE GODLESS GIRL (1929), a high-voltage melodrama of teen-age atheism, young love and institutional abuse directed by William’s more bombastic brother Cecil B. DeMille.

In addition, the festival will screen short films newly preserved by George Eastman House from 28mm, a long-obsolete format originally marketed to homes and schools in the 1910s. Titles will include HOW THE COWBOY MAKES HIS LARIAT (1917), HOODWINKING THE POLICE (1917), and IN THE SHADOW OF THE PYRAMIDS (1915).

Between films, The Booksmith, a long-time supporter of the festival, will host book signings by Leonard Maltin, Robert Osborne, William Wellman, Jr. and others on the Castro Theatre mezzanine. A complete schedule of author appearances will be available at


From May 21ST through July 12TH:
On line:
By Mail: download order form at Fill out and mail with payment to:
The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, P.O. Box 2229, Danville, CA 94526
By Fax: 925-866-9597

From June 18TH through July 12TH:
By Phone: 925-275-9005

From June 14TH – July 12TH:
In Person: Festival Box Office, 833 Market Street, Suite 811, San Francisco.
Hours: Thursday – Friday, 11:30 am – 5:30 pm.
Day of Show: Castro Theatre Box Office
Hours: Friday, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Saturday & Sunday 9:30 am – 9:00 pm

The first-ever San Francisco Silent Film Festival Raffle will take place throughout the festival weekend. Prizes to be awarded include a Grand Prize $5,000 Shopping Spree at San Francisco’s own McRoskey Mattress Company. For information on how to purchase raffle tickets, and for complete festival details, go to


Friday, July 13th at 7:00 pm – Opening Night Presentation
THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG (1927) – Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Starring Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer.

RAMON NOVARRO and NORMA SHEARER. Photo courtesy of the AMPAS

The classic tale of a doomed affair between a Prince and a barmaid is adapted to the screen in grand MGM style and directed with great wit and warmth by Ernst Lubitsch. The two leads, Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer, perform with joyous, full-hearted abandon. Introduced by Mick LaSalle. Dennis James will perform live accompaniment on the Castro’s Mighty Wurlitzer.

To purchase Opening Night tickets: SAN FRANCISCO SILENT FILM FESTIVAL

Saturday, July 14th at 10:30 am
A tribute to Hal Roach, with four gems produced by the King of Comedy: FAST COMPANY, featuring the Our Gang roustabouts; JUST A GOOD GUY, with Arthur Stone as a robot run amok; THE BOY FRIEND, a Max Davidson comedy; and MOVIE NIGHT, starring Charlie Chase. Special Guests: Rob Stone of the UCLA Film & Television Archive and Leonard Maltin. Donald Sosin will perform live piano accompaniment.

Saturday, July 14th at 1:15pm
THE VALLEY OF THE GIANTS (1927) Directed by Charles Brabin Starring Milton Sills and Doris Kenyon.
A white-hot adventure yarn based on the novel by San Francisco’s own Peter B. Kyne, filmed among the giant sequoias of Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada. A business magnate fights a scurrilous railroad tycoon for control of the lumber industry. When the magnate’s son steps in to set things right, all hell busts loose. Stephen Horne will perform live piano accompaniment.

Saturday, July 14th 3:30 pm
MACISTE (1915) – Directed by Luigi Romano Borgnetto. Starring Bartolomeo Pagano and Ada Marangoni.
Bartolomeo Pagano was thrust to stardom in the role of Maciste, man of towering physical strength, in a series of action films made between 1915 and 1926. Newly restored by Cineteca di Bologna, this is the very first Maciste movie. Co-presented by the Center for the Art of Translation, with the generous assistance of Istituto Italiano di Cultura. Donald Sosin will perform live piano accompaniment.

Saturday, July 14th at 5:45 pm
CAMILLE (1921) – Directed by Ray C. Smallwood. Starring Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino

CAMILLE (1921) – ALLA NAZIMOVA and RUDOLPH VALENTINO. Photo courtesy of the AMPAS.

The tragic tale of a Parisian courtesan, produced in a flamboyant pictorial style reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley. Special Guests: Charles Tabesh and Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies. Clark Wilson will perform live accompaniment on the Castro’s Mighty Wurlitzer.

Saturday, July 14th at 8:45 pm
BEGGARS OF LIFE (1928) – Directed by William A. Wellman. Starring Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen and Louise Brooks.

LOUISE BROOKS and RICHARD ARLEN. Photo courtesy of the AMPAS.

William A. Wellman casts an unsentimental eye on society’s lost souls: the hobos who hop rides on freight trains in search of a day’s pay or a square meal. West Coast Premiere of a new 35mm print made from the only known 16mm source material. Special Guests: Patrick Loughney of George Eastman House and William Wellman, Jr. The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra will perform live ensemble accompaniment.

Sunday, July 15th at 10:30 am
Back by popular demand: our behind-the-scenes look at the fascinating world of silent film preservation, with this year’s focus on “peripheral” films, and films consigned to obsolete formats. With Patrick Loughney of George Eastman House, Mike Mashon of The Library of Congress and Rob Stone of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Donald Sosin will perform live piano accompaniment to the film excerpts.

Sunday, July 15th at 12:45 pm
Hosted by collector/preservationist/showman Serge Bromberg, we present a selection of early French actualities, comedies, bible stories, naughty bon-bons, trick photography fantasies and never-before-seen wonders – with many surprises. Co-Presented by Alliance Francaise, with the generous assistance of the Consulate General of France in San Francisco. Serge Bromberg will perform live piano accompaniment.

Sunday, July 15th at 3:35 pm
MISS LULU BETT (1921) – Directed by William de Mille. Starring Lois Wilson and Milton Sills.
The story of a small-town girl, played with pained humility by Lois Wilson, who is relegated to the role of servant in her own sister’s household. Director William de Mille (Cecil’s brother) observes the details of ordinary life – dinner table conversation, dishes stacked up in the sink, idle hopes and dreams – with sensitivity and grace. The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra will perform live ensemble accompaniment.

Sunday, July 15th at 6:00 pm
A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR (1929) – Directed by Anthony Asquith. Starring Uno Henning, Norah Baring and Hans Schlettow.
A suspense thriller fully the equal of Hitchcock. A lovelorn barber’s assistant tries to court the shop manicurist, but he quickly devolves into obsessive rage when confronted by a rival. Director Asquith tosses in bomb-bursts of rapid-fire editing and off-kilter cinematography. Introduced by Eddie Muller and co-presented by the Film Noir Foundation. Stephen Horne will perform live his acclaimed piano score.

Sunday, July 15th at 8:45 pm
THE GODLESS GIRL (1929) – Directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Featuring Lina Basquette, Marie Prevost, Eddie Quillan, Noah Beery, and James Duryea.

EDDIE QUILLAN and LINA BASQUETTE. Photo courtesy of the AMPAS.

Cecil B. DeMille pulls out all the stops in this high-voltage melodrama of wild youth and institutional abuse. High-school atheist Judy locks horns with Bob, Class President and believer. Tragedy strikes, and both are sent to a notorious reform school where a guard known as The Brute awaits. Part exposé, part parody, and pure DeMille. Dennis James will perform live accompaniment on the Castro’s Mighty Wurlitzer.

See Seán’s recent articles and reviews:
JEANETTE MacDONALD – First Lady of “San Francisco”
LA VIE EN ROSE (La Môme) – Biography of Edith Piaf – A Sensation at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival
JERSEY BOYS – Earth Angels invade Curran Theatre! Cast #2: Their Eyes Adore You!
TAKE ME OUT – At The New Conservatory Theater
SPIDER-MAN 3, An All-American Cinematic Marvel
An Interview with PASCAL MOLAT – Principal Soloist, San Francisco Ballet

San Francisco Sentinel’s Fine Arts Critic 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. Ask him a question on . 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:

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