NORMA TALMADGE & GILBERT ROLAND – “A Woman Disputed” At The Castro Theatre

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival concludes with another fantastic all-day line-up

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

SUNDAY, JULY 18th

10:00 AM – AMAZING TALES FROM THE ARCHIVES: First the Bad News…then the Good!
60 minutes
Accompanied by: Stephen Horne

tales-from-the-archives

Using film clips and slides, Mike Mashon (Library of Congress) will present the fascinating and devastating reality of American silent film survival rates. Annette Melville (National Film Preservation Foundation) will follow presenting a way to bring back some of this history via a major international repatriation project.

Meet the Authors on the Mezzanine: Gregory Paul Williams with The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History (BL Press); David Kiehn with Bronco Billy and the Essanay Film Company (Farwell Books); Elaine Mae Woo with Anna May Wong: Frosted Yellow Willows (DVD); David Shepard with Chicago (DVD).

12:00 NOON – THE SHAKEDOWN
Directed by: William Wyler
USA, 1929, 70 minutes, 35mm
Cast: James Murray, Barbara Kent, Jack Hanlon
Accompanied by: Donald Sosin

shake-down
The Shakedown, 1929

Restored to 35mm by George Eastman house, The Shakedown is a superb action-drama about a boxer whose life changes when he meets up with an orphan boy. Director William Wyler is most celebrated for his talkies (The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben Hur, Funny Girl) and this uplifting tale is a splendid introduction to the master’s early career. Beautiful camerawork, fast-paced editing, and remarkable effects make this a riveting feature. Leonard Maltin will interview the children of director William Wyler onstage.

Donald Sosin, composer/keyboardist/arranger/conductor, is known internationally as a premiere silent film accompanist. He studied piano with Kyriena Siloti, composition at the University of Michigan with William Albright and Ross Lee Finney, and at Columbia University with Jack Beeson. Commissions include the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Museum of Modern Art, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has scored many new prizewinning short films and documentaries, and has had grants from Meet the Composer and ASCAP. 

Meet the Authors on the Mezzanine: Anthony Slide with Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine: A History of Star Makers, Fabricators, and Gossip Mongers (University Press of Mississippi); Lucy Autry Wilson & David Kiehn with George Lucas’s Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success (It Books)

2:30 pm – MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA
USSR, 1929, 70 minutes
Accompanied by: Alloy Orchestra

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Considered one of the most innovative and influential films of the silent era. Startlingly modern, this film demonstrates a groundbreaking style of rapid editing and incorporates innumerable other cinematic effects to create a work of amazing power and energy. This dawn-to-dusk view of the Soviet Union offers a montage of urban Russian life, showing the people of the city at work and at play, and the machines that endlessly whirl to keep the metropolis alive. Vertov’s masterpiece employs all the cinematic techniques at the director’s disposal — dissolves, split-screens, slow motion, and freeze-frames — to produce a work that is exhilarating and intellectually brilliant.

Alloy Orchestra is a three man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources. Members of the group include: Terry Donahue (junk, accordion, musical saw, vocals), Ken Winokur (director, junk, percussion and clarinet), and Roger Miller (keyboards). Performing at prestigious film festivals and cultural centers in the US and abroad (Telluride Film Festival, the Louvre, Lincoln Center, The Academy of Motion Pictures, the National Gallery of Art), Alloy has helped revive some of the great masterpieces of the silent era. An unusual combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics gives the Orchestra the ability to create any sound imaginable. With their famous ‘rack of junk’ and electronic synthesizers, the group generates arresting music in a variety of styles — they can conjure up a French symphony or a simple German bar band of the ’20s, radio signals from Mars or the breathless excitement of being swept up in the Russian Revolution. Alloy collaborates with some of the world’s most important archives and collectors — George Eastman House, The British Film Institute, Paramount Pictures, Film Preservation Associates, and The Douris Corporation) to present audiences with the very best available prints of some of history’s greatest film.

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NORMA TALMADGE

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GILBERT ROLAND

4:30 pm – THE WOMAN DISPUTED
Directed by Henry King, Sam Taylor
USA, 1928, 110 mins, 35mm
Cast: Norma Talmadge, Gilbert Roland
Accompanied by: Stephen Horne

gilbert-roland-and-norma-talmadge
GILBERT ROLAND and NORMA TALMADGE

This splendid romance is a true discovery, starring the extraordinary Norma Talmadge as a goodhearted streetwalker who is coveted by Austrian and Russian rivals. An introduction will be presented by Kevin Bronlow. “I have just seen The Woman Disputed,” he says, “and it’s a remarkable piece of filmmaking. The plot takes Maupaussant’s Boule de Suif to extremes, but it succeeds so well as a brilliant piece of film craft that it must be brought back to life.”

Meet the Authors: Kevin Brownlow with The Parade’s Gone By (University of California Press); Jeffrey Vance with Harold Lloyd: Master Comedian (Abrams); John Bengtson with Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Charlie Chaplin (Santa Monica Press); David W. Menefee with Sarah Bernhardt in the Theatre of Films and Sound Recordings (McFarland).

Stephen Horne has long been considered one of the leading silent film accompanists. Based at London’s BFI Southbank, but playing at all the major UK venues such as the Barbican Centre and the Imperial War Museum, he has recorded music for DVD releases, BBC TV screenings and museum installations of silent films. Although principally a pianist, he often incorporates flute and keyboards into his performances, sometimes simultaneously.

He regularly performs internationally and in recent years his accompaniments have met with acclaim at film festivals in Pordenone, Telluride, San Francisco, Berlin and Bonn. He has performed his score for A Cottage on Dartmoor at many venues, including New York’s Lincoln Centre and Washington’s National Gallery of Art. As an adjunct to his work in silent film, he occasionally collaborates with a small group that recreates magic lantern shows. He is also a specialist in dance accompaniment and plays regularly at the London dance academies. In addition to his musical activities, he writes screenplays, and his short film Fatherspace was shown on Channel 4 and at the London Film Festival.

7:30 pm – L’HEUREUSE MORT
Directed by Serge Nadejdine
France, 1924, 83 minutes, 35mm
Cast: Nicolas Rimsky, Lucie Larue
Accompanied by: Matti Bye Ensemble

lheureuse-mort
L’Heureuse Mort, 1924

This remarkable comedy stars Nicolas Rimsky as Parisian dramatist Théodore Larue whose latest premiere is a disaster. His reputation gone, Larue takes a sea voyage, during which he is swept overboard in a storm and lost. The press and the literary world react with an abrupt revaluation of his work, elevating him to the stature of France’s greatest dramatist. His widow finds herself in possession of a hugely valuable literary property. Larue – inopportunely – returns home. But, dramatist above all, he decides to masquerade as his colonialist brother Anselme, while industriously turning out posthumous works by Théodore. But then the real Anselme turns up with his Senegalese wife. Beautiful 35mm print from the Cinémathèque Française. Presented with French intertitles accompanied by a live English translation.

Matti Bye has been a music score composer and live silent movie piano performer at the Swedish Film Institute since 1989. He has scored the Swedish silent film masterpieces The Phantom Carriage (Victor Sjöström) and Sir Arne’s Treasure and Gösta Berlings Saga (Mauritz Stiller). The ensemble consists of Matti Bye (piano, glockenspiel), Lau Nau (vocals, toys), and two fellow musicians on violin, musical saw, pump organ, electric guitar. The musicians combine both improvised and composed elements to the film, using a wide array of instruments ranging from piano, organ, musical saw and female vocals to found objects, toys, tapes and effects. Matti Bye won the Golden Beetle — the Swedish Oscar — for his score for Jan Troell’s Everlasting Moments, Sweden’s 2009 submission to the Academy Awards.

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NORMA TALMADGE
Illustration for cover of Photoplay, Earl Christy

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, 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: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.


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