Tuesday, November 28, 2017

San Francisco Silent Film Festival winter event on December 2

Here is the line-up of films for the upcoming San Francisco Silent Film Festival winter event, which is taking place at the Castro Theater in San Francisco on December 2. It is a terrific line-up of movies. The link to ticket information can be found HERE.

I will be attending part of the event, and for those interested, I will be signing books, including the RECENTLY released Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film and the NEWLY released Now We're in the Air, following the showing of The Last Man on Earth (at approximately 1:15 pm or so). I will also have a few copies of my DVDs and the "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl on hand.

This promises to be a special signing, as it will be taking place in the very theater were the "once lost" Louise Brooks film, Now We're in the Air, was first premiered earlier this year. Joining me will be Robert Byrne, who uncovered the film and wrote the foreword to this new book.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed)
10:00 AM (72 min)
The first full-length animated feature ever, Prince Achmed is loosely based on tales from The Arabian Nights. This enchanting film tells its story—an evil sorcerer trying to best the princely hero—entirely through cut-paper silhouettes against tinted and toned backdrops. Director Reiniger’s exquisitely expressive cutouts depict magical scenes of adventure involving flying horses, Aladdin, the Witch of Fiery Mountain, and the beautiful Princess Pari Banu, among others! A treat for all ages!

The Last Man on Earth
12:00 PM (70 min)
This gender-bending 1924 comedy imagines the year 1954 when an epidemic of “masculitus” has wiped out the male population, except for one sad sack, Elmer Smith (Earle Foxe). Gertie the Gangster (Grace Cunard) discovers the hermit Elmer and sells him to the government—for a hefty $10 million—where his fate will be decided in a boxing match on the floor of the US Senate!  

Tol'able David
2:00 PM (94 min)
D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms made Richard Barthelmess a star, but it was Henry King’s Tol’able David that cemented his place in the silent firmament. Barthelmess is the sensitive young David forced to confront brutal Goliaths in King’s rustic American coming-of-age tale. David’s serene Appalachian childhood comes to an end when a trio of outlaws terrorizes his town, crippling his brother and causing the death of his father.

The Rat
4:30 PM (78 min)
Set in the criminal underworld of Paris, this 1925 British box-office smash hit features the beguiling Ivor Novello as the apache Pierre Boucheron, aka The Rat. Novello would go on to star in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger (1926) and Downhill (1927), but it was The Rat that made him a Valentino-like sensation. Novello’s knife-throwing Rat (a role he created for himself on stage) is dangerous to men, irresistible to women—especially to slumming aristocrat Zélie de Chaumet (Isabel Jeans). Director Cutts does a splendid job bringing Belle Époque Paris to life in his London studio. 

Lady Windermere's Fan
7:00 PM (90 min)
Silent Oscar Wilde! If any filmmaker in history could convey the wit of the audaciously verbal Wilde in purely visual terms, it was the audaciously clever Ernst Lubitsch, aided here by a superb cast: May McAvoy as Lady Windermere, Ronald Colman as Lord Darlington, and Irene Rich as the notorious Mrs. Erlynne. Wilde’s biting comedy of social affectation and hypocrisy finds perfect expression under Lubitsch’s deft direction. The two masters shared an ethos, voiced here by Wilde’s Lord Darlington: “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.” 
Sex in Chains (Geschlecht in Fesseln)
9:15 PM (92 min)
William Dieterle, who would go on to direct Hollywood classics like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Portrait of Jennie, started his career as actor/director Wilhelm Dieterle in Germany. Despite its lurid English translation, Sex in Chains is actually a message film about the human cost of imprisonment—for the imprisoned and society—that argues for prison reform. Dieterle himself plays the protagonist Franz Sommer, in jail for involuntary manslaughter, who turns to his cellmate for companionship. The film’s depiction of prison homosexuality was far ahead of its time, and so bold as to acknowledge that it could even lead to love.
Fans of Pandora's Box may recognize someone in this still.

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