Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Louise Brooks film It's the Old Army Game to screen in Denver, Colorado

Louise Brooks is happy to return to Denver, where she first appeared in person in 1922
as a member of the Denishawn Dance Company


After a two-year hiatus, the Denver Silent Film Festival is set to return with a series of screenings at the Sturm Family Auditorium inside the Denver Botanic Gardens in Denver, Colorado. This year's festival theme, "We Need to Laugh," features 11 short and feature-length comedies from the silent film era including the must see Louise Brooks / W.C. Fields film, It's the Old Army Game (1926).

The Denver Silent Film Festival was established in September, 2010. Its mission is to present a broad spectrum of silent films by programming "a lively and thought-provoking mix of educational and entertaining films" including American and foreign classics, as well as lesser-known rare and restored films. However, like much of the world, things have been on hold during the Covid pandemic. More information about this year's event can be found HERE.

Here is the line-up of films, each of which features live musical accompaniment:

May 20 - The Cameraman (1928) with Musical Accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

May 21 - Comedy Shorts Package with Musical Accompaniment by The Dollhouse Thieves

May 21 - The Strong Man (1926) with Musical Accompaniment by Hank Troy

May 21 - Max the Circus King (1924) with Musical Accompaniment by the CAM Student Orchestra with Donald Sosin & Joanna Seaton

May 21 - It's the Old Army Game (1926) with Musical Accompaniment by Hank Troy, and an introduction by DSFF’s David Shepard Honoree Richard Koszarski

May 22 - Two Timid Souls  / Les Deux Timides (1928) with Musical Accompaniment by Rodney Sauer

May 22 - So This Is Paris (1926) with Musical Accompaniment by Hank Troy

May 22 - The Kid Brother (1927) with Musical Accompaniment by Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton 

It’s the Old Army Game is a comedy about a small town druggist (played by W.C. Fields) who gets involved with a real estate scam. Louise Brooks plays the druggist’s assistant. The film was Brooks’ fourth, and it reunited her with Fields, the film’s star. The two had worked together in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1925.

It’s the Old Army Game received mostly positive reviews, though some critics noted its somewhat thin plot. Algonquin Round Table playwright Robert E. Sherwood (who would go on to win four Pulitzer Prizes and an Academy Award) was then writing reviews for Life magazine. His pithy critique read, “Mr. Fields has to carry the entire production on his shoulders, with some slight assistance from the sparkling Louise Brooks.” Ella H. McCormick of the Detroit Free Press echoed Sherwood with Fields scored a splendid triumph in this picture. A great part of the success of the offering, however, is due to Louise Brooks, who takes the lead feminine part.”

When It's the Old Army Game first played in Denver, Colorado in June of 1926, Betty Craig previewed the film in the Denver Post. She singled out Brooks, noting “In the meantime the young fellow from the big town has fallen in love with the lovely creature that serves as the store’s only clerk, who is none other than the captivating Louise Brooks.” The following day, Craig penned her review, stating “W. C. Fields is very amusing, and Louise Brooks, featured with Mr. Fields, gives a dandy performance.”

The film, especially its interiors, were shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island (located at 3412 36th Street in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens), and in Manhattan. Location shooting, including exteriors, was done in Ocala and Palm Beach, Florida in late February and March, 1926. (Ocala is an inland farming community near Gainesville, Florida.) 

For this special Denver Silent Film Festival screening, the film will be introduced by Richard Kosarski, the leading authority on film production at Paramount's Astoria studio. Koszarski not only interviewed Louise Brooks about her East Coast film work, but has authored two related, must read books, Hollywood on the Hudson: Film and Television in New York from Griffith to Sarnoff and The Astoria Studio and Its Fabulous Films: A Picture History with 227 Stills and Photographs. At the recent San Francisco Silent Film Festival, I had the chance to meet Richard Koszarski and his wife Diane, and talk with them about their work (and Louise Brooks). It was an honor.


 


I would enjoy hearing from anyone who attends the festival and the It's the Old Army Game screening.


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