Thursday, May 12, 2022

Report on The Street of Forgotten Men at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival


Not only was it great to see the newly restored Louise Brooks film, The Street of Forgotten Men, on the big screen at the Castro Theater, it was also swell to see old friends and make a few new ones at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival. This festival was the first in three years due to the Covid pandemic; it also marked my first visit to San Francisco in just as long a time. Much has changed. Much remained the same. It was great to be back. I have populated this blog with a few snapshots from the occasion.

Von and I at the Castro

As I have been blogging of late, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival has recently restored this little seen Herbert Brenon film, for which film preservationist Robert Byrne created a filmic bridge in place of the missing second reel. He did a great job - which made the missing part to the story easy to follow. That missing material includes the death of two significant characters, including a dog (Lassie) in the care of Easy Money Charley (played by Percy Marmont). What's more, when the dog is killed by Bridgeport White-Eye (played by John Harrington), I heard a few sighs in the audience - which suggests Byrne effectively "painted" the scene. Congratulations to Rob Byrne and his team, and a big thanks to Ira Resnick, who made it possible. It was great to see Ira at the Festival.

Courtesy of Donna Hill

Also doing a great job was Jennifer Miko, who worked on the film imagery. The film looked great on the big screen - crisp and clean despite its problematic history - especially the cinematography of legendary cameraman Harold Rosson. The crowd oohed and awed at Rosson's live action street scenes on 5th Avenue, and were wowed at other times, like the shot of the dancing silhouettes at the garden party. Jennifer also gave an informative and well considered introduction which acknowledged my small contribution to the restoration project. I was also pleased when Jennifer recommended everyone read my essay on the film in the hefty program. (I had two pieces in this year's program. The other was an interview profile with the members of the Anvil Orchestra - formerly the Alloy Orchestra.) It was also nice to hear my name from the stage! I was especially pleased to meet and speak with Jennifer before and after the film; I suspect she is a bit of a Louise Brooks' fan, as she asked me for one of my Louise Brooks Society pin-back buttons. I obliged.

Jennifer Miko and Thomas Gladysz

All in all, The Street of Forgotten Men was very well received. Everyone I spoke with liked it, and the large crowd (hundreds of people on a Tuesday afternoon) reacted positively throughout. There was a smattering of applause when Louise Brooks first came on the screen, and when the film completed, there was boisterous applause and even a few hoots and hollers. Here are a few (sadly fuzzy) shots from the slide show which preceded the film.

Louise Brooks (far left)

I was also pleased to make the acquaintance of the esteemed film historians Richard and Diane Koszarski (thank you Ira Resnick for the introduction). They generously signed copies of some of the books they authored which I had brought with me from Sacramento, including a couple of which I used in researching and writing my essay on The Street of Forgotten Men. (Richard Koszarski's Hollywood on the Hudson: Film and Television in New York from Griffith to Sarnoff and The Astoria Studio and Its Fabulous Films were essential, as is Hollywood Directors 1914-1940 and An Evening's Entertaiment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928.) We had a very pleasant chat, talking about books, Dover Publications, Stanley Applebaum, Astoria Studios, Herbert Brenon, Erich von Stroheim (Koszarski authored an early biography, The Man You Love to Hate) and more, including Louise Brooks. Kozsarski interviewed the actress (regarding the Astoria Studios) in the late 1970s, and he told me something I don't think I had known about Brooks - that she was a big fan of Robin Williams and Mork and Mindy. Who da thunk? What a great pleasure it was to meet Richard and Diane Koszarski.

Richard and Diane Koszarski & Thomas Gladysz

Though I was only there for an afternoon, it was great to be attend this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival - my 25th time and the Festival's 25th anniversary! It was also swell to see old friends like Ira Resnick, Donna Hill, Mary Malory, Jordan Young, Karie Bible and others. I missed some others I would have liked to have said hello to, but when you are a Sacramento Cinderella (just as Mary Brian was a Bowery Cinderella), you sometimes miss out. I am so glad my wife, Christy Pascoe, attended with me. She is also acknowledged in the restoration credits on The Street of Forgotten Men - as she is on the preservation print of Now We're in the Air, another Louise Brooks film we helped on. Thank you for all of your help my love.

At dinner with friends Mary Mallory, Donna Hill, Jordan Young

Christy and one of her favorites, Von

The end

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great experience -- seeing this film, catching up with old friends, and making new ones! That theater is beautiful!


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