The Silent Treatment

Silent film fans, the time has come to rejoice! Now on the second Saturday of every month, get ready to receive The Silent Treatment: our ongoing series of artfully chosen feature films from all corners of the pre-sound era — choice picks that are rarely screened theatrically, or are not available on DVD! Curated by film archivists/TST Newsletter publishers Brandee Cox and Steven Hill, The Silent Treatment showcases a wide variety of early cinema in the best available formats for film lovers with an enthusiastic and adventurous spirit. For breaking news on what films/special guests will be on tap for future shows, check out TST’s Facebook fan page! In addition, get the lowdown on all your favorite silent stars and filmmakers with TST’s bi-monthly digest, available for free download at the Silent Treatment website!

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Frank Capra's "Submarine"

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5/16/2015 - 1PM

While Frank Capra (It Happened One Night, It’s A Wonderful Life) was one of the early sound era’s first great innovators, never forget that he was first schooled in purely visual storytelling. When watching his earliest works, you can see the endless directions this talented young man was capable of traveling in; he clearly had the “touch,” with his flair for comedy (in directing Harry Langdon’s greatest hits), melodrama (as seen in the incredibly dark and powerful The Way Of The Strong), and adventure blockbusters like this red-blooded tale. Navy man Jack Reagon (Jack Holt) falls for and marries dance-hall girl Bessie (Dorothy Revier), an indecisive lass who can’t adjust to matrimony. Natch, a love affair starts between Bessie and Reagon’s longtime Navy pal Bob Mason (Ralph Graves), who later becomes trapped underwater in a sunken submarine — and it’s up to Jack to put aside his anger to save his friend’s life. So successful was Submarine that Capra re-teamed with Holt and Graves for two more romantic-triangle rescue dramas: his early talkies Flight (1929) and Dirigible (1931).
Dir. Frank Capra, 1928, 35mm, 93 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Submarine”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: Harold Lloyd in "The Freshman"

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4/11/2015 - 2PM

Widely regarded as silent clown extraordinaire Harold Lloyd’s masterpiece, The Freshman was hugely popular upon its 1920s release, and is also a scathing satire of what was then a curious pop culture fad: inter-est in the “college life.” Skewering his usual “everyman” persona, Lloyd plays a middle-class kid obsessed not with career, but with becoming a Big Man On Campus. Once enrolled at Tate College, his inability to hit that lofty social mark is an expert mix of comedy and pathos. Eager to get recognition of any kind, Lloyd zeroes in on an impossible goal: to lead the school’s football team to victory for its final big game. As usual, the film is worth seeing for its epic setpieces alone: a superbly choreographed number in which Lloyd’s falling-apart cheap suit is constantly re-stitched by his stealthy tailor during a college dance, and the climactic football game (partially filmed at the Pasadena Rose Bowl!)
Dirs. Fred C. Newmeyer & Sam Taylor, 1925, DCP, 76 min.

Watch the trailer for “The Freshman”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: Molly O'

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3/14/2015 - 1PM

The best-known comic actress of the silent era, Mabel Normand appeared in over a dozen films with Charlie Chaplin, and a whopping seventeen(!) with Fatty Arbuckle. A pioneer, she also produced, directed and wrote her own films — and at the height of her career, had her own movie studio. Although Molly O’ was meant as a comeback vehicle for Normand, her association with a string of lurid scandals — from Arbuckle’s Virginia Rappe incident, to the murder of director William Desmond Taylor (which revealed their love affair and her cocaine habit, plus the shooting of a playboy by Normand’s chauffeur) — destroyed her career. Still, she remains one of the great artists of the era. In Molly O’, the daughter of a washerwoman and a ditch-digger falls in love with one of America’s most eligible bachelors, much to the indignation both of her working-class would-be suitor and the doctor’s would-be bride. The painful repercussions that follow serve only to thrust her into her dream man’s arms, and all looks set for a fairytale ending, until the disgruntled rival finds a way to get back at Molly through her family. Live musical score by regular Cinefamily accompanist Cliff Retallick!
Dir. F. Richard Jones, 1921, 35mm, 80 min. (Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Clara Bow in "Mantrap"

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2/14/2015 - 12:30PM

According to Clara Bow, the Twenties’ “It” girl herself: “the best silent picture I ever made”. Proving she wasn’t just a pair of bare ankles, the then-20-year-old took it upon herself to upgrade her scripted Mantrap character Alverna from boring and drab to a flirtatious minx. Clara foregrounds a delicious love triangle amongst a charming number of classic L.A. palm trees in what director Victor Fleming (The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind) stages as the backwoods of Canada. The silent era provided one of our culture’s first forums for female sexual empowerment — and Clara’s effortless embodiment of emancipated eroticism here makes Mantrap the vehicle for her fantastic breakthrough performance.
Dir. Victor Fleming, 1926, 35mm, 86 min. (Archival print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: William Wellman's "You Never Know Women"

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1/10/2015 - 2PM

For a feller who claimed to vastly prefer working with male actors rather than female ones, director William Wellman certainly knew how to construct a lush romantic lark. After a string of dusty oaters in the first half of the Twenties (and before the machismo of films like Wings, The Public Enemy and The Call of the Wild), Wellman turned his sights on this highly unusual circus romance. This high-flying jaunt stars Florence Vidor as the vamp in the middle of a love triangle between her acrobat partner in a kooky circus troupe. Yup, think clowns, magicians, Houdini-esque escapes and knife-throwing delights, all alongside the silly harumphing of society types and the behind-the-scenes thrills of a showbiz exposé.
Dir. William A. Wellman, 1926, 35mm, approx. 60 min. (Print courtesy of the Library of Congress)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Greta Garbo in "Flesh and the Devil"

Flesh and the Devil (1926)
12/13/2014 - 2PM

“Garbo’s acting, across near a century of time, can still put a tingle in your gut. Garbo makes you suspend disbelief.” — Chris Edwards, Silent Volume

Ahhhh, that kiss! That legendary first kiss between Greta Garbo and John Gilbert, the one that’s reverberated across the decades as a landmark in cinematic sensuality, is contained within the smoldering Flesh and the Devil. The film marked the first time of many that these lovebirds (both onscreen and off) would star together — and the result was important enough that, in 2006, the Library of Congress placed Flesh and the Devil in the National Film Registry. This afternoon’s picture, helmed by frequent Garbo director Clarence Brown (Anna Christie, A Woman of Affairs), finds the Swedish Sphinx caught between the affections of two childhood friends (Gilbert, and Lars Hanson.) Romantic fireworks galore, and a major turning point in the careers of almost every major player involved.
Dir. Clarence Brown, 1926, 35mm, 113 min.

Watch a romantic excerpt from “Flesh and the Devil”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: You'd Be Surprised + Dog Shy

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11/1/2014 - 4:30PM

Prints courtesy of the Library of Congress — and musical accompaniment by regular Cinefamily organist Cliff Retallick. A double bill of criminally underseen silent comedy heroes. We kick off the program with the 1926 two-reeler Dog Shy, starring the inimitable Charley Chase. Known as the master of the “comedy of embarrassment”, Chase’s nonchalant mannerisms and emphasis on smaller, subtler character moments — as well as his dashing good looks — made him one of the most seductive of all the silent clowns. Our afternoon’s feature You’d Be Surprised is a farcical vehicle for Raymond Griffith, who ruled Twenties screens with a suave, silk-hatted goofiness that appears purely effortless. As a jovial city Coroner, Griffith attempts to unravel a dastardly murder mystery, all while the city is enveloped in a series of sudden blackouts. You’d Be Surprised’s comic buoyancy is aided by sharp witticisms by humorist/Algonquin Round Table founding member Robert Benchley!
You’d Be Surprised Dir. Arthur Rosson, 1926, 35mm, approx. 60 min.
Dog Shy Dir. Leo McCarey, 1926, 35mm, 22 min.

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Lon Chaney in "West of Zanzibar" + "The Unknown"

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10/4/2014 - 1PM

CO-PRESENTED BY WARNER ARCHIVE. Live musical accompaniment by Cinefamily organist Cliff Retallick!

Through unparalleled makeup craftsmanship, physical endurance and skilled pantomime, Lon Chaney, Sr. shocked silent audiences with an endless variety of transformations that earned him the nickname “The Man of 1,000 Faces.” Through his sensitivity, Chaney lent his monsters what Eugene O’Neill called “the transfiguring nobility of tragedy [in] seemingly the most ignoble, debased lives.” Lon met his artistic match in filmmaker Tod Browning, the vibrant artist behind such talkie gems as Freaks and 1931’s Lugosi-laden Dracula, who would collaborate with the fearless Chaney for a total of 10 incredible features. This afternoon’s double bill represents the apex of their relationship, and two of the most bizarre silent features ever filmed: West of Zanzibar, a wild-spirited, deliciously convoluted jungle revenge picture featuring Chaney as a man with no legs and a twenty-year score to settle — and The Unknown, all about unrequited love, circus freaks, blackmail, amputation and a phobia about being touched by others’ hands (plus, it’s co-starring Joan Crawford!)
West of Zanzibar Dir. Tod Browning, 1928, 35mm, 65 min.
The Unknown Dir. Tod Browning, 1927, 35mm, 50 min.

Watch an excerpt from “West of Zanzibar”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: Valentino in "Beyond The Rocks" (1922)

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9/6/2014 - 2:30PM

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla — or Rudy Valentino, for short, has endured as one of cinema’s sexiest and suavest figures in the art form’s short 118-year history, with more charisma in his back pocket than most stars achieve in their whole person throughout an entire career. Beyond The Rocks, Valentino’s 1922 feature long thought completely lost, pairs him with a female lead of equal stature: Gloria Swanson, fashion icon and one of the most celebrated silent sirens ever. Based on a scandalous romantic novel by Elinor Glyn (an early twentieth-century equivalent to Jackie Collins), Valentino and Swanson torridly court each other over fanciful, aristocratic trappings — an opulent ride that never gets old. In her final years, Swanson professed a wish to see Beyond The Rocks one more time, but as all prints of the film had either gone missing for decades, or had been destroyed, it just wasn’t possible. Thanks to the eagle eye of the film restoration community, a lone nitrate print was discovered in the Netherlands in 2003, and Beyond The Rocks now (re-)exists for our present-day viewing pleasure.
Dir. Sam Wood, 1922, 35mm, 82 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Beyond The Rocks”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: Hell's Angels

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8/2/2014 - 4PM

Perhaps Hollywood’s greatest-ever eccentric, Howard Hughes brought a strange, showman-like air to every creative project he touched — and no film, not even his productions of Scarface, The Outlaw and The Front Page, matched the ambition of this 1930 masterpiece. Originally filmed as a silent, Hell’s Angels was converted by producer/semi-director Hughes (several others contributed to the directing, including a fresh-faced James Whale) into one of moviedom’s first talkies, complete with a thick layer of juicy Pre-Code slang. Stanley Kubrick once declared that this was one of the films that most influenced his own style, and, once you catch one look at its meticulously designed, WWI-era aerial dogfight recreations, it’s easy to see why. Hubba-hubba co-star Jean Harlow alone is reason enough for a Hell’s Angels viewing, but Hughes is pretty much the real star on display, as the film’s displays of deadly daring-do remain to this day some of the most stirring and dramatic ever filmed. Come revel in this sparkling 35mm restoration from the UCLA Film & Television archive, complete with hand-tinting and the legendary Technicolor sequence!
Dir. Howard Hughes, 1930, 35mm, 131 min. (Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Lonesome

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7/5/2014 - 3PM

“It’s as sweet a movie as they come.” — Chris Edwards, Silent Volume

The creation of a little-known but audacious and one-of-a-kind filmmaker, Lonesome could only have sprung from the mind of Paul Fejos (also an explorer, anthropologist, and doctor!). While under contract at Universal, Fejos pulled out all the stops for this lovely, largely silent NYC symphony set in antic Coney Island during the Fourth of July weekend, employing color tinting, superimposition effects, experimental editing, and a roving camera (plus three dialogue scenes, added to satisfy the new craze for talkies). Fejos’ love affair with kineticism equals the onscreen romance between Barbara Kent and Glenn Tryon, who play a telephone operator and a factory worker desperate to meet once more, after a chance encounter on Coney Island’s very crowded beach. The height of film artistry, and a literally glowing example of how far directors could push their visual form.
Dir. Pál Fejös, 1928, 35mm, 69 min. (Archival print courtesy of the George Eastman House)

Watch the Criterion Collection’s “Three Reasons” video on “Lonesome”!

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Joan Crawford in "Our Modern Maidens"

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6/7/2014 - 5:30PM

Ever wonder how a jitterbug-crazy Texan girl could petrify into the coat-hanger-wielding monster of Mommie Dearest? Step one: reach explosive box-office stardom as a stunning Silent Siren. Joan Crawford is remembered in large part for the infamous actions that bought her a permanent place in pop culture, but in 1929’s Our Modern Maidens, Crawford was simply a gorgeous gal with a penchant for partying and causing love troubles. Made on the heels of Our Dancing Daughters (the film which catapulted Crawford to fame and eventual fortune), Maidens is a smart, flashy film that teams up our lady with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., who at the time was Crawford’s real-life paramour. Joan certainly ruffled feathers and titillated swarms of movie-goers with this tempestuous, sexy Pre-Code treat, featuring quite risqué subject matter for the times — including an out-of-wedlock pregnancy! A total Twenties smash hit, Our Modern Maidens marked Crawford’s final silent performance.
Dir. Jack Conway, 1929, 35mm, 76 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Our Modern Maidens”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: Valley of the Giants

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5/3/2014 - 2PM

A great example of the directorial talents of Charles Brabin, a husband to silent siren Theda Bara who paid his dues in Thomas Edison’s early film studio before blossoming in the world of serials, and eventually landing the gig of helming Ben-Hur (until he was replaced directly before shooting.) No campy monster mash with 50-foot meanies, Valley of the Giants is a tempestuous, sweeping tale eventually told several times over cinema’s early history, including Kirk Douglas’s Fifties treatment The Big Trees. Here, playing the son of a lumber baron, Milton Sills returns from Europe to his lush, Sequoia-laden home in Humboldt, to find that his father’s gone blind, a business competitor wants to destroy the family business — and that the competitor’s niece is emerging as his true love. Full of both eye candy in the form of startling Northern California location photography in, and crackling chemistry between Sills and his real-life spouse Doris Kenyon.
Dir. Charles Brabin, 1927, 35mm, 70 min. (Print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Erich von Stroheim's "Foolish Wives"

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4/5/2014 - 5:30PM

“Even at approximately a third of its initial length, Foolish Wives is a brilliantly perverse morality play in the Henry James mold that exposes naïve Americans abroad to the predations of decadent European aristocracy.” — Budd Wilkins, Slant

In an art form celebrated for its larger-than-life personalities, the iron-willed Erich von Stroheim still remains one of filmmaking’s top mythic iconoclasts. Even though almost every one of his features was recut or otherwise mangled by the powers that be, his filmography is still more wildly vibrant and emotionally gripping than almost any of his silent-era contemporaries. Here, Von Stroheim himself stars as the leader of a debaucherous scam artist ring who, amongst the lavish confines of Monte Carlo, embarks on a grand plan to remove an American envoy from his hard-earned dough. Taken out of von Stroheim’s hands by Universal and reduced from an unprecedented six-hour, two-part epic into a more “commercial-length” single film, Foolish Wives magically still retains every bit of both the visual beauty and biting cultural critique its creator originally intended.
Dir. Erich von Stroheim, 1922, 35mm, 143 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Foolish Wives”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: Ernst Lubitsch's "Three Women"

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3/1/2014 - 4:45PM

For many years, the brilliant film director Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot) had a sign mounted on his office wall, which read “What would Lubitsch have done?”: a fitting offering to his personal movie god. Like Wilder would later master after him, the German-born Ernst Lubitsch was a genius at concocting sophisticated comedies of manners, plots of highly intertwining complexity, and deft undercurrents of emotional resonance — all of which amounted to what was commonly known around early Hollywood as “the Lubitsch Touch.” Among the great silents that Lubitsch touched is the saucy melodrama Three Women, starring May McAvoy (The Jazz Singer, Ben-Hur) as an eighteen-year-old in a dizzying, whirlwind triangle between her estranged socialite mother and her weasel-like suitor who, after getting a whiff of May’s trust fund, stays true to his cad nature by wooing the young dame. Often favoring devastating facial expressions (to convey the story’s soapy twists and turns) over the typical expository intertitles, Three Women is a nimble, nuanced and surprising dose of Lubitsch’s movie magic.
Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1924, 35mm, 83 min. (Archival print courtesy of the George Eastman House)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: John Barrymore in "Tempest"

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2/5/2014 - 7:30PM

John Barrymore: one of the titans of the silent screen, who tackled such juicy roles as those in Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1920), Sherlock Holmes (1922), Beau Brummel (1924), Captain Ahab in The Sea Beast (the silent adaptation of Moby Dick) and Don Juan (1926.) In Tempest, Barrymore plays the suave half of a stirring romance against the backdrop of the Russian revolution! Barrymore is Sgt. Ivan Markov, a dedicated soldier who defies the rigid class system while rising through the ranks of military and society — and falls in love with a haughty princess who eventually spurns him, and causes him to be stripped of rank. However, the tables are turned when the prophecy of a people’s revolt is realized… Complimenting Barrymore’s on-screen prowess is Camilla Horn, who so brilliantly lit up Murnau’s Faust. Here, she displays “a histrionic ability which promises to offer keen competition to both Greta Garbo and Vilma Banky.” (Photoplay) Also featuring Oscar-winning cinematography, and impeccable art direction by the legendary William Cameron Menzies (The Thief of Bagdad)!
Dir. Sam Taylor, 1928, 35mm, 111 min. (Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)

Watch an excerpt from “Tempest”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: The Patent Leather Kid (1927)

Tough, streetwise!
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1/8/2014 - 7:15PM

“If you aren’t a fight fan, you will be when you have seen it.” — Screenland

Epic in scope, this deeply human character study showcasing the formidable acting talents of megastar Richard Barthelmess (Broken Blossoms, Way Down East, Tol’able David) stands alongside The Big Parade one of the silent era’s most empathetic WWI epics. Beginning on New York’s Lower East Side, The Patent Leather Kid tells the tale of a tough, streetwise prize fighter with slick, black hair (hence the nickname!) who initially balks at the idea of fighting outside the ring, yet is forced to apply the courage of a pugilist to the grim realities of battle on France’s front lines. Also featuring a breakout performance from Molly O’Day, Al Santell’s patriotic drama — which almost never screens anywhere in the world — comes to The Silent Treatment, with live music by Cinefamily accompanist Cliff Retallick.
Dir. Alfred Santell, 1927, 35mm, 150 min. (Print courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Fun fact: in the Rupert Hughes story on which the film is based, the “patent leather kid” is the name of the female lead, and Curly Boyle is the boxer — but in the movie, the lead character’s names were swapped!

THE SILENT TREATMENT: F.W. Murnau's "The Last Laugh"

A breathtaking silent film achievement!
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12/9/2013 - 7:30PM

After shocking audiences worldwide with Nosferatu, but before emigrating to Hollywood for Sunrise, F.W. Murnau revolutionized filmmaking with this most silent of silent films — one rare for its lack of intertitles, and timeless for its artful social commentary. Using daring camera angles, expressionist framing and groundbreaking P.O.V. effects to convey a subjective psychological state, The Last Laugh tells the heartrending story of Emil Jannings (The Blue Angel, The Last Command) as an elderly hotel doorman demoted to washroom attendant, who must fight to retain his dignity in his life’s winter years. Tellingly, the original German title was The Last Man, yet the pathos at play here retains its power to inspire, finding breathtaking beauty in potentially bleak subject matter. Made at the height of Murnau’s powers, with gorgeous cinematography by Karl Freund and his “unchained camera” (a breakthrough technique that freed the camera eye from the conventional tripod), The Last Laugh is a silent classic of the highest order — one that forever defines the question “is it the work that makes the man?” in our cinematic vocabulary.
Dir. F.W. Murnau, 1924, 35mm, 101 min.

Watch an excerpt from “The Last Laugh”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: Paths to Paradise (1925)

The Silk Hat Comedian lives!
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11/6/2013 - 7:30PM

“Raymond Griffith seems to me to occupy a handsome fifth place — after Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and Langdon — in the silent comedy pantheon, a place that is his by right of his refusal to ape his contemporaries, and his insistence on following the devious curve of an entirely idiosyncratic eye.” — Walter Kerr, The Silent Clowns

He was known as the “Silk Hat Comedian” — he was beloved by millions for his suave, debonair brand of comedic grace — and yet, today almost no one knows his name. One of the many silent era stars whose work was lost to time (due to the lack of any surviving film prints) the prolific Raymond Griffith utilized as his trademark a top hat, a tuxedo and a cunning charm that easily set him apart from other top-billed laughmakers of the day. Only a tiny handful of Griffith’s pictures remain for us to enjoy, such as the Civil War comedy Hands Up!, Tod Browning’s White Tiger and tonight’s drawing-room farce; come celebrate the hidden legacy of one of the Twenties’ most humorous ladykillers with Paths To Paradise, starring Griffith and Betty Compson as dueling grifters on the make for the same wealthy schnook’s collection of diamonds. Preceeding the film is the 1925 comedy short Hold My Baby!
Paths To Paradise Dir. Clarence G. Badger, 1925, 35mm, 53 min. (only surviving print, courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Hold My Baby Dir. James W. Horne, 1925, 35mm, approx. 20 min (Print courtesy of the Library of Congress)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Lon Chaney in "The Unholy Three"

The Man of A Thousand Faces!
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10/2/2013 - 7:30PM

CO-PRESENTED BY WARNER ARCHIVE.

Through unparalleled makeup craftsmanship, physical endurance and skilled pantomime, Lon Chaney, Sr. shocked silent audiences with an endless variety of transformations that earned him the nickname “The Man of 1,000 Faces.” Through his sensitivity, Chaney lent his monsters what Eugene O’Neill called “the transfiguring nobility of tragedy [in] seemingly the most ignoble, debased lives.” In the loopy, yet highly devious The Unholy Three, Chaney plays a ventriloquist who, hungry for cash, leads a midget and a strongman in a serial robbery scheme involving the selling of parrots. When unsuspecting customers buy a bird, Chaney (disguised as a grandmother!) throws his voice — and when the bird doesn’t talk in the customer’s home, the Unholy Three arrive to refund the customer, and to case the joint. In addition to the usual stellar turn by Chaney, little person Harry Earles (The Wizard of Oz, Freaks) is particularly unsettling in the role of an adult posing as a baby in a carriage. This very successful picture was remade only five years later, as Chaney’s only talkie before his death in 1930. Live musical accompaniment by resident Cinefamily organist Cliff Retallick!
Dir. Tod Browning, 1925, 35mm, 86 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the George Eastman House)

Watch an excerpt from “The Unholy Three”!
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THE SILENT TREATMENT: "Breakfast at Sunrise" (1927) and "Camille" (1927)

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9/4/2013 - 7:30PM

As the Roaring Twenties raged on, silent star Constance Talmadge was a titan in the field of light romantic comedy — while, at the same time, her sister Norma was equally dominant playing dramatic leads in some of the most opulent productions of the day. Together, the Talmadge sisters (along with third sister Natalie, who would go on to wed Buster Keaton) were an unstoppable force in the picture business — and tonight, we celebrate their dazzling legacy with a double feature of seriously rare 35mm Talmadge-mania. First up, Connie — who first shot to success in D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance — stars alongside Latin lover Don Alvarado in the sophistico ode Breakfast At Sunrise. And, after intermission, it’s Norma in the classic 1926 romance Camille, a picture which marked the first of many collaborations with co-star/paramour Gilbert Roland. Tonight’s screening of Camille is extra-special, for it comes from the only known surviving print! Live music track by resident Cinefamily accompanist Cliff Retallick.
Breakfast at Sunrise Dir. Malcolm St. Clair, 1927, 35mm, 62 min. (Archival print courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Camille Dir. Fred Niblo, 1927, 35mm, 53 min. (NOTE: print contains only known surviving, shortened version — as the original-length version is considered a “lost” film.)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Louise Brooks in "Diary of a Lost Girl"

Lousie Brooks in a radiant role!
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8/7/2013 - 7:30PM

There’s a reason the name Louise Brooks elicits sighs every time it’s mentioned at the Cinefamily: her ferocious charisma and otherworldly beauty cemented her status as an icon well before she retired from the silver screen, at the age of 32. From her comic role opposite W.C. Fields to multiple turns as troubled, willful heroines in the films of legendary German Expressionist auteur G.W. Pabst, Brooks shines as an actress capable of endless nuance and versatility — as she understood the impact both her inner and outer beauty could bring to the screen. Here, in her second and final collaboration with Pabst, Brooks gives a delicately restrained performance as the naive daughter of a prosperous pharmacist who stuns her clan by becoming pregnant. After being put through the repressive reform school ringer, she escapes to a brothel where she becomes liberated and lives for the moment with radiant physical abandon. Pabst’s escalating nightmares are heightened by Brooks’ sensitive portrayal of a truly lost girl whose hard-earned redemption is as beautiful a vision as the star herself. Live music track by resident Cinefamily accompanist Cliff Retallick
Dir. G.W. Pabst, 1929, 35mm, 116 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Diary of a Lost Girl”!

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Dressed To Kill (1928)

A Jazz Age gangland thrillride!
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7/10/2013 - 7:30PM

Worthy of an entire week’s episodes of E! True Hollywood Stories, silent siren Mary Astor (best known for her role in the 1941 classic The Maltese Falcon) remains one of the Twenties’ most ravishing beauties, also with one of the most wicked true-life tales imaginable. Starting off as a popular child star bled dry for her money by her greedy parents, Astor later survived a suicide attempt, alcoholism — and most famously, a morals scandal when it was revealed during a custody battle for her child she’d been unfaithful against the physician husband who’d treated her during her nervous breakdown over the death of her previous husband (whew!) Right before she successfully navigated her career into the realm of talkies, Astor starred in this Jazz Age gangland tale of ritzy nightclubs, shadowy dealings, magnificently coiffed molls and murderous mob flunkies. Plus, the evening kicks off with A Moonshine Feud, the 1920 silent western short starring Texas Guinan, America’s first moviestar cowgirl. Music by resident Cinefamily accompanist Cliff Retallick!

Dressed To Kill Dir. Irving Cummings, 1928, 35mm, 70 min. (Archival print courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art)
A Moonshine Feud 1920, 35mm, approx. 15 min. (Archival print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: Pola Negri in "Barbed Wire" (1927)

A forbidden-love, through-the-fence romance!
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6/5/2013 - 7:30PM

“It isn’t really a war picture at all. It’s a peace picture. It holds out the hope that, in time, we may forget all about war and war pictures and just have a good time, which will throw that kettle-drummer out of a job, but otherwise will be all for the best.” — Screenland

Many of the sirens that silent cinema has to offer have graced the Cinefamily screen with a delicate, angelic charm — but tonight’s star slayed her suitors with unforgettably dark features and tantalizing villainy. It’s no wonder that Pola Negri was the reigning silent queen of femme fatales — her affairs with Chaplin and Valentino ensured that, both onscreen and off, her tumultuous love life commanded the sort of attention only a brilliantly scandalous vamp could elicit. The sparks fly when tonight’s emotional spectacular brings together Negri (playing against type) as a quiet French farm girl, and Clive Brook as an encamped German POW, in a forbidden-love, through-the-fence romance. Music by Cinefamily resident accompanist Cliff Retallick!
Dir. Rowland V. Lee, 1927, 16mm, 79 min. (Archival 16mm print courtesy of the George Eastman House)

THE SILENT TREATMENT: The Alloy Orchestra plays to "From Morning To Midnight" (1920)

Lost gem of German Expressionism!
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4/29/2013 - 10PM
Co-presented by The Silent Treatment

“The best in the world at accompanying silent films.” — Roger Ebert

“Alloy has brought fresh air to a world thought left to nostalgics. They give voice to the soul of their machines, and by doing that, they’ve given voice to no less than the sound of cinema” — Paolo Cherchi Usai (Co-Director, Pordenone Silent Film Festival)

With their panoply of thrashing, grinding percussion — as well as their keen sense of spooky melody — the three-man musical ensemble Alloy Orchestra (Ken Winokur, Terry Donahue and Mission of Burma’s Roger Miller) is the perfect choice to accompany this nightmarish classic of German Expressionism. Karl-Heinz Martin’s criminally underseen 1920 feature easily stands toe-to-toe with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and tells the shadowy tale of a bank teller trying desperately to escape the spiraling humdrum-iness of his small, dusty life. Awash in contorted sets and high-contrast décor, every banality of “normal life” is here reinvented into an unnerving spectacle: the bank becomes a grim underworld, a hotel staircase becomes an existential crisis, and a family drawing room becomes as loopy as a Slinky. A giddy cornucopia of extreme macabre stylization, this show will ROCK.
Dir. Karl-Heinz Martin, 1920, digital presentation, 72 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for The Alloy Orchestra’s April 29th shows!

Mary Pickford B'Day Celebration (feat. "Little Annie Rooney" and "Suds"!)

The First Lady of the Silent era!
marypickford_website
4/3/2013 - 8PM

Mary Pickford is remembered as the First Lady of the silent era, the world’s first film superstar — a wide-eyed, golden-haired ingenue whose warmth and expressiveness endeared her to the world. But her legacy as “the actress who invented film” often eclipses her incredible rise from America’s first cinematic sweetheart to studio head of legendary United Artists, where her creative and business partnerships with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and husband Douglas Fairbanks revolutionized the film industry, and shaped what would become our conception of 20th century Hollywood. Tonight, the Mary Pickford Foundation joins the Cinefamily to wish happy birthday to a woman whose incredible influence matched her prescient acumen, tender beauty, and superstardom. This full-evening celebration features an archival 35mm double-feature of Little Annie Rooney (1925) and Suds (1920) — two Pickford classics in which her spirited sweetness shines in full force. The evening also opens with appearances by special guests Elaina Archer (director of The Mary Pickford Foundation) and Carl Beauchamp (noted Pickford scholar!)

Little Annie Rooney Dir. William Beaudine, 1925, 35mm, 94 min. (Archival print courtesy of the UCLA Film And Television Archive)
Suds Dir. John Francis Dillon, 1920, 35mm, 65 min. (Archival print courtesy of the UCLA Film And Television Archive)

Watch our original trailer for the Silent Treatment’s Mary Pickford Birthday Celebration:

Gloria Swanson in "Stage Struck" (1925)

stagestruck_website
3/6/2013 - 7:30PM

Silent-era Gloria Swanson shone in every role she played, but in particular the sweet romantic comedy Stage Struck showcased the megawatt personality and impeccable comic timing she managed to manifest with her tiny frame. Swanson mesmerizes as an adorable waitress named Mouse, in love with a goofy fry cook. The gifts that made Gloria a silent siren are front-and-center in this frothy, snappy confection; the huge, expressive features, feisty-ingenue delivery, and knack for physical comedy that unmistakably informed Lucille Ball all elevate Stage Struck above similar silent Cinderalla stories. Lavish fashion-heavy set-pieces, titles that are hilarious beyond their era (“You look about as funny as murder!”), and gorgeous cinematography compliment truly unusual details: is Mouse carrying on an entire conversation with her stuffed animal? Does the film culminate in a genuinely insane, cartoonish boxing match between Swanson and an Amazonian female body-builder? This is a warm, bouncy romp of a film with which our live piano accompanist — and everyone in the audience — will have tremendous fun. Restored 35mm print!
Dir. Allan Dwan, 1925, 35mm, 71 min. (Restored 35mm print courtesy of the George Eastman House)

Wallace Reid double feature: "The Roaring Road" (1919) and "Excuse My Dust!" (1920)

A speedy double dose of the 1920s heartthrob!
wallacereid_website
2/6/2013 - 7:30PM

Adored during his meteoric tenure as Tinseltown’s most wholesome heartthrob, Wallace Reid starred in over 200 films — before falling victim to a scandalous demise at the hands of his own morphine addiction at age 32, which helped to solidify the Gothic reputation of 1920s Hollywood. Tonight’s double feature presents two of Reid’s most fun and suspenseful vehicle vehicles (he appeared in a slew of racing pictures, at the height of their popularity), and a dashing dose of his athletic acting style. The Roaring Road is a snappy, fast-paced comic gem that pits speed-crazy racecar driver Reid against his hot-tempered boss, whose comely daughter Reid sets his heart on wooing. The film was a knockout hit, and was quickly followed by the equally thrilling sequel Excuse My Dust!, which picks up exactly where The Roaring Road sped off. Reid’s legacy dimmed in direct proportion to the number of his films destroyed or lost after the Silent Era — and tonight’s show is an incredibly rare chance to peer into the same portal that dazzled ‘20s audiences, and set Jazz Age hearts aflutter with so much breezy charm.
The Roaring Road Dir. James Cruze, 1919, 35mm, 58 min. (35mm preservation by the UCLA Film & Television Archive)
Excuse My Dust! Dir. Sam Wood, 1920, 35mm, approx. 50 min. (35mm preservation by the Library of Congress)

The Saint And Her Fool (1928)

Fantastical, intoxicating silent romance!
saintandherfool_website
1/9/2013 - 7:30PM

Agnes Günther’s heart-rending fairy tale dazzled turn-of-the-century German audiences and sold hundreds of thousands of copies before being adapted into tonight’s tale of timeless passion, the beautiful The Saint and the Fool. The unapologetically sentimental classic was directed by Wilhelm Dieterle, who launched a successful career in Weimar cinema before becoming known for romantic, lush melodramas and technicolor extravaganzas, including 1945′s Marlene Dietrich unforgettable Love Letters. The dashing Dieterle himself plays Harrogate, Earl of Torstein, whose star-crossed love for the luminous Rosemarie of Brauneck (Lien Deyers, discovered by Fritz Lang) is further doomed by royal heroes and villains, the requisite evil stepmother, and fantastical elements that channel the intoxicating romance of Camille through the magic of the Brothers Grimm. Incredibly rare and beautifully restored, tonight’s Silent Treatment feature is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a film that celebrates the tumultuous emotions cinema has been capable of evoking since its inception.
Dir. William Dieterle, 1928, 35mm. (Archival restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film And Television Archive)

Victor Sjostrom's "The Phantom Carriage" (1921)

The Swedish horror masterpiece on 35mm!
phantomcarriage_website
12/5/2012 - 7:30PM

A gorgeous liquid nightmare of a movie, the dark Swedish masterpiece The Phantom Carriage is still, over ninety years since its release, nothing short of shocking. Filmed in 1920 and released the following New Year’s Day, this story of a girl’s dying wish to redeem one troubled man’s soul remains one of the most sumptuously shot and technically accomplished films ever made, silent and otherwise. Years before the availability of the optical printer, director/star Victor Sjöström utilized painstakingly timed hand-cranked cameras and intricate edits to execute its flashbacks-within-flashbacks and countless double exposures — lending this ghost story a haunting, vivid dimension, from the otherworldly and familiar specter of Death to the chilling Swedish landscape that exists as its own character. As well, it has the distinction of originating an immeasurable number of elements throughout cinematic history, from The Seventh Seal’s hooded Reaper to Nicholson’s axe-wielding rampage in The Shining. It’s no wonder that Ingmar Bergman called it “the film of all films,” and watched it at least once a year following his first viewing at age fifteen. It’s a film that elevated its medium to heights it still, to this day, only rarely attains.
Dir. Victor Sjostrom, 1921, 35mm, 104 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “The Phantom Carriage”!

The Monkey Talks (1927)

Beautiful and relentless circus fantasia!
themonkeytalks
11/7/2012 - 7:30PM

Legendarily prolific director Raoul Walsh (White Heat, Cheyenne) helms this beautiful and relentlessly bizarre circus fantasia winding around a love triangle between a comely tightrope walker, a diminutive acrobat hired by the circus to impersonate a monkey with the power of speech, and Pierre, the jilted performer who poses as the “animal’ trainer” (whew!) The legendary makeup effects from this late-period silent come courtesy of Jack Pierce, the famous monster creator who later went onto great fame with devising the visages of The Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster and a host of other creepy crawlers. Based on a French stage play that became an international sensation, The Monkey Talks casts the incredibly expressive Jacques Lerner, who originated the role in France, as the monkey-man. Lerner’s sensitive performance transforms a macabre, potentially melodramatic story into a turbulent romance and a meditation on greed and sacrifice. Freakish thrills, spectacles, and villains abound, but the heart of the film resides in Lerner’s poignant turn, which elevates this unusual fairy tale into a silent classic.
Dir. Raoul Walsh, 1927, 35mm, 60 min. (Archival print courtesy of the George Eastman House)

Lon Chaney in "The Monster" (1925)

Lon Chaney returns to the Cinefamily!
themonster
10/10/2012 - 7:30PM

The Monster isn’t your typical lunatics-take-over-the-asylum movie, for the story contorts as dramatically as Lon Chaney Sr.’s incredible, unmistakable face. Directed by Roland West (the filmmaker behind the spooky talkies Alibi and The Bat Whispers), the film’s weirdness reaches epic heights long before two main characters are strapped to a transducer to have their souls switch bodies. Leading the chaotic charge is Chaney as a former-surgeon-turned-mental patient who, along with three fellow inmates, has imprisoned the head of Dr. Edward’s Sanitarium in the building’s dungeon. When a small-town dream girl is lured as a subject for Chaney’s grotesque experiments, two of her goofy paramours bumble to her rescue — and discover the madman’s horrific plans to unlock the secret to eternal life. The Monster is masterful in its balance of spookiness and comic relief — the dynamics between its affable heroes and freakish villains are played up for maximum effect — but it’s Chaney’s unhinged, larger-than-life performance that makes The Monster affecting and unforgettable. The feature film is preceded by the eerie 1917 silent short The Devil’s Assistant!
The Monster Dir. Roland West, 1925, 80 min.
The Devil’s Assistant Dir. Harry Pollard, 1917.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “The Monster”!

Louise Brooks in "Beggars Of Life" (1928)

Louise Brooks on the lam!
beggarsoflife
8/1/2012 - 7:30PM

There’s a reason the name Louise Brooks elicits sighs every time it’s mentioned at the Cinefamily. Her ferocious charisma and otherworldly beauty cemented her status as an icon of 1920s silent cinema well before she retired too early from the silver screen, at the age of 32. As an actress capable of endless nuance and versatility, Brooks deeply understood the impact both her inner and outer beauty could bring to the screen — and in Beggars of Life, William Wellman’s early Depression-era portrait of transient life, she he gave one of her absolute strongest performances during her brief stint within the Hollywood system. Brooks plays Nancy, who must go on the run with her friend Jim after killing her sleazy stepfather in self-defense — and, after disguising herself as a boy, engages in train-hopping, hobo-fighting and car-stealing, all while on the lam. A daring story with an outstanding supporting cast, Beggars of Life echoes the dark atmospherics of Brooks’ other films, but it stands out for its markedly American narrative. A rare, perfect blend of melodrama and naturalism.
Dir. William Wellman, 1928, 35mm, 100 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the George Eastman House. Preservation funded by The Film Foundation.)

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Beggars of Life”!

Piccadilly (1929, starring Anna May Wong!)

Starring the magnificent Anna May Wong!
piccadilly
7/11/2012 - 7:30PM

“A ‘film noir’ before the term was in use, ‘Piccadilly’ is one of the true greats of British silent films, on a par with the best work of Anthony Asquith or Alfred Hitchcock in the period.”  - BFI

International superstar and fashion icon Anna May Wong lights up the Cinefamily screen in Piccadilly, her final silent role before the advent of the talkie.  This extravagant show biz spectacle — an opulent affair which quickly set itself apart from more staid British films of the era — features Wong as an alluring dance star, whose glamorous on-stage numbers captivate a suave club owner to the point of bodily distraction!  Frequently turned down for juicy starring roles in Hollywood’s silent era due to inherent attitudes against non-Caucasian actors, Wong traveled to Europe for starring turns in prestige pictures, of which Piccadilly ranks amongst the classiest.  Boasting awe-inspiring cinematography and atmospheric setpieces depicting a wide rainbow of both swanky and squalid London locales, this uptown Jazz Age mini-masterpiece is presented in a beautifully tinted blue-and-amber 35mm print!
Dir. E.A. Dupont, 1929, 35mm, 109 min.

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Piccadilly”!

The Showdown (1928)

Lust and passion in South America!
showdown_newsite
6/6/2012 - 7:30PM

Reuniting the principal players from Josef von Sternberg’s classic late silent Underworld, The Showdown brings the burly, surly duo of George Bancroft and Fred Kohler — along with the stunning Evelyn Brent — down to the steamy stomping grounds of South America for a wild ride through the emotional jungle! In the tradition of wilderness soap operas like Red Dust and Mogambo, the story takes place in the lugubrious equatorial heat, where lust and passion boil over amongst four isolated oil wildcatters and one lone New York City woman. Director Victor Schertzinger’s expert hand guides the cast through all the juicy melodrama one would expect from such a sticky situation; “[i]ndeed, ‘The Showdown’ — with its claustrophobic tensions expressed through gesture — seems crafted to give full play to what silent filmmaking does best.” (BAM/PFA)
Dir. Victor Schertzinger, 1928, 35mm, 80 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Library of Congress)

The Love Trap (1929) + Vitaphone Shorts!

One of the best silent/talkie hybrids!
lovetrap_newsite
5/9/2012 - 7:30PM

In a shocking turn of events, The Silent Treatment presents the mellifluous tones of spoken dialogue! “Goat-glanders” (silents with inserted talkie sequences) were all the rage in-between 1927’s The Jazz Singer and the talkie era — and 1929’s The Love Trap is not only one of the best of this rare breed, but it’s also the most intriguing, as it’s fully bi-sected into a silent first half and a talkie second half. Directed by Hollywood legend William Wyler (Ben-Hur, Roman Holiday), the film stars the charming Laura La Plante (a kind of cross between Lucille Ball and Tina Fey) as a bright-eyed dancer who is fired from her chorus line job, cornered by a sly womanizer and evicted from her apartment, all in a single day. Fate leads her into the arms of a loving, warm-blooded blue blood, but his uptight family’s got something to say about the matter! The light comedy on display here is utterly effervescent and effortless, making the dramatic mid-film transition to sound even more effective, as Wyler brilliantly switches things up during a pivotal heavy plot twist. Our show opens with three Vitaphone late-‘20s musical soundie shorts: Norman Thomas Quintette in Harlem-Mania (1929), The Ham What I Am (1928) & The Ingenues, The Band Beautiful (1928)!
The Love Trap Dir. William Wyler, 1929, 35mm, 71 min.
Norman Thomas Quintette in Harlem-Mania Dir. Murray Roth, 1929, 35mm, 8 min.
The Ham What I Am 1928, 35mm, 8 min.
The Ingenues, The Band Beautiful 1928, 35mm, 9 min.

All 35mm prints courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive!

Watch excerpts from William Wyler’s “The Love Trap”!
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Harold Lloyd's "For Heaven's Sake" & "Why Worry?"

Harold Lloyd returns to the Cinefamily!
haroldlloyd_tst_newsite
4/4/2012 - 7:30PM

“The good American, still devoutly believed in during the 1920s, was two things: he was aggressive, and he was innocent…and then there was Harold Lloyd. A boy whom nothing could defeat.” — Walter Kerr, “The Silent Clowns”

Made famous by his stunningly athletic physical comedy and his “glasses” character — an ambitious go-getting Man of the Century, yet an everyman who resembled those in his audience — Harold Lloyd remains one of the era’s greatest comedians, alongside Chaplin and Keaton. Tonight’s first feature is For Heaven’s Sake (one of Lloyd’s best gags-for-gags’-sake films) in which he plays a wealthy man who falls for a homeless mission volunteer, is kidnapped by his friends offended by his breaching of class, and must escape their clutches to “make it to the church on time”. The ensuing escape on a double-decker bus remains one of Lloyd’s finest chase numbers. Next, in Why Worry?, Lloyd arrives on a South American island, to find himself caught up in the locals’ political revolution. The film benefits from a breathtaking abundance of non-stop gags, and the eye-catching presence of giant Johan Aasen as Lloyd’s sidekick. As well, Why Worry? marks the first appearance in a Lloyd film of Jobyna Ralston, who was to be his romantic foil in five subsequent features. Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd will be be here at the Cinefamily to introduce the show — and join us for birthday cake, as we celebrate Harold’s upcoming April birthday!
For Heaven’s Sake Dir. Sam Taylor, 1926, 35mm, 58 min.
Why Worry? Dirs. Fred Newmeyer & Sam Taylor, 1923, 35mm, 60 min.

Watch an excerpt from “For Heaven’s Sake”!
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Watch an excerpt from “Why Worry?”!
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Lilac Time (1928, starring Gary Cooper!)

Archival 35mm print!
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3/7/2012 - 7:30PM

Full of spectacular aerial battle scenes unprecedented for the late Twenties — as well as equally explosive romantic fireworks between an impossibly fresh-faced Gary Cooper and radiant silent era superstar Colleen Moore — Lilac Time is the long-forgotten perfect companion to Wings, the 1927 dogfight opera that won the very first Best Picture Oscar. Modern audiences will be familiar with Lilac Time’s swooning war story, in which a beautiful young French girl falls in love with the dashing English soldier who stumbles into her life, but will surprise you is the subtlety and warmth with which this film unfolds. On a virtual suicide mission during WWI, Cooper’s Air Force captain happens upon Moore, a lilac farmer’s daughter — and while the brutal realities of war threaten to derail their soaring romance (lovingly and gently rendered amongst breathtaking pastoral settings), the intensity of their resolve escalates along with the challenges that keep them apart. Come revel in Lilac Time’s stunning sights, presented in a Library of Congress archival 35mm print!
Dir. George Fitzmaurice, 1928, 35mm, 80 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Library Of Congress)

What Happened To Jones? (1926)

A welcome whiff of filmic froth!
whathappenedtojones_newsite
2/1/2012 - 8PM

NOTE: admission to this show is half-price for all who come in drag!

A silent double bill full of delightful drag, animated androgeny and mirthful misunderstandings! Our short subject before the feature is Charlie Chaplin’s 1915 romp A Woman, “an irresistible drag tour de force that leaves us wishing Charlie had used the bit more often” (Bright Lights Film Journal) — and then it’s onto What Happened To Jones?, the uproarious farce starring Reginald Denny, one of the late-era silent screen’s most debonair leading men. Denny stars as a young man who, on the night before his wedding, plays a poker game with friends, only to have the party raided by the police. Escaping to a Turkish bath, Jones disguises himself as a woman — only to have the whole affair snowball into one big anarchic abashment of apparel. Full of giddy genderplay and witty chitchat, What Happened To Jones? is a welcome whiff of filmic froth!
What Happened To Jones? Dir. William A. Seiter, 1926, 35mm, 75 min. (Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)
A Woman (starring Charlie Chaplin) Dir. Charles Chaplin, 1915, 35mm, 27 min. (Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive and Film Preservation Associates)

Watch an excerpt of Charlie Chaplin in drag, from “A Woman”!
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Casanova (1927)

A truly rare 35mm experience!
casanova_silent_newsite
1/4/2012 - 8PM

One of the most lavish historical epics of the silent era gets its first Los Angeles screening in over twenty years! Ivan Mosjoukine (regarded as the Russian equivalent to Valentino) stars in this light-hearted and opulent version of the classic “Casanova” story. Within a cheery episodic frame, the film bounces our lusty hero from Italy to Austria, to Russia and back again, all in the name of amorous anarchy — until he must choose between the everlasting attentions of Russia’s Catherine The Great and a commoner girl. This late-period silent provides both a signature comedic role for Mosjoukine (whose real-life romantic escapes with his admirers nearly equaled the heat of Casanova’s on-screen travails), and hand-tinted Technicolor sequences (during the “Carnival of Venice” sequence) that thrill on the level of the greatest motion picture art of the era. One of the first silents to get the full loving restoration treatment around the same time as Gance’s Napoleon, Casanova was brought back to the moviegoing public in 1986, and has barely received any theatrical play since then — so join us for a truly rare 35mm experience!
Dir. Alexandre Volkoff, 1927, 35mm, 132 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)

Watch an excerpt from “Casanova”!
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Jerry Beck's Animation Tuesdays: Disney's Lost Laugh-O-Grams!

Rare Walt Disney silent toons!
laughograms_newsite
12/6/2011 - 8PM
Co-presented by Cartoon Brew & The Silent Treatment

The Cinefamily and The Silent Treatment team up with Jerry Beck’s Animation Tuesdays to present a truly special program of rare Walt Disney silent films! Direct from The Museum of Modern Art, it’s brand-new 35mm restorations of previously “lost” Disney Laugh-O-Gram cartoons (his very first series of animated shorts, produced in Kansas City during 1922), including Jack The Giant Killer, Goldie Locks and The Three Bears, The Four Musicians of Bremen and Little Red Riding Hood. In addition to these early updates/parodies of classic fairy tales, we also have Disney’s original Puss In Boots (1922) and several other 35mm rareties: two of Disney’s live action/animation “Alice Comedies”, one of the rarest “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” cartoons ever made, and live organ accompaniment to all of the films in the evening’s program!

Watch the early Disney Laugh-O-Gram “Little Red Riding Hood”!
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Josef von Sternberg's "The Last Command" (archival 35mm print!)

A thrilling performance from the first Best Actor!
lastcommand_newsite
11/2/2011 - 8PM

Rarely does a movie successfully paint a sympathetic portrait of a villain as a man with a good heart mired in the wrong set of circumstances — and Josef Von Sternberg’s The Last Command does just that with a stroke of mastery so mesmerizing that it’ll remind you how powerful and emotionally complex films can be. Emil Jannings gives a thrilling performance as a former Tsarist Russian general, toppled and beaten, exiled from his country and lost in a nightmare scenario in which he’s an extra in a film about the same revolution that destroyed him. Awarded the very first Oscar for Best Actor for the role, Jannings’ tormented portrayal of this fallen idol is absolutely worthy of such an accolade. On top of the film’s surreal set-up, we’re also treated with the magical cinematography of Bert Glennon (Stagecoach) and incredible sets that plant you firmly in the rich periods of both early Hollywood and Tsarist Russia. This is a real powerhouse of a film, with war, impossible love and one of the greatest on screen performances of the era! Our evening also includes two short subjects: Laurel & Hardy in Big Business (1929), and the animated Ko-Ko’s Klock (1927)!
The Last Command Dir. Josef von Sternberg, 1928, 35mm, 85 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive)
Ko-Ko’s Klock Dir. Dave Fleischer, 1927, 35mm, 7 min. (Archival 35mm print courtest of the UCLA FIlm & Television Archive)
Big Business Dirs. Leo McCarey & James W. Horne, 1929, 35mm, 19 min. (Archival 35mm print courtest of the UCLA FIlm & Television Archive)

Watch Cinefamily’s trailer for “The Last Command”!

The Bat (1926 version)

One of Hollywood's earliest horror hits!
bat_newsite
10/5/2011 - 8PM

A creek, then a croak. Was that the flutter of wind or wing? A silhouette glimpsed briefly within the penumbra of thick cobwebs. Who (or what) could it be? Why — it — it’s — The Bat! He’s a criminal mastermind, a true haunt with ears to flaunt, who predates Bruce Wayne by a solid decade! This eponymous fiend is the fright-inducing focus of Roland West’s early horror film homerun. With enough mood to suck the air right out of the room, your breathless terror will be as silent as the picture itself! It’s a game of bat and mouse, as a group of questionable characters struggle to survive in a spooky mansion while the fanged fiend picks them off one by one. There’s hidden treasure! Vein-popping tension! Mobsters with guns and mean, pinched faces! The Bat’s not only one of the earliest examples of incredible, atmospheric horror — it’s also one of THE BEST! The evening’s screening is preceded by a trio of spooky 1930s animated shorts: Night On Bald Mountain, Spook Sport and Skeleton Frolics!

The Bat Dir. Roland West, 1926, 35mm, 86 min. (Restored 35mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)
Night On Bald Mountain Dirs. Alexander Alexeieff & Claire Parker, 1933, 16mm, approx. 8 min (print courtesy of the iotaCenter Collection at the Academy Film Archive. Special thanks to Cecile Starr)
Skeleton Frolics Dir. Ub Iwerks, 1937, 35mm, approx. 8 min (print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive)
Spook Sport Dirs. Noman McLaren & Mary Ellen Bute, 1939, 35mm, approx. 8 min (print courtesy of the FPA Collection at the Academy Film Archive. Special thanks to Cecile Starr)

Watch Cinefamily’s trailer for “The Bat”!

Leatrice Joy in "Changing Husbands" + Oliver Hardy in "Fluttering Hearts"

Infidelity’s never looked so classy than in this lost silent!
changinghusbands_newsite
9/7/2011 - 8PM

Infidelity’s never looked so classy! That’s right, mister — you heard me, ma’am — Changing Husbands is a real wife-swappin’, chart-toppin’ hit! Supervised by the silent film world heavyweight champ Cecil B. DeMille, director Frank Urson does a marvelous job maneuvering his cast of dapper dimwits through a broad range of snazzy locales and scenes chock-full of comedic kookiness. The lovely Leatrice Joy plays two lookalike dames, so you get to see her twice as much: one gal’s an aspiring actress, and the other’s a Broadway superstar sick of soaking up the spotlight. So what do they do? They trade lives, and husbands for that matter — but their scheme doesn’t go quite according to plan! This movie’s a real breath of fresh comedy air, alternating between beats of razor-sharp wit and downright screwball antics. Its subject matter is also quite racy for the Roaring Twenties, and it revels in the mischief, culminating in a pugnacious confrontation and an implied double divorce in Reno! This one’s hotsy-totsy, folks, so bring yourselves a date and get ready to bust a gut. The evening’s screening opens with the short subjects Fluttering Hearts and Rivals, both starring Oliver Hardy!

Changing Husbands   Dirs. Paul Iribe & Frank Urson, 1924, 35mm, 70 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Library Of Congress)
Rivals   Dir. Ward Hayes, 1925, 35mm., 22 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Library Of Congress)
Fluttering Hearts   Dir. James Parrott, 1927, 16mm, 22 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)

Watch our trailer for “Changing Husbands”!

The Barker

The nearly-lost 1928 silent, presented in archival 35mm!
barker_newsite
8/3/2011 - 8PM

It’s hard to imagine that the majority of films from the silent era, despite their level of cinematic innovation and critical acclaim, could all but vanish from our narrowing narrative of film history. The Barker is the exemplar of lost classics — originally a hit play on Broadway, and adapted for the screen in 1928 with a stellar cast including the likes of burgeoning stars such as Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Betty Compson (who received an Academy Award nomination for her performance). Such was the film’s success that it merited two further high-profile remakes in 1933 and 1944, plus a syndicated Lux Radio Theater adaptation. And somehow, a film that managed to remain in the public consciousness for nearly two decades has disappeared. The Cinefamily and The Silent Treatment are proud to launch this picture back into the limelight with a spectacular 35mm print so crisp that it’ll leave the images lingering in your mind long after the curtains close. The film has a hopeful take on the troubles of modernization, when the greatest carnival barker in the world turns his back on the antiquated biz, only to rediscover his passion through the exploits of his city-bound son. Come participate in the resurrection of this fantastic film, and let your mind reel at the thought that something this good could go missing for so long! The evening’s feature is also one of the first films to utilize the “Vitaphone” process, so get ready to also experience a restored version of its original music/effects/minimal dialogue track!
Dir. George Fitzmaurice, 1928, 35mm, 80 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)

Lillian Gish in "The Scarlet Letter"

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7/6/2011 - 8PM

Only Lillian Gish, the ordained “First Lady Of The Silent Screen,” could have pushed such a morally challenging script past the rigid censor board of the American film industry in the Twenties! Gish plays the time-honored role of Hester Prynne, a woman shunned by her puritanical township after a romantic dalliance (and subsequent childbirth) with the village minister. Gish’s stamp of approval was enough to send this adaptation of Nathanial Hawthorne’s literary classic quickly into a production helmed by prominent Swedish director Victor Sjöström, whose seasoned visual mastery gives the film’s rural American locales a richly detailed sheen. As well, the performances by Gish and co-star Lars Hanson are electric, yielding one of the most emotionally tempestuous films of the era. It’s a total lovelorn barnburner — culminating in an on-screen embrace so romantically charged, so utterly cathartic that it’s bound to set your heart on fire.

Dir. Victor Sjöström, 1926, 35mm, 115 min. (Restored 35mm print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Preservation funded by the Packard Humanities Institute. Restored in cooperation with George Eastman House, the British Film Institute, and Warner Brothers.)

Watch our trailer for “The Scarlet Letter”!

So's Your Old Man

One of W.C. Fields' earliest and rarest feature films from the silent era!
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6/1/2011 - 8PM

“The humor is undated, the routines are inventive and the throwaway sight gags are brilliant (casually handing over an axe to aid someone disciplining a child, or extending a lighted cigar while trying to shake hands).” – Ronald J. Fields, “W.C. Fields: A Life on Film”

Woody Allen once called W.C. Fields one of only six comedic “geniuses” in the history of film — and we’re not about to argue with his placement amongst Allen’s ranks of Keaton, Chaplin, Peter Sellers, and Marx siblings Groucho and Harpo. Sharply directed by Gregory La Cava (My Man Godfrey), So’s Your Old Man finds Fields as a glasscutter involved in a silly scheme to market his “indestructible” car windshield invention; a barmy comedy of errors ensues when his car bearing the glass in question is accidentally replaced with an average ol’ auto! Even though Fields was best known for his signature drawl, the silent W.C. (in one of his earliest feature roles) carries So’s Your Old Man with the kind of priceless mannerisms and booze-mad brazenness that established the cantankerous, yet loveable persona we continue to cherish today. Also playing before the feature is the short A Blonde’s Revenge, starring Cinefamily’s favorite cross-eyed comedy wonder Ben Turpin! Plus, W.C. Fields biographer James Curtis will be joining us to introduce the film!

So’s Your Old Man Dir. Gregory La Cava, 1926, 35mm, 67 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Library of Congress)

A Blonde’s Revenge Dirs. Edward F. Cline & Del Lord, 1926, 35mm. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Watch our trailer for “So’s Your Old Man”!

Jazzmania (West Coast restoration premiere!)

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5/4/2011 - 8PM

The turbulent career of stunning silent starlet Mae Murray is something to behold! Hoofing her way from stage to screen in the 1910s, Murray quickly went from being a Ziegfeld Follies girl (billed by Ziegfeld himself as “The Girl With The Bee-Stung Lips”) to one of the greatest stars in one of the most unusual of all film genres, to blacklisted film industry outcast — all within fifteen years. Made shortly after Murray’s ascendancy to the position of Queen of the Silent Musical (it’s true, silent musicals did exist, as platforms for epic amounts of dancing), Jazzmania only has a few musical sequences, but is bursting with charm and effervescence. Murray plays the eccentric, happy-go-lucky monarch of a far-off fictional European kingdom (one noted for its high-flying reverie), who flees to America after a nasty coup d’état, and who falls for a dashing foreign correspondent (Rod La Rocque). As she enjoys the high life while in American exile, her loyal countrymen plead with her to return, to restore order — will she succeed? Directed by Murray’s husband/creative partner Robert Z. Leonard, this rare slice of frothy fun will have you steppin’ out in style!
Dir. Robert Z. Leonard, 1923, 35mm, 80 min. (Restored 35mm print courtesy of the George Eastman House, with financial support from The Film Foundation)

Watch our trailer for “Jazzmania”!

The Green Goddess

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4/13/2011 - 8PM

Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

One of silent cinema’s most stately personages, George Arliss is best known for his portrayals of noblemen, millionaires and prime ministers (such as the titular role of Disraeli) — but his turn as the sinister Rajah of Rukh in The Green Goddess is a juicy, highly-entertaining 180-degree variation on his usual “upstanding citizen”. Amongst a background set-up containing touches eerily reminiscent of today (tensions between East and West, protests and civil strife), Arliss plays the despotic head of a fictional kingdom, eager to exploit the situation when a trio of British travellers are forced to land their airplane on his turf. Taking them prisoner, Arliss intends to use the unlucky folks in a hostage trade with the British government — but will the three manage to escape on their own to safety? The Green Goddess provided Arliss with one of his signature roles, as he not only portrayed the Rajah in the 1921 stage production, but also in this film, and a 1929 talkie version. This also might be the only feature film in history to claim a namesake salad dressing, as the tasty condiment was created in honor of Arliss’ tangy stage performance by a San Francisco chef in 1922!

Dir. Sidney Olcott, 1923, 35mm, 106 min. (Restored 35mm print courtesy of UCLA Film And Television Archive)

Watch our trailer for “The Green Goddess”!

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