SF Silent Film Festival's A Day of Silents, December 5

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 18, 2015 06:19pm | Post a Comment

San Francisco Silent Film Festival Day of Silents

Douglas Fairbanks, Anna May Wong, Harry Houdini, Shanghai, London, Paris…the world is your oyster at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's A Day of Silents on Saturday, December 5, at the Castro Theatre. This very special day of silent-era movies will be accompanied by live music from Alloy Orchestra (featuring Roger Miller of Mission to Burma) and Donald Sosin.

Check out this action-packed schedule:

11:00am - THE BLACK PIRATE (1926, USA, Directed by Albert Parker, Cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Billie The Black PirateDove, Tempe Pigott, Donald Crisp. 84 min)
The Black Pirate stars the dashing Douglas Fairbanks, full of bravura and charm. The film’s spectacular feats of derring-do include exciting swordplay and breathtaking underwater choreography—all in dazzling two-color Technicolor. Fairbanks plays a nobleman who takes the identity of a pirate to infiltrate and take revenge on the cutthroats responsible for his father’s death. The Black Pirate is not the first pirate story put on film, but probably the most influential.

1:00pm - AROUND CHINA WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (Filmed 1900–1948, compiled in 2015. 68 min)
Take a trip as far back as the days of the late Qing dynasty in Imperial China with this program of rarely-seen films, travelogues, and newsreels. See bustling and cosmopolitan Shanghai in 1900, visit Imperial Beijing in 1910, and cruise the picturesque canals of Hangzhou in 1925 on this odyssey of the remarkable and the everyday. Recently compiled from the collections of the BFI National Archive, the footage was shot by a diverse group of British and French filmmakers—some professionals, but mostly amateurs, including tourists, expatriates, and missionaries.

3:00pm - THE GRIM GAME (1919, USA, Directed by Irvin Willat, Cast: Harry Houdini, Ann Forrest, The Grim Game. Harry HoudiniAugustus Phillips, Tully Marshall, Arthur Hoyt. 73 min)
The second of master escape artist and magician Harry Houdini’s five silent films, and the first of two made for Paramount, has long been unavailable to the public as Paramount had only one five-minute sequence featuring a midair plane collision. Thanks to a print held by longtime Houdini fan Larry Weeks, however, Festival audiences can catch the restoration of the complete film. Originally titled Circumstantial Evidence, The Grim Game casts Houdini as a newspaper reporter who fakes his uncle’s murder so he can be convicted of it, only to have villains kill the man and kidnap the reporter’s news hen fiancée. Of course, it’s all a pretext for a series of daredevil escapes, from Houdini’s breaking out of prison to his getting out of a straitjacket suspended from the top of a skyscraper. The plane crash was an accident during filming that the producers decided to incorporate within the plot. Fortunately, both flyers were able to get their planes under control and land safely. At the picture’s premiere, Houdini offered a $1,000 reward to anybody who could prove the collision had been faked. He also claimed to have been flying one of the planes, something studio records disprove. In fact, all of the shots of him midair are clearly studio shots cut into the real aerial footage.

6:30pm - THE INHUMAN WOMAN (L'INHUMAINE(1924, France, Directed by Marcel L’Herbier, Cast: Georgette Leblanc, Jaque Catelain, Fred Kellerman, Leonid Walter de Malte, Philippe Heriat. 122 min)
Famous singer Claire Lescot (played by operatic soprano Georgette Leblanc) is the “Inhuman Woman” of the title of Marcel L’Herbier’s elaborate fantasy. Lescot lives on the outskirts of Paris, where she draws men to her like moths to a flame. Her lavish parties are settings for amorous attention, but she remains always aloof. When it seems that Lescot is the cause of a suicide, her fans desert her. The filming of the concert where she’s raucously booed is a legendary bit of cinema history: L’Herbier invited more than 2,000 people from the arts and fashionable society to attend the Theatre des Champs-elysees and play the part of the unruly audience. Among the attendees were Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Erik Satie, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound! L’Herbier’s conception for the sets of the film were no less ambitious. Painter Fernand Leger and filmmakers Alberto Cavalcanti and Claude Autant-Lara had parts in the design. The film was recently restored by Lobster Films, who commissioned a new score by Alloy Orchestra.

9:15pm - PICCADILLY (1929, UK, Directed by Ewald Andre Dupont, Cast: Anna May Wong, Gilda Gray, Piccadilly. Anna May WongJameson Thomas, Cyril Ritchard, King Hou Chang, Charles Laughton. 92 min)
After years of being typecast in Hollywood, Anna May Wong left for Europe in search of better roles. In British director E.A. Dupont’s proto-noir Piccadilly, Wong is mesmerizing. Mark Duguld of the British Film Institute writes, “For all its style and grace, the film’s strongest suit is Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong. Wong appeared in four other British films, and is best known today as support to Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express (US, d. Josef von Sternberg, 1932), but she was arguably never better used than here. As Shosho, the scullery maid who becomes a dance sensation and an object of desire for impresario Valentine (Jameson Thomas), she displays the cold ambition and manipulative sexuality of the classic femme fatale, while revealing—just occasionally—the vulnerability of a young girl. Shosho’s exoticism gives her an alarming sexual power over the men who watch her dance—‘I danced once before in Limehouse but there was trouble, men, knives...,’ she tells the transfixed Valentine, in a title which prefigures the narrative’s tragic end. To Wong’s frustration, Shosho and Valentine’s kiss was cut to appease the US censor.

Get tickets to individual screenings here or buy a pass here and save!

Relevant Tags

San Francisco Silent Film Festival (8), Silent Film (32), Film (186), Anna May Wong (2), Douglas Fairbanks (2), Harry Houdini (2), China (19), San Francisco (368)