Wednesday, July 11, 2012

And This Blog Loves The San Francisco Silent Film Festival

It's back - the 17th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, holding forth at the spectacular Castro Theatre yet again.

Haven't seen most of the films in this year's program, so, alas, any penetrating insights on my part will simply have to wait! Here are just a few highlights from the 2012 lineup:


  • 7:00 PM Wings William Wellman, Jr. will introduce the WW1 flying ace action-adventure and Oscar winner, directed by Wild Bill Wellman. Accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, with Foley sound effects by Ben Burtt.

  • 1:00 PM The Center For Asian American Media present Sun Yu's Little Toys, starring the expressive (and self-destructive) diva of Shanghai cinema, Ruan Ling-yu.

  • 4:00 PM Emil Jannings stars with a cast of thousands in The Loves Of Pharaoh (a.k.a. DAS WEIB DES PHARAO).

    While one doesn't tend to associate the words Ernst Lubitsch with big screen "sword and sandal" epics, that's exactly the bill of fare here. Accompanied by Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer.

  • 7:00 PM The "It Girl" a.k.a. the eternally sexy and ever-winsome Clara Bow stars and breaks lots of hearts in Victor Fleming's 1926 film Mantrap. Accompanied by Stephen Horne on the grand piano

  • 9:15 PM Philip Kaufman presents this year's director's pick, The Wonderful Lie Of Nina Petrovna, directed by Hanns Schwarz and starring Brigitte Helm of Metropolis fame. Accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. English translation read by Frank Buxton.


  • 10:00AM Author and animation historian Leonard Maltin introduces a selection of imaginative and often surreal Felix The Cat cartoons by pioneering animator Otto Messmer. Accompaniment by Donald Sosin and Toychestra.

  • 12 NOON Historian Rob Byrne will introduce The Spanish Dancer, a vehicle for silent movie mega-stars Pola Negri and Antonio Moreno, directed by Herbert Brenon. Accompanied by Donald Sosin, keyboard, with Jim Washburn and Greg Smith, guitar. Score by Donald Sosin and Martin de Ruiter.

  • 7:00 PM David Ferguson, Angela Holm and Vincent Pirozzi introduce G.W. Pabst's noir-ish Pandora's Box.

    The iconic Louise Brooks stars as Lulu in the the corrosive and despairing Weimar Republic classic and does method acting 20 years before Montgomery Clift, James Dean and Marlon Brando. Accompanied by the Matti Bye Ensemble.

  • 10:00 PM The Fest goes literary with an adaptation of two Nikolai Gogol stories, Shinel (a.k.a. The Overcoat).

    Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg directed this classic Russian film. Alloy Orchestra will match the 1926 opus with 21st century sound.


  • 10AM Jeffrey Vance introduces Doug Fairbanks' ultra-swashbuckling swordfighting actioner The Mark Of Zorro. Music historian and accompanist Dennis James lets 'er rip on the Mighty Wurlitzer.

  • 12 NOON Eddie "Noir City" Muller introduces The Docks Of New York, starring Betty Compson and George Bancroft.

    This is just one of several remarkable silent films by the innovative Josef von Sternberg. Accompanied by Donald Sosin on grand piano.

  • 7:30 PM Frank Buxton and Leonard Maltin introduce The Cameraman, arguably the last great feature film painstakingly crafted by director-star-screenwriter Buster Keaton. Accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. The feature will be preceded by Georges Méliès' A TRIP TO THE MOON - with live narration by Paul McGann.

For more info and tickets, check out the San Francisco Silent Film Festival website.

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