So if this was a normal spring, I’d be attending the San Francisco Silent Film Festival right now, sitting in my usual spot in the darkened Castro Theater. But just in case you haven’t heard, it’s not a normal spring, and my lovely festival has been postponed until November (fingers crossed me and my pals will all be there!). This is doubly sad since I usually head to Hollywood for a few day afterwards. Indeed, my soul cries out for those palm trees, that smell of blooming jasmine, those Walk of Fame stars, even that weird jumble of street performers and tourists on Hollywood Boulevard getting bottlenecked by dumb sidewalk vendors selling cheap toys no one ever, ever needs.
You can’t see me because a vendor took up half the sidewalk to sell foam plastic emojis and I got trampled.
So in lieu of film festival revelries, I thought it’d be fun to share some of my fondest silent film-related travel memories (so far)! I love, love, love to travel, and some of my favorite trips have involved visiting sites related to the silent era. If there’s even a slight chance to stand on a street corner where Harold Lloyd once filmed or take in a rare exhibit of German Expressionist memorabilia, I’m there! So here are my reminisces. And please, when you’re done reading feel free to share some of your silent-themed travel experiences too! Continue reading →
Good heavens, what a lot of changes there’s been since the blogathon! I’m sure many of you are either homebound or staying in as much as possible, and are probably already wondering–what shall we do for the next couple weeks (or more)? On my part I’ve got Silent-ology, other ongoing research projects, and an upcoming move to keep me busy, but even I know that the coming weeks could be pretty darn long.
Harold would not thrive under these conditions.
So here’s an idea that’s been simmering in my head for awhile, and now seems like the opportune time to share it–since there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, why not have some fun putting on your very own, DIY, cozy-at-home silent film festival?!
As my final post for Soviet Silents Month went up on Saturday, I was…sitting in a concert hall in Topeka, enjoying the 24th annual Kansas Silent Film Festival! Technically I posted it between showings, since I discovered I accidentally scheduled it for 7 p.m. instead of 7 a.m…. (It only took several minutes of extreme aggravation to fix!)
If you’re a regular reader you know that I make a pilgrimage to the prestigious San Francisco Silent Film Festival every year. I’ve also gone to the Buster Keaton convention in Muskegon and seek out silent film showings here in Minnesota when they’re available. Well, my life needed more festivals, and the annual fest in Kansas fit the bill. Not only was it close enough for me to drive there (only seven 1/2 hours–did I mention I’m a Midwesterner?) but it would be a nice little weekend getaway: a program of Friday evening showings and showings all day Saturday, with some of the finest live musical accompaniment, and, it was all free!
There were 13 films in all, from very early Biograph comedies to a gangster drama to one of Doug’s epic adventure films. And, did I mention, it was all free, free, free?! Continue reading →
It was almost too good to be true–a whole year flew by, and the festival was here again! After a busy day of travelling I made it to the Castro neighborhood on May 1 with time to spare (I highly recommend a kebab place just down the street from the theater. It gave me new life). Walking into the theater was like revisiting an old (and grand-looking) friend. And I couldn’t have been more ready for:
In my recent review of TheAliceHowellCollection I mentioned that the 101-year-old actress Fay McKenzie, who appeared as a baby in Distilled Love (1920), got to enjoy a special screening of the short thanks to historian Stan Taffel and relative Bryan Cooper. Isn’t that just the best? Well, the news broke recently that Fay passed away peacefully in her sleep on April 16, just two weeks after I posted my review. Amazingly, she had been in films on and off throughout her whole life, starting with infant/child roles in silent films starring such luminaries as Colleen Moore, and eventually becoming known as Gene Autry’s leading lady in the 1940s.
Last year, as some readers may remember, I had to skip the event due to a family vacation abroad claiming most of my travel funds. But this year, I’m making up for it–I’ll be returning to the Castro theater for the entire beautiful festival, and am planning on attending every showing if I possibly can. I might add that the festival spans five days this year, so this is not a challenge I accept lightly. I AM READY. Continue reading →
I have most thoroughly arrived and am taking in Day 2 of the festival! Depending on what time of the day it is in San Francisco right now, I’m either viewing the “Amazing Tales From the Archives” presentation; A Woman of the World (1925) starring Pola Negri; That Night’s Wife (Sono Yo No Tsuma) (1930), a Japanese homage to crime pictures; Mothers of Men or Every Woman’s Problem (1917), a melodrama centering around a suffragette; Varieté (1925), a tale of trapeze artists and sexual jealousy; or Behind the Door (1919), about a “barbarous crew of submariners.”
Or I’m, ya know, asleep because it’s either very early or very late in Frisco…and am resting up for more silents!!
Here’s a little recap of my visit to the festival last year. Regular readers might recall that I only went to a handful of showings, due to being on a separate trip at the time, but those showings were such fun that I couldn’t resist coming back in 2016: My Time At The San Francisco Silent Film Festival.
More to come about this year’s festival when I’m back in MN!