Since I consider most you family (even the "Black Sheep variety!) thought I would pass on something I learned this morning about an acquaintance of mine. Although I considered him a friend, we really weren't very close at all. Just found out yesterday that he had died, and now I know much more about him. David Shepard helped me out when we did the first "Silents at the State" film showing at our historic State Theatre here in Oroville. He lived in a tiny community east of Redding called Hat Creek. He lent us the projectors to show the film, and I knew he had the Blackhawk Film collection. Nice guy, very unassuming--especially for one who turns out was world-renown and the recipient of many honorariums. If you have any good DVDs or other modern copies of Silent Films, he likely was the one who preserved them and compiled them from bits and pieces found from all over the world. Most folks don't know the silent films were edited and re-edited so many times since the end of the silent period that complete films just weren't out there. Dave would put the bits and pieces back together, although "Phantom of the Opera" may still not be complete! The original was cut up a lot and re-released as a talkie a few years after it's original release.
So, here's my "friend" from little ol' Hat Creek written up in The New York Times and other esteemed publications, and I just thought he was an unassuming, neat, somewhat eccentric, nice guy with a lot of early movie stuff. Heck, even his driveway was about a mile long and his neat house had a stream going around it--both sides!
Ya just never know!
Model T content: Silent films ended about the same time as the Model T production, and their popularity began about the same time as the T began.
Neat! Yet, sad. And sorry for the passing of your friend. One day, you must tell me more about him. My paltry little collection contains dozens of full length (well, sorta) and a couple hundred short pieces, mostly on VHS and DVD.
I rarely do so anymore (because of time and demands), however, watching silent era movies is one of the greatest pleasures of life! You must devote yourself to the moment, give yourself over to the story, the writers, actors, director. You become one with the experience, in a way that no movie since the end of that era has been able to duplicate. "Wings", "Lilac Time", "Seventh Heaven", "King of Kings", "Phantom of the Opera", and many others become life changing experiences. The modern rehash of some of those titles are mere shadows of greatness. The great comedians of the era, brought about more true belly laughter than anybody since.
Can you tell? I am almost as passionate about the silent movie era as I am about model Ts and horseless carriages.
Sad that all too often we find out too late the opportunity we had to get to really know someone special.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
"Wings' is still considered one of the most realistic dogfight films ever. You can see the wings warp (that's how they steered them!)in flight.
If I had to choose a "favorite" movie of all time? It would have to be "Wings"! On the big screen, preferably a historic theater, with a proper theater organ, and an organist that knows how to work it. Incredible experience! I have seen it that way I think six times.
The airplanes, battle sequences, model Ts, the SPEEDSTER!
Many film historians do still consider the air battle sequences in "Wings" to be among the best EVER put on film! The gritty realism, the feeling of being there, in the moment, is incredible.
I could probably name twenty movies that would vie for a close second. But for me, "Wings" has to be number one.
David D, Again, I am saddened by the loss of your friend.
Wayne, When we get the Wurlitzer in here, Wings will be one of the "Silents at the State" offerings and I will be certain to invite you!! Gonna take a while though. . . .
PLEASE!!!!! And thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!
Seriously, whenever your theater (I know, it is not YOUR theater) begins showing silent movies? I would like to know. With family obligations, I may not be able to get there. However, certainly, for "Wings", I would make a special effort.
I wish I lived a little closer to it. I could volunteer to help once in awhile with restoration efforts.
Ed? Dan? Dan? Dan? Want me to call you also? What a gathering THAT would be!
David D, how is the parking in front of "your" theater?
I keep hoping a few other people will chime in with silent film, or special friends, comments.
I never cared for the over-the-top acting put into silent dramas, but the
way comedy was done without sound was funnier than it would have been
WITH sound. Early talkie comedy carried forth a lot of that subtle delivery.
Very enjoyable, even 90 years on.
One shot in Wings is a view down through open bombay doors. You see the bomb fall and hit a building. It's very impressive.
The theater here is being restored. When it opened in October of 1924 the first film shown was The Perfect Flapper. It would be nice to see the same film shown there again, but I don't know if it has survived.
Steve J, Now, that is a beautiful theater! I have never seen "the Perfect Flapper", but looked it up on IMDb. Starring (among others) Colleen Moore (a wonderful actress of the silent era), and Syd Chaplin (half brother to Charles Chaplin). Movie was released in 1924. Nothing was said about whether it survives or not.
Burger, Because they could not speak their lines, with feeling, and emotion, they had to over act somewhat to show the emotions, feelings, and reactions with their faces and movements. Part of the reason that silent movies work the way they do, is that the viewer cannot look at anything else, less they miss a crucial detail, or a conversation card. This both forces, and entices, one to figuratively "climb into" the movie. One must willingly become part of the situation. At least for me, no talkie, or sound motion picture, has ever been able to do that nearly as well as dozens of silent films have.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
At Wikipedia there's info that "The Perfect Flapper" is preserved at the Library of Congress along with a trailer.
Wayne, I will let you know--also you'd better bring along Terry H! Lotsa parking!
The first film shown here was Paramount's "Partners In Crime" apparently a real flop, as I cannot find a copy of it.
Next year is the theatre's 90th Birthday. No pressure, but I'd really like to do a big party with the organ!
Back in 2008 I was still in charge, and we did an 80th complete with searchlights, red carpet, and antique cars delivering dignitaries to the front door. The Silent we showed was "The General" with the short, "Paleface" and Matias Bombal (a real Vaudevillian) was the MC. The president of STAGE, the non-profit support group that now runs the theatre still reminds me that he didn't get a piece of the Birthday cake!
Dave Moreno brought in his "portable" theatre organ and accompanied the film, which was the first silent we showed and probably the first one since about 1929.
Back then it was "My house" but now I'm just an occasional volunteer--I'm not even allowed into the tech booth now.(and I was the one who trained some of those folks) Hmm, wonder how that's going to work when we do the projection, I own the projectors. . . . Last night we attended a Community Concert there (I'm on the Concert board) and at intermission someone came up to me and asked I was in the booth, as the spotlighting wasn't very good, "Nope, I'm sitting in the audience too, and I agree!" I make it a point to not interfere with the current theatre ops group. The current tech guy thinks I'm a threat (I guess) so I try to lay low, but I still get dirty looks from him (other folks have noticed this and asked me; I shrug, it is what it is).
Steve, your Theatre looks wonderful. I see the organ chambers on either side of the stage, is there (or will there be) a Theatre organ there?
Roger, thanks for the info. I've passed it on to the Arts Council, the group in charge of the theater. It would be neat if a showing could be arranged.
David, I don't recall whether there was an organ, but if there was it's long gone. I haven't heard of any plans to acquire one, but it would be great to have it and a film series to put it to use.
The Paramount Theatre in Seattle is a beautifully restored silent picture house built in the early 1920's.
The original Wurlitzer pipe organ has been lovingly restored and works very well. The console is raised on an elevator as the music begins. Once up at full height it is stage left and just below the stage floor allowing a perfect view of the organist and the lighted key boards.
The music starts before you can see the organist and slowly he or she rises up in view as the music is playing, I must admit it does raise goose bumps.
Now for the good news, they have silent movie night one Sunday evening a month. In between the 2 features they often have a vaudeville act to add to the evening entertainment. One of the vaudevillians has a spinet piano mounted on a 3 wheel bicycle frame and he sits on a bike seat and pedals around the stage and plays the piano and tells very bad jokes. It is a wonderful family evening.
A number of years ago they did a "Gone With The Wind" revival at the Paramount. The highlight was a live organist playing the intro music and then a mini concert at intermission. Nothing beats the music of the mighty Wurlitzer as the organist rises up playing. After the film the organist played as the people were leaving, as he started to play everyone sat down and listened. Finally he had to stop so the patrons would go home, it was quite a night.
Come on up and I will take you to a fun filled evening my treat I will even buy the pop corn!!!!
BCG, There is also a Paramount theater in Oakland Califunny. Built in I think 1930 or '31. Pretty much the end of the silent era, but a beautiful Art Deco theater that did show silents in its earliest days. About 40 years ago, they had a theater organ in there (I think they still do, but I have not been there in over 20 years now). They did show a few silent films at that time. I went there a couple times for them.
I also went to the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto once (1993 according to my souvenirs). Also a beautiful mid-late '20s theater. They had a special showing with Douglas Fairbanks Jr in attendance. He gave a talk about his time in the army during WWII and some of the special details he was assigned to. He had written a book about it and autographed copies of the book that night. I still have my copy. An incredibly intelligent, and charming, gentleman.
It truly was a fascinating story, I had read about it years earlier in other sources, and it was really interesting to hear him talk about it. They also showed a silent film and a '30s talkie that night, both with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. He autographed my original copy of the book "Stella Dallas" as well.
A number of my friends and I drove our antique cars there that night. It truly is wonderful where our antique cars can take us.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Oh, and BCG, if I ever find that I will be heading up your far North? I will try to contact you!