Monday, 28 November 2016

Silent movie nights in December 2016

As we enter the holiday season, the movie selection for December will be all about Christmas - one way or another. Also, as of this month the cinema will be back to its old location in Odie, Nautilus, so make sure you have the right SLurl.

Here's the full schedule:

2nd December
Three's a Crowd (1927)
Next to Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, Harry Langdon was another superstar of silent comedies. His career peaked in the mid-1920s, after which he rapidly fell into obscurity: his later films were not commercially successful and were completely overshadowed by the likes of Chaplin. Three's a Crowd is one of those movies that keep getting very mixed reviews, from "not really that funny" to "an astonishing work of singular genius". We'll see what the Odie Cinema audience will have to say! The movie is not explicitly Christmas-themed, but some of the scenes are set at Christmastime.

Harry Langdon

9th December
Early silent movies are typically quite short, so for this day, I chose two - starring Santa!

A Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa (1907)
Produced by the Edison Studios, and directed by Edwin S. Porter and J. Searle Dawley, this drama is about... Well, a little girl who did not believe in Santa. :) Only about 13 minutes long, it's actually about a boy from a rich family who comes up with an interesting way to make Santa bring gifts to the poor girl. The cast consists of less known actors such as a Bessie Schrednecky and Gitchner Hartman.

A Trap for Santa Claus (1909)
Fifteen-minute long and produced by the Biograph Company - a major competitor of Edison, the film is about a group of kids trying to catch Santa, but end up discovering an unexpected visitor. The film itself was not a huge success, but it is an early work of the famous and controversial director D. W. Griffith, whose career really took off in 1910s (we'll be watching his most famous movie in January, but more on that in another post).

16th December
The Night Before Christmas (1913)
Something we've never seen in Odie Cinema - a movie from the imperial Russia. Directed by Ladislas Starevich, it is based on Nikolai Gogol's short story by the same title. It's been described as a cinematic rendering very close to Gogol's original, and also very true to the conditions of life among the Russian (or, in this case, Ukrainian) peasants. It's full of Slavic mythological and folklore motifs. Interesting to note, there are also operas by Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky based on this story, as well as several other movie adaptations.

23rd December
A Christmas Carol (1910)
As people will probably be busy right before Christmas, I've planned only one short film for the 23rd, an early adaptation of Charles Dickens' famous novella. It's only 14 minutes long, also directed by J. Searle Dawley (the co-director of A Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa) of the Edison Company. Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Marc Macdermot, an Australian actor who made his career on Broadway and later acted in close to 200 movies.

30th December
The Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus (1914)
Another Christmas movie launched by the Edison Company. Fourteen-minute long, it's a short comedy about Detective Octavius' search for a burglar posing as Santa. The detective is played by Barry O'Moore, an important American actor of the silent era.

Big Business (1929)
And finally, we're closing the December selection of silent movies with a hit - a Laurel and Hardy classic comedy. In Big Business, Stan and Ollie play Christmas tree salesmen who keep getting into a lot of trouble. Directed by James W. Horne, it's only nineteen minutes long, and the youngest of the movies in this month's selection.

I hope you'll be able to join us for some of these movies. Projections take place on Fridays at 1 pm SLT. To those who have been coming, many thanks for your continuing support!

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