Silent Clowns Film Series

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Summer-Fall 2016:
Three dates in Paris…then on to 'Chicago'!

The Silent Clowns Film Series downshifts its gears to bring you some 1920s glitz and glamour — with more than a touch of naughtiness, fun and delight — with the inimitable elegance and classiness that only the art, grammar and medium of the silent  film at its zenith could deliver! Some prime examples are on the menu — with some apropos appetizers (all from a particular comedy studio that we still haven’t managed to quite get out of our system!)

Please be our guests – and enjoy!

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows (except Aug 13).
Programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa
“In late 1923 a new kind of comedy was added . . . with its European locale and its light-hearted treatment of marriage, divorce and affairs, it was delightfully sophisticated frou-frou and caught on immediately with an audience . . . there was a market for this kind of film, and Hollywood was full of directors of wit and style . . . Lubitsch, Paul Bern and Harry d’Arrast . . .and they rose to the occasion beautifully.  Although not calling attention to their technique, many of these films were remarkably sophisticated in dealing with primarily verbal situations in entirely visual terms. Sophisticated comedies of (this) caliber . . . continued unabated until the end of the silent era.”
— William K. Everson


Viola Dana, paired with Adolphe Menjou, leads a crack ensemble in Open All Night (’24). A popular star since 1916, Dana was adept at drama as well as comedy, and starred in excellent films such as Blue Jeans (’17), Merton of the Movies (’24), and That Certain Thing (’28). Gale Henry and Raymond Griffith, who was just about to take off in his own films, provide sterling support and practically walk off with all the comedic honors. Our extra added attraction is Charley Chase and Vivien Oakland in the classic mistaken-identity farce Mighty Like a Moose (’26).
so this is paris
The overlooked Monte Blue, one of Warner Brothers’ big names of the 1920s, stars with Patsy Ruth Miller in this frothy confection directed by Ernst Lubitsch. After years in Germany, Lubitsch had come to America in 1923 and established his “Lubitsch Touch” in Hollywood with films like this,  The Marriage Circle (’24) and Lady Windermere’s Fan (’25). Another great director, Leo McCarey, guides Charley Chase through his misadventures in our two-reel opener Innocent Husbands (’25).
guest accompanist: Makia Matsumura

Adolphe Menjou was the epitome of sophisticated comedy in the 1920s. After his star-making turn in Charlie Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris (’23) he went on to headline in Are Parents People? (’25), Service for Ladies (’27), and many others. This is one of the few surviving films of Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast, an Argentine émigré who had been an assistant to Chaplin before going on with his own directorial career. First on the bill we have Stan Laurel and Tyler Brooke in hot water in On the Front Page (’26).
Former Mack Sennett bathing beauty Phyllis Haver gives a spirited tour-de-force performance as Roxie Hart in this original film version of the much-adapted play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, of which the current revival of the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical take on the story is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Broadway. Produced (and directed without credit) by Cecil B. DeMille, this 1927 adaptation was considered lost until a print turned up in DeMille’s personal library and was restored by UCLA in 2006.

Winter-Spring-Summer 2016:

The Silent Clowns Film Series is ecstatic to present the grand finish to its (now post) centenary celebration of Hollywood’s greatest comedy studio, fondly known as “The Lot of Fun” and its founder-producer, the legendary Hal Roach.

Just the name "The Hal Roach Studios" elicits smiles and happy memories from classic comedy fans. Hundreds of delightful, imaginative comedy concoctions, featuring the likes of Harold Lloyd, Charley Chase, Laurel & Hardy, ‘Our Gang’, Max Davidson and a merry-go-round of cracker-jack supporting players set a tone and style that has never been equaled or duplicated. We’re thrilled to be spotlighting and showcasing some of our favorite and most beloved comedy performers and creators in films from a studio whose prolific output remains the gold standard from "The Golden Age of Comedy".

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, February 10 at 2:30pm
The Misanthropic Mensch, Max Davidson

Comedian Max Davidson had been appearing in films since the early 'teens, specializing in playing comic Jewish tailors and merchants. In 1927 he was starred in his own Roach series as a put-upon papa and given a family of crack supporting players such as Spec O’Donnell and Martha Sleeper to keep him in cinematic hot water. Call of the Cuckoo (’27), Should Second Husbands Come First? (’27), Flaming Fathers (’27), and Pass the Gravy (’28) are prime examples of Max being driven to distraction.
Saturday, March 12 at 2:30pm

A Lot of Roach:

Well-remembered today for its headlining stars such as Laurel & Hardy, Harold Lloyd, Our Gang, and Charley Chase, the Roach Studio also had a number of comics whose names don’t have quite the same familiar ring. This program salutes funny people on the order of Snub Pollard, Martha Sleeper, Will Rogers, and Anita Garvin & Marion Byron with: Uncensored Movies (’23), It’s a Joy! (’23), Sure–Mike! (’25), Eve’s Love Letters (’27), and A Pair of Tights (’29).
Saturday, April 9 at 2:30pm


with special guest, Jim Kerkhoff

In the late-1970s through mid-1980s, Washington, D.C.-based TV/video producer Jim Kerkhoff frequently traveled to Los Angeles on business. Having a long-held interest in the comedies made at The Hal Roach Studios, he took advantage of those trips to locate, visit, and befriend former Roach employees. In this special presentation, Kerkoff will share his experiences, along with little known facts about Hal Roach Studios history — told to him by the very people who made these incredible films!
Saturday, May 14 at 2:30pm
Our Gang
Hals' Rascals:

One of the most endearing (not to mention enduring) Roach Studio series was Our Gang, which ran theatrically from 1922 to 1944, and then started a whole new lease on life as "The Little Rascals" on television in the 1950s. This selection of silent "Gangsters" – Fire Fighters (’22), Thundering Fleas (’26), Baby Clothes (’26) and Crazy House (’28) – demonstrates that the signature gags, plots, and even characters were created in the 1920s, and then reworked over the series’ long history. Prints for this program courtesy of Jack Roth.
Saturday, June 11 at 2:30pm
Our Gang
An Atypical Take On

The iconic screen team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy is one that is immediately recognized around the world. Audiences still know Laurel’s grin and cry, Hardy’s slow-burn and delicate gestures as well as their contrasting shapes and shared derbies. This selection of films – Why Girls Love Sailors (’27), The Second Hundred Years (’27), Putting Pants on Philip (’27), and Early to Bed (’28) – present the duo in unusual surroundings and situations that change the dynamic of their relationship and bring a different slant to their usual screen personas.
"Probably no producer’s work has brought the world more laughter than that of movie pioneer Hal Roach. (The) people...who worked at Roach during its first quarter century have characterized the studio as a wonderfully warm place, with a lighthearted close-knit “family” atmosphere unique even among movie studios. The extras in Roach pictures were often the friends and real family of both stars and the studio stock company of character actors. Everyone from the directors to the grips loved comedy, loved what they were doing, and worked in remarkable harmony to create the most endearing, enduring short films ever made. The love showed, and the care showed..."
— Richard W. Bann

Fall 2015:

By late 1920, with nearly thirty breezy modern action comedies to his credit over the prior five years, the ever-ebullient Douglas Fairbanks had unabashedly established himself as a reigning superstar of the cinema. An individual of “firsts” in a fledgling industry and art form, his bold decision to shift gears with costumed adventure pictures not only began a string of major artistic and (mostly) financial triumphs for him — but defined an entire genre and left a formidable legacy and indebtedness of everyone from Errol Flynn, Gene Kelly, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas to Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp. The first of these, The Mark Of Zorro and its sequel Don Q, introduced — and then cemented, an archetype that has informed nearly a century of action-adventure cinema and pop culture.

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.


                            mark of zorro

Saturday, October 10
at 2:30pm
Before embarking on The Mark of Zorro (1920) Douglas Fairbanks had been a popular light comedian. This adaptation was based on the 1919 story The Curse of Capistrano, which was a rousing adventure set in Old California, and gave Doug his iconic role of Zorro. The success of this picture led him to continuing on with the likes of The Three Musketeers (’21), Robin Hood (’22), and The Thief of Bagdad (’24), all of which made him the ultimate swashbuckling star of the silent screen.

“The Mark of Zorro is a landmark, not only in the career of Douglas Fairbanks, but also in the development of the action adventure film...(it) helped to popularize one of the enduring creations of twentieth century American fiction, a character who was the prototype for comic book heroes such as Batman....the dual nature of the protagonist, the secret identity, a hallmark of superhero iconography, was popularized by Fairbanks. (It) remains one of the most important and satisfying of (his) films.”
— Jeffery Vance

“The Mark of Zorro got everything right. The blend of humor and heroics remains the benchmark that other action films try to reach.”
— Tracey Goessel
                            Q, Son of zorro
Saturday, November 14 at 2:30pm
Not as well known as Fairbank’s other adventures – this 1925 sequel to The Mark of Zorro has all the action, wit, charm, and stunts expected from Doug. This time he plays father and son, with the younger Zorro taking his derring-do to Spain. Directed by Donald Crisp, who also appears on screen, Fairbanks is supported by the young Mary Astor and the character work of Warner Oland and Jean Hersholt. Fairbanks’ silent swashbuckling continued to end of the silent era with The Black Pirate (’26), The Gaucho (’27), and The Iron Mask (’29).

Tracey GoesselSpecial guest speaker: Tracey Goessel, author of The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks (Chicago Review Press, Oct 2015)

Don Q Son of Zorro not only recaptures much of the latter’s charm and vitality but is an entertaining and vital work in it’s own right. What it may lack in action and spontaneity is compensated for with a greater sense of cinematic sophistication, the grandeur of the art direction, and a superb cast.”

— Jeffery Vance

Don Q Son of Zorro, the forgotten blockbuster....audiences and critics alike, welcomed (it) enthusiastically....indeed the film is a lot of fun...”
— Tracey Goessel

“...the ideal film story must have youth and romance, told in the lines of quick action...there must be something back of the story, some reason for it’s being, some peg upon which it hangs. The picture must mean more than what one actually sees...”
—Douglas Fairbanks

Summer 2015:

The Silent Clowns Film Series
is ecstatic to continue its centenary celebration of Hollywood's greatest comedy studio, fondly known as "The Lot of Fun", and its founder-producer, the legendary Hal Roach.

Just the name "The Hal Roach Studios" elicits smiles and happy memories from classic comedy fans. Hundreds of delightful, imaginative comedy concoctions, featuring the likes of Harold Lloyd, Charley Chase, Laurel & Hardy, "Our Gang", Max Davidson, and a merry-go-round of cracker-jack supporting players set a tone and style that has never been equaled or duplicated. We're thrilled to be showcasing some of our favorite and most beloved comedy performers and creators in films from a studio whose prolific output remains the gold standard from "The Golden Age of Comedy".


“Undoubtedly the most consistently high-class body of comedic
work came from the studios of Hal Roach, (its) output on the
whole was vastly superior to Sennett’s. It encompassed the best
of Sennett slapstick and sight-gag material, but added logical
plot lines and a far less frenetic pace. The best of the Roach
films were not only sophisticated and witty but often visually
extremely subtle” —
William K. Everson

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
ROCKIN' THE ROACH: WAVE TWO programmed by Bruce Lawton and Steve Massa

Saturday, May 9 at 2:30pm
Chasing the Parrott Brothers @ Roach
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and well-seasoned in vaudeville, Charles and James Parrott were important pioneers of early film comedy, in addition to long-standing tent poles for the Hal Roach Studio. As performers, writers, and directors the pair helped to define exactly what silent comedy was, and would continue their creative run into the first decade of sound. Their myriad talents are on display in THE SLEUTH ('22), SOLD AT AUCTION! ('23), SITTIN’ PRETTY ('24), THE OLD WAR-HORSE ('26), THE CARETAKER’S DAUGHTER ('25), and WHAT WOMEN DID FOR ME ('27).
Saturday, June 6 at 2:30pm

TWICE TWO…OR…Redux a lá Roach

When sound arrived, the folks at Roach sometimes looked back at their silent output for ideas for new productions. Two fascinating side-by-side examples are films in which both Laurel & Hardy appear in both the originals and the sound remakes! Our line-up includes DUCK SOUP ('27), ANOTHER FINE MESS ('30), CHICKENS COME HOME ('31), LOVE ‘EM AND WEEP ('27).

16mm prints for this program courtesy Jack Roth.
Saturday, July 11 at 2:30pm

Hal Roach was always on the lookout for new talent and potential stars, and today’s program is made up of comedians not generally associated with the studio, such as Will Rogers, Australian comic Clyde Cook, and Mack Sennett regular Charlie Murray. We also have the stage clown Toto who made his only series of films for the studio, and the forgotten Arthur Stone, who briefly headlined in the mid-1920s before becoming a busy character player. 35mmThe above gentlemen show their stuff in DO HUSBANDS DECEIVE? ('18), JUS' PASSIN' THROUGH ('23), SOMEWHERE IN SOMEWHERE ('25), SHERLOCK SLEUTH ('25), and STARVATION BLUES ('25).
Saturday, August 8 at 2:30pm
(Men In Trouble, that is)

A recurring and at times, overarching theme in Roach comedies were guys finding themselves in a desperate, mounting pickle – usually with or because of members of the opposite sex. Clever variations on this old chestnut raised this to a high art – while managing to largely disarm any sexism, thanks to deft writing, direction, and casting. Here are four gems of unmitigated hilarity — DIZZY DADDIES ('26), SHOULD HUSBANDS PAY? ('26), SUGAR DADDIES ('27), WE FAW DOWN ('28).

Winter/Spring 2015:

The Silent Clowns Film Series
is ecstatic to celebrate the centenary of Hollywood's greatest comedy studio, fondly known as "The Lot of Fun", and its founder-producer, the legendary Hal Roach. Just the name "The Hal Roach Studios" elicits smiles and happy memories from classic comedy fans. Hundreds of delightful, imaginative comedy concoctions, featuring the likes of Harold Lloyd, Charley Chase, Laurel & Hardy, "Our Gang", Max Davidson, and a merry-go-round of cracker-jack supporting players set a tone and style that has never been equaled or duplicated. We're thrilled to be showcasing some of our favorite and most beloved comedy performers and creators in films from a studio whose prolific output remains the gold standard from "The Golden Age of Comedy".


"Roach had a unique talent for finding talent – for confirming it and
giving it
essential opportunities to grow." — John McCabe

"Roach was very creative, he was a very good gag man,
he had fortitude, he had drive…he had great courage…
and he had worlds of confidence." — Harold Lloyd

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
ROCKIN' THE ROACH: WAVE ONE programmed by Bruce Lawton and Steve Massa
(with the exception of LAUREL OR HARDY, programmed by Steve Massa and Rob Stone)
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, February 14 at 2:30pm


We celebrate Valentine's Day with the studio's often acerbic takes on love and relationships. Hal Roach regulars such as Charley Chase, Max Davidson, Spec O'Donnell, Mabel Normand, Harold Lloyd, Katherine Grant, and Mildred Davis, so their best to dodge the slings and arrows lobbed at them by Dan Cupid in today's program, which is made up of HIS WOODEN WEDDING ('25), FROM HAND TO MOUTH ('19), THE NICKEL HOPPER ('26), and DON'T TELL EVERYTHING ('27).

Our retrospective of treasures from the Hal Roach Studios will continue next season in ROCKIN' THE ROACH – WAVE TWO. We look forward to seeing you again!
Saturday, March 14 at 2:30pm


When Hal Roach set up his own studio in 1914, the first person he hired was Harold Lloyd. Together they enabled the fledgling studio to flourish, and at the same time put their names in the Hollywood hierarchy.  To illustrate Lloyd's growth from Lonesome Luke to his popular "glasses character" we present PECULIAR PATIENT PRANKS ('15), CLUBS ARE TRUMPS ('17), HEY THERE ('18), THE NON-STOP KID ('18), THE CITY SLICKER ('18), PAY YOUR DUES ('19), and GET OUT AND GET UNDER ('20).

35mm prints in this program courtesy of Library of Congress.

Saturday, April 4 at 2:30pm

laurel or
Special guest speaker: Rob Stone,
from the Library of Congress

Laurel and Hardy began their film careers in the 'teens, and worked separately at the studio before their 1927 teaming.  This program is selected and hosted by Rob Stone, Moving Image Curator at the Library of Congress, and author of LAUREL OR HARDY: THE SOLO FILMS OF STAN LAUREL AND OLIVER "BABE" HARDY. On the bill are JUST RAMBLING ALONG ('18), SMITHY ('24 — original two-reel version), SHOULD MEN WALK HOME ('27), FLUTTERING HEARTS ('27) and TWO TARS ('28).

SMITHY and TWO TARS are recent 35mm preservations on loan to us courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Fall/Winter 2014:
We wrap up 2014 with one last visit with our "Sweetheart Superstar", Mary Pickford, in her atmospheric triumph, SPARROWS, which Ernst Lubitsch dubbed " of the eight wonders of the world..." and author Scott Eyman described as "Dickens laced with Edgar Allan Poe." Then Indianapolis-based film historian, Eric Grayson, will wow and amaze with his  immersive presentation of how color began and developed through the history of the cinema! Finally, Betty Bronson & Co. will enchant in PETER PAN - a personal favorite of the legendary William K. Everson - a production he proclaimed to be of "impeccable taste."

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, October 11 at 2:30pm
Mary Pickford in


Mary Pickford

Special guest speaker: author/film historian Jeffrey Vance
Saturday, November 8 at 2:30pm
The Story of Color in
the Movies
Commemorating the 80th anniversary
of three-strip Technicolor!

Eric Grayson
                              technicolor kinemacolor

Special guest speaker: film historian Eric Grayson
Saturday, December 6 at 2:30pm
  Betty Bronson is
90th anniversary screening
(dedicated to William K. Everson)

peter pan
One of the great silent films, SPARROWS ('26) was also Mary Pickford’s next to last silent and perhaps the peak of her film career. She put together the perfect combination of story, cast, camerawork, and production design for this Grimm’s fairy tale about a baby farm in the middle of an alligator-laden swamp. The incredible cinematography is courtesy of Hal Mohr, Charles Rosher, and Karl Struss, and the picture is almost stolen by the performances of Gustav von Seyffertitz, Charlotte Mineau, and Spec O’Donnell as the sinister Grimes family. SPARROWS marked the last time that Pickford would play a child, and as the surrogate mother of a group of orphans she turns in what may be her most sincere and moving performance. 35mm print courtesy of Library of Congress.

Indianapolis-based film historian Eric Grayson will give an immersive presentation of how color began and developed through the history of cinema. Starting with the three black and white images that represent the color spectrum — Grayson will take the audience on a journey through hand-tinting and stenciling, Kinemacolor, Technicolor, Cinecolor, Kodachrome and Eastmancolor — using entertaining and eye-catching examples of these groundbreaking processes and developments – all presented from actual motion picture film. Who better to take us on this journey than the man who single-handedly brought the color prologue of Keaton’s SEVEN CHANCES back to life for the Kino blu-ray in 2011.
The story of PETER PAN has been a perennial favorite ever since author James M. Barrie wrote the original play PETER PAN, OR THE BOY WHO WOULDN’T GROW UP in 1904. Having been adapted into numerous plays, novels, Broadway musicals, cartoons, and feature films, for this program we’re presenting one of the best versions – Paramount Pictures' 1924 silent film. Directed by Herbert Brenon with cinematography by the celebrated James Wong Howe, teenaged Betty Bronson beat out seasoned veterans such as Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson for the lead and turned in a magical performance. Expert support is provided by Mary Brian, Esther Ralston, and a scene-stealing Ernest Torrence as Captain Hook.

Summer 2014:

Mary Pickford was the first worldwide superstar of motion pictures, pre-dating Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd with her triple threat powers as a comic, a dramatic actress and a savvy producer. "There is no finer mission in life than making people laugh," Pickford once said. Yet she could "bring a tear or a laugh with equal facility" according to one of her critics. In most of her films, she did a little of both. Rediscover why Mary Pickford became beloved around the world with four of her greatest comedy and drama films made during her reign as the queen of the cinema.

"There have been hundreds of stars, there have been scores of fine actresses in motion pictures. There has been only one Mary Pickford." – Cecil B. DeMille

"Mary Pickford knows more about the business than any of us."D.W. Griffith

"Mary Pickford merits the continued affection of the moviegoers of the world. It isn’t difficult to see why she managed such a hold on them; she was, in effect, the symbol of what every American expects an American to be."Robert Osborne

"Mary Pickford was essentially a comedienne, although that description cannot do justice to her rich talents as a dramatic actress...her importance in the history of cinema has been grossly underestimated...She seems as fresh and vital now as when she was America's Sweetheart."
Kevin Brownlow

“There will never be another Mary.” – Douglas Fairbanks

35mm prints courtesy of the Mary Pickford Foundation collection at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. 35mm prints of shorts shown June 14 and Aug 2 courtesy of the Library of Congress.

For the Mary Pickford Foundation: Henry Stotsenberg, Gary Shoffner, Elaina Archer, Sloan DeForest & Jeffrey Vance.
Appreciative thanks: Joseph Yranski, and Library of Congress



Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
This season programmed by Elaina Archer and Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, May 10 at 2:30pm
"Little Lord Fauntleroy" (1921) (1927)
As both the boy Cedric and his mother Dearest, Mary shines in a dual role adapted from a Frances Hodgson Burnett story. "The double exposures are the finest that have ever been made in the history of the business," wrote a reviewer at the time. "When Mary Pickford kisses herself as 'Dearest,' and hugs herself, and when both characters walk off together – well, it's almost uncanny." Mary’s brother Jack Pickford and Alfred E. Green co-directed this popular film that inspired the statue of Pickford as Little Lord Fauntleroy on Manhattan’s famed I. Miller Building.
Saturday, June 14 at 2:30pm
"Amarilly of Clothesline Alley" (1918)
"Mary Pickford follows her remarkable Stella Maris with another character study scarcely less remarkable, reminding us once more that she is the greatest of all screen actresses," wrote Photoplay in their 1918 review of Amarilly of Clothes–Line Alley. In this charming romantic comedy co-starring William Scott and Kate Price and directed by Marshall Neilan, Pickford plays a spirited slum girl who falls for a wealthy boy, only to learn that it’s best not to "mix ice cream and pickles." Plus the newly-discovered Their First Misunderstanding ('11) Imp (with a cameo by Ben Turpin) and They Would Elope ('09).
Saturday, July 12 at 2:30pm
"A Little Princess" (1917)
Adapted by Frances Marion from Frances Hodgson’s Burnett’s popular novel, A Little Princess is rarely seen today although it was one of Mary Pickford's biggest hits. Directed by Marshall Neilan and co-starring Norman Kerry and a young ZaSu Pitts in her first screen role, this comedy-drama also features the first scene directed by a then-unknown assistant named Howard Hawks. Don’t miss this forgotten gem that Variety called "Miss Pickford at her best." Plus The School Teacher and the Waif ('12) and Love Among the Roses ('10).
Saturday, August 2 at 2:30pm
"Stella Maris" (1918)
Often considered Mary Pickford’s greatest dramatic film, Stella Maris features a tour de force turn by Pickford as both a pampered invalid and an unloved urchin; a performance that, according to Variety, "will make you rub your eyes and look twice to assure yourself it is Pickford." Directed by Marshall Neilan, co-starring Ida Waterman and Conway Tearle and enhanced by Charles Rosher’s sublime photography, Stella Maris is still considered by contemporary critics to be "nothing short of brilliant." Plus The Englishman and the Girl ('10) and The Dream ('11).

Winter/Spring 2014:
the 125th birthday!
100th anniversary in motion pictures!

Charlie Chaplin - his "unmistakable figure still serves as a symbol of cinema itself" wrote his esteemed biographer, David Robinson. Chaplin was the first film star who quite literally became a sensation overnight and has endured a century as a household name around the globe. Re-experience the screen presence that originally fired that world sensation: three shows, spanning the master comedian-filmmaker's  phenomenal rise over four years (1914 - 1917) at three studios (Keystone, Essanay and Mutual.)

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, March 1 at 2:30pm
Chaplin at Keystone


In 1914 a moderately successful comic from the English music hall hit the movies and soon became an international phenomenon that would change the face of film comedy and world cinema. Spotted on stage by Mack Sennett, Charles Chaplin joined his company and quickly found his way in the comedy pressure-cooker that was the Keystone Studio. To illustrate Chaplin’s formative year with Sennett we’re proud to present two recent restorations, in 35mm prints: GENTLEMEN OF NERVE ('14) from the Library of Congress and the famous feature TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE ('14) from the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Saturday, March 8 at 2:30pm
Chaplin at Essanay


After his first whirlwind year at Keystone Chaplin moved over to the Essanay Company for greater creative freedom and better re-numeration. Having become one of the best-known performers in the world, Chaplin was not content to have his screen character just be a figure of fun, and today’s bill of A NIGHT OUT ('15), A JITNEY ELOPEMENT ('15), WORK ('15), and POLICE! ('15) chart Charlie’s development into a comic underdog, hero, and lover. Chaplin’s inspiration and hard work produced films that remain fresh and funny for audiences of all ages.

Saturday, April 12 at 2:30pm
  Chaplin at Mutual


Finding his “movie legs” at Keystone and Essanay, Chaplin signed a contract with the Mutual Film Corp. for 12 shorts which made him the one of the highest paid performers in the world. The stint with Mutual was a major creative burst for the comedian and is represented today with THE COUNT ('16), THE PAWNSHOP ('16), THE IMMIGRANT ('17), and THE ADVENTURER ('17). The Mutual films show Chaplin at the peak of his two-reel form, and from these first years in the film industry Chaplin went on to independence at his own studio where he would create longer and more complex comedies.

Fall/Winter 2013:
"Certainly Known, yet…rarely shown"

We wind up 2013 with some superb entertainments that are undoubtedly on the silent cineaste’s radar...yet are rarely programmed or publicly screened — Have a look!

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Please note that our November and December shows are scheduled for Thursday evenings.
This change from our usual schedule is temporary, and we will resume Saturday afternoons in 2014.  

Saturday, October 12 at 2:30pm
Lon Chaney in
(the 1925 release...not the 1929 reissue cut!)

Our silent clowns take a break for this special Halloween program. PHANTOM is usually shown in a 1929 reissue, but we’re presenting the original 1925 version of this classic thriller. Star Lon Chaney is remembered for his elaborate make-ups in horror roles such as this and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME ('23). Known as “the Man of a Thousand Faces,” he played everything from legless gangsters to Chinese laundry men, with an intense dedication that made him the cinema’s first method actor.
(note the day/time)
Thursday, November 7
at 6:00pm

Richard Barthelmess in

Richard Barthelmess was a popular and romantic leading man who had started his career under the tutelage of D.W. Griffith. Breaking out on his own to make TOL’ABLE DAVID (’21), the film’s huge success made Barthelmess not only one of the biggest stars of the 1920s but also a producer with the company Inspiration Films. Opening for Mr. Barthelmess is Charley Chase who has his own problems with courage in his 1924 one-reeler THE FRAIDY CAT ('24).
(note the day/time)
Thursday, December 12
at 6:00pm

Charlie Chaplin in
Buster Keaton in

THREE AGES was Buster Keaton’s leap from shorts into feature films, and chronicles his misadventures in the Stone Age, Roman Era, and modern day (well…1923) in a parody of D.W. Griffith’s famous epoch-shifting INTOLERANCE ('16). Buster said as an insurance policy he could have released each era’s story as a separate short if the feature version hadn’t gone over. First on the bill is Charlie Chaplin’s troubles as a working-stiff and hen-pecked husband in the rarely shown PAY DAY ('22).

Summer 2013:

A large number of the surviving silent comedies are held by the worldʻs film archives. One of the foremost is the Library of Congress. Since the early 1940s, the LOC has done yeomanʼs work preserving films, plus an important part of its mission is to make its resources available. Last year we had the opportunity to present selections from their holdings, and weʼre happy to celebrate the summer season with a second helping.

35mm film prints provided by the Library of Congress.


Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton; summer season programmed by Steve Massa
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, June 29 at 2:30pm
Syd Chaplin in "The Missing Link" (1927)
Perhaps the best training ground for silent screen comedians was the English music hall’s Fred Karno Co. The famous class valedictorian of the troupe was Charlie Chaplin, but many other Karno veterans found their way to Hollywood, including Charlie’s brother Sydney. Although overshadowed by his younger brother, Sydney still had a substantial career on his own, and THE MISSING LINK ('27) is a very good example of his starring work for Warner Brothers. Opening the bill is fellow Karno grad Billie Ritchie in the premier L-Ko Comedy LOVE AND SURGERY ('14).
Saturday, July 6 at 2:30pm
Douglas McLean in "One a Minute" (1921)
The demand for comedy was so great in the silent era that the amount of comedies actually produced has never been fully documented. This program’s three featured comics were very popular but have gotten lost in the shuffle today due the rarity of their surviving films. ONE A MINUTE ('21) stars Douglas MacLean, a light-comedy leading man who made numerous fast-paced and financially successful features in the 1920s. Also on hand are the neglected Marcel Perez and Alice Howell in their shorts SWEET DADDY ('21) and UNDER A SPELL ('24).
Saturday, July 20 at 2:30pm
Edward Everett Horton in "Helen's Babies"
Persnickety Edward Everett Horton is still remembered and beloved for his sound films such as TOP HAT ('35) and THE GANG’S ALL HERE ('43), but he also had an overlooked and sizeable career in silent pictures. Beginning in 1922 he racked up eighteen features before he had the chance to speak on screen. In HELEN’S BABIES ('24) Eddie plays a child-rearing expert who’s never been near a real kid and inherits two rambunctious nieces, with a young Clara Bow and Baby Peggy adding to the fun. Our extra-added attraction is HORSE SHY ('28), one of eight two-reelers produced for Horton by Harold Lloyd.
Saturday, August 3 at 2:30pm
Louise Fazenda in "Footloose Widows"
Silent comedy has always been something of a "boy’s club" with the male practitioners getting most of the attention. Plenty of women also worked long and hard at getting laughs, and this program highlights Louise Fazenda, a longtime Mack Sennett star who moved into starring Warner Brothers features. FOOTLOOSE WIDOWS ('26) is a snappy comedy about two gold diggers on the prowl at a swanky resort hotel. Sharing today’s spotlight with Fazenda is Wanda Wiley, a vivacious and athletic leading lady, in her two-reel Century Comedy QUEEN OF ACES ('25).

Spring 2013:

Harold Lloyd — bright, ever-ambitious and optimistic — the clean cut, quintessential ‘boy next door’ of the 1920s was unarguably one of the biggest and most successful screen stars of the silent era, rivaling Chaplin and often surpassing him at the box-office. Our tribute shines a light on “The Third Genius” of silent screen comedy with three of his finest feature productions — each showcasing a different shade of his sunny screen character.

“Harold's character, and the spirit of his comedies, represented everything upbeat and affirmative about America in the 1920s.”
 — Leonard Maltin

“I was in awe of Harold Lloydhe was one of the most charismatic innovators of film comedy, an excellent actor, and a consummate filmmaker. His films should be seen, not just for their historical value, but for their sheer pleasure.” — Jack Lemmon

“Lloyd was a filmmaker of brilliance, who never took screen credit for his contributions...he did not need to.” — Kevin Brownlow

“Lloyd's own charm, his innate optimism, and his aggressive pursuit of success, elements so typical of the 1920’s, all combine to give his films a perennial freshness and zest…” — William K. Everson

Special thanks to Amber Krehel of Harold Lloyd Entertainment, Inc.
Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, March 9 at 2:30pm

Harold began in films in a partnership with Hal Roach, and went from run of the mill knockabout to the more nuanced and sophisticated physical comedy of his "glasses character." Later becoming his own producer, one of the best of his own films is THE KID BROTHER ('27) which features Lloyd as a gentle mountain boy in the midst of a rough and rowdy family. Also on the bill is the fast and funny WHY PICK ON ME? ('18).
Saturday, April 13 at 2:30pm

Remembered today as the "third genius" of silent comedy, Harold Lloyd began his career in 1913 as an extra and worked his way up to being one of the top box office stars of the 1920s. SAFETY LAST! ('23) was Harold's most popular film which contains the iconic image of him hanging from the hands of a clock. Rounding out the show is Lloyd's first two-reeler with his glasses character, BUMPING INTO BROADWAY ('19).
Saturday, May 4 at 2:30pm

FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE ('26) was Harold’s first film for Paramount Pictures, and although not as well known as GRANDMA'S BOY ('22) or THE FRESHMAN ('25), is equally funny and presents Lloyd as a millionaire who falls in love with a preacher’s daughter and uses his ingenuity and money to save their mission. Our extra added attraction is the thrill-packed three-reeler NEVER WEAKEN ('21).

Fall/Winter 2012:

We’ve got cyclones and drought — horror and hilarity — and the circus is in town! As we wrap up the year, we tie our silents in with the end of the hurricane season, Halloween, and The Big Apple Circus — or just excuses to showcase some of our own favorite screen performers from the silent era.

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, September 22 at 2:30pm
(Under Climate Extremes
and Other Obstacles)

Buster Keaton
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Arthur Houseman -is-
Just a Husband

While THE GENERAL ('27) is probably Buster Keaton’s most famous film, STEAMBOAT BILL JR. ('28) is also one of his best that features great gags and and breathtaking stunts. This was Buster’s last film for his own independent company, and he pulls out the stops with an  incredible cyclone sequence where Keaton actually risked his life and limbs. Our extra added attraction is JUST A  HUSBAND, a 1927 comedy short with a young and sober Arthur Housman braving many obstacles in order to rescue his new bride.

Saturday, October 6 at 2:30pm

John Barrymore
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Stan Laurel -is-
Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde

Our Halloween celebration presents the great John Barrymore in his version of the famous Robert Louis Stevenson tale. Although remembered today for his  carousing and being Drew Barrymore's grandfather, Barrymore’s films were "class A" productions, and this telling of the often-filmed story is one of the best with the actor insisting on doing his big transformation scene in one long take. Following Mr. B is Stan Laurel who puts his own comic spin on the property by playing terrible practical jokes on innocent bystanders in his solo comedy DR.  PYCKLE AND MR. PRYDE ('25).

Saturday, November 10 at 2:30pm

Johnny Hines
The Live Wire
Harry Langdon -in-
Remember When?

Johnny Hines was a very popular clown who came from the stage and made many Harold Lloyd type of rousing comedy features in the 1920s, but is unjustly overlooked and neglected today. THE LIVE WIRE ('25) gives a good look at Hines' ability with sight-gags, not to mention his engaging smile and breezy personality. Harry Langdon warms up the house for our circus-themed program with the two-reeler REMEMBER WHEN? ('25), where forlorn orphan Harry discovers that his childhood sweetheart is now a circus bearded lady.

RG cardSummer 2012:
If you liked 'THE ARTIST'…

While silent era stars Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and John Gilbert were clearly inspirations for Jean Dujardin's Oscar-winning title performance in the much heralded, THE ARTIST – so equally was the charming and effervescent, yet nearly forgotten, Raymond Griffith, a star whom Walter Kerr described as "natty, lithe (and) un-mugging" and also gave "a handsome fifth place – after Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd and Langdon – in the silent comedy pantheon...."  This summer, we're excited and proud to cast a long deserved spotlight on this unjustly neglected artist of the silent screen - which we strongly suspect will easily win him a new legion of admirers!

"…Griffith leads all comedians in point of ingenuity, imaginativness and originality…" - Robert E. Sherwood

"…Griffith managed to combine the urbane sophistication of Menjou with the dry wit of Keaton and the comedy thrill-climaxes of Lloyd." - William K. Everson

"…one of the finest comic minds…Nonchalance is a key to Griffith's screen character…he is the personification of Cool…he never loses his poise." - Leonard Maltin

"Griffith was a brilliant actor…he moved with astonishing grace…he effortlessly stole every picture…" - Kevin Brownlow

(Each of the four programs will include an apropos short subject that also links to THE ARTIST.)

Special thanks this season to: Bruce Calvert (, Rick DeCroix (Streamline Films), Eric Grayson and John Stone. All Raymond Griffith stills on this page are courtesy Bruce Calvert; do not download/re-use without permission.

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, June 2 at 2:30pm
"The Night Club"
Following years of working in slapstick shorts, writing scripts, and appearing in supporting roles, THE NIGHT CLUB ('25) marked Raymond Griffith’s first starring feature for Paramount Pictures. Here he becomes an avowed bachelor after being jilted at the altar, but finds that he has to marry to inherit a million dollars. His debonair, man-about-town character is already well in place, and he has strong support from veterans such as Louise Fazenda, Wallace Beery, and Vera Reynolds. Rounding out the bill are the misadventures of Charley Chase and Martha Sleeper in the two-reel FLUTTERING HEARTS ('27).
Saturday, July 7 at 2:30pm
"Paths To Paradise"
Perhaps the most overlooked silent comedy classic of the 1920s, PATHS TO PARADISE ('25) is a clockwork-timed crook comedy that presents Griffith in all his smarmy elegance, not mention being expertly written, directed, and acted by a top-notch comedy ensemble. Co-star Betty Compson had gotten her start in Al Christie comedies, and here she and Griffith play rival jewels thieves who form an alliance to steal a valuable necklace. SURE-MIKE! ('25) is our extra added attraction, a one-reeler with flapper Martha Sleeper causing much mayhem in a department store.
Saturday, July 21 at 2:30pm
"Hands Up!"
Griffith’s best known film is a civil war farce that features wartime intrigue, assumed identities, dual leading ladies, and a humorous Abraham Lincoln. With crackerjack direction by Mack Sennett veteran Clarence Badger and a supporting cast that includes Mack Swain and Montagu Love, HANDS UP! ('26) was added to the National Film Registry in 2005, so far the only of Griffith’s films to receive the honor. Opening the show for Mr. Griffith is Charley Chase, who has his hands full with Buddy the dog in the short DOG SHY ('26).
Saturday, August 4 at 2:30pm
"You'd Be Surprised"
Our final Griffith selection, YOU’D BE SURPRISED ('26), stars the top-hatted bon vivant as a police coroner who’s called in to solve the murder of an important district attorney. Dorothy Sebastian is on hand as leading lady to help Mr. Griffith sort through numerous red herrings to find the killer. Griffith stopped performing after sound came in because he could only speak in a hoarse whisper. Setting the stage for our feature is THE SLEEPING PORCH ('29), an early talkie two-reeler he made for producer Al Christie that gives a rare illustration of his speaking voice.

Winter/Spring 2012:
Your Tax Dollars on the Screen:
Film Preservations from The Library of Congress

Since the early 1940s, The Library of Congress recognized "the importance of motion pictures and the need to preserve them as a historical record." This has resulted in the literal saving of countless films that would otherwise be lost to us. The LoC's mission is "to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations, as well as serve as a contribution to education and lifelong learning." Utilizing this rich resource of film preservation, our own Steve Massa has plumbed the LoC's depths and put together a series of little seen treasures (our very first in 35mm!) for your gratification.
(quoted text sourced from

35mm film prints provided by the Library of Congress.


Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, Feb 4 at 2:30pm
"Raucous Rarities"
When the cinema began, everything was a short subject, but as the industry grew so did the length of its films— and shorts became a pre-feature special attraction. Designed to entertain, numerous “fun factories” were created that specialized in producing and distributing silent comedy one and two-reelers. Today’s cross-section of producers include Sennett, Universal, Kalem, Bulls Eye, and Hal Roach, and the bill consists of INJUNS (’12) with the Powers Kids, the team of Ham & Bud in THE BOGUS BOOKING AGENT (’16), THE GRAB BAG BRIDE (’17) with Al St John, Chaplin imitator Billy West in A ROLLING STONE (’19) NEVER TOO OLD (’26) with Jimmy Finlayson, cross- eyed Ben Turpin in A BLONDE’S REVENGE (’26), all topped off by the rare WHEN KNIGHTS WERE COLD (’23) starring a solo Stan Laurel.
Stan Laurel
Saturday, March 10 at 2:30pm
Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle in "The Round-Up"
For many years Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was loved all over the world, and was second only to Charlie Chaplin as the comedy box office king. So popular that he made an early leap from shorts to starring features, we’re proud to present his first, THE ROUND-UP (’20), a serious western that has Roscoe supplying some light comic relief. Today it’s very hard to separate the Arbuckle legend from his work as a comedian, so this is a rare opportunity to take a look at the man who taught filmmaking to Buster Keaton. Opening for Mr. Arbuckle is bashful-eyed Hank Mann, who also explores the wide open spaces in the two-reeler WAY OUT WEST (’20).
Saturday, April 7 at 2:30pm
Forgotten Funny People
During the silent era an amazing array of comedic talent assembled to work towards one goal – to make moviegoers laugh. In the spirit of April Fool’s Day we salute some of the overlooked silent funny persons who were well-loved in their day, but due to the scarcity of their films have gotten lost in the shuffle. Making up our program is skinny Flora Finch in SWEENEY’S CHRISTMAS BIRD (’14) and ex-music hall clown Billie Ritchie in SILK HOSE AND HIGH PRESSURE (’15). Next are two teams – Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Drew in HER ANNIVERSARIES (’17), and Pokes & Jabs making a deal with the devil in DEVILED CRABS (’17). We end with two unjustly neglected clowns – Marcel Perez in YOU’RE NEXT (’19) and the athletic Wanda Wiley in A THRILLING ROMANCE (’26).

Fall/Winter 2011:
Selected Shorts

This fall, the Silent Clowns Film Series showcases the clown princes of two-reel comedies, presenting three laugh-packed programs of short films featuring the big name comedians you know and love as well as a few you'll be glad you discovered whom we've championed over the years.

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, Oct 8 at 2:30pm
"Scary Shenanigans on the 2nd Reel"
Thrills and chills have been a comedy staple since the beginning of cinema. George Melies and Segundo de Chomon mixed supernatural elements with an antic sense of humor, and spooky settings were popular in tongue-in-cheek stage to film transfers such as SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE and THE CAT AND THE CANARY. Every silent comedian spent screen time being scared, and today we have Harold Lloyd in HAUNTED SPOOKS ('20), THE HAUNTED HOUSE ('21) with Buster Keaton, Our Gang in SHOOTIN' INJUNS ('25), and the aptly titled WHO'S AFRAID? ('27) starring Lupino Lane.
Saturday, November 12 at 2:30pm
The Loopy Legacy of Lupino Lane
(and his brother Wallace)

Forgotten clown Lupino Lane was a huge star of the British variety stage who transferred his talents to American movie studios. In addition to his comedy skills, along with Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks, he was one of the greatest acrobats ever captured on film. Working frequently with his brother Wallace Lupino, a talented comic in his own right, our Lupino Lane
sampler includes the shorts MAID IN MOROCCO ('25), HELLO SAILOR ('27), ROAMING ROMEO ('28), BE MY KING ('28), and GOOD NIGHT NURSE ('29). 

(Special thanks to Eric Grayson.)
Lupino Lane
Saturday, December 10 at 2:30pm
The Merry Gentlemen: Mr. Laurel & Mr. Hardy
Our last show of the season has Stan and Ollie bringing us the Hal Roach holiday greetings of “Peace on earth, every man for himself, and don’t forget to duck.” After years of solo work Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy came together at the Roach Studio in 1927. In their comedies, human foibles and the frustrations of everyday life were magnified a hundred times over. This salute is made up of LEAVE ‘EM LAUGHING ('28), TWO TARS ('28), WRONG AGAIN ('29), and their ultimate Xmas gift BIG BUSINESS ('29).
(Grateful thanks to Film Preservation Associates, Inc.;  Laurel & Hardy image courtesy of Richard Feiner & Co.)

barrymore don juan

Summer 2011:
Charismatic Costumers

Gish! - Valentino! - Barrymore! - Fairbanks!

Over four consecutive Saturdays, we celebrate a selection of cinema's biggest stars in scintillating scenarios and period settings,  the sort of productions which the silent era trailblazed – truly excelled – and reached a pinnacle of art and excitement.  While not out-and-out comedies, these films provide a delicious mix of humor and drama in which the stars truly shine.

We would like to dedicate our season to the late motion picture distributor Donald Krim, president of Kino International in Manhattan for over three decades.  The silent film era and so many of its artists have rarely had a greater friend than Don Krim.

Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model at all shows.
Series programmed by Bruce Lawton.
Film notes by Steve Massa.

Saturday, July 23 at 2:30pm
Dorothy Gish in "NELL GWYN" (1926)
* 85th anniversary screening! *
Although not as well remembered as her sister Lillian, Dorothy Gish was a popular star who appeared in dramas, but specialized in light comedy. Starting out in films with Lillian as a teenager under the guidance of D.W. Griffith, Dorothy moved on to starring vehicles such as PEPPY POLLY ('19) and THE COUNTRY FLAPPER ('22). Today, few of her films have survived, so we're proud to present NELL GWYN ('26), one of four features made in England at the end of the silent era which gave her the opportunity to use all of her considerable talents.

Dorothy Gish
Saturday, July 30 at 2:30pm
Rudolph Valentino in "THE EAGLE" (1925)
Rudolph Valentino was the romantic icon of the early 1920s and set the standard for Latin lovers for the rest of the decade. After years of knocking around Hollywood, Valentino became a star in 1921's THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE. Although Valentino tragically died at age 31, he left behind a remarkable film legacy — THE EAGLE ('25) was not only one of his last films but also one of the best. Set in a background of Russian intrigue, the story gives Valentino ample opportunity for derring-do and subtle comedy, making it an ideal showcase for his screen chemistry. 
valentino the
Saturday, August 6 at 2:30pm
John Barrymore in "DON JUAN" (1926)
* 85th anniversary screening! *
By the late 1920s stage star John Barrymore had conquered the silver screen in a number of crowd-pleasing costume epics. Although remembered today for his carousing and being Drew Barrymore's grandfather, Barrymore's films were class A productions. This one finds "The Great Profile" as "The Great Lover" of Renaissance Italy battling the Borgia family, and the supporting performances of Mary Astor, Warner Oland, and Myrna Loy, art direction of Ben Carre, and lush production values make it a real treat.
(film will be presented with live accompaniment, and not its 1926 recorded Vitaphone score)

barrymore don
Saturday, August 13 at 2:30pm
Douglas Fairbanks in
* 90th anniversary screening! *

Before he embarked on 1920's, THE MARK OF ZORRO, Douglas Fairbanks had been a popular light comedian. This adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' famous story gave Doug his iconic role of D'Artagnan, and made him the ultimate swashbuckling star of the silent screen. The success of ZORRO led him to continue with on with the likes of ROBIN HOOD ('22), THE THIEF OF BAGDAD ('23), and THE BLACK PIRATE ('26), before coming full circle to end his silent exploits by portraying D'Artagnan again in THE IRON MASK ('29).

note: this program will utilize a recorded score, composed and performed on theatre organ by Ben Model especially for this show and not available anywhere commercially

three musketeers
                                          douglas fairbanks

Winter/Spring 2011:
The Big 3 of Silent Comedy

Every field of every era has its top artists – the ones who set the benchmark for everyone else. In the late teens and early 1920s, when the golden age of comedy was king –
Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd – emerged as those artists – and their work has stood the test of time.

As we turn back our focus to the beacons of our ongoing series, we dedicate these next shows to the late great writer/director,
Blake Edwards — who always acknowledged his debt to and expressed love of the pioneers of film comedy that informed much of his own marvelous, unique work in cinema.
Saturday, February 5 at 2:30pm
After learning his craft in the English music halls, Charlie Chaplin brought his comedy skills to films in 1914. It wasn't long before he found his “movie legs” and developed his character of the Little Tramp, which by 1915 made him one of the most famous people in the world. His series of 12 shorts for the Mutual Company was a major creative burst, and in this program we're proud to present THE VAGABOND ('16) and EASY STREET ('17). Chaplin's inspiration and hard work produced films that remain fresh and funny for audiences of all ages. From these early days Chaplin went on to independence at his own studio where he created longer and more complex comedies. Also on the bill is Harold Lloyd in FROM HAND TO MOUTH ('19) and Buster Keaton's THE GOAT ('21).
Charlie Chaplin
Saturday, March 5 at 2:30pm
Remembered today as the "third genius" of silent comedy, Harold Lloyd began his film career in 1913 as an extra and worked his way up to being one of the top box office stars of the 1920s. Teamed in a partnership with the young Hal Roach, Harold went from a run of the mill knockabout as the Chaplin inspired character of Lonesome Luke, to the more nuanced and sophisticated physical comedy of his "glasses character". Credited with creating the preview system for trying out films, Lloyd was an innovative producer whose features were constructed on lavish budgets with the precision of a Swiss watch. Today's films, HIGH AND DIZZY ('20) and "NUMBER, PLEASE?” ('20) show him at the peak of his 2-reel form and ready to move into features. Rounding out the show is Chaplin's THE PAWNSHOP ('16) and THE HIGH SIGN ('21) with Buster Keaton.
Harold Lloyd
Saturday, April 2 at 2:30pm
Buster Keaton was perhaps the hardest working of the classic film comedians. From his start as a child in vaudeville as one of The Three Keatons, he never stopped making audiences laugh until the day he died in 1966. Entering films in 1917 under the tutelage of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Buster was lauched in his own series in 1920 and had an amazing run of comedies that lasted until 1929. Although known for his dead-pan and stoic countenance, the "Great Stoneface" was much more expressive than many of the over-emoting stars of the day. While Buster lost creative control of his later work, he remained busy in films, television, and on stage for the remainder of his life. We focus on Buster with two shorts from 1922 – COPS and THE PALEFACE – plus present Chaplin in THE ADVENTURER ('17) and Harold Lloyd's GET OUT AND GET UNDER ('20).
Buster Keaton

Fall/Winter 2010:
"First Ladies of Laughter"

The Silent Clowns Film Series 'reboot' – in an exciting new partnership with the Library for the Performing Arts – begins with a season spotlighting Hollywood superstars from the distaff side of silent comedy. Bebe Daniels, Constance Talmadge and Marion Davies will bring considerable vivaciousness, charm and glamour to the 'Clowns' as we see out 2010. Each of the programs will be preceded by complementary short subjects.
Saturday, October 2 at 2:30pm
Bebe Daniels in "Feel My Pulse"
Bebe Daniels had a long career that encompasses knockabout comedy with Harold Lloyd, being a dramatic clothes-horse for Cecil B. DeMille, and television in the 1950s. In the late 1920s she starred in a series of feature comedies for Paramount, such as MISS BREWSTER'S MILLIONS ('26) and SWIM GIRL SWIM ('27), where she played a young woman about town. Sadly, most of these are lost today, but we're happy to present FEEL MY PULSE ('28) in which Bebe plays a spoiled hypochondriac heiress who inadvertently gets involved with bootleggers. Setting the stage for the feature are two one-reelers with Bebe and Harold Lloyd – ALL ABOARD ('17) and ASK FATHER ('19).

Saturday, November 6 at 2:30pm
Constance Talmadge in "The Duchess of Buffalo"
During the 1920s, the Talmadge sisters were the movie equivalent of the twin masks of theatre– Norma being the dramatic diva, and Constance the comedienne. Having started her career as a teenager in Vitagraph's Brooklyn studio, Connie became one of the most popular players of the day in features such as DULCY ('23) and HER SISTER FROM PARIS ('25). Never taking herself seriously, THE DUCHESS FROM BUFFALO ('26) ia a deftly played farce where Connie plays an American dancer who gets mixed-up in political intrigue with the Grand Duke of Russia. Since many of her films are lost or unavailable, her talents have been neglected, so this series gives us the pleasure and opportunity to highlight her work. Our extra added attraction is SEEING STARS, a 1922 First National Pictures exhibitor short which features Connie, Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan, Buster Keaton, and a host of other famous stars.

Saturday, December 4 at 2:30pm
Marion Davies in "Show People"
Marion Davies is best remembered today as the mistress of wealthy newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, and as the prototype for Susan Alexander in Orson Welles' CITIZEN KANE ('41). What's overlooked is that she was a wonderful comedienne and terific mimic who made a number of sly and sophisticated comedies like THE PATSY and THE CARDBOARD LOVER (both '28) at the end of the silent era. SHOW PEOPLE ('28) is perhaps her best, which puts her into a rags-to-riches story about a young girl who works her way up from slapstick comedy shorts to become a glamorous dramatic star (based on Gloria Swanson). Hollywood conventions and pretensions are roasted in this very funny feature. Opening for Ms. Davies is A VITAGRAPH ROMANCE ('12), an earlier peek behind the scenes of movie making that stars Clara Kimball Young with cameos from practically everyone at the Vitagraph Studio.