After a busy stretch with multiple screenings in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, a bit of a lull right now, with a couple of weeks to prepare for the next batch of silent film action.
• First up is Murnau's 'Faust' (1926), which we're screening for Halloween at the Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 4:30 p.m. I've been eager to do this one for some time now, as it's visually quite grand and something about the Murnau films brings out the Richard Strauss in me: long, arching melodies with odd leaps, and often a 3/4 time waltz-type underscoring. I don't have material set for this yet but I look forward to developing it this week. Despite the overall grimness of the material, this one should be fun, as Emil Jannings as Mephisto kind of reminds me of the character of Frances Buxton in 'Pee Wee's Big Adventure.' What do you think?
• Almost immediately following is 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1923), another one I've never done but wanted to. It's Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Manchester (N.H.) Public Library, where we've started to pull some nice crowds since moving our Manchester series there from the Palace Theatre. On this one, I have yet to watch the film all the way through, so the score is still very much in the embryonic stage.
• And then it's 'The Big Parade' (1925), which we'll be uncorking on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center in Plymouth, N.H. (It's the day before Veterans Day!) I've done music for this several times before and it's always gone well, but I've never been totally satisfied with the material I've used. So I'm already in the process of coming up with a completely new suite of material that I hope will help the film come to life on many levels for contemporary audiences. We'll see. A plus here is that the Flying Monkey continues to improve its presentation; for our recent showing of 'Nosferatu,' the house sounds (which I plug into) was absolutely incredible. Afterwards, I had people saying they had chills running up and down their spine from the film! So I'm looking forward to creating a suitably dramatic soundtrack for 'The Big Parade.' Weirdly, a wonderful and expansive main theme came to me at random while driving around yesterday. As soon as I got home, I wrote it out lest it fade from consciousness, never to be recovered. It's a good one, but I'm always suspicious when such a fully formed melody seems to write itself. Sure enough, I later realized that it has the exact same chord progression as the 'Going Home' melody in the second movement of Dvorak's 'New World' symphony. But it's still my own tune, and I'm looking forward to developing it for use in 'The Big Parade.'
• And finally, still hoping to do music for a screening of 'Clash of the Wolves' (1925) somewhere as part of the now-in-progress tour for Susan Orleans' new book, 'Rin Tin Tin, the Life and the Legend.' Not looking likely at this point, however, as planned showings in Massaschusetts and Maine have evaporated, and her one appearance in our neck of the woods is now a signing (no film) at the Brookline (Mass.) Booksmith on Friday, Dec. 2. The closest actual 'Clash' screening is the Avon Theatre in Stamford, Conn. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, but they've said they don't have room for live music, so there you go. I might venture down there anyway just to see it in 35mm—something that will be increasingly hard to do with the industry and so many theaters converting to digital. Well, her tour seems to be going well and I hope the book does well. :)