Tonight (Friday, Oct. 9) brings a fun Buster Keaton double feature with live music in an unusual venue: the Arlington Grange Hall in Winchester, N.H. Details below.
And then Saturday brings two screenings of 'Underworld' (1927), Josef von Sternberg's great silent gangster drama, at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Mass.
Showtimes are 4 p.m. and then again at 7:30 p.m. It's part of a series they're running about films that helped create the "film noir" school of cinema.
Originally, this post announced that I was not accompanying the film. But things were confirmed just today, so I'll be going down to Cambridge tomorrow to do music for both screenings. I'll post more about this in just a bit.
But first, more info about tonight's Keaton program. We've actually received some good publicity in local media, so I'm hoping for a fair turnout. We'll see!
FRIDAY, OCT. 2, 2015 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Buster Keaton double feature at Winchester's Arlington Grange on Friday, Oct. 9
Classic silent film comedy masterpieces to be screened with live musical accompaniment
WINCHESTER, N.H.—He never smiled on camera, earning him the nickname of "the Great Stone Face." But Buster Keaton's comedies rocked Hollywood's silent era with laughter throughout the 1920s.
See for yourself with a screening of 'Sherlock Jr.' (1924) and 'The Cameraman' (1928), two of Keaton's landmark feature films, on Friday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Arlington Grange Building, 9 Mechanic St., Winchester, N.H.
The films will be shown with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based performer regarded as one of the nation's leading silent film musicians.
The public is welcome to attend. Suggested donation for this family-friendly event is $7 per person to help defray expenses.
In 'Sherlock Jr.,' Buster plays a small-town movie projectionist who dreams of working as a detective. But then Buster's romantic rival frames him for stealing a watch from his girlfriend's father. Fortunately, the situation mirrors the plot of the movie currently playing at Buster's theater. Inspired by the movie, can Buster find the real thief and win back his girl?
'The Cameraman' tells the story of a young man (Keaton) who tries to impress the girl of his dreams (Marceline Day) by working as a freelance newsreel cameraman. His efforts result in spectacular failure, but then a lucky break gives him an unexpected chance to make his mark. Can Buster parlay the scoop of the year into a secure job and successful romance?
Both films focus on exploring the potentials of the motion picture, then a brand-new medium.
In 'The Cameraman,' Keaton uses the movie business itself to create comedy that plays with the nature of film and reality.
Keaton, along with Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, stands as one of the three great clowns of the silent screen. Many critics regard Keaton as the best of all; Roger Ebert wrote in 2002 that "in an extraordinary period from 1920 to 1929, (Keaton) worked without interruption on a series of films that make him, arguably, the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies."
As a performer, Keaton was uniquely suited to the demands of silent comedy. Born in 1895, he made his stage debut as a toddler, joining his family's knockabout vaudeville act and learning to take falls and do acrobatic stunts at an early age. He spent his entire childhood and adolescence on stage, attending school for exactly one day.
A remarkable pantomime artist, Keaton naturally used his whole body to communicate emotions ranging from sadness to surprise. In an era when movies had few special effects, Keaton's acrobatic talents meant he performed all his own stunts.
All those talents are on display in 'Sherlock Jr.' and 'The Cameraman,' which was selected in 2005 for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
"These films are audience favorites, and people continue to be surprised at how engrossing and exhilarating they can be when shown as they were intended: in a theater, and with live music," said Rapsis, who accompanies more than 100 screenings each year at venues around the nation
Rapsis improvises live scores for silent films using a digital synthesizer to recreate the texture of the full orchestra.
"It's kind of a high wire act," Rapsis said. "But for me, the energy of live performance is an essential part of the silent film experience."
The Arlington Grange of Winchester will present Buster Keaton in 'Sherlock Jr.' (1924) and 'The Cameraman' (1928) on Friday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. in Grange Hall, 9 Mechanic St., Winchester, N.H. The public is welcome to attend this family-friendly event, which features live musical accompaniment for both films. Suggested donation is $7 per person to defray expenses.