Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pirates! (...but not in the Caribbean)

The holiday season is here, and of course that brings with it...pirates! Arrrgh the 'Erald Angels Sing, right?

Well, I suppose actually 'Robin Hood' is the Douglas Fairbanks film most appropriate for the season of giving, as at least some actual giving takes place (from the rich to the poor), as opposed to 'The Black Pirate,' in which the pirates give their victims nothing but gunpowder-powered blasts into eternity.

But anyway, we're screening 'The Black Pirate' in Plymouth, N.H. on Thursday, Dec. 9. Come one, come all. And I'm looking forward to audience reaction to the lesser-known 'Mystery of the Leaping Fish' (1915), with its shockingly casual images of gleeful cocaine use. How times have changed!

Here's all the details in the latest press release...

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

Silent film ‘The Black Pirate’ (1926) in Plymouth, N.H. on Thursday, Dec. 9

Adventure flick stars Douglas Fairbanks, Hollywood’s original action hero

PLYMOUTH, N.H.—He was the Indiana Jones of his day, thrilling early filmgoers with amazing stunts and feats of heroic derring-do. He was Douglas Fairbanks Sr., one of Hollywood’s first megastars, and his timeless charisma can be seen again in a double feature of two of his best pictures on Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performing Arts Center in Plymouth, N.H..

Featured is ‘The Black Pirate’ (1926), a swashbuckling tale of the high seas that proved one of Fairbanks’ most popular blockbusters. The forerunner of all pirate movies, it was also one of the first Hollywood films to be released in color. Also on the program is ‘The Mystery of the Leaping Fish’ (1915), an early Fairbanks spoof of the Sherlock Holmes tales.

The double feature starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free; contributions are encouraged. The films will be accompanied by live music by local composer Jeff Rapsis. Dinner is also available for patrons who arrive early at the Flying Monkey, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H. For more information, call (603) 536-2551 or visit www.flyingmonkeynh.com.

Fairbanks, originally a stage actor, broke into films in the industry's early years. By 1920, starring roles in a romantic comedies established Fairbanks as a popular leading man. He then turned to historic adventure films, including ‘The Mark of Zorro’ (1920) and ‘The Three Musketeers’ (1921), which cemented his reputation for on-screen athleticism, heroism, and romance.

In 1920, Fairbanks’ marriage to fellow megastar Mary Pickford was one of the era’s biggest media events and resulted in Hollywood’s first celebrity power couple. They combined their last names to call their estate “Pickfair,” and massive crowds turned out everywhere during the couple’s European honeymoon.

At the peak of his popularity, pictures starring Fairbanks set the standard for Hollywood action adventure films, including such titles as ‘Robin Hood’ (1922), ‘The Thief of Bagdad’ (1924), and ‘The Black Pirate’ (1926), all of which were major box office successes.

When the silent film era ended in 1929, an aging Fairbanks found he was less enthusiastic about the effort required to make movies and retired from the screen. He died in 1939 at age 56 after suffering a heart attack; his now-famous lasts words were, “I’ve never felt better.”

The Fairbanks double feature is the latest in a series of monthly silent film screenings at the newly renovated Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performing Arts Center. The series aims to recreate the lost magic of early cinema by bringing together the elements needed for silent film to be seen at its best: superior films in best available prints; projection on the big screen; live musical accompaniment; and a live audience.

“These films are still exciting experiences if you show them as they were designed to be screened,” said Rapsis, accompanist for the screenings. “There’s a reason people first fell in love with the movies, and we hope to recreate that spirit. At their best, silent films were communal experience very different from today’s movies—one in which the presence of a large audience intensifies everyone’s reactions.”

For each film, Rapsis improvises a music score using original themes created beforehand. None of the the music is written down; instead, the score evolves in real time based on audience reaction and the overall mood as the movie is screened.

‘The Black Pirate’ and ‘The Mystery of the Leaping Fish’ will be shown on Thursday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performing Arts Center, 39 Main St., Plymouth, N.H. Free admission; contributions encouraged. For more info, call (603) 536-2551 or visit www.flyingmonkeynh.com.

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