Sunday, February 13, 2011

Scaring the audience with '7th Heaven'

Good turnout for this afternoon's screening of '7th Heaven' at the Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre. Prior to the feature, we showed two Snub Pollard one-reelers to warm up the crowd (and the musician), and also to give movie-goers a glimpse of Marie Mosquini, who is Snub's companion in the shorts and the next-door neighbor in '7th Heaven.'

Lively reaction to '7th Heaven,' though once again there was more laughter than I expected at the serious parts. (This happened in Plymouth, N.H. on Thursday night as well.) Yes, the film is filled with comic touches and it's great to see they still produce laughter. But there's a lot of drama, too, and I don't get why audiences laugh at it.

In the scenes when Chico and his neighbor Gobin realize they'll be shipping off to war without warning, it's not meant to be funny, folks. I try to enhance the mood through music, but still it drew some laughter. I think it's the abruptness of the transition: how war breaks out JUST as they're getting married. But I buy that as part of the drama.

Oh well. To my taste, the only unintentionally funny thing is an intertitle right near the end of the film, when someone says "it must be true because the government said it was." Jeez, it really was another age, wasn't it?

After the screening, my wife told me that a woman with a young child had to leave in the middle of '7th Heaven' because the onset of war was apparently too upsetting to the kid. "Are they going to be killed?" the child asked, over and over. I feel bad, but some people come to these screenings expecting Dudley Do-Right style family entertainment, and the dramas don't really go there.

Even in a film that you'd think kids would absorb, such as Rin Tin Tin in 'Clash of the Wolves' (1925), kids got upset early in the film when one member of the wolf pack was injured in a chase, and the rest of the pack turned on him and attacked. What are you going to do?

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