Thursday, July 21, 2016

'Christmas in July' plus Mary Pickford feature
tonight (7/21) at Ogunquit's Leavitt Theatre

Mary Pickford in 'Tess of the Storm Country' (1922), playing tonight at 8 p.m. at the Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit, Maine.

Busy lately, so I'm a little behind in the silent film postings.

But still, tonight's program at the Leavitt Theatre out in Ogunquit, Maine is a worthy one, so here goes.

Tonight at 8 p.m., we're running a 'Christmas in July' show that includes some shorter holiday silents and Mary Pickford's great 1922 melodrama 'Tess of the Storm Country.'

This program is one that's worked well during the actual holiday season.

People respond well to the early one-reel versions of 'A Christmas Carol' and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas,' and Pickford's film (with its Yuletide ending) still packs a punch.

But this is the first time I've tried it out in mid-summer, decked out with a "Christmas in July" theme. So we'll see how it goes.

For more info, check out the text of the press release below. See you there!

* * *

Promotional ad for the 1914 version of 'Tess of the Storm Country.'

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

'Christmas in July' silent film program at the Leavitt on Thursday, July 21

Celebrate the season with holiday classics from a century ago, brought to life with live musical accompaniment

OGUNQUIT, Maine—What did people watch before special holiday TV programs such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" made their debut in the 1960s?

See for yourself with a special program of holiday classics from way back during the silent film era, all accompanied by live music.

Included will be the first-ever film versions of such popular tales as 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas,' the poem by Clement C. Moore; each are more than a century old and less than 10 minutes long.

The family-friendly program will be presented on Thursday, July 21 at 8 p.m. at the Leavitt Theatre, 259 Main St. in downtown Ogunquit, Maine. Admission is $10 per person.

Live music will be provided by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist who performs regularly at screenings around the nation.

The evening will be highlighted by a screening of 'Tess of the Storm Country' (1922), a full-length drama starring Mary Pickford that features a special Christmas-oriented ending.

"Even in the early days of cinema, the movies helped popularize classic holiday stories," Rapsis said. "So it's a real treat for us to turn back the clock and see where the tradition of holiday movies and TV specials first began."

The program will include the first known movie versions of 'A Christmas Carol' (1910) and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' (1905).

The films each run less than 10 minutes long and were both produced as novelties by Thomas Edison, the inventor credited with pioneering the motion picture.

'Tess of the Storm County' (1922), a full-length feature, has been hailed as among Mary Pickford's best pictures.

The film tells a story of conflict between residents of a poor fishing village who live near the the estate of a wealthy family.

As the feisty daughter of a village leader who is unjustly put in jail, Pickford plays a key role in a melodramatic plot that takes many surprising turns.

Pickford, a pioneering film superstar, was a major force in early Hollywood, helping establish the United Artists studio and serving as a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives out the annual Oscar awards.

However, Pickford's films receive comparatively little attention today, in part due to the myth that Pickford often played wholesome and traditional female characters that conformed with society's expectations at the time.

A slide promoting 'Tess of the Storm Country.'

In truth, Pickford's best movies often featured her in roles that required her to take action, challenge authority, and play strong roles uncommon for a woman of the era.

The "Christmas in July" Program at the Leavitt will give local audiences a chance to experience silent film as it was meant to be seen—on a large screen, with live music, and with an audience.

"All those elements are important parts of the silent film experience," said Rapsis, who improvises a movie's musical score live as it screens. "Recreate those conditions, and the classics of early Hollywood leap back to life in ways that can still move audiences today."

Rapsis performs on a digital keyboard that reproduces the texture of the full orchestra and creates a traditional "movie score" sound.

Critics review 'Tess of the Storm Country':

"The most insistently moving picture ever made, its climax is the most stunning visual event ever arranged for a film comedy."
—The New York Times

"The reason to watch is Pickford's elfin grace; she is at her criminally cutest here. Tess boasts rapturous pictorialism and an all-stops-out-climax."
—Richard Corliss, Film Comment

The Leavitt, a summer-only moviehouse, opened in 1923 at the height of the silent film era, and has been showing movies to summertime visitors for nine decades.

The silent film series honors the theater's long service as a moviehouse that has entertained generations of Seacoast residents and visitors, in good times and in bad.

Upcoming shows in this year's silent series include:

• Thursday, Aug. 11 at 8 p.m.: 'Tramp Tramp Tramp' (1926); comic Harry Langdon enters a cross-country foot race to impress his dream girl, Joan Crawford!

• Thursday, Aug. 25 at 8 p.m.: 'The Sheik' (1921) and 'Son of the Sheik' (1926), two popular films of silent screen icon Rudolph Valentino on the 90th anniversary of his death.

• Thursday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m.: 'The Winning of Barbara Worth' (1927); Ronald Colman and Gary Cooper compete for a woman's favor in this epic Western filmed on location.

• Saturday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m.: 'The Man Who Laughs' (1928); celebrate Halloween with a creepy but riveting historical tale about a man forced to go through life with a maniacal grin.

A 'Christmas in July' silent film program featuring Mary Pickford in 'Tess of the Storm Country' (1922) will be shown on Thursday, July 21 at 8 p.m. at the Leavitt Theatre, 259 Main St., Route 1, Ogunquit, Maine. Admission $10 per person. For more info, call (207) 646-3123 or visit

No comments:

Post a Comment