Friday, December 30, 2016

I knew him as 'Commissioner Gordon'...
But Neil Hamiton was a silent-era leading man

"Is this the Caped Crusader? Come to Gotham City Police Headquarters at once!"

In creating music for early cinema, I continue to be surprised by all the connections that exist between silent film and the pop culture of my childhood.

The above gentleman falls into that category: as a kid, I knew him as Gotham City's "Commissioner Gordon," ready to use his red "hotline" telephone to reach Batman at any time.

But four decades prior to that, audiences around the world knew him as affable leading man Neil Hamilton, seen above in the silent film version of 'The Great Gatsby' (1926), one of his more notable roles. Alas, the picture is lost.

But many of his others aren't, and one of them is part of this year's silent film schedule at the Manchester City Library, 405 Pine St. in downtown Manchester, N.H.

'The Shield of Honor' (1928) is a police-focused crime drama starring Hamilton and also Thelma Todd in an early appearance.

The film never gets shown, which is why it's on the schedule this year in Manchester.

At left, Hamilton as Commissioner Gordon the 'Batman' TV series, with perennial stooge Sergeant O'Hara.

See, the focus of the series is to give neglected films a chance to be shown in the environment for which they were created: in a theater with a big screen, with live music, and—most importantly—a live audience.

That's where you come in. (And I hope you do!)

For the audience part to work, we need people. Duh, right?

So in 2017, if you're within traveling distance to Manchester, N.H., I hope you'll make it a point to drop in on a few screenings and see for yourself.

The Manchester City Library as depicted on an old postcard.

It's surprising now many pictures not regarded as classics still hold up when shown under the right conditions, which we try to recreate once a month in the library's Carpenter Memorial Auditorium.

First up is a light-hearted drama, 'The Power of the Press' (1928), directed by none other than a young Frank Capra!

Starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Jobyna Ralson (known best as Harold Lloyd's leading lady through much of the 1920s), it's missing a few scenes but has the potential to be a real winner.

So it may not be recognized as an official masterpiece. But with big names associated with it, 'The Power the The Press' has an impressive pedigree and I think deserves a chance, don't you?

If you do, please join us on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 6 p.m. for the kick-off screening of the 2017 silent film series at the Manchester City Library.

Admission is free, with donations accepted to help defray expenses. Carpenter Memorial Auditorium is located on the lower level of the Manchester City Library, 405 Pine St., Manchester, N.H.

For more information about the film, and all the titles we've lined up for 2017, check out the press release I've pasted in below.

Thanks—and Happy New Year to all!

* * *

An original poster for 'The Power of the Press' (1928), which we're showing on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at the Manchester (N.H.) City Library.

For more info, contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Comedies, dramas, thrillers—plus an early appearance of Batman's 'Commissioner Gordon'

Manchester (N.H.) City Library announces 2017 schedule of monthly silent film screenings with live music

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Films that first caused audiences to fall in love with the movies will be shown throughout 2017 at the Manchester City Library, 405 Pine St. in downtown Manchester, N.H.

The library's monthly series of films from cinema's early years, shown with live music by silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis, will continue throughout the coming year.

The programs are free and open to the public, with donations accepted to defray expenses. The shows, which take place generally on the first Tuesday of the month, begin at 6 p.m. and are held in the library's Carpenter Memorial Auditorium.

The series is designed to show early cinema the way it was intended to be seen: with a live audience, on the big screen, and with live music.

"Put those elements back together, and the films can sometimes leap right back to life," said Rapsis, a New Hampshire resident who accompanies silent film screenings around the nation.

The library's series focuses on reviving films that rarely receive screenings.

This year's schedule includes an early Frank Capra drama, a Shakespearean adaptation from Germany, and a police drama starring Neil Hamilton, a young leading man who many years later would go on to play Commissioner Gordon in the popular 1960s "Batman" TV series.

A scene from German director Paul Leni's visually imaginative drama 'Waxworks' (1924).

Rapsis said audiences are surprised at how much entertainment value remains in the works of early moviemakers.

"When these films were playing in theaters, no one called them "silent movies," Rapsis said. "They were just "the movies," and told their stories visually and with music, so no one felt anything was missing."

Today the films also function as visual time capsules, allowing audiences to see vividly how daily life was lived a century ago or more.

To score a silent film, Rapsis uses a digital synthesizer to recreate the texture of the full orchestra. The soundtrack is created live in real time as the movie is screened.

Rather than focus on authentic music of the period, Rapsis creates new music for silent films that draws from movie scoring techniques that today's audiences expect from the cinema.

First up in 2017 is 'The Power of the Press' a light-hearted drama from 1928 directed by Frank Capra and starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Jobyna Ralston. Clem Rogers (Fairbanks) is a cub reporter writing obits and weather reports when he gets a chance at a story so big he's sure to get the front page.

'The Power of the Press' will be screened on Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 6 p.m. in the Carpenter Memorial Auditorium.

Other screenings this year at the Manchester City Library include:

• Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 6 p.m.: 'The Shamrock and the Rose' (1927) starring Mack Swain, Olive Hasbrouck; prepare for St. Patrick's with this vintage ethnic comedy about the Irish Kellys family and the Jewish Cohens, neighbors in home, rivals in business—and now forced to deal with an unexpected inter-family romance!

• Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 6 p.m.: 'Othello' (1922) starring Emil Jannings, Werner Krauss; we celebrate Shakespeare's birthday (he died this month, too) with an early silent version of the bard's immortal tragedy as brought to the screen in an early German version.

• Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 6 p.m.: 'Let's Go' (1923) starring Richard Talmadge, Eileen Percy; light-hearted romp with Talmadge playing scion of a family-owned cement company. A business trip brings headaches over a paving contract, but also a chance at romance.

• Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 6 p.m.: 'Tempest' (1928) starring John Gilbert, Camilla Horn; epic drama in which an officer in the Czar's army (Barrymore) falls hard for a haughty princess (Horn), who spurns him and causes him to be stripped of rank. But the tables are turned with the Russian revolution, which upends the aristocracy and puts the soldier and the princess at the mercy of forces that no one can control.

• Tuesday, Aug, 1, 2017, 6 p.m.: 'Christine of the Big Tops' (1926) starring Pauline Garon, Cullen Landis; raised in a traveling circus, young orphan Christine is eager to prove her worth on the trapeze. But her real challenge is choosing between the affections of her Guardian and a young doctor.

• Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, 6 p.m.: 'The Shield of Honor' (1927) starring Neil Hamilton; long before he played Commissioner Gordon in the iconic 1960s 'Batman' TV show, Neil Hamilton was a leading man, saving the day and getting the girl in a steady stream of films throughout the silent era. This vintage crime drama is a good example of his output.

• Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, 6 p.m.: 'Waxworks' (1924) with Emil Jannings, Conrad Veidt, and Werner Krauss; just in time for Halloween: in this masterwork of the German Expressionist movement, a trilogy of terror is woven around the wax figures of a carnival sideshow.

• Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 6 p.m.: 'What Price Glory' (1926) starring Dolores del Río, Victor McLaglen; in the midst of World War I, two American GIs battle each other for the affections of a local girl in France. Comedy/drama was a big sprawling hit.

• Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, 6 p.m.: 'Upstream' (1927); backstage intrigue is the name of the game in this John Ford-directed feature film that was considered lost for decades until a copy was recently unearthed in New Zealand.

All screenings are free and open to the public, and take place in Carpenter Memorial Auditorium, Manchester Public Library, 405 Pine St., Manchester, N.H.

The next film in the Manchester City Library's series of silent cinema with live music is 'The Power of the Press' (1928), directed by a very young Frank Capra, which will be shown with live music by Jeff Rapsis on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 at 6 p.m.

For more information about the Manchester City Library's programming, call (603) 624-6550. For more information about the silent film series, visit

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Thoughts for 2017: I'm right about where
I wanted to be when I was 18 years old

A vintage trade ad for 'Tramp, Tramp, Tramp' (1926).

We enjoyed a big turnout at the Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre for the venue's final silent film show this year: Harry Langdon in 'Tramp, Tramp, Tramp' (1926) on Christmas afternoon.

It was also my last show for the year, too. People responded strongly to the program, which also included Laurel & Hardy's classic short 'Big Business' (1929). So it was nice to go out on a high note.

And perhaps appropriate, as the new year brings with it several musical milestones for me:

• In the first part of January, I'm scheduled to record scores for Gloria Swanson's 'Zaza,' which is being issued on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber, and for 'Homecoming' (1928), a silent German drama being reissued by Mark Roth of ReelClassicsDVD. com.

• On Sunday, Jan. 22, the New Hampshire Philharmonic will perform the world premiere of a piece for orchestra about Mount Kilimanjaro that I've written. (Lots more on that later!)

• On Sunday, Jan. 31, I'm guest for the day of the music department at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., where I'll lead workshops in improvisation and accompany a screening that evening.

• On Wednesday, Feb. 8, I make my debut "across the pond" at the Kennington Bioscope, a well-known film theatre in London, England which runs occasional silent film programs—er, programmes.

• On Sunday, Feb. 19, I'm manning the mighty Wurlitzer organ at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, Iowa for a program of silent comedies, part of this year's prestigious Sioux Falls International Film Festival. I'm eager to do more theater organ, and this is a big break for me!

• On Friday, Feb. 24 and Saturday, Feb. 25, it's the 21st Annual Kansas Silent Film Festival, where I'll collaborate with Marvin Faulwell and Ben Model to accompany a wide range of shorts and features.

• On Thursday, March 2, it's a Chaplin program at the Carnegie, an art museum in Covington, Kentucky (just across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati), where I've appeared before and where it's always a pleasure to return.

• And on Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4, I'll be in Cleveland, where John Ewing, director of the Cleveland Cinematheque, has invited me to accompany screenings at the Cleveland Museum of Art as well as his theater.

So lots to look forward to in the first part of 2017.

I'm very grateful for the opportunity to make music in so many venues, and to work and collaborate with so many talented people.

In the years since I've returned to making music a large and regular part of my life, I've learned a lot.

I've also developed, little by little, my own sense of the musical language that works for me. And with that, I'm eager to devote more time to fully written-out pieces, either for film scoring or other opportunities, such as the N.H. Philharmonic concert next month.

So it's an exciting time. I've been telling people that in terms of music, I feel I'm finally where I hoped to be at about age 18.

For now, let me just wish everyone a great New Year's holiday.

Thank you for your interest in silent film and your support of the music that I do for it.

Hope to see everyone often in the coming year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A silent film comedy program on Christmas Day,
plus a Kilimanjaro orchestral score update

Stan and Ollie peddle holiday cheer in tree form.

This Christmas, don't let Santa monopolize all the 'ho ho ho.'

Get in a few chortles yourself by attending a special Christmas Day screening of silent film comedies at the Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre.

I'll even wear one of my Christmas ties. So if the movies don't make you laugh, maybe my wardrobe choices will.

This all begs the question: how did we end up with a silent film show on Christmas day?

Well, it's all about the timing. For a monthly series, it helps to keep the screenings on the same day of the week and in the same week of each month.

So, as an example: at the Manchester (N.H.) City Library, screenings are always on the first Tuesday of the month.

That way, people get in the habit of knowing when films are running without having to check any listings.

Once in awhile, this backfires. For instance: at the Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre, shows are the last Sunday afternoon of each month.

So each May, I run into Memorial Day weekend, which leads to low attendance no matter what film we run, as people are out of town, etc.

And this year, the last Sunday of December is Christmas Day itself: Sunday, Dec. 25.

What to do?

Well, we figured enough people will need a break by Christmas afternoon to justify going ahead with the screening as a kind of public service.

And so we are. On Christmas afternoon at 4:30 p.m., I invite you to a program of crackerjack silent comedy accompanied by live music.

Featured attraction is Harry Langdon's breakthrough comedy, 'Tramp Tramp Tramp' (1926).

With a story by a very young Frank Capra, and with a very young Joan Crawford as Harry's love interest (really!), Harry's first-ever feature-length film has a lot to recommend it.

Original promotional material for 'Tramp Tramp Tramp' (1926).

Like any solid silent comedy, it's full of great visual gags that remain funny today, 90 years after 'Tramp Tramp Tramp' was released.

But the film also benefits from the antics and idiosyncrasies of Harry's weird man-child character, and also a narrative that displays the Capra-esque touch in embryonic form.

Best of all, much of the movie takes place outdoors, in the wide open spaces. So 'Tramp Tramp Tramp' has the feel of so much of Buster Keaton's best work: a sense of limitless possibilities being discovered and explored for the first time.

Watching these movies, I sometimes get a sense that filmmakers of the silent era, and especially the comedians, must have gone about their business feeling like what a kid feels like on Christmas morning.

There, tied it together! Now you have no excuse to stay home.

But just to be certain, I'm throwing in a surefire Christmas comedy starring two gentlemen named Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy.

Given the immense pressure of the holiday season, it might be refreshing to see how their own dealings with the Yuletide spirit result in anything but peace on earth.

So after all the presents are opened, give yourself the gift of laughter, even if it's directed at my tie.

More details about our holiday program at the Town Hall Theatre are in the press release below.

Don't have my own Kilimanjaro pics handy, so here's one from National Geographic.

Also, I can report that my Kilimanjaro score for orchestra is pretty much complete.

This past weekend I wrapped up the third movement and sent it off. I'll be generating parts now and getting them to the musicians of the New Hampshire Philharmonic for an expected run-through at a rehearsal this Sunday.

I do still need to reshape a couple of things about the first movement, but that should be done soon. If all works out, the group might play all four movements at their upcoming concert on Sunday, Jan. 22.

More details to come. But very exciting to be working with such a talented group and their music director, Mark Latham.

As we get closer, I'll mount a full-court press to get people to attend. For now, save the date: Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Stockbridge Theatre in Derry, N.H.

For tickets and more information about the Philharmonic, visit

* * *

Original promotional poster for 'Tramp Tramp Tramp'

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Silent film comedy 'Tramp Tramp Tramp' on Sunday, Dec. 25 at Town Hall Theatre

With live music: Harry Langdon, Joan Crawford star in cross-country comedy created by a young Frank Capra; plus Laurel & Hardy

WILTON, N.H.—This Christmas Day, receive the gift of laughter with a program of vintage silent film comedy screened with live musical accompaniment at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre.

The screening, on Sunday, Dec. 25 at 4:30 p.m., will be highlighted by classic slapstick from Laurel and Hardy, the most popular movie comedy team of all time.

Featured attraction is 'Tramp Tramp Tramp' (1926), a full-length comedy starring Harry Langdon and written by a very young Frank Capra, who would later direct the classic Christmas film 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

Joan Crawford, at the very beginning of her career, co-stars with Langdon, a comedian whose popularity rivaled that of Charlie Chaplin for a brief period in the 1920s.

The family-friendly program will be presented at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., in Wilton, N.H. Admission is free; a donation of $5 per person is suggested to help defray expenses.

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

In 'Tramp Tramp Tramp,' Langdon plays a young man determined to rescue the family shoe business from a much larger manufacturer.

To win money, he enters a cross-country walking race, but things get complicated when be develops a hopeless crash on the daughter of the rival factory's owner, whom he only knows through her picture on billboards.

Can Harry beat the odds, win the race, get the girl, and save the family business?

'Tramp Tramp Tramp,' filmed outdoors and on location, takes viewers on a cross-country journey that pits Harry again convicts, police officers, and even Mother Nature.

Can you spot the clown? Harry's cross-country journey takes some unexpected twists.

Langdon, a vaudeville performer and late-comer to silent film comedy, rocketed to sudden stardom in the late 1920s on the strength of 'Tramp Tramp Tramp' and other popular movies.

His character was that of an innocent child-like man constantly bewildered by the complexity of modern life.

Unlike many comedians of the era, Langdon earned laughs not by overreacting, but instead by his extreme slowness to respond.

"It was a whole different way of doing comedy at the time, and was a breath of fresh air in the frenetic world of film comedy," said Jeff Rapsis, who will perform a live score to the movie during the screening.

Langdon's popularity fizzled as the movie business abruptly switched to talkies in the late 1920s.

As Langdon's career faded, that of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy was taking off. Paired in 1927, the duo first became popular in the final years of silent film-making.

The Christmas Day program will feature one of the last silent comedy short subject made by Laurel and Hardy before their successful switchover to sound.

'Big Business ' (1929) finds the pair selling Christmas trees door-to-door in sunny California, where their interaction with potential customers leads to everything but peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

Live music will be provided by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist who performs at screenings around the nation. Rapsis will make his debut as an accompanist in London, England in February, 2017.

Seeing 'Tramp Tramp Tramp' at the Town Hall Theatre 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 during the screening.

"Recreate those conditions, and the classics of early Hollywood leap back to life in ways that can still move audiences today," he said.

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

The silent film series honors the Town Hall Theatre's long service as a moviehouse that has entertained generations of movie-goers.

Upcoming shows in the Town Hall Theatre's silent series include:

• Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, 4:30 p.m.: 'Way Down East' (1920) starring Lillian Gish. One of the most popular stories of the silent era features Lillian Gish as a wronged woman who can't escape her past. Still-thrilling climax on ice floes heading towards the falls was filmed on the Connecticut River!

'Tramp Tramp Tramp' (1926), a silent film comedy starring Harry Langdon and Joan Crawford, will be shown with live music on Sunday, Dec. 25 at 4:30 p.m. at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton, N.H. Free admission, suggested donation of $5 per person. For more info, call (603) 654-3456 or visit

For more information about the music, visit

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A quiet time for silent film music—but Garbo on the big screen this week at Flying Monkey

Promotional material for 'The Kiss' (1929).

Things are quiet on the silent film performance front right now, but don't let that fool you.

It's actually an intense time for me musically, with a number of projects in the works.

First up: tomorrow night (Sunday, Dec. 4) brings the first run-through of the Kilimanjaro Suite, an orchestral score I've composed.

The New Hampshire Philharmonic is including the work in a concert on Sunday, Jan. 22. So the music will be played almost exactly two years since I was part of group that reached the summit of Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak.

Tomorrow night's rehearsal is the first time the music will actually be played. Crossing my fingers, but the score came together without any really big problems.

I actually completed it last September, and then (in a very uncharacteristic display of maturity) put it away for the autumn to give it time to settle.

A sneak preview of the Bass Clarinet part.

Then in the past few weeks, with rehearsals looming, I went back in and polished things up. Then, just this past week, I generated the parts and conductor's score.

The parts have been sent out to the players. And on Friday I went down to the University of Massachusetts at Lowell to bring conductor Mark Latham a printed and bound copy of the full score.

There's still a lot of work to do. But the composing phase is pretty much done, and it felt good to send the completed piece out to the performers.

It was also weird. Unlike my silent film music, all the notes had to be written down. And that means it'll pretty much stay the way it is until next month's performance.

I'm sure practical adjustments will be needed as we get into the score. But I've learned a lot (as always, just by doing), and it's already been a worthwhile experience.

The N.H. Philharmonic performing 'Carmina Burana' earlier this year.

I'll post more details about the Kilimanjaro Suite as we work our way through rehearsals up to the world premiere.

Like to attend? The performance will be on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. at the Stockbridge Theatre in Derry, N.H. For tickets and information, visit

Another project this month is that I'll be recording a score for 'Homecoming' (1928), a German drama being released on DVD by Mark Roth of (Hey, another Mark!)

This is another case of me stretching my musical legs, so to speak. Until now, I've focused on live performance and building up my instincts as an accompanist rather than on recording.

But lately, I've felt my own musical language as well as my technique and approach for film scoring are at a place where recording makes sense.

So when Mark reached out with 'Homecoming,' I jumped at the chance. So this month I'll be getting together some equipment to record and edit audio files.

And there's more! In February, I'll be making my London debut as a silent film accompanist. But more on that as we get closer.

For now, there's one final cluster of screenings left on the 2016 calendar, and they're coming up this week:

• Tuesday, Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m.: 'Mockery' (1926) starring Lon Chaney; Manchester City Library, 405 Pine St., Manchester, N.H. Free admission, donations accepted. Already tired of Christmas? Then lose yourself in this Russian historical drama. During the Russian Revolution, a mentally challenged peasant saves a beautiful countess from invading Cossacks, then obsesses over her. Often overlooked Chaney drama with heavy helping of class warfare.

• Wednesday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.: Holiday-themed silent film program at the Townsend (Mass.) Public Library, 12 Dudley Road, Townsend, Mass. Free admission! 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.

• Thursday, Dec. 8, 6:30 p.m. 'The Kiss' (1929) starring Greta Garbo; The Flying Monkey Movie House and Performance Center, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H. Admission $10 per person. Take a break from holiday shopping with this steamy romance and courtroom thriller. Will Garbo resort to murder, risking everything for love? Garbo's last silent role and the final silent film released by MGM.

'The Kiss' is a big one, incidentally, not only because it was MGM's final silent film. Also, a still from the courtroom scene was used on an edition of 'The Parade's Gone By,' Kevin Brownlow's tribute book to the silent film era, thus lending it a kind of iconic status among the vintage film community.

The cover of Mr. Brownlow's book.

For more details on 'The Kiss,' check out the press release below.

And I don't know what the weather will be next Thursday.

But with Garbo on screen, you can be sure that any winter chill will be vanquished.

* * *

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

'The Kiss' (1929), Garbo's final silent film, to screen at Flying Monkey on Thursday, Dec. 8

Intense romantic who-dunnit to be show with live music; drama concludes Flying Monkey's 2016 silent film series

PLYMOUTH, N.H.—It was the very last silent film produced by a major studio in the United States.

Starring Greta Garbo, 'The Kiss' (1929) was released by MGM in November 1929, long after all other Hollywood studios had abandoned the silent genre in favor of the popular new "talkies."

'The Kiss,' an intense romantic murder mystery, will be screened with live music on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Theatre, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H. Tickets are $10 per person.

In 'The Kiss,' Irene (Greta Garbo) plays a young woman unhappily married to an older gentleman; to add to her woes, she is in love with a young lawyer, André (Conrad Nagel).

Unable to find a solution to continue their romance, they stop seeing each other. Irene starts spending her time with young Pierre (Lew Ayres), the son of her husband's business associate, who is infatuated with her.

When Pierre leaves for college, he begs her for a goodbye kiss. After a chaste kiss, Pierre steals another more passionate one—as Irene's husband takes notice. This sets the stage for a murder mystery, the ensuing trial, and a dramatic conclusion.

Garbo in her final role prior that people hearing that famous accent.

Directed by Jacques Feydau, 'The Kiss' also stars actors Conrad Nagel and Lew Ayres.

MGM kept releasing silent films with Garbo in part because the Swedish actress lacked a solid command of English, which she spoke with a very thick accent.

Worried at damaging the appeal of a highly bankable star, MGM continued to feature Garbo in silents for as long as possible, even as the industry otherwise switched over to sound films.

However, following 'The Kiss,' Garbo found continued success in talking pictures beginning with 'Anna Christie' (1930), her husky and distinctive voice proving to be a large part of her enduring appeal.

'The Kiss' will be accompanied by live music by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist who performs at venues across the region and beyond.

"Films such as 'The Kiss' were created to be shown on the big screen and in a theater as a communal experience," Rapsis said. "With an audience and live music, they still come to life in the way their makers intended them to.

"So the Flying Monkey's silent film screenings are a great chance for people to experience films that caused people to first fall in love with the movies," he said.

'The Kiss' is the latest in a monthly series of silent films presented with live music at the Flying Monkey.

"If you can put pieces of the experience back together again, it's surprising how these films snap back to life," Rapsis said. "By showing the films under the right conditions, you can get a sense of why people first fell in love with the movies."

Upcoming silent film titles at the Flying Monkey include:

• Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, 6:30 p.m.: 'Peter Pan' (1924) starring Betty Bronson, Ernest Torrence. The original silent film adaptation of J.M. Barrie's immortal tale of the boy who wouldn't grow up. Join the Darling children as they follow Peter to Never Never Land to do battle with the evil Captain Hook.

• Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, 6:30 p.m.: 'The Clinging Vine' (1926) starring Leatrice Joy. Recover from Valentine's Day with this gender-bending comedy in which a high-powered female executive yearns to become more feminine. Surprisingly androgynous performance by Joy, wife of MGM megastar John Gilbert.

• Thursday, March 16, 2017, 6:30 p.m.: 'Sadie Thompson' (1928) starring Gloria Swanson, Lionel Barrymore. Intense drama of a "fallen woman" who comes to an island in the South Seas to start a new life, but encounters a zealous missionary who wants to force her back to her former life in San Francisco.

• Thursday, April 13, 2017, 6:30 p.m.: 'King of Kings' (1927) directed by Cecil B. Demille. Just in time for Easter: Cecil B. Demille blockbuster includes crucifixion scene complete with earthquake, landslides, and a cast of thousands.

Original poster for 'Speedway' (1929).

• Thursday, May 18, 2017, 6:30 p.m.: 'Speedway' (1929) starring William Haines, Ernest Torrance. Fasten your seat belts! We mark the traditional Memorial Day running of the Indianapolis 500 with a vintage race car drama filmed right on the famed track—at speeds topping 115 mph!

'The Kiss' (1929) will be shown on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H. Admission is $10 per person. For more info, call (603) 536-2551 or visit For more info on the music, visit