Thursday, August 10, 2017

We're off to see the Wizard—and also Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton, and the future

No, not the one with Judy Garland—it's Larry Semon's silent film version of the iconic tale, on screen at the Flying Monkey in Plymouth, N.H. on Thursday, Aug. 10.

Happy mid-August! The next four days bring four screenings in three states, and films that take us to Oz, France, the American West, and a city of the future.

Here's a quick round-up:

• Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, 6:30 p.m.: "The Wizard of Oz" (1925) starring Larry Semon; The Flying Monkey Movie House and Performance Center, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H.; (603) 536-2551; Early silent film version of Frank L. Baum's immortal tales features silent comedian Larry Semon in a slapstick romp that also casts Oliver Hardy as the Tin Man. Oz as you've never seen it before! Part of a monthly silent film series at a newly restored moviehouse in Plymouth, N.H. Admission, $10 per person.

Some original promotional art for 'Zaza,' starring Gloria Swanson and H.B. Warner.

• Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, "Zaza" (1923) starring Gloria Swanson, H.B. Warner. Vintage Dance Weekend, Knights of Columbus Hall, Nahant, Mass. Private event not open to the general public. Romance set in France in which Swanson plays a hot-tempered provincial actress who gets entangled with a married diplomat. Swanson's ebullience in Zaza was unfeigned; she called it "the fastest, easiest, most enjoyable picture I ever made."

Buster Keaton and co-star Brown Eyes in 'Go West.'

• Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, 7 p.m.: "Go West" (1925) starring Buster Keaton; Brandon Town Hall and Community Center, Main Street/Route 7, Brandon, Vt.; Buster heads out to ranch country, where the stone-faced comedian encounters romance with—a cow! Can he save his love from a trip to the livestock yards? Rustle up some belly laughs as Buster must once again prove himself worthy to all those who doubt him. Join us for a series of silent films and live music in a wonderfully restored town hall in Brandon Vt. that features great acoustics. Admission free, donations accepted, with proceeds to help continuing preservation work.

From 'Metropolis': it just wouldn't be a city of the future without a giant mechanical gong!

• Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, 7:30 p.m. "Metropolis" (1927) directed by Fritz Lang; Aeronaut Brewing Co., 14 Tyler St., Somerville, Mass. Admission $10 per person, limited seating. The eye-popping silent film sci-fi masterpiece of German filmmaker Fritz Lang is a vintage look at things to come. Restored version includes nearly a half-hour of lost footage that was rediscovered in Argentina in 2008. Seen in its entirety and with live music, 'Metropolis' stands as an stunning example of the power of silent film to tell a compelling story without words, and reach across the generations to touch movie-goers from the real future that came to pass: us! Part of the Aeronaut Brewery's commitment to showcase local music, art, and performance. Limited seating so reserve early; for more details on tickets, visit Aeronaut Brewing. online.

It would have been five screenings in five days, but I gave up a slot at the Harvard Film Archive on Monday, Aug. 14 so that fellow accompanist Andrew E. Simpson could make a much-anticipated visit to the Boston area.

If you're interested in hearing one of the most talented accompanists in the field, get thee to the Harvard Film Archive next Monday night to hear Andrew do his stuff for Ernst Lubitsch's 'The Wildcat.' Here's the listing:

• Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, 7 p.m.: "Die Bergkatze/The Wildcat" or "The Mountain Cat" (1921), directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge, Mass. (617) 496-3211. Admission $9 per person, $7 for non-Harvard students, Harvard faculty and staff, and senior citizens; free for Harvard students. Part of a summer-long retrospective of the work of director Ernst Lubitsch. Amidst delightfully bizarre décor—framed by altering screen shapes—a stalwart bandit chaser falls for bandit’s daughter Pola Negri. Lubitsch’s German comedy masterpiece is "both an anti-militarist satire and a wonderful fairy tale" (John Gillett). For this screening, I'm pleased to have accompanist Andrew E. Simpson sit in at the keyboard!

And another special note: earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to be asked to do a piano score for Kino-Lorber's re-issue of 'Zaza.' The disc is now out, and just this week I received a box of copies that I can make available to fans at screenings.

And, thanks to the kind folks at Kino-Lorber, I'm able to make them available at a discount off the published retail price. But you can only get this deal by attending a screening!

So I'll have them with me until the stock runs out. If you'd like me to save one for you, please send me a note indicated standard DVD or Blu-ray and I'll set a copy aside.

P.S. This Sunday, I'm being interviewed by Harvard Magazine for a story about the art of silent film accompaniment. So I may not have made it into Harvard, but at least I'll be in the magazine!

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