Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Harold, Gloria, Greta and Buster all wish you a very happy Valentine's Day

Harold Lloyd displays one reaction to romance in 'Never Weaken' (1921).

Every year I have such high hopes for Valentine's Day.

As a silent film accompanist, I imagine doing music for great old films while surprised couples find them so beguiling that the deal is sealed right there.

They love each other! Or they love silent film! I'll take either outcome.

So, will my latent Yente find satisfaction this time around?

We'll know soon, as here comes yet another Valentine's Day, and silent film romance is in the air—or at least on selected screens in my corner of the world.

Romantic or not, you're welcome to join us for a stretch of some great classic cinema in some really great venues.

We start off Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. with a Harold Lloyd program at Red River Theatres in Concord, N.H.

On the bill are two of what I would call Lloyd's sure-fire romantic comedies—the short 'Never Weaken' (1921) and feature-length 'Girl Shy' (1924).

To call these films "romantic comedies" is to reverse-engineer the label, which wasn't used to describe this genre of movies until much, much later.

Even so, Lloyd, by weaving somewhat plausible romance into his character and stories, pioneered the notion of the sweet boy-meets-girl picture that became a staple of the motion picture industry.

Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston, along with dog and train conductor, in the midst of their "meet-cute" in 'Girl Shy.'

Also, among its other virtues, 'Girl Shy' boasts some of the most exciting and suspenseful sequences of any of the Lloyd features.

And there's nothing like seeing Lloyd films in a theater with an audience, which is how they were meant to be experienced.

So check it out—complete info for the Red River's Harold Lloyd Pre-Valentine's Day Show is found in the press release pasted in below, or visit

Then Saturday, Feb. 10, I haul myself up to the foothills of the White Mountains for what's become an annual tradition: pot luck supper and silent movie night at the Campton (N.H.) Historical Society.

This year our star is Gloria Swanson, who will hold the screen with 'Zaza,' her big 1923 feature for Paramount Pictures.

I created music for a DVD/Blu-Ray reissue of 'Zaza' by Kino-Lorber last year; Saturday night's screening will be a live recreation of the score.

Also on the program: Gloria's early appearance in 'Teddy At the Throttle' (1916), a Mack Sennett Keystone comedy.

Admission is free, but attendees are expected to bring a dish for the pot luck. Also, donations accepted to help support the historical society's programming.

Dinner is at 5 p.m., the movies start at "6-ish." For more info, visit the Campton Historical Society online.

And on Sunday, Feb. 11, it's a double helping of romance.

At 4:30 p.m., we're running Greta Garbo's 'Wild Orchids' (1928) at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre in Wilton, N.H.

When that wraps, I zip down to the Aeronaut Brewing Co. in Somerville, Mass., where at 8 p.m. we're running Buster Keaton's classic comedy 'The Cameraman' (1928).

More info about these screenings is on my online calendar. Hope you can make it!

Okay, here's the press release for our Harold Lloyd program on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.:

Not sure how Harold's approach to women will go over in the midst of the "Me, too" movement—but we'll find out.

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

No words: Red River salutes Valentine's Day with silent comedy romance

Live music to accompany Harold Lloyd's uproarious feature film 'Girl Shy' on Thursday, Feb. 8

CONCORD, N.H.—When words can't express how you feel, then let a classic silent film do the talking.

That's the sentiment behind an upcoming screening of 'Girl Shy,' a vintage Harold Lloyd silent comedy, to be shown at Red River Theatres, 11 South Main St., Concord, N.H.

'Girl Shy' (1924), along with a Lloyd comedy short 'Never Weaken' from 1921, will be screened on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in Red River's Stonyfield Farm Theater. The films will be accompanied live by silent film musician Jeff Rapsis.

Admission to this special program is $12 per person.

'Girl Shy' (1924) stars Harold Lloyd as a shy young man from a small town who pens a book about imaginary female conquests. Trouble begins when bashful Harold falls in love for real, and then must rescue his beloved from marrying the wrong man in the big city.

Harold's dilemma prompts a climactic race to the altar that stands as one of the great chase sequences in all of cinema. The sequence was so successful that MGM used it as a model for the famous chariot race in the original 'Ben Hur' (1925).

Co-starring in 'Girl Shy' is actress Jobyna Ralston, who often played Lloyd's leading lady, including in later Lloyd masterpieces 'The Freshman' (1925) and 'The Kid Brother' (1927).

'Girl Shy,' directed by Lloyd's colleagues Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, was among the top 10 grossing films of 1924.

The screening of 'Girl Shy' will be preceded by 'Never Weaken,' an earlier short film that features Lloyd's brand of "thrill" comedy. In it, a jilted Lloyd attempts to commit suicide, only to wind up stranded on the girders of an uncompleted skyscraper high over the street of Los Angeles.

Harold Lloyd, along with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, stands today as one of the three masters of silent comedy. Throughout the 1920s, Lloyd's films enjoyed immense popularity, ranking regularly among the highest-grossing of the era.

Though Lloyd's reputation later faded due to unavailability of his movies, the recent re-release of most of his major films on DVD and other media has spurred a reawakening of interest in his work and has led to more screenings of his work in theaters, where it was designed to be shown.

"Seeing a Harold Lloyd film in a theater with live music and an audience is one of the great experiences of the cinema of any era," said Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film musician who will accompany both films.

Rapsis emphasized the value of seeing early cinema as it was originally intended to be shown.

"These films were designed for the big screen, live music, and large audiences. If you can put those conditions together again, you get a sense of why people first fell in love with the movies," Rapsis said.

'Girl Shy' and 'Never Weaken,' two comedies starring Harold Lloyd, will be screened with live music on Thursday, Feb. 8 at Red River Theatres, 11 South Main St., Concord, N.H. Admission is $12 per person.

For more info, visit or call (603) 224-4600. For more about the music, visit

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