Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Topeka! Utica! Columbus! Cleveland! Ocala!
But first: 'Manhandled' on 2/23 in Wilton, N.H.

Promotional art for Gloria Swanson in 'Manhandled.'

It's a new one for me: 'Manhandled,' a 1924 Gloria Swanson comedy screening on Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Town Hall Theatre in Wilton N.H.

Read more about this rarely shown Allan Dwan-direct title in the press release tacked onto this post.

After that, I hit the road. In the next six weeks, I'll accompany screenings in places ranging from Topeka, Kansas (hometown of actress Annette Bening!) to Utica, N.Y. (hometown of another Annette: Annette Funicello.)

But first, I'd be remiss not to tip my tinfoil hat to everyone at the Boston Sci-Fi Marathon, which took place this past Sunday-Monday at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, Mass. (They really do encourage tinfoil hats, even to the point of providing a supply of Reynolds Wrap in the lobby.

This year's program included a silent entry: the John Barrymore 'Dr. Jekyll & Hyde' (1920) in honor of the film's 100th anniversary, and I was privileged to provide live accompaniment.

Over the years, I've done music for maybe a half-dozen silents for the sci-fi marathon (now in its 45th year), and it's always one of my favorite gigs. Why? Because you can't beat the audience, which hoots and hollers and talks back to the screen and just generally has a ball.

Example: As Dr. Jekyll, John Barrymore's dramatic pause before consuming his potion goes on for just a tad too long. This prompts audience cries of "Drink it! Drink it!!"

And at the end, the ovation that erupts is like no other. The closest I will ever come to feeling like a rock star is the moment after a silent film's 'The End' title at the Boston Sci-Fi Marathon.

Thanks to everyone for making it a memorable experience. I'm actually starting to get bookings for other sci-fi marathons: I did 'Aelita, Queen of Mars' (1924) last month at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and I'm heading out to the Buckeye State again in March to accompany 'The Lost World' (1925) at the Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon in Columbus.

Ah, but first Gloria Swanson gets 'Manhandled' this weekend in Wilton, N.H. Hope to see you there!

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Next up at the Town Hall Theatre in Wilton, N.H.: Gloria Swanson in the 1924 hit 'Manhandled.'

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

Gloria Swanson to get 'Manhandled' at Town Hall Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 23

Iconic silent star in uproarious society comedy; silent film with live music

WILTON, N.H.—She's one of the few stars from the silent days whose name is still instantly recognized by the movie-going public.

She's Gloria Swanson, who defined an era with memorable performances that ranged from intense drama to flat-out comedy.

Swanson's comedic gifts are on display in 'Manhandled' (1924), a riotous society comedy, to be screened with live music on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton, N.H.

The screening will be accompanied with live music by Jeff Rapsis. Admission is free and open to all; a donation of $10 per person is suggested to help defray expenses.

'Manhandled,' directed by Allan Dwan, tells the story of Tessie McGuire (Swanson), a down-on-her-luck salesgirl who climbs the social ladder by pretending to be a Russian countess.

Tessie is a working class gal who attends a sculptor's party, where her skill with mimicry makes her a hit. She is hired by a fashionable dressmaking establishment to use her acting skills on their customers.

Tessie finds that by impersonating a Russian noblewoman, she has men at her beck and call. But then authentic Russians arrive, with unexpected complications.

"Seeing a Gloria Swanson picture in a theater with live music and an audience is a classic movie experiences," said Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film musician and the Town Hall Theatre's resident accompanist.

Rapsis emphasized the value of seeing early cinema as it was originally presented.

"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.

'Manhandled' starring Gloria Swanson, will be screened with live music on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Theatre, 40 Main St., Wilton, N.H. Admission is free; a donation of $10 per person is suggested to defray expenses.

For more info, visit www.wiltontownhalltheatre.com or call (603) 654-3456.

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