Sunday, May 30, 2021

Up next: Rin Tin Tin in Plymouth, N.H. on Thursday 6/3, plus pandemic thank you notes

Rin Tin Tin shares a moment on the set with frequent human co-star June Marlowe.

Next up: we go to the dogs with canine superstar Rin Tin Tin in 'Clash of the Wolves' (1925). It's a rip-roaring (and tail-wagging) adventure flick screening with live music by me on Thursday, June 3 at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse in Plymouth, N.H. More details in the press release below.

And as we cruise through this year's Memorial Day weekend (marked by dank, rainy weather in New England), a look at the calendar shows it's the last weekend for me until September that does not include some kind of silent film screening with live music.

To me, that's the surest sign that the Covid-19 pandemic is finally lifting. All of my usual summer series are back up and running in 2021, and there's even a new series starting at the Rex Theatre in downtown Manchester, N.H. 

That's quite a change from this time last year, when ALL screenings were cancelled due to you-know-what. And it's been slim pickings ever since, with screenings later resuming only in the Town Hall Theatre in Wilton, N.H., the Flying Monkey in Plymouth, N.H., and at the Center for the Arts in Natick, Mass.

I'm indebted to these three venues for staying open and trying to run some programming, even at a time when first-run movies and live music acts just weren't realistic options. But they all soldiered on with silent film/live music programs, which did bring in audiences during the pandemic.

At the Town Hall Theatre, owner/operator Dennis Markaverich actually increased the silent film schedule during the pandemic, more than doubling the number of screenings during a typical month. This led to a spate of adventurous programming, including Fritz Lang's two-part 1922 epic 'Dr. Mabuse Der Spieler' last fall and a two-day marathon screening of all 15 chapters of 'The Woman in Grey,' a multi-part serial from 1920.

Dennis also indulged me with a week-long series of silent comedy programs last summer, an aviation film festival last fall, a week of obscure silent features in January, and a three-day recreation of the Kansas Silent Film Festival in February. So it's been a year to remember, for all the right reasons. Thank you, Dennis!

Now I'm looking forward to getting back to accompanying silent films in a wider range of venues this summer, including the Brandon (Vt.) Town Hall (starting Saturday, June 5 with 'The Mark of Zorro'), the Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit, Maine (starting Wednesday, June 9 with Chaplin's 'The Kid'), and — new this summer! — the Rex Theatre in Manchester, N.H. with Buster Keaton on Thursday, July 15.

A complete list of all silent film screenings on my calendar is available online by clicking on "Upcoming Silent Film Screenings" at the top right corner of this page. Also, send me your e-mail address and you'll get a monthly round-up of upcoming programs of silent film with live music. 

With so many bookings on the calendar, I'm tempted to say it's great to be back. But quite a few venues are still not back to showing regular screenings, especially in the Boston area, where tight restrictions were lifted only this weekend. 

So it may be awhile before we get to enjoy silent films again at the Somerville Theatre, the Coolidge Corner, the Brattle, or other Beantown locales. Stay tuned!

For now, you can catch Rin Tin Tin on Thursday, June 3 at the Flying Monkey. Showtime is 6:30 p.m. and more info in the press release below. See you at the movies!

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The opening title of 'Clash of the Wolves.'

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Rin Tin Tin leaps back into action Thursday, June 3 at Flying Monkey

Legendary dog star races to the rescue in 'Clash of the Wolves' silent adventure film, presented with live music

PLYMOUTH, N.H.. — He couldn't speak. But that was no handicap for a star during the silent film era.

He was Rin Tin Tin, the legendary German Shepherd dog whose popularity rivaled that of any human performer when the movies were brand new.

See for yourself on Thursday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m., when the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center screens a vintage Rin Tin Tin silent adventure film with live music.

In 'Clash of the Wolves' (1925), Rin Tin Tin plays a wild wolf who befriends a prospector; together they hunt down a criminal intent on jumping the prospector's claim and stealing his girl.

'Clash of the Wolves' will be shown at the Flying Monkey, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H. Admission $10 per person, tickets available at the door or via

The film will be shown with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer and performer who specializes in scoring silent film.

An original lobby card promoting 'Clash of the Wolves.'

Rin Tin Tin films were produced by then-struggling Warner Brothers and proved immensely popular around the world, with audiences marveling at the then-new German Shepherd breed's feats of derring-do as he out-smarted his human co-stars.

At the time, studio executives referred to Rin Tin Tin "the mortgage lifter" because the dog's pictures helped rescue the ailing studio from bankruptcy.

Rin Tin Tin was so popular, he was named "Best Actor" at the first-ever Academy Awards in 1929 until ceremony officials decided on a re-vote in favor of human performer Emil Jannings.

To improvise a live musical score for 'Clash of the Wolves,' silent film musician Jeff Rapsis will use a digital synthesizer to recreate the texture of a full orchestra.

"The Rin Tin Tin films are great pictures for audience reaction, even today," Rapsis said. "They're full of fast-paced action, great stunts, and above all they really move!"

"If you're new to the art form of silent film, seeing the Rin Tin Tin pictures in a theater with live music is a terrific way to get acquainted with the enduring power of this kind of movie-making," Rapsis said.

Rin Tin Tin remained popular throughout the silent film era and until his death in 1932, which made headlines around the globe. But his progeny went on to star in later films and TV shows, keeping the name before the public for generations.

Rin Tin Tin's descendants are still bred, continuing the bloodline to the present day. The ongoing Rin Tin Tin phenomenon inspired a recent book, "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend" by New Yorker writer Susan Orlean.

‘Clash of the Wolves' (1925) starring Rin Tin Tin will be shown with live music on Thursday, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H. For more info, call (603) 536-2551.

Admission $10 per person, tickets available at the door or online at
Rin Tin Tin meets with studio executives to plot his next career move.

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