An original promotional poster for 'The Mark of Zorro' (1920). Can you tell who's the star?
Cue music. One year later...
This weekend not only marks the return of Zorro to the big screen, but the return of silent films with live music at Brandon Town Hall in Brandon, Vt.
Yes, we're running the pioneering 1920 action/adventure flick 'The Mark of Zorro' (with music by me) on Saturday, June 5 at Brandon Town Hall.
Showtime is 7 p.m. More info is available in the press release pasted in below.
The film was supposed to be the opening night attraction of last year's silent film series, when our intention was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Zorro's original release.
But a year ago, the pandemic had caused the world to come down with a prolonged case of "silent filmus interruptus," so the screening (and the entire 2020 season) never happened.
Well, now we'll try again. And the return of silent film to Brandon Town Hall is not only a welcome development, it's apparently big news.
Check out this feature on the town's silent film series that aired recently on WCAX-TV out of Burlington, Vt.
One newsworthy aspect of this year's season that didn't make the TV segment is...new chairs!
Yes, the Town Hall is sporting nice new seats for this season, which I'm sure are at least a little more comfortable that the metal folder chairs used previously.
Thanks to everyone at the town hall for all the efforts to keep things going during the past year's prolonged intermission. It'll be great to be back.
Although Covid-19 is loosening its grip, precautions will still be taken to minimize the risk of those still vulnerable.
I know they're setting up the new seats in small groups instead of rows to help people keep their distance. Not sure about other things but just want people to be aware.
Here's the press release for 'The Mark of Zorro,' and hope to see you for a full season of silent cinema in Brandon, Vt.!
* * *Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (left) makes with the swordplay in 'The Mark of Zorro' (1920).
MONDAY, MAY 17, 2021 / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more info, contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Town Hall silent film series reboots with 'Zorro' on Saturday, June 5
Swashbuckling adventure classic starring Douglas Fairbanks to be screened with live music
It was the original swashbuckling blockbuster—the film that first brought 'Zorro
' to the big screen, and also turned actor Douglas Fairbanks into Hollywood's first-ever action hero.
'The Mark of Zorro'
(1920) will once again fill the silver screen, accompanied by live
music, on Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m. at the Brandon Town Hall and Community Center on Main Street in Brandon, Vt.
the first in this year's Brandon Town Hall silent film series
will feature live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based
composer who specializes in creating scores for silent films.
is free and open to the public. Donations are gladly accepted, with all proceeds to support ongoing town hall renovations.
The Brandon Town Hall will follow all Covid-19 safety
recommendations. Face coverings will be required, social distancing will
be followed, and capacity limits will be observed.
'The Mark of Zorro,' a major hit when
first released, tells the story of young Don Diego Vega, the son of a
wealthy ranch owner in Spanish California of the early 19th century.
the mistreatment of the poor by rich landowners and the oppressive
colonial government, Don Diego assumes the identity of "Señor Zorro," a masked figure of great cunning and skill, and vows to bring justice to the region.
The film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr., who until 'Zorro' had focused on playing traditional all-American leading roles in romantic comedies.
The success of 'Zorro'
launched Fairbanks on a series of historical adventure films that went
on to rank among the most popular spectacles of the silent era,
including 'The Three Musketeers' (1921) and 'Robin Hood' (1922).
The original 'Zorro' film was so popular it inspired one of Hollywood's first big-budget sequels, 'Don Q, Son of Zorro' (1925), also starring Fairbanks.
Critics have praised 'The Mark of Zorro'
for its tight story, fast pace, and exciting action sequences, which
include many stunts performed by Fairbanks himself. Steven D. Greydanus
of the Decent Films Guide wrote that the silent Zorro "...contains some of the most jaw-dropping stunts I’ve ever seen this side of Jackie Chan."
Film writer Leonard Maltin described 'Zorro' as a "silent classic with Fairbanks as the masked hero...perhaps Doug's best film...nonstop fun!"
This genre-defining swashbuckler was the first movie version of the Zorro legend. The story has since been remade and adapted many times, most recently in 1998 as 'The Mask of Zorro' starring Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas.
'The Mark of Zorro'
was the first film released by the newly formed United Artists studio,
formed in 1920 by Fairbanks with fellow silent film superstars Mary
Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and director D.W. Griffith.
The silent version of 'Zorro'
also played a key role in the formation of the DC Comics Batman
character; in the original 1939 story, a young Bruce Wayne sees 'Zorro' on the same night that his parents are later murdered, which leads him to adopt Zorro's mask and cape as a basis for his own transformation into 'Batman.'
The screening of 'Zorro' is sponsored by local residents Gary and Nancy Meffe.
screening will be accompanied by improvisation-based musical score
created live by New Hampshire silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis.
Rapsis achieves a traditional "movie score" sound for silent film
screenings by using a digital synthesizer to reproduce the texture of
the full orchestra.
Originally set to open in May, this year's silent film series is now starting June for the 2021 season after
being cancelled entirely last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
May start was pushed back one month out of an abundance of caution
regarding Covid-19, said Dennis Marden of Brandon Town Hall.
opening presentation of 'The Mark of Zorro' (1920) has been moved to
Saturday, June 5, while the June screening of Harold Lloyd's classic
comedy 'Girl Shy' (1924) is now on Saturday, June 19.
the 10th year of the town hall's popular silent film series, which
gives residents and visitors a chance to see great movies from the
pioneering days of cinema as they were meant to be shown—on the big
screen, with an audience, and accompanied by live music.
a real treat to return to Brandon for another season of great silent
film," said accompanist Rapsis. "If you've never seen one of these movies in a
theater, take a chance and check it out. You might be surprised."
Other films in this year's Brandon Town Hall silent film series include:
Saturday, June 19, 7 p.m.: 'Girl Shy
' (1924) starring Harold Lloyd.
Celebrate spring with the original rom-com, a Harold Lloyd gem starring
one of the masters of silent comedy and featuring an unforgettable
race-to-the-church finish; sponsored by Peter and Louise Kelley, Harold
and Jean Somerset.
• Saturday, July 17, 7 p.m.: Planes, Trains
and Monty Banks
. Rediscover forgotten silent comedian Monty Banks, born
"Mario Bianchi" in Italy and who emigrated to America to become a
popular 1920s Hollywood star; sponsored by Peter and Louise Kelley,
Heritage Family Credit Union, John and Lynn Wilson.
Aug. 7, 7 p.m.: 'Wild Orchids
' (1928) starring Greta Garbo. Steamy
romantic thriller just in time for the humid doldrums of summer;
sponsored by Tracy Holden and Kirk Thomas.
• Saturday, Sept. 18, 7
p.m.: 'Tramp, Tramp, Tramp
' (1926) starring Harry Langdon. Rediscover
forgotten comedian Harry Langdon in riotous visual comedy about a
cross-country foot race; sponsored by Bill and Kathy Mathis in memory of
• Saturday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m.: 'Hunchback of
' (1923) starring Lon Chaney. Victor Hugo's classic novel
about a deformed bellringer in medieval Paris, filled with classic
scenes and capped with a thrilling climax; sponsored by Harold and Jean
Somerset, Kathy and Wayne Rausenberger, Pat Hanson, and Brian and
• Saturday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m.: 'College
starring Buster Keaton. Head back to school with Buster, a bumbling
freshman who discovers sports is the only sure-fire route to popularity;
sponsored by Lucy and Dick Rouse, Edward Loedding and Dorothy Leysath,
Sam and Sharon Glaser, Peter and Louise Kelley, Bar Harbor Bank and
See Douglas Fairbanks in the groundbreaking
action/adventure 'The Mark of Zorro' (1920), to be shown on Saturday,
June 5 at 7 p.m. at the Brandon Town Hall and Community Center, Route 7,
in Brandon, Vt. All are welcome to this family-friendly event.
Admission is free, with free will donations accepted in support of
ongoing Town Hall renovations.
For more information and the latest updates on Covid-19 safety protocols at the Town Hall, visit www.brandontownhall.com
. For more about the music, visit www.jeffrapsis.com