Friday, August 13, 2021

Nosferatu: Not just for Halloween anymore!
(During a pandemic, any time is Nosferatu time)

I'll never travel basic economy again!

Screening 'Nosferatu' with more than two months to Halloween? Really?

Well, consider. It's Friday the 13th. And we're in pandemic. So yes, it's as good a time as any for the original screen adaptation of the plague-infused Dracula tale.

And 'Nosferatu' (1922) is what I'll be accompanying tonight, starting at 8 p.m., on the lawn outside the Custom House Maritime Museum, 25 Water St., Newburyport, Mass. 

(And all the sailing ship action makes it a good fit for the Maritime Museum, too.)

Tickets are $15 each and are still available. And it's outdoors, so the screening may or may not include bats!

I don't actively seek out outdoor screenings to accompany, as just too many things can go wrong: summertime cloudbursts, bugs swarming around the keyboard light, fire trucks responding to a call. (Hopefully not at the screening.)

But outdoors or not, a gig is a gig, and summer is the time they happen in my part of the world. 

And so I'll be playing al fresco again on Tuesday, Aug. 17 up at Alton, N.H. Town Bandstand for a screening of 'Clash of the Wolves' (1925) starring Rin Tin Tin.

I was invited up there to be part of the town's extended "Old Home Days" festival in 2019, the year before the pandemic. We ran Buster Keaton's 'Seven Chances' (1925), and the response was good enough to merit a return this summer.

However, it came with an unusual request: for this year, please run a movie with a lot more action in it. 

Wow! It's a tough audience when Buster Keaton in 'Seven Chances' doesn't offer enough action. 

So this year I went with 'Clash' because it starts off fast (Rinty rescuing his own dog family from a raging forest fire) and then just never stops moving. (Also, the raging forest fire makes it as timely as Nosferatu during the pandemic.

And in between, I'm back indoors on Sunday, Aug. 15 to do music for the early 1916 silent adaptation of Jules Verne's '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.' The voyage starts at 4 p.m. at the Center for the Arts in Natick, Mass.

Lots more info in the press release below. Hope to see you there, or under the stars (and among the mosquitos) in Newburyport, Mass. tonight or Alton, N.H. next Tuesday!

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Contact: Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Natick Center for the Arts to screen original 1916 silent film version of '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea'

Early adaptation of Jules Verne classic pioneered underwater photography; shown with live music on Sunday, Aug. 15

NATICK, Mass.—The original silent film version of the Jules Verne classic '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' (1916) will be shown with live music on Sunday, Aug. 15 at 4 p.m. at the Center for the Arts, 14 Summer St., Natick, Mass.

Tickets are $18; Center for the Arts members $15.

Live music will be provided by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist.

In production for more than two years by Universal, the original silent film version of '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' is an epic retelling of the classic Jules Verne novel, and with elements from other Verne stories mixed in.

Allen Holubar stars as the domineering Captain Nemo, who rescues the passengers of an American naval vessel after ramming them with his iron-clad steampunk submarine, The Nautilus.

On board 'The Nautilus' in '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' (1916).

Incorporating material from Verne’s 'Mysterious Island,' the film also follows the adventures of a group of Civil War soldiers whose hot-air balloon crash lands on an exotic island, where they encounter the untamed “Child of Nature” (Jane Gail).

Calling itself “The First Submarine Photoplay Ever Filmed,” the film is highlighted by pioneering underwater photography, including an underwater funeral and a deep sea diver’s battle with a giant cephalopod.

The film, directed by Stuart Paton, was filmed largely in the Bahamas to take advantage of shallow seas and bright sunshine.

Several methods were devised to capture scenes underwater, including a sort of "reverse periscope lens" that used mirrors in long tubes to enable a camera onboard ship to film below the surface.

The film has little in common with a later adaption released in 1954 by Walt Disney Studios and starring James Mason.

In honor of extraordinary technical and artistic achievement, the silent version of '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Accompanist Jeff Rapsis will create a musical score for '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' live during the screening, in the manner of theater organists during the height of silent cinema.

"For most silent films, including '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,' there was never any sheet music and no official score," Rapsis said. "So creating original music on the spot to help the film's impact is all part of the experience of silent cinema."

"That's one of the special qualities of silent cinema," Rapsis said. "Although the film itself is well over a century old, each screening is a unique experience — a combination of the movie, the music, and the audience reaction."

The original silent film version of '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' (1916) will be screened with live music on Sunday, Aug. 15 at 4 p.m. at the Center for the Arts, 14 Summer St., Natick, Mass.

Tickets are $18; Center for the Arts members $15. Tickets must be purchased in advance online at For more information, call the Center box office at (508) 647-0097 or visit

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