Monday, November 8, 2021

In this week's hand, two pairs: dramas and comedies—music for four films in five days

Original poster art for 'The Big Parade' (1925).

I've caught my breath after October's marathon of Halloween screenings, and just in time.

Why? Because this week the calendar comes back to life (sounds like Halloween all over again) with two big dramas for Veterans Day, then a pair of comedy programs on the weekend.


First up is MGM's sprawling WWI drama 'The Big Parade' (1925), which steps off at 6:30 p.m. sharp on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center in Plymouth, N.H.

The screening is in honor of Veterans Day, and there's a lot more info in the press release I've added to the bottom of this post. 

On Veterans Day itself (Thursday, Nov. 11), it's another biggie: 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' (1921), starring Rudolf Valentino. 

The large supporting cast includes Alan Hale Sr., father of Alan Hale, Jr., who would go on to play the Skipper in "Gilligan's Island." (Hey, we all have our cultural reference points.)

Showtime for 'Horsemen' is 7 p.m. at the Showroom, a new venue opened during the pandemic by the Colonial Theater in Keene, N.H. See more info by clicking "Upcoming Silent Film Screenings" at the top right hand corner of this page. 

And then we turn the page to comedy. Saturday, Nov. 13 finds Buster Keaton attending 'College' (1927) in Brandon, Vt., while Sunday, Nov. 14 finds Harold Lloyd in 'Hot Water' (1924) in Wilton, N.H.

More details about those screenings once we get past Veterans Day.

For now, here's the press release about 'The Big Parade' (1925) on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey in Plymouth. Hope to see you there!

*  *  *

Renée Adorée and John Gilbert communicate without words in 'The Big Parade' (1925).

Contact Jeff Rapsis at (603) 236-9237 • e-mail

Epic WWI drama 'The Big Parade' to be screened on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at Flying Monkey

To be shown with live music in honor of Veterans Day; blockbuster silent film changed the way Hollywood depicted war on the screen

PLYMOUTH, N.H. — It was the 'Saving Private Ryan' of its time — a movie that showed audiences war as experienced by a front line soldier whose life is changed forever by the experience

It was 'The Big Parade' (1925), a sprawling World War I epic and a box office sensation that made MGM into a powerhouse studio. It's the latest installment of the silent film series at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 Main St., Plymouth, N.H.

'The Big Parade' will be screened one time only on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. General admission is $10.

The show will feature live accompaniment by silent film musician Jeff Rapsis.

'The Big Parade,' released just a few years after World War I ended, was hailed by critics as the first Hollywood film to depict the harsh reality of combat and its impact on troops. Its battle scenes were staged on a massive scale and still retain their ability to shock audiences.

The picture, based on the best-selling novel "What Price Glory?", follows the story of a young man (John Gilbert) who rebels against his privileged background by enlisting in the army just before the U.S. enters World War I.

He is shipped out to France, where he falls in love with a local French woman before being transferred to the front. There, he and his squadmates face the German war machine, where they must endure the ultimate tests of duty and honor in a battle they come to see as meaningless.

A scene from 'The Big Parade' (1925).

In addition to vivid war scenes, the film contains a famous dramatic sequence in which the French woman (Renée Adorée) realizes her love for the soldier, and tries to find him to say goodbye as the massive convoy of troops pulls out for the front. Another celebrated sequence depicts the light-hearted first meeting of the soldier and the girl, in which he teaches her how to chew gum.

'The Big Parade' went on to become the top-grossing movie of the entire silent film era, earning $6.4 million domestically and making director King Vidor into the Steven Spielberg of his day. It stood as MGM's biggest single box office hit until the release of 'Gone With the Wind' in 1939.

"We felt screening 'The Big Parade' was a suitable way to mark Veterans Day," said Flying Monkey manager Brooks Bartlett. "World War I is now part of history, but this picture is from a time when it was foremost in people's minds. What was then called 'The Great War' was the 9/11 of its day, and this film captures that intensity and allows us to experience it today."

Rapsis will improvise a musical score to the film in real time. In creating accompaniment for the 'The Big Parade' and other vintage classics, Rapsis tries to bridge the gap between silent film and modern audiences.

"Live music adds an element of energy to a silent film screening that's really crucial to the experience," Rapsis said. " 'The Big Parade' is filled with great scenes that lend themselves well to music. It's a real privilege to create a score to help this great picture come back to life," Rapsis said.

MGM's silent blockbuster ‘The Big Parade’ will be shown with live music on Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 Main St., Plymouth, N.H.

Admission to the screening is $10, general admission seating. For more info, call (603) 536-2551 or visit

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