Monday, September 25, 2023

Classic Buster Keaton comedy 'Seven Chances' (1925) to screen with live music on Wednesday, 9/27 at Rex Theatre in Manchester, N.H.

A Swedish poster for Buster Keaton's 'Seven Chances' (1925).

Up next: I accompany a screening of Buster Keaton's 'Seven Chances' (1925) on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St. in Manchester, N.H. 

This is the one where Keaton and his team couldn't really figure out a memorable finish.

Then, during a preview, they noticed the audience perked up near the very end, when a fleeing Buster dislodged a few rocks while running down a hill.

The rocks began rolling after Buster, who had to speed up to avoid them.

This prompted Keaton and company to back to the open country outside Los Angeles and shoot one of the most memorable sequences in all of silent comedy.

What it is? Come see for yourself on Wednesday night at the Rex. Plenty more information is in the press release pasted in below.

Author Lara Gabrielle and me at the Town Hall Theatre in Wilton, N.H. on Friday, Sept. 22.

For now, I'm pleased to report that the just-completed New England book-signing tour of Lara Gabrielle went off smashingly.

Starting last Thursday, Gabrielle, author of the recently published Marion Davies biography 'Captain of Her Soul,' toured with me to venues in four states in four days. 

For the record: the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, R.I.; the Town Hall Theatre in Wilton, N.H.; the Harbor Theater in Boothbay Harbor, Maine; and the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, Mass.

Each appearance featured a screening of 'Show People' (1928) starring Davies, which I had the privilege of accompanying.

It was Lara's first visit to New England, other than a trip to Connecticut for an interview connected with the book. 

Audiences in all venues asked great questions and thoroughly enjoyed a chance to meet the author. And many books were sold and signed!

Thank you to all the theater managers and booksellers who helped make this tour possible.

Thanks also to Lara, who trekked all the way from her home in Oakland, Calif. to take part in a four-day odyssey to promote 'Captain of Her Soul,' which she worked on for 10 years.

Also, I'm pleased to report she gave thumbs up to coffee milk (a Rhode Island favorite) and also Moxie, Maine's contribution to the carbonated beverage world.  

More photos of the tour are posted on Facebook. Check it out!

And mark your calendars for Wednesday, Sept. 27, when I hope you'll join me for Buster Keaton's 'Seven Chances' at the Rex Theater in downtown Manchester. More info below!

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Buster and would-be brides in 'Seven Chances' (1925).

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Buster Keaton comedy 'Seven Chances' (1925) on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at Rex Theatre

Silent film presentation with live music features classic race-to-the-finish romantic farce

MANCHESTER, N.H.—He never smiled on camera, earning him the nickname of "the Great Stone Face." But Buster Keaton's comedies rocked Hollywood's silent era with laughter.

See for yourself with a screening of 'Seven Chances' (1925), one of Keaton's landmark feature films, on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, N.H.

General admission is $10 per person; tickets are available at the door or online at

Live music for the movie will be provided by silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis.

Adapted from a stage play, 'Seven Chances' finds Buster learning that he'll inherit $7 million if he's married by 7 p.m. on his 27th birthday—that very day!

Buster's hurried attempts to tie the knot on his own go awry. But then a newspaper story changes the game, creating an avalanche of would-be brides who relentlessly pursue Buster as he searches for his one true love before the deadline.

'Seven Chances' was the first screen adaptation of the now-familiar story, since used in movies ranging from the Three Stooges in 'Brideless Groom' (1947) to Gary Sinyor's 'The Bachelor' (1999), a romantic comedy starring Chris O'Donnell and Renee Zellwinger.

Keaton, along with Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, stands today as one of the silent screen's three great clowns. Some critics regard Keaton as the best of all; Roger Ebert wrote in 2002 that "in an extraordinary period from 1920 to 1929, (Keaton) worked without interruption on a series of films that make him, arguably, the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies."

A remarkable pantomime artist, Keaton naturally used his whole body to communicate emotions from sadness to surprise. And in an era with no post-production special effects, Keaton's acrobatic talents enabled him to perform all his own stunts, including some spectacular examples in 'Seven Chances.'

The historic Rex Theatre opened in 1940, and was recently renovated into a modern performing arts space. Now affiliated with Manchester's Palace Theatre, the Rex hosts a busy schedule of live music, comedy shows, movie screenings, and more.

In reviving Keaton's 'Seven Chances,' the Rex aims to show silent film as it was meant to be seen—in restored prints, on a large screen, with live music, and with an audience.

"All those elements are important parts of the silent film experience," said Rapsis, who will accompany the film. "Recreate those conditions, and classics of early Hollywood such as 'Seven Chances' leap back to life in ways that audiences still find entertaining."

Rapsis performs on a digital synthesizer that reproduces the texture of the full orchestra, creating a traditional "movie score" sound. He improvises the complete score in real time during the screening.

"Creating a movie score on the fly is kind of a high-wire act, but it can often make for more excitement than if everything is planned out in advance," Rapsis said.

Other upcoming films in the Rex Theatre's silent film series includes:

• Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, 7 p.m. 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1923). A 100th anniversary screening of the original screen adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel about a deformed bellringer in medieval Paris.

• Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, 7 p.m. 'Speedy' (1928). Celebrate Valentine's Day with this Harold Lloyd rom-com filmed on location in New York City—with a cameo appearance by Babe Ruth!

• Thursday, March 28, 2024, 7 p.m. 'The Ten Commandments' (1923). Long before Charlton Heston played Moses in Technicolor, director Cecil B. DeMille filmed this silent blockbuster on a grand scale.

Buster Keaton's 'Seven Chances' (1925) will be screened with live music on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, N.H.

General admission is $10 per person; tickets are available at the door or online at

For more information, call (603) 668-5588 or visit

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