First, my neighborhood Coolidge Corner Theatre comes back with another entry in the 'Sounds of Silents' series this Tuesday, March 7th, at 7:00. It's billed as the comedic 'Battle of the Century', featuring two short films by the great Buster Keaton, going head to head with a very early short film from France, and a film from the classic duo of Laurel & Hardy. The headliner is, of course, Battle of the Century (1927) with Laurel & Hardy; this film until now was considered a partially lost film, but it has been recovered and restored just in 2015. So seeing this film at the cinema will be a rare treat. The 'battle' referred to in the title apparently at least in part relates to an epic pie throwing scene (in fact, the blurb for the film at the Coolidge indicates there may be some *actual* pie-throwing antics at the screening. Note to self: bring a change of clothes!).
However, first on the bill is The Dancing Pig (1907), a four-minute French film (Pathé Frères) featuring, you guessed it, a porcine actor light on his hooves. The Coolidge website says no animals were harmed in making this film, and I really hope that's the case.
Once we're warmed up, we're treated to one of my favorite Buster Keaton shorts, Cops (1922), an absurdist masterpiece which in which poor Buster tries to elude several dozen traffic cops chasing him on foot through some city streets. It's one of the greatest, and funniest, chase scenes ever. This is followed by The Electric House, also 1922. This one shows Buster gamely but ineptly trying to wire a house to do all kinds of tricks, such as setting up a toy train to bring food to the dinner table.
All films will be accompanied live by keyboard/percussion musicians Joanna Seaton and Donald Sosin.
|Buster Keaton & Virginia Fox in The Electric House|
|Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell in The Grapes of Wrath|
Moving across the river to Cambridge, the Brattle Theatre has announced a 'Year of Women in Cinema'. Woo-hoo! Patrons will be treated to multiple series showcasing the films that were significant for the women who contributed to them. First up, just this week is Part 1, 'The Women who Built Hollywood'. You can see the entire list here, several of which have already been screened, but Tuesday and Wednesday March 7 & 8 will feature pre-code 35 mm films from the 1930s: Red-Headed Woman (1932) -- screenwriter Anita Loos, starring the lovely Jean Harlow without her usual 'platinum' locks; The Big House (1930), a prison drama with screenplay by Frances Marion, Man's Castle with Loretta Young and Spencer Tracy, edited by Viola Lawrence; and Bombshell (1933), another Jean Harlow comedy (her blond locks are back), edited by Margaret Booth. I really enjoy Jean Harlow -- to those less familiar with her work, her name might evoke glamour and sophistication, and rightly so, but she also conveys sweetness, innocence, and girl-next-door qualities that add to her captivating screen presence.
|Gorgeous 1930s 'bombshell' Jean Harlow|
|Patricia Neal & Andy Griffith|
Just up Massachusetts Ave. ("Mass ave") in the bustling Davis Square is the Somerville Theatre, which is also offering some classics that should be on your list. First, on Wednesday, March 15th at 7:30 is A Face in the Crowd (1957), directed by Elia Kazan (A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront) starring Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal. It tells the story of a country musician becoming a TV star, who then reveals all kinds of megalomaniacal characteristics (hmmm...). Not the guy we know from TV's Mayberry. It's a film I haven't seen, but would love to.
Then on Saturday March 18 are two silent features accompanied by the terrific Alloy Orchestra. The first is Douglas Fairbanks' The Black Pirate (1926) at 4:00 PM, and the second, at 8:00 PM, is the German silent Varieté (1925) with renowned actor Emil Jannings. The latter is the same film screened at the Coolidge last year with the world premiere score from the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra. I wrote about that here. It will be interesting to see what the Alloy Orchestra does with it.
|Douglas Fairbanks doing what he does best, in The Black Pirate|