Monday, September 21, 2009

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM

And the crowd was as big as any non-comedy shorts night I've ever seen. Guess the combination of local interest (it was shot in Pleasanton), a famous book, and America's Sweetheart Mary Pickford is a pretty good draw.

Anyway, first a few shorts

MABEL, FATTY, AND THE LAW (1915): A Keystone comedy, and Fatty Arbuckle is always funny. In this one, he plays a not-quite philandering, but definitely flirtatious husband. Apologizing to the wife with a walk in the park, they both get in a bit more trouble. Although it's pretty odd for him to be arrested for having an ice cream cone with a lady who's not his wife. Different time, indeed.

THE PERILS OF PAULINE: THE DEADLY TURNING (1914): The Perils of Pauline was the biggest danger serial of its time. In this one, she enters an automobile race, but a rival plots to cause her to crash. Of course she escapes just fine, but this one was all build up, just a little bit of racing, and a very abrupt ending.

They also played a third bonus short, this one a behind-the-scenes newsreel from a studio, but for the life of me I forgot which studio. Not much of a plot, just people moving around setting up shots for a movie. It was pretty interesting watching how quickly the stage hands put up a set.

Then, after an intermission, the feature.

REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM (1917): As I said, this was filmed in Pleasanton (first in a 5-week series of movies shot in Pleasanton, and one of the first features shot there). I've also already mentioned that it's based on a famous book and stars Mary Pickford--America's Sweetheart. Pickford plays Rebecca, who--to ease her family's financial trouble--is adopted by her heartless aunts. They're totally immune to her whimsical charm, as she makes new friends and new enemies, and gets into all sorts of wacky trouble. Pickford definitely has the charm to carry the picture, and she's in full sweetheart mode here. The circus scene alone is more than worth the price of admission--just awesome.

As I said, there's another month of filmed-in-Pleasanton movies, continuing next week with Jackie Coogan in PECK'S BAD BOY (1921)
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