Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jason goes to the Broncho Billy Film Festival--Day 1

Still catching up on my blog. A few weeks ago, June 27-29th, the Niles Film Museum celebrated the 17th annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival (yes, the festival existed well before the brick-and-mortar museum)

Early Friday evening all the regulars and pass-holders gathered early for a little summertime barbecue. By which I mean a ton of hot dogs, beans, lemonade, and other snacks. I was pretty damn stuffed by the time the first movie came on.

And that opening film was BRONCHO BILLY AND THE BANDIT'S SECRET, made last year by the museum, this was at least the fifth time I've seen it. But each of those previous screenings were kind of a "work in progress" screening. Not that they didn't look good, it's just that some of the lab work wasn't finished (especially balancing the brightness and contrast) and a few intertitles were still being tweaked. And that lab work was delayed as more and more film labs are going out of business. So this was finally the really, really, really final version...and it looked fantastic! I mean, I could have been pretty tired of the movie by now, but it was pretty remarkable what a difference it made. Of course, my favorite addition was at the end of the credits where they thank all the Indiegogo backers and my name appeared on screen!

And then the feature, THE BIG PARADE (1925): This WWI epic stars John Gilbert and was directed by King Vidor. Gilbert stars as an idle rich young man, who has no intention of enlisting (the delight of his mother and embarrassment of his father.) But the patriotic fervor of his friends sweeps him up, and next thing you know he's of to France (to the delight of his father and heartache of his mother.) There he becomes fast friends with two working class soldiers and romances a pretty French girl (Renée Adorée) before his unit is sent to the front. And then the movie gets its classic reputation for the unflinching portrayal of the horrors of war (much like ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT did a short time later.) The scenes of war are still powerful today, and Gilbert's acting, Vidor's directing, and a great script easily make it a classic.

Running Time: 150 minutes
My Total Minutes: 367,006

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