Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jason goes to the Broncho Billy Film Festival--Day 3

I skipped day 2 to see a lackluster Quakes lose to the Los Angeles Galaxy at Stanford. At least a full day of tailgating, watching some World Cup Soccer on a big screen, and a fireworks show afterwards was fun.

Anyway, Sunday started off with some Baby Peggy! Or, as she's known now, Diana Serra Cary (I can think of no better way to illustrate the rapid pace of technological change than to say that I am Facebook friends with a silent film star.)

MILES OF SMILES (1923): Peggy plays twins in this one. As a baby, one twin crawls out of their crib and almost gets run over by a train. But the conductor stops in time and raises her as his own. A few years later (now with Peggy playing the twins) she is operating the train herself (a lot of Baby Peggy comedy was based on her doing grown-up work.) But then she gets mistaken for her twin, and lots of wacky hijinx ensue. Very funny.

PEG O' THE MOUNTED (1924): Peggy is playing beside a mountain cabin in Canada (actually Yosemite) when a wounded, exhausted Mountie shows up. After Peggy nurses him back to health, he explains that he was chasing some moonshiners. So now it's Peggy's job to track them down and bring them to justice.

And then there was a real treat, a of piece of a work-in-progress restoration of PEGGY, BEHAVE! (1922) This was especially interesting because I had heard many times (and read in her autobiography) about a stunt she did once where she was tied on top of a goat like she was riding it, but the goat was actually in the back of a pickup truck that was supposed to be going 15 mph. Well, the teenager they got to drive the truck was overexcited, or misheard, or something...because he took off at 50 mph. Peggy was thrown from the goat, but still attached by a length of rope. So she was dangling inches from the spinning wheels. Her dad yelled at her to hold her arms in at her sides so they wouldn't get snagged in the wheel well, and she obediently did. Eventually they stopped the truck and she was okay (although she thought she was going to die.) Anyway, i had heard the story many times, but now I've seen the scene where that happened (although her falling off the goat isn't in the final cut.) There's that scene, and a few other gags, but like I said this was a work in progress so it didn't really make much sense out of context and ended abruptly. But I'm looking forward to seeing the full restoration sometime soon.

And then there was one more screening of BRONCHO BILLY AND THE BANDIT'S SECRET. Because Diana shows up as a visiting Hollywood star, which incidentally gives her the record (not yet recognized by Guiness) for having the longest film career ever.

And then the second show in the afternoon was THE SPIELER (1928): Starring Alan Hale, Sr. (yes, the Skipper's dad) as Flash, a small time con man with his assistant and friend The Perfesser (Clyde Cook.) They decide to hide out in the one cleanly run circus in town, run by Cleo (Renée Adorée, from THE BIG PARADE.) Flash becomes a spieler, while the Perfesser learns to walk the tightrope. And Flash starts up a little romance with Cleo, and decides maybe going legit and staying with her ain't so bad. Too bad Red Moon (Fred Kohler) has other plans, and so the double-crossing starts, leading to Flash being framed. A good story, well told, and a fun way to end the weekend festival.

Total Running Time: 152 minutes
My Total Minutes: 367,159

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