Friday, November 28, 2014

Jason goes to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum for an all made-in-Niles show

To celebrate our 500th Saturday night show ever, we showed nothing but movies made in Niles. Which was a lot of fun, and also means I've seen a lot of these before, so I can reuse my reviews!

BRONCHO BILLY'S WILD RIDE (1914): Well, we might as well start with our patron saint at Niles. As is often the case in Broncho Billy films, he starts off as an outlaw but redeems himself. He makes a daring escape from the courthouse, jumping from the stand out the window onto a horse and away with the townsfolk chasing him. He could get away, but when he sees the judge's daughter on a runaway horse, he makes a daring move to rescue her. Well, in doing that he is caught once again, submits to the will of justice. But since he's a hero now, justice is pretty kind to him.

THE PROSPECTOR (1912): Arthur Mackley directed and starred in this, and to be honest I had trouble following what was going on. A mining claim, an attempted robbery, some gunplay. But I couldn't tell who was the good guy or the bad guy, or what anyone's motivation is.

THE CHAMPION (1915): One of five films Charlie Chaplin made in Niles. And while I've seen it in bits and pieces many, many times from playing it on the little TV in the museum gift shop, I'd never seen it on the big screen before and hence never reviewed it. Chaplin plays a boxer, first just looking for a gig as a sparring partner for a professional boxer. But when he sees everyone getting clobbered, he decides to go for the old horseshoe in the glove trick. And it works...so well that soon he's facing the champ. Gilbert M. Anderson, out of his usual Broncho Billy role, has a featured cameo as a spectator at the fight (a favor Chaplin returned with a cameo in Anderson's HIS REGENERATION the same year.)

VERSUS SLEDGE HAMMERS (1915): Finally, one I have reviewed before. Most recently about a year ago. And in that one I quoted not one, but two previous reviews I wrote:

Here's what I said when I first saw it back in 2008:
Snakeville comedy also shot in Niles. Sophie has inherited a million dollars. The Count hears of it, and decides to seduce her and marry her for her money. But her sweetheart Pete, the local blacksmith, won't give her up without a fight. Who do you think will win, in this battle of pompous aristocracy versus sledge hammers?
And here's what I said when I saw it again in 2010:
A Niles Essanay production, and one of the few surviving Snakeville comedies. Margeret Joslin is Sophie Clutts, the only eligible woman in Snakeville, AZ, and sweetheart of Mustang Pete (real-life husband Harry Todd). Tall, svelte Victor Potel is a count visiting from out of town who has his eye on Sophie, and so the battle begins. Googly-eyed Ben Turpin plays the Count's valet, who does helpful stuff like light his hat on fire (I guess you had to be there).
Ha! I have nothing to add, other than to notice how my writing evolved over time.

Ha ha! I still have nothing to add!

BRONCHO BILLY AND THE BANDIT'S SECRET (2014): I have, of course, seen this many, many times in various stages of being finished-but-not-quite-finished. This is the second time I've seen it as a truly finished movie (in that the credits are complete enough to include my name as an online backer.) It's still fun. I know the movie by heart and I always enjoy it. Feel free to peruse for yourself all the previous times I wrote about it.

Total Running Time: 101 minutes
My Total Minutes: 373,945

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