Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for the Big Earthquake show--featuring recently discovered footage of San Francisco after the quake

So I skipped Saturday night at SFFILM, because I had an incredible opportunity back at my local silent film theater.

A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET (1906): The film that, through a 60 Minutes piece (look for me in the final seconds in the audience at the show!) made our little film museum famous! A camera attached to a streetcar, from 8th street to the Ferry Building. Watch all the traffic going past! Read the license plates! Watch the guy in the bowler hat go back and forth a half dozen times! Watch for the puddles at the end! Realize these are all inside jokes, because they're part of how David Kiehn figured out that it was made just 4 days before the famous 1906 earthquakes.

SAN FRANCISCO AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE (1906): So this was the amazing treat. A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET was filmed by the Miles Brothers Studio, and was on a train to New York the night before the earthquake. But when they heard about the earthquake, they took a crew onto a train back to San Francisco and started filming some of the first footage of the aftermath. And that footage was discovered at a yard sale, and the museum is in the process of restoring it. This was a digital work-in-progress screening, but it was still incredibly moving. And the 35 mm restoration will premiere at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (with TRAPPOLA) in under a month!

Then a brief intermission, and the feature.

OLD SAN FRANCISCO (1927): A thriller of land deals, organized crime, and Chinatown (complete with really bad Chinese stereotypes. Some of the challenge of these old films is dealing with old attitudes.) The Vazquez family was one of the oldest in San Francisco, but they're in decline. Just an old man, his granddaughter, and his grand but crumbling estate. And a sleazy businessman with Chinese crime connections who wants their land...and the daughter...and will resort to ruthless means to get them. And there's the dashing hero, who happens to be the nephew of an employee of the villain and also happens to be smitten with the granddaughter. He might be able to save the day, maybe with a little help by the shaking earth.

Total Running Time: 106 minutes
My Total Minutes: 477,028
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