Monday, April 6, 2009

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum and sees Hitchcock's BLACKMAIL plus a couple of shorts

It's been a while since I've been back to my local silent film theater, and it felt good to be back.

First up were a couple of comedy shorts, starting with MAGGIE'S FIRST FALSE STEP (aka THE OILY SCHEMER): A Keystone short directed by Mack Sennett. Maggie, the farmer's daughter, is seduced by the oily schemer Wallace Beery, who steals her money and dumps her in town as soon as his wife is in view. But after a bit of slapstick in a department store, she gets her revenge.

Then we saw, THE CARETAKER'S DAUGHTER: Good old Charley Chase, of course in marriage troubles. His old junker car breaks down, and then his boss asks him to take his girlfriend up to his mountain cabin, where he'll rendezvous later. Problem is, the boss' girlfriend's husband is just out of jail, and looking for revenge. And then Charley Chase's wife sees them driving, and she wants revenge. They all get mixed up with (and impersonate) the cabin's caretaker (James Parrott, who is Chase's real life brother). Very funny.

And then, after the intermission, we saw an early Hitchcock film, BLACKMAIL. This was actually filmed in a silent version and a sound version, as it was produced right at the time that THE JAZZ SINGER was doing such great business and sound was really taking off. We, of course, watched the silent version. It's a tense story of infidelity, attempted rape, murder/self-defense, and of course, blackmail. Although this is very, very early Hitchcock, you can actually see a lot of his story techniques (including his cameo) early on. Very cool.

And that was last Saturday at Niles. Next weekend is PATHS TO PARADISE with CHOP SUEY & CO. and CHASING CHOO-CHOOS. But first, there was a Sunday program yesterday in Niles, but that's for another post.

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