THE NARROW ROAD (1912): America's Sweetheart Mary Pickford stars in this early Biograph short. She anxiously awaits her husband's return from prison. He's determined to stay on the straight and narrow, but his counterfeiting biddy has other plans. A funny morality tale, and if I'm not mistaken I saw a Max Davidson cameo in there.
MANY SCRAPPY RETURNS (1927): My favorite forgotten funnyman Charley Chase is in his element. And that element is marital strife. He seems to have a fine marriage, it's his brother who always fights with his wife. So Charley and his wife stage a mock fight to teach them a lesson. Things get out of hand, culminating in a hilarious and perfectly times extended gag of everyone running around among adjoining rooms, never quite running in to each other.
Then an intermission, and on to the feature. But first, the musical accompanist, Jon Mirsalis at his Kurzweil electric organ, gave a brief demonstration of the art of accompanying a silent film. Very few of the thousands of silent features had full scores written. Some more had cue sheets, but for the vast majority the pianist was left to his or her own devices. And Mirsalis did an excellent demonstration of how what you play doesn't matter, it's how you play it. He played "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" in several different styles, ranging from romance to western and everything in between. Very illuminating.
And the feature, NEVADA (1927). Gary Cooper, William Powell, and Thelma Todd...all before they were really famous. It's a somewhat standard B Western. Cooper plays Nevada, wanted for killing a man back in Lineville. But he feels the tide of history turning--it's no longer the wild west, but a place where law will reign and he wants to change to the right side of it. The pursuing sheriff makes that kind of hard, especially when he's accused of being in cahoots with a gang of rustlers. William Powell co-stars as the bad guy (he was the villain in a lot of silent films before becoming a hero in the talkies) and Thelma Todd is the love interest--the main impetus for him turning good. Pretty good.
Total Running Time (estimated): 97 minutes
My Total Minutes: 235,529