Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jason goes to the Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival--Day 2

I missed most of the day to see the San Jose Earthquakes disappointingly miss an opportunity to beat the hated L.A. Galaxy, instead tying 0-0 after having L.A. down a man and with a midfielder converted to goalkeeper. They frustratingly lost their rhythm, pace, and control in the second half.

But I was back in time for a special dinner with the Niles gang, courtesy of the Nile Cafe, delicious!

And then I caught the last show of the night, which started with the presentation of the museum's Ray Hubbard Award to Richard Roberts, who besides being an excellent (and world's tallest) film historian (and champion of forgotten comedians), is also just a funny, engaging guy. But enough about him, on to the show:

THE THIEF CATCHER (1914): This was a real treat, a long lost film with a brief Charlie Chaplin cameo as a Keystone Cop. The real star, though, is the police chief Ford Sterling, who gets into a bit of trouble with some thugs, and causes some typical Keystone chaos.

WITH THE U.S. ARMY IN SAN FRANCISCO (1915): I had always known Keystone for the comedies, and thought that was all they did, but they produced so many films that sometimes they didn't have the people or gags ready to do something scripted (as much as they were ever scripted), so they did "actualities" (i.e., documentaries). This is one where they came up to San Francisco and filmed military training operations at the Presidio.

PROTECTING SAN FRANCISCO FROM FIRE (1913): Another Keystone "actuality" again in San Francisco. This time showing the readiness and equipment of the fire department (and remember, this is just 7 years after the big Earthquake that started so many fires, so this was pretty important stuff). The highlight is the massive fire boat that can protect the waterfront by spraying massive amounts of water from hoses and a water gun.

THE DAREDEVIL (1923): Another Mack Sennett comedy (after Keystone had closed) with Ben Turpin as a guy who through wacky hijinx falls into a job as a movie stuntman. Luckily Ben Turpin can't see fear, no matter how much chaos ensues.

And an intermission, and finally the feature.

THE EXTRA GIRL (1923): This print was from an old PBS series The Silent Years, and so it included an introduction by host Orson Welles. He explained how THE EXTRA GIRL was one of just two Mack Sennett feature length comedies that are known to exist. Mabel Normand stars as a small town girl with dreams of being a star. Unfortunately her dad has other plans--namely for her to marry Vernon Dent. She wins a contest for a movie contract (with the help of her boyfriend Ralph Graves) and escapes her wedding just in time to make the train. But when she gets there, it turns out life in Hollywood is none to easy. A good story, well told, with a nice mix of humor and drama. Very cool.
Total Running Time (estimated): 120 minutes
My Total Minutes: 241,259

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