Monday, April 16, 2012

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for the big Earthquake Show

It's a big tradition at Niles, on the weekend nearest the anniversary of the April 18, 1906 earthquake, we do an earthquake themed show. And it's a tradition for the show to sell out, which it did again.

We start with A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET (1906): This is a film we're awfully proud of, since our historian and projectionist David Kiehn did a ton of investigative work to prove it actually was 1906--specifically, April 14th 1906, just four days before the quake. I've now seen it many, many times, and it's always amusing. Especially with a good audience like we had at the show. They gasped at people narrowly missing getting run over, and they laughed when the same derby-sporting driver keeps cutting in front of the camera.

Next up was THE DESTRUCTION OF SAN FRANCISCO (1906, of course): Footage shot by Edison, Pathe, and Biograph companies. It's pretty incredible to see not just the utter destruction but the work of people who are getting back to normal-ish life.

Then an intermission, and the feature.

THE SHOCK (1923): Lon Chaney. I don't really need to say more. I've seen this at least once before at the museum, possibly multiple times. Lon Chaney is a shady cripple working for the crime syndicate in San Francisco. They send him to Fallbrook to lay low. Instead he falls in love, and when he's really there to take down his girlfriend's father, well he has a choice to make to stand up to Queen Ann, the boss of San Francisco (or at least SF Chinatown) crime. Oh yeah, and the earthquake plays a deus ex machina role in the climax, and was pretty perfectly timed. But heck, this movie is really about Lon Chaney losing himself in yet another incredible role.

Total Running Time (estimated): 120 minutes
My Total Minutes: 277,548

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