Saturday, July 20, 2013

Jason goes to SilentFest--Day 2

I had a long day of work on Friday, but I finally got out in time to make it to the 7:00 show. Now I'm at silent films all weekend. No more thinking about work until Monday...then it'll be a hellacious work week, just in time for Jewfest. But anyway, on to the movies!

THE PATSY (1928): The first movie I saw was a delightful comedy that takes me back to my first experience at the SF Silent Film Festival back in 2008. Let's see what I wrote then (scroll down to the bottom, I put the entire festival in one post):
And the final feature, the comedy "The Patsy" starring Marion Davies and directed by King Vidor. Marion is Patricia Harrington, the little sister of the Harrington family, ruled by a domineering mother (Marie Dressler, also awesome) who clearly prefers her big sister Grace. Pat is more of a daddy's girl, problem is daddy can't stand up to ma. Pat has eyes for Grace's boyfriend, who doesn't even know she exists. Grace is a big flirt and starts canoodling with the local rich playboy, leaving her former beau in the dust. Eventually he actually figures out that Pat is interested, but not before wacky hijinx and uncomfortable mix-ups. And loads of tom-foolery by Davies, including a famous scene of her impersonating other famous female screen legends of the time, that had the house roaring with laughter. An excellent way to end the festival on a high note.
Well, that's a pretty good recapping of the plot (oh yeah, should've come with a SPOILER ALERT!) But it doesn't capture how absolutely hilarious it is. Especially given that Marion Davies is mostly known as Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, unfairly maligned by proxy in CITIZEN KANE, and mostly used in period dramas by Hearst. In fact, she was freakin' hilarious.

And complementing her comedic talents (and those of her co-stars and director King Vidor) was the excellent Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, with a snappy, funny, upbeat score that perfectly matched the tone of the movie.

THE GOLDEN CLOWN (KLOVNEN) (1926): Then we ended the night switching from comedy to tragedy in this Danish production, introduced by Czar of Noir Eddie Muller. Gösta Ekman stars as the clown, and was a famous Swedish actor and singer of the time. Oddly, his singing talents play a major role in this silent film. He plays a clown for a small, travelling country theater. He was found as a baby and the note with him was in English so they decided his name was Joe Higgins. He's sweet on the circus princess Daisy, and when he's discovered by a famous Parisian and becomes a star, he finally has the money to marry her. Things look to be great (and for the first 45 minutes or so it looked like it might be a feel-good story about nice circus folk finding the good life.) But instead he and his wife get into a love triangle with a fashion editor who woos her while he's too busy working on his act. She falls for the cad, he falls to drinking, and everyone's life gets destroyed. A real downer of a story, but a magnificently told story (featuring a spectacularly staged "Tower of Clowns" by Danish director A. W. Sandberg.

And the careful balance of circus antics and tragic noir melodrama was accompanied brilliantly by The Matti Bye Ensemble.

Now time for a little rest, I've got 6 shows to see tomorrow, starting with Winsor McKay at 10:00 am.

Total Running Time: 206 minutes
My Total Minutes: 333,855

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