Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jason goes to the Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival--Day 3

I skipped Day 2 to see my Quakes take on the hated L.A. Galaxy at Stanford...a grand day full of drinking and victory!

THE FAMILY SECRET (1924): The last day of the festival started with this Baby Peggy gem (and she was there in person and still beautiful.) This isn't the first time it has played at our festival, the last time I saw it was 2011, when I said this:
Baby Peggy is that secret, as her parents were married in secret. See, Margaret and Garry loved each other and got married, even though her father disapproved. When he catches him in the house, he sets him up as a burglar and has the police take him away for 4 years. In the meantime, Peggy is born and starts growing up. Her mom is depressed and spends days in bed. Her nanny is at best humorless and at worst negligent as she reads romance novels while Peggy wanders off. The nurse won't let Peggy stay with mommy because she gets to nervous. Grandpa has little time for her. So she spends her time playing with the cook and the maid, who dote on her as she gets into all sorts of hijinx. Meanwhile Garry is finally released from prison, but doesn't know how to find his daughter (even though they're still living in the same home. That seems like a plot hole to me). But you know what, I'll overlook that plot hole. The real heart of the movie is how Baby Peggy can melt anyone's heart. Her grandfather's character arc is particularly nice. And I loved how the audience was totally into it, cheering the good guys and hissing at the villains.
That's all still true. A beautiful movie with great heart. And I have it on good authority that a new DVD of it will be released soon. Details to come...

And then we ended the night with a bunch of Hazards of Helen flicks.

IN DANGER'S PATH (1915): Hazards of Helen often involved trains. In fact, all in this program did. In this one Helen (Holmes) has to escape from a refrigerator car and avert a train disaster. Very exciting.

THE GHOST OF THE CANYON (1920): Also played at the festival back in 2011. Here's what I said then:
The rare moments when Helen Holmes used a stunt double, her double was Helen Gibson (back when she was still Rose Gibson), so she was a natural to step into the role when Holmes left. This movie feels like the inspiration for a Scooby Doo mystery, with a ghost haunting a railroad trestle. Tons of fun, with more amazing stunts.
Ha ha, cool! I still agree, and it's definitely got a Scooby Doo plot (only...almost 50 years before Scooby-Doo was a thing.)

THE WILD ENGINE (1915): In this one, we're back to Helen Holmes. This time a runaway train is rumbling down the track and she has to make a mad dash by motorcycle and swim across a river to warn the excursion train and all their passengers. Wild stunts, and of course a just-in-the-nick-of-time ending.

MISTAKEN ORDERS (1925): Not surprisingly, the later these get the more sophisticated the plot. In this one, Helen Holmes is Helen Barton, and the plot revolves around whether it's safe to have a girl working for the railroad. And of course she has to prove the chauvinists wrong with a mad dash to the rescue once again. Very thrilling, and a great way to end the 2015 version of the festival.

Total Running Time: 177 minutes
My Total Minutes: 402,545

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