Friday, June 3, 2016

Jason goes to Silentfest--Opening Night

The most intense weekend of film in the whole Bay Area kicked off last night, and despite the conflict with Docfest I was there (hey Docfest friends, I'll see you Monday)

After the standard thank-yous, we jumped right into the opening film, BEGGARS OF LIFE (1928,) starring Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen, and Wallace Beery. Arlen plays "The Boy" (who is actually referred to as "Jim" at one point in the movie) a tramp who happens upon a house where breakfast is laid out. He knocks, and enters, begging the man for a bite to eat, and promising he'll work for it. And then he finds the man is dead, shot through by his adopted daughter (Brooks) who is now dressed in boys' clothes. She explains how he tried to molest her and she defended herself, and soon they're on the run, at first just far enough for her to hop a train and him to hop one going in the opposite direction. But soon enough they end up together, sleeping under a haystack and eventually getting in with a gang of hoboes led by Oklahoma Red (Beery.) Director William Wellman (WINGS) is fantastic at playing the pathos, the comedy, the action in equal measures, as they struggle to survive the hobos (especially Red, who tries to claim her as his own) and the cops (or "dicks"...tee hee!) who are chasing her down for murder. It's a wonderful, exciting time, although the whole part where Red the attempted rapist turns out being not such a bad guy after all is a little...let's call it "outdated" for these times.

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra did a typically fantastic job of providing the musical accompaniment, and the SFSFF is off to an excellent start to 2016!

Running Time: 81 minutes
My Total Minutes: 429,511

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