Archive for July, 2006

11th SFSFF – The Hot Club of San Francisco (4:02)

The inventive musical group the Hot Club of San Francisco performed for the amazing silent film, "Au Bonheur des Dames" at the 11th San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Afterwards I interviewed Paul Mehling about how they prepared for playing to the silent film.

Harry Carey, Jr on John Ford and John Wayne (8:26)

The son, Harry Carey, Jr., of the early silent film preiminent cowboy star, Harry Carey, talked about working with John Ford and John Wayne. This occurred after the showing of the fourth feature John Ford made, "Bucking Broadway" at the 11th San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

SF Silent Film Festival – Saturday

The first feature on Saturday was John Ford‘s 1917 “Bucking Broadway” starring Harry Carey. It was remarkable to see how advanced the Ford’s techniques were in his fourth film at his age of 24. Close-up was often used to so behavior and items of interest such as the small wooden heart Cheyenne Harry (Harry Carey) is carving for his sweetheart, Helen (Molly Malone). Afterwards Harry Carey, Jr. was interviewed by scholar Joseph McBride. He answered questions on his father, John Ford and being in John Ford’s films. Then scholar Harry Carey, Jr. and Joseph McBride signed their books.

The next film, “Au Bonheur des Dames“, was presented by the Alliance Française.

The music was beautifully performed by the Hot Club of San Francisco. “Au Bonheur des Dames” was directed by Julien Duvivier in 1930. Although late in the silent era, it is one of the most advanced films in camera technique, performance, crowd action, editing I have seen. It is based on the Emile Zola novel by the same name. The theme is the relationship of technological progress to the span of human life. And it is masterfully told. There’s a DVD version at Amazon.com France. I’m hoping to find a English subtitled version.

Next was G. W. Pabst‘s amazing “Pandora’s Box” starring Louise Brooks as Lulu. It was a sold out show that was to start at 8:20 pm. But they wanted to get as many people who wanted to come seats. So the opening presentation didn’t began around 8:40 pm. Bruce Conner was the last to present “Padora’s Box”. Excerpt(s) from his talk will be in a future post.

The Wurlitzer music was understandable dark to match the ideas in Pandora’s Box“. But that theme is deeply dark and powerful in the film and Louise Brooks as Lulu brings an interesting counterpoint of beauty, joy and sensual love of life. I think it would have been good to focus some of the music on the joyous sensuality of Lulu.

We got out around midnight. But there was so much people had seen, they milled around outside talking. But it was late and eventually we all headed home.

SF Silent Film Festival Opening Night

I was with a friend of the family from Romania showing her around Stanford — one of the Colleges she wants to go to when she finishes High School. Well, I left too late from Palo Alto — 7 pm — with traffic backing up (it didn’t use to slow down after 7 pm on 101), I didn’t get seated for the Opening Night film, “Seventh Heaven”, until 8:30. The film was just starting, but I missed the opening presentation.

“Seventh Heaven” (1927) was well acted by the leads, Janet Gaynor as “Diane” and Charles Farrell as “Chico”. Janet Gaynor got the Oscar for Best Actress for this role. The story is enjoyable and optimistic with plausible main characters. But common to optimistic Hollywood films, the story doesn’t make complete sense. To not give anything away, I’ll stop here.

Afterwards Wurlitzer players met at the front of the stage and talked about their craft.

The Castro Grand Wurlitzer was masterfully performed by Clark Wilson (above image). He talked to me a bit about the challenge of performing for a dark film like “Pandora’s Box” which he’ll be playing for Saturday at 8 pm.

Then we went home on a clear, beautiful night feeling bouyed up with “Seventh Heaven”‘s optimism. The Castro Marquee announced tomorrow’s Silent Film Festival movies.

11th S.F. Silent Filim Festival

The Eleventh San Francisco Silent Film Festival is happening this weekend, July 14-16 at the Castro Theatre. I’ve attended three in the past and always loved them. There’s something about the quality of the monochrome nitrate film, music and evocation of people and views at the beginning of the last century that is mesmerizing.

The Friday Opening Night film is Seventh Heaven starring Janet Gaynor. The film gets 8.3 out of 10 stars on imdb.com, so I expect it to be quite good. Robin Adrian, the son of Janet Gaynor will be present. The film includes the 1906 short, “A Trip Down Market Street.” And the live accompaniment is on the Castro Mighty Wurlitzer performed by Clark Wilson.

Then on Saturday morning, Harry Carey, Jr., son of the great cowboy star Harry Carey will take part in an on-stage conversation with noted Ford scholar Joseph McBride at a screening of the 1917 John Ford western “Bucking Broadway“, starring, of course, Harry Carey. The film includes the 1906 short, “San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.” And the live accompaniment is on the Castro Mighty Wurlitzer performed by Michael Mortilla.

I particularly look forward to Saturday evening’s showing of G.W. Pabst‘s classic “Pandora’s Box” starring Louise Brooks. It’s no accident that Louise Brooks sports the cover of the S.F. Silent Film Festival. And “Pandora’s Box” is considered one of the seminal silent films. The film includes the 1906 short, “Exploded Gas Tanks, U.S Mint, Emporium and Spreckels Building.” And the live accompaniment is on the Castro Mighty Wurlitzer performed by Clark Wilson.

There are other films in the festival that are quite interesting on the schedule. So if you have some time this weekend, perhaps I’ll see you there.

Andrew Baron At CaseCamp – III (9:51)

Andrew Michael Baron at CaseCamp July, 2006. This is part 3 of 3. Andrew talks about the challenge of satisfying the audience for the upcoming show.

This video comes from thechickentest‘s youtube video. I cleaned up the video and audio. In converting the FLV to Quicktime, the audio is a bit out of sync. Hopefully this is not too disconcerting.

Note: I take no sides on this, I wasn’t there and don’t have direct knowledge of what happened. I thought the YouTube video from thechickentest was hard to listen to and want to have a clearer audio version available.