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April 26, 2019

Blackmail (1929)

Denver Silent Film Festival, Alamo Drafthouse, Denver

Alfred Hitchcock's last silent film (remade as his first talkie) is a tight, well-made thriller. A woman commits murder in self-defense, but as usual the cover-up is worse than the crime as her boyfriend--a policeman--is assigned to the case, and a mysterious stranger attempts to use his knowledge for his own gain.

April 28, 2019

Beggars of Life (1928)

Union Colony Civic Center, Greeley Colorado

Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen take to riding the rails to escape a manslaughter charge. In this moody adventure set in hobo subculture, America is shown as a place of formless threats and constant danger. Recently restored by the George Eastman Museum, this is widely regarded as Louise Brooks' finest American film. "...in Beggars of Life, Sauer and company are once again authoritative and expressively pitch-perfect. But the players are not there to lead, distract or showboat, but to underscore, strictly in partnership with the film."

April 29, 2019

Blackmail (1929)

Smith Rafael Film Center, San Rafael, California

Alfred Hitchcock's last silent film (remade as his first talkie) is a tight, well-made thriller. A woman commits murder in self-defense, but as usual the cover-up is worse than the crime as her boyfriend--a policeman--is assigned to the case, and a mysterious stranger attempts to use his knowledge for his own gain. For information, visit the California Film Center's web page.

May 3, 2019, 5 pm

Rapsodia Satanica (1920)

San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Castro Theater

The divine Lyda Borelli is the aging Countess d’Oltrevita, who makes a Faustian bargain to regain her youth and beauty. But a deal with the devil always exacts a painful cost and she’s forbidden to ever fall in love again. The primordial diva of the Italian silent era Borelli’s electric presence and distinctive acting style began the cultural phenomenon known as Borellismo, with fans imitating her hair styles, clothes, and gestures. An artistic collaboration of the highest order, Rapsodia Satanica counts on her performance at the center of a film lush with ornate interiors and sumptuous costumes, as well as some very handsome suitors. The real star here however is the film’s color, not only tinted and toned in atmospheric sepias, blues, greens, and golds but also with added stencil-color to selectively highlight crucial details, like a demonic red for Mephistopheles’s cape and a soft pink to contrast with the purity of Borelli’s bridal shroud.

May 4, 2019, 6:30 pm

The Wedding March (1928)

San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Castro Theater

On the eve of World War I a decadent empire led by a corrupt aristocracy is interested solely in its own perpetuation. Heir to a noble but insolvent family line, Prince Nucki (Erich von Stroheim) is a part-time Viennese playboy and full-time disappointment who must choose between a bride with a substantial dowry, played by ZaSu Pitts, or happiness with the innkeeper’s daughter, played by Fay Wray. Known for his perfectionism, and for pushing producers well beyond their budgetary patience, director Stroheim and his troubled production attracted press in the trades of the day as newsworthy as the final film itself. “The trials and tribulations of getting Wedding March to a screen are unique in an unique industry,” said Variety. “It has taken something like two years and over a million.” Of the two separate features eventually released, The Wedding March is the only one that remains, but it boasts enough pomp, color, and apple-blossom-laden love scenes to fill two films on its own.

May 5, 2019, 8:00 pm

Our Hospitality (1923)

San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Castro Theater

Down South to claim his inheritance, New Yorker Willie McKay (Buster Keaton) falls for the beautiful Virginia (played by real-life wife Natalie Talmadge). When she invites him home for dinner, he finds himself in the parlor of the Canfields, the McKays’ sworn enemy in a longstanding feud. Virginia’s brothers have itchy trigger fingers, but lucky for Willie the Canfield code of hospitality dictates no killing of guests, at least inside the house. Announcing the beginning of a new kind of comedy film, Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitality combined meticulous period research with a suspenseful plot whose payoff is thrills and laughter. When it came out it was hard to miss the significance of what Keaton had accomplished, with Variety noting, “it marks a step forward in the production of picture comedies and may be the beginning of the end of the comedy picture without a plot or story that degenerates into a series of gags.” The New York Times put it more simply, “Mr. Keaton has evolved. The Rialto will echo and re-echo with roars of laughter while this film fills the screen.”

September 8, 2019

Tea Dance

Avalon Ballroom • 6185 Arapahoe Road • Boulder Colorado • 2-5 pm

Tango, waltz, foxtrot, or do the vintage one-step or two-step to the original music of the ragtime dance craze. Playing music from 1900 through 1930, the Mont Alto Ragtime and Tango Orchestra, with singer Susan Rogers, plays for dancing on the best dance floor in Boulder. Vintage or semi-formal attire encouraged.