Mont Alto's Film Score Repertoire

The Mont Alto Orchestra is always happy to tour and present films and concerts of photoplay music. We currently have compiled film scores for the following films. and we add several new films each year.

If you plan to invite Mont Alto to present a film, keep in mind that the projection capabilities of the venue may restrict which films can be shown for several reasons:

  • Silent films can be obtained in many formats: 35mm film, 16mm film, DVD, BluRay, and DCP. But not all films are available in every format. If your venue has restrictions on format, it's best to ask for advice on the best movies to show.
  • Silent films did not have a standard projection speed, and many appear too fast at "sound speed." Therefore, some of our scores require that the movie be projected at slower speeds -- which many modern film projectors can't do. This applies mostly to films made before 1925. Digitized films are generally transfered at appropriate speeds, so film speed there is less of an issue.
  • We own a few 16mm films ourselves, but for most of our films the venue needs to arrange film rental. We have a good idea of which available versions are good quality (and match our scores).

Please feel free to email me with questions about the films, or to ask for recommendations for your particular venue, event, and audience.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).
Most well-known in its "talkie" form, this movie won two Academy Awards. But there was also a silent release, designed for foreign markets and theaters that hadn't yet made the switch to sound. Mont Alto was commissioned to score this powerful anti-war movie for the 2015 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, accompanying the newly restored print from the Library of Congress.
Amarilly of Clothesline Alley (1918).
Mary Pickford plays a resourceful Irish girl from the tenements who is courted by two very different men in this romantic comedy (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
L'Argent (1928).
Marcel L'Herbier's big-budget three-hour epic film uses advanced film editing techniques and amazing art deco sets to tell a story about corruption in high finance. Mont Alto's score (presented at the Telluride Film Festival in 2009) requires an expanded performance group, including a "pit crew" of percussionists.
Assunta Spina (1915).
The Italian actress Francesca Bertini leads this operatic tale of love, jealousy, and sacrifice filmed on location in Naples (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Bardelys the Magnificent (1926).
This long-lost King Vidor film features John Gilbert and Eleanor Boardman in a lively swashbuckling romance set in the time of the Three Musketeers (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Battle of the Sexes (1928).
D.W. Griffith's jazz-age drama-comedy features Phyllis Haver as a heartless gold-digger (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Battling Butler (1926).
Buster Keaton is a rich dandy who is mistaken for a tough boxer. He can only keep the ruse up for so long...
Beau Geste (1926).
Ronald Colman and his brothers join the foreign legion after the mysterious disappearance of a precious jewel. An excellent, moving adventure-mystery.
Bed and Sofa (1926).
A remarkably modern story of love and infidelity in a small Moscow apartment (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Beggars of Life (1928).
Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen take to riding the rails to escape a manslaughter charge (on Kino-Lorber video with Mont Alto's score).
Behind the Scenes (1914).
Mary Pickford marries well, but decides that she can't give up her career on the stage to please a husband.
The Birth of a Nation (1916)
This early, controversial, but very influential feature by D.W. Griffith, follows two families during the Civil War. Griffith's battle scenes and dramatic film-making changed the industry, but his Southern-centric view of reconstruction, with ignorant Blacks cast as the villains, is still highly controversial. On home video with Mont Alto's score.
The Black Pirate (1925).
Douglas Fairbanks infiltrates a band of pirates to avenge his father's death in this Technicolor romp. Writing his own script, Fairbanks included absolutely everything piratical from buried treasure to swordfights to walking the plank to broadside cannonades.
Blackmail (1929).
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.
Blind Husbands (1919).
Erich Von Stroheim's first directorial effort is a remarkably polished melodrama set in the Italian Alps. The neglected wife of an American doctor is targeted for seduction by a courtly but depraved Austrian army officer played by  Von Stroheim. The love triangle comes to a head on the top of a treacherous pinnacle. 
Blood and Sand (1922).
Rudolph Valentino rises in Spanish society with his success in the bullring, but attracts the attention of femme fatale Nita Naldi (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Blot (1921)
Directed by Lois Weber, this film follows the intertwining stories of three different families in an American college town: the shamefully under-paid college professor, the well-off immigrant shoe-maker who lives next door, and the college student whose father is a wealthy trustee of the college, and who falls for the professor's charming daughter. An interesting "issue film" that uses a romantic plot to make a point about social injustice in America (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Blue Bird (1918) (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Maurice Tourneur's fairy-tale about two children in search of the blue bird of happiness alternates from whimsical to thought-provoking (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Broncho Billy's Adventure (1911).
In this short film, Broncho Billy must intervene in an argument between a young woman's father and her lover.
The Cameraman (1928).
Buster Keaton acquires a movie camera to be near the girl of his dreams, but breaking into the business is trickier than it looks. With the help of a monkey, he gets the scoop of the year. This excellent comedy features all the laughs and stunts you’d expect from a Buster Keaton film, but with more heart. 
The Cameraman's Revenge (1912).
A grasshopper gets revenge on a beetle by filming its illicit tryst with a dragonfly in this stop-motion comedy.
Caught in the Rain (1914)
Charlie Chaplin gets mixed up with a married woman -- a sleepwalker, no less -- in this short Keystone comedy (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on Flicker Alley's Chaplin at Keystone set).
The Cheat (1915).
Cecil B. DeMille directed this tale of a society woman in debt to a wealthy man (Sessue Hayakawa)  who refuses to be paid in kind.
Chicago (1927).
In Cecil B. DeMille’s silent film version of Chicago, Phyllis Haver stars as the seductive, shallow, and manipulative “jazz slayer” Roxie Hart. Unlike later film versions of the story, the silent version is not a nostalgic look at the 1920s—it was made in the time itself, and holds no romantic illusions about the era. The film is funny and dramatic by turns, and pointedly satirizes the perversion of justice by celebrity. (On home video with Mont Alto's score).
Children of Divorce (1927)
Clara Bow and Esther Ralston are both children of divorce: raised in an orphanage and separated from their parents for whom they are an embarassment. As adults, Clara wants to marry for money, while Esther wants a stable marriage. When Gary Cooper shows up as an eligible bachelor, it sets the two life-long friends against each other and against their convictions (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Cobra (1925).
Rudolph Valentino travels from Italy to New York to get away from woman-troubles. But it turns out they're everywhere! Nita Naldi scorches the screen as the seductive femme fatale (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
College (1927).
Buster Keaton, an academic in high-school, attempts to take up athletics by the book to impress his sweetheart (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Conquest of the Pole (1920).
One of George Melies' longest films, this sci-fi film proposes a competition by scientists and explorers from the major nations to be the first to reach the North Pole. This sets in motion a wild race, featuring submarines, airplanes, and cars; who encounter hazards ranging from cliffs to an enormous snow giant (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on the collection Georges Melies).
The Cook (1918).
Buster Keaton, Roscoe Arbuckle, and Luke the Dog run a restaurant. Don't miss Roscoe's dance as Salome and Clepoatra!
The Coward (1915).
In the American Civil War, a boy deserts and returns home, to the shame of his father, who enlists in his stead. But when Northern generals tip him off to an important military secret, he finds his bravery again. Recorded as an extra for (on home video with Mont Alto's score, as an extra for Photoplay Productions' release of The Birth of a Nation).
Cruel, Cruel Love (1914)
In this melodrama parody, Charlie Chaplin is dumped by his fiancée and attempts suicide, but what he thought was poison turns out to be water (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on Flicker Alley's Chaplin at Keystone set).
The Daughter of Dawn (1920)
Filmed in the Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma, this "docudrama" stars an amateur cast of members of the Kiowa and Comanche tribes. A fascinating look at American Indian life, with costumes and sets from their own collections, not Hollywood art directors.
Delicious Little Devil (1919).
After inventing a sordid past to get a job as a cabaret dancer, Mae Murray risks losing Rudolph Valentino unless she can prove that her scandalous past is fake (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Destiny (Der Müde Tod) (1921).
A woman challenges Death to a contest in this wild, thought-provoking  metaphysical early film by Fritz Lang (on home video with Mont Alto's score.
Les Deux Timides (1928).
This romantic comedy directed by Rene Clair features a very shy lawyer courting the daughter of a very shy land-owner in a small village in rural France. A real tour-de-force of silent film making, it uses playful camera placement, divided screens, and all of the tools at the director's disposal to communicate the story with minimal use of titles. Every character is perfectly cast and acted, including a troop of anarchic village children.
Diary of a Lost Girl (Tagebuch einer Verlorenen) (1929).
Actress Louise Brooks plays an innocent girl in Weimar Berlin, seduced by her father's co-worker, then expelled from her home by her step-mother. Escaping a sadistic reform school, she falls into prostitution -- yet manages to gain control of her life and do better than those who wronged her. Director G.W. Pabst's excellent direction helps lift this story to the status of a classic.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920).
John Barrymore gets in touch with his dark side in this creepy and powerful telling of the Robert Louis Stevenson tale (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Don't Change Your Husband (1919).
Gloria Swanson tires of her husband's bad habits, but finds that other men can be even worse (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Doubling for Romeo (1921).
Will Rogers tries to learn how to romance a woman by visiting film sets in Hollywood, but when he dreams himself into the role of Romeo, Shakespeare will never be the same.
The Enchanted Cottage (1924).
In England after the war, Richard Barthelmess fights depression as his damaged body makes him seemingly unfit for a normal life. Retreating to an ancient cottage, he makes a deal with May McAvoy, an unattractive and penniless woman who likewise has given up on romance. But Honeymoon Cottage is also the home to the spirits of the lovers who have lived there, and a magical illusion--or is it just love?--makes the young couple appear beautiful and whole. On video with Mont Alto's score.
Erotikon (1929).
After being seduced and abandoned by a traveling salesman, a woman meets him again and plans her revenge in jazz-age Prague under very different circumstances.
The Fall of Babylon (1916/1919).
After his epic Intolerance (1916), which featured four interwoven stories set in different ages, ran in the major cities; D.W. Griffith felt that it would do better in wide release to take the two largest stories (The Mother and the Law and The Fall of Babylon) and release them on their own without the audacious cross-editing. These films were released in 1919, changing some of the footage and titles.The Fall of Babylon tells of the betrayal of King Belshazzar by his priests, and the attack of the Persians. Constance Talmadge serves as comic relief as the Mountain Girl who fights to save the city. But the film is best rememered for the vast scale of its sets and battle scenes (on home video with Mont Alto's score, as an extra to the Cohen Collection's release of Intolerance).
Fatty and Mabel Adrift (1916) (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
After their marriage, Roscoe and Mabel's house is pushed out to sea by a jilted rival. Can Luke the Dog and the Keystone Kops save the day?
Faust--Eine Deutsche Volkssage (1926) (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
F.W. Murnau brings unforgettable visuals and interesting philosophical twists to the tale of a man making a deal with the devil.
Filibus: The Mysterious Air Pirate (1915).
This surprising science fiction film from 1915 features a villainess who disguises herself as the master criminal "Filibus," and flies to her crimes in a steam-powered dirigible. When she learns that the famous Inspector Hardy is on the case, she plots to make the world think that he's the actual thief, and courts his sister while disguised as a man. The film packs a lot of action into its short run-time, and its often primitive special effects are more than offset by the film's audaciousness.
A Film Johnnie (1914)
After seeing a short film, Charlie Chaplin crashes the Keystone Studio and attempts to become an actor (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on Flicker Alley's Chaplin at Keystone set)
Forbidden Paradise (1924)
Starting with a risqué play about Catherine the Great, director Ernst Lubitsch modernizes the story and makes it funny, romantic, and cynical. Pola Negri plays the sexually assertive monarch of a nondescript European country, assisted in her affairs by Adolphe Menjou. Rod La Rocque is the idealistic soldier on whom she sets her sights.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921).
Rudolph Valentino grows up dancing the tango in Argentina, but family history drags him into the Great War in Europe.
The Gaucho (1927).
In his darkest, most enigmatic film, Douglas Fairbanks plays an Argentinian outlaw who plans to loot a shrine where miracles take place. He meets his match in the fiesty mountain girl played by Lupe Velez, by far his most fun leading lady. The plot touches on faith and morality, but never forgets that it is first of all a top-notch swashbuckling entertainment.
The General (1927).
Railroad engineer Buster Keaton is rejected by the Confederate Army and by his sweetheart, Annabelle (Marion Mack). But when Northern spies kidnap both Annabelle and The General (his beloved train engine), it sets in motion cinema’s most perfectly structured comic epic (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Gertie the Dinosaur (1914).
The first true cartoon star, Gertie interacts with Mont Alto's pianist Rodney Sauer (who acts out -- live -- the role of dinosaur trainer, originally played by animator Winsor McKay) in this whimsical multi-media cartoon short.
Getting Acquainted (1914).
Charlie Chaplin and Mack Swain flirt with each other's wives (Phyllis Allen and Mabel Normand) in the park (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on Flicker Alley's Chaplin at Keystone set).
The Girl in Tails (Flickan i Frack, 1927)
In this charming "summerlit" comedy from Sweden, a young woman whose father won't let her buy a new dress for the ball wears her brother's tuxedo instead. But she goes well beyond making a point about clothes, drinking schnapps, smoking a cigar, and dancing with women. This ignites a firestorm of indignation and gossip in her town, and she flees to a nearby mansion run by a colony of "educated women," who help her resolve her troubles. Touching on elements of feminism, equality, and even gender identity, this is a fascinating look at society from a woman's perspective. Karen Swanström directed the film, and plays the choice role of the elderly society matriarch.
The Goat (1921)
Buster Keaton is down on his luck, unable even to get bread in the bread line. Then he's mistaken for the escaped murderer Dead Shot Dan. When the girl who invites him for dinner turns out to be the chief of police, things start moving out of control!
Go West (1925)
Buster Keaton takes Horace Greeley’s advice and heads West, where he finds work on a cattle ranch. He befriends a young milk cow, and they look after each other as he learns the ropes and lassos of ranch life. But when the cattle train ends up at the wrong station, Buster finds he must get the entire herd across the Los Angeles by himself! Go West is full of comedy, and witty parodies of other movies.
Gribiche (1925)
In post-war Paris, a rich American widow is struck by an honest act by young Gribiche, and offers to adopt him and give him a modern education. Gribiche agrees, since he feels he's an impediment to his mother's remarriage, but he has trouble adapting to the strict schedule set by his schoolmasters. A warm, masterfully directed, and often quite funny movie, with excellent scenes shot on location in Paris.
The Heart of Cleveland (1924)
This commercial film promoting electricty. While the story is negligible, the scenes of Cleveland in 1924, seen both from the ground and in aerial photography, and a tour of Cleveland's industrial power, are fascinating glimpses into history.
He Did and He Didn't (1916).
Roscoe Arbuckle and Mabel Normand's marriage is challenged by an old boyfriend and several burglars in this surprisingly dark slapstick comedy (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
Lon Chaney's portrayal of Victor Hugo's tragic bell-ringer set a new standard for lavish Hollywood spectacles. The re-creation of medieval Paris and Chaney's layered interpretation of the outcast, made this film a huge success. Our musical score borrows elements from the three surviving historical scores for the film: the road show score, the 1923 cue sheet score, and the cue sheet for a 1927 revival release.
The Italian (1915).
An immigrant earns enough to bring his sweetheart to America, but suffers discrimination and injustice in this beautiful early film (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Italian Straw Hat (1928).
On his way to his wedding, a young man's horse eats a hat belonging to a married woman. This small incident snowballs out of control in a brilliant comedy of manners that is considered one of the top comedies of all time (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Johanna Enlists (1918).
A plain country girl (Mary Pickford) finds unaccustomed attention when an army division camps on her farm.
The Johnstown Flood (1926)
This early disaster movie fictionalizes the circumstances leading to the great flood (America's greatest pre-1920s disaster), but adds a romantic triangle between George O'Brien as a conscientious engineer, Florence Gilbert as the lumber-company-owner's daughter, and Janet Gaynor as the young daughter of a disillusioned worker. Max Davidson adds gentle comic relief as a Jewish clothing-store proprietor. Tempers clash as the storm clouds arrive, leading to some impressive special effects work in the climactic sequences.
Kean: or Disorder and Genius (1924)
This epic French biopic stars Ivan Mousjokine as the Shakesperean actor Edmund Kean. Based on a play by Alexandre Dumas, the film follows Kean's descent into self-destruction after an ill-advised romance with a married woman. The movie has a number of bravura sequences, most famously a wild night of dancing in a tavern, filmed with rapid-cut sequences and a rapidly moving camera.
The Kid (1921)
Charlie Chaplin finds and raises an abandoned child (Jackie Coogan) in his tenement apartment. But when social workers take Jackie away, the two end up on the lam.
The Kid Brother (1927).
Harold Lloyd is the youngest in a family of burly mountain lawmen in this excellent coming-of-age comedy.
Lady Windermere's Fan (1925)
For one of Ernst Lubitsch's most charming silent comedies, a play by Oscar Wilde was transformed into a silent film. It may seem impossible to adapt Wilde's verbal wit into a non-verbal medium, but Lubitsch rises to the task, expanding the play's restricted timeline and settings to cinematic proportions, and replacing verbal witicisms with many visual witicisms. In fact, only two lines from the play make it into the film. The result is a supremely subtle and well-acted comedy, especially with Irene Rich as Mrs. Erlynne and Ronald Colman as Lord Darlington.
The Last of the Mohicans (1920)
Director Maurice Tourneur's poetic and tragic version of this story focuses on the impossible love between Uncas and Cora. Beautiful outdoor photography and a very calm and natural acting style make this unusual for its era.
Leap Year (1921) (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Roscoe Arbuckle accidentally gets engaged to three different women while trying to prove to his girlfriend that he's serious about her.
Limousine Love (1928).
On his way to his wedding, Charley Chase accidentally ends up with a naked woman in the back of his limousine.
The Lodger (1927).
In Alfred Hitchcock's tale of the London fog, a mysterious man rents rooms in a neighborhood where a serial killer has murdered seven blonde women. When he starts courting the blonde daughter of the house, her parents and fiancée worry... could this man be the killer?
Long Fliv the King (1926) (upcoming from Milestone Films).
Charley Chase unexpectedly becomes the king of a small European country, complete with evil counselors bent on a coup (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on Milestone Films' Cut to the Chase collection).
Mabel's Strange Predicament (1914)
Mabel Normand's dog locks her out of her hotel room in her pajamas, where she gets pestered by Charlie Chaplin (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on Flicker Alley's Chaplin at Keystone set).
The Magic Clock (1926).
A girl falls in love with a knight figurine in her father's mechanical clock, and impulsively breaks it to save his life. A masterpiece of stop-motion animation by Ladslav Starevich.
The Man with the Movie Camera (1929).
This consicously radical documentary of life in the Soviet Union was filmed in Russia and the Ukraine over several years by Dziga Vertov. A film proudly without actors or plot, it is an hour-long montage of scenes of people working, playing, and travelling; and becomes very self-referential when it shows itself being made and presented in a theater. Rodney Sauer followed Vertov's somewhat flexible instructions to create a score that is forward-looking but still rooted firmly in 1929, using music that was available to musicians at the time. Premiered at the University of Indiana in 2018.
The Mark of Zorro (1920).
Douglas Fairbanks poses as an ineffectual fop while secretly fighting for justice in early California, in this hugely influential comic adventure (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Marriage Circle (1924).
A perfect marriage is set in jeopardy by an unstable one in this witty comedy by and for adults, directed by Ernst Lubitsch (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Masquerader (1914)
Charlie Chaplin is thrown off the movie set for his prima-donna ways, and comes back in drag to get his revenge in this short Keystone comedy (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on Flicker Alley's Chaplin at Keystone set).
Mickey (1916/1918).
Mabel Normand is raised in the mining camps of California, but is sent back east to be civilized in this romantic comedy.
Mighty Like a Moose (1926).
Charley Chase accidentally goes on a date with his own wife in this wildly funny short film (on home video on Milestone Films' release Cut to the Chase).
Miss Lulu Bett (1920).
A poor spinster is forced into servanthood until she learns to stand for herself in this wicked comedy about a dysfunctional family (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
A Modern Musketeer (1917).
In this comedy, Douglas Fairbanks is a modern reincarnation of D'Artagnan, protecting women whether they want it or not, from Kansas to the depths of the Grand Canyon (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on the Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer boxed set from Flicker Alley).
The Mother and the Law (1916/1919).
After his epic Intolerance (1916), which featured four interwoven stories set in different ages, ran in the major cities; D.W. Griffith felt that it would do better in wide release to take the two largest stories (The Mother and the Law and The Fall of Babylon) and release them on their own without the audacious cross-editing. These films were released in 1919, changing some of the footage and titles.The Mother and the Law tells of a woman living a life of desperation in the slums whose life is made harder by the interference of well-meaning but misguided reformers (on home video with Mont Alto's score, as an extra to the Cohen Collection's release of Intolerance).
The Mothering Heart (1913).
In one of the best of the Biograph pictures, Lillian Gish runs into marital trouble when her husband meets an idle woman at a cabaret. Under D.W. Griffith's direction, Gish gives a bravura performance of silent-era acting, and background dancers performing the two-step, apache, and other dances are of historic importance.
Mothers of Men (1917).
In this independent pro-womens' suffrage film, Dorothy Davenport Reid plays a judge who is elected governor of California. But her integrity is called into question when her husband is convicted of bombing a newspaper office. Can a woman governor send her own husband to death row, or will she weaken and pardon him?
The Navigator (1924).
Buster Keaton finds himself at sea on a drifting ocean liner.
Nell Gwynn (1926).
Dorothy Gish portrays the English King's mistress in this risqué historical comedy from England.
Never Weaken (1921).
Harold Lloyd saves his girlfriend's job by drumming up business for her boss in unconventional ways. But a misunderstanding leads him to contemplate suicide, until an unforeseen circumstance leaves him at the top of a building under construction, where physics conspires against him ever reaching the ground... in one piece.
The New York Hat (1912).
Mary Pickford's strict father won't get her new clothes, so when the minister buys her an expensive hat, the village gossip's tongues start wagging.
One Week (1920).
In one of the best short silent comedies, Buster Keaton and his new bride (Sybil Seely) are given a kit house to build themselves. Over the course of seven days, a wide variety of difficulties arise.
Our Hospitality (1923).
In this 1923 silent film, Buster Keaton inherits land in the South—but also inherits an old family feud. Keaton exhibits his usual amazing stunt work and comedy while tangling with pre-Civil War trains, bicycles, and social conventions. Excellent set pieces include a very silly recreation of Stevenson's "Rocket" locomotive, and impressive stunt work on cliffs and waterfalls. Keaton made this a family affair, with parts played by his father, wife, and young son.
Paths to Paradise (1925).
Raymond Griffith and Betty Compson play rival con artists in San Francisco, attempting to steal the same diamond at the same party. This wild comedy ends with a breathless car chase down Highway 1 towards the Mexican border.
The Patsy (1928).
Marion Davies plays the youngest daughter in a dysfunctional family, with a crush on her sister's boyfriend. But before she can work on her romance, she has to work on gaining the respect of her domineering mother. A highlight is a scene where Davies tries to impress a man by impersonating Mae Murray, Pola Negri, and Lillian Gish.
People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag, 1929).
Four young Berliners enjoy their weekend in the parks around the city in this unusual realist film about working people flirting and enjoying their day off. Although it intentionally had no "name" actors, the film was a starting point of many behind-the-camera legends including Billy Wilder and Robert Siodmak. (On home video with Mont Alto's score)
The Penalty (1920).
Lon Chaney's break-through film was an underworld drama in which he plays Blizzard, a criminal mastermind whose legs were needlessly amputated when he was a child. The plot is full of bizarre notions -- an accomplished but legless pianist, Blizzard keeps a woman around just to work the piano pedals; his house is full of secret passages; and he hires all of San Francisco's prostitutes to create hats to identify an army of disgruntled workers who will take over the city for him and allow his revenge on the incompetent surgeon -- but all of this weirdness is forgotten in the brilliance of Chaney's performance. He makes a convincing amputee, walking and moving like someone who has spent his whole life without legs.
Peter Pan (1925).
The silent film version of Peter Pan, over which author J.M. Barrie maintained considerable control, is one of the most beautiful and enchanting silent films. J.M. Barrie selected unknown actress Betty Bronson to play the enigmatic boy who never grows up, and she is supported by excellent work by character actors Ernest Torrance as Captain Hook and Anna May Wong as Tiger Lily. Children will be highly entertained by the antics of Tinker Bell and the pirates, while parents will appreciate Barrie's unorthodox insights into the nature of children.
The Phantom Carriage (1921).
In this ghost story, a dissolute man (Victor Sjöstrom) is the last man to die on New Year's Eve. He is thereby cursed to drive Death's carriage for the next year, picking up newly deceased souls. But before taking on his task, he is made to revisit the pain and suffering he brought upon his family and the woman who loved him, giving him a possible path to redemption. This film was highly influential, with echoes in the work of Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925).
Lon Chaney plays a deranged genius who coaches and controls an opera star from secret passages in the Paris Opera.
Quality Street (1927).
Marion Davies stays home while her sweetheart goes to fight Napoleon. When he returns to find that she's grown old, she decides to teach him a lesson in youth and aging in J.M. Barrie's whimsical antidote to Peter Pan.
Ramona (1928)
Ramona (Dolores Del Rio) is the ward of a wealthy ranch owner in early California. Though courted by the ranch owner's son, she falls in love with an Indian sheep shearer -- but this leads her into a world of racial discrimination. Based on the hugely popular and influential 1888 novel by Helent Hunt Jackson, this film was considered lost for decades, but thanks to the Czech Film Archive and the Library of Congress, a new English language print was made available in 2014. Upcoming on home video with Mont Alto's score.
Ramona (1910)
Ramona (Mary Pickford) was first brought to the screen by D.W. Griffith in this short 1910 Biograph film. This version was filmed at the Camulos Ranch, which is considered by many to be the inspiration for the Moreno Ranch in the story. Helen Hunt Jackson, the author of the novel, visited this ranch while researching the events behind the novelization.
Ramona (1916)
This second version of Ramona, directed by Donald Crisp, does not survive complete, but the remaining fifth reel tells much of the story. This was filmed in wild areas of south-eastern California, and is a particularly interesting in its representation of Allessandro's descent into mental illness after a series of abuses at the hands of American settlers.
Rapsodia Satanica (1917)
This film stars the Italian diva Lyda Borelli as the Faust-like countess Alba d'Oltravita. Approached by Mefisto with an offer of eternal youth if she never falls in love, she eventually fails to keep that impossible vow. The film exists in a magnificently hand-stencil-colored edition courtesy of the Cineteca di Bologna.
Recreation (1914)
Charlie Chaplin goofs around at a park (on home video with Mont Alto's score, on Flicker Alley's Chaplin at Keystone set)
The Red Kimona (1925).
Produced, co-written, and co-directed by Dorothy Davenport, The Red Kimona is a based on the true story of Gabrielle Darcy, who was seduced and forced to live as a prostitute in New Orleans. She escapes that life by murdering her pimp, but despite an acquittal on murder charges, has great difficulty in turning her life around. Told very much from a woman's perspective, the film addresses head-on the problems of being a woman with a "past reputation" in American society.
The Red Mark (1928).
On a French prison island, a whole society of convicts imitates society in France. Young Bibi (Gaston Glass) has received his release letters, but his love for Zelia (Nina Quatero) makes him reluctant to leave. But the de facto despot of the island, Governor De Nou (Gustav von Seyffertitz), who has been looking for his long-lost son, has his own plans for Zelia. With all the cunning of Mother Caron (Rose Dione), can the guillotine be cheated of its victim?
Redskin (1929).
Richard Dix plays a Navajo who gets a college education with hopes of helping his tribe. But he finds that, as an Indian, American society won't accept him; and with his "White" education he's no longer accepted at home -- neither a White man or an Indian, just a "Redskin," as he says in the film. This impressive Technicolor adventure was filmed on location in Canon de Chelly and the Acoma Pueblo.
The Ring (1927).
For Alfred Hitchcock's sixth film, he had the chance to write his own screenplay. Set among English carnivals and boxing rings, The Ring follows a love triangle between Jack "One Round" Sander, his fiancée Mabel, and the heavy-weight champ of Australia. The film is a study in silent film technique, from the use of symbolic objects to rapid montages, and features excellent acting and tension in the boxing scenes.
The Rink (1916).
After high-jinks in a restaurant, Charlie Chaplin goes roller skating during his lunch break, where he courts the lovely Edna Purviance and fights off rivals.
Robin Hood (1922).
Douglas Fairbanks' most successful film was this epic of the middle ages. Based loosely on Robin Hood folk tales, combined with elements from Ivanhoe, the first half concerns the Earl of Huntingdon heading off to the crusades with Richard the Lionheart. Hearing of the evils wrought by Prince John, the earl deserts and comes home to protect the people of England as the well-known vigilante Robin Hood.
Rosita (1923).
Mary Pickford is a street singer who catches the heart of the king of Spain in this comedy directed by Ernst Lubitsch. A new restoration of this film in 2017 from the Museum of Modern Art has made this long-neglected comedy available to new audiences.
Safety Last (1923).
Harold Lloyd is a store clerk, trying to convince his girlfriend back home that he's made it big. When his idea for a publicity stunt -- hiring a building climber to climb the outside of the department store -- goes wrong, he has to climb the building himself. The movie is by turns hilarious and terrifying, as Lloyd runs into trouble on his climb, memorably at one point leaving him hanging from the hands of an enormous clock. At times during our premiere of this score at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival we could not hear ourselves play over the reactions of the crowd. 
The Saphead (1920).
Buster Keaton wants to become a trader on the stock exchange.
The Sea Hawk (1924).
Sir Oliver Tressilian (Milton Sills), is betrayed by his half-brother and sold into slavery. But Oliver rises to become a Moorish pirate, the terror of the Mediterranean, and plans his vengeance.
Seven Chances (1925)
Buster Keaton finds that in order to inherit a fortune, he needs to be married... by later today. After offending his girlfriend, he's pressured to take anyone he can get, and after a series of rejections a classified ad brings in a horde of dozens of gold-digging brides who chase him across the countryside. This film has a huge range of excellent gags and stunts, climaxing with an avalanche of boulders.
7th Heaven (1927).
Janet Gaynor won her Oscar in part for her performance as an abused street waif who finds a new life with sewer-worker Charles Farrell in a Parisian garret. Their seventh-floor heaven is interrupted by World War I, leading to a tense but emotionally moving climax.
Sherlock Jr. (1924)..
After failing in his amateur detecting, projectionist Buster Keaton falls asleep and enters his own film, dreaming that he's a super-sleuth. For its effects and stunts, this remains one of the most impressive films of the entire silent era. (On Blu-Ray from Kino-Lorber with Mont Alto's score)
Show People (1928)
Based loosely on the careers of stars like Gloria Swanson, Marion Davies plays naive Peggy Pepper, who arrives in Hollywood expecting stardom to land in her lap. But of course, the road to stardom never ran smoothly. Working her way up from slapstick comedy to pretentious artistic roles (changing her name to “Patricia Pepoire” along the way), her arc takes her behind the scenes in Hollywood’s golden age, with plenty of cameos from other major Hollywood stars and directors.
The Silent Enemy (1929).
In pre-Columbian times, a tribe of Ojibway search for game in a difficult winter. This film features astounding nature photography and views of a lost culture.
Speedy (1928)
In Harold Lloyd's last silent film, he goes to great lengths to save New York City's last horse-drawn streetcar. But that's just the excuse of a long set of comic set-pieces that serves as a love letter to New York City, Coney Island, and baseball, including a memorable cameo by Babe Ruth.
Spite Marriage (1929).
Buster Keaton is a huge fan of an actress, who marries him to spite her fickle boyfriend. But can Buster win her heart for real?
Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928).
A curmudgeonly riverboat captain (Ernest Torrence) receives a visit from his long-lost son (Buster Keaton), who turns out to be a dandy college kid who wears foppish clothes and plays the ukulele. But when fate intervenes—in the form of a hurricane— Buster proves he has the strength and courage of his father. This comedy features some of the most incredible stunt work of Buster’s career.
Strike (1925).
Eisenstein's first feature film was an ambitious retelling of a workers' strike in 1903 that was brutally put down by the tsarist police. But the serious, didactic tone of the film is leavened with surprising humor, caricature, and passages of cinematic beauty that sets up the devastating last chapter (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Suds (1920).
Laundry girl Mary Pickford creates a fantasy life for herself around an abandoned shirt. But when the real owner finally shows up, it brings her back to reality (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Sunrise (1927).
A man and a woman restore their ruined marriage on a fantastic trip to the city in this masterpiece of film-making by F.W. Murnau.
Teddy at the Throttle (1917).
In this short but fast-moving comedy Gloria Swanson ends up tied to the railroad tracks by an evil lawyer, but is saved by the quick-thinking of her dog.
The Thief of Bagdad (1924).
Douglas Fairbanks plays a street thief in a fantastic oriental city who must prove himself worthy of a princess. One of the great epics of the silent film era, this film contains thousands of special effects and stunningly large art-deco sets (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Three Ages (1923).
Buster Keaton courts his girlfriend in three eras -- the stone age, ancient Rome, and the jazz-age -- in this early comedy feature (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Three Musketeers (1921).
Douglas Fairbanks is clearly having the time of his life in this sweeping historical romance, as the young and idealistic swordsman D'Artagnan gets caught up in the cynical intrigues of Louis XIII's court. The action scarcely lets up from D'Artagnan's duel with the three best swordsmen in Paris through the mad dash to London to save the Queen's reputation from the plotting of Cardinal Richelieu.
Timothy's Quest (1922).
A very sweet example of a "regional" film, this movie is a light, Dickensian tale of two children who flee their slum to find a new life in upstate Maine. The children are not welcomed at first, but soon work their way into the hearts of the women of the village. This score was compiled by Eric Cook, and recorded for Film Preservation Associates' release of the film through Flicker Alley (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Trappola (1924).
In this charming and lively comedy from Italy, Leda, an orphan being raised in a convent, escapes into the world to save the fiance of her best friend, who has been enticed from her by an equestrian acrobat and movie actress. But when she meets the friend, Leda starts falling for him herself, as she becomes the latest movie star at the studio. How can this ethical development be resolved?
True Heart Susie (1919).
Not wanting to marry an idiot, country girl Lillian Gish secretly helps fund her sweetheart's education, only to find he's attracted to someone else (on home video from Image Entertainment).
The Vanishing American (1922)
This sweeping epic, the first Western filmed in Monument Valley, was based on a novel by Zane Grey. Richard Dix plays Nophaie, a Navajo whose tribe is being preyed upon by corrupt Indian agent Noah Beery. After enlisting in the Great War in Europe, hoping to advance the cause of justice, but the warriors return to find little changed. This film is a notable example of the sensitive treatment of Native American issues that largely disappeared from American commercial films by 1930.
The Waiter's Ball (1916).
Roscoe Arbuckle is the cook at a chaotic cafe. When Al St. John steals his tux, can he attend the ball in Kate Price's dress? (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Way Down East (1920)
Lillian Gish is left trying to put her life together after being seduced by a scoundrel, and ends up caught on ice floes drifting down a frozen river (on home video from Kino Video).
The Wedding March (1928).
Proudly introduced as "In its entirety an Erich Von Stroheim creation," this richly produced romance is set in Vienna before the first World War. An impoverished and dissipated nobleman (Von Stroheim) falls in love with Fay Wray, but is pressured by his parents to marry Zasu Pitts, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. The original Zamecnik/di Francesco score is mostly lost, so we based our score loosely on the original cue sheet.
What Price Goofy? (1925).
Charley Chase tries to convince his wife he's not stepping out, but is hampered by the arrival of a woman professor and a dog who retrieves ladies' underwear (on home video from Milestone films).
The Whirl of Life (1915).
Famous dancers and fashion plates Vernon and Irene Castle make a home-movie-style fictional account of their life together.
The Whispering Chorus (1918).
A man listens to the voices in his head. But when he tries to cover up a minor crime by faking his own death, he ends up accused of his own murder (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
Why Be Good? (1929).
The vivacious comedienne Colleen Moore is perfect in the role of Pert Kelly, a shop girl by day and a championship Charleston dancer by night. The very image of a modern gal, she has a wild reputation but lives at home with mom and dad. When the boss’s son Winthrop Peabody Jr. (Neil Hamilton) falls for her, Pert gets the ax. But Junior is still smitten and he devises a test to convince Winthrop Senior of Pert’s virtue.
Why Change Your Wife? (1920).
Gloria Swanson loses her husband to the friskier Bebe Daniels, then decides to win him back (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Wild Cat (Die Bergkatze) (1919)
Director Ernst Lubitsch, in his wild early days, twists a standard comic opera plot—the handsome soldier falling for the daughter of a bandit chieftain—as though somehow Mel Brooks were directing a Strauss operetta on sets by Dr. Seuss. Pola Negri smokes in the title role as a capricious, dominating mountain girl; but all of the roles are perfectly played as over-the-top parody.
Wings (1927)
The winner of the first Academy Award is a sweeping epic of fighter pilots in the Great War. Charles "Buddy" Rogers and Richard Arlen fight the Germans and quarrel over Esther Ralston, but the real find is Clara Bow as a friend who joins the Women's Motor Corp. The highlight of the film is a series of dramatic air battles, filmed from the very airplanes that participate in them, and a large-scale recreation of the battle of St. Mihiel. Our score is based loosely on the New York Premiere score composed and compiled by J.S. Zamecnik, and requires a pit crew of sound effects people for the battle sequences.
The Wishing Ring (1914).
The son of an English nobleman falls for a girl who thinks he's the gardener. He decides to surreptitiously make her wishes come true (on home video with Mont Alto's score).
The Witness for the Defense (1919)
One of the few surviving films of renowned stage actress Elsie Ferguson, this story of ill-suited marriage, betrayal, and murder spans the globe from England to India. This scoring project was done for one of Ed Lorusso's kickstarter DVD projects, and gave us a chance to learn how to score remotely during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
The Woman Men Yearn For (1929)
In one of Marlene Dietrich's overlooked silent films, a young Frenchman, newly married for money, falls for a mysterious woman he meets on a train, and abandons his planned life when she pleads for his assistance. But things are more complicated than they appear, and all comes to a head at an alpine New Year's Eve celebration.
A Woman of Paris (1923)
A woman leaves her grim village for the city, but her past comes to haunt her.
The Wonderful Lies of Nina Petrovna (Die wunderbare Lüge der Nina Petrowna, 1929)
Brigitte Helm (best known for portraying both Marias in Metropolis) is the rich and worldly mistress of a wealthy Russian officer. But she falls for a young, idealistic, and poor soldier. Giving up her privileged position proves difficult, not because of her own concerms, but from the young officer's embarrassment at not being able to provide her a living. This simple but very moving story is highlighted by excellent direction, sets, objects, and fluid camera motion.
You're Darn Tootin' (1928).
Stan and Ollie are street musicians who can't seem to play in time in this short comedy.