West of England

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10 January

From Magic Lanterns to Metro Goldwyn Mayer: the birth of the Silver Screen and the Artists it inspired.  The moving image has been a powerful source for imagination from the first moment a magic lantern flickered into life in the 17th century. This lecture  looks at how the Motion Pictures industry first developed throughout the late 19th and early 20th century and how it then went on to change the face of entertainment and inspire the imaginations of some of the greatest artists of the early 20th century. Ex Fleet Street journalist, ex MGM film publicist, Dr Geri Parlby provides a sparkling account of the development of the motion picture industry, which changed the face of mass entertainment around the turn of the 20th century.  Presented by Liskeard Arts.  Liskeard Public Hall, Liskeard, Cornwall.   Link

18 January

p12619191_p_v8_aaNOT Film (Dir. Ross Lipman, 2015) (Screening format – not known, 130mins) NOT Film is a documentary about the embattled collaboration between Nobel Prize-winning playwright Samuel Beckett and silent-era genius Buster Keaton as they filmed Beckett’s only onscreen work.  During the restoration of FILM (1965), NOT Film director Ross Lipman discovered its long-lost prologue under the sink of Barney Rosset (producer of FILM). He then reconstructed this scene for NOT Film in strict accordance with Beckett’s original notes; a fascinating insight into Buster’s last ‘silent’ film. NOT Film is packed with references and clips from the work of Buñuel, Vertov, Vigo, Eisenstein (and many more) and presents many recent discoveries to the world for the first time, including some exceedingly rare recordings of Beckett’s voice, in which he discusses the making of FILM with his collaborators. Lipman’s archaeological approach is combined with interviews with a range of figures, from those that knew Beckett personally (his muse Billie Whitelaw, biographer James Knowlson and other friends) as well as film historians, painting an illustrious picture of Beckett’s work.  Find out more at filmcomment.com .  Being screened as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol   Link

shooting-stars-01Shooting Stars (Dir. Anthony Asquith/ A V Bramble, 1927) + What’s the World Coming To? (Dir. Richard Wallace, 1926) (Screening format – not known, 80/23mins)  A handsome cowboy gazes adoringly at his ‘gal’ perched winsomely in a tree. No, it’s not the Wild West, it’s Cricklewood, a British movie studio in the 1920s. This is not the only illusion to be swiftly shattered in Shooting Stars. A slapstick comedy is being shot on the other stage and spoiled star Mae Feather (Annette Benson) is more interested in what’s happening on the other set (particularly in its lead) than in her husband and co-star (Brian Aherne). Acknowledged toshooting-stars-650 be the debut of rising talent Anthony Asquith (Underground (1928), A Cottage on Dartmoor  (1929) ), it weaves together on and off screen stories with energy, flair and considerable bravado, affording rare, behind-the-scene glimpses. With stunning photography and gripping storytelling, this rarely seen masterpiece of British silent film has been restored to its original 1920s sparkle by a team of experts at the National Film Archive .  Find out more at  IMDb.com    What’s the World Coming To (aka A Furious Future) is a fantastic, little-known Hal Roach comedy set 100 years in the future when genders have reversed. Starring Clyde Cook and Katherine Grant and with an uncredited role for Stan Laurel. Find out more at wikipedia.org .      Being screened as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival and introduced by stand-up comedian Shazia Mirza.  With live musical accompaniment from Guenter A. Buchwald & Frank Bockius. Watershed Cinema, Bristol   Link

19 January

kid_boots_1926-filmposterkid-boots-1922-eddie-cantorKid Boots  (Dir. Frank Tuttle, 1926)  (Screening format – not known, 77mins) A salesman (Eddie Cantor)  is helped out of a jam with an angry customer by a wealthy playboy (Lawrence Grey). In return, he agrees to help the playboy get a divorce from his wife, only to find himself falling for the girlfriend (Clara Bow) of the customer who got him in trouble in the first place. Great American entertainer Eddie Cantor made his screen debut in this adaptation of his 1923 Broadway musical. ‘IT’ girl Clara Bow is wonderfully perky as his love interest. the result is a sparky romantic comedy featuring two American jazz age icons for the price of one!   Find out more at  afi.com   Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Introduced by Oscar winning director and film historian Kevin Brownlow. With live piano accompaniment by Daan Van Den Hurk.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol     Link

why be good 2Why Be Good  (Dir. William A. Seiter, 1929) (Screening format – not known, 84 mins) Starring the delightful Coleen Moore as Pert Kelly, this film tells the tale of a vibrant shop assistant who enjoys wild parties and dancing. She falls in love with a dashing well-to-do man who, unbeknownst to her, is in fact the son of the Why be goodowner of the department store in which she works. Comedy ensues as Pert is put to the test in order to prove herself worthy of the wealthy shop owner’s son.  Considered for a long time to be lost, Why Be Good was rediscovered in the 1990’s at which time it was restored and placed alongside its original Vitaphone soundtrack. It is one of few films therefore, that provides a bridge between silent cinema and the talkies. A showcase for the fun and excess associated with the flapper era, Why Be Good is a fast paced morality ride ripe with mischief and energy. Find out more  at   wikipedia.org    Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Introduced by stand up comedian and writer Lucy PorterWatershed Cinema, Bristol  Link

thomas-graals-best-filmThomas Graal’s Best Film (Dir.  Maurice Stiller, 1918) (Screening format – not known, 59mins) Thomas Graal is a screenwriter and very fond of his secretary Bessie. Overtaken by a kiss with Thomas she runs away. In his misfortune Thomas writes a screenplay thomas-graals-best-filminspired by Bessie, but she has not been completely honest with him. One of Sweden’s greatest filmmakers (Stiller) directs another, Victor Sjöström, in the role of Thomas, and the incomparable Karin Molander plays the unflappable Bessie. Find out more at  sensesofcinema.com .    Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Introduced by film historian David Robinson, with live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.   Watershed Cinema, Bristol  Link

20 January

paths_to_paradise_backPaths to Paradise ( Dir. Clarence Badger, 1925) (Screening format – not known, 60 mins) A con-woman (Betty Compson)  has a nice business going in fleecing gullible tourists who want a genuine ‘underworld’ experience — but the tables are turned when one of her victims (Raymond Griffith) turns out to be less innocent than he looks! Dodging the city detective who knows her by sight and wants her to “go straight”, she next sets her sights on pathsparadisea valuable diamond pendant; but when her elegant nemesis turns up at the scene of the would-be crime, it becomes a race to see who can carry out the con first.   Find out more at imdb.com  .  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Introduced by renowned film historian Kevin Brownlow who provides an insight into the life and work of Raymond Griffith.  With live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.   Watershed Cinema, Bristol     Link

master-of-the-house-1925Master of the House (Dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1925) (Screening formar – not known, 111mins)  Based on a play by Sven Rindon, the film centers upon Viktor Frandsen (Johannes Meyer) an insensitive bully who browbeats his wife and children beyond all reason until he is taught a lesson by his own former nanny, who begins giving him a dose of his own medicine. Although Dreyer is better known for The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and Vampyr (1932) this film was believed to be one of the most successful Scandinavian film of the silent era, playing to critical acclaim and full houses across Europe. Find out more at  imdb.com .     Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Introduced by BAFTA award winning film editor, Don Fairservice.  With live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.   Watershed Cinema, Bristol     Link

seven-years-bad-luckSeven Years Bad Luck (Dir. Max Linder, 1921) + Amour Et Fromage (Dir. Max Linder, 1910) (Screening format – not known, 62/6 mins)  In Seven Years Bad Luck, after breaking a mirror in his home, superstitious Max tries to avoid situations that could bring bad luck, but in doing so causes himself the worst luck (and most hilarious outcomes) imaginable: his fiancée abandons him, and his efforts to leave town seven-yrs-bad-luckare thwarted by a mad mishmash of adventures in which policemen, railroad employees, burglars, and wild beasts conspire to make life miserable for him. This rare and relatively late Max Linder film, features the much imitated broken mirror sketch, later mimicked by the Marx Brothers, Spike Milligan and even Aardman’s Morph. Find out more at  silentfilm.org .    In Amour et Fromage, Max’s maid is jealous of his prospective wife so she places a piece of stale cheese in his jacket pocket when he attends the wedding announcement party with amusing consequences.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Introduced by  Sir Christopher Frayling and with live piano accompaniment by Daan van den Hurk.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol     Link

film_film_posterWhen Keaton Met Beckett  + FILM  (Dir. Alan Schneider, 1965) (Screening format – not known, 20 mins)  In 1964 author Samuel Beckett set out on one of the strangest ventures in cinematic history – an embattled collaboration with silent era genius Buster Keaton on the production of a short, titleless avant-garde film. Beckett was nearing the peak of his fame, which would culminate in him receiving a Nobel Prize five years film-1965later. Keaton, in his waning years, never lived to see Beckett’s canonisation. In essence a chase film – one of the craziest ever committed to celluloid – the film they made (titled FILM), along with director Alan Schneider, renegade publisher Barney Rosset and Academy Award-winning cinematographer Boris Kaufman, has been the subject of praise, condemnation, and controversy for decades.  Find out more at   wikipedia.org.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Robin Ince introduces a newly restored version of FILM and , with special guests, he will tell the story behind the film and also talk about why comedians are so fascinated with Beckett.  Arnolfini, Bristol    Link

Freshman,_The_(1925)_harold lloydThe Freshman (Dir. Fred C Newmeyer/Sam Taylor, 1925) + The Finishing Touch (Clyde Bruckman/Leo McCarey 1928) + The High Sign ( Edward F Cline/Buster Keaton, 1921) (Screening format – not known, 76/19/20 mins)  In The Freshman Harold Lamb (Harold Lloyd) , an eager, uncoordinated college freshman who yearns to be the most popular man on campus, incurs contempt from a college cad and others when he emulates the demeanour of a movie college man. He tries to win friendship by spending most of his college Finishing_Touch_1928 laurel and hardymoney treating his classmates, but is only truly liked by Peggy (Jobyana Ralston) , the daughter of his landlady. Harold, who now likes to go by the nickname “Speedy,” tries further measures to make himself popular and attempts to join the football team.  But will he ever be able to be himself and win popularity as well as the love of Peggy. For more info see wikipedia.org    In The Finishing Touch, Laurel and Hardy are contracted to build a house in one day. Upon completion, a bird lands on the chimney and the house collapses, bit by bit. When the owner demands his money back, mayhem ensues.  For more detail see allmovie.com    In  The High Sign Buster Keaton plays a drifter who cons his way into working at an amusement park shooting High_Sign_(1921)_Keatongallery. Believing Buster is an expert marksman, both the murderous gang the Blinking Buzzards and the man they want to kill end up hiring him. The film ends with a wild chase through a house filled with secret passages.  For more detail see  imdb.com .  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival, 2017.   The Freshman will be accompanied by the famous score composed by Carl Davis, with the 25-piece Bristol Ensemble conducted by Guenter A Buchwald.  The Finishing Touch and  The High Sign accompanied by The European Silent Screen Virtuosi.  Colston Hall.Bristol View

21 January

matrimaniac-1The Matrimaniac (Dir. Paul Powell, 1916) + The Count (Dir. Charles Chaplin, 1916)  (Screening format – not known, 44/24  mins)  In The Matrimaniac,  A young couple (Douglas Fairbanks and Constance Talmadge) attempt to elope, with the bride’s irate father in hot pursuit. The train stops briefly and the young man dashes off to find a minister, but before he can get himself and the minister onto the train, it leaves, carrying his bride-to- count-1916be away. Now the young man, minister in tow, pursues his bride while her father and a horde of lawmen pursue them both.  Find out more at  centuryfilmproject.orgIn The Count, the tailor’s handyman (Chaplin) burns a count’s trousers while ironing them and is fired. His boss (Campbell) discovers a note explaining the count can’t attend a party so decides to take his place.  Chaplin also goes to  the party, as does the real Count, then its a struggle to win the girl (Edna Purviance).  Find out more at  www.imdb.com .    Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. With live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol   Link

22 January

Accidentally Preserved: Surviving Slapstick on 16mm  Slapstick comedy shorts were excellent fodder for home movie companies of the 1920s and 1930s. Kodascope and Pathéscope rented or sold safety film prints for people to watch in their homes, not realising that decades later these prints would out-survive the 35mm prints originally in circulation. This programme contains hilarious rare slapstick comedies starring comedy stars whose work has been largely forgotten. (Film titles not yet available).  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.    Curated by Ben Model  (silent film historian,accompanist and filmmaker) and hosted by Goodie Bill Oddie and Infinite Monkey Cage (Radio 4) star Robin Ince.   With live accompaniment from Guenter A. Buchwald. Watershed Cinema, Bristol   Link




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