London & South East

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9 FebruaryChicago_lobby_card

Chicago (Dir. Frank Urson, 1927) (Screening format – not known, 118 mins) Based on a true crime story- a wild jazz-loving boozy wife Roxie Hart (Phyllis Haver) kills her boyfriend in cold blood after he leaves her. Entangling her ever-loving husband Amos (Victor Varconi) in the process the film tells how and to what lengths she is willing to go to escape conviction. The film is tight and well crafted. In particular, it’s a sharp and merciless satire on unearned celebrity, societal double standards, and the hedonistic 1920s lifestyle. Although Urson was credited as director, much of the direction was done by Cecil B de Mille.  There are many laugh-out- loud scenes, including where Flynn coaches Roxie on how to appear during his closing statement to the jury, and a scene of the photographer posing Roxie shortly after the murder takes place. Many scenes use exaggeration to make points about media sensationalism and lawyers’ appeals to emotion, rather than truth, in order to exonerate their guilty clients. The humor is balanced by the dramatic portrayal of Amos’ efforts to save his undeserving wife from the noose. Amos is the moral center of the movie, a decent man who is so in love with his wife that he is willing to break the law to save her, yet struggles with her murderous deed and self-centered, callous attitude. Find out more at IMDb. With live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand.  City University, London  Link

10 FebruaryShoes 1916

Shoes (Dir. Lois Weber, 1916)  (Screening format – not known, 60 mins) + assorted shorts.   Eva Meyer (Mary MacLaran) is a poorly paid shop girl who works in a five-and-dime. She is the sole wage earner for her family of three sisters, their mother and a father unwilling to find work.  At the end of each week, Eva dutifully hands over her meager earnings to her mother.  Eva’s salary barely covers the grocer’s bill and cannot provide for nice clothes or decent shoes like those of her co-workers.  She becomes increasingly disheartened and begins to consider the uninvited advances of Charlie (William V Mong), a cad with clearly dishonorable intentions. Lois Weber was not only America’s first major female film director, she was a true pioneer.  Her “social problem” films, made between 1914 and 1921, took courageous stands on controversial issues but were also noted for their artistry and realism.  They helped raise the status of movie-going, making it respectable for middle-class audiences.  Find out more at silentfilm.org  A Kennington Bioscope presentation focusing on ‘women in silent film’ with other shorts by Alice Guy and Anita Loos plus presentation by Melody Bridges & Cheryl Robson, authors of the recently published book ‘Silent Women’.  Cinema Museum, Lambeth, London  Link

13 February

The General (Dir. Clyde Bruckman/Buster Keaton, 1926) (Screening format – not known)   Johnnie (Buster Keaton) loves his train (“The General”) and his fiancee Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack) . When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he’s more valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it’s because he’s a coward. Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board. Johnnie must rescue both his loves.   At the time of its initial release, The General  wasn’t well received by critics and audiences alike but the film has gradually been reevaluated, and is now considered one of the greatest films of all times.  Find out more at silentfilm.org .  With live organ accompaniment by Donald MacKenzie.  St Anne’s Church, Chingford  Link

16 February

Lucky_Dog_1919The Lucky Dog (Dir. Jess Robbins, 1921) + Liberty (Dir.Leo McCarey, 1929) + One Week (Dir. Edward F Cline/Buster Keaton, 1920)  (Screening format – not known, 24/20/25 mins)   Featuring suitors, robbers and, of course, dogs galore, The Lucky Dog was the first film to feature both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, who would go on to become the comedy duo we know and love. Buster Keaton would later say “I was not the funniest, Chaplin was not the funniest, Stan Laurel was the funniest”.  Liberty  is a tale of escaped convicts, their trousers, death-defying stunts atop sky-scraping girders and a crab. This was the duo’s last silent film and widely held to be their best. Originally released with an optional soundtrack of music and sound effects that was rarely used due to the challenges of synchronisation, this also stars Jean Harlow.  One Week is Keaton’s ingenious parody of a documentary made by the Ford Motor Company called ‘Home Made’ to promote prefabricated houses. This tale of two newlyweds struggling to assemble their new home using a sabotaged instruction manual features Keaton’s incredible feats of scenery; no models were used and everything was filmed in one take including the stunts from which he would suffer a rare injury whilst falling two storeys. Find out more at IMDb , Wikipedia and IMDb.   A Lucky Dog Picturehouse presentation with live musical accompaniment.  Wilton’s Music Hall, London Link

17 February

L&H_Liberty_1929The Lucky Dog (Dir. Jess Robbins, 1921) + Liberty (Dir.Leo McCarey, 1929) + One Week (Dir. Edward F Cline/Buster Keaton, 1920)  (Screening format – not known, 24/20/25 mins)   Featuring suitors, robbers and, of course, dogs galore, The Lucky Dog was the first film to feature both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, who would go on to become the comedy duo we know and love. Buster Keaton would later say “I was not the funniest, Chaplin was not the funniest, Stan Laurel was the funniest”.  Liberty  is a tale of escaped convicts, their trousers, death-defying stunts atop sky-scraping girders and a crab. This was the duo’s last silent film and widely held to be their best. Originally released with an optional soundtrack of music and sound effects that was rarely used due to the challenges of synchronisation, this also stars Jean Harlow.  One Week is Keaton’s ingenious parody of a documentary made by the Ford Motor Company called ‘Home Made’ to promote prefabricated houses. This tale of two newlyweds struggling to assemble their new home using a sabotaged instruction manual features Keaton’s incredible feats of scenery; no models were used and everything was filmed in one take including the stunts from which he would suffer a rare injury whilst falling two storeys. Find out more at IMDb , Wikipedia and IMDb.   A Lucky Dog Picturehouse presentation with live musical accompaniment.  Wilton’s Music Hall, London Link

21 February

Phantom Of The Opera (Dir. Rupert Julian, 1925)  The mysterious phantom (Lon Chaney) is a vengeful composer living in the catacombs under the Paris Opera House, determined to promote the career of  the singer he loves (Mary Philbin).  Famed for the phantom’s shock unmasking, incredible set designs and the masked ball sequence, it still packs a punch. Find out more at Wikipedia.  Live musical accompaniment by Minima.  Phoenix Cinema, Finchley, London   Link

Von_morgens_bis_mitternachts_(2.Akt)From Morn to Midnight (Von Morgens bis Mitternacht) (Dir. Karl Heinz Martin, 1922)  A bank cashier in a small German town is alerted to the power of money by the visit of a rich Italian lady. He embezzles 60, 000 Marks and leaves for the capital city, where he attempts to find satisfaction in politics, sport, love and religion.  Rarely screened, and one of the most radical films of the German Expressionist movement, From Morn to Midnight uses stylized sets which are even more avant-garde than those of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Find out more at Wikipedia  With live accompaniment by Stephen Horne (piano, flute, accordion) and Martin Pyne (percussion).  Barbican, London  Link

25 February

Love_(1927_film)Love (Dir. Edmund Goulding, 1927)   Loosely based on Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and intended by MGM to build on the success of the previous year’s Flesh and the Devil, married Garbo and dashing soldier Gilbert embark on a doomed affair.  Alternate happy and tragic endings shot for the American and European markets respectively.  Find out more at Wikipedia    Live musical accompaniment composed by Aphrodite Raickopoulou and played by the Philharmonia Orchestra   Royal Festival Hall, London Link