Tag Archives: Lon Chaney

Nuts; you’ve got your hands full.

Silent film nuts, that is. It’s a busy, busy weekend for silent film enthusiasts in the area. Unfortunately, due to the impending state of end-of-the-worldness we will only be able to make it to about half of these screenings. Impending doom aside, you’re still going to have to make some tough choices this Sunday.

THURSDAY, May 19th:

  • American Cinemathque is presenting a double-feature of Tod Browning’s haunting silent films The Unknown, starring Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford and The Unholy Three, also starring Lon Chaney at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. These two films actually kick-off the series AMERICAN GOTHIC: A TOD BROWNING RETROSPECTIVE, this weekend at The Aero. The two films are the only silents in the series but if you’re into silent films, you’re likely in to classic cinema period and will definitely enjoy the lineup for the rest of the weekend, including Dracula (1931) and the infamous Freaks (1932). Check out the American Cinematheque website for more details.

FRIDAY, May 21st:

  • The Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo is showing the 1927 classic ‘Wings’, starring “it” girl Clara Bow & Gary Cooper, 4 times this weekend so if you’ve got a hankering to see this, this first Academy Award Winning Film, you’ve got some options here. Friday’s screening is at 8:15 in the evening and will be accompanied by the Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ. Saturday has tow screenings, one at 2:30 and the other at 8:15.

SUNDAY, May 22nd:

  • At 2 in the afternoon the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse presents “WURLITZIA!”, “featuring some of the nation’s foremost musicians playing on our beautifully restored Wurlitzer Theatre Organ together with a Swing Band, trumpet soloist, vocalist and concert pianist, this very special event brings together Chris Gorsuch, Ken Double, Russ Peck, Laney Wilson and the Temple City High School Gold Jazz Band playing some of the best music from the golden era of swing. All this plus Charlie Chaplin’s Silent Movie Classic The Fireman on the big screen with live accompaniment
  • If I was to pick one DO-NOT-MISS event from all the events going on this weekend, the Egyptian Theatre’s screening of Harold Lloyd’s Girl Shy & Never Weaken would be it. Author John Bengston will be hosting the evening’s screenings and if you don’t know about Mr. Bengston, you’re about to fall in love. Bengston is the author of Silent TracesSilent Echoesand Silent Visions. These books, “examine the historical settings preserved in the background of their [Chaplin, Keaton & Lloyd’s] classic films, and the changes wrought by the ensuing decades”. Having John Bengston presenting these films is a real treat but even more exciting is that, in addition to a book signing, Bengston will be leading a small walking tour pointing out some Harold Lloyd filming locations nearby. He’ll even be pointing out a location right next door at the Pig’n’Whistle that appears in Never Weaken, one of the films showing that night. Chaplin with the chamber orchestra will be a tough one to miss out on but I’d say this is worth the sacrifice. The films showing are fantastic and the opportunity that comes with it is rare. The walking tour begins at 3:45. Also, check out John’s website here.
  • At 6:30 a Charlie Chaplin double feature is screening at UCLA’s Royce Hall. A Chaplin double-header of A Dog’s Life & Shoulder Arms is a great opportunity in and of itself but this evening’s screening will be accompanied by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In A Dog’s Life, the Little Tramp finds companionship with two fellow outcasts – Scraps, a stray mongrel, and a young girl exploited as a hostess in a disreputable dive, The Green Lantern. With Scraps’s help he overcomes two thieves from whom he wins a well-filled wallet, which provides the three with a happy end together. In Shoulder Arms, Charlie is recruited to the “awkward squad.” Posted to the front line in France, he encounters all the privations of trench life – snipers, flood, food rations, solitude, lice and other vermin. He meets a French girl, whom he subsequently rescues from the German troops. After assuming a series of disguises, he manages to hijack the German Kaiser along with the Crown Prince and General von Hindenburg… but then wakes up, still in the “awkward squad.”

Mankind is over. Enjoy the Silents

The killer quake comes on the 19th of this month and end of the world is scheduled for the 21st. These two films shown at The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica may well be the last silents ever screened in Los Angeles. Here’s your chance to make history this Thursday…or what’s left of it…

THE UNKNOWN, 1927, MGM Repertory, 63 min, Melodrama/Horror, USA. Armless circus performer Lon Chaney falls for stunning, scantily clad bareback rider Joan Crawford (who, conveniently, is pathologically terrified of mens hands) in this typically haunting Tod Browning melodrama. Burt Lancaster once praised Chaneys performance in this film as the most emotionally compelling work ever committed to celluloid.

THE UNHOLY THREE, 1925, MGM Repertory, 86 min, Horror/Melodrama, USA. One of director Tod Brownings earliest evocations of death, perversity and deformity, this silent masterpiece follows a crime syndicate comprised of a dwarf, a strongman and a ventriloquist (as the latter, Lon Chaney dresses up as a woman in one of the many instances of transvestism in Brownings ouevre). Live musical accompaniment during both films.