Episode 45 show notes: The Silent Film Music Podcast

Video releases, Kickstarters, Marion Davies, and MOMA

  • Ben’s live appearances seem to be increasing in Winter 2022
  • Festivals are announcing schedules, such as TCM Classic Film Festival in April, Capitolfest in Rome, NY 
  • Edward Everett Horton’s silent shorts are breaking out
    • Effective as a silent film performance
    • Harold Lloyd’s company provided first-class production (Made between The Kid Brother and Speedy)
    • “Dad’s Choice” – comparable to Charley Chase/Leo McCarey’s best
    • The eight films vary in style, rather than adhering to a set template
    • The films were well preserved and with restoration, look very good
    • Live performances, including Slapstick Festival Bristol, England, for which the film and 
    • live music were streamed live into a cinema in England before a live audience (who applauded the films).
    • Ben uses main themes developed for the homevideo release as a basis for improvisation at live performances.They have more laughs than Ben anticipated.
    • Audience response requires less injection of energy by the accompanist
    • Giving the audience a respite in a program of comedy shorts, “lights up” intro in the midst of a show. Each new story requires the audience to familiarize themselves with new characters and new situations; can be very tiring.
  • Playing for The Fire Brigade as seen in Episode 1 of Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film as part of the “To Save and Project” series at MOMA in Jan-Feb 2022
    • Decided to use the Virtual Theater Organ (see Episode 39) for maximum impact and involvement.
  • Back to school at Wesleyan. High proportion of students who are not film majors, and many expressed interest in the live music component. Observing the difference in impact between a large screen and a Kawai grand piano in person and streaming.
  • Music excerpt from “Amor Pedestre” (1914) starring Marcel Fabres (Perez), performed at MOMA, December 15, 2021, Titus II Theater, as part of In Memoriam Eileen Bowser.
  • Zander The Great (1925) starring Marion Davies, the first release of 2022 by Undercrank Productions, preserved and restored by the Library of Congress and prepared for home release by Ed Lorusso. Associate Producer, Crystal Kui.
    • Marion Davies as a versatile and talented actress; how she shows thought by her acting, which requires less from the musical accompaniment.
    • As more films become known, it is possible to observe her progression
    • Accompanist as scene partner, and as optimizer of the film
  • Musical excerpt: “Menilmontant” (1926) Abstract film without intertitles. (The title of the film refers to a neighborhood in Paris.) performed at MOMA, December 15, 2021, Titus II Theater, as part of In Memoriam Eileen Bowser.
  • Piano maintenance after the long break; how variant pianos affect Ben’s performance.
  • Beverly of Graustark (1926) starring Marion Davies. World’s fastest Kickstarter? Completed with a limited number of 150 backers in two hours. To be released in Blu Ray and DVD.
    • Restored by the Library of Congress and shown at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in 2019, scanned in 4K complete with a two-color Technicolor final reel.
    • Not a stuffy costume picture, but an unabashed romcom with a switched identity-disguise plot, á la “Prince and the Pauper”
    • Marlene Weissman frequently has to create new packaging and marketing art, because the original art does not suit the film. 
    • William Powell, Roy D’Arcy and production style as if were a standard melodrama
    • Film progresses from discrete bits to a flow of continuous action as it approaches the end.
    • The first Davies film that resembles her best-known classics
  • Teasing a big undisclosed Kickstarter!
  • Upcoming performances: 
  • February 22: Cinema Arts Center – Three Edward Everett Horton shorts streamed with live accompaniment
  • February 24-26: 25th Anniverary Kansas Silent Film Festival, in Topeka Kansas, where Ben will accompany The Goose Woman and Stage Struck
  • March 6: Jacob Burns Cinema, Pleasantville, NY, with Dana Stevens, author of the innovative Buster Keaton book Camera Man, who will introduce Neighbors (1920) and The General (1926).
  • March 16: Cinema Arts Centre live-stream to be introduced by James Curtis, author of Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life
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