Mar 3: The Whirl of Life – Vernon and Irene Castle

Tues, March 3 – played for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) and The Whirl of Life (1915) at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, where the Donnell programming is now presented. This was part of a series of films curated by Joe Yransky related to the “Curtain Call” exhibit at the Lincoln Center Library. Both films were presented in 16mm and, while a bit fast at 24fps, variable speed is not possibel there…but faster is always better than too slow.

Here’s a clip from the middle of the score for Oz, which I recorded with my Zoom H4 sitting on the piano’s folded down music rack, pointing into the piano (with the lid on short stick):
Both films really came to life during the show. The Whirl of Life, which stars Vernon and Irene Castle, has a melodramatic plot device in which Irene is kidnapped by a rival producer bent on ruining the Castle’s so his show will be a hit. The whole storyline seemed a bit silly to me when I screened this, but the audience was really with it, cheering for Vernon, as well as for his dog and a squad of marines, during the rescue and chases, and I took this and the audience’s vibe into consideration and really went for it. Joe told me later this storyline was deliberately done as tongue-in-cheek, and we were both pleased at how well the audience (consciously or not) picked up on this and really enjoyed it.

I recorded the whole show, and the sound quality came out quite well. I’m really impressed with the H4. Afterwards, since I was at the library, I returned a few silent film DVD’s I’d borrowed to prepare for shows. Have I mentioned what an amazing resource the NYPL is for silent film on video? I believe I have…

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