Buster Keaton, Norma Talmadge, Constance Talmadge: Kansas Silent Film Festival

Buster Keaton in Our Hospitality

Buster Keaton's Our Hospitality will be introduced by Keaton's granddaughter Melissa Talmadge Cox at the opening of the 14th annual Kansas Silent Film Festival at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, in White Concert Hall, Washburn University.  The Festival continues Saturday, Feb. 27. Admission is free both days.  

According to the KSFF press release, Talmadge Cox “will relate how the 1923 film was a family affair, with both her grandparents as the stars (Buster Keaton and Natalie Talmadge) and her great-grandfather (Joe Keaton) and her father (James Keaton) in small roles.” Musical accompaniment will be provided by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra of Boulder, Colo. Preceding Our Hospitality will be two comedy shorts, Angora Love (1929), featuring Laurel and Hardy, and The Vagabond (1916), with Charlie Chaplin.

Natalie Talmadge, by the way, was the lesser-known sister of silent era superstars Norma Talmadge and Constance Talmadge, both of whom can be seen on recently released *must have* Kino DVDs. (More on that in an upcoming post.) They can also be seen in Kansas as well: Norma in the 1922 romantic melodrama Smilin' Through – the highlight of the two-day festival, as far as I'm concerned – and Constance in The Matrimaniac, a likable 1916 comedy in which she co-stars with Douglas Fairbanks, in the days when he was the all-American go-getter. In this particular film, he goes get his wife-to-be.

Also worth of note is The Yankee Clipper, an adventure drama starring William Boyd, a handsome silent era leading man who's best remembered today for playing Hopalong Cassidy on television.

Kansas City film historian Denise Morrison will provide introductions for the films and “give an overview of the silent film era and the artists of that time.” Accompaniment for the feature films and shorts will be provided by the aforementioned Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra; Marvin Faulwell and Greg Forema, organ; Bob Keckeisen, percussion; and Jeff Rapsis, piano.

For more information on the Kansas Silent Film Festival visit www.kssilentfilmfest.org. The KSFF organization runs the festival through sponsorships and donations. See schedule below.

Friday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m.:
Angora Love (1929): Laurel and Hardy comedy
The Vagabond (1916): Charlie Chaplin
Our Hospitality (1923): Buster Keaton plays Willie McKay, who is caught in the middle of a bitter family feud, similar to the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Saturday, Feb. 27
10 a.m.:
Rescued by Rover (1905): The first film in which a dog takes the lead, propels the story and becomes the hero.
The Iron Mule (1925): Featuring Al St. John who started his career in movies as a comedic sidekick to his uncle, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle
Thundering Fleas (1926): with Our Gang and an all-star cast of Hal Roach regulars.
The Magic Clock (1928): Fantasy film from one of the pioneers in stop-motion puppets.
(Lunch break)

1:30 p.m.:
Flaming Fathers (1927): Featuring comedian Max Davidson
The Matrimaniac (1916): Comedy starring Douglas Fairbanks and Constance Talmadge
Interview with Melissa Talmadge Cox, who will share memories of her great-aunts Norma and Constance Talmadge.
Smilin' Through (1922): A drama with Norma Talmadge and Harrison Ford
(Dinner break)

5:15 p.m.:
Kansas Silent Film Festival cinema reception and buffet dinner, Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center.
Melissa Talmadge Cox will speak about life in the lavish Hollywood mansion of her grandfather, Buster Keaton. This is an informal dinner, but paid reservations are required. Cost: $25 per person (portion of fee goes to KSFF). Call 785.670.3151 or send reservations to KSFF Cinema-Dinner, Box 2032, Topeka 66601-2032.

7 p.m.:
The Unchanging Sea (1910): D.W. Griffith short
A Moony Mariner (1927): starring Billy Dooley
The Yankee Clipper (1927): Premiere showing of full-length, original version. Produced by Cecil B. DeMille, this lavish drama of the high seas, stars William Boyd (TV's future Hopalong Cassidy) and child actor Junior Coghlan. This film depicts a race from China to Boston in the 1850s and has everything a sea-going epic should have – adventure, romance and remarkable high seas footage.

Buster Keaton, Norma Talmadge, Constance Talmadge: Kansas Silent Film Festival © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

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