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The Silent City: New York in the Movies 1898–1928

James Murray Eleanor Boardman in The CrowdThe Crowd with James Murray and Eleanor Boardman.

The sidebar “The Silent City: New York in the Movies, 1898-1928” will accompany Film Forum's (website) NYC NOIR film series on Mondays from July 30 to August 27.

“The Silent City” will feature movies both set and shot in New York City, including Buster Keaton's The Cameraman (1928); Harold Lloyd's Speedy (1928), which was nominated for a best comedy direction Academy Award (Ted Wilde was the official director); and Raoul Walsh's Regeneration (1915), which was shot on The Bowery and is described by film historian Kevin Brownlow as “the most authentic-looking gangster film surviving from the entire silent period.”

Also Josef von Sternberg's moody and remarkably modern The Docks of New York (1928), which boasts impressive performances by George Bancroft, Betty Compson, and especially Olga Baclanova (the chicken lady in Freaks); King Vidor's The Crowd (top photo, 1928), one of the best silent films ever made, with James Murray and a superb Eleanor Boardman as a young working-class couple trying to cope with life in the big city; and Allan Dwan's Manhandled (1924), with Gloria Swanson as a working girl. I haven't seen Manhandled, but I'm willing to bet that Swanson plays the swankiest secretary – or saleslady, or phone operator, or whatever – of the 1920s.

Lonesome with Barbara Kent, Glenn TryonAnother one in the series that I haven't seen is the much admired romantic drama Lonesome (left), directed by Paul Fejos. Leading lady Barbara Kent, 100, is still around.

I have seen It, however, the film that helped to solidify Clara Bow's stardom. All I can say about It – in the most non-judgmental manner – is that moviegoers in the 1920s were as interested in charmless fluff as moviegoers in the early 21st century. Antonio Moreno is Bow's leading man, while Gary Cooper has a small role as a reporter. Elinor Glyn, the woman who coined the word “it” to convey the idea of sex appeal, also makes an appearance to (silently) utter some inanity or other.

And finally, the series will include a program of rare turn-of-the 20th-century New York City actuality footage from the Library of Congress (Library of Congress).

Selected shows will feature live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner.

Just like NYC NOIR, “The Silent City” was programmed by Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum's Director of Repertory Programming.


THE SILENT CITY: New York in the Movies, 1898-1928
Mondays, JULY 30 - AUGUST 27
*Asterisk following showtime indicates live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner

THE CAMERAMAN (1928, Edward Sedgwick) Buster Keaton. 3:50*, 7:00*, 10:10
SPEEDY (1928, Ted Wilde) Harold Lloyd, Babe Ruth. 2:10, 5:20, 8:30

THE CROWD (1928, King Vidor) James Murray, Eleanor Boardman. 8:10*

The Docks of New York with Betty Compson, George Bancroft

REGENERATION (1915, Raoul Walsh) & The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912, D.W. Griffith) 7:30*
THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (above, 1928, Josef von Sternberg) George Bancroft, Betty Compson. 8:50*

MANHANDLED (1924, Allan Dwan) Gloria Swanson. Plus Broadway By Day (1931). 7:00*
IT (1927, Clarence Badger) Clara Bow. 8:20

NYC TREASURES from the Library of Congress 7:30*
LONESOME (1929, Paul Fejos) Glenn Tyron, Barbara Kent. 8:50

The Silent City: New York in the Movies 1898–1928 © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

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