Cinesation: Rare Classics & Cult Movies Return

A Mormon Maid (1917) directed by Robert Z. Leonard, starring Mae Murray, Hobart Bosworth

Cinesation 2006 has on its website a few of the titles that will be screened at this year's festival.

Among those are rarities such as Robert Z. Leonard's 1917 melodramaA Mormon Maid, starring his future wife Mae Murray and Hobart Bosworth, which is thus described: “A young woman and her family are attacked by Indians but are saved by a Mormons [sic] traveling to Utah. The plot thickens as suicide, polygamy and love enter the picture along with the Avenging Angels, a band of masked Mormon militiamen who leave our stars in the desert to die! Live or die, the Mormons might have some explaining to do.” If this sounds outlandish, that's because you've probably never read the synopses of Mae Murray's other films. . .

Kiki (1926) directed by Clarence Brown, starring Norma Talmadge, Ronald Colman, Gertrude AstorAlso on the schedule is the newly restored version of the 1926 Norma Talmadge comedy Kiki (directed by Clarence Brown), in which Talmadge - one of the most popular movie stars of the 1920s - co-stars with Ronald Colman. (Actually, Colman was a “leading man” in those days, so his name probably appears below the title in this one.)

Note: The website says that few Talmadge films survive, but that isn't true. Few are available for viewing - they're being held at the Library of Congress and other institutions - but the Talmadge film survival rate, especially from the 1920s, is - relatively speaking - quite good. (Check out Greta de Groat's excellent Norma Talmadge website.)

Bolero (1934) directed by Wesley Ruggles, starring George Raft, Carole LombardOther rarities include a newly restored print of the recently found British-made 1934 melodrama Bella Donna, starring Conrad Veidt (as a sinister Easterner, what else?) and Mary Ellis; Wesley Ruggles' 1934 underworld drama Bolero, with George Raft, appropriately cast as an arrogant dancer, and Carole Lombard; Richard Wallace's 1936 newspaper farce Wedding Present, starring Cary Grant and Joan Bennett; and a “mint” print of James Whale's 1932 comedy-horror classic The Old Dark House - this is my favorite among the horror films of the 1930s - starring Charles Laughton, Melvyn Douglas, The Old Dark House (1932), directed by James Whale, starring Charles Laughton, Raymond Massesy, Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Stuart, Boris Karloff, Ernest Thesiger, Elspeth Dudgeon, and Eva MooreGloria Stuart (of Titanic fame), Boris Karloff, Raymond Massey, and with great supporting turns by Ernest Thesiger, Elspeth Dudgeon, and Eva Moore. It's quite funny at first, but the laughter will get stuck in your throat once the Old House grows as Dark as the minds of its residents.

And finally, René Clair's 1927 comedy classic Un chapeau de paille d'Italie / The Italian Straw Hat, a comedy of manners about a bridegroom who must find a replacement straw hat - for the one his horse has just eaten - so a bereaved bare-headed lady can regain her social composure. The film stars Albert Préjean, Alice Tissot, and Olga Tschechowa.

Addendum: Among the new additions to the Cinesation film line-up are The Grub Stake (1923), an adventure tale set among the Yukon gold mines, and starring pioneering female filmmaker Nell Shipman (who also wrote, co-produced, and co-directed - with Bert van Tuyle - the film); The Moonstone (1915), an early film version of William Wilkie Collins' delightful novel about the mysterious disappearance of an even more mysterious Indian diamond, directed by Frank Crane, and starring Eugene O'Brien and Elaine Hammerstein; and several early shorts featuring future (now mostly forgotten) megastars: Arms and the Gringo (1914), with Wallace Reid and Dorothy Gish; The Sign of the Cucumber (1917), with Eva Novak; Lonesome Luke's Lively Life (1917), with Harold Lloyd and Bebe Daniels; and Can You Beat It? (1915), with Constance Talmadge.

Cinesation will be held in Massillon, Ohio, from Sep. 28 to Oct. 1.

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