Josef von Sternberg, Charles Chaplin & John Ford: Shasta Silent Film Festival

The Iron Horse poster, John FordThe 6th Annual Silent Film Festival at Shasta County, Calif., to be held October 21-22 at the Shasta County Arts Council's Performance Hall, will feature an eclectic group of silent movie classics. Those range from Josef von Sternberg's crime drama Underworld (1927) to Carl Theodor Dreyer's marital drama Master of the House (1925). [Full schedule of the Shasta County Silent Film Fest.]

Also: Rin Tin Tin in Clash of the Wolves, featuring Charles Farrell (who would later team up with Janet Gaynor to become one of the most popular screen couples of the late silent era/early talkie era); John Ford's ambitious Western The Iron Horse (1924), starring George O'Brien and Madge Bellamy; and the Douglas Fairbanks romantic comedy When the Clouds Roll By (1919), directed by Victor Fleming of Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz fame.

Attending the festival will be silent film restorationist and historian David Shepard and Bay Area Royal Jazz Society's Frederick Hodges. Check out the Shasta County Arts Council for more information.

Friday, October 21

6:00 p.m. Angora Love (1929, Laurel & Hardy). Stanley and Oliver are adopted by a runaway goat, whose noise and aroma in turn get the goat of their suspicious landlord. Attempts to bathe the smelly animal result in a waterlogged free-for-all.

Pass the Gravy (1928, Max Davidson). Max Davidson plays a widower father who enjoys raising prize flowers. His neighbor, another widower father, raises prize poultry. The two families spat because the chickens are eating Max's flower seeds. In a Romeo and Juliet-like twist, the men's children decide to marry each other, and the fathers decide to hold a celebratory dinner to show no hard feelings. However, the roast chicken on the table looks very suspicious.

It's a Gift (1923, Snub Pollard) Along with a Felix the Cat. A group of oil magnates are trying to think of new ways to attract business. One of them suggests that they contact the inventor Pollard, who has devised a new gasoline substitute. Pollard himself lives in a home filled with his eccentric inventions. When he gets the message from the oil company, he is excited about the opportunity to demonstrate his innovation.

7:30 p.m Underworld (1927) (Regular admission), preceded by The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912, D.W. Griffith). Boisterous gangster kingpin Bull Weed rehabilitates his former lawyer from his alcoholic haze, but complications arise when he falls for Weed's girlfriend.


Saturday, October 22

10:00 a.m. Master of the House (1925, Carl Theodor Dreyer). The story is that of a man who takes his wife for granted and does not appreciate the effort it takes to maintain a household. While his wife is resigned and browbeaten, his old nanny and wife's current friend is not and she orchestrates a plan that will force him to rethink his notions of being head of a household.

12:00 p.m.. The Kid (1921, Charles Chaplin), preceded by The Adventurer (1917, Charles Chaplin). The Little Tramp (Chaplin) finds an abandoned baby in an alley and takes care of him. As the child gets older, he becomes the Tramp's partner in crime, scamming people in order to survive. Eventually, however, welfare services attempt to take the boy away, resulting in a desperate search and an emotional reunion

2:00 p.m. Clash of the Wolves (1925, Rin Tin Tin), preceded by Cat, Dog & Co. (1929, Our Gang). A fire in the mountains drive a wolf pack into the nearby desert where they terrorize the local residents. The leader of the wolf pack is Lobo, actually a halfbreed (Rin Tin Tin). When the pack is discovered hunting a herd of cows, a posse gives chase. Lobo leaves his pack to lead the posse away. He is injured and found by a local prospector, Dave Weston (Charles Farrell). The prospector nurses Lobo back to health and the two become close friends.

4:30 p.m. When the Clouds Roll By (1919, Douglas Fairbanks directed by Victor Fleming). This lively silent romantic comedy was the second film made by Douglas Fairbanks Sr. for the new United Artists company. Much of the film is a satiric broadside aimed at the then-innovational field of psychiatry. Wealthy young bachelor Fairbanks allows a pompous head-shrinker to influence his romantic pursuit of Greenwich Village artist Katherine Williams. There's action, athletics and laughs aplenty, topped by a terrific climactic flood sequence. The film's highlight is Fairbanks' therapy-induced dream, a triumph of special effects which is still capable of amazing audiences.

7:30 p.m. The Iron Horse (1922, John Ford). A cowboy (George O'Brien) helps his sweetheart's (Madge Bellamy) father build the first transcontinental railroad.

The Iron Horse image: Shasta County Silent Film Festival.

Josef von Sternberg, Charles Chaplin & John Ford: Shasta Silent Film Festival © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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