Thomas Meighan & 'The Lost Squadron': Niles Essanay Museum Movies

The Lost Squadron

Via Thomas Gladysz's article in the Los Angeles Examiner:

The Edison Theatre at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in the Northern California town of Fremont has been screening silent films and early talkies for quite some time. As Gladysz explains in his article, that area was home to the western studios of the Chicago-based Essanay film company, among whose stars at one point were Gloria Swanson; Charles Chaplin; matinee idol Francis X. Bushman (best remembered for his villain in the 1925 version of Ben-Hur); and company co-owner Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson (the “ay” in Essanay; the “ess” was George K. Spoor), the first cowboy star.

Thomas MeighanThe Niles Essanay Museum's line-up for the rest of April (see below) includes the must-see 1921 dramatic comedy Conrad in Quest of His Youth, a touching tale of a middle-aged man (silent-screen superstar Thomas Meighan, right) trying to relive the past only to discover the futility of his endeavor. Meighan is excellent as the Conrad of the title, getting solid support from silent-serial queen Kathlyn Williams and the lovely Margaret Loomis (a minor player who – unfortunately – never became a star). was directed by William C. de Mille (Cecil B.'s brother).

That same evening will feature a screening of Thomas H. Ince's 1913 short Granddad, with future Oscar-winning director Frank Borzage, future Chaplin wife Mildred Harris, and future murdered director William Desmond Taylor. If only for historical reasons, that one can't be missed as well.

I still haven't watched George Archainbaud's The Lost Squadron, a 1932 (talking) aviation drama with Richard Dix, Mary Astor, Erich von Stroheim, and Joel McCrea. The mere fact that Stroheim is in it makes the film worth watching. And you can't go wrong with Mary Astor and Joel McCrea, either. And I know one person who thinks that Richard Dix is the greatest, most handsome, most accomplished actor who ever lived. (Not that I'd necessarily agree with that assessment, but I thought I'd mention it…)

And I should add that Thomas Gladysz is the head of the Louise Brooks Society website. Trust me, you don't have to be a Louise Brooks fan to appreciate Gladysz' work. Highly recommended.

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum Schedule, taken from Gladysz' article:

Short Subject Night, with Frederick Hodges at the piano
Saturday April 18 at 7:30 PM (suggested donation $5.00)
Four films featuring comedic greats of the silent era. A Night at the Show (1915, Essanay) with Charlie Chaplin; The Playhouse (1921, Schenck) with Buster Keaton; Now or Never (1921, Roach) with Harold Lloyd; You're Darn Tootin' (1928, Roach) with Laurel and Hardy.

Frank BorzageConrad in Quest of His Youth (1920, Famous Players-Lasky)
With Bruce Loeb at the piano
Saturday April 25 at 7:30 PM (suggested donation $5.00)
Thomas Meighan, one of the more popular stars of the day, once again displays his acting talent in the role of a man trying to recapture his youth, to both comic and dramatic effect. The evening will also include screening of two short films: Never Touched Me (1919, Rolin) with Harold Lloyd and Bebe Daniels; and Granddad (1913, Broncho) with Frank Borzage (right), Mildred Harris, and William Desmond Taylor.

The Lost Squadron (1932, RKO)
Friday April 24 at 7:30 PM (suggested donation $5.00)
An entertaining, big budget aviation film made during the early sound era. The film stars Richard Dix, Mary Astor, Robert Armstrong, Erich von Stroheim, and  Joel McCrea. The event will include a presentation by Bay Area resident Shawna Kelly, author of the recently released Hollywood Aviators (Arcadia), discussing her great grandfather “Daredevil” DeLay and other pilots of the silent screen days.

The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum will also be hosting a Broncho Billy's Tea Dance on Sunday April 26 at 3:00 PM. The event includes an afternoon of music by Don Neely and the Royal Society Six along with dance instruction by Cynthia Glinka. Tickets are $30 adult / $25 child, student or senior.

The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum is located at 37395 Niles Blvd in Fremont, California For more information, call (510) 494-1411. 


Thomas Meighan & 'The Lost Squadron': Niles Essanay Museum Movies © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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