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I went to the Kansas Silent Film Festival http://www.kssilentfilmfest.org/kssff2009/promo.html tonight and saw some interesting cowboy films -- Rowdy Ann (20 min., 1919); Go West (70 min., Buster Keaton, 1925), and The Great K&A Train Robbery (54 min., Tom Mix, 1926). The Keaton film was vintage Keaton, not his greatest but satisfying. The program notes and presenter describe the Tom Mix film as being possibly the best silent film Tom Mix ever did and I'd not argue at all; while it has a cops & robbers plot, it also has a lot of comedy, too.

Animal lovers will especially like these Keaton and Tom Mix films.

In Go West, a little Jersey cow, "Brown Eyes", and Keaton become closely attached to and help each other -- much of it was quite striking (for a cow) and some was staged (for instance a scene where Keaton is riding her surely must have used a light weight dummy rather than a man?).

Tom Mix's horse, Tony, was a remarkable animal. Clever cutting made it seem as if Tony (like Lassie in those flicks) had the tracking ability of a GPS receiver in his ability to find Tom after separations. BUT, a variety of scenes relied on Tony's natural talent plus excellent training -- such as trotting over a swaying, undulating suspension bridge -- WOW!!! If you're a horse lover, see it for Tony's performance. (I think both silent films are available on DVD with music accompaniment.)

Background music was variously supplied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (great!) or either of 2 organists (one being Marvin Faulwell, very experienced, very good) plus a percussionist/sound effects person.

Tomorrow morning I'm looking forward to a new documentary (2nd showing ever, first in the US) on Mary Pickford and a couple of her flicks.

I'll skip their afternoon session (Puff & I have LabFest) but will see those playing tomorrow night.

 

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That sounds like a great way to spend a day Bob! Have fun tonight :)
 

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I got there at 9 AM (after Puff's & my 45' walk) and saw Mary Pickford's "Poor Little Rich Girl" (1917, 65 minutes, silent, accompanied by organist Marvin Faulwell). I'd not seen any previous MP flicks so this was a treat. Mary played a lot of prepubescent girl roles of which this was one: as an 11 year old when she was in her 30s -- extremely convincing. This was aided by her extremely good acting skills (she started as a child actress when she was about 4 years old in stage productions). It helped that she was less than 5' /150 cm tall; our presenter said they used taller than normal actors in the roles of adults to heighten that contrast as well as using stage sets with taller than usual doors, windows, chairs, etc. The story is of a rich little girl whose parents have too little time for her -- comedic moments within an often poignant story. VERY GOOD MP FILM.

This was followed by the documentary, "Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies" (2008, 100 minutes, American premiere). This is GREAT!!! Anyone with an interest in the history of film, from its very beginning (The Sneeze, ca. 1896) through the development of the full length silent films, through the introduction of the "talkies", to a fuller maturity in the 1940s, should rent or buy this DVD when it becomes available in the fall of 2009. Mary went through and helped guide it all.

She was a major, guiding force in the development of more natural, "method" acting styles, in directing, production, distribution, salaries for those in the movie industry, and all facets of film.

What a remarkable, intelligent, creative woman!

And what a GREAT documentary. It tells her story through clips from hundreds of interviews with her, clips from her films, interviews with relatives, friends, associates, etc.

A previous, rough version of this was shown at the Telluride Film Festival and won an award as best documentary; this later, polished version had one previous showing at a film festival in Italy, and now again today, in Topeka, KS. I feel quite fortunate to have seen it.

 

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This festival sounds like a real treat! Closest we've ever come to something like this was in Broward County, Florida. At the symphony hall there they showed Chaplin's "City Lights", accompanied by full orchestra. It was thrilling! :)
 
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