Secret Cinema presents famous films (again!)
In this, our 25th anniversary year, we'll again present a popular theme from our past...but this time, with all new content...
The Secret Cinema is known for showing rarest-of-the-rare, otherwise impossible to see celluloid treasures. That changes on Wednesday, April 19, as we revive our FAMOUS FILMS program concept, at The Rotunda.
Once again, we've scoured our archive shelves for the most famous short film titles we could find...and realized there was still more great, non-obscure viewing that we'd not shown before. The program will include legendary documentaries, notable silent films, animation milestones, and once-mainstream theatrical subjects. Some were landmark achievements for their unusual style, or other innovative techniques. Others endure simply as great entertainment.
Of course, "famous" is a relative term, and fame is a fleeting thing. One reason we wish to share these great works is the growing realization that even classic films are becoming hard to see in their original form (projected celluloid on a large screen). Not so long ago, all of these films would have been mandatory viewing (via 16mm or 35mm prints) in university courses and repertory cinemas, but that is sadly no longer true. Indeed, several of these reels will be unknown to today's casual viewer -- all the more reason to celebrate them again.
Just a few highlights of FAMOUS FILMS 2017 include:
THE ADVENTURES OF DOLLIE (1908, Dir: D.W. Griffith) - A true landmark in film history, this film was the very first directorial effort by D. W. Griffith. He is generally credited with developing, in a series of short dramas made for the Biograph studio, the very grammar of the motion picture. Those advancements took another leap forward a few years later, when he made his first feature, THE BIRTH OF A NATION. Griffith's wife Linda Arvidson co-starred in this story of the kidnapping of a young girl by gypsies.
LOT IN SODOM (1933, Dir: James Sibley Watson & Melville Webber) - This pioneering avant garde film, based on the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, was experimental in both its expressionistic style and its fearless, erotic depiction of sexuality (both homo- and hetero-). Watson, heir to the Western Union fortune, was a true renaissance man, with achievements as a medical doctor, philanthropist, publisher, editor, and photographer, in addition to his highly influential amateur filmmaking. Other Watson and Webber credits include TOMATOES ANOTHER DAY and National Film Registry entry THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. Watson's close friend, the noted composer Alec Wilder, recruited cast members and served as assistant director on LOT IN SODOM.
HUMOROUS PHASES OF FUNNY FACES (1906, Dir: J. Stuart Blackton) - A series of chalk drawings that come to life, this is thought to be the very first animated cartoon. It inspired many others to animate drawings, though it is marred by the inclusion of some unfortunate racial stereotypes. Blackton was a newspaper reporter and illustrator until he purchased an early projector and films from Thomas Edison. This led to his co-founding of Vitagraph, one of the most important of the early film studios.
Vitaphone trailer for THE JAZZ SINGER (1927) - Al Jolson famously ad-libbed "You ain't heard nothing yet!" in THE JAZZ SINGER, the first talking feature film. However, audiences lucky enough to catch this coming attraction preview for the film had already heard something! In what must have been the first talking trailer, prolific character actor John Miljan awkwardly addresses the camera to promote the new Vitaphone sound process, and shows scenes of the film's star-studded New York opening.
Plus TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE COLLAPSE, THE INCREDIBLE JEWEL ROBBERY, WHAT'S OPERA DOC, I'LL NEVER HEIL AGAIN, and much more!
Secret Cinema history/trivia: Our first FAMOUS FILMS program was presented in 2007. Additional volumes were screened in 2008 and 2011. No films from these earlier editions will be repeated in FAMOUS FILMS 2017.
SECRET CINEMA WEBSITE: http://www.thesecretcinema.com
There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.