A Silent Film Education in 90 Minutes

We have all been in situations where the conversation turns to something we know not of.  That time your friend laughed off the dumb girl who knew nothing about that obscure general’s wife whose revolutionary hats changed millinery forever was enough to make you covertly check Wikipedia from your phone.  The problem is, well, how do you know what or who to Wikipedia in the first place?

Bringing you nine silent film icons in ninety minutes, the Egyptian Theatre is screening all of the following films in one go on Saturday evening.  Take a deep breath: Rudolph Valentino and His 88 American Beauties, Mabel and Fatty Viewing the World’s Fair at San Francisco, Max Learns to Skate, Teddy at the Throttle, The Masquerader, Sweet and Twenty, and The Mothering Heart.  Now, what’s so special about these nine films and what kind of educational morsels should you cull from the screening?

We’ll start from the top – Rudolph Valentino was one of silent film’s most iconic and devilishly handsome actors.  Hailing from Italy, he was known well for his role in one of silent film’s highest grossing films The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and in The SheikRudolph Valentino and his 88 American Beauties is a documentary that was produced by a still-new-to-film David O. Selznick.

Mabel and Fatty Viewing The World’s Fair at San Francisco is a film that chronicles the famed 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco celebrating the newly completed Panama Canal and the redeveloped city of San Francisco itself. The viewers of the Exposition are none other than silent film stars Mabel Normand, a brilliant comedienne and Fatty Arbuckle was a vaudevillian star with a sordid and scandalous past.  Then there’s Max Learns to Skate, starring Max Linder who was a French stage and silent film actor with forays into directing.  He took his own life in 1925 in a “death pact” with his wife – talk about a conversation starter.

The screening moves on with Teddy at the Throttle starring Gloria Swanson and Bobby Vernon.  Gloria Swanson, whose name you may recognize, was an American silent film icon who starred in such classics as Beyond the Rocks (alongside our new friend Rudolph Valentino) and Male and Female alongside Cecil B. DeMille. With The Masquerader, we turn to the man who virtually defined comedy in silent film: Charlie Chaplin.  The film stars Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, and Minta Durfee – three major silent film players.  Sweet and Twenty, made in 1909, stars the LA icon Mary Pickford as Alice whose slight misunderstanding creates a whole host of entertaining twists and turns.

Last but not least is DW Griffiths’ The Mothering Heart starring Walter Miller and Lillian Gish.  Gish is, if you only Lillian20Gish_03ORremember one thing from this educational outing, largely known as one of silent film’s most virtuosic talents having starred in over 100 films.  Her face is instantly recognizable and was distinctly beautiful in a way that silent film actresses actually tended to be – they had such expressive eyes.

Time to start a conversation with that really smart person you’ve been avoiding.  They likely don’t know as much about silent film as you will on Saturday at 10pm.

The Silent Film screenings at the Egyptian Theatre’s Speilberg Theatre begin Saturday at 7:30pm.  For more information, please call (323) 466-3456 or click here.

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