The Bay Area is a great place for fans of silent movies, with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival bringing rare riches to the Castro twice a year; weekly screenings at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum; numerous presentations at the Pacific Film Archive, Smith Rafael Film Center and Stanford Theatre; and other surprise events all with live musical accompaniment just as they were presented back in the day.
Generally, they are spread throughout the year, but Sunday, March 6, offers too many one-of-a kind blockbusters. If you time it right you can catch two of them.
To start the afternoon you will need to make a tough choice between The Great Nickelodeon Show at Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive at 3 p.m. and the 4:15 p.m. show of Aloha Wonderwall at the Smith Rafael Film Center.
The first is a mix of live performance and short films.
Return to a time when audiences were expected to participate, and talking back to the movies was not a crime! See what movies were like when they were shown with live vaudeville acts, lavishly produced songs, novelty lectures and musical accompaniment — in this case by the extraordinary Frederick Hodges.
This is an all-new production of The Great Nickelodeon Show with new films — most of them hand-colored — and new songs.
Short films include rarely seen gems from Georges Méliès, Edwin S. Porter and D.W. Griffith. On stage, Reed Rahlman performs new feats of magic as Professor Blockhead, Lori Leigh Gieleghem and Sean Sharp sing songs, and Greg Tiede startles with the dramatic tale of President McKinley’s assassination and the electrocution of his assassin under the spell of the notorious Emma Goldman. Produced by Russell Merritt. 90 minutes.
To buy tickets visit the BAM/PFA site.
For even more information, check out the Nickelodeon blog.
Your alternative on Sunday is at the Smith Rafael Film Center at 4:15 p.m.
“The World’s Most Widely Traveled Girl, Starting at 16 Years Old, is The First Woman To Travel Around The World By Automobile!”
Witness the fascinating true story of a 1920s female “Indiana Jones,” who as a teenager joined an expedition to travel around the world by Ford Model T and filmed and edited footage from more than 40 countries. Through rare films and photographs, you’ll learn about this unique filmmaker and her adventures, including surviving a plane crash in the uncharted, Amazon, remaining for months with an indigenous tribe and filming them while her husband went to find replacement parts. From becoming a confidante of Chinese bandits to socializing with Hollywood stars, she had an incredible life. (Program runs approximately 90 minutes.)
Look for tickets and information about the two other unique programs presented by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this weekend.
To learn about The Academy Film Archives, their incredible work and the many resources available to everyone, check this out.
Visit the official Aloha Wonderwall website for an exciting journey with photos, stories, videos and much more.
Short video biography of the first woman to drive around the world. Her life achievements and global adventures beginning at 16 years old.
Aloha Baker’s biography can be purchased at Amazon.
You will be able to get to San Francisco in time for The Balboa’s Birthday Bash, beginning at 7 p.m. Celebrating 90 years of bringing San Franciscans great movies, this annual event recreates a night at the movies in 1926.
And the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has proclaimed March 6 “Balboa Theatre Day.”
Ninety years ago, the New Balboa Theatre first opened its doors to the Outer Richmond in San Francisco. Silent movies were the order of the day, and the ’20s were roaring along! To commemorate this momentous anniversary, the staff has put together a show to beat all shows! Imagine, if you will, that you have been transported back in time to the year 1926: Ragtime and flappers and vaudeville are all the rage.
You come out to the Balboa Theater with its classic neon marquee calling you to see Harry Langdon at his funniest in TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP, written by Frank Capra.
A bumbling, naïve Harry Langdon falls in love with Betty (Joan Crawford), a girl on a billboard. He joins a cross-country foot race to win prize money for a friend and in hopes of marrying the girl, but he accidently takes several sleeping pills, is chased by a massive herd of sheep, slides down an enormous mountainside, spends time on a chain gang and encounters a tornado while taking a bath.
The film will be accompanied by LIVE piano from Kylan Deghetaldi.
At the LIVE Vaudeville show you will be amazed by the magic of the spellbinding Walt Anthony, wowed by the ragtime chops of The Speakeasy Three and Kat Factor. Plus short subjects, surprises – and prizes!
Top it off with a piece of incredible cake from The Cake Lady and a glass of champagne, and you’ve got an evening at the movies 1920s style, and a fitting 90th Birthday for the good old Balboa Theater!
Complete Balboa information and to buy tickets here.
More of The Silent Era
If you love silent movies please take a look at the new issue of The Silent Treatment, hot off the press this week.
If you are a glutton for more pleasures, San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint is happening Saturday and Sunday.