Lulu By the Bay

by Thomas Gladysz

(Updated May 8, 2023 to inclde photos from the May 6th performance)

On Saturday, May 6, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival is set to screen Pandora’s Box at the Paramount theater in Oakland. This legendary silent film, which stars Louise Brooks as Lulu, can rightly be described as a Bay Area favorite. In fact, as exhibition records suggest, Pandora’s Box has been screened more often in the San Francisco Bay Area than anywhere else in the United States.

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“Pandora’s Box” – A Stunning Film on the Big Screen at the Spectacular Paramount

By Nancy Friedman

(April 25, 2023)

Maligned, misunderstood, and mercilessly censored when it was released in 1929 – and virtually forgotten for the next three decades – Pandora’s Box (Die Büchse der Pandora) is today acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of silent cinema. That honor is attributable in part to the artistry of director Georg Wilhelm Pabst and cinematographer Günther Krampf, two giants of German film. But the film’s real magic resides in the indelible performance of its American star, Louise Brooks, whom the film historian David Thomson has called “one of the most mysterious and potent figures in the history of the cinema.” The British film critic Pamela Hutchinson has said that Brooks – with her impish smile, dancer’s lithe body, and gleaming black helmet of bobbed hair – “both defines the Roaring Twenties and stands outside it. She is timeless.” 

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CITY LIGHTS at the Paramount: The Little Tramp Meets the Orchestra

February 18, 2022

By Nancy Friedman

Its running time is just 87 minutes. It has only three main characters. Its filming locations were confined mostly to downtown Los Angeles and studio soundstages. 

But in its way Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 film City Lights qualifies as an epic—and so does the story behind the San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s one-night-only presentation of this silent masterpiece, accompanied by the Oakland Symphony under the direction of Timothy Brock, at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre on Saturday, February 19. 

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THE UNKNOWN CHAPLIN, a Turkish CITY LIGHTS Remake(!) and more surprises

Possibly the best documentary about Chaplin is The Unknown Chaplin. In three parts you can watch here it captures the cinematic genius as he was never meant to be seen. Using countless reels of rushes, outtakes, and abandoned films Chaplin had wanted destroyed, film archivists Kevin Brownlow and David Gill have meticulously crafted an essential and fascinating documentary homage to the Little Tramp who will no doubt keep us laughing until the last flickering frame.

We suggest that you watch The Unknown Chaplin after you see City Lights.

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