The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.
Wednesday, November 16 (7:30 p.m.)
On the Firing Line with the Germans (War Film Syndicate Company, 1915)
In 1915, newsreel director and cinematographer Wilbur H. Durborough spent seven months with the German army in Russia and Turkey and shot 16,000 feet of film. Edited to nine reels and released in November of 1915, it is the only existing, essentially complete World War I feature-length documentary. Thanks to the work of Cooper C. Graham and Jim Castellan, who spent years reviewing and logging each reel of known Durborough film at the Library of Congress’s nitrate film vaults and the National Archives film collection, the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab has restored the documentary which had its premier screening at the Pordenone, Italy Silent Film Festival in 2015. In addition to the historic and valuable material shot on the battlefields, the film has rare footage showing the first attempt by the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom to stop the Great War. Stephen Horne will provide live musical accompaniment.
Thursday, November 17 (7:30 p.m.)
All Quiet on the Western Front (Universal, 1930, silent version)
The transition from the silent to the sound era in cinema did not happen overnight. Theater owners were faced with the high cost of installing the needed equipment and studios wanted to continue to release their films to the foreign market, which was simple enough to do by changing the title cards. One solution was to make two versions of a film, which is what director Lewis Milestone did with All Quiet on the Western Front. Many consider it one of the finest silent films of all time—and one that very few people know exists, because the sound version of it is so famous. This vivid, poignant adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s eloquent pacifist novel about German boys’ experiences as soldiers during World War I stars Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Raymond Griffith and Slim Summerville. The film was restored in 1998 by the Library of Congress and added to the National Film Registry in 1990. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by London-based Stephen Horne for this rare screening of the silent version of the Academy Award-winner for Best Picture and Best Director.
Friday, November 18 (7:30 p.m.)
Her Night of Romance (First National, 1924)
In the 1920s, Constance Talmadge was one of the biggest and most popular of Hollywood stars, known for her bubbly presence in a number of comedies. In this romantic farce of mistaken identities, she stars as Dorothy Adams, an American heiress who disguises her identity while traveling in England with her father and falls in love with Paul Menford (Ronald Colman), an impoverished nobleman who poses as a doctor in order to meet Dorothy. Directed by Sidney Franklin, it’s just the right mix of silliness and sophistication that made Talmadge’s career. The film’s success spawned a sequel, Her Sister from Paris, reteaming the two stars, director, and screenwriter Hanns Kraly, a longtime collaborator with Ernst Lubitsch, for another farce of false identities and romantic complications. The 1924 comedy two-reeler Short Kilts starring Stan Laurel and James Finlayson will precede the feature. Ben Model will provide live musical accompaniment.
Saturday, November 19 (2 p.m.)
Silent Comedy Shorts (1913-1928)
Silent film accompanist Ben Model returns to the Packard Campus Theater to present an afternoon of mostly rare silent comedy shorts featuring the greats to the forgottens. Titles include Too Much Parcel Post (Pathe 1913), starring Charles Arling as a beleaguered country postman; Bobby Burns and Walter Stull in the Pokes & Jabs one-reeler Pressing Business (Vim, 1915); Marcel Perez as Tweedledum in A Scrambled Honeymoon (Eagle, 1916); Charlie Chaplin, in one of his finest Mutual comedies, The Fireman (1916); The Grocery Clerk (Vitagraph, 1919) with Larry Semon in the title role, and One Day in Hollywood (Selznick Distributing, 1924) featuring Hank Mann, Gale Henry and Buddy the Dog.
Saturday, November 19 (7:30 p.m.)
The Artist (Weinstein Company, 2011)
Winner of five Oscars including Best Picture, this delightful silent film follows the romance between silent-era superstar George Valentin, as his career fades, and rising young starlet Peppy Miller who makes the successful transition to the “talkies.” French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius wrote and directed The Artist which stars Jean Dujardin (who took home the Best Actor Oscar), Berenice Bejo, and the dog is played by a Jack Russell named Uggie who won the Palm Dog Award at the Cannes Film Festival that year. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert called it “one of the most entertaining films in many a moon, a film that charms because of its story, its performances and because of the sly way it plays with being silent and black and white.”
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.