January

 

 

 

 

 



2 January

Laurel and Hardy Shorts (Dir. various, US, 1928-29) (Screening format – Digital, 79 mins) This selection looks at Laurel and Hardy’s early shorts with Hal Roach, including silent films You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928) with the boys as street musicians, and Big Business (1929), where they sell Christmas trees. Moving into sound, it also includes That’s My Wife (1929) where Stan has to pass himself off as Ollie’s wife, and Perfect Day (1929), about a picnic that doesn’t go as planned. With live piano accompaniment on silent films. BFI Southbank, London Link

5 January

Phantom Of The Opera (Dir. Rupert Julian, 1925)  (Screening format – DCP, 90mins)  A title that needs no introduction, The Phantom of the Opera has spawned many remakes, remasters and sequels. This original film version, produced with moments of early Technicolour, sees Lon Chaney, the ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ perform one of his most iconic roles. His ghastly make-up and outrageous performance made this title a benchmark in the American silent film era.  The mysterious phantom (Lon Chaney) is a vengeful composer living in the catacombs under the Paris Opera House, determined to promote the career of  the singer he loves (Mary Philbin).  Famed for the phantom’s shock unmasking, incredible set designs and the masked ball sequence, it still packs a punch. Find out more at wikipedia.org.  With recorded Carl Davis score.  BFI Southbank, London  Link

6 January

The Marvelous Mabel Normand – The Leading Lady of Film Comedy  Everyone knows Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, but where are the women in silent film comedy? But the trailblazing Mabel Normand – who starred in 167 shorts and 23 features – is long overdue her moment in the spotlight.   Normand was the irrepressible spirit of early Hollywood, an extraordinary performer from the anarchic days of Mack Sennett’s Keystone company to the refined comedies of the 1920s. The first lady of silent comedy, she directed her own films, ran her own production company and worked with the best – including Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and a young Oliver Hardy. But make no mistake: Mabel was always the star.The Marvellous Mabel Normand: Leading Lady of Film Comedy is a package of four short films from the BFI National Archive, including Mabel’s Blunder (1914), Mabel’s Dramatic Career (1913), His Trysting Place (1914) and Should Men Walk Home? (1927). Find out more about her at wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu.  With live musical accompaniment performing a newly commissioned  score by The Meg Morley Trio. Home, Manchester Link

A Modern Dubarry (Alexander Korda, Ger, 1927) (Screening format – 35mm, 102mins) Made in Germany, set in France and pitched to attract international markets, this frothy drama features Korda’s first wife María Corda, star of the Austrian silent screen, as Toinette, a shop-girl who rises to success in a fashionable dress salon. Corda’s performance dazzled contemporary audiences. Watch out for Marlene Dietrich in a small part as a French coquette. Find out more at  wikipedia.org.  With live piano accompaniment by Jonathan best.  BFI Soutbank, London Link

The Penalty  (Dir. Wallace Worsley, US, 1920) (Screening format – not known, 89mins) The great American actor Lon Chaney demonstrates his unparalleled flair for on-screen transformation with his macabre characterisation of ‘Blizzard’ – a tortured, criminal mastermind. A young boy has both his legs needlessly amputated by an inexperienced surgeon and grows up to become “master of the underworld”, driven to terrible deeds by his passion for sadistic revenge. The film is considered Chaney’s break-out role, cementing his reputation as master of the gruesome and grotesque, ahead of his defining performance as the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The actor famously refused the use of trick camera angles to simulate his ‘deformity’, forcing his legs into leather stumps in a tightly bent position that was so painful he could only wear them for ten minutes at a time. The effect is astounding, as is Chaney’s nimble maneuvering across the set of ropes, ladders and poles showing a technical ability that makes his character utterly believable.  Find out more at silentfilm.org  With live musical accompaniment by Graeme Stephen and Pete Harvey.  Contemporary Arts, Dundee  Link

Laurel and Hardy Shorts (Dir. various, US, 1928-29) (Screening format – Digital, 79 mins) This selection looks at Laurel and Hardy’s early shorts with Hal Roach, including silent films You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928) with the boys as street musicians, and Big Business (1929), where they sell Christmas trees. Moving into sound, it also includes That’s My Wife (1929) where Stan has to pass himself off as Ollie’s wife, and Perfect Day (1929), about a picnic that doesn’t go as planned. With live piano accompaniment on silent films by Stephen Horne. BFI Southbank, London Link

12 January

The Marvelous Mabel Normand – The Leading Lady of Film Comedy  Everyone knows Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, but where are the women in silent film comedy? But the trailblazing Mabel Normand – who starred in 167 shorts and 23 features – is long overdue her moment in the spotlight.   Normand was the irrepressible spirit of early Hollywood, an extraordinary performer from the anarchic days of Mack Sennett’s Keystone company to the refined comedies of the 1920s. The first lady of silent comedy, she directed her own films, ran her own production company and worked with the best – including Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and a young Oliver Hardy. But make no mistake: Mabel was always the star.The Marvellous Mabel Normand: Leading Lady of Film Comedy is a package of four short films from the BFI National Archive, including Mabel’s Blunder (1914), Mabel’s Dramatic Career (1913), His Trysting Place (1914) and Should Men Walk Home? (1927). Find out more about her at wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu.  With  a newly commissioned  score by The Meg Morley Trio. Arts Centre, Plymouth Link

The General  (Dir. Buster Keaton/Clyde Bruckman, 1926)  (Screening format – not known, 75mins)  Widely considered one of the greatest films ever made and one of the most revered comedies of the silent era, Buster Keaton’s effortless masterpiece sees hapless Southern railroad engineer Johnny Gray (Keaton) facing off against Union soldiers during the American Civil War. When Johnny’s fiancée, Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack), is accidentally taken away while on a train stolen by Northern forces, Gray pursues the soldiers, using various modes of transportation in comic action scenes that highlight Keaton’s boundless, innovative wit and joyful, lighthearted dexterity, to reclaim the train and thereby save the South. Find out more at  busterkeaton.com .  With live musical accompaniment by the Trio Haiku Salut .    Link

Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (Dir. Benjamin Christensen, Swe., 1922) ( Screening format – DCP, 105mins) A fictionalized documentary with dramatic reconstructions showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern (1922) Europe. Based partly on Christensen’s study of the  Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors, Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch hunts.  Although it won acclaim in Denmark and Sweden when first released, Haxan was heavily censored or banned outright in many countries.  But it is now considered to be Christensen’s finest work, a witches’ brew of the scary, the grotesque, and the darkly humorous. Find out more at thedevilsmanor.blogspot.co.uk . With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

15 January

Phantom Of The Opera (Dir. Rupert Julian, 1925)  (Screening format – DCP, 90mins)  A title that needs no introduction, The Phantom of the Opera has spawned many remakes, remasters and sequels. This original film version, produced with moments of early Technicolour, sees Lon Chaney, the ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ perform one of his most iconic roles. His ghastly make-up and outrageous performance made this title a benchmark in the American silent film era.  The mysterious phantom (Lon Chaney) is a vengeful composer living in the catacombs under the Paris Opera House, determined to promote the career of  the singer he loves (Mary Philbin).  Famed for the phantom’s shock unmasking, incredible set designs and the masked ball sequence, it still packs a punch. Find out more at wikipedia.org.  With recorded Carl Davis score.  BFI Southbank, London  Link

Nosferatu (Dir. F W Murnau, 1922) (Screening format – not known, 96mins) A German Expressionis horror masterpiece starring Max Shreck as the vampire Count Orlok.  The film was an unauthorised adaption of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel.  Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaption and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed.  However, a few prints survived and the film came to be regarded as an inspirational masterwork of the cinema. In the film, Count Orlok travels across Europe leaving a trail of death in his wake.  Brilliantly eerie, with imaginative touches which later adaptions never achieved.  Find out more at wikipedia.org With live musical accompaniment by Dmytro Morykit.  Masham Town Hall, Ripon Link

16 January

Battling Butler (Dir. Buster Keaton, US, 1926) (Screening format – not known, 74mins) Buster Keaton found rich possibilities for physical comedy in this tale of a wealthy milquetoast who is forced, through a series of outlandish coincidences and misunderstandings, to train as a boxer. Based on a popular Broadway musical comedy, the story revolves around two Alfred Butlers – one (Keaton) a timid, mild-mannered millionaire, the other a boxing world champion. When Butler-the-fop finds love with a mountain girl (Sally O’Neil), he assumes the identity and arouses the wrath of Butler-the-Brute, leading to a dramatic showdown in which the brawl is very much on. Keaton always selected Battling Butler as one of his favourite features and the picture proved Keaton’s biggest success, outgrossing Douglas Fairbanks’s Black Pirate in its first week on Broadway, encouraging Joe Schenck to give the go-ahead for Keaton’s most ambitious production, The General, with a budget set at half a million dollars. Find out more at silentfilm.org.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. With an introduction by film editor and PhD student of Keaton’s filmmaking, Polly Rose (University of Bristol) and with live musical accompaniment by Guenter A. Buchwald and Frank Bockius. Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

Holy Smoke! Religion and Comedy  The Pilgrim (Dir. Charles Chaplin, US, 1923) (Screening format – not known, 47mins ) In The Pilgrim a tramp (Chaplin) breaks out of jail and chances upon the deserted robes of a clergyman. Donning the disguise he train-hops his way to a tiny Texas town, where the residents just happen to be awaiting the arrival of their new priest. Welcomed into the community with open arms, through quick wit the runaway convict is able to convince the locals he’s a man of God. But, just as he begins wooing the lovely Miss Brown (Edna Purviance), an old cellmate arrives to stir up trouble.Find out more at wikipedia.org.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  After the screening, comedians Robin Ince and Lucy Porter join Andrew Kelly (Director of Bristol Festival of Ideas) to explore whether ‘being funny’ is justification for mocking religion, or if there are some things comedy should not touch.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

Slapstick at the Cathedral – For Heaven’s Sake (Dir. sam Taylor, US, 1926) + films from Laurel & Hardy and Anita Garvin & Marion Byron.  (Screening format – not known, 48mins)  In For Heaven’s Sake, Harold Lloyd plays a wealthy young spendthrift who is upset that his name is being used to bring parishioners into a storefront mission in the poorer part of town. He heads to the mission to have it out with the minister, only to fall in love with minister’s daughter (Jobyna Ralston).  But when they start to talk of marriage, Harold’s wealthy friends are dismayed that he is marrying beneath himself and so take desperate action.   The climactic chase is as hilarious and exciting a piece of celluloid as has ever been produced, but it is merely the capper to an uninterrupted stream of brilliant sight gags. Long underrated,this is one of the cleverest and most consistently entertaining of all of Harold Lloyd’s silent vehicles.  Find out more at silentfilm.org  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. Introduced by film historian Kevin Brownlow.   With live accompaniment from the European Silent Screen Virtuosi featuring Günter A. Buchwald, Frank Bockius, Romano Todesco and Marc Roos.  Bristol Cathedral, Bristol Link

17 January

Rediscovering Alice Howell Alice Howell was a huge comedy star in the late teens and early 1920s and one of the few women permitted to be funny in her own right in the male-dominated world of silent screen comedy.  Standup comedian and writer Lucy Porter introduces a selection of Howell’s funniest, newly restored, comedy shorts as she champions this rarely seen, yet prolific, comedy performer Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

Little Annie Roonie (Dir. , US, 1925) (Screening format – not known, 94mins) Academy Award winner Mary Pickford plays a tomboy of the tenements facing a crisis of the heart when the boy she loves is accused of shooting her policeman father in this classic comedy drama. Shot entirely on set at the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio (one of two studios she would co-found – the other being United Artists) the film, also written by Pickford, co-stars William Haines and a wide-ranging, multi-ethnic cast. Met with huge critical and commercial success upon its original release, it proved fans and critics alike wanted the then 33-year old Mary to stay a child forever. Find out more at  moviessilently.com.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Introduced by presenter and Pickford admirer, Chris Serle. With live piano accompaniment.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

On the Trail of Cunégonde  Around 1912-1913, the French company Société Lux produced a string of comedies featuring a main character called Cunégonde. The surviving films show the same actress playing the part as either an unruly maid, an annoying spinster or a ferocious wife. The true identity of the actress playing Cunégonde has remained a mystery for decades, until now…This presentation by Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi, Curator of Amsterdam’s EYE Filmmuseum, includes a screening of the surviving Cunégonde films along with a discussion on what we now know about the actress. Discover this extraordinary story about a mysterious woman who was internationally acclaimed in her time but then lost for more than a century.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  With live piano accompaniment from John Sweeney.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

Les Deux Timides  (Dir. Rene Clair, Fr, 1928) (Screning format – not known, 87mins) This bold comedy of shy lovers is René Clair’s silent masterpiece, folding the avant-garde and the comic into a delightful, expertly judged tale of provincial romance and misapprehension. When a shy, inexperienced lawyer called Frémissin defends M. Garadoux, against charges that he has ill-treated his wife, Frémissin fails miserably and Garadoux is sentenced to prison. Two years pass and Frémissin falls in love with the beautiful Cécile, attempting to win her affection. But when, Garadoux, now a widower, is released from prison he asks Cécile’s father, M. Thibaudier, for Cécile’s hand against her will … With Les Deux Timides Clair takes what could be a Max Linder scenario of a young middle-class man overcoming obstacles in pursuit of a pretty girl, merges it with Chaplinesque outsider charm and then punctuates it with Keystone-quality chaos. This lavish new restoration of this sublime farce (courtesy of Cinémathèque Française) however, reveals it as a silent comedy classic in its own right.  Find out more at silentlondon.co.uk  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  With an introduction by film historian Kevin Brownlow and live musical accompaniment by Guenter A. Buchwald, Romano Todesco and Frank Bockius.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol  Link

Happiness (Dir. , USSR, 1935) (Screening format – not known, 95mins) In this Russian comedy-drama a hapless loser (with the surname of Loser) undergoes a series of misadventures with avaricious clergy, a tired horse, and a stolen granary (among other things) on his road toward collectivised happiness.  Khmyr is a poor, idle peasant who dreams of becoming a tsar, but who mostly enjoys eating his fill of pork and doing nothing (his idea of happiness). So when his industrious wife Anna, who found real happiness on a collective farm after the Russian revolution, sends Khmyr out in search of happiness, he unfortunately finds his quest is hampered by priests, officials and other freeloaders along the way.  One of the last Soviet silent movies, this rare and often hilarious example of socialist slapstick is grounded in the eccentricities of Russian folk culture. (The film was actually banned in Russia for 40 years because of its anti-Bolshevik humour!) Director Aleksandr Medvedkin’s infectiously happy oddity emerged surprisingly from a slough of social-realist orthodoxy, and prompted none other than Sergei Eisenstein to the admiring tribute: ‘Today I saw how a Bolshevik laughs.’ Find out more at  rusfilm.pitt.edul.   Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. Screened with the original synchronised score. Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

18 January

Sydney, the Other Chaplin  (Dir. Eric Lange, Fr, 2017) (Screening format – not known, 58mins) Would Charlie Chaplin have ever reached his heights of success if it weren’t for his big brother, Sydney? An improbable character inhabiting the shadows with a fiction-like destiny, Sydney’s chequered life and role behind the scenes of the most recognised comic character in the world, is explored in this new documentary. Accomplished comedian, beloved uncle and brother, dubious businessman, philandering womaniser – these are just some of the many faces of Sydney John Hill Chaplin. Through interviews with experts such as David Robinson, Kevin Brownlow, Kate Guyonvarch and Sydney’s biographer Lisa Stein Haven, combined with rare home movie footage, archival photographs, artefacts and documents, a larger than life true story of this enigmatic, often controversial, character is revealed.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. With an introduction by Chaplin biographer David Robinson and a screening of one of Sydney’s early one reelers. Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

Honest Hutch  (Dir. , US, 1920) (Screening format – not known, 50mins) One of the most popular figures in the United States of the 1930s, Will Rogers stars as a lazy good for nothing patriarch of his long-suffering family in this rare silent comedy western. Dubbed ‘America’s Cowboy Philosopher’ at one time Roger’s was the nation’s #1 radio personality, #1 movie box office draw, #1 most sought after public speaker and the #1 most read newspaper columnist in the US. With a career spanning stage, silents, talkies, vaudeville, journalism and social commentary, this is a wonderful chance to see Rogers on the big screen. With this print coming from the personal collection of film historian, Kevin Brownlow, Kevin says:  “I am very fond of HONEST HUTCH – it’s a lovely piece of Americana – and I hope you will be, too. Will Rogers is an acquired taste – slow, charming and amusing in his titles as well as his actions, he is well worth watching.”  Find out more at imdb.com.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. With live piano accompaniment Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

A Celebration of Steamboat Bill, Jr  Peter Krämer, the author of the BFI Film Classics volume on Buster Keaton’s The General, makes a welcome return to Slapstick Festival to discuss one of Buster’s most accomplished works – Steamboat Bill, Jr.  Using illustrative clips from the film Peter, Senior Research Fellow in Cinema & TV at De Montfort University, will explore the film’s style and themes, and its place in Keaton’s career. Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link 

Stan (Dir. Jon Sen, UK, 2006) (Screening format – not known, 59mins) To accompany the release of Stan & Ollie, a new biopic on the world’s greatest comedy duo, we’re revisiting the celebrated 2006 BBC drama about the pair from silent film maestro and writer Neil Brand. Based on Neil’s critically acclaimed radio play of the same name, the film follows Stan Laurel’s last visit to his dying friend and comedy partner Oliver ‘Babe’ Hardy and Stan’s subsequent coming to terms with the ghosts of his past. The film will be introduced by critic and film historian David Robinson who will reveal all about his time with Stan & Ollie, having met and interviewed them during their appearance onstage at Bristol Hippodrome in the 1950’s.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival.  Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

Lost and Found Join film collector Anthony Saffrey and film historian David Robinson for this selection of rare and unseen silent comedy gems. These rare and unknown discoveries include; Richard Bennett in A Guilded Youth (1917), a rare comedy with Aimée Campton and Rene Hervil in Maud and the Bachelors (FRA Urban-Eclipse 1914) and Tommy Marries his Sister (Fra 1910). Join them for what promises to be a memorable afternoon of discovery and delight.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. With live musical accompaniment from Daan Van den Hurk on piano and Elizabeth-Jane Baldry on harp. Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, UK, 1927)  (Screening format – not known, 91 mins ) In The Lodger, a serial killer known as “The Avenger” is on the loose in London, murdering blonde women. A mysterious man (Ivor Novello)  arrives at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting looking for a room to rent. The Bunting’s daughter (June Tripp)  is a blonde model and is seeing one of the detectives (Malcolm Keen) assigned to the case. The detective becomes jealous of the lodger and begins to suspect he may be the avenger.  Based on a best-selling novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes, first published in 1913, loosely based on the Jack the Ripper murders,  The Lodger was Hitchcock’s first thriller, and his first critical and commercial success. Made shortly after his return from Germany, the film betrays the influence of the German expressionist tradition established in such films as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) and Nosferatu (1922). Find out more at silentfilm.org. With live musical accompaniment by acclaimed musicians Minima. Tutbury Village Hall, Staffs  Link

19 January

Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (Dir. Benjamin Christensen, Swe., 1922) ( Screening format – DCP, 105mins) A fictionalized documentary with dramatic reconstructions showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern (1922) Europe. Based partly on Christensen’s study of the  Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors, Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch hunts.  Although it won acclaim in Denmark and Sweden when first released, Haxan was heavily censored or banned outright in many countries.  But it is now considered to be Christensen’s finest work, a witches’ brew of the scary, the grotesque, and the darkly humorous. Find out more at thedevilsmanor.blogspot.co.uk . With recorded Matti Bye Ensemble score.   BFI Southbank, London Link

Early Slapstick Animation Cinema was still a precocious toddler when it acquired a brash, bouncy sibling. No sooner had the great silent comedians worked out how to put slapstick into the movies than cartoonists got in on the act, using the unique properties of animation to bring ever more inventive and hilarious films to the screen. In this event, Peter Lord, co-founder of Aardman, will present some unusual gems from the early, magical days of animation – featuring a cast of cats, rabbits, and of course one very famous mouse.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. With live musical accompaniment from Daan Van den Hurk on piano. Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

Young Slapstick: Meet Charlie! Families and kids are invited to join film historian and Chaplin biographer David Robinson as he introduces the man with a funny walk, Charlie Chaplin, in this fun afternoon of chat and films, specially designed for under 12s.  Delight as you discover why, a century on, Chaplin is still funny to audiences both old and young alike. Recommended for ages 6+.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. With live musical accompaniment from Daan Van den Hurk on piano. Watershed Cinema, Bristol Link

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, UK, 1927)  (Screening format – not known, 91 mins ) In The Lodger, a serial killer known as “The Avenger” is on the loose in London, murdering blonde women. A mysterious man (Ivor Novello)  arrives at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting looking for a room to rent. The Bunting’s daughter (June Tripp)  is a blonde model and is seeing one of the detectives (Malcolm Keen) assigned to the case. The detective becomes jealous of the lodger and begins to suspect he may be the avenger.  Based on a best-selling novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes, first published in 1913, loosely based on the Jack the Ripper murders,  The Lodger was Hitchcock’s first thriller, and his first critical and commercial success. Made shortly after his return from Germany, the film betrays the influence of the German expressionist tradition established in such films as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) and Nosferatu (1922). Find out more at silentfilm.org. With live musical accompaniment by acclaimed musicians Minima. St Peter’s Church, Cowleigh, Malvern Link

20 January

Lost Heroes of Comedy Why are Eric & Ernie, Tommy Cooper and Frankie Howerd so fondly remembered, while Arthur Haynes and Charlie Drake and Harry Langdon languish in the archives? These once celebrated stars, from the silent days of Hollywood to the comedy club boom, come under the spotlight in this affectionate tribute by comedy historian Robert Ross.  Specially tailored for Slapstick Festival, join him to celebrate the forgotten heroes of slapstick comedy… forgotten no longer.  Presented as part of the Bristol Slapstick Festival. Watershed Cinema, Bristol  Link

The General  (Dir. Buster Keaton/Clyde Bruckman, 1926)  (Screening format – not known, 75mins)  Widely considered one of the greatest films ever made and one of the most revered comedies of the silent era, Buster Keaton’s effortless masterpiece sees hapless Southern railroad engineer Johnny Gray (Keaton) facing off against Union soldiers during the American Civil War. When Johnny’s fiancée, Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack), is accidentally taken away while on a train stolen by Northern forces, Gray pursues the soldiers, using various modes of transportation in comic action scenes that highlight Keaton’s boundless, innovative wit and joyful, lighthearted dexterity, to reclaim the train and thereby save the South. Find out more at  busterkeaton.com .  With live musical accompaniment by jazz students from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.  Barbican, London Link

24 January

The Marvelous Mabel Normand – The Leading Lady of Film Comedy  Everyone knows Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, but where are the women in silent film comedy? But the trailblazing Mabel Normand – who starred in 167 shorts and 23 features – is long overdue her moment in the spotlight.   Normand was the irrepressible spirit of early Hollywood, an extraordinary performer from the anarchic days of Mack Sennett’s Keystone company to the refined comedies of the 1920s. The first lady of silent comedy, she directed her own films, ran her own production company and worked with the best – including Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and a young Oliver Hardy. But make no mistake: Mabel was always the star.The Marvellous Mabel Normand: Leading Lady of Film Comedy is a package of four short films from the BFI National Archive, including Mabel’s Blunder (1914), Mabel’s Dramatic Career (1913), His Trysting Place (1914) and Should Men Walk Home? (1927). Find out more about her at wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu.  With a newly commissioned recorded score by The Meg Morley Trio.  Film Theatre, Stoke  Link

25 January

The Sheik (Dir. George Melford, US, 1921) (Screening format – DCP, 75mins) Hollywood’s first male sex symbol, Rudolph Valentino, appears in his most iconic of roles in The Sheik (1921). Breaking box office records, The Sheik would secure Valentino’s place as one of the first iconic Hollywood legends. The film also stars Agnes Ayres as Lady Diana Mayo, a headstrong Western woman who infiltrates the private party of the handsome Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan (Valentino). When the Sheik later encounters Diana in the desert, he abducts her and takes her to his sumptuous lair. Unable to resist the Sheik’s cruel magnetism, Diana’s defiant nature crumbles and she begins to develop affectionate feelings for her captor. The Sheik plays upon a long tradition of Orientalism in Western art, which romanticized the sands of Northern Africa as a hotbed of seduction and captivity and would spawn successors that helped the mythical type take root even more.  Find out more at moviessilently.com.  Presented by South West Silents.  With live musical accompaniment.  The Cube, Bristol Link

Phantom Of The Opera (Dir. Rupert Julian, 1925)  (Screening format – not known, 103mins)  A title that needs no introduction, The Phantom of the Opera has spawned many remakes, remasters and sequels. This original film version, produced with moments of early Technicolour, sees Lon Chaney, the ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ perform one of his most iconic roles. His ghastly make-up and outrageous performance made this title a benchmark in the American silent film era. The film was a critical and commercial success upon release, and still stands as an important film in cinematic history to this day, with press quotes from the time labeling the film an ‘ultra-fantastic melodrama’ (New York Times), ‘produced on a stupendous scale’ (Moving Picture World) and ‘probably the greatest inducement to nightmare that has yet been screened’ (Variety).  The mysterious phantom (Lon Chaney) is a vengeful composer living in the catacombs under the Paris Opera House, determined to promote the career of  the singer he loves (Mary Philbin).  Famed for the phantom’s shock unmasking, incredible set designs and the masked ball sequence, it still packs a punch. Find out more at wikipedia.org.  With live musical accompaniment by acclaimed musicians Minima. Hilgay Village Hall, Hilgay, Norfolk  Link

26 January

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, UK, 1927)  (Screening format – not known, 91 mins ) In The Lodger, a serial killer known as “The Avenger” is on the loose in London, murdering blonde women. A mysterious man (Ivor Novello)  arrives at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting looking for a room to rent. The Bunting’s daughter (June Tripp)  is a blonde model and is seeing one of the detectives (Malcolm Keen) assigned to the case. The detective becomes jealous of the lodger and begins to suspect he may be the avenger.  Based on a best-selling novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes, first published in 1913, loosely based on the Jack the Ripper murders,  The Lodger was Hitchcock’s first thriller, and his first critical and commercial success. Made shortly after his return from Germany, the film betrays the influence of the German expressionist tradition established in such films as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) and Nosferatu (1922). Find out more at silentfilm.org. With live musical accompaniment by acclaimed musicians Minima. Harmston Memorial Hall, Harmston, Lincs Link