Kennington Bioscope Silent Film Weekend 2017

Cinema Museum, Lambeth, London

10-11 June 2017


Little did we know when we entered the hallowed doors of the Cinema Museum this morning that instead of the third Kennington Bioscope Silent Film Weekend we were instead embarking upon the first Politically Un-Correct Silent Film Festival, but more on that later. More pressing issues on Saturday morning concerned whether the weekend’s Manning Haynes film would live up to expectations, whether or not it had been wise to stay up all Thursday night watching the election results or, perhaps most pressing, whether the Cinema Museum’s stocks of veggie quiche would hold out.

Day 1 – Saturday

But before these issues could trouble us more it was down to the first film, Are Parents People (Dir. Mal St Clair, US,1925).  Introduced by Kevin Brownlow (who was providing this and many of the other films screened over the weekend) the film stars Adolphe Menjou and Florence Vidor as parents in the process of getting divorced.  Their daughter Lita (Betty Bronson), sent away to boarding school, schemes to get them back together by creating a common concern for them both.  Having been expelled for taking the blame for a romantic letter written by a room mate to a famous actor she decides to play up this relationship to worry her parents.  But in the meantime she has also fallen for the school’s doctor and after she spends the night at his house, her parents arereconciled while the doctor gives in to Lita’s attentions and they depart together.

When first released, attention for Are Parents People focused primarily on Betty Bronson and how she would perform in her second starring role after having been plucked from obscurity by J M Barrie himself to play the title role in Peter Pan. As the precocious daughter she performs adequately but it is really Adolphe Menjou and Florence Vidor who shine. Their opening scenes, packing for their separation, are a joy to watch.  Without a single word being spoken they reveal themselves to be two people with a deep affection for each other yet unable to live together.  Director Mal St Clair (apparently somewhat unkindly referred to as “that dog director” on account of his having made a Rin Tin Tin film), despite his earlier pedigree of visual, knock-about comedy with the likes of Buster Keaton, keeps the humour at a more subtle and understated level. Also deserving of praise was George Beranger as the somewhat effete (but convinced of his own star appeal) visiting film star.  Yet what is amazing in the film’s plotting and indeed in its reviews at the time is the total acceptance that a schoolgirl can enter into a relationship with her much older school doctor without an eyebrow being raised.  Politically un-correct or what? How times have changed!

The film was accompanied by Cyrus Gabrysch on piano.  

(NB Are Parents People is available on a Region 1 DVD with just some fairly long clips available online.)

Next up, and in complete contrast, we had Grass (Dir. Merian C Cooper/Ernest B Schoedsack, US, 1925).  In his introduction, Kevin Brownlow provided a brief biography of Cooper, illustrated by some stunning TV documentary footage.  Not content with surviving the near fatal crash of his World War 1 bomber and internment in a German POW camp, Cooper then went on to fight with Polish forces against the Bolsheviks in 1919, again being captured but miraculously avoiding a firing squad and escaping yet again. With the war over, Cooper and former combat photographer Schoedsack would turn to adventure documentary making to maintain the thrill in their lives.  Perhaps the only shortcoming in Cooper’s action packed life was in not making a film of his own life story.

Grass is a documentary telling of the annual migration of the Bakhtiari tribe, on their gruelling 48 day trek from Turkey to the western lands of Iran, across inhospitable terrain to their flock’s summer pastures.  The film follows 50,000 people and half a million animals as they make the hazardous trek led by tribal chief Haidar Khan. The film’s most harrowing scenes focus upon the crossing of the fast flowing Karun River.  With the aid of inflated goat skin rafts the tribe and a few of the animals are carried across but most of the animals are forced to swim and the river takes a heavy toll. There is then a climb across a 12,000 ft mountain pass with the men, barefooted, carving out a path through the snow covered peaks so the rest of the tribe can follow. It is only after the subsequent descent that the summer grasslands open out…for those that have survived the journey.

Today we have become somewhat inured to and blasé of this type of adventure documentary making but in 1925 it was almost unique with perhaps only Nanook of the North (Dir. R J Flaherty, US, 1922) to rival it. Yet even today, some of the images depicted in Grass remain stunning.  While the scenes of the river crossing capture the sheer physical effort involved, the shots of thousands of people and tens of thousands of animals zig-zagging up through the snow covered mountain peaks are just staggering. By focusing upon Haidar Khan and his small son the film seeks to somewhat humanise the story but I’m not sure that this works too well and some of the inter-titles are just downright patronising! Nevertheless, the film remains invaluable in recording a way of life now gone forever.  Cooper and Schoedsack had apparently planned to return the following year to follow just a single family on the trek but this never happened and they always referred to Grass as “..that dammed half finished film.”  But they were to go on to much greater things.  With Cooper stopping only briefly in 1927 to help found Pan-American airways, the two then shot the delightful drama-documentry Chang (1927) in Thailand before achieving everlasting fame for creating King Kong (1933).

The film was memorably accompanied by Lillian Henley on piano.  

(NB Grass appears currently to be out of print (a used copy on Amazon is $155 ! ) although it can be watched on-line)

Jon Davies, a tutor in French Cinema at the Morley College, introduced the next selection of films under the banner of The First French New Wave. First up was an early Jean Renoir effort, Charleston Parade (Sur un air de Charleston) (1927). Set a hundred years in the future the film depicted an African airman setting out for a war ravaged Europe where he discovers a girl (and her pet ape) who shows him the lost art of the Charleston dance after which they both enter his flying machine to return to Africa, leaving behind the tearful ape.

This was quite an oddity, made by Renoir following the failure of two earlier features (La Fille de l’eau (1925) and Nana (1926) ) both of which starred his then wife Catherine Hessling.  Apparently made as something of a final shot at film-making by Renoir, the film attracted sufficient attention to encourage him to continue, for which we should all be thankful as within a decade he would be directing the likes of Bouda Saved From Drowning (1932), Partie de Campagne (1936) and Le Grande Illusion (1937). And yet Charleston Parade is something of an inconsequential piece.  While interesting in that traditional stereotypes are reversed with the black African airman coming from the technologically superior society to find the primitive white girl, it does becomes rather tiresome as a result of the protracted dance sequences. While Hessling may be a better dancer than actress, this is not enough to carry the film and the casting of real life dancer Johnny Hudgins, a black actor wearing black face make-up is disconcerting and a restating of those old stereotypes.

The excellent piano accompaniment came from visiting Dutch pianist Daan van den Hurk

(NB Charleston Parade is available on DVD from Studio Canal.  It can also be viewed on-line)

Next up was Entr’acte (1924), an avant garde exercise directed by Rene Claire.  The film opens with composers Erik Satie and Francis Picabia firing a cannon at the audience.  Artists Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray play chess on a Paris roof-top.  A ballet dancer is filmed from below a glass floor.  A fairground shooting gallery turns into real life and a man is shot from a Paris roof top.  As his camel drawn hearse races away, the funeral party race to keep up.  This is interspersed with shots from the front of a fairground roller-coaster.  When the coffin falls to the ground the corpse comes to life and makes everyone disappear. Fin!

Hailed as a Dadaist masterpiece, Entr’acte was commissioned to run between acts of Francis Picabia’s opera Relache.  In a typical dadaist joke, relache roughly translates as ‘performance suspended’ while entr’acte means ‘intermission’. Music for both opera and film was composed by Satie.  Entr’acte is a collection of images, the meaning of which may or may not have meaning but which is really an assault on what were seen as bourgeois notions such as plot or character. Using virtually every cinematic trick in the book (slow and fast motion, stop frame, superimposition etc) Claire created an increasingly fast-paced montage of images, but one which remained infuriatingly impossible to ascribe any meaning to.  Although all those involved appeared to be having a great time and a lot of the shots were very cleverly staged, the film did have the feel of a wildly self indulgent home movie.

Piano accompaniment for this was from Daan van den Hurk performing what I think was the original Satie score for the film.

(NB   Entr’acte is available on DVD from Criterion and can be viewed online.)

Lastly in this section we had the Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet) (Dir. Germaine Dulac, Fr, 1922).  The said Madame Beudet is a world-weary housewife living in a small provincial town and married to a boorish husband whose favourite trick is to pretend to commit suicide with a pistol from which he has removed the bullets. When her husband goes out and locks her piano (her only pleasure) she decides to replace the bullets in his pistol.  Racked with guilt, all her attempts to remove the bullets are frustrated but when her husband takes out his pistol he instead points it at her.  As he fires she screams and dives out of the way. The bullet misses and he thinks she was trying to commit suicide; he embraces her, saying “How could I live without you?”

Along with probably many others, my only other experience of the work of Germaine Dulac is the overtly surrealist The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928), famously described by British censors as “so cryptic as to be almost meaningless. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable”, so it was a little surprising to find that the Smiling Madame Beudet followed a largely conventional, plot based structure.  Often described as the first feminist film (although there are other contenders for this title) Germaine Dermoz is excellent as the wife, crushed by the sheer banality of life and the constant put-downs of her husband.  Superbly shot and with some sly touches of humour (particularly the battle over where the vase sits on the table) the film is nevertheless a dark tale and at the end you really do feel that the madame should put another bullet in the gun!

Piano accompaniment came from John Sweeney.

(NB Available on disc in the Early Women Film-makers anthology from Flicker Alley and can be watched on-line.)

The next programme focused upon Bebe Daniels.  First up was a minor comedy Spring Fever (Dir. Hal Roach, US, 1919) in which she starred for the umpteenth time with Harold Lloyd. In the film Bebe Daniels (‘The Girl’) is busily trying to fight off the attentions of an unwanted suitor (Snub Pollard) while Lloyd (‘The Boy’) is a bored office clerk whose sap is rising as spring approaches. This was a nicely paced and cleverly thought out comedy with some good visual gags although most of the focus is as usual on Harold Lloyd.

More substantive fare from Bebe Daniels came with Feel My Pulse (Dir. Gregory La Cava, US, 1928) Here she stars as Barbara Manning, brought up from childhood to believe she is sickly and unwell. Visiting an island sanitarium for some peace and quiet she is unaware that the caretaker has turned the place over to a gang of rum-runners, led by William Powell, who she innocently believes are fellow patients.  An undercover newspaper man (Richard Arlen) posing as one of the gang falls for Bebe.  When the gang becomes suspicious of the reporter Bebe comes to his aid and fends them off until the police arrive, discovering in the process that she is not as sickly as she thought.

Somewhat ironically, given the previous film, Feel My Pulse has echoes of Why Worry (1923) where it is Harold Lloyd playing the sickly hypochondriac. There are plenty of opportunities for Daniels to demonstrate her comedy talents although I do struggle with the notion of William Powell as a ‘baddie’! He’s far to suave, sophisticated and an all-round goody.  The film sags a bit in the middle (or was this the lack of sleep on election night catching up with me!) but does then redeem itself with a cracking last reel and frantic finale as Daniels almost single handedly holds off the bad guys.

Both of these films were nicely accompanied by Daan van den Hurk on piano.

(NB  Spring Fever doesn’t seem to be available on DVD although it and all the other Lloyd/Daniels shorts can be viewed on line.  Feel My Pulse is available on DVD from Grapevine Video and can be watched on-line.)

We then had a complete change of pace with Sables (Sands of Destiny) (1927) the third film from Russian (Estonian) director Dimitri Kirsanoff.  Set in North Africa, the marriage of a renowned singer (Edmond Van Daele) and his wife (Gina Manes) is put in jeopardy when he starts an affair with another woman (Colette Darfeiul).  Caught between the married couple is their young daughter (Nadia Sibirskaïa).  With her parents separated the daughter sets off across the desert to find her father.  When she is injured in a car crash, both parents are reunited as she recovers.

Although Menilmontant (1926), Kirsanoff’s first surviving film, is generally regarded as an avant garde classic I have to confess to not being a particular fan of its brand of somewhat moody aimlessness, like watching a silent made by Ingmar Bergman!  So it was nice to see that Sables followed a more conventional plot based structure. The film was beautifully shot on location in Tunisia and Algeria and the adult characters were adequately portrayed.  But the problem came with the casting of Nadia Sibirskaïa (image right and left, in Menilmontant) , Kirsanoff’s then wife, playing the daughter.  Aged 26 at the time Sibirskaïa might have got away with playing, say, a 15 year-old but she was made up to resemble more like an eight year old, with pinafore dress and large bow in her hair, vaguely reminiscent of something Grayson Perry might appear in, which gave the film something of an unsettling feel. What was this all about? If not outright un-correct, certainly politically suspect!! What’s more, in her search for her father, no-one seemed to bat an eyelid that a small child was travelling alone across the desert. How times have changed.

Piano accompaniment for this screening came from Lillian Henley.

(NB There is no sign of Sables being available on DVD or on-line.  In fact, several sources list it as a lost film and there isn’t so much as a still photo from it on-line.)

The first day of the festival drew to a close with The Love of Jeanne Ney (Dir. G W Pabst, Ger, 1927).  Opening in the Ukraine at the time of the Bolshevik revolution and civil war, Jeanne Ney (Edith Jehanne) is the daughter of a French businessman.  Her father is set up by the scheming Khalibiev (Fritz Rasp) which results in Jeanne’s lover Andreas Lebov (Uno Henning) being responsible for her father’s death.  She flees to Paris, followed by both Khalibiev and Labov, and gets a job with her uncle.  Khalibiev seeks to seduce the uncle’s blind daughter for her money but ends up murdering the uncle and pinning the blame on Labov.  Eventually Jeanne is able to prove Labov’s innocence and the two depart together.

The Love of Jeanne Ney is a relatively little known Pabst film, coming somewhere between Garbo and Nielsen in Joyless Street (1925) and Brooks in Pandora’s Box (1928).  The film is nicely shot but not altogether believable, particularly when Jeanne continues her relationship with Lebov despite him having killed her father!  Also, the diamond eating parrot is something of an odd plot diversion.  Although Jehanne and Henning are OK in the leading roles, most praise goes to Rasp (right)  as the wholly unscrupulous Khalibiev. But then Rasp would go on to excel in such parts, in Metropolis (1927), Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) and a whole host of talkies.  When he died, an obituary described him as “the German film villain in service, for over 60 years.”

The film was excellently accompanied by Costas Fotopolous on piano.

(NB  The Love of Jeanne Ney is available on DVD from Kino Video but only short clips seem to be available on-line.)

Day 2 – Sunday

The second day of the weekend kicked off with a Norma Talmadge vehicle, The Safety Curtain (Dir. Sidney A Franklin, US, 1918) in which she plays Puck, a music hall star in London married to Vulcan, the evil strongman.  When fire breaks out in the theatre, Puck lowers the safety curtain to save the audience and then she herself is saved by a soldier in the audience, Captain Merryon (Eugene O’Brien) while Vulcan is presumed to have died in the fire.  Puck and Merryon strike up a relationship and she returns with him to India as his wife.  But Vulcan is not dead and also shows up.  To avoid destroying Merryon’s reputation, Puck decides to return to Vulcan but discovers him dying of a fever and she and Merryon are reunited.

Talmadge had been in films for a decade by the time The Safety Curtain was made and was pretty much at the height of her fame and popularity so its a bit surprising that she would be appearing in this, a somewhat lightweight melodrama.  While Talmadge might have been a major star, it was difficult to see why from this film.  But her pairing with O’Brien was clearly a hit with audiences as they made some 10 films together. So perhaps I’m just being unfair!

Piano accompaniment for the screening came from Meg Morley.

(NB  The Safety Curtain is available on DVD from Silent Gems and can be viewed on-line.)

Next up was the screening I had been particularly looking forward to, The Skipper’s Wooing (Dir. H Manning-Haynes, UK, 1922).  In the film, captain’s daughter Annie (Cynthia Murtagh) has two rivals for her affections, a shy and retiring sea captain (Gordon Hopkirk) and a brash salesman (J T MacMillan).  To compete for her hand she sets them both the task of tracking down her father who disappeared years earlier after mistakenly believing he had killed someone.  Despite the salesman’s various underhand tricks the sea captain eventually comes good (much to Annie’s relief).

I saw my first Manning-Haynes adaption of a W W Jacobs story several years ago and have seen a couple more since then and each has proved a pure delight. The stories are great, the script (by Lydia Hayward) superb and the direction almost faultless.  With uniformly excellent performances from the small cast of regulars, there really is little to find fault with.  And The Skipper’s Wooing certainly lived up to expectation, charming and frequently laugh-out-loud funny, particularly as Hopkirk tried to pluck up courage to approach Annie. The crew of the skipper’s ship were wonderfully characterised, none more so than the ship’s boy, played by Bobbie Rudd in what was sadly his second and last film. Despite looking no more than seven or eight, he was a natural born comic.  As I always do when writing about these films, I’ll end with a plea to the BFI…please put them out, if not on DVD then on the BFI-Player.  Everyone who sees them thinks they are wonderful, its just criminal that they are not better known.  But sadly, after talking with the BFI’s Bryony Dixon, the prospects for this still do not look good!

The film was accompanied superbly by John Sweeney on the piano.

NB  DVD or on-line availability?…..if only!

We then had a programme entitled Socialist Cinema. First up was an early Walt Disney cartoon,  (1922), following four animals (horse, cat, dog & rooster) as they try to raise money by busking, but are invariably followed by trouble.  Although the animation was fairly primitive, there were some good ideas and it was quite amusing but I couldn’t quite work out where the socialist angle lay.

Next up was an early spy story, That Sharp Note (Dir. Arthur McMakin, US, 1916) about the covert hand delivery of a secret message from America to Europe. Although it may have been intended as a spoof, there was little in the film to amuse and again the socialist connections were somewhat tenuous.

Of more interest was The Shadow of the Mine (Dir. Phil Jutzi, Ger,1929) a drama-documentary about a coal mining community in Silesia.  The story follows a newly arrived ex-farm worker, unable to get a job in the mines but who finds lodgings with the widow of a miner killed in an accident. When she is threatened with eviction he gets into a fight with the landlord and is pushed to his death.

Made with a wholly amateur cast and shot entirely on location, the film was distributed in Britain by the London Worker’s Film Society. Painting an unfailingly bleak picture of life in this mining community, the film may have been made from a socialist perspective but sadly the eventual outcome in 1930s Silesia as with the rest of Germany was the complete antithesis.

Accompanying these films on piano was Costas Fotopolous

(NB Only The Four Musicians of Bremen is available online)

In a complete change of tone we then had a trio of films under the banner of Women Playing Comedy.  To begin with there was just a short surviving clip from Hypnotising The Hypnotist (Dir. Laurence Turner, US, 1911) in which Florence Turner  is in danger of being beguiled by a svengali-like hypnotist.  To win her back, her fiancé learns the tricks of the hypnotist’s trade (from a book conveniently called ‘How to Hypnotise From a Distance’!!) and with his new found skill he ‘hypnotises the hypnotist’.

Having only previously seen Turner (right) in more dramatic roles, in particular East is East (1916), it was interesting to see that she was equally adept at comedy.  This was quite an amusing comedy, made at the time when she was evolving from being simply the ‘Vitagraph Girl’ into the first ‘named’ film star. Its a shame that the rest of the film is lost.

We then had Mabel Normand in Should Men Walk Home (Dir. Leo McCarey, US, 1927).  Normand plays a small time crook teaming up with partner Creighton Hale to steal a valuable jewel from a rich businessman’s house during a gala reception. After failing to steal the jewel they decide to go straight…maybe!

In this, her penultimate film, Normand continued to display a fine sense of comedy timing but she is very nearly upstaged by Oliver Hardy as a party guest desperate to get a glass of punch. With several laugh-out-loud scenes this was an excellent comedy even if Normand’s career was already in decline. But I couldn’t puzzle out what in the film related to men walking home?

Lastly we had Viola Dana in Satan Junior (Dir. John Collins/Herbert Blache, US, 1919).  Dana played Diana Ardway, the spoilt teenage daughter of a rich businessman. She develops a crush on famous writer Paul Worden (Milton Sills) but when he continues to treat her as a child she wrecks his house, drives off his girlfriend and tells the press that they are eloping together.  Eventually Worden is ground down and realises his love for Diana.

Viola Dana was not an actress I had previously come across so Satan Junior was something of a first.  With a 100+ film career Dana must have had talent but it was difficult to judge from this film which seemed to consist of her performing a 45 minute temper tantrum which quickly became tiresome.  And in another dose of political un-correctness , what was Diana, who looked about 15, doing in a relationship with an ageing writer? Did no-one think this odd!

Piano accompaniment for these three films was shared between Costas Fotopolous and John Sweeney.

(NB  No sign of any of these three on DVD but the last two can be viewed on-line.)

It was then time for Dietrich, but Dietrich Before the Blue Angel. Kevin Brownlow kicked off by showing a fascinating clip from Marlene (Dir. Maximilian Schell, Ger, 1984) with Dietrich (in voice only) in conversation with Schell, during which she denied virtually any involvement in silent film apart from a few walk-on parts, despite the fact that she appeared in at least 17 silents, of which at least five were in starring roles.  This reluctance to acknowledge the early stage of her career most likely stemmed from her long-standing reticence over admitting her true age.

Then, following an informative introduction from Michelle Facey we moved on to the main feature, Dietrich in The Woman One Longs For (Dir. Curtis Bernhardt, Ger, 1929).  The film opens with Henri LeBlanc (Uno Henning) about to marry, more for money than love.  But then he glimpses the beautiful Stascha (Marlene Dietrich) and is instantly infatuated.  But Stascha looks to be under the thumb of the sinister Kaoff (Fritz Kortner).  When she tells LeBlanc that she an Karoff murdered her husband and she wants to escape from him, LeBlanc follows them to an alpine hotel and a frantic New Year’s Eve party.  But before matters can be resolved, the police arrive looking for the murderers and Karoff shoots and kills Stascha. LeBlanc sets off to return to his fiancée.

Ignore the fact that this film looked to have been shot on a poverty row budget, meaning the train scenes were obviously models and the chorus line at the party comprised only two girls. Instead, focus on the smouldering performance from Dietrich.  Just like LeBlanc, we’re hooked from the first glance. The prolonged scene between Stascha and LeBlanc in the train corridor just oozes mutual desire, without a word ever being spoken.  According to Michelle, Dietrich apparently regarded the arrival of the talkies with disdain, seeing it as the end to ‘acting with the eyes’, well Dietrich’s eyes spoke volumes in this film, not least at the finale where they gave just that flicker of hopelessness as she nods and Karoff pulls the trigger.  Uno Henning (a sort of poor man’s Lars Hanson!) fresh from his appearance in The Loves of Jeanne Ney  isn’t really called upon to do a great deal other than look gaunt but you have to feel sorry for Fritz Kortner, no sooner had he been ditched here by Dietrich then he would get the same treatment from Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box (1929). This was an excellent film, enhanced for it being a beautifully restored print.

The screening also benefited from excellent accompaniment by Meg Morley on piano.

(NB  The film does not seem to be available on DVD (which is surprising given that it has been restored) and only short clips are available on line)

And then, all too soon, we are on our last film of the weekend and what an oddity it was. In The Unholy Three (Dir. Tod Browning, US,1925)  three sideshow performers leave their circus life for a life of crime.  Echo (Lon Chaney) the ventriloquist assumes the role of a kindly old grandmother who runs a shop selling parrots!. Tweedledee (Harry Earles) the dwarf, becomes her grand-baby, and Hercules the strongman (Victor MacLaglen) is their assistant. When the parrots they sell don’t talk, the three visit the customer’s houses to decide whether they are worth robbing and a crime wave commences.  But when Echo’s girlfriend Rosie (Mae Busch) falls in love with the mild mannered pet-shop clerk Hector (Matt Moore) it is he who is framed for the crimes.  Eventually Echo relents and testifies to get him released while the other two thirds of the unholy three are killed by an escaped gorilla!

The Unholy Three is unusual for a Chaney film in that he wasn’t made-up beyond recognition , although, OK, he did spend a sizeable chunk of the film disguised (quite convincingly) as a little old lady!  As for the plot, well best not to think too hard about it because madness that way lies. In fact, its something of a testament to Chaney’s acting skill that he could actually elicit drama from this hokum, aided by the fact that the whole cast play it deadly seriously.  Also entertaining was the diminutive Harry Earles, who could out-mean any screen baddie and the sight of him disguised as a baby in a push chair while puffing on a large cigar will stay with me for a long time. By Browning/Chaney standards this might have been second rate material, compared for example to say The Unknown (1927), but it was fun to watch nevertheless.

The film was accompanied by Cyrus  Gabrysch on the piano,

(NB  The Unholy Three is available on DVD from Warner Home Video and some short clips can be watched on-line)

And with that the KenBio’s Silent Film Weekend was over for another year.  Although I thought that perhaps the overall standard of the films shown hadn’t quite matched those of last year, there was still more than enough to make this a very worthwhile event.  For me at least, the three stand-out films were Grass and The Skipper’s Wooing and The Woman One Longs For. But beyond that this was an opportunity to see rarities such as Sables, Smiling Madame Beudet or The Shadow of the Mine unlikely ever to be screened anywhere else.  Additionally, the introductions from knowledgeable experts added enormously to experience as did the superb talents of all of the accompanying pianists, firmly maintaining, in my opinion, the KenBio’s position at the forefront of silent film screening in the UK.