Speaking of Silents

I attended the screening of 3 Bad Men at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum last night. I’d been wanting to see this John Ford silent western since I’d read Joseph McBride’s Ford biography, where he described it as “the silent film pointing most clearly to the strengths of his mature masterpieces.”

Visually, it was close to classic Ford–or probably would be in a decent print. The damaged, washed-out 16mm print they screened left me frequently thinking “This would probably be a great shot if I could see it.” The melodramatic plot had some interesting points, but I’d hesitate to pass judgment on this movie until I can see a good print.

Coincidentally, I received Niles’ January/February calendar in the mail yesterday. Aside from a few shorts, there’s nothing I’ve seen or really have an opinion about. But there’s one unfortunate conflict:

Every summer, the Niles Museum closes for the San Francsico Silent Film Festival. Alas, no such luck for the Silent Film Festival Winter Event at the Castro February 14. That night, Niles will screen 7th Heaven (which I’ve wanted to see for years), while the San Francisco event shows Sunrise (which I love). The two films were made at the same studio (Fox) the same year (1927). They were Fox’s first two films released with a recorded music score (both venues will ignore the recordings and screen them with live music).

I wish I could be in two places at once!

Also on the schedule: A night of Pre-Code Follies and their annual Mid Winter Comedy Film Festival.

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One Response

  1. You were there last night too? Strange, I must have missed seeing you in the crowd. I hate resorting to DVD to watch Silent Films, but it may be your solution for both consternations expressed in this post: 3 Bad Men and 7th Heaven are now on DVD, transferred from best-possible prints.

    One correction: I think Raoul Walsh’s What Price Glory? predates both 7th Heaven and Sunrise in having a Movietone music score.

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