May eclectic month at Niles Essanay, electric too

May 4, 2012

May is set to be an eclectic and even electric month at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont. In addition to three more installments of the famous serial, The Perils of Pauline, the venerable East Bay silent film museum is set to screen one of the big hits of the era, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, starring legendary Rudolph Valentino, as well as Laughing at Danger, an early thriller with plenty of pulp fiction trappings. And that’s not all.

alice terry

Alice Terry will be starring in
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse with Rudolph Valentino

There is also their regular Comedy Short Subject Night, a Tom Mix feature with the lovely Pauline Starke, and a Laurel & Hardy Talkie Matinee in Spanish! And towards the end of the month, Niles is screening the 1962 Ray Hubbard television documentary, The Bridge Builders, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. All together, it is another exceptional and varied month of early cinema in the East Bay.
“Saturday Night at the Movies,” with Greg Pane at the piano

Saturday, May 5 at 7:30 pm (suggested donation $5.00)

In Laughing at Danger (1924, Carlos Productions), Richard Talmadge sets out to rescue Eva Novak from a gang of foreign agents who are out to steal a death ray. Yes! A DEATH RAY. The story may be silly, but the film is fun and Talmadge performs some rather impressive stunts in this melodramatic, sci-fi tinged, comedy-thriller. And what’s more, Laughing at Danger includes a small part by the curiously named Stanhope Wheatcroft. The feature will be preceded by two shorts, The Perils of Pauline, Episode 7, The Tragic Plunge (1914, Pathe) with Pearl White, Crane Wilbur, and Paul Panzer, and The Waiter’s Ball (1916, Keystone) with Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Al St. John.

“Saturday Night at the Movies,” with Frederick Hodges at the piano
Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 pm (suggested donation $5.00)

In The Untamed (1920, Fox), Tom Mix and Pauline Starke star in what was called by Moving Picture World “a finer grade of production than usual, still a western, but one that carries with it a touch of the psychological.” The Untamed was based on a story by Max Brand, and Mix and Starke were last seen on the Niles screen in Until They Get Me (1917). The feature will be preceded by two shorts, The Perils of Pauline, Episode 8, The Snake in the Flower (1914, Pathe) with Pearl White, Crane Wilbur, and Paul Panzer, and Good Night, Nurse (1918, Comique) with Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Buster Keaton.

“Laurel & Hardy Talkie Matinee”
Sunday, May 13 at 4:00 pm (suggested donation $5.00)

This month’s Laurel & Hardy Talkie Matinee includes a two rarely screened Spanish-language films – each with English subtitles. On the bill are La Vida Noicturna (1930, Spanish version of Blotto) and Noche De Nuedes (1930, Spanish version of The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case & Berthmarks). Prior to the films, at 3:00 pm, the Midnight Patrol Tent of the “Sons of the Desert,” the International Laurel & Hardy vintage comedy film appreciation society, will meet at the Edison Theater. The public is welcome to attend their informal meeting.

“Comedy Short Subject Night,” with Frederick Hodges at the piano
Saturday, May 19 at 7:30 pm (Suggested Donation $5.00)

This laugh-packed comedy night features some of the most famous comedians of the silent era. On the bill are The Floorwalker (1916, Lone Star) with Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance, The Bellboy (1918, Comique) with Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, Get Out and Get Under (1920, Rolin) with Harold Lloyd, and You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928, Hal Roach) with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

The Bridge Builders : Special Sunday Matinee and Discussion
Sunday, May 20 at 4:00 pm (suggested donation $5.00)

Randy Hees, House Manager of the Patterson House at Ardenwood Historic Farmand historian on many subjects will share some insight on the railroad bridges in Niles Canyon. His talk will be followed by The Bridge Builders (1962, KPIX-TV), a Ray Hubbard documentary about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in late May.

“Saturday Night at the Movies,” with Judy Rosenberg at the piano
Saturday, May 26 at 7:30 pm (suggested donation $5.00)

In The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921, Metro), Rudolph Valentino and Alice Terry star in director Rex Ingram’s acclaimed film based on the epic Vicente Blasco Ibanez novel. It is a terrific film about two families on the eve of war, and features the famous scene in which Valentino danced the tango and caused a sensation and became a star. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was a huge hit in its day. How big? Adjusted for inflation, this film reportedly is one of the highest-grossing silent movies, having earned some $300 million in current dollars

The cast of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse also includes Alan Hale, Wallace Beery, and uncredited bits by Jean Hersholt and Ramon Novarro (The latter would replace Valentino as the leading Latin lover after Valentino’s untimely death in 1926.) The feature will be preceded by two shorts, The Perils of Pauline, Episode 9, The Floating Coffin (1914, Pathe) with Pearl White, Crane Wilbur, and Paul Panzer, and Back Stage (1919, Comique) with Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Buster Keaton.

For more info: The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum is located at 37417 Niles Blvd. in Fremont, California. For further information, call (510) 494-1411 or visit the Museum’s website at www.nilesfilmmuseum.org/.

Thomas Gladysz is a Bay Area arts journalist and early film buff, and the Director of the Louise Brooks Society, an internet-based archive and international fan club devoted to the silent film star. Gladysz has contributed to books on the actress, organized exhibits, appeared on television and radio, and introduced Brooks’ films around the world.

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