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Performance Notes for this free eventFeb.  24 & 25, 2006

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Introductions by Denise Morrisonblank
Music provided by Marvin Faulwell, Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra ,
      Greg Foreman, Bob Keckeisen, & Kathy Combs
Special guest: David Shepard, noted film preservationist

Friday, Feb. 24, 2006

Begins: 7:00 p.m.

TEDDY AT THE THROTTLE (1917) with Gloria Swanson / Wallace Beery / Bobby Vernon — Most people remember this winning two-reel short for its last five minutes. In that hair-raising finale, Teddy (the champion pooch) braves oceans, rivers, storms and freight trains to save his owner Gloria Swanson from certain death because she's been tied to the railroad tracks by villain Wallace Beery. It's such an exhilarating climax that most audiences forget the fifteen minute build-up to it. In that short span, Beery and his sister endeavor to separate lovers Swanson and Bobby Vernon and steal Swanson's fortune. This involves stolen kisses and an absolutely hilarious dance involving the diminutive Vernon and the rather large sister. It ends up with Bobby in trouble and Gloria blowing the whistle to send for Teddy, who proves himself a winner to all concerned…especially the audience!
This classic short was previously shown at our 3rd event, 1999.
-- Music by Marvin Faulwell

LIBERTY (1928) with Laurel and Hardy — The dynamic duo of movie comedy return for our 10th Anniversary to show off their comedic skills again. The KSFF would not be the KSFF without Laurel & Hardy, often acknowledged as the greatest comedy team in movie history. Their comedy shorts have graced eight of our last nine festivals. They were absent from our first event.
  Here, they're convicts escaping from prison guards. Having some handy 'partners in crime' out in the woods, the boys duck into a car and attempt to change clothes. Dropped off in downtown Culver City, the boys discover they're wearing each other's pants. The rest of the film is taken up with gags concerning the boys trying to change pants – in an alley, in a taxi, behind a bush – and always getting discovered in the most embarrassing fashion! Finally, they slip into an elevator and make the change, but when they walk out, they're at the top of a skyscraper under construction. How they get down and deal with a pesky crab are two of this great short film's many highlights. And yes, they really are up there on a tall building! No special effects! No CGI! But several safety nets….we hope!
This classic short was previously shown at our 2nd event, 1998.
-- Music by Marvin Faulwell

SUNRISE (1927) with Janet Gaynor / George O'Brien and directed by F.W. Murnau — No other film in the history of the KSFF has received as many favorable comments as this one. More attendees have requested the return of this great feature film than any other we have shown. We felt it was only appropriate that during our 10th anniversary event, we bring SUNRISE back again for your enjoyment.
  This heart-tugging drama features George O'Brien as a tortured farmer who plots to kill his loving wife (Janet Gaynor) so that he can escape to the big city with a seductive glamour girl (Margaret Livingston). He goes to the city with his wife and attempts to perform the 'deed', but he is overcome with guilt. The couple's experience in the city transforms them both. They rediscover their love and happiness, but when they return to the farm in a small boat, a storm is brewing.
  German director F. W. Murnau created a number of cinematic masterpieces (NOSFERATU, THE LAST LAUGH) before coming to America. Although he was to die in a tragic car wreck only two years after this film was made, Murnau's first film under his American contract with William Fox is one of the finest silent films ever created featuring gorgeous cinematography, world class editing and brilliant montage effects.
  The film went on to win three Academy Awards at the first ever Oscars in 1929. It won for Best Actress (Ms. Gaynor), Best Cinematography and a Special Award as the "Most Unique and Artistic Production", the first and only award for this category.
This classic feature was shown at our very first KSFF event, 1997.
-- Music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

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Saturday - Feb. 25, 2006

Morning - starts at 10 a.m.

EASY STREET (1917) with Charlie Chaplin / Edna Purviance / Eric Campbell — One of the classic Chaplin/Mutual comedies from his two-year stint with the studio during which time he produced a dozen priceless, two-reel (20 minute) screen shorts. In EASY STREET, Chaplin created a troubled slum dwelling where his freshly enrolled cop could start 'cleaning up' the neighborhood by disposing of bully Eric Campbell. It's another classic 'David and Goliath' struggle.
  Again the KSFF also wouldn't be the KSFF without Chaplin. In our ten years of running silent classics, we have always run a Chaplin short or feature as part of every film program. If there is one major figure associated with the silent cinema who is recognizable still all over the world, it's Chaplin and his little tramp character. How could we leave him out? He's even part of our KSFF logo!
This classic short was previously shown at our KSFF 2nd event, 1998.
-- Music by Greg Foreman

HIGH AND DIZZY (1920) with Harold Lloyd — One of the classic icon images from the silent film era is of Harold Lloyd in his round glasses, straw hat and dark suit dangling from the hands of an immense clock on the side of a downtown L.A. building (the shot is from the Lloyd feature, SAFETY LAST (1923). Lloyd was probably the most popular comedian during his time, rivaling even Chaplin as a money-maker.
  HIGH AND DIZZY presents Harold in his first major high-rise "thrill" film in which he plays a not very prosperous doctor attempting to cure sleepwalker Mildred Davis. She conveniently sleepwalks out a window and along the upper ledge of a building. Of course, Harold follows her, but locks the window behind him! This elaborate thrill sequence is not as scary or funny as Lloyd's later ones, but it does serve as a sketch of what was to come. It was also the last picture to be personally directed by Lloyd's mentor, friend and employer, Hal Roach.
This classic short was previously shown at our KSFF 3rd event, 1999.
-- Music by Greg Foreman

WILD AND WOOLLY (1917) with Douglas Fairbanks / Eileen Percy —Douglas Fairbanks began his career playing parts like this. He's the son of a prosperous New York businessman and he longs for adventures in the Wild West. Unfortunately, the world in 1917 had outgrown the Wild West of the 1880's, but Doug hasn't figured that out yet. He still has a complete campfire set-up in his room and he does rope tricks using the butler. Strangely enough, he's called upon to go investigate business arrangements in Bitter Creek, Arizona and it seems like the perfect opportunity to test Doug's mettle and get the 'cowboy' out of the New York office. The modern citizens of Bitter Creek realize that by impressing Doug, they can improve their town. Knowing his interest in the Old West, they transform the town back to the way it was in the 1880's. Of course, they put blank cartridges in every gun (including Doug's) so no one gets hurt. But some bad characters use this situation to stage a real bank robbery and Doug must overcome all sorts of obstacles to save the town and his dream of the Old West.
  This is the kind of character Fairbanks thrived on—a go-getting, fun-loving, athletic charmer who could do just about anything. Never too far away from a wild stunt, WILD AND WOOLLY offers more great moments and breath-taking action than any number of modern 'action' films. We're happy to bring back WILD AND WOOLLY to the KSFF in hopes that our audience will find it 'twice' as much fun as it was before!
This classic feature was shown at our very first KSFF event in 1997.
-- Music by Marvin Faulwell

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--Lunch Break

Afternoon - starts at 1:25 p.m.

AN UNSEEN ENEMY (1912) with Lillian and Dorothy Gish, directed by D.W. Griffith) — Another KSFF tradition is the showing of a D.W. Griffith movie. Acknowledged as the "Father of Film", Griffith perfected numerous techniques that have been used in cinema ever since his early works. Whether a short or a feature, a Griffith film is always part of the KSFF schedule. This short drama features two Griffith discoveries, the Gish sisters. Lillian went on to star in several Griffith features (and was his tireless champion until her death in 1993) and Dorothy left the Griffith studios to pursue a career as a light comedienne.
This short film is a KSFF Premiere.
-- Music by Marvin Faulwell

BROKEN BLOSSOMS (1919) with Lillian Gish / Richard Barthelmess / Donald Crisp) — One of the most unusual features ever made by D. W. Griffith, BROKEN BLOSSOMS is the story of a young Chinese man (Richard Barthelmess) who comes to London's Lime-house district in the hope of spreading the peace of his Eastern religion. When his hopes are dashed, he meets a young street waif (Lillian Gish), whose brutal father (Donald Crisp) beats her unmercifully. When she runs away, the Chinese man provides her a safe home and the only peace she has ever known. When her father finds out, he breaks in to 'rescue' her in a tragic finale. This sensitive story is brilliantly directed by Griffith and stands the test of time. Its plea for understanding between the races has lost none of its power since its first release in 1919.
  BROKEN BLOSSOMS was shown at our first KSFF event and mesmerized our audience. We’re proud to bring it back for our 10th anniversary event in honor of Mr. D. W. Griffith and Miss Lillian Gish (which is how they were referred to in the film's original promotional material).
This classic feature was shown at our very first KSFF event in 1997.
-- Music by Dr. Marvin Faulwell

--Short Break, resuming at 3:30 p.m.

THE NEW YORK HAT (1912) directed by D.W. Griffith — Another D. W. Griffith short film that features one of his most popular stars, Mary Pickford, who was often referred to as 'America's Sweetheart'.
This was to be their last collaboration before she moved to Paramount Pictures to become an even bigger star and produce her own features.
Pickford plays a young girl whose mother has just died, leaving her in the hands of her miserly, inattentive father. She receives a hat in a mysterious hat box and prizes it above all else…to her father's contempt. For a short film, this little movie has a lot of charm and drama. Pickford would continue to play lower class waifs long after she outgrew the part, but it was always the part audiences expected her to play.
This classic short was featured at our 4th KSFF event in 2000.
-- Music by Rodney Sauer, piano

SEVEN CHANCES (1925) with Buster Keaton / Ruth Dwyer / T. Roy Barnes / Snitz Edwards — Buster Keaton (born in Piqua, Kansas) has always been a popular fixture at the KSFF. His silent-era features, shorts or appearances have highlighted seven of our last nine events. We had considered repeating his classic feature film, THE GENERAL (1927) which was shown at our very first event, but opted instead to run a seldom seen Keaton gem.
  SEVEN CHANCES is the film Keaton once described as his least-favorite feature film. It is hard to figure out why since this delightful, breezy comedy is one of Buster's most inventive and surprising works. His disparaging remark may be due to the fact that he and his writers were forced to adapt a play to fit his comedic style or it may also have been because the film had a disappointing preview screening that forced Buster to re-script and re-shoot the entire ending!
  Whatever the back story, the story of the movie concerns Jimmie Shannon (Keaton), who is set to inherit seven million dollars by seven p.m. on the day of his twenty-seventh birthday. Naturally, this document has just been uncovered on the very day of that birthday! Now, Shannon must feverishly find a bride. After several attempts, his cohorts put an ad in the evening edition of the newspaper. Shannon shows up at the church alone and falls asleep in a pew. When he awakens, he is surrounded by hundreds of anxious and eventually angry brides…and the chase is on! This film was the basis for a 1999 remake (THE BACHELOR) starring Chris O'Donnell and Renee Zellweger.
This classic feature is a KSFF Premiere.
-- Music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

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--Dinner Break

Evening - starts at 7:00 p.m.

GERTIE THE DINOSAUR (1914) animated cartoon by Winsor McCay — Created by artist Winsor McCay and often described as the very first animated cartoon ever made, GERTIE is an absolute delight. This short film was created in the old-fashioned way—each frame was completely hand drawn and each background, surrounding area and main character had to be redrawn for each of the film's 10,000 frames. McCay was a real showman, taking the film on tour in Vaudeville shows and interacting with his creation while the film was being projected. One wonders how amazed an audience would have been in the early part of the last century to witness not only the wonder of the movies, but also the concept of a full-size dinosaur on a movie screen! GERTIE was a big hit several years back with our KSFF audience. We imagine she will be again!
This classic short was featured at our KSFF 2nd event, 1998.
-- Music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

LIMOUSINE LOVE (1928) with Charley Chase / Viola Richard / Edna Marion — We are still repairing the roof of White Concert Hall from the last time this short appeared at the KSFF! Very few of our films have received the uproarious response that LIMOUSINE LOVE has. It was overwhelming!
  First of all, good time Charlie (Chase) is a groom on his way to his wedding when he runs out of gas. While he is off searching for fuel, a lovely, road drenched girl (Viola Richard) decides to seek shelter in the back of his car and dry her clothes on a handmade clothesline before moving on. When Charlie returns and heads for the church, he discovers his uninvited, nude guest just as her clothes drop off the car and disappear into a convenient drain. Worse yet, he picks up a hitchhiker that turns out to be Viola's husband (Edgar Kennedy). Then he gets even further 'up the creek' when he has to explain the situation to his future father-in-law and all the groomsmen! Of course, they understand and the hi-jinks that follow are sure to rock the Concert Hall auditorium all over again!
Although not part of the 'official' schedule at our sixth KSFF event,
this classic short film was our surprise short subject in 2002.

-- Music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

THE EAGLE (1925) with Rudolph Valentino / Vilma Banky / Louise Dresser — This is one feature film we've never shown before and it's one of Valentino's very best (if not the very best). Set in Russia during the reign of Catherine II, Rudy plays Vladimir Dubrovsky, a young lieutenant in her majesty's imperial guard. He becomes a hero when he rescues Mascha (Vilma Banky) from her runaway carriage. He spurns the advances of the Queen and discovers that his father has been robbed and murdered by a vicious landowner, Kyrilla. He abandons his military post and becomes an outlaw known as the Black Eagle, a Russian 'Robin Hood' with two prices on his head for desertion and robbery. Just as he is about to fulfill his need to avenge his father against Kyrilla, he falls for Mascha, Kyrilla's daughter and then he must battle the desire for revenge within his own heart.
  Directed by Clarence Brown, THE EAGLE is not only one of Valentino's most inventive and subtle pictures, it is also one of his funniest. Humor abounds in this film from first frame to last (you may be surprised at how well Rudy handles comedy). One wonders with the amount of subtlety in the film if the great director Ernst Lubitsch might have been Valentino's first choice as director. However, according to stories on set, Rudy threw himself into many aspects of the production and had a wonderful relationship with his director. It is sad to relate that Valentino made only two more films (COBRA and SON OF THE SHIEK also with Vilma Banky) before his death in 1926.
  This rousing, entertaining film combines the best of Fairbanks (ROBIN HOOD, MARK OF ZORRO), the subtlety of a great director (Clarence Brown), set designs by William Cameron Menzies (later famous for GONE WITH THE WIND), costumes by the world-famous designer Adrian and the romance and wit of Valentino. The title was changed from THE BLACK EAGLE to THE EAGLE to avoid any public confusion with Fairbanks' forthcoming 1926 film, THE BLACK PIRATE.
This feature film is a KSFF Premiere.
-- Music by Marvin Faulwell, organ, and Kathy Combs, percussion

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About Denise Morrison:

Denise MorrisonDenise Morrison is a film historian from Kansas City, Missouri, with a special focus on silent film. She works as an archivist with Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, and has been involved with the Kansas Silent Film Festival since the beginning. She was quite active with the Granada Theatre in Kansas City, Kansas, when they were showing a full schedule of silent movies. Denise will give an overview of the silent film era and also provide introductions to each film.

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About Marvin Faulwell:

Dr. Marvin FaulwellDr. Marvin Faulwell is a dentist from Kansas City who is a very accomplished theatre organist. He has played for all of the previous five Silent Film Festivals and our "sister project," Silents in the Cathedral, held every Halloween at Grace Cathedral in Topeka. He has a large theatre organ in his home and also restores the instruments. He has appeared in concert and accompanied silent film programs in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Minnesota and also accompanied many silent films shown at the Granada Theatre in Kansas City, Kansas.read 2004 newspaper feature, with link to audio discussion

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About the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra:

Mont Alto Motion Picture OrchestraThe Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra comes from Boulder, Colorado and have appeared at this festival since the third events, held in 1999. The orchestra consists of a piano, violin, cello, clarinet, and trumpet. They are quite active in their hometown have appeared several times in California, at the Buster Keaton Celebration in Iola, Kansas (since 1998) and at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. They have made three CDs of salon music and silent film music. They have provided the music scores for numerous silent films on video and DVD including Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1920), Blood and Sand (1922), and The Thief of Bagdad (1924) for Kino Video.

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About Greg Foreman:

Greg ForemanGreg Foreman is the lead elementary music teacher for the Lee's Summit, Missouri School District. He holds a Certificate of Piano Performance, a Bachelor of Music Education, and a Master of Arts in Teaching. He has been named one of the “Outstanding Young Men of America” and “Who's Who in America.” As a student of renowned artist teachers, Joanne Baker and Ozan Marsh, he was featured piano soloist on the premiere, National Public Radio broadcast of “Live from White Recital Hall” (UMKC) and has performed piano concerti with the Kansas City Symphony and the UMKC Conservatory Orchestras.

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About Bob Keckeisen:

Bob KeckeisenBob Keckeisen has been principal percussionist for the Topeka Symphony Orchestra since 1989. Bob has been delighting audiences recently at the Kansas Silent Film Festival by adding remarkable percussive music and sound effects to several films. Bob grew up in Wichita and studied percussion under J.C. Combs at Wichita State University. He obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from WSU and moved to Topeka in 1982.
Bob is the director of the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka and frequently volunteers for KTWU Channel 11.

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About Special Guest David Shepard:

David ShepardDavid Shepard was Vice-President of Blackhawk Films of Davenport, IA. As the market changed and home video became a common format, Mr. Shepard moved into the distribution of numerous silent films, known for their excellent film quality and often featuring music scores by our favorite Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Mr. Shepard is an adjunct faculty member at the University
of Southern California in the school of Cinema-Television. He was honored for his film preservation work by the Buster Keaton Celebration in Iola, KS, with its Buster Award in Sept. 1995, and returned to Iola in 1997 to present the Buster to noted author & film historian David Robinson.

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About Kathy Combs :

Bob KeckeisenKathy Combs, percussionist for the Topeka Symphony Orchestra, played percussion on Saturday evening's performance of THE EAGLE, starring Rudolph Valentino.