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Performance Notes for this free eventFeb. 26 & 27, 2010twinkling star animation

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The event is free and open to the public. The KSFF is underwritten by donation.
This program is subject to change:

Friday, Feb. 26, 2010

Begins: 7:00 p.m.

Short: Angora Love, with Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy
— Considered one of the cinema's greatest comedy teams, most of Laurel and Hardy's finest work took place at the very end of the silent era in a string of brilliant two-reel comedy shorts. ANGORA LOVE was one of the last of these silent films and one of their best. It's the story of a goat who falls in love with Stan while he's on the street with Ollie. The animal follows him home to their upper floor apartment. The gags develop out of how the boys try to keep hiding the goat from frustrated landlord, Edgar Kennedy.
Organ music by Greg Foreman

Short: The Vagabond (1916) with Charlie Chaplin (20 min.)
— Only the third of Chaplin's twelve Mutual short comedies, the little tramp plays the violin at a speakeasy and finds trouble and humor in all things. This was considered the first film in which Chaplin mixed a degree of pathos with his comedy and predicted later scenes in THE KID and THE GOLD RUSH. Chaplin's Mutual comedies (1916-1918) marked the first time that the filmmaker was granted total artistic control over his work and are regarded as some of his finest films.
Organ music by Marvin Faulwell

--Brief Break
Intermission Slides
featuring Phil Figgs on piano

Special Interview with our special guest, Melissa Talmadge Cox, grand-daughter of Buster Keaton and Natalie Talmadge. Ms. Cox will discuss why OUR HOSPITALITY is her favorite Keaton film because it features her grandparents, her great grandfather (Joe Keaton) and her own father (James) playing Buster as an infant.

Feature: Our Hospitality (1923) with Buster Keaton (75 min.)
— Quite rightly called 'Buster Keaton's neglected masterpiece', OUR HOSPITALITY has long been overshadowed by Keaton's better known films like THE GENERAL, THE NAVIGATOR and SHERLOCK JR. Keaton plays a grown-up Willie McKay, who is caught in the middle of a bitter family feud (a la the Hatfields and the McCoys). Once again, Keaton takes a very serious subject and slips in some amazingly funny, even priceless gags! Although the film features memorable appearances by several Keaton family members, the matriarch of the rival family is perrenial Keaton bad guy, Joe Roberts. Buster had known Roberts since his vaudeville days, but this was to be Roberts' final screen performance as he died suddenly after making the film. Crestfallen, Keaton tried other villains for years, but was never to find anyone big enough or as unique as big Joe.
Music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

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Saturday - Feb. 27, 2010

Morning - starts at 10 a.m.


Short: Rescued by Rover (1905) with Blair, the English collie (8 min.)
— RESCUED BY ROVER may be the first film in which an animal (one of our four-legged pals) takes the lead, propels the story and becomes the hero. It's not Lassie or Rin-Tin-Tin. It's Blair, an English collie. He's a charming dog who takes his cues, does his own stunts and as an actor is far less hammy than the humans who surround him. The Hepworth Company of Great Britain were famous for making these short, but exciting 'story' films and this was one of their most successful and definitely their cheapest - it is said to have cost a grand total of $37.40!
Piano music by Jeff Rapsis

Short: The Iron Mule (1925) with Al St. John (16 min.)
— Tall and slightly gangly, Al St. John started his career in movies as a comedic sidekick to his uncle, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle. St. John often played the rejected suitor who always caused trouble or the wandering wastrel who always got into trouble. In 1917, another sidekick arrived in the form of Buster Keaton. The trio became an immediate success and worked incredibly well together. When Arbuckle graduated to feature comedies and Keaton took over his studio for a series of shorts, St. John opted to make his own string of silent short comedies for Mack Sennett. THE IRON MULE is one of those shorts. However, its primary attraction was part of our Friday night feature film, OUR HOSPITALITY. It was the replica of Stephenson's Rocket, the first ever steam locomotive. It was used in the first third of last night's film. This two-reeler uses the same train in entirely different ways. St. John plays the engineer trying to get his crew of passengers through Indian territory. Look closely - one of the marauding redskins is played by Buster Keaton himself!
Piano music by Jeff Rapsis

Short: Thundering Fleas (1926) with Our Gang (20 min.)
— Since our theme for the morning is mainly children's fare, why not an all-star Our Gang comedy from the Hal Roach studios? When gorgeous Martha Sleeper stages a wedding, the Gang somehow show up with their flea circus. The fleas escape and almost every Roach star on the lot makes a cameo appearance as someone besieged with those darned insects! Look for Charley Chase, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson and Charlie Hall—everyone except Stan Laurel!
Organ music by Greg Foreman

Feature: The Magic Clock (1928) (30 min.) by Wladyslaw Starewicz
— Another amazing fantasy film from Wladyslaw Starewicz, one of the pioneers in stop-motion puppet animation. The story deals with a watchmaker who has created a strange clock that upon striking the hour of midnight opens up a bizarre world of tiny puppets living inside the clock. The watchmakers' daughter shares in the adventures of these puppets in this twilight world. This unique film is tinted and toned in color and recalls the imaginative style and craftsmanship of other Starewicz films like THE CAMERAMAN'S REVENGE and THE VOICE OF THE NIGHTINGALE (both of which have been screened before at the KSFF). Sharing in the atmosphere of this charming film is the musical score by the Mont Alto Orchestra. We're betting you won't forget this incredible, rare film experience.
Music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

--Lunch Break

Afternoon - starts at 1:30 p.m.


Short: Flaming Fathers (1927) Max Davidson (20 min.)
— Batten down the hatches! The delightful Max Davidson is back! The
last time we screened one of his comedy shorts ("Pass the Gravy" in
2007), we thought we might have to repair the Concert Hall. Our audience was exhausted...from laughter!!! Despite the title, "Flaming Fathers" is not a gay comedy, but it is incredibly funny! Max was one of the favorite ethnic (Jewish) comedians of the 1920's. Almost forgotten today, he often played beleaguered fathers whose world was always topsy-turvy. In this film, he plays a father with specific instructions—don't allow lovely daughter (Martha Sleeper) to elope with her boyfriend. Filmed at Venice Beach, California, the couple decide to ditch father Max at the beach. However, when he gets in trouble with an angry father, an angry husband and a dog who keeps ripping off his bathing suit, ditching Max becomes impossible! Directed by Stan Laurel and Leo McCarey, this a classic example of how one gag builds to another and no gag is left unused. We think you'll really enjoy FLAMING FATHERS.
Piano music by Jeff Rapsis

Feature: The Matrimaniac (1916) Douglas Fairbanks/Constance Talmadge (46 min.)
— For those of you who are only familiar with Douglas Fairbanks playing swashbuckling roles like Robin Hood, Zorro or the Black Pirate, here's some news. Fairbanks began his career in satirical light comedies (we've shown at least one of his features before - WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY) and he made over a dozen more before switching to historical romances. THE MATRIMANIAC is one of those early films and like most of the others, it's a WOW! Here, Doug plays Jimmie Conroy who spends the entire length of the film attempting to elope with pretty Constance Talmadge. As far as Doug's athletic stunts go, he's in top form here—leaping out of windows, jumping on and off trains, climbing walls, etc. There's no time for exposition (we never find out why his prospective father-in-law considers him unsuitable) because this movie MOVES! There are more laughs and thrills packed into this film's 45 minutes than most films can show with twice the running time. This is worth seeing for the lovely Constance Talmadge also. It's a pity she never made another film with Doug. They make a great team.
Organ music by Marvin Faulwell

--Brief Break
Intermission Slides
featuring Jeff Rapsis (of New Hampshire’s Wilton Town Hall Silent Film series) on piano

Special Interview with our special guest, Melissa Talmadge Cox, grand-niece of Norma and Constance Talmadge. Moderated by Denise Morrison

Feature: Smilin' Through (1922) Norma Talmadge & Harrison Ford (90 min.)
— This is the first of three versions of this classic tear jerker. The second version was a talkie made in 1932 with another Norma—Norma Shearer— and Leslie Howard. The third version was a musical made in 1941 with Jeanette MacDonald and Brian Aherne. Here, Norma Talmadge plays an Irish girl who grows up under the care of her charming uncle. When she wants to marry the son of the man who killed her uncle's fiancee on their wedding night, the family feud explodes! Can the feud destroy true love? It's an old fashioned story, but it still works. Harrison Ford plays the young suitor and his own father in flashback (and yes, it's not THAT Harrison Ford, but this actor did have an impressive career in silent films also). This is a rare opportunity to see one of Norma Talmadge's finest films with an excellent music score by Greg Foreman into which he has incorporated the song which was written for this film.
(This DVD presentation is made possible by special arrangement with the
Douris Corporation)
Organ music by Greg Foreman

--Dinner Break

5:15 p.m.: Supper Break — Program resuming at 7:00 p.m.


Served buffet-style
Featuring our special guest
Melissa Talmadge Cox
Bradbury Thompson Alumni Ctr., Washburn University, Topeka, KS
—Total cost: $25 per person (non-refundable) —

Tickets will be on sale at the event, but seating is limited.
Why not make reservations early? Send reservation requests to:

KSFF Cinema-Dinner
P.O. Box 2032
Topeka, Kansas 66601-2032

Evening - starts at 7:00 p.m.


Short: The Unchanging Sea (1910) a D. W. Griffith film starring Linda Arvidson and Mary Pickford (14 min.)
— A memorable film from Griffith’s early Biograph years centers on the tragedies and triumphs of a sea-faring family. Griffith’s first wife Arvidson plays the wife of a sailor who is seemingly lost at sea; a young Mary Pickford plays her daughter.
Piano music by Greg Foreman

Short: The Moony Mariner (1927) Billy Dooley/Vera Steadman (20 min.)
— Flying a rocket to the moon can be very tricky, as this Christie comedy demonstrates. And as piloted by that most inept of sailors, Billy Dooley, only comedy can ensue. Dooley had his biggest popularity in the mid-twenties at the Al Christie Studio, where his sailor character starred in a series of comedy shorts over a period of about four years. Dooley’s leading lady in these films was the lovely Vera Steadman.
Piano music by Jeff Rapsis

Feature: The Yankee Clipper (1927) William Boyd/Elinor Fair/Junior Coghlan (80 min.)
— Cecil B. DeMille produced this lavish drama of the high seas, newly restored to its former glory and was once considered a lost film. Starring William Boyd (TV’s future Hopalong Cassidy) at the beginning of a long career and child star Junior Coghlan, this film depicts a race from China to Boston in the 1850s and has everything a film should have--adventure, romance and incredible high seas footage. Directed by Rupert Julian of Phantom of the Opera fame this is a fitting climax to our festival.
— Music by Marvin Faulwell, organ, and Bob Keckeisen, percussion
(A Restored Film)

-- There will be an intermission in the Feature Film

Our Cast:

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.

About Marvin Faulwell:

Dr. Marvin FaulwellDr. Marvin Faulwell is a retired 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

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.

About Greg Foreman:

Greg ForemanGreg Foreman holds a Certificate of Piano Performance, a Bachelor of Music Education, and a Master of Arts in Teaching. He is an author and clinician for Alfred Music Publishing, Inc. and serves as a music teacher for the Lee's Summit, Missouri School District. Mr. Foreman has performed as soloist with the Kansas City Symphony, the UMKC Conservatory Orchestra, and on National Public Radio. The Kansas City Star has said, "his playing...was strong, impulsive, stylish, and touched with poetry."

About Jeff Rapsis:

Jeff RapsisJeff Rapsis is a New Hampshire-based composer and musician who regularly accompanies silent film programs. His recent work includes a score for the newly restored Constance Talmadge feature Lessons in Love (1921), which was premiered at the New York City public library in February 2008, and a new piano score for the comedy Campus Knights (1929), recently reissued on DVD by Looser Than Loose Vintage Entertainment. Jeff is associate publisher and co-owner of HippoPress, New Hampshire's largest weekly paper, for which he covers classical music.

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.

About Phil Figgs:

Phil FiggsPhil Figgs is a Kansas Silent Film Festival board member and a collector of antique sheet music, gramophone records, and player piano rolls. He has accompanied silent movies for the Albany Historical Society, the Hiawatha Area Arts and Theatre Society, and the Pawnee County Historical Society at Fort Larned. Phil teaches high school English in Sabetha, Kansas.

Special Guest Melissa Talmadge Cox:

Melissa Talmadge CoxMelissa Talmadge Cox was born in southern California into a famous Hollywood family that includes Buster Keaton, Norma Talmadge, Constance Talmadge and Natalie Talmadge. Her father worked at 20 th Century Fox so her upbringing was also sprinkled with the talents of other well known celebrities of the time.

Most of her childhood memories of these relatives are of fun times spent visiting, going to barbeques, collecting eggs from the chicken coop, playing with inventions at Grandpa Buster's house and spending time at the beach home of her Grandma Natalie (Talmadge). Visiting Aunt Dutch (Constance Talmadge) in New York in her teens still brings a smile to her face and the wonderful stories Dutch told after moving to Beverly Hills are vivid.

Melissa also recalls seeing Grandpa Buster on television (“Candid Camera”) or in later movies (Around the World in 80 Days and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. It wasn't until she was an adult and his and her great-aunts silent films were rediscovered and restored that she became fully aware of their enormous talent and genius during the silent film era.

Melissa is a landscape designer, watercolor artist and mother of three grown children. She lives with her husband in Northern California and travels across the country to film festivals to help promote the wonderful legacy her family has left her.

Kansas Silent Film Festival, Inc. is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. This event is funded by generous donations, and welcomes your support. Your tax deductible gift will be gratefully acknowledged.
        Kansas Silent Film Festival, Inc.
        P.O. Box 2032
        Topeka, Kansas 66601-2032
E-mail contact - bill.shaffer@washburn.edu Or bshaffer2@cox.net

All donations are appreciated.