Monday, March 23, 2009

Back from Cinefest!

It’s been over a week with no update so here we go! I returned yesterday from Syracuse, New York where I attended my 7th Cinefest film festival. Cinefest may be the BEST classic film festival in the United States for silent and early sound film with a distinct emphasis on rarity. And, oh my, there were TONS of rare films this past weekend including 1929’s “The Desert Song” and the remains of 1929’s “Shopworn Angel” with Gary Cooper.

My favorite’s movies out of the four days were:

A Bundle of Blues” (1933) with Duke Ellington and his Orchestra featuring a nice rendition of “Stormy Weather” by Ivie Anderson and some amazing dancing by Bessie Dudley and Florence Hill during the jumping “Rocking in Rhythm”.

Less Than The Dust” (1916) an early Mary Pickford silent with the country of India being the setting. Mary plays the adopted child of and Indian sword maker who does not know she is actually of English blood. Sounds korny but always good to see Mary in a starring feature.

The Caretaker’s Daughter” (1934) is a Billy Gilbert 2 reeler made for the Hal Roach studio that is a hard title to find and wasn’t run on TCM during their last round of Roach short airings. Lots of fun, with Gilbert and family acting as if they are proprietors of a mansion and when the real owners show up, craziness ensues.

The Installment Collector” (1929) with a young Fred Allen who works at a small town newspaper and a bill collector he can’t seem to shake.

The Last Trail” (1933). El Brendel in all his glory as “Killer Olsen” and I think George O’Brien and Claire Trevor were in there too. When El came on the screen I heard some clapping from an audience member, so I think there was another fan there!

Joan Crawford home movies” (unknown but probably circa late 30’s-early 40’s). Here we see Joan not being the movie star but just being a regular person fishing, hunting, at a birthday party and in one scene, sunbathing nude. Great stuff, mostly shot in stunning Kodachrome.

Shopworn Angel” (1929). From Paramount, the tale of a soldier who falls in love with a showgirl, starring Gary Cooper and Nancy Carroll. Seeing the 35mm print on the screen was sad though as there are places in the film of much nitrate decomp and is missing the last 20 minutes, but what we have is a great movie and the imperfections should not take that away.

Although not in my top favorites for the weekend, Cinefest did run my print of 1931’s “The Lady Who Dared” with Billie Dove. A neat little 57 minute, Vitaphone production, which shows some limitation of the early sound process. The story seems as if it would have been better suited as a silent crime melodrama and just didn’t translate well into the talkies. Oh well.

Cinefest is loaded with dealers selling old celluloid, DVD’s (I finally got a good copy of “Girls About Town”!!), stills, books, posters, projectors, and just about everything else that has to do with movies. Here are a few of the items I obtained:

This crazy book was made by a religious organization but has TONS of great photos in it!

A very dapper looking Warren William

Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, and Guy Kibbee from the STILL lost "Convention City"

All in all, a GREAT weekend full of fun, film, seeing old friends and meeting some new ones. If anyone is slightly interested in old film, I STRONGLY advise to attend Cinefest next year, if you can. It will be held a little later in March (the 25th through the 28th) so come along and join in!!


elena-lu said...

oh that book is a prize!
sounds like you had a lovely time!
as always thanks for this post and the beautiful pics!

Samantha said...

haha If only they were showing another El Brendel film at Cinevent this year. I'd clap for him. Maybe they could re-run The Meanest Gal in Town. :)

Thanks for posting that Convention City still. It is one that I have never seen before, and I adore Dick Powell. It's too bad we'll never get to see it.