This evening was the conclusion of the 13th annual Kansas Silent Film Festival. I go every year, but **THIS YEAR ** there was something really special!
This festival was the site of the US premiere of a film thought lost for 80 years. See the link above for more details. The movie was a swashbuckler titled Bardelys the Magnificent, directed by King Vidor and starring John Gilbert. It’s a lavish costume drama made by MGM and there’s a romance(naturally), danger to the hero(of course) and a dramatic chase and escape scene. Oh, and lots of swordfighting! One rarely hears an audience applaud during a movie, but that happened twice tonight. Of course, we were all fans, but still. Supposedly a young John Wayne is in there somewhere, but if so I didn’t spot him.
The music, as always, was live at the festival. Both the Monte Alto Orchestra, and skilled organists accompanied different features and shorts.
Anyone who likes silent film, and lives not too far away should consider coming to this festival. Besides simply showing the films there are vendors selling DVD’s of various silent film collections. And each film shown has commentary beforehand, giving some history and trivia behind it, about the actors, filmmakers, or other interesting trivia. For example, after the Laurel and Hardy feature That’s My Wife(just about their last silent film) we were told that after Hardy died Laurel said he’d never perform again without his longtime partner. And he didn’t, despite some supposedly tempting offers.
Anyway, I had a great time as always, and feel really good that I got in on something first!