Silent Night – Classic Movies in a Gothic Setting

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I had the best time last night attending Ben Model’s sold-out bill of silent films at Green-Wood Cemetery. Yes! Green-wood Cemetery! Talk about “silence!”

Any graveyard that contains the remains of half a million souls deposited there for over a century and a half has to have a bit of history attached to it. Green-wood has an excellent public programs series, with talks, tours and other events, almost always with a historical slant. Here’s their calendar. (And in case you are wondering, it’s unspeakably cool to be out there at night. I tried to take pix on my way in and out of the gate but, well, it was dark).

At any rate the tie-in here was that the stars of the films are all buried at Green-wood Cemetery. On the menu were two early Thanhouser shorts featuring Florence La Badie, Petticoat Camp (1912) and The Evidence of the Film (1913); as well as the 1915 Charlie Chaplin comedy Work, co-starring Charles Inslee (Chaplin’s not buried at Green-wood obviously, Inslee is); and the climax of the William S. Hart western Sand! (1920). In April, I understand there is to be a ceremony and an unveiling of a new marker at the La Badie plot. Party!

The films were screened in the chapel, and attendance was SRO….on a frigid, freezing December night in the middle of a Brooklyn graveyard, many blocks from the nearest subway station. It was a heartening sight indeed. Ben was in top form both as a lecturer and accompanist. I think he could probably do this in his sleep now, but he never would, he never would.

This is a big week for silent comedy screenings in the NYC area, btw: tonight Ben will be showing Harold Lloyd’s The Kid Brother at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, Long Island; tomorrow the Silent Clowns Film Series will have Buster Keaton’s Three Ages and Chaplin’s Pay Day; and Friday, Loews Jersey City will have Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. Be there or be quadrilateral. Follow the links for more details!

For more on silent and slapstick comedy, don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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