Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Lodger (1927)

WHO: Alfred Hitchcock directed this (and was so credited), but also worked, uncredited, on the screenplay, and appeared in the first of his famous cameos.

WHAT: Of the nine surviving Hitchcock silent films which circulated as a group around the country earlier this year, The Lodger is probably the best choice to see on Halloween: its atmospheric depiction of night, of fog, and of a mysterious stranger stepping out of it while an entire section of London is terrorized by a "Jack the Ripper" style killer, makes it the earliest of Hitchcock's films generally thought of as possessing the identifiable signature of the future "Master of Suspense" in just about every scene.

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight only at Davies Symphony Hall at 7:30 PM.

WHY: Every Halloween night for the past several years the San Francisco Symphony has taken the evening off and brought in a concert organist to perform a live score to a classic film from the silent era. Past titles have included The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Phantom of the Opera, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This year the Symphony decided to expand the tradition by building four days of Hitchcock music & film programming into its Halloween season, but tonight's annual organ performance is for many the centerpiece of the week, as unlike last night's Psycho screening, tomorrow's Vertigo showing, or Saturday's Hitchcock grab-bag, it doesn't involve the reconfiguring of a sound mix originally approved by Hitchcock.

More silent films, most of them with live musical accompaniment, screening in Frisco Bay venues in the next months:

As I mentioned recently, the Rafael Film Center is showing the 1922 Nosferatu: a Symphony of Horror tonight, and will hold another silent film program December 12th; only the latter will have live musical accompaniment.

The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont has just revealed its November-December schedule (as a pdf) including its traditional Saturday night screenings for November.

The Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley is showing the last purely silent film starring the so-called "Chinese Garbo" Ruan Lingyu, The Goddess, on November 8th, as well as her first (sort-of) talkie New Women November 9th and Stanley Kwan's acclaimed film about Ruan starring Maggie Cheung, Center Stage, on November 29th. 

The Castro Theatre will host the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's next event: a January 11th day-long tribute to Charlie Chaplin on the 100th anniversary of his filmmaking career. Titles were just announced earlier this week, and include The Gold Rush, The Kid and a program of Mutual two-reelers..

Finally, the SF Symphony continues the 2014 Chaplin celebration April 12th by performing live the actor/director/writer/composer's own score for a screening of City Lights.

HOW: Since 2010 the Symphony's Halloween screenings have all been digital presentations. Tonight's features Todd Wilson on the organ.

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