Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)

screen capture from DVD release of Hugo (2011)
WHO: Rudolph Valentino became a star from his role in this film.

WHAT: One of the most widely-seen films of the silent era, it reportedly took in $4 million in box office grosses, around the same amount as Chaplin's The Gold Rush did a few years later. But it is far less-frequently revived today. I missed its last Frisco Bay screening ten years ago because I was foolish enough to let my family schedule a reunion the same weekend as the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. I'm thrilled to get a second chance to see it tonight, as it opens the 19th edition of that festival, the only reprised feature in the weekend program.

WHERE/WHEN: 7PM tonight only at the Castro Theatre.

WHY: I was reminded by Mick LaSalle's SFSFF preview that Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was cited by festival founder Melissa Chittick as the film that inspired her to create a silent film festival, back when she saw it presented at the 1993 San Francisco International Film Festival with Dennis James accompanying on organ. It only took about a year for the festival to hold its first event in 1994, an early history of the festival that I describe in my own festival preview, just published today at Fandor's Keyframe blog. There's been a sea of advance coverage for the festival, including previews by Thomas GladyszDennis Harvey, and Michael Hawley. I'm especially impressed by Carl Martin's thorough recounting of the provenance of all the 35mm prints for features being shown at the festival. I interviewed Anita Monga, who has now been the festival's artistic director for five years, for my own article. I hope you enjoy reading it, and seeing the films this weekend at the Castro.

HOW: 35mm print from Kevin Brownow's Photoplay Productions in England, with live accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. As Monga told me in our interview, "Patrick Stanbury, Kevin’s partner at Photoplay, will be in the projection booth, changing the speeds as the film goes. It’s 132 minutes but it is not all the same speed."

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