Live Cinema in Mendocino, co-produced by Alex Fields and George Russell, and performed by local musicians: DJ Tony de la Torre, Sunny Cordell, and Karl Schoen, Alex De Grassi, and Ralph Humphrey.
Live Cinema in Mendocino, co-produced by Alex Fields and George Russell, and performed by local musicians: DJ Tony de la Torre, Sunny Cordell and Karl Schoen, Alex De Grassi, and Ralph Humphrey.
This program is made possible by the generosity of Farr West
The silent films produced in the first three and a half decades of cinema were rarely silent. From the neighborhood nickelodeons with their pianists to the downtown picture palaces with their wizards of the Wurlitzer and pit orchestras, silent films were meant to be accompanied by music. Silent films with live music were a cinematic Esperanto, a true universal language, lost with the coming of sound-on-film and dialogue. Their music came from compendiums of lead sheets with titles like “Misterioso” and “Agitato” or from popular or “classical” melodies chosen by their accompanists, whose skill at “playing the picture” determined the success of their musical enhancement. Music composed for short silent films was rare. Only selected films of feature length were accorded a musical score composed especially.
In the last forty years, contemporary composers and musicians, both solo and in ensembles, have discovered the deathless language of silent cinema and have given it a new musical voice. This voice has an astonishing range. All manner of instrumentation as well as compositional and improvisational styles, from the traditional to the decidedly un-, have “set” silent films which are eighty, ninety, and over one hundred years old. In skilled hands, these new settings can be both complementary and exciting. More than eighty percent of the films made before 1930 are considered lost. Tonight’s offering features a variety of short animation, actuality, and comedy films, on film, which have survived, accompanied with music performed by local and widely-recognized musicians.
This program is dedicated to the memory of my dearest Mendolandian friend, Debra Scott, who, among her many interests when she was in this world, loved live cinema.
DJ Tony de la Torre plays:
The Red Spectre (1907). Directed by Segundo de Chamon and Ferdinand Zecca.
The Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway (1898/1906). Produced by Edison Company/ Miles Brothers.
Canned Thrills (at Coney Island) (1928). Produced by Grantland Rice.
Sunny Cordell, tenor saxophone, and Karl Schoen, tenor and baritone saxophones, and flute, play:
Forgotten Sweeties (1927). Directed by James Parrott. Written by and Starring Charley Chase. With Anita Garvin.
Alex De Grassi, guitar, plays:
The Immigrant (1917). Written and Directed by and Starring Charlie Chaplin. With Edna Purviance.
Ralph Humphrey, percussion, plays:
Cops (1922). Written and Directed by Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline. Starring Buster Keaton, Virginia Fox, and a cast of many, many dozens of men in blue.