Chautauqua silent film series

Gary Cooper

The Chautauqua Silent Film Series is a series of silent films showing at Chautauqua, Colorado, you will be surprised to learn. And a fine selection it is. Here’s the blurb from the Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark site, with their assessments of the films’ attractions:

True Heart Susie (1919)
with Hank Troy, piano
Wednesday, May 28
Starring Lillian Gish. A country girl in love with her neighbor anonymously gives him money to go to college.

The Wildcat (1921)
with Hank Troy, piano
Wednesday, June 4
An uproarious, hard-edged anti-military spoof.

Fairy Tales from the Teens
with Hank Troy, piano
Wednesday, June 11
In Cinderella (1914), “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford stars. The performance in Snow White (1916) so impressed a young Walt Disney that he made his first feature film based on the story.

The Kid Brother (1926)
with Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Wednesday, July 2
Starring Harold Lloyd. Harold’s resourcefulness while fighting is a thing to behold.

Hands Up (1926)
with Hank Troy, piano
Wednesday, July 16
Starring Raymond Griffith. A southern spy during the Civil War must try to capture a shipment of gold. His task is complicated by two sisters, the Indians and a firing squad.

Nosferatu (1922)
with Hank Troy, piano; Ed Contreras, percussion and Rodney Sauer, accordion
Wednesday, August 13
The best vampire movie ever made. It’s on the best lists: 100 Best Horror Movies, Best Silent Films, and Best German Cinema.

Mark of Zorro (1920)
with Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Wednesday, August 27
Starring Douglas Fairbanks. This film brought the “legend” of Zorro to the screen for the first time!

Sherlock Jr. (1924) Starring Buster Keaton & Shoulder Arms (1918) Starring Charlie Chaplin
with Hank Troy, piano
Wednesday, September 3
A double feature of fun. Buster Keaton is a film projectionist who longs to be a detective. Charlie Chaplin is a boot camp private who has a dream of being a hero.

The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926)
with Hank Troy, piano
Wednesday, September 10
Starring Ronald Colman, Vilma Banky and Gary Cooper. The story of a love triangle in the desert.

Son of the Sheik (1926)
with Hank Troy, piano
Wednesday, September 17
Starring Rudolph Valentino. One of the most popular films from the silent era and Valentino’s final screen performance.

More details as always from the Silent Film Series website.

5 responses

  1. I caught a couple of films there a few years ago when I was working in Colorado. The theater is a big all-wood auditorium that was built in the late 1890s. How often can you watch a silent film in a building that was screening them during the silent era?

  2. How wonderful, I’d no idea. And that’s an interesting question about seeing silent films in places which originally showed them. I’ve seen sound films in places that used to show silents, but have I ever seen a silent in such a place? I have a vague recollection that the Zancanaro theatre in Sacile that was host for the Pordenone Silent Film Festival for several years had originally shown silents (it opened in 1911).

  3. Now and again The Curzon, Clevedon, in the West of England (est.1911) puts on Silent events….now they have put their cinema organ back in. It’s a fine place, with a 1920’s pre-fab embossed tin sheet interior simulating more expensive plasterwork, a concession shop in the auditorium (they just pull the curtain across the counter when the films start) and a mock-tudor tea room on the first floor IIRC. Munching popcorn while watching The Black Pirate with live music just adds to the sensory overload….as sthe summer season approaches, it will operate as a standard seaside cinema, so currently it’s wall-wall Indiana Jones….but if you’re ever in the area….it has a website;

  4. Evocative stuff. Seeing the claim on the Curzon’s site to be the “oldest purpose-built, continually-operated cinema in the world” reminds me that a another claimant to be the oldest continually-operating cinema in Britain (established September 1910) is the Duke of York Picturehouse, where I presented a silent film show some years ago. I feel a post coming on sometime soon which gathers together all these claimants from existing cinemas to be the world’s oldest. To my mind the oldest, at least in Britain, is the Gate in Notting Hill, which probably opened in 1909. Of course, variety theatres can go back earlier – the Empire in Leicester Square showed the first Lumiere films in Britain in 1896 and is a multi-screen cinema today.

  5. The Chautauqua auditorium was built before films were around, and it was (and is) used for other purposes besides film. But silent films were screened there during the silent era.

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