Sunday, October 04, 2009

Safety Last! at Loew's Jersey

Morton Organ at Loew's Jersey TheatreSafety Last! (1923)
The Landmark Loew's Jersey - Jersey City

Sat, Oct 3, 2009 8:00 pm
Silent, shown with LIVE ORGAN accompaniment by
Ralph Ringstad, Jr. on the Loew’s Wonder Morton

To see Harold Lloyd's Safety Last! in an original 1920's movie palace with organ accompaniment, I suppose I did something most New Yorkers almost never do: travel to New Jersey. Loew's Jersey is an opulent & cavernous theater, vaster than the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The lobby, with promenade areas on 2 levels, is quite spacious. The building, however is falling apart & in urgent need of restoration. It does have a kind of decaying grandeur, however. A devoted community of volunteers, including those in the projection booth, are keeping it alive.

Ralph Ringstad, Jr accompanied the film on a powerful Morton theater organ, the only one in such a space in the Metropolitan Area. At dramatic moments, Mr. Ringstad vamped on a steadily repeating chord, a trick that made me think of Philip Glass.

This would be a hard theater to fill, but there was a good turn out, & the audience was happy & really got into the picture. They applauded the iconic moment when Harold dangles from the clock hands. Because of the simplicity of its scenario & the wealth of inventive gags, the movie still entertains. The few children in the audience could be heard laughing throughout. The movie ends with a clever but curiously irrelevant gag in which Harold loses his shoes & socks in a sticky puddle.

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