Saturday, July 17, 2010

SFSFF: The Strong Man

San Francisco Silent Film Festival
The Strong Man (1926)
Accompanied By: Stephen Horne
Sat, Jul 17th 4:00pm
Castro Theatre

I attended this program for my 1st chance to see a Harry Langdon comedy. Some of the set pieces, such as when he carries a woman up a flight of stairs with his butt, are humorous, but for the most part I found the Langdon character's mindlessness uninteresting & unfunny. His small stature, tight-fitting clothes & graceful mime just kept reminding me of Chaplin instead. On the other hand, it does look like Chaplin stole the idea of a romance involving a blind girl from this movie. Stephen Horne accompanied on the piano, pump organ & accordion. Somehow he can play the piano & the accordion at the same time, though it was so dark I could not see how this feat was accomplished.

As usual for this festival, the Castro was packed with enthusiastic & well-informed attendees, some in period dress. Critic Leonard Maltin was easy to spot in the VIP seating. The program began with the Georges Méliès trick film An Impossible Balancing Feat. Festival Executive Director Stacey Wisnia then presented Photoplay Productions, represented by Kevin Brownlow and Patrick Stanbury, the Silent Film Festival Award. After the movie, Mr. Brownlow was on-hand to sign copies of his seminal survey of the silent era, The Parade's Gone By.

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