- Buster Keaton and others
Chosen from Alloy’s extensive repertoire, these films will keep adults in awe and kids in ecstasy. The centerpiece of the program is one of Buster Keaton’s most fascinating films, The Playhouse (1921), an homage to his Vaudeville roots. In it he plays a lowly stagehand who surreptitiously (and with the help of some early trompe l’oeil techniques) infiltrates all corners of a music hall. In a magnificent opening gag, he dreams himself as simultaneously playing all the members of the orchestra as well as a not-so-appreciative audience.
It will be shown with four landmark early shorts: The Acrobatic Fly (England, 1908, 3 mins) by F. Percy Smith: The challenge of the very slow lens required by F. Percy Smith for macro-photography, coupled with the insensitive film of the day, meant that so much light was required for exposure that the poor flies quickly succumbed to the heat. As Smith had glued their wings they could not fly away, so they used their legs to achieve memorable results seen here. Smith (1880-1945) became a full-time filmmaker in 1910, and from 1925 until his death, made more than 50 films for the outstanding British natural history series “Secrets of Nature.” Red Spectre (France, 1907, 9 mins) by Ferdinand Zecca & Segundo de Chomon: This impressive trick film was made for Pathé by Ferdinand Zecca and Segundo de Chomon. Works dealing with the netherworld and the supernatural were much in vogue at the time. The color was hand-screened on to each print by Pathé’s superb stencil process, introduced in 1904 and used throughout the silent film era. The original print from which this copy is reproduced was rescued for $25 from a junkyard in Guanajuato, Mexico. The Pet by Windsor McCay and Clay or the Origin of the Species by Ernest Noyes.