Silents, Please!: The Silent Film Festival Screens Six Classics Saturday

From Lady Wintermere's Fan to a 1928 British film about prison sex in Paris, "A Day of Silents" is a movie marathon you won't feel the least bit guilty bingeing on.

Still from Lady Wintermere’s Fan

This Saturday, Dec. 2, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will take you back to cinema’s first golden era with its annual winter event, A Day of Silents. 

The program includes six films from the 1920s, all presented at the city’s silent-era jewel, the Castro Theatre, and the all-day pass is only $90 (or $80 for members). 

The day begins at 10 a.m. with the world’s first full-length animated feature, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, a German production based on The Arabian Nights. Lotte Reiniger’s cut-paper silhouettes of flying horses and princesses glide and dance against colorful backdrops in a beautiful and painstaking display of cinematic innovation. 

Ahmed will be accompanied by pianist Philip Carli, the staff accompanist for the George Eastman House film archive in Rochester, N. Y. 

Pianist Frederick Hodges, a regular at the East Bay’s Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, will accompany Henry King’s Tol’able David at 2 p.m. Richard Barthelmess’ performance in the title role helped make the actor one of the biggest starts of the era. When three outlaws, one played by the great character Ernest Torrance, terrorize the town and David comes of age quickly and gets the chance to finally prove himself a man. 

At 7 p.m., two great comic stylists come together as the verbal wit of Oscar Wilde is presented with the visual wit of director Ernst Lubitsch in the latter’s adaptation of Lady Windermere’s Fan. Ronald Colman’s Lord Darlington falls for a married woman, Lady Windermere (May McAvoy), who is rescued from this illicit affair by Mrs. Erlynne (Irene Rich) in a film of deceptions, misunderstandings, and innuendo.

Lady Windermere’s Fan will be accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, which uses period-appropriate music to re-create the 1920s movie-going experience. 

Three other films will round out the day’s program: 

At noon, Philip Carli accompany The Last Man on Earth, a comedy depicting a world where an epidemic has eradicated the male population. 

At 4:30 p.m., bassist Sascha Jacobsen and the Musical Art Quintet accompany The Rat, a British underworld crime drama set in Paris. 

At at 9:15 p.m., Carli accompany the German prison-reform drama Sex in Chains, which body depicted prison homosexuality in 1928. 

A Day of SilentsSaturday, Dec. 2, at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro St., silentfilm.org.

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