San Francisco Silent Film Festival

It's never more important to keep yer yap shut in the theater than now.

It sometimes seems as though the world would be a better place if people would just stop talking, so thankfully the San Francisco Silent Film Festival hits the Castro for its 22nd year of presenting boffo moving images made without the human voice. (Granted, everyone onscreen is long dead.) The festival kicks off with 1925’s The Freshman, starring Harold Lloyd — who that one pretentious film buff you know is always insisting was better than Chaplin or Keaton — and while it’s not as well-known as Safety Last with its iconic clock scene, The Freshman was a bigger hit.

From that same year comes Harry O. Hoyt’s The Lost World starring Wallace Beery, the first movie based on the Arthur Conan Doyle novel that Michael Crichton “homaged” several decades later. The creature effects are by a pre-King Kong Willis O’Brien and they’re expectedly swell, but c’mon: Wallace Beery. Dinosaur picture. Whaddaya need, a roadmap? Also hailing from 1925 is Body and Soul by Oscar Micheaux, a pioneering Black filmmaker who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, you may have noticed. It’s also Paul Robeson’s first screen role — playing twins, no less! — and while we don’t get to hear Robeson’s legendary bass pipes, DJ Spooky will be there to provide a live score.

San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2017
Starts Thursday at the Castro Theatre.

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