Silent Winter 2013

$15 General / $13 Members / $5 Children under 12

Sat Feb 16, 2013
Castro Theatre
10am, 12noon, 2:30pm, 7pm, 9pm
$5 - $15
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Film Schedule

10am: Snow White
Musical Accompaniment by Donald Sosin on grand piano

Walt Disney was a 16-year-old newsboy when he attended a free event at the Kansas City Convention Center in 1917 to see Miss Marguerite Clark on screen in a live-action rendition of a German fairy tale, Snow White. It was one of the first features he’d ever seen and he was hooked. “I thought it was the perfect story… It had the sympathetic dwarfs…the heavy…the prince and the girl. The romance…the perfect story.” As part of the Walt Disney Family Museum’s celebration of Disney’s Snow White, we’re thrilled to present Walt’s original inspiration. Directed by J. Searle Dawley with Marguerite Clark in the lead role, the film was thought lost until materials were discovered in the Netherlands, and a print was preserved at George Eastman House. Clark’s portrayal of the dewy fresh Snow White is pitch perfect—even though she was 33 at the time!

12noon: Think Slow, Act Fast: Buster Keaton Shorts
Musical Accompaniment by Donald Sosin on grand piano

“Think slow, act fast” is a quote attributed to Buster Keaton, and even if apocryphal perfectly exemplifies his movies. Keaton is a true comic genius and a great filmmaker. Because his stone-faced, flat-hatted character is so riveting, his physicality so athletically graceful, it’s impossible to take your eyes off of him. But repeated viewing of any Keaton will reveal the thoughtful filmmaking, the elegant structure and beautifully expressive camera, and deepen your amazement at the gravity-defying stunts. Our program features three early Keaton shorts, made shortly after Keaton left Fatty Arbuckle to work on his own—three of the funniest, most innovative comedies ever put on film! One Week (1920, 24 m., w/ Keaton, Sybil Seely) The Scarecrow (1920, 18 m., w/ Keaton, Joe Roberts), The Play House (1921, 23 m., w/ Keaton, Virginia Fox)

2:30pm: The Thief of Bagdad
Musical Accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

Douglas Fairbanks’s personal favorite, Thief shows him at the top of his charming, acrobatic game. Directed by Raoul Walsh and adapted from One Thousand and One Nights, the story revolves around a thief (Fairbanks) who falls in love with the daughter (Julanne Johnston) of the Caliph of Bagdad. So overcome with love that he refuses to be deceptive about his true identity, Fairbanks’s thief still has the chance to win the fair maiden by bringing back the world’s rarest treasures. Thus begins a rousing fantasy replete with flying carpets, winged horses, and underwater sea monsters. Exquisite camerawork and lavish sets support early special effects to make Thief a wildly entertaining spectacle. Inducted into the National Film Registry in 1996 and voted one of AFI’s top 10 classics in 2008, Thief has recently received a crisp 2K restoration.

7pm: My Best Girl
Musical Accompaniment by Donald Sosin on grand piano

Mary Pickford’s last silent film is a comedy so warm and ebullient, it is a fitting adieu to America’s Sweetheart. Although she would make four more films—all talkies—My Best Girl (1927) is the pinnacle, the exemplary illustration of what made Pickford the most loved movie star in the world. Directed by Sam Taylor (famous for his work with Harold Lloyd), Girl is the story of Five & Dime store stock girl, Maggie Johnson (Pickford), who falls for the owner’s son, Joe Merrill (Buddy Rogers), who’s masquerading as a new employee that Mary has to train. Of course, Joe’s parents have other ideas of the kind of girl Joe should marry… Pickford and Rogers (in his first role after the hugely successful Wings, 1927) are wonderful together. In ten years Pickford would divorce Douglas Fairbanks and marry Rogers—a marriage that lasted her lifetime.

9pm: Faust
Musical Accompaniment by Christian Elliott on the Mighty Wurlitzer

F.W. Murnau’s Faust (1926) is the most expressive telling of the old European legend, immortalized by Goethe, of the learned man who sells his soul to the devil. Magnificent in its surreal depictions of heaven and hell and a nightmarishly otherworldly world, Faust is masterpiece of German Expressionism, as boldly distinctive as Murnau’s other horror masterpiece, Nosferatu. When Emil Jannings’s wily Mephisto shows up to tempt Faust (Gösta Ekmann), a man of books and learning, with the ability to cure the plague and a 24-hour return to his youthful body, it seems God may have lost his wager with the devil over pious Faust’s immortal soul. Or has he? Murnau’s use of chiaroscuro effect beautifully contrasts light and dark, life and death; and evil is chillingly limned by Jannings’s brilliantly nuanced, subtly comic performance.


  1. Castro Theatre
    429 Castro St, San Francisco, CA