Silent Film Wednesdays at The Stanford Theatre 5: Up the Road With Sallie

I had to go to Fresno for work for a few days and just got home on Wednesday. I was tired from the heat and the drive, but couldn’t miss Wednesday night at the Stanford! A friend from work has been wanting to go with me, so she stopped by my place so that we could carpool (not to mention that she wanted to sample some ice cream!). It was a beautiful evening, much cooler than we’ve had most of the summer, and the clouds were dark and fat with rain that showed up later that night.

As usual, the program started with a feature and concluded with short films after an intermission. I’ll start with the shorts, as I did last week — it seems more logical, since that’s how the program would have gone when these films were first released.

The first item was a coming attraction preview for Redskin, a western from 1929, starring Richard Dix as the eponymous native American. The Stanford Theatre has no plans to show the actual film, but the trailer is part of their collection. I’m generally not much for westerns, but the cinematography looked beautiful. Apparently, about 3/4 of the film was shot in Technicolor. According to Wikipedia, the film was also progressive in its treatment of native Americans.

Next, we saw a newsreel, also from 1929. We’re so used to anything and everything being recorded these days, but seeing regular people on film from 85 years ago is fascinating to me. Included in this newsreel was footage of a German washtub derby, a horse race in Mexico, and a tour of a massive seaplane.

We also got to see some wonderful cartoons this week, both of which I wish my nephews had seen. First up was Felix Weathers the Weather (1926), with Felix the Cat trying to outsmart Old Man Weather so that he can have a nice picnic with his kittens. The second cartoon was Koko Packs Up, starring Koko the Clown, along with his creator, Max Fleischer in a mix of animation and live action. Fleischer invented Rotoscope animation technology, but is probably best known as the creator of both Betty Boop and Popeye.

The last short film we saw before the intermission was Just a Good Guy, a live action comedy from 1924. Arthur Stone stars as the model for a mechanical man invention. Some fun slapstick starts when his landlord intercepts a letter offering $50,000 for the robot and can’t distinguish between the model and the mechanism. I don’t know why Stone isn’t as famous as other comedians from the silent era; he was brilliant!

The feature was Up the Road with Sallie, a 1918 comedy starring Constance Talmadge. The film was sweet and funny, about a roadtrip Sallie Waters (Talmadge) takes with her aunt. As with so many comedies, a major plot point is mistaken identity — when Sallie and her Aunt Martha take refuge in an abandoned house during a storm, they’re joined by two men they take to be burglars. It’s a shame that Talmadge was one of the many casualties of the sound film; I really enjoyed her in this film.

All in all, it was another great program of silent film; probably the most downright fun so far.

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