Announcements of upcoming theatrical silent film exhibitions.
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PostTue Mar 05, 2013 11:09 am

On Friday evening, March 8, 2013 at 7:00 PM the Stanford Theatre Foundation presents two silent film comedies: Buster Keaton in COPS and Harold Lloyd in SAFETY LAST at the California Theatre in downtown San Jose in the annual special event as part of the city-wide Cinequest film festival. The marriage of film and music during the silent era was a natural extension for both arts, creating extraordinary experience of live entertainment. Only in silent film does the music play such an important role, bringing life and emotion to the film and characters, creating a unique, magical world. The audience is brought into this world as an active participant.

Both films be accompanied live at the theatre’s restored 4 manual Wurlitzer pipe organ by internationally renowned theatre organist Dennis James. A long-time Bay Area theatre organ favorite, James has for now over forty-five years played a pivotal role in the international revival of silent films presented with live music. James tours under auspices of the Silent Film Concerts production company performing to silent films with solo organ, piano, and chamber ensemble accompaniments in addition to presentations with major symphony orchestras throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Silent Film Concerts provides authentic musical accompaniments to classic silent films using either the complete original scores issued with the films' original releases or historic “photoplay music” assemblages to recreate the exciting and compelling compilation scores of the kind heard in movie theaters in the 1920s.

From THEATRE ORGAN JOURNAL: "In commenting on the art of silent film accompaniment, it should be pointed out that a proper performance involves much more than 'chase' music, pratfall sound effects, or 'hamming it up' by introducing familiar song title interludes designed to attract titters from the audience. Considerable hard work is involved in terms of research, scoring, practice and timing in order to create a musical accompaniment which is both appropriate and unobtrusive while enhancing both the action and the mood of what is taking place on the screen . . . at the conclusion of this film a sophisticated audience loudly proclaimed that Dennis James had done his homework well, resulting in a truly excellent job of silent film accompaniment."

The California Theatre opened in 1927 as one of the grand movie palaces of the era. With its magnificent Jazz Age decor, it was part of a wave of ornate theaters built to define downtowns all over the country. Following a long reign as The Fox, the theater was then shuttered for decades. Then downtown theater regained its glamour in 2004 funded by the San Jose Redevelopment Agency and the Packard Humanities Institute ! After a $75 million renovation, The California reopened as a major landmark with a 1,100-seat hall filled with modern amenities in a setting of meticulously restored 1920's opulence. The architectural and acoustic splendor of the auditorium and lobby were preserved, while new accessibility, public facilities, and a completely new stage and backstage facilities were added to make the facility fully suitable as an opera house or concert hall in addition to a fully equipped silent picture palace. The Stanford Theatre Foundation installed a new Mighty Wurlitzer organ to replace the long-departed original; the with the installation combining a so-called "wedding-cake" console originally installed at the Uptown Theatre in Chicago, plus a 21-rank set of Wurlitzer pipe ranks from the Palace Theatre in Dallas.

California Theatre
-345 South First Street-
San Jose, California

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