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The Capitol Theatre
220 W. Dominick St., Rome, NY, 13440
Capitolfest is Central New York's premier summer Cinephile film festival—a place to see rarely-shown and newly-discovered films of the silent and early talkie era, held at the historic 1,788-seat movie palace, the Capitol Theatre, in Rome, New York, which opened in December, 1928 as a movie house. Set in the small upstate New York city of Rome (population c.33,000) and regarded by attendees from the U.S., Canada, and Europe as the movie lover’s dream vacation, the weekend festival starts late Friday morning and ends early on Sunday evening. Screenings are arranged by session, with each session essentially comprised of a double feature plus short subjects. Each session contains intermissions and there are generous breaks between sessions (allowing for meals) as well. The philosophy of Capitolfest is that there should be time to savor the films, thus our slogan, “A vacation, not a marathon.”
To date, Capitol remains the only building in Rome constructed for the specific purpose of exhibiting motion pictures. Although the theatre received an Modernistic face-lift in 1939, the auditorium is configured exactly as it was in 1928, and much of the original décor remains. Included as part of Capitolfest's silent film line-up is live organ accompaniment for each film, played on our original installation, 3-manual, 10-rank Style 70 Möller Theatre Organ. Restoration work on the organ was started in 2002, and since then it has been used on a regular basis to accompany silent movies. Each of the silent films will be accompanied by some of the world’s foremost exponents of authentic silent movie accompaniment. Eminent musicians such as Avery Tunningley, Bernie Anderson, Dr. Phillip C. Carli, Robert Israel and Dennis James have performed for films on the Capitol's Moller in the past. Additionally, ensembles such as the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra have graced the Capitol's orchestra pit in accompaniment of films.
The goal of the Capitol Theatre's film series is to not only showcase vintage films, but to re-create the experience of seeing movies as when they were new. All of the films at the Capitol are shown in 35 mm prints on the theatre’s carbon-arc, variable-speed projectors. Capitolfest prints are provided by such archives as the Library of Congress, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Universal Pictures, the George Eastman House, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Sony Pictures, as well as rarer prints from private collections. The festival's line-up focuses on obscure films that received critical praise in their time, but are now near-impossible to see.
Capitolfest 15 will be held on August 11, 12, & 13, 2017.
Capitolfest 15 promises to surpass its fourteen previous installments, with three days of eclectic and critically-acclaimed programming. Each year chooses a “tribute star,” and several of their films are showcased throughout the weekend. Capitolfest 15’s star will be Fay Wray!
Register for Capitolfest-15 Here!
Book Your Hotel Now! (Hotels Near Capitol Theatre)
Friday, August 12:
The Coast Patrol
-11:30 am, Silent, Digital-
(Bud Barsky, Corp., 1925) D: Bud Barsky Kenneth MacDonald,
Claire de Lorez, Fay Wray, Spottiswoode Aitken, Gino Corrado (approx., 60 minutes).
Kenneth MacDonald, Claire de Lorez, Fay Wray, Spottiswoode Aitken, Gino Corrado.
Fay Wray's first feature film appearance in a movie produced and directed by Bud Barsky, who
specialized in low budget adventure pictures during his thirteen year career in Hollywood. The
18-year-old Miss Wray is third billed, playing a young "ocean waif" in a story centered on a
Government revenue agent (Kenneth MacDonald) and his attempts to apprehend a gang of
smugglers off the coast of Maine. DIGITAL PRESENTATION
12:40 PM INTERMISSION
The Sea God
- 1:00 pm; 35 mm Print -
(Paramount, 1930) D: George Abbott, Richard Arlen, Fay Wray, Eugene Pallette,
Rober Glecker (75 Minutes).
Richard Arlen and Eugene Pallette are seeking a fortune in pearls which, unfortunately for them,
happens to be located near an island of cannibals. Between the adventurous moments there is the
gist of a love-story featuring Arlen and Fay Wray. Reportedly the story if often completely
implausible, but most reviewers found it entertaining, including Pete Harrison who, in Harrison's
Reports, called it "An exciting sounth sea island story, with the interest held tight throughout.
35mm FILM PRINT
2:15 PM EXTENDED INTERMISSION
Hit & Rum
- 3:15 pm; 35 mm Print -
(RKO, 1935) D: Ben Holmes; Leon Errol, Eddie Kane, Lew Kelly (18 Minutes).
A reprise by popular demand of this short film that was shown at last year's Capitolfest.
Hit and Rum is a very funny and often bizarre movie that finds comedian Leon Errol in
prime form. This is a seemingly very rare movie which we'll be showing from a private
collection. 35mm FILM PRINT
Cheer Up & Smile
- 3:40 pm; 35 mm Restored Print -
(Fox, 1930) D: Sidney Lanfield; starring Arthurt Lake, Dixie Lee,
Olga Baclanova, "Whispering" Jack Smith (76 min)
Early talkie Fox musical comedy with Arthur Lake as a meek college boy who fills in
for a popular radio crooner and becomes an overnight sensation.
(Restored 35mm film print from UCLA Film & Television Archive)
5:10 DINNER BREAK
(Silent movie accompaniment by Bernie Anderson)
There It Is
- 6:55 pm; Digital -
(1928) D: Charley Bowers; SILENT Charley Bowers, Kathryn McGuire, Melbourne
MacDowll (30 Minutes.)
One of the oddest movies of that delightfully strange filmmaker-comedian Charley Bowers.
Although not a rare movie, this digital restoration by Eric Grayson will allow us to see the
movie in a new light, and it features a newly-created score assembled by Eric from period
recordings of photoplay music. DIGITAL PRESENTATION
Little Orphant Annie
- 7:30 pm; Silent, 35 mm Print -
(Selig, 1918) D: Colin Campbell Colleen Moore, Tom Santschi,
Harry Lonsdale, Eugenie Besserer (60 Minutes).
Another restoration by Eric Grayson, this one in 35mm. Little Orphant Annie, inspired by
James Whitcomb Riley's poem of the same name, follows the adventures (and mis-adventures)
of the title character in rural Indiana. One of Colleen Moore's earliest starring roles, it is the
earliest of her movies that is known to survive. For years seen only in choppy, truncated prints,
Film historian Eric Grayson has painstakingly restored it to something resembling its original glory.
35mm FILM PRINT
8:30 PM INTERMISSION
- 8:45 pm; Silent, 35 mm Print -
(Paramount, 1929) D: Cooper, Mendes; SILENT w/MOVIETONE TRACK
Richard Arlen, Fay Wray, Clive Brook, William Powell (95 Minutes).
The third film version of A.E.W. Mason's famous adventure novel, and one of the last major
releases of the silent era (issued with a track of music and effects). The story tells of a British
soldier (Richard Arlen) who has been branded a coward and must redeem himself in the Mahdist
War. A remarkable team of talented individuals were involved in the production, including Merian
C. Cooper, Lothar Mendes, Ernest Schoedsack, and John Farrow. 35mm FILM PRINT
Saturday, August 13:
9:30 am Feature Film TBA
10:50 AM EXTENDED INTERMISSION
11:20 am Two-Reel Short TBA
Wild Horse Stampede
- 11:40 pm; Digital -
(Universal, 1926) D: Alvert S. Rogell; Jack Hoxie, Fay Wray (45 min.)
Another very early apperance by Fay Wray, this time as leading lady to popular Universal
cowboy star Jack Hoxie. In this one, Hoxie (assisted by his horse Scout and his dog Bunk)
attempts to corral a herd of wild horses, despite the attempts of a billanious gang to thwart him.
12:30 PM LUNCH BREAK
Molly Picon, The Celebrated Character Comedienne
- 1:55 pm; -
(Vitaphone #917, Warner Bros., 1929)
A professional performer from the age of six, Molly Picon became a star of the Yiddish
theater and vaudeville, later appearing in films and television. She made three Vitaphone
shorts, none of which was available complete until this one was recently restored.
Screen Snapshots Series 19, no. 6
- 2:10 pm; -
(Columbia, 1940) D: Ralph Staub, w/ Rita Hayworth, Buster Keaton, Gary Cooper
This segment of Columbia's long-running Screen Snapshots series focuses on "Hollywood Recreations"
and includes cameos by numerous celebrities including Rita Hayworth, Buster Keaton, Dixie Dunbar,
Bob Hope, Gary Cooper, and many others!
- 2:20 pm; Digital -
D: Richard Thorpe w/ Fay Wray, Cesar Romero, Minna Gombell, Henry Armetta, Hugh O'Connell.
One of Fay Wray's three 1934 Universal releases that have been largely unseen since they were
originally released, Cheating Cheaters is based on the broadway farce and chronicles the
adventures of a family of jewel theives.
4:00 PM INTERMISSION
Summers and Hunt in 'Some Pumpkins'
- 4:35 pm; -
(Vitaphone #929, Warner Bros., 1929)
Starring the husband and wife vaudeville team of Sam Summers and Estelle Hunt,
the act is set in a country bam dance.
- 4:35 pm; -
(Fox, 1932) D: John W. Considine, Jr; Spencer Tracy, Sally Eilers, El Brendel,
Ralph Bellamy (82 min.)
After arresting a crooked politician's daughter for speeding, a motorcyle patrolman
(Spencer Tracy) becomes romantically involved with the young woman (Sally Eilers).
Soon, however, he finds himself embroiled in crooked politics and graft and must fight
to free himself from the grip of corruption. El Brendel (a Swedish dialect policeman), Ralph Bellamy,
and Dickie Moore also star in this rarely seen "pre-code" Fox film from 1932. "Fox has not produced a
picture with so much realism in a long time. One of made to feel as if present in a sensational real-life
occurrence." - Harrison's Reports.
5:45 PM DINNER BREAK
(Silent movie accompaniment by Avery Tunningley)
7:40 Silent short TBA
- 8:00 pm; 35 mm Print -
(First National, 1928) D: Meryvn LeRoy;
starring Jack Mulhall, Thelma Todd, Doris Dawsom, James Ford, Benny Rubin
(approx. 75 min) SILENT (accompanied by Avery Tunningley on the Capitol Grand Organ)
Snappy jazz-era comedy with Alice White as a cloak-room girl who falls in love with a rich
playboy (Newly discovered 35mm print from Museum of Modern Art)
Zelda Santley in 'Little Miss Everybody'
- 9:35 pm; -
(Vitaphone #919, Warner Bros., 1929)
Zelda Stantley was a vaudeville headliner of the 1920s and '30s who specialized in imitations.
Among the celebrities she imitates in this short are Maurice Cheavlier, Fanny Brice, and Mae West.
- 9:45 pm; -
D: Leo Bulgakov; Victor Jory, Fay Wray, Walter Connolly, Leslie Fenton, Irene Hervey.
Sunday, August 14:
The Big Paraders
- 9:30 am; -
(Vitaphone #840, Warner Bros., 1929)
D: Murray Roth.
This act of six hefty vaudevillians includes singing, dancing, and tumbling. Among the
numbers performed is "Doin' the Racoon."
Innocents of Paris
- 9:40 am; -
(Paramount, 1929) D: Richard Wallace; Maurice Chevalier, Sylvia Beecher, Russell Simpson
Maurice Chevalier in his first talking movie plays a Parsian junk dealer who rescues a boy from drowning, as a result
of which he becomes involved with the lad's bitter, heartless grandfather (Russell Simpson) and romantically involved with
the boy's aunt (Sylvia Beecher). Songs by Leo Robin and Richard A. Whitting include "It's a Habit of Mine",
"Wait 'till You SeeMa Cherie", and the immortal "Louise". This is the movie that made Maurice Chevalier an international star!
11:05 AM EXTENDED INTERMISSION
Hail the Woman
- 11:35 am; Silent, 35 mm Print -
(Ince, 1921) D: John Griffith Wray, Florence Vidor, Lloyd Hughes, Theodore Roberts,
Madge Bellamy (80 min.) SILENT
Domineering Olider Bresford (Theodore Roberts) casts his daughter (Florence Vidor) from his home due to her "shameful"
behavior. An early feminist film which examines the double standard and the rights of women. Harrison's Reports calls
Hail the Woman, "a masterpiece in every sense of the word. It is a powerful human drama, so powerful, in fact, that hardly an
eye will remain dry." 35mm FILM PRINT
12:55 PM LUNCH BREAK
(Silent movie accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli)
Voice of Hollywood no. 11
- 2:10 pm; -
(1931, 10 min.)
MC Billy Bevan introduces a bevy of stars including Majorie White, Blanche Sweet, and Bessie Love.
- 2:20 pm; -
D: Paul Whitman, Fay Wray, Leon Ames, Montagu Love, Lee Moran, Roscoe Kams
One of Fay Wray's least often seen movies (never shown on TV and apparently not publically since its originally release),
Stowaway is a sordid story of a dockside dancer who has the ill-fortune to attract the attention of uncouth seaman Montagu Love.
In escaping the clutches of the seaman, she is mistaken for a lady of the night by an overly suspicious policeman (Roscoe Karns).
Pursued by Love and the police, she becomes a stowaway on a freighter where she meets the sumpathetic Leon Ames
(still being billed as "Leon Waycoff.")
Jack Theakston's Short Subject Follies
- 3:45 pm -
A selection of shorts, snipes, and oddities introduced by film historian Jack Theakston.
- 4:30 pm; New 35mm Print -
D: Paul Sloane. w/ Vera Reynolds, Kenneth Thompson, and Julia Faye.
Set during the World War, Corporal Kate has comedic as well as dramatic moments, ultimately becoming
extremely dramatic and, according to HARRISON'S REPORTS, "powerfully appealing." This is a brand new
35mm preservation from the Library of Congress.
A special dealer’s room will be featured in an adjacent building on the Capitol Theatre property about 25 yards northwest of the main building entrance. The room is well-lit, air conditioned, has on-site bathroom facilities, and convenient ground-level loading from three doors.
Capitolfest 15 attendees are free to browse the dealers’ room at any time during these hours. Other patrons who do not wish to view the films may visit the dealers’ room for a $3.00 charge.
Dealer set up hours: Thursday 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm; Friday after 8:00 am.
Dealer room open hours: Thursday 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm; Friday and Saturday 9:00 am to 7:00 pm;
Sunday 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Tables: $60.00 for first table; $50.00 for second table; $40.00 for any additional tables. So 5 tables would be $230.00. One registration for Capitolfest with each table.
Dealer Registration Form
Thursday Night Mixer
In addition, Capitolfest will also host a Thursday night party for early-arriving festival attendees between 6:30 to 9:00 pm (RSVP is required,) as well as a dealer's room grand open from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.
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