Capitolfest 18

After a very challenging year for all of us, Capitolfest will return on August 13, with a program similar to the one that was planned for 2020.  Capitolfest, now in its 18th edition, is held at the historic 1,788-seat movie palace, the Capitol Theatre, in Rome, New York. The Capitol was built as a movie house and opened December 10, 1928 with an all-movie program including the First National feature, Lilac Time. The Capitol Theatre remains the only building in Rome, N.Y. (population c.32,000) constructed for the specific purpose of exhibiting motion pictures. Although the theatre received a Modernistic face-lift in 1939, the auditorium is configured exactly as it was in 1928, and much of the original décor remains. Also still in place is the theatre’s 3-manual, 10-rank Möller theatre organ, which has recently been the recipient of some major restorative work.  The staff and board of directors of the Capitol is particularly excited to announce that the Capitol building is currently undergoing a complete restoration to its 1939 appearance, and Capitolfest 18 will be one of the first events in the newly refurbished movie house.

   Most of the films at the Capitol are shown in 35mm prints on the theater’s carbon-arc, variable-speed projectors. The prints for the movies shown at Capitolfest come from archives such as the Library of Congress, George Eastman Museum, Museum of Modern Art, UCLA Film & Television Archive, and Universal Pictures, as well as from private collections. The festival includes several extremely rare talking films, as well as some equally rare silents. Each of the silent films will be accompanied by some of the world’s foremost exponents of authentic silent movie accompaniment. The goal of the Capitol Theatre is not only to show these vintage films, but also to re-create the experience of seeing these movies when they were new. This year’s festival will include A Tribute Constance & Joan Bennett, showcasing several of their films.

 

 

FRIDAY

All films are in 35mm unless noted; silents accompanied on the Capitol’s 1928 original installation Möller theater organ.  

Friday, August 13                              DEALERS ROOM OPEN 9 AM

Session #1

9:50 am Hand colored short subjects (1896-1911) SILENT digital (15 min.)

10:00 am silent feature t.b.a.

11:10  The Trial of Vivienne Ware (Fox, 1932) D: William K. Howard; Joan Bennett, Donald Cook, Skeets Gallagher, ZaSu Pitts (58 min.)

Joan Bennett is tried for the murder of a woman who she believed was the lover of her finance (Donald Cook). Her finance himself defends her at the trial, though he believes she is guilty.

     “A good murder mystery. It is fast moving and there is suspense throughout. The court room scenes have comedy, in addition to being exciting at times.” –Harrison’s Reports

12:15 pm Intermission

 

12:30 Madame Spy (Universal, 1942) D: Roy William Neill; Constance Bennett, Don Porter, John Litel, Ed Brophy (63 min.)

Don Porter is a war correspondent who begins to suspect that his wife (Constance Bennett) is the notorious “Madame Spy,” an agent in the employ of the Nazis. Directed by William Roy Neill, who would go on to direct 11 of the 12 Universal Sherlock Holmes movies of the ‘40’s.

      “The plot, concerned with espionage and counter-espionage, starts as routine but increases in tempo as it progresses and develops a number of thrills.” –Motion Picture Daily

1:45  Extended Intermission—Dealers Room Open

 

Session #2

 

2:20 Show Girl (First National, 1928) D: Alfred Santell; Alice White, Donald Reed, Lee Moran (61 min.) SILENT w/ORIG. TRACK digital

Show Girl relates the exploits of a devil-may-care flapper as she attempts to conquer the great white way. This picture made a star of relative new comer Alice White.  The restoration from Warner Bros. includes the original track of music and sound effects.

     “Show Girl is a right snappy little yarn with a bunch of the best gag captions I’ve seen in years. And with Alice White doing things commonly expected of Clara Bow and doing them at least as well. And with a lot of other good actors and actresses whose work combines to make bright, amusing, smart, modern, middle-class entertainment of a sort which any and all classes may look upon with upturned lips and an open mind.” — Exhibitor’s Herald and Moving Picture World.

3:25 talkie short t.b.a.

3:50 She Wanted a Millionaire (Fox, 1932) D: John G. Blystone; Joan Bennett, Spencer Tracy, Una Merkel, James Kirkwood (80 min.) Beauty contest winner Joan Bennett recklessly marries a millionaire judge (James Kirkwood) she knows nothing about, casting off her small-town sweetheart (Spencer Tracy). She soon discovers that her new husband not only has a sordid past, but that he is also insanely jealous and mentally unbalanced.

     “Horrible! It starts out as a comedy but develops into a horror film, with the heroine’s husband presented as a degenerate. His actions are loathsome. In addition, there are several blunt sex situations…” –Harrison’s Reports

5:20  Dinner break

 

Session #3

7:15 Face the Camera (Roach, 1922) D: J.W. Horne; James Parrott, Jobyna Ralston (12 min.) SILENT

     Hapless photographer James Parrott attempts to shoot a bathing beauty pageant.

7:30 silent feature t.b.a.

9:05 Intermission

9:20 Topper (Roach, 1937) D: Norman Z. McLeod; Constance Bennett, Cary Grant, Roland Young, Billie Burke, Alan Mowbray, Eugene Pallette, Arthur Lake, Hedda Hopper  (97 min.)

The annual Friday night “war horse” will be the Hal Roach film version of Thorne Smith’s comedy fantasy, Topper, in which ghosts Constance Bennett and Cary Grant complicate the life of hen-pecked husband Roland Young. It will be seen in a restored 35mm print from the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

      “Hal Roach…has produced as weird and baffling a tale of spiritualism as the screen has ever seen.” —Variety

 

SATURDAY

All films are in 35mm unless noted; silents accompanied on the Capitol’s 1928 original installation Möller theater organ.  

Saturday, August 14                         DEALERS ROOM OPEN 9 AM

     Session #4 

 Silent movie accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli

9:30 am The IMAX of the 1890s: How to See the First Movies (Museum of Modern Art, 2019) digital (11 min.)

9:45 American Mutoscope & Biograph films (1896-1902) SILENT digital (10 min.)

 

9:55 Hush Money (Fox, 1931) D: Sidney Lanfield; Joan Bennett, Hardie Albright, Owen Moore, Myrna Loy, C. Henry Gordon, George Raft (68 min.) digital

Joan Bennett has been living with her gangster associate, Owen Moore, and both go to jail when they are caught at one of their jobs. After prison she reforms with the help of an understanding detective (Douglas Cosgrove) and falls in love with a co-worker (Hardie Albright). But her new-found happiness is threatened when her former criminal partner decides to blackmail her. “I don’t think Joan ever gave a more appealing performance, and certainly never before has she looked better on the screen….she is called upon to depict a wide variety of emotions and always is equal to the demands made upon her.” –Movie Spectator

11:05 Extended Intermission

11:30 Stencilcolor short subjects (1918-1925) SILENT digital (20 min.)

 

11:50 The Last Card (Metro, 1921) D: Bayard Veiller; May Allison, Alan Roscoe, Stanley Goethals (70 min.) SILENT

Noted Broadway playwright and stage director Bayard Veiller made his debut as a film director with the 1921 mystery-melodrama, The Last Card. As the author of Within the Law and future author of The 13th Chair and The Trial of Mary Dugan, Veiller was something of a specialist of the genre. The Last Card concerns the murder of a college student by a jealous husband, and the arrest of the wrong man as a result of it. “Conforming with Veiller’s ability as a producer of murder mysteries for the stage, his efforts in this direction are equally convincing on the screen….Veiller presents a series of pictures in this production that provide gripping moments, the suspense at all times holding up the interest. The story is convincingly told, the points being placed in an unmistakably satisfying way with the continuity of the story, one of the strong features of the production.” –Variety

1:00  pm Lunch break—Dealers Room Open

 

     Session #5

2:15 p.m. silent short  t.b.a.

2:50 The River Pirate (Fox, 1928) D: Wm. K. Howard; Victor McLaglen, Lois Moran, Nick Stuart (77 min.) SILENT w/MOVIETONE TRACK

Wharf-rat Nick Stuart grows up in reform school, and is taken under the wing of likable career-criminal Victor McLaglen, who makes him a part of his illicit operations.

     “The fascinating thing about the picture is the entirely impersonal way this bizarre history is presented. No preachment against the injustice of shopping petty juvenile delinquents to the reformatory. They don’t glorify the dock thief, or point a moral of his trade. No bunk or ennobling a picturesque crook and then pointing out that evil-doers can’t win.” –-Variety

4:10 Intermission

4:25 British Mutoscope & Biograph films (1896-1902) SILENT digital (20 min.)

 

4:45  Her Wedding Night (Paramount, 1930) D: Frank Tuttle; Clara Bow, Ralph Forbes, Charles Ruggles, Skeets Gallagher (75 min.)

A composer (Ralph Forbes) is tired of being chased by women, so he recruits his friend (Skeets Gallagher) to pose as him. One thing leads to another and the friend winds up marrying a girl (Clara Bow) in the name of the composer. 

     “A comedy riot.” –Motion Picture News; “A sophisticated, red-hot, rollickingly funny screen story.” –Broadway and Hollywood Movies

6:05  Dinner break

 

 

     Session #6

Silent movie accompaniment by Avery Tunningley

 

7:40 Duck Soup (Roach, 1927) D: Fred Guiol; Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy SILENT (20 min.) digital

     New Lobster Films restoration of this key early Laurel & Hardy teaming.

8:00 Wandering Fires (MGM, 1925) D: Maurice Campbell;  Constance Bennett, Wallace MacDonald, George Hackathorne, Effie Shannon (70 minutes) SILENT

     Constance Bennett, in one of her earliest starring roles, confesses to her fiancée (Wallace MacDonald) that she was involved in a scandalous incident with her former fiancée the night before he departed for France in the World War. After their marriage, her sordid past threatens to destroy their lives. Based on the “racy” novel by Warner Fabian (Samuel Hopkins Adams). “The plot is an interesting one and has been handled very effectively. It is an excellent picture of its type, and we think it will score as a box office attraction.” –Motion Picture News 

9:15  Intermission (15 min.) 

9:30 John Barrymore Technicolor test for Hamlet (1933) Technicolor digital (6 min.)

.

9:40 Love Letters of a Star (Universal, 1936) D: M. Carruth, L.R. Foster; Henry Hunter, Polly Rowles, C. Henry Gordon, Walter Coy, Hobart Cavanaugh, Rollo Lloyd (61 min.)

     In her adolescence, a now happily-married young woman (Mary Ann Rice) wrote some indiscreet love letters to a popular matinee idol (Ralph Forbes). When an unscrupulous cad (Rollo Lloyd) attempts to blackmail her, she commits suicide. Her family plots vengeance on the blackmailer. Based on the novel, The Case of the Constant God, by mystery author Rufus King, Love Letters of a Star was heralded as one of the best programmers of the year, despite it’s “no-name” cast. “…a finished product that is notable for its production superiority over the average, run-of-the-mill murder mysteries.” –-Variety                                            

 

SUNDAY

All films are in 35mm unless noted; silents accompanied on the Capitol’s 1928 original installation Möller theater organ.  

 Sunday, August 15                           DEALERS ROOM OPEN 9 AM

Session #7

Silent movie accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli

9:30 am  talkie short t.b.a.

9:45 Artists and Models Abroad (Paramount, 1938) D: Mitchell Leisen; Jack Benny, Joan Bennett, Mary Boland, Charley Grapewin, the Yacht Club Boys (90 min.)

     Jack Benny is the head of a troupe of American entertainers stranded in Paris, and Joan Bennett is the daughter of a Texas oil millionaire (Charley Grapewin) who Jack mistakes as a fellow pauper.

     “…substantial laugh entertainment…Yarn was especially tailored for Benny, and most effectively. Mitchell Leisen’s direction is topnotch, and he carries the picture through at a speedy pace.” –Variety

10:50 Extended Intermission—Dealers Room Open  

11:10 German Mutoscope & Biograph films (1896-1902) SILENT digital (5 min.)

11:15 Dad’s Choice (Paramount, 1928) D: J.A. Howe; Edward Everett Horton, Sharon Lynn, Otis Harlan SILENT digital (20 min.)

11:40 His Nibs (Exceptional, 1921) D: Gregory La Cava; Chic Sale, Colleen Moore, Joseph Dowling, J.P. Lockney SILENT (55 min.)

     A tour-de-force for character comedian Chic Sale, who plays seven roles in this story of a small-town movie theater.  Harrison’s Reports notes that Sale plays “the operator, the pianist in the role of the woman, the vaudeville performer, the newspaper reporter, and three other characters.  As the moving picture machine operator, he is a scream.”  Harrison holds that “One could hardly believe that so much humor, so much clean and wholesome comedy could be crowded into five reels.”

 1:05 pm Lunch break  

Session #8 Silent movie accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli

2:10 sound short subject t.b.a.

2:35 talkie short subject t.b.a.

1:50 Week Ends Only (Fox, 1931) D: Alan Crosland; Joan Bennett, Ben Lyon, John Halliday, Halliwell Hobbs, Walter Byron (70 min.)

     Based on the risqué novel, Week End Girl, by Warner Fabian (pseudonym of Samuel Hopkins Adams), Joan Bennett plays a girl from a good family who is forced to work as a hostess in an upscale club to make ends meet. She also takes a little extra work performing similar duties on weekends for private parties given by a wealthy man (John Halliday) at his home. Complications occur after she falls in love with a penniless artist (Ben Lyon), who misinterprets her extra-curricular activities.

      Film Daily pronounced Week Ends Only to be a “modern romance that is bright and charming,” with direction “deftly handled by Alan Crosland…” Harrison’s Reports, however, did not approve of the more sordid aspects of the story, and cynically noted that it might be, “Good, perhaps, for sex-bent persons.”

3:10  Brief Intermission

3:15 Four Days Wonder (Universal, 1936) D: Sidney Salkow; Judy Dante, Kenneth Howell, Martha Sleeper, Alan Mowbray digital (60 min)

4:20 Intermission (15 min.)

4:35 Katherine Hepburn Technicolor test for Joan of Arc (Pioneer, 1934) SILENT digital (3 min.)

4:30 The Shield of Honor (Universal, 1927) D: Emory Johnson; Neil Hamilton, Dorothy Gulliver, Ralph Lewis, Thelma Todd SILENT digital (60 min.)

     A loyal patrolman (Ralph Lewis) is forced into retirement because of his age, but his son (Neil Hamilton) carries on the family tradition and becomes the first member of the Los Angeles air police. “There is action all the way through, and because it is interesting, at time appealing action, one may feel sure I predicting that it will please almost all those that see it….[Director] Johnson has little of everything in this picture—thrills, suspense, the result of fact action, of a fire, and of an attempted bank robbery.”

 

(PLEASE NOTE: film schedule subject to change)

Peter McCrea fielded questions at the 2019 Capitolfest 17 about his parents Frances Dee and Joel McCrea.

Here are some of the questions and comments. Look for more segments from Peter and others including Cora Sue Collins, featured in the 1932 movie “The Strange Case of Clara Deane”.

Cora Sue Collins, featured in the 1932 movie “The Strange Case of Clara Deane”, talks to fans at2019’s Capitolfest 17 in the Rome Capitol Theatre. The topics ranged from her age, marriage, career and childhood.