Capitolfest 18

We are once again getting ready for our annual Capitolfest film festival—we are now up to our 18th edition. It’ll all take place August 14, 15, and 16.

Until a week and a half or so ago, we weren’t sure we could even do Capitolfest in 2020 for a number of reasons, all of them related to the world-wide emergency situation. To be honest, we still aren’t 100% certain we can do it, but we now have enough confidence that we can pull this off to at least go full steam ahead with our plans. With the situation as it is, we had to ask ourselves if it was a good idea to plan something as frivolous as a film festival. It’s a bunch of people gathering together to watch old movies, most of them created by persons that the general populace has never even heard of. But it happens we do feel movies are important—they are our heritage and our history and, yes, the best of them are darned entertaining.

If conditions today were as they were two months ago, however, we would have passed the whole thing up and would have said, “see you next year,” or some such. But conditions have improved and are continuing to improve. I think the turning point came for us when the governor of our state made it clear that, while many businesses will remain closed for some time, and while many annual events will have to be canceled, those businesses that can open safely, and those events that can be held safely, should be held, and our county executive has echoed those sentiments. And so, we’ll make this statement right from the outset: if we feel at any time that we can’t hold Capitolfest safely, we will cancel it and will, in fact, say “see you next year.” (Should that occur, all who have registered in advance will be offered a full refund, including any fees.)



Friday, August 14                  DEALERS ROOM OPEN 9 AM


   Session #1 Silent movie accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli


11:00 am Peg o’ the Mounted (Century, 1924) D: Alf Goulding; Baby Peggy, Bert Sterling, Jack Earle (20 min.) SILENT digital

Short subject vehicle for the now legendary child actress, Baby Peggy, from a new Library of Congress restoration.


11:25 am “Blue Blazes” Rawden (Artcraft, 1918) D: W.S. Hart; William S. Hart, Maude George, R. McKim (65 min.) SILENT digital

William S. Hart in a rare non-western role, this time cast as a lumberjack who kills a man after an argument. A recent restoration by the Library of Congress. “Mr. Hart…is a boss lumberjack in the northwest, who kills bears with his hands, thrashes bartenders and splits a two-inch plank over his knee. There is no love story in the picture but the introduction of the mother of a ‘bad man’ gives the rough lumberman a chance to show his tenderer side.” –New York Times


12:20 pm Intermission


2:35 Show Girl (First National, 1928) D: Alfred Santell; Alice White, Donald Reed, Lee Moran (68 min.) SILENT digital

Perhaps the quintessential Alice White vehicle, casting her as a flip, wise-cracking Brooklyn show girl who, with the aid of her reporter boyfriend, finds herself involved in a series of publicity stunts and a kidnapping. (Silent with original Vitaphone track of music and effects.)  “It is a mixture of smart quips and tabloid newspaper stunts adroitly set forth under the direction of Alfred Santell. In its initial stages it might almost be a burlesque or quasi satire on night club and theatrical life.” –New York Times.


3:45 The Lost Race (Educational, 1934) Narrated by Claude Flemming (10 min.) digital

Recent Library of Congress restoration of a 1934 documentary short about Cliff dwellers, shot in the Multicolor process.

3:55 Above the Clouds (Columbia, 1933) D: William Neill; Robert Armstrong, Richard Cromwell, Dorothy Wilson (68 min.) digital

Comedy-drama with Robert Armstrong as a hard-drinking newsreel cameraman who lets his idolizing young assistant (Richard Cromwell) tackle the bulk of the work. “There are many fine laughs and some extremely humorous situations. Suspense is carefully worked out and the thrill scenes above the clouds are very well done.”  –Film Daily


5:05  Dinner break



     Session #2 Silent movie accompaniment by Bernie Anderson, Jr.

7:05 Face the Camera (Roach, 1922) D: J.W. Howe; James Parrott, Jobyna Ralston (12 min.) SILENT 35mm

One-reel Roach comedy with James (“Charley Chase’s brother”) Parrott and frequent Harold Lloyd leading lady Jobyna Ralston.


7:25 The Last Card (Metro, 1921) D: Bayard Veiller; May Allison, Alan Roscoe, Stanley Goethals (70 min.) SILENT 35mm

Broadway playwright and director Bayard Veiller (Within the Law, The Thirteenth Chair, The Trial of Mary Dugan) made his film directorial debut with Metro’s The Last Card, a crime thriller centering around the murder of a college student by a jealous husband. “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


8:40 Intermission


9:00 Million Dollar Legs (Paramount, 1932) D: Edward Cline; Jack Oakie, W.C. Fields, Andy Clyde, Lydia Roberti, Susan Fleming (64 min.) digital

This year’s Capitolfest “war horse” is the insanely absurd Million Dollar Legs, in which a small country with a physically fit populace decides to enter the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. “Don’t ask me what it’s about because I don’t know—there’s no rhyme or reason to it, but there’s something better—there’s satire, slapstick and the funniest gags concocted since Chaplin turned genius on us.” —Screenland   



Saturday, August 15                       DEALERS ROOM OPEN 9 AM


     Session #3  Silent movie accompaniment by Bernie Anderson, Jr.


9:30 am Berth Marks (Roach/MGM, 1929) D: Lewis R. Foster; Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy (20 min.) digital

Laurel & Hardy in their second talking film, which has been seen almost exclusively in the 1936 re-issue with a re-done soundtrack, now restored with the track of the original (June 1, 1929) release.


9:50 The Hole in the Wall (Paramount, 1929) D: Robert Florey; Claudette Colbert, David Newell, E.G. Robinson (73 min.) 35mm

A melodrama with Claudette Colbert and Edward G. Robinson in their first talkie, as well as Robinson in his first gangster role, A Hole in the Wall revolves around a fake spiritualism racket operated by a criminal known as “The Fox” (Robinson), a new member of the gang (Colbert) who might actually be psychic, and a kidnapped child. “Plenty of action throughout—physical effects and dramatic. Big punch right off is the elevated train wreck….Paramount has a good program release in this 100 per cent talker. They’ll like it on the whole, balancing its mystery and melodramatic elements with enough romance and not a little heart stuff (via the kidnapped kidlet) to appeal generally.” —Variety


11:05 Intermission


11:25 Lincoln Cycle (Charter Features Corp., 1917) Chapter 2, “My Father” D: John M. Stahl; Benjamin Chapin SILENT (20 min.) digital

The second chapter in the remarkable Lincoln Cycle starring Lincoln scholar Benjamin Chapin (who, in this segment, also plays the future president’s father). Much lauded during its original release, the film was quickly forgotten after Chapin’s pre-mature death. (Restoration by the Library of Congress.)


11:50 Blazing Days (Universal, 1926) D: William Wyler; Fred Humes, Ena Gregory, Churchill Ross SILENT (55 min.) digital

Typical western programmer replete with a heroic cowboy and a heroine with a sick brother who is accused of a stage coach robbery he didn’t commit, etc., but elevated by the directorial talents of William Wyler (in his third feature), who made eight of these Universal “Blue Streak” westerns between 1926 and 1928.


12:55  pm Lunch break—Dealers Room Open



     Session #4


2:20 pm The River Pirate (Fox, 1928) D: William K. Howard; Victor McLaglen, Lois Moran, Nick Stuart, Donald Crisp (77 min.) PART-TALKIE 35mm

Victor McLaglen is a tough but likable thug who specializes in robbing warehouses in this late silent with a Movietone music and sound effects track (and one talking scene). Donald Crisp is the detective who serves as the title character’s principal nemesis. “This is a well-knit production capitally served by Mr. McLaglen, for, although it again calls for sympathy for the lawless specimens, one usually feels sympathy for any part that Mr. McLaglen plays.” –The New York Times


3:50 Intermission


4:10 talkie short t.b.a.


4:25 Her Wedding Night (Paramount, 1930) D: F. Tuttle; Clara Bow, Ralph Forbes, Charles Ruggles, Skeets Gallagher (75 min.) 35mm

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….Ruggles, in particular, makes the house shake with laughter at his work.” –Motion Picture News



5:45  Dinner break



      Session #5 Silent movie accompaniment by Avery Tunningley


7:40 So This is Eden (1927) D: Joseph Rothman; Edna Murphy, Eddie Nugent (33 min.) digital

A three-reel domestic drama that opens with an animated prologue about Adam and Eve by Tony Sarg (in his characteristic silhouette style). The live-action story revolves around the marital difficulties of Eve and Jim which (spoiler alert) are eventually resolved once a Hoover vacuum cleaner is welcomed into the household.


8:15 Sensation Seekers (Universal, 1927) D: Lois Weber; Billie Dove, Huntley Gordon SILENT (complete version) (71 min.) digital

A wild young flapper (Billie Dove) falls for a serious-minded clergyman (Huntley Gordon), despite the seemingly impossible gulf between them. For years circulating in poor quality videos from a 43 minute (at sound speed) “Show-at-Home” print, Universal’s recent digital preservation restores the film to its full length (71 minutes at 24 fps). “Lois Weber, one of the two or three woman directors in the business of taking shadow entertainment, in her picture, The Sensation Seekers, tells her story with credible sincerity and restraint….Whether it is the pouring out of a drink of whisky or depicting automobiles turning out of a thoroughfare, Miss Weber, in this film pictures it after everyday life. Where you might easily forget many hundreds of characters that pass on and off the screen in different film productions here you have a vivid conception of a young clergyman, of a broad-minded old Bishop, a worldly young woman and others, including a coterie with wagging tongues.” –The New York Times


9:30  Intermission


9:45 Four Days Wonder (Universal, 1936) D: Sidney Salkow; Jeanne Dante, Kenneth Howell, Martha Sleeper, Walter Catlett (60 min.) digital

13-year actress Jeanne Dante, fresh off her stage successes with the Theatre Guild, was given a star-buildup by Universal in this adaptation of the A.A. Milne novel about a teenaged detective story fanatic who involves herself in a real murder investigation. “Under nice direction by Sidney Salkow, the tale of a detective-nutty brat who gets mixed up in an actual murder is unfurled. Screenplay adheres strictly to the suave Milne manner of minimizing the actual gravity of situations. Thus the cops, and in particular Duffy (Walter Catlett) are dumb burlesque flatfeet….Laughs are 100% legitimate.” —Variety 




Sunday, August 16                DEALERS ROOM OPEN 9 AM

     Session #6  Silent movie accompaniment by Philip C. Carli


9:30 am talkie short


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.) 35mm

Jack Benny plays the manager of an all-girl theatrical troupe stranded in Paris, and Joan Bennett is the daughter of a millionaire Texas oilman in this fluffy musical comedy with songs by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger. “A perfectly swell comedy with plenty of gay gags, grand humor, good music and delirious lines.” –Silver Screen


11:15 Intermission


11:35 Bad Buck of Santa Inez (Mutual 1915) D: W.S. Hart; William S. Hart, Fanny Midgley, Bob Kortman SILENT (20 min.) digital

Hart is a fugitive outlaw who risks capture to help a young widow and her daughter in this two-reeler, recently restored by the Library of Congress.


11:55 Man, Woman and Wife (Universal, 1928) D: Edward Laemmle; Norman Kerry, Pauline Stark, Marian Nixon (75 min.) SILENT (w/Movietone track) 35mm  

A wealthy young man (Norman Kerry) is overcome with fear and deserts while fighting in the World War in France. Too cowardly to present himself to his young wife (Marian Nixon), he instead choses to have her believe he has died in action. He is taken in by his former mistress (Pauline Starke) who happens to be the current mistress of a powerful gangster, which puts his life in danger…. “A strong melodrama. While the story is not new, it has been handled well….action is…fast and gripping.” –Harrison’s Reports


1:10 pm Lunch break  


     Session #7  Silent movie accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli


2:10 pm King of the Congo (Mascot, 1929) Chapter 9 D: Richard Thorpe; Jacqueline Logan, Walter Miller, Boris Karloff (20 min.) digital

A restoration in progress by Eric Grayson, we will present chapter 9 of the part-talkie serial.


2:35 Hog Wild (Roach/MGM, 1930) D: James Parrott; Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy (restored w/orig. soundtrack) 20 min. digital

Stan helps Ollie put a radio antenna on his roof in this classic comedy, seen here in a restoration with the original soundtrack.


2:55 June Moon (Paramount, 1931) D: A. Edward Sutherland; Jack Oakie, Frances Dee, Wynne Gibson, June MacCloy, Harry Akst (79 min.) 35mm

Jack Oakie plays an aspiring songwriter from Schenectady who travels to New York City with the hope of making a splash in Tin Pan Alley, in Paramount’s adaptation of the 1929 George S. Kaufman-Ring Lardner Broadway comedy. “It’s a grand comedy-with-pathos, this screen version of the Broadway stage hit. Jack Oakie is at his best as the sap from up-state who comes to Tin-Pan Alley to make his fortune rhyming ‘June’ with ‘moon.’ You’ll enjoy it whether you saw the play or not. –Screenland


4:20  Intermission


4:40 The Shield of Honor (Universal, 1927) D: Emory Johnson; Neil Hamilton, Dorothy Gulliver, Ralph Lewis, Thelma Todd (65 min.) SILENT digital

Neil Hamilton is an aviator with the Los Angeles Police Department, who meets the daughter of a local jeweler (Dorothy Gulliver) when she is christening the department’s first airplane. Her life is put in jeopardy during a daring robbery of her father’s shop, and the hero must attempt to rescue her and round-up the gang. “A vigorous action drama of sure fire material…The mechanics of the air stuff are convincing and the climax has a fine thrill.” –Variety


(PLEASE NOTE: film schedule subject to change)

Peter McCrea fielded questions from last year’s attendees of 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.