Capitolfest 18

Rome’s Capitol Theatre (220 W. Dominick St.) will present the 18th annual Capitolfest movie festival from Friday, August 14, through Sunday, August 16.  The festival consists of features and short subjects made in the 1910s, ‘20s, and ‘30s, most of them shown via 35mm film prints. Fir the latest uodatres in the schedule, please scroll to the bttom of this page.

     Each year Capitolfest highlights the work of a particular star, several of whose movies are shown in the course of the weekend.  Capitolfest 18 has two tribute stars, Constance and Joan Bennett.  Feature films starring Constance and Joan Bennett will be shown as part of the festivities, plus several films with other stars. 

     Among the films to be shown this year will be the silent comedy His Nibbs (Exceptional, 1921), the “old dark house” melodrama The Bat Whispers (United Artists, 1930) in a rarely seen wide-screen version, the comedy Her Wedding Night (Paramount, 1930), and the comedy-dramas She Wanted a Millionaire (Fox, 1932) and Week Ends Only (Fox, 1932). There will also be a special presentation on the history of early wide-screen cinema by authors James Layton and David Pierce. Many more titles will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

     In addition to the Bennetts, Capitolfest will show movies starring such actors as Clara Bow, Spencer Tracy, Colleen Moore, William S. Hart, Charles Ruggles, and others.  During the three days, approx. 15 features and an equal number of short subjects will be shown.  About 60% of the films at Capitolfest will be “talkies,” with the remaining 40% from the silent era.  All the silents on the bill will be accompanied live on the theater’s 1928 Möller theater organ; (guest organists t.b.a.)

     “Early Bird” admission (available through June 30) to the event is $64 for all three days, with tickets for two days, single days, and single sessions also available.  (Each session is generally comprised of two feature films plus short subjects.)

     Last year’s Capitolfest attracted patrons from 27 different U.S. states, plus Canada.  The Oneida County Tourism Bureau and The Rome Daily Sentinel have estimated that the local economic impact for the three day festival exceeds $450,000. 

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.


Session #1, Friday, 11:10 a.m.-5:05 p.m.

3:45 p.m. She Wanted a Millionaire (Fox, 1932) D: John G. Blystone; Joan Bennett, Spencer Tracy, Una Merkel, James Kirkwood (80 min.)

Session #2, Friday, 6:50-10:00 p.m.

9:15 p.m. The Bat Whispers (United Artists, 1930) D: Roland West; Chester Morris, Una Merkel, Grace Hampton WIDE-SCREEN VERSION (83 min.)

Inspired by the 1908 “old dark house” novel, The Circular Staircase, by Mary Roberts Rinehart and the 1920 adaptation for the stage, entitled The Bat, by Rinehart and Avery Hopwood, The Bat Whispers takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the deliberately old-fashioned melodrama, which revolves around the exploits of a master criminal who has dubbed himself “The Bat.” Shown at Capitolfest will be the rare wide-screen version, in a 35mm film restoration from the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

The New York Times said the movie was “A bigger and better picture of The Bat, the old would-be spine-chiller, in which shrieks and giggles are mixed…It is bigger because it is shown on an enlarged screen and it is better because the characters have voices.” Harrison’s Reports judged it to be “An entertaining mystery drama,” and thought that “Audiences should be gripped by the mysterious atmosphere of the production.”



Session #3, Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

9:50 a.m. Week Ends Only (Fox, 1932) D: Alan Crosland; Joan Bennett, Ben Lyon, John Halliday, Halliwell Hobbs, Walter Byron (70 min.)

Based on the “racy” novel 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.”


Session #4, Saturday, 2:20-5:55 p.m.

4:30 pm 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.

Motion Picture News called Her Wedding Night “A comedy riot,” singling out Charles Ruggles by noting, “Ruggles, in particular, makes the house shake with laughter at his work.” Screenland heralded Clara Bow as back to form after her disappointing initial talkie appearances, saying, “Get out your adjectives and use them once more on Clara Bow. In Her Wedding Night Clara is the slim, smouldering gal of her early pictures.” Broadway and Hollywood Movies called the picture, “A sophisticated, red-hot, rollickingly funny screen story.”