Most of the films at Capitolfest 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 Capitolfest features a tribute to sometime star and frequent supporting actor, Robert Armstrong (1890-1973), showcasing him in several movies from the silent and talkie era. Hero, villain, nice guy or cad, Robert Armstrong was a fixture in Hollywood A and B features (as well as television) in five different decades.
Back this year is the Capitolfest dealers room, featuring films, dvds, laserdiscs, autographs, posters, books, and other memorabilia, which will be open throughout the weekend.
Capitolfest differs from other classic movie festivals in its leisurely pacing. There are intermissions within each session (featuring live organ music) and relatively lengthy breaks between sessions, allowing attendees to savor the films. (Thus our slogan: “A vacation—not a marathon.”) Approx. 90% of Capitolfest attendees come from out of town but, whether you are local or travel hundreds of miles, we want you to feel that the Capitol is your theater. As always, Capitolfest organizers would be more than happy to provide interested parties with more information. Updates can be found on the Capitol’s website at www.romecapitol.com, and there is an on-going discussion on the Capitolfest Facebook page.
Capitolfest 19 Schedule
Capitolfest silent features will be accompanied by organists on the Capitol’s 1928 Möeller organ.
All silents accompanied on the Capitol’s 1928 original installation Möller theater organ.
Friday, August 12 DEALERS ROOM OPEN 9 AM
9:20 am Ko-Ko’s Earth Control (Fleischer/Paramount, 1928; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Dave Fleischer, Max Fleischer SILENT (7 minutes).In this surreal cartoon, Ko-Ko’s Pup creates havoc by mischievously ignoring the “DO NOT TOUCH” button and throwing the Earth Control switch! (New digital restoration from original camera negative, courtesy of the Fleischer family.)
9:30 am Penrod and Sam (J.K. MacDonald, 1923; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Wm. Beaudine; Ben Alexander, Joe Butterworth, Buddy Messinger, Newton Hall SILENT (85 minutes). Booth Tarkington’s novel about a mischievous boy (Ben Alexander) and his friend (Joe Butterworth), who are constantly finding inventive ways of getting into trouble.(New digital restoration from the Library of Congress.)
11:00 Woman Trap (Paramount, 1929; 35mm) D: William A. Wellman; Hal Skelly, Chester Morris, Evelyn Brent, W.B. Davidson (82 min.) Hal Skelly, an easy-going police sergeant, is becomes hardened during his efforts to apprehend his ganger brother (Chester Morris). “Generates enough suspense to pump up the balloon of an hour’s engrossment.” –Harrison’s Reports.
12:40 Ex-Bad Boy (Universal, 1931; 35mm) D: Vin Moore; Robert Armstrong, Jean Arthur, Jason Robards, Sr., Spencer Charters (76 min.) An innocent small town simpleton (Robert Armstrong) manufactures a sordid past with a famed movie star to impress his would-be girlfriend (Jean Arthur). Complications ensue when the actress (Lola Lane) visits the town. “A very good comedy of the farcical sort.” –Harrison’s Reports.
1:40 Lunch break
2:45 pm The College Coquette (Columbia, 1929; 35mm) D: George Archainbaud; Ruth Taylor, William Taylor, Jr., Jobyna Ralston, John Holland, Dell Henderson (68 minutes) “There seems to be a conspiracy among the producers of the nation to keep the American public from knowing what goes on in its colleges. Not a textbook to be seen, and chaise longues in all the rooms instead of desks.” –Photoplay.
4:10 pm The Cobweb Hotel (Fleischer/Paramount, 1936 digital presentation [DCP]) D: D
ave Fleischer, Dave Tendlar; voices: Mae Questel, Jack Mercer. One of the most gruesome Fleischer musical cartoons of the mid’ ‘30s. (New digital restoration from the original camera negative, courtesy of the Fleischer family.)
4:10 Nobody’s Fool (Universal, 1936; 35mm) D: Arthur Greville Collins; Edward Everett Horton, Glenda Farrell, Cesar Romero, Frank Conroy (64 min.) Small-town waiter with a civic betterment obsession travels to New York City and runs afoul of two rival racketeering mobs. “Comedy situations are rather unique and afford not only Horton but his aiding players numerous opportunities for funny results.” –Variety.
7:20 pm The Portrait in the Attic (Edison, 1915; digital presentation [DCP]) D: John H. Collins; Viola Dana, William Bechtel, Miriam Nesbitt. SILENT (11 minutes). Viola Dana stars as the child of a widower who marries again, much to her dismay. Despite all attempts by the adults, the child refuses to accept her new step-mother. Directed by the legendary John H. Collins (Viola Dana’s future husband, who would perish three years later during the influenza epidemic). (Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.)
7:40 Till I Come Back to You (Famous Players-Lasky, 1918; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Cecil B. DeMille; Bryant Washburn, Florence Vidor, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Winter Hall, Georgie Stone, Julia Faye SILENT (70 minutes). Belgian orphan Florence Vidor partakes of a marriage of convenience with a German merchant (Gustav von Seyffertitz) just before the First World War. Her husband is cold and abusive, especially towards her eight-year-old brother. After hostilities break out she discovers her husband is actually a member of the German Intelligence. (New tinted digital restoration from the George Eastman Museum.)
9:05 King Kong (RKO, 1933; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack; Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot (100 min.) This year’s Capitolfest war-horse, by popular demand, will be RKO’s ground-breaking adventure epic King Kong, featuring Robert Armstrong in his iconic portrayal of Carl Denham. 4K digital restoration from WB.
All films are in 35mm unless noted; silents accompanied on the Capitol’s 1928 original installation Möller theater organ.
Saturday, August 13 DEALERS ROOM OPEN 9 AM
9:30 am Barnacle Bill (Fleischer/Paramount, 1930; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Dave Fleischer, Rudy Zamora; voices Ann Little, Billy Murray (7 minutes). Early Betty Boop, during her transitional period from dog to human. (Digital restoration from the original camera negative, courtesy of the Fleischer family.)
9:38 am Mysterious Mose (FleischerParamount, 1930; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Dave Fleischer, William Bowsky; voices: Marjorie Hines, Billy Murray (7 minutes). Another Fleischer Betty Boop and Bimbo cartoon, this one featuring Marjorie Hines doing the voice of Betty during her first stint in the part from 1930-32. (She would again provide the voice during 1938-39 after Mae Questel surrendered the role.) (Digital restoration from the original camera negative, courtesy of the Fleischer family.)
9:45 Seed (Universal, 1931; 35mm) D: John Stahl; John Boles, Lois Wilson, Genevieve Tobin, Bette Davis, Raymond Hackett, ZaSu Pitts (96 min.) Husband (John Boles) writes a successful novel, leaves wife (Lois Wilson) and five kids to marry another woman (Genevieve Tobin). Forced to keep writing to support his new wife in the manner to which she has become accustomed, he becomes a best-selling author and decides to ask his ex-wife for custody of the children, “for their sake.” Bette Davis (as one of the children grown-up) in her rarely-screened second film. “Here’s the picture people are talking about. And no wonder. It’s the most human drama that has come to the screen in a long time.” –Screenland
11:40 am Newman Laugh-O-Grams (Laugh-O-Gram Films, 1921; 35mm) D: Walt Disney; Walt Disney (3 minutes). In a sales film designed to attract a distributor for a prospective series of animated short subjects, Walt Disney creates some sample animation while sitting at his desk in his first studio (a rented garage). (Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.)
11:45 am Little Red Riding Hood (Laugh-O-Gram Films, 1922; 35mm) D: Walt Disney SILENT (6 minutes). Disney’s first theatrically-relelased film, a modernized re-telling of the classic fairy tale. (New restoration from the Museum of Modern Art Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.)
11:52 am Wet and Warmer (Henry Lehrman; 35mm) D: Henry Lehrman; Heine Conklin, Albert Ray, Charlotte Dawn, Virginia Rappé SILENT (20 minutes). Centered around a fire in a hotel, this knockabout comedy includes in a supporting role the ill-fate Virginia Rappé. “…a sure gloom chaser.” –Motion Picture News (UCLA Film & Television Archive preservation).
12:15 Celebrity (Pathé, 1928; 35mm) D: Tay Garnett; Lina Basquette, Robert Armstrong, Clyde Cook, Dot Farley (65 min.) The manager of a semi-illiterate boxer hires a “family” for him and promotes him as a Shakespeare scholar in order to capture the imagination of the public. Robert Armstrong’s second film, and the first feature helmed by prolific director Tay Garnett. “Three excellent performances by Robert Armstrong, the pug; Clyde Cook, manager; and Lina Basquette, gal snatched from a vaude smallie to pose as the Kid’s ‘fee-ancy.’” –Variety
2:15 Eric Grayson The King of the Kongo (Mascot, 1929) presentation (20 min.)
2:40 pm Somewhere in Dreamland (Fleischer/Paramount, 1936; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Dave Fleischer, Seymour Kneitel; voices: Mae Questel, Gus Wickie (7 minutes). An impoverished brother and sister have a surreal dream about a land of ice cream cones, fields of popcorn, and a chocolate syrup river. (New restoration from the original camera negative, courtesy of the Fleischer family.)
2:50 Glamour (Universal, 1934; 35mm) D: William Wyler; Constance Cummings, Paul Lukas, Phillip Reed, Doris Lloyd, Joseph Cawthorn, Alice Lake (73 minutes). A chorus girl (Constance Cummings) uses her wiles to persuade a noted songwriter (Paul Lukas) into writing numbers for her, eventually leading to their marriage. She gives birth to a child but neglects it in favor of her career. “Good adult entertainment…It has much human interest and the characters, because of their honesty towards each other, arouse sympathy…Not for children or Sunday shows.” –Harrison’s Reports
4:25 pm Jack and the Bean Stalk (Laugh-O-Grams, 1922 [35mm]) D: Walt Disney (8 minutes). An updating of the fairy tale, made during Disney’s first year of production. (Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.)
4:33 pm Goldie Locks and the Three Bears (Laugh-O-Grams, 1922 [35mm]) D: Walt Disney (7 minutes). Another updated fairy tale in the Disney Laugh-O-Gram series. (Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.)
4:40 pm Kitty from Kansas City (Fleischer/Paramount, 1931; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Dave Fleischer; Rudy Vallée, voices of Mae Questel and Ann Little (7 minutes). A Fleischer “bouncing-ball” sing-a-long with Rudy Vallée performing one of his hits and Betty Boop in the animated segments. (Restored from the original camera negative, courtesy of the Fleischer family.)
4:48 The First Year (Fox, 1932; 35mm) D: William K. Howard; Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Minna Gombell, Dudley Diggs (80 min.) Frank Craven’s hit Broadway comedy was the basis for another movie teaming Fox’s most romantic team, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, focusing on the early misadventures of a pair of newlyweds. “A bright, homey little picture.” –Photoplay.
6:05 Dinner break
Session #6 Silent movie accompaniment by Don Kinnier
7:50 pm The Rivals (Universal, 1923; digital presentation [DCP]) D: William Walton; Slim Summerville, Bobby Dunn, Esther Ralston SILENT (18 minutes). The first in a series of two-reel Universal comedies starring Slim Summerville and Bobby Dunn.
8:10 pm Ko-Ko’s Hot Dog (Fleischer/Paramount, 1928; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Dave Fleischer; Dave and Max Fleischer appear in the live-action sequences of this short, with Ko-Ko the Clown and Pup in the animated scenes. (Restored from the original camera negative, courtesy of the Fleischer family).
8:15 pm The Poor Nut (Jess Smith, 1927; 35mm) D: Richard Wallace; Jack Mulhall, Jean Arthur, Charles Murray, Jane Winton, Glenn Tryon SILENT (75 minutes). Based on the play by Elliott and J.C. Nugent concerning a mild botany student (Mulhall) who has a secret crush on a college beauty (Arthur), to whom he writes letters that are not intended for her or anyone else’s eyes. Things get complicated when an especially passionate example of one of these notes is accidentally mailed to her. “…the picture has laughs, human interest, appealing story, and should be a strong draw.” –Variety.
9:45 pm The Educated Fish (Fleischer/Paramount, 1937; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Dave Fleischer; voices: Rosita Dickerson, Diane Gibby (7 minutes). A stubborn fish leaves school and gets a valuable lesson on the importance of education in the real world. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject. (Restored from the original camera negative; screened courtesy of the Fleischer family.)
9:55 Radio Patrol (Universal, 1932) D: Edward L. Cahn; Robert Armstrong, Russell Hopton, Lila Lee, June Clyde, Sidney Toler, Andy Devine (65 min.) A tribute to the American policeman, chronicling the exploits of a couple of rookie officers. (Robert Armstong and Russell Hopton). “Full of suspense, action, thrills and tragedy; a story of an officer, tried and true on his daily beat.” –Photoplay.
All films are in 35mm unless noted; silents accompanied on the Capitol’s 1928 original installation Möller theater organ.
Sunday, August 14 DEALERS ROOM OPEN 9 AM
Session #7 Silent movie accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli and Don Kinnier.
9:10 am Moonlight and Pretzels (Universal, 1933; 35mm) D: Karl Freund; Leo Carrillo, Mary Brian, Roger Pryor, Herbert Rawlinson, Lillian Miles, William Frawley (83 minutes). Universal’s answer to Warner Bros.’ Busby Berkeley spectaculars, Moonlight and Pretzels concerns a vaudeville dancer (Roger Pryor) who finds himself stranded in a small town, where he finds employment in the heroine’s (Mary Brian) music store as a song plugger. One of the handful of features directed by famed cinematographer Karl Freund. Songs by Jay Gorney, E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, and Herman Hupfeld. “Excellent musical comedy entertainment. The music is catchy and the action is fast.” –Harrison’s Reports.
11:00 am Puss in Boots (Laugh-O-Grams, 1922; 35mm) D: Walt Disney; SILENT (7 minutes). A Walt Disney Laugh-O-Gram, updating the famed fairy tale. (Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.)
11:10 am Cinderella (Laugh-O-Grams, 1922; 35mm) D: Walt Disney SILENT (8 minutes). Disney’s first version of Cinderella, preceding his studio’s feature version by 28 years. (Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.)
11:20 am A Jazzed Honeymoon (Roach, 1919; 35mm) D: Hal Roach; Harold Lloyd, Bebe Daniels, Snub Pollard, Bud Jamieson SILENT (10 minutes). An early Harold Lloyd glasses character short (and rarely screened, especially in a good print), this one finds him accidentally left behind on his honeymoon and separated from his bride (Daniels). (Restored film print from UCLA Film & Television Archives.)
11:35 am The Roaring Road (Famous Players-Lasky, 1919) D: James Cruze; Wallace Reid, Ann Little, Theodore Roberts, Guy Oliver SILENT (60 minutes). In this good-natured adventure comedy Wallace Reid is a young man with two ambitions: to marry the boss’s (Theodore Roberts) daughter (Ann Little), and to drive a racing car. The race between an auto and a train from Los Angeles to San Francisco serves as the grand finale. “The picture is first rate comedy with a lot of corking thrills.” –Variety.
Session #8 Silent movie accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli
1:50 pm I Love That Man (Paramount, 1933) D: Harry Joe Brown; Edmund Lowe, Nancy Carroll, Robert Armstrong, Lew Cody (70 min.) A con-man (Edmund Lowe) falls in love with a girl (Nancy Carroll) who wants him to go straight. “A lot of new angles to polite (and not so polite) racketeering are furnished in I Love That Man, Charles Rogers’ latest for Paramount. And right smartly done, too. The picture is well-paced, the story is full of good twists and intelligently developed….The best feature of I Love That Man is in its writing. The story encompasses the old theme of a crook’s regeneration, but herein it is embellished with some very amusing situations, original ideas and the kind of fast talk that gets laughs…” –Hollywood Reporter
3:00 Above the Clouds (Columbia, 1933; digital presentation [DCP]) D: Roy William Neil; Robert Armstrong, Richard Cromwell, Dorothy Wilson, Edmund Breese. (68 min.) Depicts the rivalry between a young newsreel photographer (Richard Cromwell) and a veteran of the trade (Robert Armstrong), and the dangers they encounter on the job. “A thrilling picture with plenty of air action and a climax in which a dirigible cracks in mid-air…” –Photoplay
4:25 The Fire Brigade (Warner Bros., 1926) D: William Nigh; May McAvoy, Charles Ray, Holmes Herbert, Tom O’Brien (90 min.) SILENT Charles Ray, a young recruit in the local fire department, the latest in a line of a family of firefighters, battles a greedy millionaire who tries to cut corners in the construction of his buildings. New 35mm restoration from the Library of Congress. “The Fire Brigade has more thrills than any picture in a year or more.” –Picture Play
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.