Saturday, June 25, 2011

Phil attends the 14th Annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival: Day One-June 24, 2011

It's hard to believe that it's been a whole year, but it's that time again. The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum's Annual Broncho Billy FIlm Festival kicked off today and boy what a kick off it was! The museum opened up its doors for a meet & greet, and food and punch poured like fine wine. Afterwards the show began with introductions by film historian Robert Birchard and on the piano was the amazing Bruce Loeb.

Comedian Billy Bevan
The first short screened was THE GOLF NUT, a one-reeler film starring Billy Bevan and Vernon Dent. Bevan plays golf expert who is far from an expert. Needless to say, this was a funny film and a perfect example of an early golf comedy film, long before CADDYSHACK and HAPPY GILMORE became synonymous with the sport. Beven began his career in Australia and joined a theater troupe which toured North America. He was discovered by Mack Sennett and made numerous films for him over the next ten years, and then transitioned to became a reliable comedy actor in Hollywood films for the next twenty years. Bevan also worked as a voiceover actor for cartoons. THE GOLF NUT was released by Mack Sennett Comedies (the company he formed after the folding of Keystone Films)  on September 4, 1927.

Comedian Ben Turpin
The second short was a Ben Turpin classic. WHEN A MAN'S A PRINCE stars our friend as a prince of a mystical and make believe country who is being forced to marry a princess that he wishes he wasn't. The film is a parody of the popular Erich von Stroheim films, which he directed and starred in as the romantic lead. Turpin does a hilarious job at poking fun at Stroheim, with his trademark cross-eyed stare, cheesy little mustache, and short statuesque build, the film was just perfect. Did I also mention it was hilarious? Ok, just making sure. The film was produced by Mack Sennett Comedies (same as the previous short) and was released to theaters on August 15, 1926.
Theatrical Movie Poster (1924)

After a brief intermission, the festival continued with the screening of MANHANDLED starring the beautiful Gloria Swanson. In the film Swanson plays Tessie McGuire, a department store clerk who yearns to join the cream of high society. When her boyfriend Jimmy (Tom Moore) forgets about their date, Tessie and her friend Pinkie (Lilyan Tashman) attend a party at the studio of Robert Brandt (Ian Keith). While Tessie is fighting off her male suitors, Jimmy is selling his in car invention in Detroit and thus becomes a millionaire. Upon returning home to his love, Jimmy accuses Tessie of being "manhandled" and breaks up with her. She prays for him to return to her, which he does and they all live happily ever after.

Gloria Swanson is so beautiful, and her performance in the film was incredible. She was able to showcase a wide range of emotions in the film. From silly impersonations to tear-jerking drama, Swanson's acting ability shines through in every scene she's in. The film is based on the short story of the same name by Arthur Stringer in the Saturday Evening Post in 1924. The film was directed by Allan Dwan and was released by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation (better known as Paramount Pictures) on July 24, 1924.

What a great why to kick off the film festival! There are still more shows on both Saturday and Sunday. To view the festival film schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the museum's website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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