Saturday, July 9, 2011

Phil sees RAFFLES, THE AMATEUR CRACKSMAN at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-July 9, 2011

Once again I visited one of my favorite places in the world, The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in the Niles District of Fremont. Every Saturday I have my routine: I start off having dinner at Bronco Billy's Pizza Palace, where I get see my friends Heather, Dave, Marcy, and the rest of the crew. After filling my belly, I headed on over to the Edison Theater, where tonight the museum showed a very cool and rare John Barrymore film. It was preceded by two shorts, and on the piano tonight was the fantastic Frederick Hodges.

John Barrymore (1882-1942)
Th first short was FOX TROT FINESSE, a funny film about a married man Ferdie Crosby (Sidney Drew) who's married to fox trot dancing wife Eva (Mrs. Sidney Drew) and her awful mother-in-law (Ethel Lee). Before TV sitcoms became the norm, the Drews were pioneers, having a series of films that showcased domestic life in a humours fashion. The Drews were really married in real life, which makes the film even more funny. The film was released by the Vitagraph Company on October 1, 1915.

The second short of the night was THE SILENT TRAILER, starring the museum's favorite police crime dog Fearless. In the film Fearless plays Prince, a family dog who must protect the family from a pair of con artists. The film was released by Van Pelt Productions on October 1, 1926.

After a brief intermission, the program continued with RAFFLES, THE AMATEUR CRACKSMAN, starring the famous John Barrymore as A.J. Raffles. Raffles is London's best cricket player, who just also happens to be the best thief as well. While attending a party, Raffles becomes aware of a highly sought after necklace. He soon sets his eyes on what will become his greatest  theft of all, but he must avoid the police as well as a woman who encountered a year before, and can identify him. The film was released by L. Lawrence Webber Photo Dramas Inc. on December 15, 1917.

Many people may know who Barrymore is, and many have seen his other, more popular silent films like SHERLOCK HOLMES, DON JUAN, and my favorite film of his,  DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. But here was a chance to see an earlier film of his that I didn't know still existed. It was very exciting to see Barrymore in all his glory, and giving us the opportunity to see it for the first time. A really cool and entertaining crime thriller!

Another fun night at the Edison Theater. To learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, how to become a member, and view their film schedule, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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