Sunday, November 13, 2011

Phil sees THE COAST PATROL at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-November 12, 2011

Hello there everybody! Hope you fine folks are had fun this weekend! I sure did, because this past Saturday I made my way back to the Edison Theater in Niles, home of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Once again I took a trip back in time to when films were silent, but spoke profoundly to us all. The program consisted of two shorts and our feature presentation. But first up the shorts...

MABEL'S BLUNDER (1914): Starring the funny and enchanting Mabel Normand, the film's about out Mabel being engaged to Harry (Harry McCoy), but his dad (Charles Bennett) has his eye on her as well. But when Harry's sister (Eva Nelson) comes by for a visit, Mabel thinks his cheating on her. Soon it's a barrage of laughs and mistaken identities involving her brother (Al St. John) and Mabel dressing up as a driver. Also look for a guest appearance by none other than future Hal Roach star Charley Chase. The film was released by the Keystone Film Company on October 14, 1914.

THE HALFBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1924):  Starring Harry Gibson, Madeline Hurlock, and Jack Cooper, this comedy is about the college life: funny football games gags, slapstick dentistry techniques, and other hilarious hijinks. The film was produced and distributed by comedy king Mack Sennett on February 24, 1924.

Fay Wray (1907-2004)
After a brief intermission, the show continued with the main feature. THE COAST PATROL was the first starring role for an up and coming actress named Fay Wray, who was just 17 years old when the film was made. Wray plays Beth, a tomboyish girl who was adopted by the old lighthouse keeper. But her sheltered life is turned upside down when she saves a woman named Valerie (Claire de Lorez) from drowning. Aiding Beth in the rescue is Dale Ripley (Kenneth MacDonald) from the coast patrol and all three are safely returned to shore. However unknown to our heroes, Valerie is secretly partners with a man named Eric Marmont (Gino Corrado), a local smuggler who posses as a "titled foreigner" as his cover. He rents a boat from Beth's father and tries to seduce her into marrying him. But soon Dale discovers Eric's true identity and tries to save Beth from grave danger!

This was a great little film that was a pleasure to see, especially with seeing Wray so young in both her age and career. Wray's Beth is visibly inhabited by a tomboy spirit, and she plays the lightweight part well. Her scenes with her adoptive father are perhaps her most dramatic.The film was released by the Bud Barsky Corporation in August of 1925.

A long, lost silent film finally being rediscovered is of the many reasons I love coming to the museum's Saturday night shows! If you would like to learn more about the museum, their film schedule, and how to become a member, please visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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