1936. USA. Dir: Charles Chaplin. With Chaplin. 87 min. 35mm print.
Despite the industry-wide dominance of talkies by the mid-1930s, silent cinema’s beloved Little Tramp still waddled about Hollywood’s finest backlots in oversized shoes. From dizzying assembly lines and hazardous machinery to blindfolded rollerskating, Chaplin’s Depression-era critique of industrialism stands as one of his most iconic works.
1925. USA. Dir: Buster Keaton. With Keaton. Approx 90 min, including shorts.
Buster can claim his inheritance if he gets married in a day, but the poor lad just can’t seem to catch a break. Either he’s being rejected by every gal he knows, or he’s being chased over streets and hillsides by a hundred ferocious would-be-brides. Live musical accompaniment by Ben Model (MoMA) and some short films round out a night of slapstick hijinks.
1932. Japan. Dir: Yasujiro? Ozu. With Tatsuo Saito?, Tomio Aoki. 100 min.
This self-described “picture book for grownups” follows two young brothers making a name for themselves as leaders of the neighborhood gang. Meanwhile, their father sits amongst the dregs of the business world as a lowly office clerk. Revered director Ozu offers a tender reminder of the richness in Japan’s largely unseen silent filmmaking tradition.
1927. Germany. Dir: Fritz Lang. With Brigitte Helm. 123 min.
If you prefer your futuristic robo-gal to be a destructive doppelganger leading the working class to rebellion against the overlords of their dystopian society, then this ornate and influential silent fable should be right up your alley – and oh what a twisted, Expressionist alley that is. Accompanist Ben Model (MoMA) returns to improvise a live organ score.