A hundred years ago … The Midnight Girl and the cinema in 1919

Adolph Philipp and Marie Pagano in The Midnight Girl (1919)

Adolph Philipp and Marie Pagano in The Midnight Girl (1919)

We’re standing on the verge of the Roaring Twenties all over again. It’s often instructive (and fun!) to look back at how cinema has advanced in a century and 1919 was a particularly strong year for the movies. As the Cento anni fa strand at Il Cinema Ritrovato proved this year, many films we now acknowledge as silent classics were released just before the feted 1920s began. In 1919, the war in Europe had ended, Hollywood was growing strong, the feature film was rapidly becoming a fixture, and things were about to get very interesting in Germany. At the 20th British Silent Film Festival, we’re commemorating the anniversary of the Weimar Republic by looking at the fascinating German cinema of this period and its global influence too.

We’ll be screening several diverse films from 1919 at this year’s festival in Leicester: from Mauritz Stiller’s captivating Swedish drama Song of the Scarlet Flower starring Lars Hanson, to Maurice Elvey’s WWI movie Comradeship and Ernst Lubitsch’s frenetic comedy The Oyster Princess. One of the 1919 films on the slate is likely to be unfamiliar to most of us – The Midnight Girl, a charming two-reel comedy, which reveals the extent of the influence not just German culture but the New York stage had on mid-period silent cinema. Not only that, but our screening of the film will be very special.

Adolph Philipp, the writer and director of The Midnight Girl,  was born in Germany but ran away as a teenager to join an acting troupe. In the early 20th century he opened a theatre in New York, where he staged many of his own musicals for the substantial German-speaking audience in the city, as well as selling his sheet music. Continue reading

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20th British Silent Film Festival – Song of the Scarlet Flower (1919)

11-15 September 2019

Highlights

Sången om den eldröda blomman (The Song of the Scarlet Flower)

Dir: Mauritz Stiller, Sweden 1919, 1hr 41mins, recorded music.

Lars Hansen in The Song of the Scarlet Flower

A big-budget classic from the golden age of Swedish silent cinema starring Lars Hanson as the wilful homme fatale and farmers’ son Olof who is expelled from home after a familial disagreement. Olof joins an itinerant group of loggers who ride the rapids down the local river. But despite his bravado and logging prowess, Olof can’t forget a woman he left behind. Stunning location cinematography and a justifiably famous log-riding sequence highlight the relationship between humans and their magisterial landscape. The original music score by Armas Jarnefelt, who along with Sibelius was Finland’s most popular composer, is here reproduced to perfection.  

20th British Silent Film Festival – rare British silents

11-15 September 2019

Highlights

British silent rarities from the Archive Film Agency

Dir: Various, UK, 80mins

Mr O’Kelly Takes His Missus to Southend
A Merry Night

A selection of comedies and drama from the 1910s and early 1920s, recently digitised from nitrate originals by the Archive Film Agency and unseen in the UK for decades. A Merry Night is a drunken comedy with some disorientating special effects, The Nervous Curate and The Curate’s Double both feature hapless clergymen, always good for a joke as are henpecked husbands in Mr O’Kelly Takes His Missus to Southend. Part II of the programme changes tone and features H.B Parkinson’s 1922 A Tale of Two Cities with Clive Brook in an early role and Fred Paul’s 1921 The Oath made as part of the Grande Guignol series.

20th British Silent Film Festival – early news

11-15 September

Highlights

Below are just some of the films that we will be screening as part of the 20th British Silent Film Festival at the Phoenix in Leicester. We will post the final programme on the site once all films have been confirmed. More information to follow.

Comradeship (Maurice Elvey, UK, 1919)

Guy Newell in Comradeship

One of the first British films made after the Armistice and the first produced by the Stoll Company. Comradeship covers the sweep of WWI on the home front and battlefield, on class relations, the role of women and the plight of wounded soldiers returning to civilian life. It was also one of the first films screen as part of the 1st BSFF in 1998. Starring Guy Newell, Gerald Ames and Lily Elsie. Introduced by Maurice Elvey expert Lucie Dutton.

Tell Me Tonight ( Anatole Litvak, UK/Ger, 1933)

Magda Schneider in Tell Me Tonight

An engaging musical comedy, starring Magda Schneider and Jan Kiepura, set in Switzerland and based around the popular song of the title. German star, Magda Schneider plays the local Mayor’s daughter and Kiepura , a famous Italian tenor who exchanges places with a fugitive in order to escape the limelight for a time.  Tell Me Tonight was a German co-production, this time filmed in UFA’s Babelsberg Studios and directed by the talented Anatole Litvak. An engaging musical comedy set in Switzerland and based around the popular song of the title. German star, Magda Schneider plays the local Mayor’s daughter and Kiepura , a famous Italian tenor who exchanges places with a fugitive in order to escape the limelight for a time. 

The Runaway Princess (Anthony Asquith and Fritz Wenhausen, UK/Ger, 1928)

A British –German co-production based on Elizabeth Russell’s 1905 riches-to-rags novel, Princess Priscilla’s Fortnight. Starring Mady Christians, Paul Cavanagh and Fred Rains . Christians stars as the lonely Ruritanian princess, betrothed to a man she has never met, who runs away to London with her professor (Rains) to escape her arranged marriage and meets the handsome detective sent in pursuit!

20th British Silent Film Festival – how to book

11-15 September 2019

2019 Booking Information & Prices

We have managed to negotiate the same prices as 2017 – see below for details.

TICKET INFORMATION
Festival 5-day pass   £110 / £90 concs / £90 Under 25
Festival 1-day pass   £40 / £35 concs / £35 Under 25
5 Day Passes include tickets to all screenings and events, Single Day Passes include tickets to screenings and events on the chosen day. All passes include lunch and refreshments each day.

Book via Phoenix Box Office 0116 242 2800.

20th British Silent Film Festival

September 11 – 15 2019

Phoenix Cinema, Leicester

The 20th British Silent Film Festival will again take place at the Phoenix Cinema here in Leicester from 11-15 September. This year’s festival will celebrate the centenary of the birth of the Weimar Republic – specifically German Expressionist cinema and its global influence between 1919 and 1932, particularly on British film.

We are fortunate here in Leicester to have the foremost collection of Expressionist art outside Germany, held at the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, which where we’ll also be screening films to draw links between film and the other arts.  See the website for more details of the exhibition.

Other highlights include Neil Brand presenting Laurel and Hardy, a programme of Victorian short films restored to their former breath-taking glory, early horror films like The Phantom of the Moulin Rouge, an early Anthony Asquith gem, The Runaway Princess, the stunning Battle for the Matterhorn (Der Kampf ums Matterhorn), based on the true story of Edward Whymper’s first ascent of the Matterhorn and Tell Me Tonight, a 1932 British musical comedy, which was co-production between Gainsborough Pictures and the German firm Cine-Allianz. We will also be screening the German comedy The Oyster Princess  (Die Austernprinzessin), directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

Further details of films and the full programme will be posted later.

Festival tickets, day and full passes will shortly be available from Phoenix Cinema:  0116 2422800

1918: At Home, At War

Films, music and stories celebrating

100 years since the end of World War One

November 15th at New Walk Museum in Leicester 

Free Event – Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start

As part of the centenary commemorations Neil Brand, composer, author, presenter (Radio 4’s Film Programme and BBC4’s ‘Sound of…’ series) and historian of early film and WW1 introduces and accompanies this fascinating programme of films, music, stories and readings from the pivotal year of 1918.

Joined onstage by readers, he invites us into a lost world of wartime activity on the Western and Home fronts – while the soldiers attempt to break the deadlock with the disastrous Battle of the Somme and the first appearance of “The Wonder Weapon”, The Tank, their wives and families at home are struggling to keep the home fires burning, ‘making do and mending’ and learning to create luxurious suet puddings from potatoes, as recommended by Henry Edwards and Chrissie White, the Brangelina of their day.

This is a free event organised as part of DMU Local, to book a ticket please email: local@dmu.ac.uk giving your name/s and stating ‘1918’ in the subject line

Organised in association with the British Silent Film Festival and Film Tramp

DMU Local
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