Buster Keaton’s final word

Buster Keaton’s final word

This piece was originally published by the Toronto Star on March 5, 2013. It appears here in a slightly edited form. Buster Keaton, who rose to fame in the 1920s, directed and starred in some of the most famous films of the silent era. The General (1926) is ranked 34th on Sight and Sound magazine’s list of the 50 greatest films of all time. Nearly four decades later, during a chilly October in 1965, Keaton was in Toronto, appearing…

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Charles Dickens in the silent era

Charles Dickens in the silent era

This article was originally published by the Toronto Star on December 28, 2012. The silent era saw the production of about 100 films based on Dickens’ work. Eight shorts, made between 1901 and 1912 — including the earliest filmed version of A Christmas Carol — will be shown on Monday as part of the Dickens on Screen series at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Capturing Dickens on film was an obvious leap for filmmakers, says Adrian Wootton,…

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The Canadian plays Loew’s Yonge St. Theatre

One of my favourites screened at last year’s giornate del cinema muto in Pordenone, William Beaudine’s The Canadian — based on W. Somerset Maugham’s play, The Land of Promise — premiered at Toronto’s Loew’s Yonge St. Theatre on January 10, 1927. Produced in 1926, The Canadian was released in a year that saw nearly twenty films, including another Famous Players-Lasky hit, Mantrap, set in Canada or involving aspects of the burgeoning Canadian identity. Far from…

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Film projectionists in the digital age

Earlier this year, I wrote about how the advent of sound ended the careers of many silent film musicians who’d long been employed in Toronto movie houses. I expand on the sometimes turbulent history of labour relations in exhibition by looking at modern-day film projectionists and how they’re coping with the digital age. Originally published by The Globe & Mail in November, 2011. The lobby of the 97-year-old Fox Theatre in the Beaches is decorated with classic…

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Canadian horror cinema turns 50

If a modern-day horror film were shot in the Royal Ontario Museum, a director might be inclined to set some action in the museum’s bat cave. But the revered exhibit didn’t exist 50 years ago when Julian Roffman directed The Mask, a psychological 3-D horror film which made use of the museum’s iconic totem pole. Premiering at Toronto’s Downtown Theatre on November 10, 1961, it ushered Canadian cinema into the horror genre established by Hollywood…

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