Silent Sundays

Silent Sundays is Toronto’s only semi-monthly, year-long celebration of silent cinema.

The series launched in 2009 with the intention of screening silent films in an authentic silent movie house like The Revue Cinema, which opened in 1912. Featuring family-friendly comedies and adventure films, the series caters to the Revue’s neighbourhood crowd, and the results have consistently filled the century-old cinema’s seats with cinephiles, families and the uninitiated alike. The National Post‘s Lia Grainger says the atmosphere “is so convincing it makes you want to check that your bonnet isn’t blocking anyone’s view” and that it showcases “a simple charm rarely duplicated in cinema today.”

When time permits, features are accompanied by a short film, and always preceded by topical slide-show and musical hit parade playlist from the film’s release year.

Programmer: Alicia Fletcher
Resident accompanist: William O’Meara
Presentation: 35mm, 16mm, HD
Venue: The Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Ave., Toronto. (416) 531-9950

For media or sponsorship information, please contact us.

Top image edited from 1935 photo of the Revue credited to the Archives of Ontario.

Buster Keaton in THE NAVIGATOR (1924) – June 2014

Dir. Donald Crisp (1924)

Starring Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, and Frederick Vroom
90 min., including short

Well, Buster’s really done it this time: after suffering a rejected marriage proposal, Keaton (here as spoiled playboy Rollo Treadway) embarks on a solo honeymoon trip to Honolulu, only to find himself adrift on a helmless ship without a steward in sight.

Up against swordfish, a ravenous octopus, and an island of cannibals, a newly self-reliant Keaton battles the seas, all while protecting the girl of his dreams and remaining as stoic as ever. Some of Keaton’s most memorable stunts can be seen here, including a hilarious deep-sea dive!

According to the New York Times in 1924, “The Navigator is an excellent panacea for melancholia or lethargy, as it is filled with ludicrous and intensely humorous situations…” – or, in other words, it’s the perfect Silent Sundays season closer and a great family outing!

THE LOST WORLD – DECEMBER 9 2013

THE LOST WORLD (1925)
Dir. by Harry O. Hoyt
Based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Starring Wallace Beery, Bessie Love, Lewis StoneSpecial Effects by Willis O’Brien
16mm | 106 mins.

Live piano accompaniment by Tania Gill
It might feel like another Ice Age is approaching, so come warm up and enjoy the stop-motion animation epic, The Lost World (1925)! Before the classic adventure epics King Kong, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and Jason & The Argonauts was The Lost World, Willis O’Brien’s first major foray into feature-length stop-motion animation. With all its Brontosaurus-stomping, city-destroying fun, the film is balanced with a romantic subplot, typical of the silent era.

Explorer Professor Challenger (Wallace Beery) is taking quite a beating in the London press thanks to his claim that living dinosaurs exist in the far reaches of the Amazon. Newspaper reporter Edward Malone learns that this claim originates from a diary given to him by fellow explorer Maple White’s daughter, Paula (Bessie Love). Malone’s paper funds an expedition to rescue Maple White, who has been marooned at the top of a high plateau. Joined by renowned hunter John Roxton, and others, the group goes to South America, where they do indeed find a plateau inhabited by pre-historic creatures, one of which they even manage to bring back to London with them.

As part of the Silent Sundays tradition, a live musical performance will accompany the film. Composer and pianist Tania Gill joins us at The Revue, marking her first performance for Silent Sundays!

In keeping with the Jurassic theme, Winsor McKay’s beloved silent animated short, Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) will precede the feature. Note: a very special Vaudeville-esque surprise will accompany Gertie!

Silent Sundays is Toronto’s only dedicated, year-long celebration of silent cinema. Screenings take place at the 100-year-old Revue, where some of the silent films shown actually played there upon their respective premieres.
The series, now in its fourth season, is curated by media archivist Alicia Fletcher and journalist Eric Veillette.

“… the atmosphere is so convincing it makes you want to check that your bonnet isn’t blocking anyone’s view.” – Lia Grainger, National Post

Members – $10
Non Members – $12

F.W. Murnau’s THE LAST LAUGH – APRIL 29

The Last Laugh (Der letzte Mann – 1924)
Directed by F.W. Murnau
Written by Carl MayerStarring Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft

75 mins | 16mmLegendary German director F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece offers us a peep-hole view into the life of an aging hotel porter (Jannings), too enfeebled to carry out his tasks, who is demoted to the role of bathroom attendant. The film explores integrity, pride, and the importance of rank and uniform in post-war Germany,With one exception, the film’s lack of inter-titles offers the audience a more immersive, purely visual experience, courtesy of master cinematographer Karl Freund.The portly actor, who later starred alongside Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel, was the first German film star to prosper in the United States. And whereas flappers like Louise Brooks or Clara Bow could convey their intentions using a coy smile or the batting of an eye-lash, Jannings expresses his fall from grace using his entire body.

Only twenty-nine at the time, Jannings’ performance is one of the most lauded in silent film history. As Matthew Josephson wrote in the contemporary Masters of the Motion Picture: “The idiotic old creature is interpreted with as much eclat, sympathy, intimacy, and frankness, as let us say, Chaplin interprets Chaplin.”

Featuring live piano accompaniment by Laura Silberberg.

Introduced by Charlie Keil, associate professor of Cinema Studies, University of Toronto

Preceded by Glimpses of Toronto, a late 1920s silent travelogue showing Toronto at the time of the film’s Ontario premiere in 1928.

Co-presented by Silent Toronto and the Goethe Institut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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February 26, 2012: William A. Wellman’s Wings

Silent Sundays, Toronto’s only ongoing, year-long celebration of silent cinema, returns on February 26 with a special Oscar-day screening at the Revue Cinema with William A. Wellman’s thrilling aviation epic, Wings, the first Best Picture winner!

Wings
Directed by William A. Wellman
Starring Clara Bow, Charles Rogers, Richard Arlen, Gary Cooper
Written by John Monk Sanders & Hope Loring
1927 | 139 min (plus intermission) | 16mm

Featuring live piano accompaniment by William O’Meara.

About the film

Clara Bow, the “It” girl of the 1920s, is the starlet most often requested by our audience members and we’re glad she’s finally gracing the Revue’s silver screen, in William A. Wellman’s epic tale of World War I aviation.

In the early 20th century, most people experienced flight not in the seat of a rickety bi-plane, but in the seat of a theatre. In the annals of aviation films, Wings was one of the first big Hollywood productions to make the spectator feel as though they were smack dab in the middle of the action.

Jack Powell (Rogers, who later married Toronto’s own Mary Pickford) enlists for the Air Service with his pal David Armstrong (Arlen). After rigorous training, where they meet budding star Gary Cooper, they are sent to France to fight the Germans. Mary (Bow), who fancied David back home, joins the Ambulance service overseas and runs into him during the film’s Parisian nightclub sequence, which features some dazzling, bubbling cinematography (Clip here, courtesy of the TCM blogs). Bow, not playing her usual Fifth Avenue flapper, is coquettish but still drop-dead sexy as a kind-hearted girl next door.

But any kind of romance takes second stage over the film’s dazzling aerial visuals. Upon its premiere at the Princess Theatre on January 9, 1928, the Toronto Daily Star said that Wellman’s picture “is one of swift thrilling action in the air, in which one rides with the winged knights with a realism never before attained in film art. One rides with a victor one moment, with the vanquished the next. One thrills with conquest, shudders in the stark reality of death, and wonders as bullets dot the instrument board.”

16mm print courtesy of a private collector.

About the accompanist

Musical accompaniment was an integral part of the silent era. The Revue once again welcomes pianist William O’Meara, who has gained worldwide recognition for his silent film work. He has performed at the TIFF Cinematheque, Nuit Blanche, the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, Italy and as far east as Perm, Russia, where he played the organ to the noted Russian silent, Man with a Movie Camera.

About the series

This month, Silent Sundays celebrates its thirteenth screening. Launched in 2009 with the intention of screening silent films in an authentic silent movie house like The Revue, which opened in 1912. By selecting family-friendly comedies and adventure films, the series caters to the Revue’s neighbourhood crowd, and the results have consistently filled the Revue’s seats with cinephiles, families and the uninitiated alike. The National Post‘s Lia Grainger says the atmosphere “is so convincing it makes you want to check that your bonnet isn’t blocking anyone’s view” and that it showcases “a simple charm rarely duplicated in cinema today.

Silent Sundays screens at the Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Ave., on Sunday, February 26, 4pm. Admission is $12 for non-members, $10 members, and $7 for seniors and children. Doors open at 3:45PM. Come early and enjoy our silent-era slide-show and hear the top musical hits of 1927!

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January 15, 2012: King Vidor’s La Boheme

Silent Sundays, Toronto’s only year-long celebration of silent cinema, returns for our winter screening at the Revue Cinema with King Vidor’s devastating love story, La Boheme, on Sunday, January 15.

La Boheme
Directed by King Vidor
Starring Lillian Gish, John Gilbert, Renee Adoree
Based on the book by Henri Murger
1926 | 120 min | 16mm

Featuring live piano accompaniment by William O’Meara.

About the film

With the modern-day silent film The Artist in full Oscar contention, Silent Sundays returns with a true gem from the silent era. Two of its greatest stars (Gish, Gilbert) and one of its greatest directors (Vidor) presented the screen’s first adaptation of Puccini’s opera, La Boheme. Gish, at the height of her stardom, plays Mimi, an orphaned embroiderer about to lose her Paris apartment, who falls in love with Rodolphe (Gilbert), a playwright in the same predicament. Rarely screened and unavailable on DVD in Canada, this devastating love story was a box office smash for Metro Goldwyn Mayer upon its release and played to packed houses for two solid weeks in Toronto’s Regent Theatre in May, 1926.

About the accompanist

Musical accompaniment was an integral part of the silent era. The Revue once again welcomes pianist William O’Meara, who has gained worldwide recognition for his silent film work. He has performed at the TIFF Cinematheque, Nuit Blanche, the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Podenone, Italy and as far east as Perm, Russia, where he played the organ to the noted Russian silent, Man with a Movie Camera.

About the series

Silent Sundays launched in 2009 with the intention of screening silent films in an authentic silent movie house like The Revue, which opened in 1912. By selecting family-friendly comedies and adventure films, the series caters to the Revue’s neighbourhood crowd, and the results have consistently filled the Revue’s seats with cinephiles, families and the uninitiated alike. The National Post‘s Lia Grainger says the atmosphere “is so convincing it makes you want to check that your bonnet isn’t blocking anyone’s view” and that it showcases “a simple charm rarely duplicated in cinema today.”

Silent Sundays screens at the Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles, on Sunday, January 15, 4pm. Admission is $12 for non-members, $10 members, and $7 for seniors and children. Doors open at 3:45PM. Come early and enjoy our silent era slideshow and hear the top musical hits of 1926!

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October 30, 2011: Paul Leni’s The Cat & The Canary

Silent Sundays, our long-running celebration of silent cinema, returns for a special Halloween screening at the Revue Cinema with Paul Leni’s moody and gag-filled The Cat and the Canary on Sunday, October 30 at 4:00 p.m.

Directed by Paul Leni
From the stage play by John Willard
Starring Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Arthur Edmund Carewe
1927 | 82 mins | 16mm

Featuring live piano accompaniment by Laura Silberberg. The feature will be preceded by a short film.

About the film

Overshadowed by horror masterpieces of the 1920s like F.W.  Murnau’s Nosferatu and Rupert Julien’s The Phantom of the Opera, German director Paul Leni offered Hollywood two under-rated gems: The Man Who Laughs and The Cat and the Canary. The latter, a rarely-screened, stylized haunded house whodunit features just enough laughs to entertain the kids!

Influencing later “old dark house” films, the atmospheric silent introduces Annabelle West (La Plante) as the sole inheritor of a family will, provided she is deemed sane. Events take a mysterious turn when the lawyer disappears and Annabelle’s sanity comes into question. Based on a famous stage play, the film was dubbed “The Mystery Thriller of the stage filmed with new effects!”

When it premiered at the Uptown Theatre in September of 1927, the Daily Star called the film an audience phenomenon: “No audience ever shrieked quite so hard and so often here as that at the opening performances of this adaptaion of the well-known ghost play.”

The haunted house whodunit genre was popular genre throughout the 1920s. D.W. Griffith’s One Exciting Night was released in 1922 and Lon Chaney had spooked audiences in The Bat in 1926, but the Daily Star was quick to praise The Cat and the Canary: ”The fun in this ghost picture that so much resembles The Bat is created by the unexpected — not always the usual. There is nothing in the ghost technique of this that Lon Chaney and The Bat producer and other mystery people have not exploited. But the characters are more uncommon and the atmosphere are of the spook sort, less of the sheerly fantastic.”

About the accompanist

Silent Sundays welcomes Laura Silberberg, a Doctoral student in music composition at the University of Toronto. She has composed music in a variety of genres, including orchestral, chamber, choral, electroacoustic and top 40/popular music. Laura also composed the score for a children’s musical, In Harmony, which has been published and performed in Canada and the United States. Laura’s compositions and piano improvisations have been featured live on CBC Radio’s Here and Now show three times, as Metro Morning with Andy Barrie.

Laura has performed her compositions across Canada, the United States and in Japan. Her compositions have been performed by such renowned performers as the Gryphon Trio, Beverley Johnston and Peter Stoll, and the Amadeus Choir, having won the International Amadeus Songwriting Competition nine times. Laura was honoured by Maclean’s Magazine as one of 50 up and coming young Canadians under 30. She has received several scholarships from the University of Toronto for academic and musical excellence as well as three Ontario Graduate Scholarships.

Laura has accompanied several silent films at TIFF Bell Lightbox, the Toronto International Film Festival as well as the Toronto Silent Film Festival.

About the series

Silent Sundays launched in 2009 with the intention of screening silent films in an authentic silent movie house like The Revue, which opened in 1912. By selecting family-friendly comedies and adventure films, the series caters to the Revue’s neighbourhood crowd, and the results have consistently filled the century-old cinema’s seats with cinephiles, families and the uninitiated alike. The National Post‘s Lia Grainger says the atmosphere “is so convincing it makes you want to check that your bonnet isn’t blocking anyone’s view” and that it showcases “a simple charm rarely duplicated in cinema today.”

The Revue Cinema is located at 400 Roncesvalles Ave. Show starts at 4pm. Admission is $12 non-members/$10 members/$7 seniors & children.

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June 26, 2011: Douglas Fairbanks is Don Q, Son of Zorro!

Silent Sundays, our long-running celebration of silent cinema, celebrates its second anniversary at the Revue Cinema with Douglas Fairbanks in Don Q, Son of Zorro, on Sunday, June 26 at 4:00 p.m.

Directed by Donald Crisp
Written by Jack Cunningham and Kate Prichard
Starring Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Astor, Jean Herscholt
1925 | 105 mins | 16mm

Featuring live piano accompaniment by the acclaimed William O’Meara.

About the film

A follow-up to The Mark of Zorro (1920) sees swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks reprise his role as the famed masked avenger, this time playing his whip-cracking son. Studying abroad, Don Q spends most of his time loving, fighting and most importantly, defending his family’s honour after he is framed for murder by a jealous rival. An underrated entry in the canon of the silent star most famous for The Thief of Bagdad, Robin Hood and The Black Pirate, Don Q packs plenty of thrills and a great performance by Mary Astor (The Maltese Falcon)

The film will be introduced by media archivist and Fairbanks scholar Alicia Fletcher.

About the accompanist

Musical accompaniment was an integral part of the silent era. The Revue once again welcomes pianist William O’Meara, who has gained worldwide recognition for his silent film work. He has performed at the TIFF Cinematheque, Nuit Blanche, the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Italy and as far east as Perm, Russia, where he played the organ to the noted Russian silent, Man with a Movie Camera.

About the series

Silent Sundays launched in 2009 with the intention of screening silent films in an authentic silent movie house like The Revue, which opened in 1912. By selecting family-friendly comedies and adventure films, the series caters to the Revue’s neighbourhood crowd, and the results have consistently filled the Revue’s seats with cinephiles, families and the uninitiated alike. The National Post‘s Lia Grainger says the atmosphere “is so convincing it makes you want to check that your bonnet isn’t blocking anyone’s view” and that it showcases “a simple charm rarely duplicated in cinema today.”

Entire programme length 104 min.

The Revue Cinema is located at 400 Roncesvalles Ave. Show starts at 4pm. Admission is $12 non-members/$10 members/$6 seniors & children.

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May 1, 2011: Eisenstein’s Strike & Chaplin’s Work

Silent Sundays presents Strike
Directed by Sergei Eisenstein
Written by Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Aleksandrov
Silent (w/ Russian and English inter-titles)
1925 | 82 mins | 16mm

Featuring live piano accompaniment by the acclaimed William O’Meara.

Silent Sundays, our long-running celebration of silent cinema, returns to the Revue Cinema with Sergei Eisenstein’s Strike, on Sunday, May 1 at 4:00 p.m.

About the film

Just in time for May Day, the ambitious first feature by the renown director of The Battleship Potemkin (1925) tells the story of a factory workers revolt in pre-revolutionary Russia. In this look at oppression and individualism, Eisenstein’s sweeping camera motifs and juxtaposed montages innovated upon the cinematic language created by his fore-runners.

The feature will be preceded by a short, Work (1915), where Charlie Chaplin — who would later be no stranger to the plight of the labour movement — plays a paperhanger who causes nothing but grief for his rich boss.

About the accompanist

Musical accompaniment was an integral part of the silent era. The Revue once again welcomes pianist William O’Meara, who has gained worldwide recognition for his silent film work. He has performed at the TIFF Cinematheque, Nuit Blanche, the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Italy and as far east as Perm, Russia, where he played the organ to another noted Russian silent, Man with a Movie Camera.

About the series

Silent Sundays launched in 2009 with the intention of screening silent films in an authentic silent movie house like The Revue, which opened in 1912. By selecting family-friendly comedies and adventure films, the series caters to the Revue’s neighbourhood crowd, and the results have consistently filled the Revue’s seats with cinephiles, families and the uninitiated alike. The National Post‘s Lia Grainger says the atmosphere “is so convincing it makes you want to check that your bonnet isn’t blocking anyone’s view” and that it showcases “a simple charm rarely duplicated in cinema today.”

Entire programme length 104 min.

The Revue Cinema is located at 400 Roncesvalles Ave. Show starts at 4pm. Admission is $12 non-members/$10 members/$6 seniors. For this screening, membership prices also apply to card-carrying union members.

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March 13, 2011: Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill, Jr.

 

Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Directed by Charles Reisner
Written by Carl Harbaugh
Starring Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence
1928 | 85 min. | 16mm | Rated G

Featuring live piano accompaniment by William O`Meara.

Silent Sundays, our long-running celebration of silent cinema, returns to the Revue Cinema with Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill, Jr. on Sunday, March 13 at 4:00 p.m.

About the film

In Steamboat Bill, Jr., Keaton plays a young man, just out of college, who tries to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Mississippi steamboat captain. The film contains some of Keaton’s most spectacular, injury-defying stunts.

As always, the feature will be preceded by a programme of trailers and shorts, one of them a travelogue showcasing Toronto when Steamboat Bill, Jr premiered at the Loew’s Yonge St. Theatre in early January, 1929!

Keaton had some rough competition that week – the talkies! At the Tivoli, audiences thrilled at Toronto’s first all-talking feature film, The Terror, while the Uptown flickered away with Paramount’s first talkie, Interference, starring William Powell.

Of those three, Keaton’s silent aquatic epic is the only one remembered today.

About the accompanist

Musical accompaniment was an integral part of the silent era. The Revue once again welcomes pianist William O’Meara, who has gained worldwide recognition for his silent film work. He has performed at the TIFF Cinematheque, Nuit Blanche, the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Italy and as far east as Perm, Russia, where he played the organ to Man with a Movie Camera.

About the series

Silent Sundays launched in 2009 with the intention of screening silent films in an authentic silent movie house like The Revue. By selecting family-friendly comedies and adventure films, the series caters to the Revue’s neighbourhood crowd, and the results have consistently filled the Revue’s seats with cinephiles, families and the uninitiated alike. The National Post‘s Lia Grainger says the atmosphere “is so convincing it makes you want to check that your bonnet isn’t blocking anyone’s view” and that it showcases “a simple charm rarely duplicated in cinema today.”

The Revue Cinema is located at 400 Roncesvalles Ave. Show starts at 4pm. Admission is $12 non-members/$10 members/$6 seniors & children.

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January 16, 2011: Douglas Fairbanks is The Thief of Bagdad

The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

Directed by Raoul Walsh
Written by Achmed Abdullah & Douglas Fairbanks
Starring Douglas Fairbanks, Anna May Wong, Julanne Johnston
16mm | 140 min.

Silent Sundays, our long-running celebration of silent cinema, returns to the Revue Cinema with Douglas Fairbanks in The Thief of Bagdad on Sunday, January 16 at 4:00 p.m.

Douglas Fairbanks produced and starred in the 1924 silent fantasy based on an Arabian Nights tale. The movie is rich in special effects: flying carpets, monsters, a cloak of invisibility, the lithe and athletic Fairbanks as well as a brief appearance by Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star.

A major epic, the film was a genuine smash with Toronto audiences when it premiered  at the Princess Theatre in November of 1924. A twenty-piece orchestra accompanied Fairbanks’ daring feats in the King St. theatre which rarely screened films. Like the neighbouring Royal Alexandra Theatre, the Princess was renown for its live stage shows.

Musical accompaniment was an integral part of the silent era. The Revue once again welcomes pianist William O’Meara, who has gained worldwide recognition for his film work. He has performed at the TIFF Cinematheque, Nuit Blanche, the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Italy and as far east as Perm, Russia, where he played the organ to Man with a Movie Camera.

Silent Sundays launched in 2009 with the intention of screening silent films in an authentic silent movie house like The Revue. By selecting family-friendly comedies and adventure films, the series caters to the Revue’s neighbourhood crowd, and the results have consistently filled the Revue’s seats with cinephiles, families and the uninitiated alike. The National Post‘s Lia Grainger says the atmosphere “is so convincing it makes you want to check that your bonnet isn’t blocking anyone’s view” and that it showcases “a simple charm rarely duplicated in cinema today.”

The Revue Cinema is located at 400 Roncesvalles Ave. Show starts at 4pm. Admission is $12 non-members/$10 members/$6 seniors & children.

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November 7, 2010: Buster Keaton’s The General

Silent Sundays returns to the Revue Cinema with Buster Keaton’s The General on Sunday, November 7 at 4:00 p.m. with live accompaniment by the acclaimed  William O’Meara.

Orson Welles called the 1926 film the greatest comedy, the greatest Civil War film and possibly the greatest movie ever made. Make no mistake, though, The General is no army hero. It’s a locomotive, and, along with fiancée Annabelle Lee, is one of two great loves for Keaton’s character. The General really existed. It’s now safely housed in a Civil War museum. And the train chase that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat actually happened.

In Toronto, Keaton’s films always played to great fanfare, but very few people know this city was host to his final film appearance.

In 1920, Keaton worked on a series of shorts at Paramount with Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. He was soon given his own production unit, and later released films like Sherlock Jr. and Three Ages. Although The General is now recognized as perhaps Keaton’s finest achievement, it was unpopular when it was released and proved a financial failure.

Keaton soon went to MGM, the assembly-line of movie studios. As an independent auteur, he had been a one-man gag department; now he had a whole team creating gags for him and he lost creative control of his films. While still funny, films like Spite Marriage and Free and Easy lacked the spontaneity often seen in his earlier films.

In 1965, he made his final silent film, The Railrodder, for the NFB. He then came to Toronto for The Scribe, an industrial short for the Construction Safety Association of Ontario. Helming the project was John Sebert, noted photographer and author of The Nabes, a book about Toronto movie-houses, including The Revue. As a first-time director, Sebert was in awe of Keaton. Unlike the suits at MGM, he let the great Stone-Face loose: “You didn’t direct Buster too much,” he said to Marion Meade in her biography of Keaton.

Although 70 years old at the time, Keaton still performed his own stunts, although they relied more on timing than physical strength.

Sebert was also shocked to see Keaton smoking multiple packs of cigarettes per day. “He always had a cigarette in his hand,” he told Meade. “Then he’d go into these coughing fits that lasted four or five minutes. The racking that poor guy went through was terrible.”

Keaton passed away in 1966, at a time when his films were being rediscovered by a new generation. But thanks to the efforts of film preservationists, The Revue audience can appreciate the genius of what Roger Ebert claims is “arguably, the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies.”

The Revue Cinema is located at 400 Roncesvalles Ave. Show starts at 4pm. Admission is $11 non-members/$8 non-members/$6 seniors & children.

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June 20, 2010: Wallace Worsley’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Silent Sundays, Toronto’s only year-long, semi-monthly exploration of silent cinema celebrates its one year anniversary at the Revue Cinema!

Sunday, June 20, 4:00pm
Admission: $8 for members / $10 for non-members

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
Directed by Wallace Worsley
Starring Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Brandon Hurst
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo
Live piano accompaniment by William O’Meara
85 mins | 16mm

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which saw producer Carl Laemmle reproduce Paris and its fabled cathedral on the Universal backlot, blends the spectacle film with melodrama and horror.

Although not terrifying by the standards Universal would set a few years later with The Phantom of the Opera (once again starring Chaney) and , The Man Who Laughs (starring Conrad Veidt)Lon Chaney Sr.’s performance as the hunch-backed Quasimodo makes this film essential viewing for fans of horror and early cinema.

His makeup, both repulsive and piteous, consisted of a misshapen face made of mortician’s wax; his mouth, full of fang-like teeth, was wired open; a wig of matted hair sat atop his crooked skull and the skin-tight rubber suit he wore, which made it impossible to stand up straight, was plastered with animal hair. And all for the love of a woman!

Chaney, who always created his own makeup, strove for the grotesque, often playing cripples and could display a sense of pathos not often seen in character actors of his generation.

A rarely-seen Toronto newsreel, trailers featuring comedy giants and a short – all silent – will precede the feature. Entire programme approximately 110 mins.

The Revue is located at 400 Roncesvalles Ave., a 10 minute walk from Dundas West Station (north/south bus service has also also resumed)

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March 14, 2010: Mack Sennett’s Tillie’s Punctured Romance

Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914)
Directed by Mack Sennett
Starring Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Chester Conklin, Mack Swain
Live piano accompaniment by William O’Meara
85 mins | 16mm

Tillie’s Punctured Romance, starring Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand and Canada’s own Marie Dressler is one of Hollywood’s earliest feature-length comedies. This silent classic is coming to The Revue, on Sunday, March 14, at 4 p.m., and will be accompanied by Toronto’s own William O’Meara on the piano.
Director Mack Sennett (born in Quebec’s eastern townships) was inspired to make the feature after seeing the momentous efforts of his mentor D.W. Griffith in Birth of a Nation. Released in November, 1914, Tillie’s premiered in Toronto on August 17, 1915, at the Strand Theatre on Yonge St.
Tillie’s was produced while Chaplin was still creating his iconic Tramp character, so you’ll see a Chaplin here that you perhaps have never seen before — an opportunistic, villainous city slicker, with a pencil-thin mustache and derby hat, who latches on to Tillie (Dressler), a farmer’s daughter. His girlfriend (Normand) from the city also gets in on the action once she realizes Tillie is heir to a multi-million-dollar fortune.
Chaplin’s Tramp character, with his toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, baggy pants and heart of gold, is, along with Mickey Mouse, perhaps one of the most recognized screen icons in the world. And he helped teach me English.
As a 5-year-old French Canadian living in Northern Ontario, I learned to read English while flipping through a mammoth book about Hollywood history called The Movies. The few pages devoted to Chaplin, among all of the other cinema pioneers, actors, genres, clowns, and even monsters, consumed my attention.
Thanks to a videocassette found at Kresge’s in the early 1980s, Tillie’s was the first Chaplin film I ever saw. It also features other stars from Sennett’s Keystone studios, including Edgar Kennedy, Chester Conklin, Mack Swain and Charley Chase. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. As always, a short subject will precede the feature.
Our pianist William O’Meara, who has performed internationally at silent film screenings, accompanied Tillie’slast year during TIFF’s Shhh! Silent Film Screenings.
Tillie’s premieres at the Strand

There can be no question about the hit Tillie’s Punctured Romance, the “funniest motion picture comedy in the world,” as it is called, has made, and will make all this week, in Toronto. From the moment the doors of the Strand opened yesterday morning til they closed after the ninth successive performance at night, the theatre was packed, while for the evening shows hundreds were waiting, in a long line stretching nearly to King street, to gain admission. The comedy is furiously funny, as it can scarcely help being with Marie Dressler as the star and Charlie chaplin as her principal support. There are so many rapid-fire comedy climaxes, with clever pantomime and acrobatics in between, that the photo-play is well worth seeing time and time again. It will be presented at the Strand all this week.” -Toronto Daily Star, August 16, 1915

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October 18, 2009: Buster Keaton’s Seven Chances!

Seven Chances (1925)
Directed by Buster Keaton
Written by David Belasco
Starring Buster Keaton, Ruth Dwyer, T. Roy Barnes
56min. | 16mm
Featuring live piano accompaniment by William O’Meara.

Back in June, a select group of cinephiles, families from the neighbourhood, purveyors from local emporiums and a handful of kids up to no good gathered at the Revue for the launch of Silent Sundays, a new series aimed at celebrating silent cinema. For nearly two hours, they laughed, cheered and howled at the various athletic feats Buster Keaton overcame in order to get the girl.

About the film

Due to the overwhelming response we received from College, both Buster Keaton and pianist William O’Meara, who recently accompanied a selection of silent comedies during TIFF, return to the Revue with Seven Chances (1925).

This time around, Buster’s got a busy day ahead of him: in order to claim a 7 million dollar inheritance, he must find a bride by 7pm! With a bevy of flappers and vamps in tow, it’s an inventive bit of slapstick, full of momentous gags, including one of the greatest chase scenes of the silent era. “Keaton proves he’s a master at building the comedy until it reaches its absolute breaking point,” says critic David Schwartz.

And to start the laughs early, Seven Chances will be preceded by a selection of short silent films!

About the accompanist

Musical accompaniment was an integral part of the silent era. The Revue once again welcomes pianist William O’Meara, who has gained worldwide recognition for his silent film work. He has performed at the TIFF Cinematheque, Nuit Blanche, the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Italy and as far east as Perm, Russia, where he played the organ to the noted Russian silent, Man with a Movie Camera.

About the series

Silent Sundays launched in June, 2009 with the intention of screening silent films in an authentic silent movie house like The Revue, which opened in 1912. By selecting family-friendly comedies and adventure films, the series caters to the Revue’s neighbourhood crowd, the results filling the Revue’s seats with cinephiles, families and the uninitiated alike.

The Revue Cinema is located at 400 Roncesvalles Ave. — a ten minute minute walk south of Dundas West station! 

Tickets are $8 for members / $10 for non-members! Click here for the Facebook event listing.

Silent Sundays is co-presented by the Revue Film Society and Silent Toronto!