Valentine’s Day in the silent era

Chaplin’s The Circus, released at the tail end of the silent era, is arguably one of his funniest films, and was probably your best bet for a Valentine’s Day pick on Tuesday, February 14, 1928. If you and your date were feeling frisky, you could have opted for Gloria Swanson in Sadie Thompson at the nearby Regent — but either way, you’d want to catch an early screening, because the Valentine’s dance at Terrace Gardens…

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You’re fired: Silent film musicians & the talkie revolution

You’re fired: Silent film musicians & the talkie revolution

To coincide with our upcoming Silent Sundays screening of Eisenstein’s pro-labour Strike on May 1, we examine how the arrival of sound pictures affected the livelihood of silent film musicians. — The successful commercialization of synchronized sound films in the late 1920s was arguably the medium’s most important technological achievement since its invention. But often neglected is how the costly conversion to sound systematically put thousands of silent film musicians out of work. In Toronto,…

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Aftershocks of Montreal’s Laurier Palace Theatre fire

The Laurier Palace Theatre fire which claimed the lives of 78 Montreal children in January of 1927 made headlines all over North America. The above front page from the Arizona Daily Star was recently added to our collection. Like many newspapers who reported the tragic event, it also pointed out other infamous theatre disasters. Among them: the Gillis Theatre, Kansas City (1925); Knickerbocker Theatre Washington, D.C. (1922); Rialto Theatre, New Haven, CT (1921); Catherine St….

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Fritz Lang’s Metropolis at the Tivoli

Fritz Lang’s Metropolis at the Tivoli

“Imagine Toronto in 2927,” announced press agents when Fritz Lang’s Metropolis premiered at the Tivoli Theatre on September 12, 1927. “Erotic, exotic, erratic” are other words used to describe the futuristic and prophetic tale, but had Fritz Lang directed his masterpiece ten years earlier, Ontario movie-goers may have waited longer to see it. According to Eric Minton in the Canadian Film Society’s 1969 “Silent Screen Review,” a war-time ban on German films kept many classics…

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Talkies the talk of Toronto!

Talkies the talk of Toronto!

Eighty years ago, on Dec. 28, 1928, the talkies came to Toronto. Despite the freezing weather that winter evening, over a thousand movie-goers ventured out to the Tivoli, located at the intersection of Richmond  and Victoria Sts. to see a midnight preview of The Terror, a haunted-house whodunit. This was more than a year after a New York City audience watched and listened as Al Jolson got down on one knee and sang “My Mammy”…

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