And he's back from the moving pictures.
I saw Show People, which is a really remarkably funny film -- a silent picture made after the talkies had already started up, but not long after, and honestly I don't know that it would be improved by being a talkie. It makes really good use of the text frames as transitions; I wanted to share the film with you guys but I can't find it online, but you can see a great use of transitional text frames about halfway through this clip
. The faces are funnier on the big screen; Marion Davies does some of the best mugging I've ever seen, especially later in the film when she's trying to school her features into an upper-class sneer.
The film is notable for having a ton of big stars who did cameos in it, including Charlie Chaplin. I've seen pictures of Chaplin without the traditional Chaplin Face, and I've seen Chaplin films, but I've never seen him out of makeup in a film. I think I know why he used to wear really baggy clothing as a costume: it's to mask the fact that he has a great big giant head. Seriously, it's huge. You can see a clip here
(forgive the voiceover) where he asks for Peggy Pepper's autograph and she has no clue who he is.
It's interesting too the different vibe you get from seeing this kind of film in this kind of setting. There's no pre-show slideshow or ads; the organist, who also runs the Silent Cinema series, gets up and does a little talk about the film, and then we just jump right in. I know in old movie houses there'd be a newsreel, a cartoon, maybe a trailer, and then the feature, but it's just so different from the popcorn ad - fifteen trailers - silence-your-phones announcement - Anti-Piracy ad - MPAA Rating - finally-the-film setup that you get now.
Next time I'm totally going in character as someone seeing a film in the twenties -- not outwardly, just in my head. Gee whiz! A new picture! Say, I better see if I have an extra dime for a Nehi soda. I ain't JP Morgan, yanno.
Because secretly I am nine years old and love playacting.