As they have each year for the last few years, the Vacaville Christian School Radio Symphony in Vacaville will accompany the screening of a silent film. This year, the film is Peter Pan (1924), Herbert Brenon's classic film adaption of the classic story of a special boy.
Ralph Martin, director of the music program at the Vacaville parochial school, will lead an orchestra of students and adults in a performance of an original score. Screenings will take place at 7 pm on August 15 and 16 at the Brenden Theatres in Vacaville.
Released by Paramount Pictures in 1924, this silent-era telling of Peter Pan was the first film adaptation of the J. M. Barrie play, which had first been staged only twenty years earlier in 1904.
Brenon's film has an "all-star" cast which includes Betty Bronson as Peter Pan, Ernest Torrence as Captain Hook, Mary Brian as Wendy, Esther Ralston as Mrs. Darling, Philippe De Lacy as Michael Darling, and Virginia Browne Faire as Tinker Bell. Anna May Wong, a groundbreaking Chinese-American actress, plays an Indian princess named Tiger Lily.
At the time, the film was celebrated for its innovative special effects - notably in showing an illuminated fairy, Tinker Bell, and in showing Peter Pan fly. In 2000, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Herbert Brenon was one of the exceptional directors of the 1920s, and Peter Pan stands as one of his finest achievements. Prior to Peter Pan, Brenon had scored a hit with The Spanish Dancer (1923), starring Pola Negri. It has recently been restored and was shown at July's San Francisco Silent Film Festival.
The year after Peter Pan, Brenon scored another hit with The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), a gritty story of beggars in New York's Bowery. It starred Mary Brian (who in one scene sits at a piano playing sheet music from Peter Pan), and marked the first film appearance of Louise Brooks.
The Street of Forgotten Men was followed by a remarkable run of popular and critical successes which includes A Kiss for Cinderella (1925), another film based on a J.M. Barrie story starring Betty Bronson and Esther Ralston, Beau Geste (1926), the original Great Gatsby (1926), Dancing Mothers (1926) with Clara Bow, the curiously named hit God Gave Me Twenty Cents (1926), Sorrell and Son (1927), and Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), with Lon Chaney.
This year marks the sixth time Martin and his students have tackled the score to a silent film. Previous screenings have featured such seminal silent films as Harold Lloyd's Safety Last! (1923), The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), the futuristic classic Metropolis (1927), the first film to win an Academy Award, Wings (1927), and Charlie Chaplin's City Lights (1931).
For more info: The Brenden Theatres are located at 531 Davis St. in Vacaville. Tickets may be purchased at the theater or at Vacaville Christian Schools, 1117 Davis St., in Vacaville. Tickets are $15 at the door.