Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jack Tillmany and the Theaters of San Francisco

Jack Tillmany, a frequent guest author at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, is a widely acknowledged expert on the theaters of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. These videos are a salute to this many accomplishments as historian and author. Below, television personality Jan Wahl interviews Tillmany about his book Theatres of San Francisco (Arcadia).

Here is an excerpt from Building of Westwood Park (2003) by the Western Neighborhoods Project. It includes footage of the north side of Ocean Avenue between Faxon Avenue and Capitol Avenue, including the old Balboa Theater (later called the Westwood). The early 1920s newsreel footage is courtesy of Jack Tillmany.

Besides Theatres of San Francisco, Tillmany is also the author of Theatres of Oakland (Arcadia) and Theatres of the San Francisco Peninsula (Arcadia). The latter is co-authorted with Gary Lee Parks.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Snow White, the Sound Version

The Walt Disney Family Museum has opened a wonderful new exhibit Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Walt Disney's first feature-length animated film. 

Disney's Snow White was released in 1937 and of course it has sound, but fans of the classic tale will have a chance to see Marguerite Clark in the live-action silent version that inspired young Walt when it screened in Kansas City. Snow White (1916) screens at Silent Winter, the SF Silent Film Festival's winterlude on February 16, 2013 accompanied by Donald Sosin on grand piano.

In the meantime, don't miss WDFM's exhibit. Author J.B. Kaufman will be at the museum this Saturday, November 17 at 3:00 pm to talk with creative director Lella Smith about the chain of adaptations that led to Disney's Snow White, after which J.B. will sign copies of his beautiful new book, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Art and Creation of Walt Disney's Classic Animated Film.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Silent Winter 2013 - a perfect winterlude

My Best Girl
Saturday, February 16 | Castro Theatre
One day, five programs. A perfect winterlude.
FAUST, 1926
Silent Film Festival Members get discounts on tickets & passes to 
Silent Winter and the annual SFSFF, plus other events throughout the year.
Member benefits at different levels can also include admission to the summer 
festival's Opening Night Party, early entrance privilege, reserved seating, 
and access to the Spotlight Lounge on the Castro Mezzanine -- and more!
We are always looking for enthusiastic, experienced volunteers.
Apply here!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Movie Icon Mary Pickford Subject of New Book and Film Tour

News from the Library of Congress: Movie Icon Mary Pickford Subject of New Book, Book Talk and Film Tour

A century ago, in the early days of cinema, when actors were unbilled and unmentioned in credits, audiences immediately noticed Mary Pickford. Dubbed "America’s Sweetheart," Pickford charmed moviegoers during the first three decades of the 20th century with magnetic talent, as she rose to become cinema’s first great star.

Published by the Library of Congress in association with the University of Kentucky Press, Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies, edited by Christel Schmidt, sheds new light on this icon’s life and legacy. Through essays by Schmidt and other eminent film historians , Pickford emerges from the pages in vivid detail. She is revealed as a gifted actress, a philanthropist and a savvy industry leader who fought for creative control of her films and ultimately became her own producer. Her success paved the way for women in film and ushered in Hollywood’s golden age.

This beautifully designed volume features more than 200 color and black-and-white illustrations, including photographs and posters from the Library’s collections and those of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Together with the text, they paint a fascinating portrait of a key figure in American cinematic history.

The Library of Congress holds the world’s largest collection of Mary Pickford films, including Pickford’s personal film collection, which she donated in 1946. Currently, the Library holds 156 Pickford titles out of the estimated 210 she made between 1909 and 1933. (Sadly, 36 films are considered lost.) In addition to titles donated by Pickford, the Library has also acquired a number of the actress’s films through copyright deposits, movie collectors and repatriations from European archives. Rare collection items featuring Pickford include movie stills from The Foundling (1915) and Less Than the Dust (1916); photographs featuring her World War I efforts for the U.S. government and her involvement with the National Women’s Party; sheet music about her between 1910 and 1930; movie posters and numerous magazine covers.

Schmidt is a film historian, writer and editor. She was awarded two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her work on Mary Pickford and is co-editor of Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture.

Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies, a 288-page hardcover book, is available for $45 at bookstores nationwide and through the Library of Congress Shop. Mary Pickford will be the subject of a Books & Beyond discussion by Schmidt at the Library of Congress at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 4 in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the James Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E, Washington, D.C. The event, which is sponsored jointly by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Library’s Publishing Office, is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

From Dec. 6, 2012, through June 2013, Schmidt will discuss Pickford’s career at film screening events held at more than 25 venues nationwide. Her presentations will include screenings of film shorts and full-length films starring Pickford, such as Sparrows (1926), beautifully restored by the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. For a complete schedule, go to

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 151 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at
The Library is home to more than 1.3 million film, television, and video items. With a collection ranging from motion pictures made in the 1890s to today’s TV programs, the Library’s holdings are an unparalleled record of American and international creativity in moving images.

The collection is stored, as well as restored, at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va. Pickford’s 1924 feature film, Dorothy Vernon of Haddon and other film shorts will be screened at the state-of-the-art Packard Campus Theater on Jan. 25 and 26. Featuring remarks by Schmidt, the screenings are free and open to the public. For more information, go to

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Silent Films of Anthony Asquith

Bristol Silents celebrates Anthony Asquith's 110th Birthday with a wonderful piece on the director. Those who were lucky enough to see Stephen Horne accompany Asquith's hauntingly beautiful A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) will be especially interested.

To Bristol

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Movies return to the New Potrero Theater

Movies are returning to the New Potrero Theater in San Francisco! This weekend, the long-shuttered theater will show F.W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927), starring one-time San Franciscan's George O'Brien and Janet Gaynor.
According to it's Cinema Treasures weboage, "The New Potrero opened as the Alta Theatre in 1913. The installation of sound equipment in 1930 also brought a new name: the New Potrero Theatre....
For over 30 years, it served the Potrero Hill neighborhood as a strictly mom-and-pop operation unique to a city as large as San Francisco."