Introductions to silent films at the Detroit Movie Palaces often include the comment that silent movies weren’t really meant to be silent. That fact came through loud and clear in two recent showings of the restored 1927 Fritz Lang epic Metropolis at the Detroit Film Theatre and the Michigan Theater.
Archive for the ‘Silent Movies’ Category
If you showed up early for the Redford Theatre’s Laurel and Hardy Film Festival on Friday, August 27, 2010, you might have found yourself dodging a flying creme pie. The theater enlisted the help of two local L&H groups to re-enact a famous scene from The Battle of the Century (1927).
On March 20, 2010, I had the privilege and pleasure to attend the opening session of the Detroit Film Theatre’s new series on significant films in the long history of that art form—DFT 101. This Saturday afternoon series premiered with a screening of the famous 1924 German silent film, The Last Laugh. It included opening remarks by Elliott Wilhelm, the curator of film for the Detroit Institute of Arts who also gives commentary on classic films for public television.
The Detroit Film Theatre has forged such a strong identity for itself that it’s easy to forget that it’s also one of many activities presented by the Detroit Institute of Arts. The DFT screens films in the DIA auditorium, which was part of the original 1927 construction of the building and which also hosts activities like the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit.
Towards the end of the Redford Theatre’s showing of Sunset Boulevard (1950) on February 7, 2009, the images and the atmosphere combined to give me a deeper feeling for the significance of both the theater and the movie. Sunset Boulevard is a strange tribute to the silent movie era, thanks in part to the performances of two people who helped make the history of that era (Gloria Swanson and Erich Von Stroheim).
The year 1928 was an amazing year for motion picture theater construction in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. Movie palaces that opened that year include the Fox Theater in downtown Detroit, the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor, and two other still-existing theaters that I visited on July 26, 2008—the Redford Theatre and the Royal Oak Music Theatre. (Motor City Marquees, Stuart Galbraith IV)
The recently published mystery novel Frames is partially set in an old movie theater in Los Angeles. Reading this entertaining book by Michigan author Loren D. Estleman was made a lot more fun by my experiences at the Detroit Film Theatre, Michigan Theater, and Redford Theatre.