Silent Laughter at the Kennington Bioscope (Plus talkies – yes really)

Girl Shy (1924)
Girl Shy (1924)

UPDATE: I updated this post on 6 September 2015 once the programme for the Silent Laughter festival had been finalised.

Our favourite south Londoners are at it again. Fresh from staging a triumphant weekend-long event in June, the Kennington Bioscope team promise a full day of chuckles with a comedy festival in October. Tell us all about it, Ken!

Programmes include shorts with Charley Chase, Lupino Lane, Laurel & Hardy and others; rare features with Raymond Griffith and Walter Forde  (Britain’s best silent comedian) concluding with Harold Lloyd’s classic GIRL SHY.

Plus special presentations – Kevin Brownlow on his Buster Keaton Thames TV series ‘A Hard Act to Follow’, David Robinson on Laurel & Hardy (whom he interviewed in 1954), including some new discoveries, guests Tony Slide (historian, author, founder of ‘The Silent Picture’) and Matthew Ross (editor of ‘Movie Night’, Britain’s only magazine devoted to silent & vintage comedy).

Here is the final programme – the Raymond Griffiths films is Paths to Paradise (1925) and the Walter Forde title is You’d be Surprised (1930). And I have heard, from the most delightful little bird, that the vegetarian cafe next door will be open for food again, possibly with a special offer for festivalgoers.

Sounds great. The perfect cure for the post-Pordenone blues, Silent Laughter is a one-day event taking place at the Cinema Museum on Saturday 24 October, from 10am-10pm. Tickets will be available from 1 September so bookmark this page now.

Wait a minute, wait a minute …

Yes, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet. The Kennington Bioscope is branching out even further, into the realm of early sound cinema, with a little something they are calling Kennington Talkies. What?

On the back of the success of the Kennington Bioscope we have decided to extend our programming and bring you a new strand called Kennington Talkies.

The intention is to have a series of evening film shows, many of them double-bills, from the period of late silent films (with their original scores)minto the era of the early talkies. The films to be shown will include rarely seen pre-Code Hollywood classics and World Cinema. Each screening will takenplace on the Wednesday following the Bioscope shows (excepting 1 and 29 October), every three weeks. Shorts will be included whenever possible. All ticket prices will be £6. Please note two Thursday dates, 1 October and 29 October.

Well, this actually sounds kind of brilliant, if officially OFF-TOPIC. I very much like the looks of the Jean Harlow double-bill on 9 Spetember. Except … what’s that about late silents? Wouldn’t you know it, they’re showing Wings (“with full supporting programme”) on 29 October. Be there people.

Wings (1927)
Wings (1927)

The prototype of the aviation drama as we know it, Wings was noted at the time for its technical accuracy and convincing aerial scenes, due in no small part to Wellman having been the only director in Hollywood with actual experience as a fighter pilot. Despite being a silent film amid the talkie revolution, this $2m production ­ astronomical for the times – was voted Best Picture at the first-ever Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. The film was shot at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas, employing hundreds of extras and some 300 pilots, with personnel, aircraft and technical advice supplied by the United States Army Air Corps. The film is accompanied by a new recording of the original orchestral music score by J.S. Zamecnik, arranged by Dominick Hauser and with pianist Frederick Hodges.

More information about all of this on the rather splendid Kennington Bioscope website.

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