Tag Archives: vintage

Cocktails and canapés with the stars of the silent screen

Jenny Hammerton and Nathalie Moris
Jenny Hammerton and Nathalie Morris – our glamorous hostesses, with Betty Balfours in hand

If HG Wells could fix it for you to travel back to the silent era, you surely would, right? And while no doubt it would be enlightening to talk shop in the studios and editing rooms of 1920s Hollywood, it’s arguable that the real action would be in the nightclubs and hotel suites.  Take it from me, the catering would be … interesting.

Many of you will know Jenny Hammerton and Nathalie Morris. Jenny Hammerton works as a film archivist, and runs the wonderful Silver Screen Suppers site on the side. She’s researching a forthcoming book of recipes from classic film stars, you see. Nathalie Morris works at the BFI as an archive curator, and also blogs about food: the Food on Film site recreates meals from movies. She is working with Jenny on a different book, along the same lines, but dedicated to the most important meal of the day – the cocktail hour.

Such a noble pursuit deserves all our support, of course, so myself and a few other selfless souls tripped up to Nathalie’s flat on the weekend to sample some cocktails and canapés. As the evening was undertaken in the name of research, not simple fun, here is what we learned.

  • We may remember Greta Garbo and Gloria Swanson as health freaks, but they let their hair down occasionally, culinary speaking. Garbo layered bacon over healthsome cottage cheese and rye bread to create a rather unwieldy canapé. Swanson deviated from the ways of brown rice for, what else, tempting bites topped with caviar.
  • Edith Roberts‘ sweetcorn fritters require a LOT of lard for deep-frying. Fear not, though, as our group couldn’t quite choose between the lighter veggie versions and the lardy originals in the final analysis.
  • Solid and unexciting to look at, they may have been, but Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers’ potato and nut croquettes were seriously savoury – with a rich seam of nuts down the centre. Unexpectedly toothsome.
  • Zasu Pitts is an idiosyncratic one. We all loved her omelette with hot spanish sauce. But the Greed star cheated us of any actual spice in that sauce – hot in name only. And there was baking powder – yes, baking powder – in the omelette.
  • The parties thrown by Marion Davies may have gone down in Hollywood legend, but her cheese patties were unlikely to get anyone hot under the collar – tasty yes, but rather chunky and bland for a canapé. Perhaps they were just there to soak up the booze?

Continue reading Cocktails and canapés with the stars of the silent screen

Silent films at the Volupté Lounge

The General at the Volupté Lounge
The General at the Volupté Lounge

There’s nothing like a little prohibition-era pizzazz to to jazz up a silent movie screening. And the Volupté Lounge in central London is all about glamour. It’s a “burlesque cabaret bar”  that calls itself the “the most decadent little supper club in town”, and if that doesn’t get you hot under the collar, check out its plans for silent cinema screenings. Phew!

On the first Sunday of every month, the club will show a silent movie in its underground cinema, the Ciné Illuminé, with live piano accompaniment from Luke Meredith. The series begins on Sunday 1 April 2012 with screening of the Buster Keaton’s must-see masterpiece The General. It sounds as if these shows will definitely be worth dressing up for too, promising usherettes, vintage cocktails and a “Bon Bon bar” for your sweet tooth.

Doors are at 6pm for a screening at 8pm. Tickets are £7 in advance or £9 on the door. You’ll find the Volupté Lounge at 9 Norwich Street, EC4A 1EJ. Call 0207 831 1622 or email reservations@volupte-lounge.com to book tickets. Don’t forget to check out the Facebook page for future screenings.

Silent films at the Horatia Sunday Fayre, Holloway Road N7

The Horatia Sunday Fayre
The Horatia Sunday Fayre

Yet again this blog seems to be suggesting you go to the pub on a school night, but this is strictly an afternoon only event, and it’s in a good cause. The Horatia is a recently renovated pub on Holloway Road, Islington, which offers gigs, dancing, quizzes and film nights throughout the week, but is just about to launch its Sunday afternoon shenanigans.

Starting this Sunday 27th February, the pub will be offering roast dinners, DJs, stalls selling craft and vintage goods, board games, and yes, “Silent film classics” on the day of rest. According to the Facebook page created for the event, the films will be shown on a big screen, but there is no more information forthcoming at the moment.

Well, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that a busy bar full of jewellery stalls and people eating roast lamb while someone else plays records is not an ideal screening environment. But I suspect that is not what they are trying to achieve. Enjoying a few scenes from a silent film in the background while having drinks with friends sounds like a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon – perhaps before hopping on a No 4 bus to the Barbican for one of their Silent Film and Live Music screenings. Why not?

I’ll be getting down to the Horatia as soon as possible to check it out for myself, but I’m thoroughly prepared to raise a Bloody Mary in celebration of their enthusiasm for silent film. I hope the roast potatoes are up to scratch, too.

The Horatia Sunday Fayre is at the Horatia pub, 98-102 Holloway Road N7 8JE every Sunday from 11.30am to 5pm.

The Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema, Bo’ness Hippodrome, 18-20 March 2011

Clara Bow in It (1927)
Clara Bow in It (1927)

The Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness, Falkirk, beautifully restored to match its 1920 heyday, will host Scotland’s first silent film festival – and it promises to be an event with a real ‘vintage’ feel. The programme incorporates some enduringly popular silents, from a rare chance to see It (1927), starring Clara Bow, to FW Murnau’s influential vampire film Nosferatu (1922) and Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), plus a handful of comedies from Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy and Harold Lloyd.

Neil Brand will provide musical accompaniment to several of the films, and he will also perform his acclaimed one-man show The Silent Pianist Speaks. David Allison of The Island Tapes will reprise his score for Nosferatu at the festival’s closing night gala, and another of the films will benefit from a specially commissioned soundtrack performed by local schoolchildren.

There will be a Slapstick Workshop for over-12s by Scottish theatre company Plutôt La Vie, and a new, specially commissioned soundtrack for one of the films performed by local schoolchildren. Another retro treat for younger viewers is the “jeely jar special” – a revival of a 1920s practice whereby film fans can get a two-for-one deal on tickets for The Kid if they bring along a clean jam jar (with lid). Bargain.

And for a touch more glamour, the Opening Gala screening of It has a 1920s dress code. Dropped waists, long strings of beads and cloches – it’s the perfect opportunity to indulge your inner flapper and give Clara Bow a run for her money. Perhaps you can find some sartorial inspiration here. Festival director Allison Strauss says:

The whole event is designed to celebrate the magic, glamour and pure entertainment of films from the silent era.  Our programme and the supporting events include something for all ages and we’ve made sure that the wide appeal will involve a broad range of tastes, from cinephiles to anyone discovering early film for the first time.

For full details and to download a brochure, visit the website here.

Silent film in 2011 – a new vintage trend?

Battleship Potemkin
Battleship Potemkin

If we have our way, silent film is only going to get bigger in 2011. There are lots of great screenings coming up in London and elsewhere and it feels like there is a lot of enthusiasm out there for this fantastic art form.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that Battleship Potemkin, in its new restored 35mm print, courtesy of Kino International, will be the big silent film hit of the year. I have watched this great film more times than I care to remember but I will inevitably be back in the cinema to watch it this year. If I’m honest, I prefer to go to one-off events with live music rather than to listen to a recorded soundtrack, but if this re-release gets more people watching Battleship Potemkin, and stimulates their interest in silent cinema, it’s all good with me. Continue reading Silent film in 2011 – a new vintage trend?