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Silent film series fills hot August nights at library

By Suzanne White
Rowan Public Library
Whether you are coming to see old favorites or have never seen a silent film, you will enjoy Rowan Public Library’s free Movie Nights in August.
Each Tuesday, join us for classic silent films, popcorn and lemonade at 6:30 p.m. in the Stanback Auditorium at RPL’s Salisbury branch.
While they are called “silent films,” they were originally accompanied by musicians on piano, organ or even full orchestras which provided background music and used musical effects to highlight what happened on the screen.
– Tuesday ó To introduce the silent film series, we will show “The Golden Age of Comedy,” Robert Youngson’s 1957 documentary showing clips of many of the superstars of silent film. We’ll see the silent Laurel & Hardy have a pie fight in “Battle of the Century” and Billy Bevan, in “Circus Today,” diving into a pool of water that has just been drained by an elephant. Other clips will feature Mack Sennett, Will Rogers, Carole Lombard, Jean Harlow and Ben Turpin.
– Tuesday, Aug. 12 ó “The General” (1927) stars Buster Keaton in what many consider to be his best film. He plays an engineer during the Civil War trying to rescue his beloved locomotive, “The General,” as well as his girlfriend. Then he sets out to single-handedly win the war with the help of “The General.”
We’ll also see two of Keaton’s shorter films. In “The Playhouse,” a technical tour-de-force, he portrays every member of a stage company, the entire audience and an undisciplined chimp to boot. “Cops” is the quintessential chase film.
– Tuesday, Aug. 19 ó “Metropolis,” (1927) directed by Fritz Lang. Some call this the most famous and influential of all silent films. For over 75 years, “Metropolis” has been seen only in shortened form. We will show the version restored in 2003 in Germany with state of the art digital technology. It is once again accompanied by the original 1927 orchestral score by Gottfried Huppertz.
“Metropolis” takes place in 2026, when the populace is divided between workers who must live in the dark underground and the rich who enjoy a futuristic city of splendor. The tense balance of these two societies is realized through images that are among the most famous of the 20th century, many of which foreshadow such sci-fi landmarks as “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Blade Runner.”
– Tuesday, Aug. 26 ó “City Lights,” (1931) stars Charlie Chaplin as “The Little Tramp.” Here he falls in love with a blind girl selling flowers. She mistakes him for a wealthy benefactor. Through a series of adventures ranging from hilarious to poignant, including a famous boxing sequence, he scrambles to raise the money needed to restore her sight.
The movie’s final scene is one of the most famous in film. The multi-talented Chaplin also wrote the music and the script, as well as producing and directing this film.

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