Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Ronald Colman at the Main Street Cinema

It’s June 1958 and the Main Street Cinema is featuring “Lady Windermere's Fan,” a 1925 silent film starring Ronald Colman. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch, it was based on the Oscar Wilde play of the same name. I would be curious to know if the entire film was shown or just an abridged version.

Isn’t Colman dashing?

The A-Frame in front of the Cinema shows that “The Plumber,” a 1914 silent comedy with Charles Murray is playing as well.

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Stefano said...

Dave, many thanks for this post! I saw "Lady Windermere's Fan" this summer as part of a UCLA salute to Lubitsch, and an outstanding film it is. It captures the spirit and essence of the Wilde work while using just a couple of lines from the play, as intertitles. Mainly the verbal wit was translated into visual terms, and the whole thing could stand as a model of adaptation.

Colman is quite dashing; the entire cast gives exceptionally good performances. Truly, this is one of the best movies I've seen this year. As it runs just short of an hour and a half, no doubt Disneyland was showing a truncated version of around 2o minutes; that wouldn't be the best way to see this, but it is still impressive that the park offered that kind of entertainment.

Donald Benson said...

If memory serves, back in the day the Main Street Cinema would show complete comedy shorts (one or two reels), but only the first reels of features. I recall "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and I think a silent version of "Kismet" beginning and arbitrarily starting over.

The cinema was designed to offer the nickelodeon atmosphere (piano music and one screen devoted to vintage intermission slides) but not a show as such. No seats, and a circular layout that encouraged making the circuit. In a way it was channel surfing.

I actually watched most of the films through, as there were limited opportunities for a kid to see silent films. Occasional items on TV and some 8mm titles at the library; the odd college showing I never got to until I could drive myself.

Today there's a wealth of stuff readily available -- affordable sets of Keaton, Chaplin, Lloyd, and even Langdon, many beautifully restored and scored. "Lady Windermere's Fan" is on video, although I do envy Stefano seeing it with an audience.