For three days this fall, Bloomington, Indiana will be transported to Pordenone, Italy as the IU Cinema, the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive, and the Music Scoring for Visual Media program in the Jacobs School of Music host a variety of highlights from Pordenone’s world-renowned silent-film festival Le Giornate del Cinema Muto. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, this inaugural U.S. satellite festival, entitled The Days of Silent Cinema: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto at Indiana University, is bursting at the seams with U.S. premieres, fascinating films, and the potential for many unforgettable experiences. Let your movie ticket (or better yet, your festival pass) be your passport as you take in some of the same early-cinema gems that Pordenone’s festival-goers will be enjoying this year.
Nasty Women Program 1: Tyranny at Home and Nasty Women Program 2: Discipline & Anarchy
Why should you see it? The silent era was filled with irrepressibly strong women, both behind and in front of the camera. These two programs give you just a taste of this with a selection of European comedic shorts that feature women tackling the patriarchy in hilarious, inspired fashion — including two films from pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché! Both of these programs are also U.S. premieres.
Screening Details: The first Nasty Women program is on October 31 at 7 pm at IU Libraries Screening Room (Wells Library 048). The second program is on November 2 at 12 pm at IU Cinema.
Beverly of Graustark (1926)
Why should you see it? This film stars Marion Davies, a fantastically funny actress whose decades-long affair with media tycoon William Randolph Hearst has come to overshadow her enormous talent. However, with Beverly of Graustark, a romantic comedy that has Davies masquerading as her character’s brother, you can see for yourself why she was so popular in her heyday. The gender-bending plot elements should also interest you if you’re at all a fan of Tootsie, Some Like It Hot, or even She’s the Man. Fun fact: Davies’s masculine, short haircut in this movie actually became a craze called the “Beverly Bob.”
Screening Details: November 1 at 12 pm at the IU Libraries Screening Room (Wells Library 048)
Joan the Woman (1916)
Why should you see it? Director Cecil B. DeMille’s name has long been synonymous with grand historical epics, and Joan the Woman has the distinction of being his first foray into that territory. A rousing spectacle about Joan of Arc that looks like it came straight out of a gorgeous storybook, this film has its problems but it also gives you the opportunity to see a strong female character dump her boyfriend so she can go into battle. Just try not to cheer at the sight of Joan attacking a castle, pausing only to pull an arrow out of herself.
Screening Details: November 1 at 2 pm at the IU Libraries Screening Room (Wells Library 048)
Sally, Irene and Mary (1925)
Why should you see it? A drama about three women’s troubles with love, Sally, Irene and Mary boasts performances from Constance Bennett (a personal favorite who deserves more recognition) and Joan Crawford. With almost every decade of her immense career, Crawford reinvented herself and nowhere is that more apparent than when you see her work from the ’20s. Her fresh-faced flapper persona is so far removed from the likes of Mildred Pierce and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, yet still captivating and fierce. Bonus: Sally, Irene and Mary was directed by Edmund Goulding, a wonderful filmmaker who helmed Grand Hotel (also starring Crawford), Nightmare Alley, and many Bette Davis classics, including Dark Victory.
Screening Details: November 2 at 2 pm at the IU Libraries Screening Room (Wells Library 048)
A Fool There Was (1915)
Why should you see it? Known as “The Vamp,” actress Theda Bara made a career for herself as an exotic sex symbol, all of which began with A Fool There Was. Sadly, despite Bara starring in over 40 films, only six are known to have survived, making A Fool There Was even more important. A definite product of its time, the film is still worth a look thanks to Bara’s magnetic charm. The Cinema’s screening will also feature the Midwest premiere of a new score by the excellent Philip Carli.
Screening Details: November 1 at 7 pm at IU Cinema
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
Why should you see it? One word: Hitchcock. I may be biased because he’s my favorite director, but Alfred Hitchcock has one of the most brilliant, iconoclastic careers a filmmaker could ask for, making practically any film of his a must-see. The Lodger, however, is especially important because it’s considered the first true Hitchcock classic. A flawed but intoxicating mixture of mystery, sex, murder, and cinematic innovation, it influenced all of the masterpieces that were to come. This particular screening is also the U.S. premiere of Neil Brand’s new score, which will be performed by students from the Jacobs School of Music! I once attended a masterclass by Brand and he really understands and admires Hitchcock’s work (the Cinema previously hosted the U.S. premiere of his score for Hitch’s Blackmail), so I’m sure we’re in for a treat.
Screening Details: November 2 at 7 pm at IU Cinema
For complete details about the Days of Silent Cinema festivities, click here. This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Myerson Family Fund and the Office of the Bicentennial. Special thanks to Ed Myerson, Kaili Peng, and Kelly Kish.
Michaela Owens is thrilled to be the editor of A Place for Film. An IU graduate with a BA in Communication and Culture, she is pursuing an MA in Cinema and Media Studies and has also been a volunteer usher at IU Cinema since 2016. She never stops thinking about classic Hollywood, thanks to her mother’s introduction to it, and she likes to believe she is an expert on Katharine Hepburn and Esther Williams.