Gloria Swanson and Baby Peggy to feature in Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema

Gloria Swanson and Baby Peggy to feature in Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema

Gloria Swanson

The silent film stars are part of a bustling programme that includes music from Minima and The Dodge Brothers

Gloria Swanson is for many people the epitome of the silent film star. She is remembered not just for her many roles in early cinema (Male and Female, Why Change Your Wife) but also as ageing silent screen actress Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s sublime Sunset Boulevard (‘We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces!’ she exclaims at one point). Swanson is just one of the stars celebrated in the Festival of Silent Cinema which returns to the Bo’ness Hippodrome in March.

Extended to five days, the programme includes silent film accompanist Neil Brand performing to Stage Struck, a comedy with Gloria Swanson playing a waitress aspiring to become a star. Still on the star-theme, Baby Peggy, the Elephant in the Room is a documentary about the oldest surviving silent film actor whose career began at 18 months and finished suddenly when she was four. UK electronic ensemble Minima are also on the bill, accompanying Japanese avant garde feature Jujiro (Crossways) with a new score. And last but not least the festival will host the first Scottish performance by The Dodge Brothers – a skiffle band which includes film critic Mark Kermode. They’ll be providing a live score to rare Soviet flick The Ghost That Never Returns.

The Bo’ness Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema, Hippodrome, Bo’ness, Wed 13–Sun 17 Mar.

The Dodge Brothers (Mark Kermode) Busking Challenge

Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (HippFest)

Scotland's only silent film festival runs over five days with events, screenings and workshops, featuring live music and storytelling by national and international musicians and performers.

Stage Struck

  • 1925
  • US
  • 1h 10min
  • Directed by: Allan Dwan
  • Written by: Frank R. Adams, Forrest Halsey, Sylvia LaVarre
  • Cast: Gloria Swanson, Lawrence Gray, Gertrude Astor

Overworked waitress Jenny (Swanson) has her eye on a certain fella, so to win his heart (and take his eyes off the exotic ladies from the visiting show boat) she attempts to become a glamorous actress.


  • 1928
  • Japan
  • 1h 14min
  • Directed by: Teinosuke Kinugasa
  • Written by: Teinosuke Kinugasa
  • Cast: Akiko Chihaya, Junosuke Bando, Yukiko Ogawa

One of the first Japanese films ever shown in the West follows the dreamlike story of a young woman and her brother, who has an ultimately tragic obsession with a geisha.

Baby Peggy, the Elephant in the Room

  • 2012
  • Netherlands
  • 58min
  • Directed by: Vera Iwerebor
  • Written by: Vera Iwerebor
  • Cast: Baby Peggy, Hobart Bosworth, Jack Earle

Baby Peggy was one of the most bankable stars of the silent film era, making 150 films in less than five years – all the more astonishing for the fact she was only 19 months old when she made her screen debut. Now an author and activist, Diana Serra Cary recalls her infancy spent as a million-dollar asset of the Studio…

The Ghost That Never Returns

  • 1929
  • USSR
  • 1h 7min
  • Directed by: Abram Room
  • Written by: Henri Barbusse, Valentin Turkin
  • Cast: Boris Ferdinandov, A. Filipov, Karl Gurniak

A cat and mouse Soviet-era thriller which sees a South American warden tracking an escaped prisoner across trains and dusty landscapes. The Dodge Brothers provide a live soundtrack on washboards, banjos, accordion and piano.