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
Scotland’s only silent film festival runs over five days with events, screenings, new commissions and workshops, featuring live music and storytelling by national and international musicians and performers. The programme is a mix of rare, recently re-discovered and classic silent films with live accompaniment, and also…
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.
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…
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.