The Atlas Performing Arts Center inaugurates its Silent Film Series for the 2016-17 season. So-called “silent” films – that is, films made without a recorded audio track, represent a distinctive blending of music and film, combining on-screen drama with live musical performance. In fact, silent films were never intended to be viewed in silence by audiences., but rather with the presence of music and sound to amplify and enhance the film, creating a more powerful total experience.
Atlas celebrates this cross-disciplinary genre by screening classic films from the silent era. Of all silent film stars, none is as bright as Charles Chaplin, the British-born actor and director who made his film career in the USA. 2016-17 marks the 100th anniversary of a series of twelve short comedies made for the Mutual Film Company. The series opens with a screening of one of these “Mutual” comedies, entitled BEHIND THE SCREEN (1916). Chaplin, as The Tramp, takes a job as a stagehand in a film studio. As was the case with early film studios, comedies were shot next door to costume dramas: the separate worlds collide with frantic chaos in this short.
The next film is SHOW PEOPLE, a late-silent era comedy by director King Vidor. SHOW PEOPLE stars Marion Davies as Peggy Pepper, an aspiring film actress who gets her big break in comedies; later, she becomes a “prestige” star, and changes her name to Patricia Pepoire. This delightful comedy features cameos by many leading Hollywood celebrities – including Chaplin.