SECRET CINEMA: EARLY EDUCATIONAL: CLASSROOM FILMS OF THE SILENT ERA (2009 edition) & live music at The Secret Cinema at Moore

Posted January 30th, 2009 at 11:47 am.

Friday, January 30
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, January 30, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will revisit an unusual program concept not tapped since we last used it in 2001: EARLY EDUCATIONAL: CLASSROOM FILMS OF THE SILENT ERA. These ultra-rare reels, most of which haven’t been seen in seven or eight decades, are still potent in their powers to entertain, amuse, and yes, educate modern-day viewers about a variety of subjects. The various short films, most of which were made in the 1920s, include now ancient travels to distant lands, historical dramatizations, looks at industry and nature studies.

And, just to keep things interesting, our 2009 edition of EARLY EDUCATIONAL will include no duplication of titles from our 2001 show. Most of the films have never been shown by Secret Cinema — or anyone else, since the 1920s.

The prints to be projected, many of which are believed to be exclusive to the Secret Cinema archive, are mostly original prints (rather than restored or duplicated prints) dating to the time of the production, from pioneering companies such as Kodascope  Libraries, Eastman Teaching Films, and Urban-Kineto. They are mostly in excellent condition, and many were made on tinted stock. The films will be projected at the correct speeds, with a live musical accompaniment from Don Kinnier.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Don Kinnier has played music for several previous Secret Cinema presentations of silent movies. Don is Pennsylvania’s most prominent
silent film accompanist, and has been plying his craft for over forty years. The Philadelphia native (now based in Lititz) has  studied the techniques and repertoires of the original theater musicians of the silent era. Don recently played for our screening of NANOOK OF THE NORTH at the American Philosophical Society.

A few highlights of the program include:

STUDIES IN ANIMAL MOTION (1922, British Instructional Films, Ltd.) – A seemingly random (though no less fascinating) assortment of animals are shown ambulating in normal and slow motion, including seagulls, flamingos, snakes, snails…and a boxing kangaroo, seen  with his human sparring partner!

FIRST AID: CONTROL OF BLEEDING (1932?, Eastman Classroom Films) – Made in cooperation with the Department of Biology and Public  Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This film demonstrates the application of tourniquets to stop blood loss in various types of wounds, using simple animation as well as real models.

AMERICA’S LITTLE LAMB (1928, Fox Varieties, THE WORLD WE LIVE IN series) – Here’s an example of how a Hollywood studio approach (i.e., lots of cute animals and corny subtitle copy) to an otherwise standard documentary about animals and industry can result in a releasable theatrical short. It was subsequently distributed to schools through the Kodascope rental library; their catalog entry  promised that “in an unusually attractive portrayal, this film tells the story of a typical American range sheep…You’ll like this picture.”

MODERN BASKETBALL FUNDAMENTALS (1925, Eastman Classroom Films) – Basketball was a young sport when this instructional film was  produced: metal hoops and backboards had replaced the game’s original peach baskets just 19 years earlier, and the NBA was decades away from being formed. Vital passing and shooting skills  are demonstrated in this film directed by legendary University of Kansas coach F.C. “Phog” Allen, who learned basketball while a freshman there directly from the sport’s inventor, James Naismith.

MENDELSOHN (1926,  FitzPatrick Pictures, Famous Music Master series) – A fanciful dramatization of the famed composer’s supposed  inspiration for writing “The Wedding March,” and a sweet love story as well. Producer James A. FitzPatrick became well-known as a leading producer of travelogues for MGM, but few have seen this earlier series, showcasing his flair for staging narrative scenes. We’ll show a beautiful multi-tinted original print from the Universal Show-at-Home library.


As usual, all Secret Cinema programs are projected in 16mm film on a giant screen (not video).


Filed under: Uncategorized by Margaret Kelly

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