In 2009, I thought the film going public were lucky when the brains behind Cinefest picked the 1933 El Brendel feature "The Last Trail" to screen last March, but JUST IMAGINE my utter surprise when I got word the SUPERB film festival, Capitolfest, picked El’s flick, “Movietone Follies of 1930” to be included in the schedule at their 7th annual fest to take place August 7th-9th in lovely downtown Rome, New York!! HOO-RAYY!!!
This year will mark my fourth journey to what I consider one of the top film shows in the United States. Billing itself as “a vacation, not a marathon” the leisurely pace of the festival and the fact the films shown are screened in 35mm (with the exception of the “pre-glow” show on Friday night), make this a CERTAIN stop for me every year since I found out about from my friend Rich Finegan.
So just what are they showing this year? Well, if you want to see a full schedule you can go here, but for me here is what I am excited about seeing:
Of course, the big draw for me is the rarely screened “Movietone Follies of 1930” starring this website’s namesake, but also featuring diminutive firecracker Marjorie White in one of her early roles. Miss White is probably best known to the general public today from her final film appearance in The Three Stooges first short for Columbia, 1934’s “Women Haters” (as Larry Fine’s new bride. Marjorie is in the above photo on the right), but film fans know her better for the roles she did at Fox Films which always showed off her wild enthusiasm and sex appeal. Her untimely death in a car accident in 1935 brought her the cult status she enjoys today.
The Charley Chase 1939 short, “The Awful Goof” (a scene above), was one of four shorts the comedian did for Harry Cohn at Columbia that was NOT released in the package distributed by Screen Gems for television in 1959. It is my understanding that this film has only had one other public screening since its original release date.
Since this year’s Capitolfest is a tribute to Boris Karloff, what a better way to honor the man by showing a rarely seen Universal from the same year he made “Frankenstein”. 1931’s “Graft” is not one I can comment on because, frankly, I haven’t seen it and haven’t heard much about it, but I am excited to view it !
The 1928 First National feature, “The Barker” (above) looks enticing from the one still I have for it (YOW-ZA Dorothy Mackaill!). The note on the film, from the Capitolfest website, has a great mini-review from the December 15th, 1928 issue of Harrison’s Reports that states, “The picture has been done exceedingly well. One, in fact, is made to feel as if seeing real people and not mere shadows.” PLUS, it has an early appearance by Douglas Fairbanks Jr., so that should rope you in.
Also on the bill are an assortment of shorts, most famously from the Vitaphone series (including Pat O'Brien in 1930’s “Crimes Square”) and an intriguing mysterious one from Germany’s UFA Studios called “The Eagle’s Nest” that even the people putting on the show don’t know what it is!
I urge anyone who is interested these type of films to try to make the trip to Rome and check the festival out and even if you can’t make it drop them an email and let them know that we ALL appreciate the good work they are doing by sharing these treasures to a whole lot of adoring fans.