British Silent Film Festival’s greatest hits
It was well worth visiting the Cambridge hosted 15th British Silent Film Festival which offered a great programme of some of the best silent films made, and all screened with live music thanks to John Sweeney, Gunter Buchwald, Neil Brand, Dodge Brothers, Rob Harbron and Miranda Rutter. It wasn’t possible to see all 30+ films in this ambitious programme, but I did manage to see nine of the films. The highlight for me, of course, was the screening of two of H. Manning Haynes 1922 films of W.W. Jacobs’ stories : The Head of the Family and A Will And A Way, both of which starred Charles Ashton and Cynthia Murtagh. These two films were well attended and appreciated by the audience for their gentle and rustic humour. Other connections with Charles on the programme were Ellen Terry, Edwardian film actress, who appeared in her last film role in The Bohemian Girl. She had a small role as Widow Bernick in Rex Wilson’s film, The Pillars of Society (1920) (lost film). Two of Charles’ old actor friends, Milton Rosmer and Irene Rooke, appeared in Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925). Rooke was Martha Karsten in The Pillars of Society and Rosmer was director for two of Charles’ 1926 films, Cash on Delivery and The Woman Juror (both lost films).
In addition, there were gala screenings of two of the great films of the silent era: The Great White Silence (1924) shot by Herbert Ponting, a cameraman on Scott’s expedition to the South Pole in 1910; and the masterpiece of French silent film,Visage D’Enfant (1925) by Jacques Feyder, who later went on to work with Marlene Dietrich and Robert Donat.
More information can be found on the festival website http://www.britishsilents.co.uk/silent/