Charles Ashton and British Silent Films

British Silent Film Star – Charles Ashton

Posts Tagged ‘W.W. Jacobs

Aldeburgh Cinema’s Sounds and Silents festival 3-5 May 2013

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The Aldeburgh Cinema in Suffolk is one of the few surviving old cinemas from the 1920s and will be hosting the SOUNDS & SILENTS festival of film and live music on 3-5 May 2013. Most of the silent film programme has a sea-faring theme (bar one …) which tell stories of seamen, boats, lighthouses, and the beauty, pleasures and turbulences of small villages on the coast.

For those of you who missed the British Silent Film Festival in Cambridge last year, there is a chance to catch up with the film versions of W.W.Jacobs coastal stories on Saturday 4th May GOING COASTAL programme of five delightful, witty comedies about “men who go down to the sea in ships of moderate tonnage”. English filmmaker Manning Hayes made the films in the 1920s three of which starred Charles Ashton (Head of the Family, Sam’s Boy and A Will and a Way).  All will be shown with live musical accompaniment provided by Neil Brand and John Sweeney.

Neil Brand has been accompanying silent films for over 17 years, regularly at the NFT on London’s South Bank and throughout the UK and at special events around the world. He is currently working on a BBC 4 TV series on film music to be broadcast in Autumn 2013.  John Sweeney has played for silent films since 1990 at venues including Riverside Studios Cinema, National Film Theatre, Nottingham Broadway and the Barbican Centre.  He has also worked extensively in contemporary dance.

On Sunday 5th May there is a special matinee FOR THOSE IN PERIL ON THE SEA – THE LIFEBOAT MEN ON FILM, complete with the launch of the (real!) lifeboat, organised in partnership with the Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station.

Thomas Dolby’s award-winning THE INVISIBLE LIGHTHOUSE deals with things right around the corner such as the Orford Ness Lighthouse and the Rendlesham UFOs. On the final day, Mark Kermode and The Dodge Brothers will be playing live to William Wellman’s hobo western BEGGARS OF LIFE.

Thomas Dolby
Friday 3 May 2013 at 8.00pm

Saturday 4 May 2013 at 10.30am


Saturday 4 May 2013 at 3.00pm
W W Jacobs Programme 1

Saturday 4 May 2013 at 8.00pm
W W Jacobs Programme 2

Sunday 5 May 2013 from 9.30am

Sunday 5 May 2013 at 3.00pm
W W Jacobs  Programme 3

Sunday 5 May 2013 at 8.00pm
and featuring special guest NEIL BRAND


Written by anneramsden

March 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm

The Monkey’s Paw (1923)

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The Cinema Museum near the Elephant and Castle is hosting the British Silent Film Festival (BSFF) silent film screening event on Saturday 20th April from 10 a.m. till 8 p.m. The highlight for me is the screening of the first film version of The Monkey’s Paw starring Charles Ashton, Moore Marriott, Marie Adult and Johnny Butt. Though the film is incomplete this has to be the first screening in many many years. The plot is based on the horror story written by popular author W.W. Jacobs – see previous post on the author. A magic monkey’s paw gives the holder, Mrs White, three wishes, but the subject of the last wish will always involve death. Other silent films on the BSFF’s programme include  The Yellow Claw (1920), White Cargo (1930), Cocaine (1922) and Hobson’s Choice (1920) plus some rare shorts.

For more information see the Cinema Museum’s Upcoming Events at www.cinema

Tickets for the day are £20 (£18 for concessions) from WeGotTickets or direct from the Cinema Museum.

The Cinema Museum
2 Dugard Way (off Renfrew Road)
London SE11 4TH
Tel.: +44 (0)20 7840 2200

Written by anneramsden

March 31, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Pordenone’s Le Giornate del Cinema Muto festival pays tribute to W.W. Jacobs’ films

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The Giornate del Cinema Muto international silent film festival held in Pordenone, northern Italy, is now in its 31st year.  Within its eight day programme there were screenings of well over 300 films , plus there was screen tribute to the Wapping-born ‘storyteller’ William Wymark Jacobs (1863-1943) hence my post.  Between 1922 and 1927 several of W.W. Jacobs’ maritime novels were adapted by director H. Manning Haynes and screenwriter Lydia Hayward into popular comedy films, some of which starred Charles Ashton and were shown at the festival  – The Head of the Family, A Will and A Way (both films were also shown at the 15th British Silent Film Festival, Cambridge), Skipper’s Wooing , The Boatswain’s Mate and Sam’s Boy.   Jacobs most famous short horror story, The Monkey’s Paw, was made into at least ten films over the years including the 1923 version starring Charles Ashton and Marie Ault.  Many of Jacobs’ books are now out of print but they can be found secondhand on Amazon, eBay and through various book dealers.  Fortunately the stories have been preserved online through Project Gutenberg, and some are available on the Kindle.  Thanks to David Robinson for his notes on W.W. Jacobs and the film adaptations in Le Giornate del Cinema Muto’s 2012 programme (available as a pdf).  Jacobs’ biography can also be found on the Online Literature website

Reviews of  the films and events at the Pordenone festival can be found on Silent London blog and News from the BFI.

William Wymark Jacobs (1863-1943)  Source of image:

William Wymark Jacobs (1863-1943) Source of image:

Written by anneramsden

December 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Five things we learned from the British Silent Film Festival

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Pamela Hutchinson, film blogger for Silent London, writes in the Guardian’s Film Blog of the five things she learned while immersed in some of the silent film industry’s gems screened at the British Silent Film Festival in Cambridge in April.

Written by anneramsden

June 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm

15th British Silent Film Festival (Cambridge)

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Charles Ashton’s film, A Will and A Way, will be screened with another Manning Haynes film, The Boatswain’s Mate, at the 15th British Silent Film Festival, Cambridge, at the Art Picturehouse on 19th April 17.30-19.00.  More information on all  the silent films to be screened at the Art Picturehouse, Emmanuel College and West Road Concert Hall will be available shortly.  See the Festival website and the Art Picturehouse pdf programme at

Written by anneramsden

March 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Brand new print of Head of the Family (1922) to be shown at The 15th British Silent Film Festival

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Imagine my surprise to see that the latest news on the programme for The 15th British Silent Film Festival shows one of the film stills from Head of the Family (Manning Haynes, 1922).  On further reading I find that the programme will include two of Charles Ashton’s rarely seen silent films, a brand new print of Head of the Family and A Will and a Way (1922) based on stories by W.W. Jacobs.   This year the Festival will take place at the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge from 19th – 22nd April 2012.  More information will be available at the Festival website

Written by anneramsden

January 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm

The Skipper’s Wooing (1922)

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Following last year’s British Silent Film Festival’s successful showing of Sam’s Boy, another Manning Haynes adaptation of a popular story The Skipper’s Wooing by writer W.W. Jacobs will be shown on 9th April 2011 at 13.30 at the Barbican Centre, Cinema 1. This silent film, like Sam’s Boy, is of ‘men who go down to the sea in ships of moderate tonnage,’ and was shot along Britain’s east coast.

UK 1922 Dir. Manning Haynes 70 min.
Cast: Gordon Hopkirk, Cynthia Murtagh, Charles Levy, J.T. Macmillan, Bobby Rudd, Tom Coventry, Johnny Butt, Moore Marriott

For more information or to book tickets go to the Barbican Centre website

The full text of W.W. Jacobs’ story is available online through the Gutenberg project at

The Skipper’s Wooing film synopsis from the British Film Institute Archive

Written by anneramsden

March 26, 2011 at 5:11 pm