The annual Chautauqua Summer Silent Film Series begins tonight with an unlikely choice: Duck Soup. And fans of the 1933 Marx Brothers masterpiece will understand the problem immediately, since the absurdist political comedy is actually a talkie.
But programmer Tom Hart explains that he wanted the series to start off with three talkies whose stars had roots in the silent era: Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy’s Way Out West was once Charlie Chaplin’s understudy; Limelight shows Chaplin himself as he transitioned into sound film; and the Marx Brothers got their start as vaudeville performers. After the first three, the series drops the dialogue and gets back to silence, with beautifully restored versions of silent films like The Lost World, Cyrano de Bergerac and It, all accompanied by live music.
“It’s a delightful experience to go back in time and see how a film could be held together without all the special effects and heavy soundtracks that we now get,” says Hart. “The acting and the comedy were paramount.”
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Duck Soup screens at 7:30 p.m. at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road in Boulder; films continue primarily on Wednesdays through August 6. Tickets — $10 general admission, $5 for members and children ten and under — are available at tickets.chautauqua.com. Passes to the entire twelve-film series are $96 ($48 for members). Visit chautauqua.com/silent_film_series.php for more information.
Wed., May 21, 7:30 p.m., 2014