Norma Desmond would love it. This summer, the Chautauqua Silent Film Series will once more bring to Boulder a broad array of classics from Hollywood's silent era, along with a touch of vintage Fritz Lang, complete with live musical accompaniment. If some rude blabbermouth in the row behind you disturbs the proceedings, feel free to crown him with your parasol or walking stick. On Monday, June 23, the great Charles Chaplin returns to the screen in six short films, including the hilarious Kid Auto Races at Venice, and his brilliant 1918 parody of war in the trenches, Shoulder Arms. The Denver pianist and perfectionist Hank Troy, who has been enriching silent films with his sublime brand of emotional coloration for more than two decades, will play the accompaniment. No one is better.
As for Chaplin, his "little tramp" remains the most enduring character in the history of movies -- the unconquerable vagabond in baggy trousers and bowler, standing up to adversity with a touching mixture of bittersweet bravery and ruined elegance. As graceful as a dancer, as profound as any philosopher, Chaplin remains the soul of American comedy. Future Chautauqua Silent programs will include films by, among others, Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Harold Lloyd and "the Man of 1,000 Faces," Lon Chaney. On July 30, look for a rare showing of Lang's 1922 classic Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, Part II. Some screenings will feature the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.
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Monday's Chaplin program begins at 7:30 p.m. in Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road, Boulder. For more information, call 303-442-3282 or 303-440-7666. -- Bill Gallo