Silents are golden at Bo'ness Hippodrome this Autumn

The award-winning Hippodrome Silent Film Festival – or HippFest as it is known – has announded its fourth Taste of Silents season.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 12:50 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 12:50 pm

While HippFest – which runs each Spring – is like the main course of a feat of film, Taste of Silents is the delicious starter which introduces new audiences to the rich and immersive world of silent film with live music with a selection of classics and rarities screened at the historic Hippodrome in Bo’ness.

Alison Strauss, festival director, said: “Our annual Taste of Silents season at the Hippodrome is an opportunity to tell more people about the joys of silent cinema – the epic stories, chilling suspense, mad-cap comedy, and more.

"Silent films offer everything we love about the cinema - along with the added pleasure of live music from the best accompanists and composers performing today. We hope to welcome some new faces along with our HippFest regulars to the Hippodrome this autumn to experience a flavour of what the world of silent film has to offer.”

Phyllis Haver stars as Roxie Hart in Chicago (1927)

This year’s Taste of Silents season begins on Saturday, September 11 with a double bill of short comedy films accompanied by musician, broadcaster and HippFest veteran Neil Brand on piano.

The double-bill includes all-time family-favourite Easy Street (1917), starring Charlie Chaplin as a reformed tramp who becomes a police constable and is assigned to rough and tumble Easy Street to deal with Eric the Tough.

This will be followed by everyone’s favourite double act Laurel and Hardy in the classic Wrong Again (1929), where they are given jobs as stable hands and are put in charge of a thoroughbred horse named Blue Boy. Confusion and hilarity ensues when the lads mistake the horse for a missing painting of the same name, and go in pursuit of the $5000 reward.

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Then on Saturday, September 25 the festival presents an adventurous double feature with GRASS: A Nation’s Battle for Life (1925) – an audience favourite screened earlier this year as part of HippFest online.

Portraying the migration of a nomadic tribe and over half a million animals across the mountains of Iran, this near-mythic odyssey, the staggering beauty of the scenery, and the film’s endearing moments of intimacy and warmth, are all heightened by Mike Nolan’s extraordinary live accompaniment on piano.

Later on the same day audiences can also enjoy The Epic of Everest (1924), a remarkable silent film and official record of the legendary Everest expedition of 1924, with live accompaniment from award-winning musician Stephen Horne on piano, accordion and flute.

Fast forward to Saturday, October 16 and Cecil B. DeMille’s saucy adaptation of Maurine Watkins’ successful stage play Chicago (1927). Filmed 75 years before Bob Fosse’s Oscar-winning musical version, this silent flick stars Phyllis Haver as the brazen Roxie Hart, with John Sweeney providing the razzle-dazzle of 1920’s Chicago live on piano.

The Taste of Silent 2021 season comes to a chilling end on Halloween, Sunday, October 31 with Haxan (1922), an enthralling mix of documentary and fiction. This Swedish horror film explores the history of witchcraft and has live accompaniment from Jane Gardner (piano) and Hazel Morrison (percussion).

HippFest will return to the Hippodrome for its full festival programme from March 16 to March, 2022.

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