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Leonard Maltin

Silents Soar In San Francisco

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 18, 2012 1:00 AM
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  • 7 Comments
How many times can I learn the same lesson? I was going to skip a Sunday morning showing of Douglas Fairbanks’ 'The Mark of Zorro' at this year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival. After all, I know the movie by heart; I owned an 8mm print of it when I was a kid. But my wife and I arrived at the Castro Theatre in time to catch the last half-hour and decided to go inside the darkened auditorium.

Napoleon, Triumphant

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • March 26, 2012 4:03 AM
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  • 20 Comments
“Thrilling” is the only word to describe the experience of watching Abel Gance’s 5½ hour epic 'Napoleon', at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California this weekend, accompanied by Carl Davis and the Oakland East Bay Symphony. There are two more performances next weekend, and if you don’t make an effort to be there you’ll miss one of the great moviegoing events of your life.

Here Comes Napoleon!

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • March 5, 2012 1:00 AM
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  • 12 Comments
The San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s landmark screening of Abel Gance’s epic Napoleon with Carl Davis conducting a live orchestra is less than three weeks away. You don’t want to kick yourself afterwards for missing out on this experience: Kevin Brownlow’s 5½ hour restoration, in 35mm, with its revolutionary three-screen tryptich finale, in the beautifully restored, 3,000-seat Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California, accompanied by the Oakland East Bay Symphony. If you’re still on the fence about spending the money to travel there and purchase the not-inexpensive tickets, I would direct you to a list of Frequently Asked Questions about this two-weekend event.

Alexander Payne, Silent Film Aficionado

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • January 30, 2012 1:00 AM
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  • 11 Comments
Alexander Payne is once again an Oscar-nominated director, for his wonderful film 'The Descendants' (still my favorite picture of 2011), but you may not be aware that his love of cinema runs deep. When he agreed to introduce Lon Chaney in 'He Who Gets Slapped' at last year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival, he talked about his lifelong passion, and his love of silent film, with such eloquence that I later asked if he would allow me to reprint his speech. This seems as good a time as any.

Silent Films Soar In San Francisco

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 20, 2011 4:25 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Rare films from around the globe, featuring everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Walt Disney’s earliest animated characters, marked the 16th annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival this past weekend…along with the announcement of the Festival’s plans to screen Abel Gance’s Napoleon with a live orchestra next spring. (see separate story HERE).

Silent Films Live Again!

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • July 27, 2010 12:11 PM
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  • 1 Comment
To celebrate the 15th year of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, its directors decided to extend the event by an extra day, kicking off Thursday night and screening all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The results were exhausting but exhilarating. As in years past, near-capacity crowds turned out at every show, with several shows, like the newly-restored Metropolis, turning customers away.

Stepping Into The Past

  • By Leonard Maltin
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  • November 1, 2009 5:12 AM
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  • 0 Comments
As long as I’ve been attending the San Francisco Silent Film Festival I’ve been promising myself to visit the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum...and this year I finally got there. It’s an easy drive over the Bay Bridge to Fremont, California and the charming village of Niles, which looks much as it did when G.M. “Bronco Billy” Anderson discovered it in the teens and decided to build a studio there. Dedicated volunteers have restored the theater on Niles Boulevard that once showed silent films and turned it into a wonderful museum, filled with evocative memorabilia and early filmmaking equipment. It’s also a working theater where silent films are screened every Saturday, and tour groups are welcomed.

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