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San Francisco Silent Film Festival's July Program of Classics Stars Brooks, Garbo, Fairbanks and Films by Pabst, McCay, Ozu and More

Photo of Meredith Brody By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood May 23, 2013 at 11:17PM

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival ticks all of my boxes when it comes to enjoyable filmgoing experiences: it's brilliantly programmed, takes place in a dazzling and comfortable setting, unspools over a compact and encompassable time span, and has a respectful and joyous audience that enriches the experience. And (bonus) it's located in a neighborhood full of enticing and affordable eateries.

Greta Garbo in 'The Joyless Street'
Greta Garbo in 'The Joyless Street'

Jacques Feyder's "Gribiche," about a child torn between his lower-class Parisian roots and the rich American widow who wants to adopt and educate him, plays in a tinted print recently restored by the Cinematheque Francaise, which will be given the 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival Award at the screening.

"The House on Trubnaya Square," by Russian director Boris Barnet, is touted as "Best Soviet Silent Comedy ever" by the Festival.  A reconstructed print ("as close as possible to Pabst's intention") of G.W. Pabt's oft-censored German film "The Joyless Street," starring Asta Nielsen and a twenty-year-old Greta Garbo, finishes the day.

Another kid-friendly program opens the Sunday the 21st schedule: "Kings of (Silent) Comedy," short films featuring Chaplin, Keaton, Charley Chase, and Felix the Cat. The picturesque "The Outlaw and His Wife," starring and directed by Victor Sjostrom (familiar from his late starring role in Ingmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries"), plays in a new restoration by the Swedish Film Institute. Another "lost" film, "The Last Edition," an American film discovered in the Dutch national archive in 2011, has local interest, as it was shot in and around the building of the San Francisco Chronicle.  "The Weavers," a German film about an labor disturbance during the 1840s, features intertitles drawn by the corrosive George Grosz. And the festival wraps with the beloved, light-heated "Safety Last," starring bespectacled Harold Lloyd, famously dangling off a skyscraper's clock face, accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

And this year you can get in shape for the festival by attending a special event put on by the Silent Film Festival organization: the Hitchcock 9, nine silents by Alfred Hitchcock, newly restored by the BFI, all with live musical accompaniment, also at the Castro Theatre, a gluttonous weekend from June 14 through 16th. I can hardly wait.

This article is related to: Festivals, Alfred Hitchcock

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.