2017 Silent Film Festival

Presented by the Estes Park Film Festival

Action, romance, drama, laughter.   You can catch it all at the Silent Movie Festival is each Friday in July and August at 5pm at the Historic Park Theatre in Estes Park, Colorado.   This is entertainment for the whole family, from eight to eighty.  See stars like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle, Charlie Chase and many more. 

Each Friday there are three films accompanied by the live piano playing of Scott Flyin’ Fingers Wilseck.   Twenty minutes before the films start, you can listen to old time piano music in a historic theatre that was built over 100 years ago.  

So walk back into time and spend a late afternoon or evening at the movies of the silent era. 

Adult admission is $10.  One child is admitted free with each paying adult. 

The Estes Park Film Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the past and present accomplishments of the motion picture industry.   The Historic Park Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   For more information, call 970-586-8904.  

Film Schedule

THURSDAy - August 11 - 2:00pm

  • "Out West" is a 1918 American short comedy film, a satire on contemporary westerns, starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, and Al St. John.    

    The story involves Arbuckle coming to the western town of Mad Dog Gulch after being thrown off a train and chased by Indians. He teams up with gambler/saloon owner Bill Bullhorn (Buster Keaton), in trying to keep the evil Wild Bill Hickup (Al St. John) away from Salvation Army girl, Salvation Sue (Alice Lake). Fatty and Buster have a series of adventures trying to beat St. John, until they discover his one weakness: his ticklishness.
  • " Family Life" is a 1924 20 minute short comedy film.  It stars Mark Jones, Ruth Hiatt, Otto Fries, Sunshine Hart and Tommy Hicks.

    The Duff family shares a duplex bungalow with a police sergeant and his wife. While the Duffs endure a series of trials in making a home and finding ways to relax, the policeman is worried about tracking down Gypsy Joe and his gang. Soon, everyone involved meets up under unlikely and hazardous circumstances.
  • "One Week" is a 1920 American short comedy film starring comedian Buster Keaton, the first film to be released made by Keaton on his own; Keaton had worked with and for Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle for a number of years. Sybil Seely co-stars with Keaton.  

    The story involves two newlyweds, Keaton and Seely, who receive a build-it-yourself house as a wedding gift. The house can be built, supposedly, in "one week". A rejected suitor secretly re-numbers packing crates. The movie recounts Keaton's struggle to assemble the house according to this new "arrangement". The end result is depicted in the picture. As if this were not enough, Keaton finds he has built his house on the wrong site and has to move it. The movie reaches its tense climax when the house becomes stuck on railroad tracks. Keaton and Seely try to move it out the way of an oncoming train, which eventually passes on the neighboring track. As the couple look relieved, the house is immediately struck and demolished by another train coming the other way. Keaton stares at the scene, places a 'For Sale' sign with the heap (attaching the building instructions) and walks off with Seely.  

    In 2008, One Week was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  It has been reported that Buster Keaton put more fun into this movie than most slap-stick and trick-property comedies of that era.

FRIDAY:  August 12th, 7:00pm

  • "Danger Ahead" is a 1926 comedy based on a popular newspaper comic strip by C.W. Kahles, the Hairbreadth Harry.  These comedies lampooned Victorian melodramas with reckless abandon: absurd events follow outrageous gags that follow plentiful action.  It stars Earl McCarthy, Charlotte Merriam and Jack Cooper.

    The story involves the greedy, unscrupulous Rudolph who learns that Belinda has just inherited $10,000;  he decides to steal it from her. He and his henchmen arrive at her house just as the money is being delivered. Meanwhile, Hairbreadth Harry observes the whole scene, and he hides the money for Belinda. But while Rudolph keeps Harry and Belinda occupied, his henchmen are already going about the job of stealing the money.
  • "Roaming Romeo" is a 1928 comedy starring Lupino Lane as Belle-Hure, Lupino’s brother Wallace Lupino as Horatio Babaorum, Anita Garvin as The Princess and Stanley Blystone as The Emperor

    Lupino Lane is seldom ranked with the greatest silent screen comics, yet he was clearly a gifted performer of physical comedy. Lane made quite a few two-reel comedies in the late ‘20s. They tend to be jolly, fast-paced and packed with gags. Actually, a criticism of Lupino Lane is that he was overly focused on gags at the expense of basic characterization and story construction.

    "Roaming Romeo" is one of the better Lane two-reelers. The opening is a parody of the galley sequence from Ben-Hur with Ramon Novarro, a smash hit of 1926 that was still fresh in viewers' memories. Below decks in the galley ship we meet our star comedian and his sidekick,  played by Lane's real-life brother Wallace Lupino. The two of them, enslaved as oarsmen, manage to overpower the guard, then escape from the ship and swim to shore. Stealing outfits from two centurions who happen to be skinny-dipping, the escapees find themselves in a palace and masquerade as soldiers. From then on Lane and his buddy contend with various antagonists. First there's a hostile centurion officer who takes a dislike to our hero. One of the funniest bits comes when Lane starts to aim a kick at this guy, but when the officer catches him in the act Lane and his buddy quickly turn the action into a soft shoe dance. Later, our hero wins a wrestling match and is summoned by an aristocratic lady of the court (played by the great Anita Garvin). Before long, Lane has offended just about all the palace's authority figures and must flee with his sidekick. It ends on a disturbing note when the former galley slaves willingly swim back to their ship.
  • "The Adventurer" is an American short comedy film made in 1917 written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, and is the last of the twelve films he made under contract for the Mutual Film Corporation.  Many believe this is the greatest comedy short of all time. 

    Chaplin plays an escaped convict on the run from prison guards. He falls into favor with a wealthy family after he saves a young lady (Edna Purviance) from drowning, but her suitor (Eric Campbell) does everything he can to have Chaplin apprehended by the officials. How long will it be till the law catches up with him?  There's an great scene with him dodging the cops using sliding doors that will leave you laughing out loud. 

    The film also stars Henry Bergman and Albert Austin, and marked the final film with his long-standing co-star Eric Campbell who died on December 20, 1917 in a driving accident.  

SATURDAY - August 13th - 7:00pm

  • "Yukon Jake"  is a 1924 Max Sennett Comedy starring Ben Turpin as Sheriff Cyclone Bill, Natalie Kingston as Nell, Bud Ross as Nell's Father - the Mayor, Kalla Pasha as Yukon Jake, John J. Richardson The Peruna Kid (as Jack Richardson), Eli Stanton as Tony Macaroni, Andy Clyde as Eskimo Pie Vendor and Tiny Ward as Bathing Girls Chaperone.

    Cyclone Bill is the popular sheriff of Mustang Gulch, where "a gun in the hand is worth two on the hip." Bill keeps the town free of criminals, and is also in love with the mayor's daughter. But when Yukon Jake brings his gang to town, causing trouble and kidnapping Bill's girl, it looks as if Bill might have more trouble than he can handle.

    The manic styles of Ben Turpin and Mack Sennett (not to mention director Del Lord) work well in this comic Western, which parodies many of the conventions that were already commonplace even in the 1920's. While occasionally chaotic, most of it is amusing, and it's an example in which Sennett's unrestrained approach comes across well.  Turpin plays a confident but somewhat disorganized sheriff who has to take on a gang led by the fancy shooting bad guy "Yukon Jake". Besides plenty of Western/outdoors action, Sennett's story even throws in a parody of his own bathing beauty features. It's all unrefined, and even some of the special visual effects seem to have been done in a deliberately haphazard fashion, for the sake of comic effect. But in any case, most of this is quite entertaining, and it's a good short feature to watch if you enjoy silent comedies.
  • "Mighty Like a Moose"  (1926) is a Charley Chase short silent film that was directed by Leo McCarey. It was released on July 18, 1926.  It stars Charley Chase as Mr. Moose, Vivien Oakland as Mrs. Moose, Gale Henry as Wallflower at Party, Charles Clary as Dentist, Ann Howe as The Moose's Maid and Malcolm Denny as Gigolo at Party.

    In this short silent comedy, a homely husband and his equally unsightly wife improve their looks with plastic surgery without telling each other. The two later meet, and not recognizing each other, begin to flirt, both thinking they are cheating on their spouse. The film is representative of Chase's adroit blend of farce, surrealism, and sight gags.

    This two-reel short comedy is considered by some scholars to be Chase's finest silent film and is routinely listed among the greatest of all silent comedy short subjects. In 2007, Mighty Like A Moose was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, which recognizes American films deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  It’s a great short feature to watch if you enjoy silent comedies.
  • "The Rink," a silent film from 1916, was Charlie Chaplin's eighth film for Mutual Films. The film co-stars Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell, Henry Bergman, and Albert Austin, and is best known for showcasing Chaplin's roller skating skills.   If you are a Charlie Chaplin fan, this is a must see film.

    In one of Chaplin's most charming early short comedies, the little tramp starts out working as a waiter. There is a hilarious short scene where a customer calls him over for his check, and Charlie writes up the bill based on the food that the guy has spilled all over himself.  The skating scenes in the second half of the film are outstanding. It's amazing to see how good Chaplin was on skates, and some of the stunts he pulls off here are truly brilliant pieces of slapstick.   

SUNDAY - August 14 - 4:00pm

  • Festival Selections:  "Out West" (Thursday), "The Adventurer" (Friday) and "The Rink" (Saturday)