Ralph Pace and Glenn discuss preparations for FOLA’s ‘Silent Movie Festival’
FOLA (Friends of Ludlow Auditorium) produced its third annual ‘Silent Movie Festival’ this past week. Over 85 people enjoyed the comedy of Buster Keaton in a short skit and the feature film, “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” Making the event even more enjoyable, Jeff Rapsis provided musical background for the Keaton feature film while Ludlow’s own Glenn Brown played the upright grand piano he donated to the town for the introductory comedy skit. Judging from the enthusiastic response of the audience, the music of Rapsis and Brown was deemed to be a great success. Pictured above are Ralph Pace of FOLA and Glenn Brown as they prepare to start the festival activities. FOLA plans to continue presenting silent films at the Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium and is already planning for its festival films for the next season.
Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
Four Ludlow businesses joined with FOLA (Friends of Ludlow Auditorium) in sponsoring FOLA’s special series of summer movies. According to FOLA representative Ralph Pace, that organization decided it would be nice to show some “old-fashion Hollywood musicals that had great music to entrertain”. FOLA also decided that it would continue its other summer tradition of showing silent movies.
In keeping with this effort, four area businesses have decided to sponsor the films.
The series will begin on Sunday, June 16 at 7 PM with the presentation of the hit musical “Guys and Dolls”, starring Marlon Brando, Frank sinatra, Jean Simmons, and Vivian Blaine. Sponsored by the DJs Restaurant, the film reflects Frank Loesser’s musical tribute of Damon Runyon’s view of the gambling side of New York City.
The next movie musical will be the Leonard Bernstein hit, “West Side Story”, on Sunday, July 21 at 7 PM. Starring Natalie Woods in this modern day version of Romeo and Juliet, this award-winning film will be sponsored by Ludlow Insurance Agency. It contains such classic songs as ‘Tonight’, ‘Puerto Rico’, ‘I Feel Pretty’, ‘Somewhere’, and ‘The Jets’.
The final musical will be a surprise presentation of one (or more) of the fabulous films made by the dynamic dancing duo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (pictured above). Sponsored by the Calm Moments Spa, the selected film (of films) will feature the superb dancing of this team that defined the Hollywood musical of the 1930′s and 40′s. This will be presented on Sunday, August 11 at 7 PM.
Concluding this special FOLA summer series will be the Silent Movie Festival on Saturday, August 17 at 7 PM. This event will be sponsored by The Book Nook. The festival will begin with a short comedy, possibly one featuring the young Gloria Swanson; live music background piano music will be provided by a local pianist. The main feature will be Buster Keaton’s famous ‘Steamboat Bill, Jr.’ with music provided by Jeff Rapsis who thoroughly encanted last year’s audience playing for the silent film ‘Wings’.
All of these films will be presented at the Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium; the films are free to everyone although donations to underwrite costs are appreciated.
FOLA will also be presenting its regular monthly films during this period at the Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium at 7 PM. The schedule includes:
* June 8 – ‘The Verdict’ with Paul Newman
* July 6 – ‘Skyfall’ – a James Bond film
* August 3 – ‘Argo’
* September 7 – ‘The Life of Pi’
Free popcorn is available at all these films courtesy of Berkshire Bank.
Posted in Ludlow, Regional
Tagged Bust Keaton, Calm Moments Spa, DJs Restaurant, FOLA, Fred Astaire, Friends of Ludlow Auditorium, Ginger Rogers, Gloria Swanson, Guys and Dolls, Ludlow Insurance Agency, movie musicals, silent movies, Steamboat Bill, The Book Nook, West Side Story
While FOLA (Friends of Ludlow Auditorium) has predominantly showed relatively recent motion pictures as part of its mission to offer films in the restored Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium, its past two excursions into silent films have been very successful according to FOLA Chair, Ralph Pace.
“We were particularly pleased with the large audience that came to our presentation of ‘Wings’”, Pace noted. “Over 100 people sat mystified for the two
and a half hour movie dealing with air cimbat in World War I and listing to the background music of Jeff Rapsis.”
Rapsis also spent considerable time following the film, answering audience questions about both the movie and his original musical compositions he played during it.
He added that Rapsis’ original music complemented the plot of the music and, as stated by Pace, “simply caused everyone to become totally engrossed in a movie that had a solid plot, excellent performers, and, for equipment available in 1927, exceptional photography”.
Previously, FOLA had presented an evening of silent movie comedies featuring Buster Keaton and the Perils of Pauline. Pace suggested that FOLA will consider displaying other classic silent movies such as Metropolis and Phantom of the Opera. He encouraged everyone interested in this project to offer suggestions as to silent movies they would like to see by sending emails to email@example.com or using the contact form at the FOLA web site, www.fola.us.
Submitted by Jeff Rapsis
Silent film with live music returns to Ludlow Town Hall in October with ‘Wings’ (1927), an epic drama set in World War I that won ‘Best Picture’ honors at the very first Academy Awards ceremony. ‘Wings’ will be revived for one showing only at the Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.
The screening, sponsored by the Friends of the Ludlow Auditorium, will allow audiences to experience silent film in the way its makers originally intended: on the big screen, with live music, and with an audience.
‘Wings,’ a blockbuster hit in its original release, recounts the adventures of U.S. pilots flying combat missions behind enemy lines at the height of World War I in Europe. ‘Wings’ stunned audiences with its aerial dogfight footage, vivid and realistic battle scenes, and dramatic love-triangle plot.
The screening of ‘Wings’ will feature live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based composer who specializes in creating music for silent film presentations.
‘Wings’ stars Clara Bow, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, and Richard Arlen. The rarely-seen film also marked one of the first screen appearances of Gary Cooper, who plays a supporting role. Directed by William Wellman, ‘Wings’ was lauded by critics for its gripping story, superb photography, and technical innovations.
‘Wings’ will be screened with live music on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. at Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium, 137 Depot St. in Ludlow, Vt. Admission is free; donations are encouraged to support ongoing activities by the Friends of the Ludlow Auditorium.
” ‘Wings’ is not only a terrific movie, but seeing it on the big screen is a great chance for everyone to appreciate what our servicemen and women endured in World War I,” accompanist Jeff Rapsis said. “It’s a war that has faded somewhat from our collective consciousness, but it defined life in the United States for a big chunk of the 20th century. This film captures how World War I affected the nation, and also shows in detail what it was like to serve one’s country a century ago.”
‘Wings’ is notable as one of the first Hollywood films to take audiences right into the trenches and vividly depict battlefield action. Aviation buffs will also enjoy ‘Wings’ as the film is loaded with scenes of vintage aircraft from the early days of flight.
Rapsis, a New Hampshire composer who specializes in film music, will create a score for ‘Wings’ on the spot, making up the music as the movie unfolds to enhance the action on the screen as well respond to audience reactions. He will perform the music on a digital synthesizer, which is capable of producing a wide range of theatre organ and orchestral textures.
“Live music was an integral part of the silent film experience,” Rapsis said. “However, most films at the time weren’t released with sheet music or scores. Studios relied on local musicians to come up with an effective score that was different in every theater. At its best, this approach created an energy and a connection that added a great deal to a film’s impact. That’s what I try to recreate,” Rapsis said.
‘Wings’ will be screened on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. at Ludlow Town Hall Auditorium, 137 Depot St. in Ludlow, Vt. The screening is sponsored by the Friends of the Ludlow Auditorium. Admission is free; donations are encouraged. For more information about the Friends of the Ludlow Auditorium and other events, visit www.fola.us or call (802) 228-7239. For more info on the music, visit www.jeffrapsis.com.