Sunday, November 30, 2008

Madalena weekend at MoMA

Here's a photo of the Miditzer set up in Titus 1 theatre at MoMA. I accompanied The Last Command (2 times), Old Ironsides (2 times), Sally of the Sawdust and Hotel Imperial over 3 days on Thanksgiving weekend, using the Miditzer. MoMA's projectionists and A/V staff were terrific getting the sound right, and we had great crowds at all 6 shows.

Out of all the films The Last Command affected me the most. When I accompany a film you go on the journey, emotionally, with the actors and when it's a really strong performances – like in this picture, with amazing performances by Emil Jannings and William Powell – I found myself in an emotional state at the end of the picture...both times. While accompanying this film I remembered Lee Erwin talking about holding back during the romantic scenes, because you've got this heavy-set older guy "making love" (in the 1920's sense of the phrase) to Evelyn Brent, and you need to watch out for iadvertent laughter. The connection they have is about how much they both love Russia, and so you have to underscore that somehow while not sounding too romantic so no one chuckles.

Old Ironsides is an okay-to-good big-budget Paramount helmed by James Cruze. I'm glad I got to see it and play for it twice – spotted Spec O'Donnell in an unbilled bit part in the last third of the film – but I have yet to be really impressed by Cruze's dramas. Sally played much bhetter than I expected it would with the crowd; it's not a film I'm wild about, between Dempster's lack of screen presence and Griffith's mis-handling all the comedy, but the audience was really into it and cheered at a few moments and laughed at a lot of Fields' business.

Miditzer sounded great, and I added a piano rank for the last day of shows. There's a nice sense of whimsy in adding a piano to an organ registration, and it was nice having that in the "orchestra".


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