The General on 'The General'

It did me good to hear the boisterous cheers and laughter coming from the large audience during the Atlanta Fox presentation of Buster Keaton's "The General," an 84-year-old silent movie, "the number 18 greatest film of all time," according to the American Film Institute.

Clark Wilson, resident organist of the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, was the nimble guest performer at the keys of the powerful Mighty Mo. He accompanied the film with his rousing, tender, and patriotic musical score, weaving together appropriate melodies of The War Between the States period. I found the evening moving. I was proud and happy for Buster.

As a projectionist, "The General" was also excellent because we had no need for the usual, somewhat tedious regimen of sound checks and adjustments. Boys and girls, silents are our friends!

"Buster Keaton Performing Stunts in 'The General'" via YouTube


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Good to see you were up in the Fox booth at the recent THE GENERAL screening - I'm sure it was a superb image! I'm wondering - what was the film speed used? And was it a full frame silent aperture archive print? Or? I well remember our sellout screenings of Lon Chaney's PHANTOM OF THE OEPRA over the years, and the TCM presented Erich von Stroheim THE MERRY WIDOW that we also recorded for the cable channel periodic broadcasts. What a house, what an organ! Looking forward to our next show together.

Dennis James

Mike Durrett said...

Hi Dennis,

Thank you for writing. Good to hear from you again. I remember running PHANTOM for your appearance at the Fox, gee, in the early '80s? That was an excellent experience. I missed your other visits, sadly. Life happens.

We had a 35mm sound print of THE GENERAL from, I'm told, the Douris/Rohauer Collection, which we muted, of course. It was decided to go at 20fps. Clark was comfortable with this speed.

Absolutely, come back to the Fox, terrific. Meanwhile, I've set my DVR for THE MERRY WIDOW (1925), which, yay, is on TCM:

Tue, Aug 24, 2010 8:30 AM EDT
Wed, Sep 22, 2010 6:00 AM EDT

How's that for timing? Tomorrow morning!

For the readers, more on THE MERRY WIDOW:

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