A note from Lindsey: Today is Tuesday, which would usually mean a What to Watch post here on TMP. I’ve decided to skip this weeks installment of WtW because I’m traveling and though they appear as simple lists, those posts take a loooot of time to construct. To make up for it, I bring you something even more fun: a review of a screening of a silent short, with live accompaniment!
As a model south-Eastern Michigander, I am the proud owner of a membership to The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village. Many, many fantastic events and exhibits are held at the museum and the Village, and one of my favorites is the annual Ragtime Street Fair.
Usually I go to the Ragtime Street Fair to hear great music from dedicated performers, dance like a fool, ride the Village’s train and eat way too much frozen custard. This year, there was a cherry on top of all of that fun, because the Village was holding screenings of the Mack Sennett short Lizzies of the Field at the Town Hall building!
We arrived at the Village just in time to catch the first Saturday screening of the short. “Just in time” means we got stuck in the back of the house. To see that the Town Hall was full of non-movie buffs who were excited to watch a silent film made me incredibly happy, though, so I didn’t mind letting them have the better seats!
Fantastic accompaniment aside, this was definitely a “no frills” screening. (I unfortunately didn’t catch the name of the organist who played, nor is it listed in the program guide.) A folding screen, the same type of which are often used in school presentations, was brought in since the building doesn’t have a mounted movie screen. (The Town Hall is used to house musical shows and short stage plays, so there’s usually no need for a screen.) The alignment of the projection was a little off, with a tiny bit of the image going off-screen at the top. I can’t fault the Village for this, though. I’ve never seen them do a film screening in the town hall before (though that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done, I’m not there every day); they made it work with what they had.
As for the film itself, Lizzies of the Field is one that I hadn’t ever seen before. This short was released in 1924 and clocks in around 15 minutes in length (prints vary; the Village showed a 13-minute version). It centers around a rivalry between two garages, which comes to a head when they compete in a major auto race. It’s fast-paced and full of great gags, and it had the audience in Town Hall roaring with laughter.
Slight projection problems aside, this screening (which was repeated five more times over the course of the weekend) was a great addition to the Ragtime Street Fair. Mack Sennett’s fun car-racing tale was the perfect choice to complement the upbeat, exciting mood of the day.