Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Horrific day

Last evening, Samos, Michelle, my friend Laura and I went to the Silent Movies at the Paramount with organist Dennis James at the Mighty Wurlitzer. The current series is "Horror Movies", and the movie this week was The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Lon Chaney Sr. My primary response to it was “Wow!!!” And “Double Wow!!!!!” Somehow, I wasn’t expecting this movie to be fabulous. I had seen a version with Anthony Quinn when I was little, and hadn’t enjoyed it at all. In fact, it is one of those dreadful youthful memories of suffering that produce a little shudder in later life. My mother loved movies and didn’t love paying a babysitter, I suppose, so I saw many movies that were pretty boring. I remember when I was about five, my mother excitedly talking to my father about “Citizen Kane,” and the fun family outing we were going to have to see it. I was rather excited myself. You can imagine what a disillusioning experience that was! I read the novel (The Hunchback, not The Citizen) many, many years ago and liked that a lot better than I had the movie, but all I really remembered of the novel was Quasimodo slithering down the rope to save Esmeralda. All I remembered of the movie was mind numbing boredom. So, I went with low expectations. To my happy surprise, the movie was absolutely amazing. The sets – Paris in the 15th century – were incredible; dark, broody, sinister. The costumes were weird, as would be expected. The sort of thing that makes one glad one lives in a more sartorially causal age. Esmeralda was beautiful. The Hunchback was ugly. The story was exciting and had us on the edge of our seats for the second half. Seeing these silent classics in an appropriately contemporary Movie Palace with the incredible organ music of Dennis James is a marvelous experience. The organ is one of the very few theater organs left in its original theater. Interesting (to me at least) addendum: My father, as a boy, discovered a way to sneak into the Paramount, and went to the movies there for free all the time! Addendum #2: You can see Silent Movies at the Paramount every Monday in January. They are wonderful fun.


Knitman said...

Oh you brought back a memory of me being taken to see Dr Zhivago when I was 6. BORING. I was also taken to see, by a friend's parents most inappropriately,to see The Music Lovers when I was 11.
One thing I love about period drama is the way of dressing. I rather lament the fact that very few of us bother to dress up now and that the trainers/track suit thing is so acceptable everywhere. I also note that when we travel on the Continent, the mode of dress is the same all over. When I was a boy living in Germany, the mode of dress differed form country to country and parts of thereof.

chemgrrl said...

Oh, you saw Dennis James! He comes to my town every year on Halloween to play along with Nosferatu. What fun that is, and it sounds like you had a good time. :)

FugueStateKnits said...

OHMYGOSH!!! I remember seeing the Hunchback of ND when I was about 10 and being very upset by the cruelty of it. But to me the most stirring part was when he swooped down with his bell rope, saving Esmerelda by swooping down and lisping Shancuary! Shancuary!
I never thought a man so beautiful in my life!

Laura said...

Secretly, I worried that after a busy day, 2 hours seemed like a long time for a silent movie but once again I was engrossed by the film and thrilled by the music. And how about those great bell chiming sound effects. Thanks for introducing me to Silent Movie Mondays. I'm hooked now!!

SaRi said...

I wish I could join you.
Although we only take our children to kid's movies at the cinema, my son doesn't always enjoy the experience.