Oddball Films and guest curator Lynn Cursaro present The Twenties Aplenty: Saucy, Sassy, Silly . . . and How! The Jazz Age left us a bizarre record of itself and we’ll draw from newsreels, cartoons, stag curios, art film and comedy classics to get a little taste of that seemingly carefree time. The high-divers, whip-tricks and acrobatic feats of Oddball Stunts (1929) might seem antiquated, but they’re still jaw-dropping. The Fleischer Brothers and Betty Boop keep the flapper alive in 1930’s Any Rags? Laurel and Hardy get caught with their pants down in Liberty (1929), one of their best silents. Are the title cards the best thing about old time smut? Come see a delicious antique Untitled Stag Film (1920s) and judge for yourself! Cartoon favorites like the Di$ney classic and the very first sync-sound animation Steamboat Willie (1928) and Rudolph Ising's infectious musical Smile Darn, Ya, Smile(1931) are just as fresh as they ever were! The audacious experimental The Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra (1928) adds a dash of starkness to the proceedings with its subversive use of cutouts and miniatures.. And more tantalizing cinematic surprises. All films presented on real 16mm film. Homemade treats from the Kurator’s Kitchen included with admission. If you know your onions, you’ll be there!
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street, San Francisco
Admission: $10.00, RSVP Only to: 415-558-8117 or RSVP@oddballfilm.com
Liberty (B+W, 1929, Leo McCarey)
Recently escaped from prison, the boys change out of their convict’s stripes in such haste they but wind up in each other's trousers -- literally! But finding a quiet spot to swap bottoms in busy downtown LA means they get caught with their pants down by half the town! In classic Hal Roach Studio style, this all somehow leads to a perilous dance high above the streets on the exposed girders of a skyscraper! Twenty jam-packed minutes include a riotous set-piece with the King of the Slow Burn, James Finlayson. Plus: Jean Harlow in a bit part!
Although this zesty Betty Boop ‘toon dates from the 1930s, we still say she was the jazz baby for the ages! When you want a strong female lead, authentic jazz soundtracks and hyper-surreal imagery, you need look no further than the Fleischer brothers, and this trash to treasure classic does not disappoint. The ragman's got eyes for Miss Betty and if he can make enough money from auctioning off people's trash, he just might win her heart. Watch for Betty's Pre-Code Wardrobe Malfunction!
Yes, they were doing that in the 1920s! Poor Dora Somass, her sister seems to have forgotten to pick her up at the station. A phone call to a mysterious Mr. Hump soon has her sorted out until they get pinched for “parking”. As the intertitle tells us, “A swell jazz ruined by the eagle eye of the law!” Dora is tried in “chambers” and tried and tried! The makers of this vintage stag film went to the trouble of giving it a boffo ending, so the film will run in its entirety with some of the more monotonous boffing obscured by science!
Dream Flowers (B+W, 1930)
Beautiful black and white time lapse footage of the development of poppy flower and the various stages, both fascinating and otherworldly, that it goes through on the road towards becoming fit for opium smokers.
Streetcar routes in Merrie Melodies are off the rails! Foxy can take the challenge of hefty hippos or wayward cows in his stride when he has the jaunty title tune to keep him bouncing along. Loaded with the surreal touches that give any era a roaring 20’s jolt, it’s a must-see cartoon classic.
You want high divers? We got a knobby-kneed high diver splashing into a wooden tank! Whip tricks? How about a cowgirl with a classic Brooks bob getting cigarettes snapped from her lips by a deftly cracked whip. Heck, her pet dog even gets into the act. But if we were really being honest with you, we’d tell you that our favorite stunt is a surprisingly young and spy William Demarest doing some astounding acrobatics on his fron lawn in Hollywood . . . in a suit and tie, no less! You’ve never seen Uncle Charley like this before!
The Life and Death of 9413: A Hollywood Extra (B+W, 1928 Robert Florey/Slavko Vorkapich)
Expressionistic miniatures interspersed with close-up photography of actors tells the story of a young hopeful actor defeated by the ruthless Hollywood star system. According to co- director Robert Florey the total expenditure of the production was $97.00! Harsh and lovely in almost equal measure! Slavko Vorkapich would go on to devise beautiful and much-loved montage sequences in many films of Hollywood’s Golden age. Photographed by Gregg “Citizen Kane” Toland!
For early arrivals:
Reckless Rosie (B+W, 1929)
Rosie, chorus girl and part-time underwear model, is anything but reckless! After all, Mr. Bloomer trusts her with his revolutionary new two-in-one lingerie innovation. Sure, while hounded by rival panty purveyors, our steadfast heroine risks arrest to protect the top secret scanties, but that makes her stand up gal in our books. The thoroughly modern Frances Lee stars.
About the Curator
Lynn Cursaro is a local film weblogger. Over the past two decades, she has worked in research and administrative positions a variety of Bay Area film organizations. She thinks William Demarest should have been a much bigger star.
Oddball films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educationals, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.