actorartistbandsbiocalendarmy music
piano for hirepress • silent movies • site index
e-mail mehome
Nate Butler At The Silent Movies

Enjoy classics from the bygone days of silent cinema, as host Nate Butler plays the piano and provides insightful and occassionally irreverent commentary.


at Mia Cuppa Caffe (formerly Revue Cafe):
620 E. Olive Ave., Fresno CA 93728
(559) 499-1844
Admission is Pay What You Want.
Cartoons start at 7:00 PM - Feature film at 8:00
Coffees, teas, and many tasty edibles are made fresh and sold fresh on the premises.


at The Full Circle Brewery
620 F Street, Fresno, CA 93706
Admission is Pay What You Want.
Cartoons start at 7:00 PM - Feature film at 8:00
Beers, ales, stouts, root beer & wines are brewed and sold fresh on the premises.
21 and over only, unless accompanied by a parent.
NEXT: D.W. Griffith's
"Broken Blossoms” (1919)
Full Circle Brewery, Thur. Sept. 25

Broken Blossoms, or The Yellow Man and the Girl (directed by D. W. Griffith, 1919) stars Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess and Donald Crisp, and tells the story of young girl who is abused by her alcoholic prizefighting father but meets a kind-hearted Chinese man who falls in love with her. The difference in the lovers’ ages and ethnicity could be considered controversial even today.
SOON: An Evening of Buster Keaton/"Fatty" Arbuckle Shorts!
Mia Cuppa Caffe, Sat. Oct. 4

In Coney Island (1917) we follow Arbuckle's antics at Coney Island, where he sneaks away from his wife to enjoy the attractions, and we meet a younger Buster Keaton. Coney Island was filmed before Keaton had fully established his screen persona. Because of this, he employs a wide range of facial expressions, including mugging and laughing, differing drastically from his subsequent unsmiling, but still eloquent, expression. The Keystone Kops are also featured.

Several Arbuckle shorts use sight gags that other comedians elaborate on for other films. In Back Stage Arbuckle uses the falling wall sequence, a gag that Keaton elaborated on in his later films: A piece of the set falls on Fatty but a window in the set piece saves him from being crushed by it. Keaton used this gag in his first short One Week and much more famously in Steamboat Bill Jr.
SOON: Magical Georges Méliès!
Mia Cuppa Caffe, Sat. Nov. 1

Georges Méliès, a French illusionist and filmmaker, was a prolific innovator in the use of special effects, and was one of the first filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color in his work. Because of his ability to seemingly manipulate and transform reality through cinematography, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the first "Cinemagician". Two of his best-known films are A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904). Both stories involve strange, surreal voyages, somewhat in the style of Jules Verne, and are considered among the most important early science fiction films, though their approach is closer to fantasy.
Thur. Sept. 25 at Full Circle Brewery: D.W. Griffith's "Broken Blossoms"
Sat. Oct. 4 at Mia Cuppa Caffe: Buster Keaton/"Fatty" Arbuckle Shorts!
Sat. Nov. 1 at Mia Cuppa Caffe: Magical Georges Méliès!
Sat. Dec. 6 at Mia Cuppa Caffe: Santa's Silent Shorts!
Previous Films In This Series:
"Ben Hur” (1925)

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is an epic film directed by Fred Niblo, starring Ramón Novarro, and based on the 1880 novel by Lew Wallace. In 1997, Ben-Hur was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Ben-Hur is a wealthy Jew and boyhood friend of the powerful Roman Tribune, Messala. When an accident leads to Ben-Hur's arrest, Messala, who has become corrupt and arrogant, makes sure Ben-Hur and his family are jailed and separated.

Shown August 28, 2014 at Full Circle Brewery
Charles Chaplin's "The Circus” (1928)

The Circus was written and directed by Charlie Chaplin and released in 1928. In the film, the ringmaster of an impoverished circus hires Chaplin's Little Tramp as a clown, but discovers that he can only be funny unintentionally, not on purpose.

The production of the film was the most difficult experience in Chaplin's career. Numerous problems and delays occurred, including a studio fire, the death of Chaplin's mother, as well as Chaplin's bitter divorce from his second wife Lita Grey, and the Internal Revenue Service's claims of Chaplin's owed back taxes, all of which culminated in filming being stalled for eight months. The Circus was the seventh highest grossing silent film in cinema history, taking in more than $3.8 million in 1928. Many critics consider it and The Gold Rush to be Chaplin's two best comedies.

Shown July 5, 2014 at Mia Cuppa Caffe
Fritz Lang's "Die Nibelungen: Siegfried” (1925)

Die Nibelungen (The Nibelungs) is a series of two silent fantasy films created by Austrian director Fritz Lang in 1924: Die Nibelungen: Siegfried and Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge. The screenplays for both films were co-written by Lang's then-wife Thea von Harbou, based upon the epic poem 'Nibelungenlied' written around 1200 AD.

Siegfried, the son of King Siegmund, forges a sharp sword and hears stories from the locals about Princess Kriemhild. He decides to go to Worms to win Kriemhild. Along his journey, he kills a dragon and baths in its blood to become invincible.

Because of the 2 1/2 hour length of this film, we watched the first half on Thursday March 27, and we'll watch the second half on Thursday April 24.
Buster Keaton in "The Navigator” (1924)

Wealthy Rollo Treadway (Buster Keaton) suddenly decides to propose to his neighbor across the street, Betsy O'Brien (Kathryn McGuire), and sends his servant to book passage for a honeymoon sea cruise to Honolulu. When Betsy rejects his sudden offer however, he decides to go on the trip anyway, boarding without delay that night. Because the pier number is partially covered, he ends up on the wrong ship, the Navigator, which Betsy's rich father (Frederick Vroom) has just sold to a small country at war.

The Navigator contains some of the most elaborate and well-known stunts by Keaton. Film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote that the film "proved to be Keaton's biggest commercial success. Its theme of civilized man versus the machine (seen as making life difficult for modern man because we have become so dependent on it and it's not always reliable), was never used more effectively in cinema."

Shown April 5, 2014 at Mia Cuppa Caffe
F.W. Murnau's "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans”

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) German film director F. W. Murnau was one of the leading figures in German Expressionism, a style that uses distorted art design for symbolic effect, and was invited by William Fox to make an Expressionist film in Hollywood. The resulting film features enormous stylized sets that create an exaggerated, fairy-tale world; the city street set alone reportedly cost over $200,000 to build and was re-used in many subsequent 20th Century Fox productions.

Sunrise won an Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Production at the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, and the Sight and Sound poll of 2012 for the British Film Institute named it the fifth-best film in the history of motion pictures by critics, and 22nd by directors.

Shown February 27, 2014 at Full Circle Brewing Co.
Harry Langdon in “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” (1926)

Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926) tells of Harry (Harry Langdon) a ne'er-do-well who falls in love with Betty (Joan Crawford -- yes, that Joan Crawford). Harry participates in a cross country foot race hoping to win prize money in hopes of marrying her.

In a recent review of the 1926 film, critic Maria Schneider wrote, "Langdon was most often cast as an oblivious innocent adrift in a corrupt world, a formula that made him terrifically popular in the mid-1920s ... An acquired taste, Harry Langdon's gentle absurdities and slow rhythms take some getting used to, but patient viewers will be rewarded."

Shown February 1, 2014 at Mia Cuppa Caffe
“La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc” (1928)

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) is based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc. The film was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, and stars Renée Jeanne Falconetti. It is widely regarded as a landmark of cinema, especially for its production, Dreyer's direction, and Falconetti's performance, which has been described as being among the finest in cinema history. The film summarizes the time that Joan of Arc was a captive of England. It depicts her trial, imprisonment, torture, and execution.

Shown January 30, 2014 at Full Circle Brewing Co.
Harold Lloyd in “The Freshman” (1925)

The Freshman tells the story of a college freshman trying to become popular by joining the school football team. It remains one of Lloyd's most successful and enduring films. In 1990, The Freshman was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", going in the second year of voting and being one of the first 50 films to receive such an honor.

Widely considered one of Lloyd's most hilarious, well-constructed films, The Freshman was Lloyd's most successful silent film of the 1920s, and was hugely popular at the time of its release. It sparked a craze for college films that lasted well beyond the 1920s.

Shown January 4, 2014 at Mia Cuppa Caffe
Louise Brooks in "Pandora's Box" (1928)

Pandora's Box was directed in 1929 by Austrian filmmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst, and stars Louise Brooks. Brooks' portrayal of a seductive, thoughtless young woman whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring ruin to herself and those who love her, although initially unappreciated, eventually made the actress a star.

Modern critics now praise the film as one of the classics of Weimar Germany's cinema, along with The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari, Metropolis, The Last Laugh, and The Blue Angel. Film critic Roger Ebert reviewed the film in 1998 with great praise, and remarked of Brooks' presence, "she regards us from the screen as if the screen were not there; she casts away the artifice of film and invites us to play with her".

Shown November 16, 2013 at Full Circle Brewing Co.
Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lodger" (1927)

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and was based on a novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes and a play Who Is He? co-written by Belloc Lowndes. The film is about the hunt for a "Jack the Ripper" type of serial killer in London.

While Hitchcock had made two previous films, in later years the director would refer to The Lodger as the first true "Hitchcock film".

Shown October 19, 2013 at Full Circle Brewing Co.

Frank Capra's "The Strong Man" (1926)

The Strong Man (1926) stars Harry Langdon and was directed by Frank Capra. The Strong Man is Langdon's best known film.

Variety magazine wrote, "A whale of a comedy production that has a wealth of slapstick, a rough-and-tumble finish and in the earlier passages bits of pantomimic comedy that are notable. Harry Langdon has a comic method distinct from other film fun makers. The quality of pathos enters into it more fully than the style of any other comedian with the possible exception of Chaplin. His gift of legitimate comedy here has a splendid vehicle." In 2007, The Strong Man was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Shown October 5, 2013 at Revue Cafe

D. W. Griffith's "Orphans of the Storm" (1921)

Orphans of the Storm (1921) was directed by D. W. Griffith and set in late 18th century France, before and during the French Revolution. This was the last Griffith film to feature Lillian and Dorothy Gish, and is often considered Griffith's last major commercial success, after box-office hits such as Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, and Broken Blossoms.

As in his earlier films, Griffith used historical events to comment on contemporary events, in this case the French Revolution and the rise of Bolshevism. The film is about class conflict and a plea for inter-class understanding and against destructive hatred.

Shown in two parts on August 17 & September 21, 2013 at Full Circle Brewing Co.

Buster Keaton in "Our Hospitality" (1923)

Our Hospitality was directed, produced, written by and stars Buster Keaton. Released in 1923 by Metro Pictures Corporation, the movie uses slapstick and situational comedy to tell the story of Willie McKay, a city slicker who gets caught in the middle of the infamous Canfield & McKay feud, an obvious satire of the real-life Hatfield-McCoy feud. The Canfield and McKay families have been feuding for so long, no one remembers the reason the feud started in the first place.

This is the only film to feature three generations of Keatons. Buster's father plays a train engineer while Buster's infant son plays a baby version of Buster in the film's prologue.

Shown September 7, 2013 at Revue Cafe

Harold Lloyd in "Why Worry?" (1923)

Why Worry? is a 1923 American comedy silent film starring Harold Lloyd. It was made shortly after and within the same year as Lloyd's most well-known film today, Safety Last! (1923). This was the last film made in Lloyd's partnership with Hal Roach.

Harold Van Pelham (Lloyd) is a rich businessman who fancies himself deathly sick when in fact he is perfectly fine. He decides to sail to a small, nearly unknown island some distance West of South America named "El Paradiso" for his health.

Shown August 3, 2013 at Revue Cafe

F. W. Murnau's "Faust" (1926)

Faust is a 1926 silent film directed by F. W. Murnau. Murnau's film draws on older traditions of the legendary tale of Faust as well as on Goethe's classic version. Faust was Murnau's last German film, and directly afterward he moved to the US under contract to William Fox to direct Sunrise (1927).

The demon Mephisto has a bet with an Archangel that he can corrupt a righteous man's soul and destroy in him what is divine. If he succeeds, the Devil will win dominion over earth.

Shown July 20, 2013 at Full Circle Brewing Co.

Mabel Normand in "The Extra Girl" (1923)

Produced by Mack Sennett and starring Mabel Normand, The Extra Girl followed earlier films about the film industry and also paved the way for later films about Hollywood. It was still unusual in 1923 for filmmakers to make a film about the southern California film industry, then little more than ten years old. Still, many of the Hollywood clichés of small town girls travelling to Hollywood to become film stars are here to reinforce the myths of Tinseltown.

Sue Graham (Normand) is a small town girl who travels to Hollywood to escape marriage, and in the hope of becoming a motion picture star. She wins a contract with a studio on the strength of a picture of a quite different (and very attractive) girl sent instead of hers; but when she arrives the mistake is discovered ...

Shown July 6, 2013 at Revue Cafe

Charles Chaplin's "City Lights" (1931)

Today, City Lights is thought of as not only one of the highest accomplishments of Chaplin's prolific career, but as one of the greatest films ever made. Although classified as a comedy, City Lights has an ending widely regarded as one of the greatest, and most moving in cinema history.

Shown June 3, 2013 at Revue Cafe

Conrad Veidt in "The Hands of Orlac" (1924)

The Hands of Orlac (German: Orlacs Hände) is a 1924 Austrian silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene and starring Conrad Veidt, Alexandra Sorina and Fritz Kortner. The film's plot is based on the story Les Mains d'Orlac by Maurice Renard. Wiene had made his name as a director of Expressionist films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and in The Hands of Orlac combined expressionist motifs with more naturalistic visuals. The film has been remade twice.

Concert pianist Paul Orlac (Conrad Veidt) loses his hands in a horrible railway accident. His wife Yvonne (Alexandra Sorina) pleads with a surgeon to try and save Orlac’s hands. The surgeon decides to try and transplant new hands onto Orlac, but the hands he uses are those of a recently-executed murderer named Vasseur. From that point forward, the pianist is tortured by the presence of a knife he finds at his house, just like that used by Vassuer, and the desire to kill.

Shown May 18, 2013 at Full Circle Brewing Co.

Douglas Fairbanks in
"The Black Pirate" (1926)

The Black Pirate is a 1926 silent adventure film shot entirely in two-strip Technicolor about an adventurer and a "company" of pirates. The Black Pirate was the third feature to be filmed in an early two-tone Technicolor process that had been first introduced in the 1922 feature Toll of the Sea. This reproduces a limited but pleasing range of colors. Ben-Hur— filmed around the same time — contains two-tone sequences but is shot primarily in black-and-white with tinting and toning in many scenes.

Shown May 4, 2013 at Revue Cafe

"The Blot" (1921)

The Blot was directed by Lois Weber with her husband Phillips Smalley in 1921.The film tackles the social problem of genteel poverty, focusing on a struggling family.

The Professor dispenses the wisdom of the ages and does not make a living wage. The sons of the rich and powerful are students lacking any motivation. The next door neighbor of the Professor, businessman Olsen, has money and lots of food, while the Griggs have hardly any. Both Peter Olsen and Reverend Gates are taken by the beauty of young Amelia Griggs. When rich son Phil West falls for Amelia Griggs and befriends the poor Reverend Gates, he finally sees the difference in his life and theirs and tries to do something to change that.

Shown March 16, 2013 at Full Circle Brewing Co.

"The Golem" (1920)

The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920), directed by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese, and starred Wegener as the golem. The script was adapted from the 1915 novel “The Golem” by Gustav Meyrink. The film was the third of three films that Wegener made featuring the golem, but the other two are considered lost.

In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being, created entirely from inanimate matter. The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material in Psalms and medieval writing. The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late-16th-century chief rabbi of Prague.

The film is set in Jewish ghetto of medieval Prague. In an elaborate magical procedure, a rabbi summons the demon Astaroth who is then enclosed in an amulet. The amulet is inserted into the Golem's chest and the creature comes to life. Famulus tames the Golem, and the Rabbi uses it as a household servant.

Wegener had been unhappy with his previous attempt to tell the Golem story (Der Golem, 1915) due to compromises he had to make during its production. This second attempt is meant to more directly mimic the legend as he heard it told in Prague. The cinematography of Karl Freund, in collaboration with Poelzig and Wegener, is cited as one of the most outstanding examples of German Expressionism.

Shown February 23, 2013 at Full Circle Brewing Co.

"The Eyes of the Mummy" (1918)

Die Augen der Mumie Ma (English language The Eyes of the Mummy) is a 1918 German silent film directed by Ernst Lubistch. The film stars Pola Negri, Emil Jannings, and Harry Liedtke. It is the first collaboration between Lubitsch and Negri, a pairing that would go on to make worldwide successes such as Carmen (1918), Madame DuBarry (1919), and Sumurun (1920).

A young, wealthy painter named Wendland travels to Egypt, where he hears about the tomb of Queen Ma, a site far out into the desert that has reportedly driven everyone who has visited it mad. Intrigued, the painter arranges to be taken to the tomb.

Shown January 19, 2013 at Full Circle Brewing Co.

Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (1927)

Metropolis is a German Expressionist science fiction film set in a futuristic urban dystopia, and examines a common science fiction theme of the day: the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism.

The most expensive film of its time, Metropolis cost approximately 7 million Reichsmark to make. The film was cut substantially after its German premiere, and there have been several efforts to restore it, as well as rediscoveries of previously lost footage. Due to recent discoveries, we now have the definitive ‘final cut’!

Shown July 1, 2010 (Vangelis 80's Version) at Revue Cafe, and the Fully Restored Version in Two Parts on July 21 and August 18, 2012 at Full Circle Brewery

Buster Keaton in "Sherlock Jr." (1924)

Sherlock, Jr. (1924) stars and was directed by Buster Keaton. While showing a film about the theft of a pearl necklace, a movie theater projectionist falls asleep and dreams that he enters the movie as a detective. Keaton spent more time shooting this film than most of his others, due to the elaborate stunts and effects.

Recently, Time magazine named Sherlock, Jr. as one of the All-Time 100 Movies. They wrote, "The impeccable comedian directs himself in an impeccable silent comedy...Is this, as some critics have argued, an example of primitive American surrealism? Sure. But let's not get fancy about it. It is more significantly, a great example of American minimalism—simple objects and movement manipulated in casually complex ways to generate a steadily rising gale of laughter ... In an age when most comedies are all windup and no punch, this is the most treasurable of virtues."

Shown July 7, 2012 at Revue Cafe

Buster Keaton in "College" (1927)

Set in Southern California, College opens with Ronald (Buster Keaton) graduating high school as the school’s “most brilliant scholar”. At his graduation, Ronald speaks on “the Curse of the Athlete”, arguing that books are more important than athletics. Ronald decides to follow Mary, who rejected him because she loves athletes more than book worms, to Clayton which the dean describes as an “athlete-infested college”. Hoping to impress Mary, Ronald tries out for the baseball and track and field teams but proves to be totally inept at them.

Shown June 23, 2012 at Revue Cafe

"The Man Who Laughs" (1928)

This remarkable film is as visually stunning as it is emotionally resonant. Conrad Veidt stars as Gwynplaine, a nobleman’s son who is kidnapped by a political enemy, and then is mutilated by a gypsy ‘surgeon’ who carves a monstrous smile on his face. Finding shelter in a traveling freak show, Gwynplaine falls in love with a blind girl (The Phantom of the Opera’s Mary Philbin), the one person who cannot be repulsed by his appearance. As years pass, the hand of fate draws Gwynplaine back into the world of political intrigue.

Film critic Roger Ebert stated "The Man Who Laughs is a melodrama, at times even a swashbuckler, but so steeped in Expressionist gloom that it plays like a horror film." Oh, and it’s kinda dark.

Shown January 15, 2011 and again on May 18, 2012, both at Full Circle Brewery

"20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" (1916)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was directed by Stuart Paton. The film's storyline is (very loosely) based on the novel of the same name by Jules Verne, along with other elements used from Verne's The Mysterious Island.

This version is notable for its groundbreaking work in underwater photography by the brothers George M. Williamson and J. Ernest Williamson. Actual underwater cameras were not used, but a system of watertight tubes and mirrors allowed the camera to shoot reflected images of underwater scenes staged in shallow sunlit waters.

Shown March 17, 2012 at Full Circle Brewery

Rudolph Valentino in "The Sheik" (1921)

When The Sheik premiered in Los Angeles in October 1921, critical reception was mixed. However it was a major success with audiences, smashing attendance records where it debuted. The New York Telegraph estimated that in the first few weeks 125,000 people had seen the film.

Male moviegoers instantly loathed The Sheik, most refusing to see it or laughing out loud at the love scenes. Many men would walk out during film and/or felt threatened by Valentino's style of lovemaking, and many called him effeminate for the long flowing robes of the character. But female moviegoers could not get enough of Valentino. The Sheik became the movie that defined Valentino's career, much to his annoyance.

Shown February 18, 2012 at Full Circle Brewery

Charles Chaplin in "Modern Times" (1936)

Modern Times was written and directed by Charles Chaplin, and has his iconic Little Tramp character struggling to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and fiscal conditions many people faced during the Great Depression, conditions created, in Chaplin's view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialization. The movie also stars a radiant Paulette Goddard.

Shown January 28, 2012 at Revue Cafe

Lon Chaney in "Flesh And Blood" (1922)

Silent movie legend Lon Chaney plays an escaped convict who disguises himself as a cripple to elude the police so he can see his daughter (Edith Roberts). But she is engaged to the son of the crook who framed him, complicating his plan of revenge. Although he was already an up-and-coming actor of note, it would be another year before Chaney became a major star (and future Hollywood legend) in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera.

Shown January 20, 2012 at Full Circle Brewery

Nate At The Movies Goes Christmas 2011 (at Full Circle Brewery)

Starting at 7:00 PM, we will screen cartoons and shorts with a Christmas theme. Then, at 8:00 PM, we’ll view an early silent film adaptation of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, featuring your host Nate Butler on the piano. Following that we will watch Santa Claus Conquers the Martians in MST3K mode!

Shown December 3, 2011 at Full Circle Brewery

Nate At The Movies Goes Christmas 2011 (at Revue Cafe)

Starting at 7:00 PM, we will screen cartoons and shorts with a Christmas theme. Then, at 8:00 PM, we’ll view an early silent film adaptation of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, featuring your host Nate Butler on the piano. Following that we will continue to watch rare cartoons and shorts about Santa Claus, including the moving MGM classic “Peace On Earth.”

Shown December 17, 2011 at Revue Cafe

Georges Melies' "A Trip to the Moon” (1902)

Georges Méliès’ classic A Trip to the Moon! Plus other short subjects by Méliès, who is arguably the father of film special effects.

Georges Méliès was a French filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest cinema. He was very innovative in the use of special effects. He was one of the earliest filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color in his films. Because of his ability to seemingly manipulate and transform reality through cinematography, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the first "cinemagician." Before making films, he was a stage magician at the theatre Robert-Houdin.

He directed 531 films between 1896 and 1914, ranging in length from one to forty minutes. In subject matter, these films are often similar to the magic theater shows that Méliès had been doing, containing "tricks" and impossible events, such as objects disappearing or changing size.

His most famous film is A Trip to the Moon, made in 1902, which includes the celebrated scene in which a spaceship hits the eye of the man in the moon. Also famous is The Impossible Voyage from 1904. Both of these films are about strange voyages, somewhat in the style of Jules Verne. These are considered to be some of the most important early science fiction films, although their approach is closer to fantasy.

Shown November 26, 2011 and August 3, 2012 at Revue Cafe

Douglas Fairbanks in
"The Three Musketeers” (1921)

The Three Musketeers
(1921) is an American silent film based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, starring Douglas Fairbanks as d'Artagnan.
The young Gascon D'Artagnan arrives in Paris , his heart set on joining the king's Musketeers. He is taken under the wings of three of the most respected and feared Musketeers: Porthos, Aramis, and Athos. Together they fight to save France and the honor of a lady from the machinations of the powerful Cardinal Richelieu.

Shown November 19, 2011 at Full Circle Brewery

Buster Keaton in "The Haunted House” (1921)

The Haunted House is a 1921 short comedy film starring comedian Buster Keaton. Buster Keaton is a bank teller who becomes involved in a hold-up, counterfeiters, and a theatrical troupe posing as spooks in a haunted house. The film ends with a famous sequence of Keaton ascending to heaven, and then descending to Hades. Another memorable sequence of the film involves bank teller Buster spilling glue all over his counter, reminiscent of a scene in his first film The Butcher Boy.

Shown October 28, 2011 and October 13, 2012 at Revue Cafe

"Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages” (1922)

Häxan (English title: The Witches or Witchcraft Through The Ages) is a 1922 Swedish/Danish silent film written and directed by Benjamin Christensen. Based partly on Christensen's study of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th century German guide for inquisitors, Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts.

Shown October 15, 2011 at Full Circle Brewery

Buster Keaton in "Steamboat Bill Jr.” (1923)

The finest moments in Steamboat Bill Jr. come during its cyclone sequence, which was shot in Sacramento, California. The production built $135,000 worth of breakaway street sets on a riverbank and filmed their systematic destruction with six powerful Liberty-motor wind machines and a 120-foot crane. Keaton himself, who calculated and performed his own stunts, was suspended on a cable from the crane which hurled him from place to place, as if airborne. The resulting sequence on film is astonishing.

The sequence is punctuated by Keaton's single most famous stunt. Keaton stands in the street, making his way through the destruction, when an entire building facade collapses onto him. The attic window fits neatly around Keaton's body as it falls, coming within inches of flattening him. (Keaton performed a similar, though smaller scale stunt, eight years earlier, in the short film One Week). Keaton did the stunt himself with a real building section and no trickery. It has been claimed that if he had stood just inches off the correct spot Keaton would have been seriously injured or killed.

Shown September 30, 2011 at Revue Cafe

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1923)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame stars Lon Chaney as Quasimodo and Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda, and was directed by Wallace Worsley. The film is most notable for the grand sets that recall 15th century Paris as well as Lon Chaney's performance and spectacular make-up as the tortured bell-ringer of Notre Dame. The film elevated Chaney, already a well-known character actor, to full star status in Hollywood . It also helped set a standard for many later horror films, including Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera in 1925.

Shown September 17, 2011 at Full Circle Brewery

Douglas Fairbanks in
"Don Q - Son of Zorro” (1925)

Douglas Fairbanks returns as the great Spanish swashbuckler in this sequel to The Mark of Zorro (1920). Don Cesar de Vega (Douglas Fairbanks) is the son of the famous masked avanger, Zorro; he's been sent to Spain to continue his education and learn the ways of his homeland. He soon becomes a favorite of the local dignitaries, but this does him little good when he's falsely accused of murder. Faking his own suicide, Don Cesar goes underground, and posing as Zorro, begins his own investigation of the killing.

Shown August 27, 2011 at Revue Cafe

Tod Browning's "The Unholy Three” starring Lon Chaney (1925)

The Unholy Three was one of the major hits of 1925. Starring Lon Chaney and directed by Tod Browning (Dracula, Freaks), it was based on a 1917 thriller novel by Clarence Aaron (“Tod”) Robbins about a trio of sideshow performers – a ventriloquist, a midget and a strongman – who, when their sideshow is shut down, form an alliance to commit robberies. Using a bird store as their front, the ventriloquist (Lon Chaney) masquerades as an old woman, Mrs. O’Grady, selling parrots to rich customers who later find themselves the trio’s victims. The midget masquerades as O’Grady’s granchild.

Shown August 20, 2011 at Full Circle Brewery

Douglas Fairbanks in
"The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1922)

This swashbuckling adventure was based on the legendary tale of the Medieval hero, Robin Hood, and was the first production to present many of the elements of the legend that became familiar to movie audiences in later versions.

Shown July 22, 2011 at Revue Cafe

Buster Keaton in "The General" (1926)

The General was based upon the Great Locomotive Chase from 1862. Buster Keaton starred in the film and co-directed it with Clyde Bruckman. The film was a box-office disaster at its original release, but is now considered by critics as one of the greatest films ever made.

Keaton performed many dangerous physical stunts on and around the moving train, including jumping from the engine to a tender to a boxcar, sitting on the cow-catcher of the slow moving train while holding a railroad tie, and running along the roof.

Shown June 25, 2011 and March 9, 2012 at Revue Cafe, and June 15, 2013 at Full Circle Brewery [as substitute for "The Eagle"]

D.W. Griffith's "Intolerance” (1916)

Director D.W. Griffith's expensive, most ambitious silent film masterpiece Intolerance (1916) is one of the milestones and landmarks in cinematic history. Many reviewers and film historians consider it the greatest film of the silent era. The mammoth film was also subtitled "A Sun-Play of the Ages" and "Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages." Griffith was inspired to make this film after watching the revolutionary Italian silent film epic Cabiria (1914) by director Giovanni Pastrone.

After the widespread controversy surrounding his racist masterpiece The Birth of a Nation (1915), Griffith attempted to defensively answer his critics with this work. He took a smaller feature film that he was working on about the contemporary Progressive Era struggle between capital and labor [titled "The Mother and the Law"] and its theme of social injustice and combined it with three new stories to create a more spectacular, monumental, dramatic epic. All of the stories, spanning several hundreds of years and cultures, are held together by themes of intolerance, man's inhumanity to man, hypocrisy, bigotry, religious hatred, persecution, discrimination and injustice achieved in all eras by entrenched political, social and religious systems.

The film and its unorthodox editing were enormously influential, particularly among European and Soviet filmmakers. Many of the numerous assistant directors Griffith employed in making the film went on to become important and noted Hollywood directors in the subsequent years.

Shown in Two Parts on May 14 & June 8, 2011 at Full Circle Brewery

An Evening of Charlie Chaplin Shorts

It’s an evening of short films by Charles Chaplin! The evening begins with classic cartoons starting at 7:00 PM, then at 8:00 PM we’ll begin watching Charles Chaplin in his films The Tramp” (1915), “Work (1915), “The Vagabond (1916), and “Easy Street” (1917), all with piano accompaniment provided by your host Nate Butler.

Shown April 23, 2011 at Revue Cafe
Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid" (1921)

The Kid is notable as being the first feature-length comedy film to combine comedy and drama. The most famous and enduring sequence in the film is the Tramp's desperate rooftop pursuit of the welfare agents who have taken his 'adopted' child, and their emotional reunion.

The film made young Jackie Coogan, then a vaudeville performer, into the first major child star of the movies. Many Chaplin biographers have attributed the relationship portrayed in the film to have resulted from the death of Chaplin's firstborn infant son just before production began. The portrayal of poverty and the cruelty of welfare workers are also directly reminiscent of Chaplin's own childhood in London. Lita Grey, who portrays a tempting angel in the film, became Chaplin's second wife (from 1924 to 1927).

Shown June 19, 2010 & May 2011 at Revue Cafe

"West of Zanzibar” (1928) and "The Adventures of Prince Achmed" (1926)

West of Zanzibar is a 1928 American silent film directed by Tod Browning (Dracula, Freaks) about the vengefulness of a cuckolded magician (Lon Chaney) paralyzed in a brawl with his rival (Lionel Barrymore). The supporting cast includes Mary Nolan and Warner Baxter. It is based on a 1926 Broadway play called Kongo starring Walter Huston. Huston starred in the 1932 talkie film adaptation of the same story using the Kongo title.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (German: Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed) is a 1926 German animated fairytale film by Lotte Reiniger. It is the oldest surviving animated feature film; two earlier ones were made in Argentina by Quirino Cristiani, but they are considered lost. The Adventures of Prince Achmed features a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. The technique she used for the camera is similar to Wayang shadow puppets, though hers were animated frame by frame, not manipulated in live action. The original prints featured color tinting.

Shown April 15, 2011 at Full Circle Brewery
John Barrymore in "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” (1920)

The evening begins at 7:00 PM with a few classic Betty Boop cartoons from 1934, including Betty Boop’s Rise To Fame and Betty In Blunderland. Then, we’ll watch a ten-minute excerpt from another 1920 version of Dr. Jekyll, this one starring Sheldon Lewis, followed by the 1925 Stan Laurel comedy Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride! Shortly after 8:00 PM we’ll begin the main feature, John Barrymore’s 1920 take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The main feature will be followed by a Keystone Kops comedy.

Shown March 19, 2011 at Full Circle Brewery

“Broken Blossoms” (1919)

Broken Blossoms, or The Yellow Man and the Girl (directed by D. W. Griffith, 1919) stars Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess and Donald Crisp, and tells the story of young girl who is abused by her alcoholic prizefighting father but meets a kind-hearted Chinese man who falls in love with her. The difference in the lovers’ ages and ethnicity could be considered controversial even today.

Shown February 19, 2011 at Full Circle Brewery

Harold Lloyd in "Safety Last" (1923)

Safety Last includes one of the most famous images from the silent film era: Harold Lloyd clutching the bending hands of a clock on the side of a building as he dangles from the outside of a skyscraper above moving traffic. The film was highly successful and critically hailed, and it cemented Lloyd's status as a major figure in early motion pictures. It is still popular at revivals, and it is viewed today as one of the great film comedies.

Shown November 20, 2010 at Revue Cafe
Lon Chaney in "Laugh Clown Laugh" (1928)

Laugh, Clown, Laugh stars Lon Chaney and Loretta Young, and was directed by Herbert Brenon and produced and released through MGM Studios.

This was Loretta Young's first major movie role, at the age of fourteen. In interviews near the end of her life, she remembered her gratitude towards Chaney for his kindness and guidance, and for protecting her from director Brenon's sometimes harsh treatment.

Shown November 13, 2010 at Full Circle Brewery

"The Lost World" (1925)

The Lost World is a 1925 silent film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 book of the same name. The movie stars Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger. This version was directed by Harry O. Hoyt and featured pioneering stop motion special effects by Willis O'Brien (an invaluable warm up for his work on the original King Kong directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack). In 1998, the film was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Shown August 14, 2010 at Full Circle Brewery, and again on October 29, 2010 at Revue Cafe
"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is considered to be one of the most influential – and spooky -- of the early German Expressionist films.

Somnambulism, murder, abduction, and madness play out against some of the most deliriously off-kilter sets of all time. Critics worldwide have praised Caligari for its Expressionist style, manifested in its wild, distorted set design and dreamlike atmosphere. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has been cited as one of the earliest horror films, as an influence on film noir, and as a model for fantasy and horror directors for many decades to come.

Shown October 2010 and September 29, 2012 at Full Circle Brewery
Douglas Fairbanks in "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924)

The Thief of Bagdad is a swashbuckler film starring Douglas Fairbanks which tells the story of a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph.

Fairbanks considered this to be his personal favorite of all of his films, according to his son. The film's use of imaginative gymnastics fit the athletic star, his "catlike, seemingly effortless" movements were as much dance as gymnastics. Along with his earlier Robin Hood (1922), the film marked Fairbanks's transformation from genial comedy to a career in "swashbuckling" roles.

Shown over two nights, September 9-10, 2010 at Full Circle Brewery
Lon Chaney in "The Phantom of the Opera” (1925/1929)

Regarded by many as the first great horror film, the earliest version of The Phantom of the Opera stars Lon Chaney, the ‘Man of A Thousand Faces,’ so-called because of his mastery of early film makeup. Chaney plays Erik, the horribly disfigured Phantom who leads a menacing existence in the catacombs and dungeons beneath the Paris Opera House. When Erik falls in love with a beautiful prima donna (Mary Philbin), he kidnaps her and holds her hostage in his lair, where he is destined to have a showdown with her fiancé (Norman Kerry) and the secret police. When the movie was first released, it shocked audiences throughout the world, and many weak-hearted patrons fainted at the sight of Chaney’s hideous makeup, which he designed and applied himself.

Shown October 8, 2009 at Full Circle Brewery and again on September 24, 2010 at Revue Cafe

“Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror” (1922)

This night we explore the history of early horror cinema by featuring the earliest film adaptations of two of our most beloved and enduring ‘monsters’ from literature, Frankenstein’s creature and Dracula.

The feature film is Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, a German Expressionist vampire horror film, directed by F.W. Murnau and released in 1922. It is the world’s first (unauthorized) adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with names and other details changed because the German studio could not obtain the rights to Stoker’s novel. (The legal battle between Bram Stoker’s aggressive widow and the German filmmakers is an epic that will be gleefully related to you by Mr. Butler.) Nosferatu eventually found its way to America , and went on to become one of the world’s seminal horror classics.

Shown April 8, 2010 at Full Circle Brewery and again on June 19, 2010 at Revue Cafe

To keep up with Nate Butler's schedule,
Join the MOUSETRAP, Nate Butler's Email List.
Just send a blank Email by clicking here.
It'll be fun, you'll see!

All contents Copyright
© 2014 by Nate Butler.