Waaay back in September, I returned to the Castro Theatre with my pal for another screening of silent shorts. We made a quick weekend trip to the Bay Area in order to see our favorite fella: Buster Keaton. I was also really excited to see an early Felix the Cat film onscreen, particularly because my nine-year-old self collected anything and everything Felix. In total, we would be treated to four short films in one afternoon, plus live musical accompaniment by the Club Foot Orchestra.
Saturday, June 16th was declared “Buster Keaton Day” in Los Angeles, and included an entire weekend of festivities. The event I attended on that particular day—a plaque dedication—is one I’ll hold very dear to my heart. Somewhere in Hollywood, on the southwest corner of Lillian Way and Eleanor Avenue, stands a plain-looking movie prop warehouse. Nearly 100 years prior, it was the site where Buster Keaton’s independent studio once graced.
I always anticipate seeing multiple programs at TCMFF whenever it comes around (as many as someone without a pass can manage, that is), but as luck would have it, I still end up seeing just one per year. After reviewing the schedule with one of my co-workers and trying to find options that would work for the both of us, we decided on a film noir from 1945. Since it was a movie I had never seen before and on a Saturday evening, I was happy to go and give myself another break.
It was a very warm and slightly breezy Sunday afternoon, the kind that’s easygoing and ideal for seeing a matinee. I returned to the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, where I met up with a co-worker of mine. She’d heard of Buster Keaton before, but had never seen one of his films, so like the Keaton-fan-recruiter (?) I am, I mentioned this screening to her and we decided to go.
This post is long overdue, but I wanted to share some highlights from my six-month stint as a moving image archive intern. It’s been nearly a year since I first started archiving, and I still can’t believe my luck in finding (much less landing) such a convenient position. I was fortunate enough to work in a library that boasts an impressive collection of Paramount and Pathé newsreels from the first half of the 20th century, with topics ranging from everything under the sun. As an undergraduate at the time, working hands-on with nitrate and acetate film is something I wouldn’t have expected to be doing unless I enrolled in a graduate program. Another bonus: I didn’t even have to commute that far.
One of my undergraduate film professors curates an on-campus educational retrospective each semester, which mainly focuses on a particular director’s oeuvre. I remember approaching him sometime in 2016 to ask if he’d be interested in doing something for BK100, and he seemed thrilled by the prospect. Once 2017 came around, I was delighted to hear that he would be organizing a retrospective for Buster during the Fall semester, and asked if I wanted to co-curate it! Naturally, I said yes.
You would think that I’d find more time to write during the summer, but this past semester (plus an additional summer course) really kicked my butt. After turning in essay after essay, I needed a short break from writing. That, and I also landed my dream internship, which is happily taking up some of my time—but more on that later. For this post, I wanted to share a fun location that I recently visited for my birthday this past week. It’s the Casablanca Restaurant in Venice Beach, and yes, it’s entirely devoted to the famed 1942 film.
First up for my Summer Reading Challenge is James Cagney: The Authorized Biography by Doug Warren with James Cagney. I bought this book over a year ago at my favorite bookshop, but I didn’t get around to starting it until recently. It was published in 1983, just a few years before Cagney’s passing. The narrative is told through a third-person perspective, with integrated first-person anecdotes from Cagney himself—along with various others. The reader gets a sense of Cagney throughout the narrative, learning more about him as well as the people he interacted with. The book is divided into six parts (with an added filmography), and includes two sets of glossy pages dedicated to personal photographs that span Cagney’s lifetime.
Last semester, I took a course on women filmmakers and it quickly became one of my favorite classes. Some of the early filmmakers we studied included (but were certainly not limited to) Alice Guy Blaché, Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner, and Germaine Dulac. Since then, it’s left me wanting to learn more, and Flicker Alley’s newest release seems to be the perfect jumping-off point. Their new set features works by the aforementioned filmmakers, along with ten other pioneering ladies. What’s more—they’re hosting a giveaway, and I am thrilled to be partnering with them!