Mar 16, 2009 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Syracuse Cinephile Society will screen Joan Crawford’s real home movies here this weekend:
Every year at this time, the Syracuse Cinephile Society hosts its annual Cinefest which draws a few hundred vintage film fans from all over the world to the Holiday Inn on Electronics Park in Salina.
But not every year do they show home movies featuring a controversial star of the silver screen.
This year’s Cinefest 29 audiences will enjoy an unusual rarity, Joan Crawford’s personal home movies shot in the 1940s and showing the glamorous star behind the scenes with family members and friends. Films from Crawford’s estate are now housed in the archives of Rochester’s George Eastman House, whose representatives will screen them here.
Memoir spawned movie
In the 1981 film “Mommie Dearest” based on a memoir by Christina Crawford, Faye Dunaway portrayed Joan Crawford as a driven, alcoholic actress and compulsive housekeeper who tried to control the lives of those around her, including Christina.
Born Lucille LeSueur in San Antonio, the real-life Crawford excelled on screen and in business (notably for Pepsi Cola), but grew estranged from her two eldest children, Christopher and Christina. She disinherited Chris and Christina before she died in 1977. The following year Christina’s unflattering memoir was published and the Dunaway movie came out three years later.
Who knows what Crawford’s home movies will reveal?
Maltin hosts auction
Cinefest 29 opens at 9 a.m. Thursday March 19, with the Duke Ellington Orchestra starring in a 1933 short called “A Bundle of Blues.”
The festival continues Friday and Saturday and concludes Sunday March 22 with a few final screenings including 1940’s “The Boys from Syracuse” and a movie memorabilia auction conducted by “Entertainment Tonight” critic Leonard Maltin at 10:30 a.m.
This year’s film highlights include “The Perfect Specimen” (1937) with Errol Flynn and Joan Blondell, “Enter Madame” (1934) with Cary Grant and Elissa Landi, “The Desert Song” (1929) with John Boles and “Safety in Numbers” (1930) with Carole Lombard and Buddy Rogers.
Registration for all four days of Cinefest 29 costs $70, or $25 per day; picking.com.
Even the ongoing recession can’t dampen the enthusiasm of Cinefest’s growing audiences.
“Our registered out-of-town attendance numbers and the number of film memorabilia dealers are the largest that we’ve had in years,” said Cinephile Society spokesman Gerry Orlando.
Crawford films Friday
The Joan Crawford home movies will be screened at 8:15 p.m. Friday March 20, followed by “The Circle,” a 1925 romantic drama featuring a 20-year-old Crawford in a supporting role.
About half of the 30-plus films being shown are from the silent era before 1928. Many of the silents will be accompanied by acclaimed keyboardists Dr. Philip Carli, Makia Matsumura, Donald Sosin and Ben Model.
A special screening of 35mm films is set for 8:30 a.m. Saturday March 21, at Eastwood’s Palace Theater. The program’s features include “The Shopworn Angel” (1928) with Gary Cooper, “Twenty Dollars a Week” (1923) with Ronald Colman and “A Million Bid” (1927) with Warner Oland.
Separate admission for the 35mm program costs $25 and includes bus transportation from the hotel to the Palace Theater and back.
Movie memorabilia sale
Cinefest will also host an appearance by local film historian Norman Keim, who will sign copies of his marvelous new book “Our Movie Houses: A History of Film & Cinematic Innovation in Central New York,” from 4 to 5 p.m. Saturday March 21.
The Golden Age of Hollywood will be recalled in all its Technicolor glory at the Movie Memorabilia Show and Sale, at the Holiday Inn from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday March 21.
Dealers from around the U.S. and Canada will set up shop in three large dealer rooms to sell film-related memorabilia from the 1920s through the 1970s. Items include books, DVDs, posters and lobby cards suitable for framing, photo stills and 16mm films. Many of these items are one-of-a-kind treasures which are sure to excite film buffs.
Admission to the dealers’ rooms on Saturday costs $5, which will be applied to any dealer item purchased at the show.
Cinefest was established in 1980 by the late Phil Serling.