World Book Night 2014

On April 23rd, 25,000 volunteers from Kodiak to Key West will give away half a million free books in more than 6,000 towns and cities across America—including the Rome Capitol Theatre!

World Book Night
is an ambitious campaign to give thousands of free books to light or non-readers. Volunteer book lovers will help promote literacy by distributing copies of a specially-printed paperback at specified locations.

“Not long ago, I read that 23% of Americans didn’t read a single book in 2013,” says Kate Castle, Executive Assistant at the Rome Capitol Theatre. “I feel like there is so much gained through reading—it stimulates the mind, but it’s also just great fun.”

Kate will be distributing free copies of Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral at the Rome Capitol Theatre on April 23, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or while supplies last. For more information, please contact Kate at kate@romecapitol.com.

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A Word from Dr. Carli on THE LOST WORLD (1925)

Gearing up for tonight’s organ accompaniment of the silent classic THE LOST WORLD (1925), Dr. Philip Carli answered a few of my questions on his work as an organist…

For how long have you been playing the organ? Accompanying films?

I’ve accompanied silent films for 38 years, since I was 13 years old, but I was trained as and am still principally a pianist. I studied organ intermittently as an undergraduate at Indiana University (entirely on my own), but didn’t accompany a silent film on organ until 1992 or 1993, I think, at the Temple Theatre in Saginaw, Michigan, which has a 3-manual “Butterfield Special” Barton. So roughly twenty years on organ.

What do you feel accompaniment offers, versus an audio track?

Live accompaniment always offers extra elements of human involvement and interpretation in film presentation, which naturally elicits extra responsiveness from an audience. There’s almost a triangular bouncing of response and excitement between the screen, the musician(s), and the audience, as a lively audience stimulates the accompanists, whose evocation and interpretation of screen events further excites the audience, and around and around we go. An audio track frequently “lies there”, as we are so used to everything being provided for us aurally and intellectually since sound films became the norm; unless it is an exceptionally sensitive audio track, I have felt and seen audiences respond with indifference, or at best moderate interest, to films presented that way in public venues. (It’s death in the classroom.) There isn’t the interaction which provokes emotional and thoughtful audience involvement.

How has your work evolved over the years? What changes have you witnessed in organ societies / accompaniment?

I try to make my own work broader in structure to complement larger film structures; I am also trying to make lighter, more transparent textures, to allow films’ dramatic import to be more subtly evoked. I don’t often achieve that to my satisfaction or even truly matching the concept, but that’s in my mind. I’m glad there is more interest throughout US organ societies in using the instruments for their original purpose of accompanying silent films, rather than solely as concert instruments. I hope that up-and-coming organists approach silent films as the original organists did – and from the few I had the opportunity to meet, most of them seemed to play lighter rather than heavier, thinning textures and limiting volumes for making maximum sonic distinctions and piquant colours more effective when deployed. I still haven’t mastered that, but I keep trying. I think many are doing that, and I am pleased both for their work and the opportunity for me to learn from hearing their work.

Your work has been used for 20th Century Fox and Turner Classic Movies reissues; what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

That’s very hard to say. In a sense, I may be remembered (if at all) for the score I wrote for Herbert Brenon’s PETER PAN (1924) because of the film itself. It was my first orchestral score, though, and I’d like to think I’ve done as well or better since, but I cannot judge my own work objectively. (I will say tht PETER PAN has a few good tunes in it, though.) I am very proud of much of what I wrote for John S. Robertson’s CAPTAIN SALVATION (1927), which I did for TCM, but I’d like to revise one of the late sequences in it as it bothers me whenever it comes to my mind. I wrote that at a very difficult time personally, and some of my best and considerably-less-than-best is in it. I revised my score for Maurice Tourneur’s THE POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL (1917) when I re-instrumented it for large orchestra, and that may be my most consistent through-composed film accompaniment. “Greatest” is a term I’m extremely uncomfortable with!

Do you have a favorite score?

From my own work, which often pains me when I listen to it, I have a deep fondness for a piano score I did for an Edison one-reeler, Oscar Apfel’s THE PASSER-BY (1912), which is an extraordinary film; I can watch it with its soundtrack and forget that I did the music, which means to me I did something right there. Among others’ work, I think Henry Hadley’s original Vitaphone score to Alan Crosland’s WHEN A MAN LOVES (1927) is my favourite period score. It is magnificent in every respect – dramatic, melodic, and orchestrational. My colleagues in this profession (many of them close friends, I am glad to say) have done some extraordinarily evocative and imaginative work, which I have enjoyed immensely, but to single any out would slight the others – and I would not do that for the world!

See THE LOST WORLD with Dr. Carli’s accompaniment tonight at the Capitol, 7 PM!

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The Lost World

The Lost World (1925)

There is a soft spot in my heart for The Lost World. When I was growing up, one of my absolute favorite films of all was King Kong, and it’s a picture that’s still near and dear to my heart. The special effects were executed by Willis O’Brien, whose life story is both fascinating and tragic. Unbeknownst to me at the time, O’Brien had animated spectacles as great as “Kong—the Eighth Wonder of the World” eight years previous in The Lost World. Barely coherent beneath a poor transfer VHS of an abridged 16mm print, the special effects and a glimmer of grandeur still managed to captivated me when I first saw the film. As I became more interested in silent film during my teenage years, I revisited the movie and discovered that the picture had run far longer on its initial release—9,200 feet (roughly 102 minutes at 24 frames per second).

Long before home video, 16mm prints were the only way outside of a theater to review popular films. From 1924 to 1939, the Eastman Kodak company of Rochester, NY operated a line of popular films for sale called The Kodascope Library, in order to beef up the profits of their 16mm home movie projectors. Films could now be rented from libraries or camera shops at a nominal price, or even purchased outright for a tidy sum. As these prints were on the more stable acetate film stock (as opposed to the more common but unstable cellulose nitrate profession prints were made on), many of these prints survive. It is for this reason that The Lost World exists—Kodak released a truncated version of the film for their Kodascope library that ran about 50 minutes. Entire characters and sub-plots were cut out, and lengthy scenes were trimmed down to almost nothing.

The duplicate negative used to make these Kodascope prints was then deposited to the George Eastman House in the 1950s. Other surviving materials that existed were the original trailer, about 365 feet of 35mm footage at the Library of Congress, fragments in private collections, and eight minutes of outtakes of O’Brien’s animation footage.

Flash forward to 1992. A mostly-complete 35mm print of the film surfaced at the Filmovy Archiv in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Although struck from a “foreign” negative (silent films were shot with multiple cameras and takes to yield up to five different camera negatives) and the titles were in Czech, this original print made it possible to flesh out the footage that the Eastman House had in their archive. Over the next few years, over $80,000 was raised by Eastman House to restore the film, combing the various existing elements. Led by Ed Strattman, the Eastman House team assembled a version that restores approximately 8,000 feet of the film’s original 9,200. Debuted in 1997 to great acclaim, the Eastman House’s version opened my eyes to a whole new version of the film that I never knew existed. Happily, it is this restored version that we’ll be running at the Capitol April 12, and as an extra added bonus, we’ll have Dr. Philip C. Carli perform his score to the film on our theater’s original-installation theater organ. Dr. Carli, who not only helped restore the film and scored it at its 1997 restoration premiere, also recorded the score for the 20th Century Fox Home Video release of the Eastman House restoration on DVD at the Capitol in 2007. I’m also happy to announce that we’ll be running the Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbucke and ‘Buster’ Keaton comedy, Back Stage from 1919, which is one of their better two-reelers.

If you love giant monsters, drama, romance, and spectacle, The Lost World is not just great fun, but also a fine entry-level film for those of you who have yet to experience a silent film at the Capitol. Bring the kids, grab some popcorn and sit back—it’ll be great fun.

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ON TRIAL at the 1914 Revue

Over the weekend, the theatre was transported back, exactly 100 years, to 1914. We staged an epic, four-hour event, which included song, stage drama, organ music, a brass ensemble, and a variety of silent films. When the audience took their seats, they witnessed the transformation from modern theatre to theatrical commune of excitement.

I participated in our excerpt of the 1908 play, On Trial, which hit Broadway in 1914. For my part, I portrayed the scorned house-wife, Joan, of soon to be murdered Gerald Trask. The challenge of this role, for me, was depicting a woman much more experience and world-weary than me. She had seen the other side of romance, after things had turned sour. Fortunately, my castmates were very talented and made my job that much easier.

A scene from ON TRIAL, performed live on the Capitol stage

Our costumes were carefully researched and by Kylie. She scoured the overstuffed costume racks to find just the right pieces to support our 1914 illusions. She even went as far as lending me a few strands of pearls to complete the look. Her helps was critical.

The rehearsal period to prepare was short, with just 4 rehearsals. We had to be off book of our seven-page script in just two short weeks. The rehearsals usually went for two run through’s, followed by some “touch ups,” and that was it. The experience was a bit of a sprint for us all.

Despite some small snags, the performance went off quite well, and the audience seemed to enjoy our short drama.

Strickland consoles Mrs. Trask

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Meet John Paul, the Capitol’s House Organist

The Capitol’s original Möller theatre organ

One of the great things about working in an arts organization is meeting people with passion. As a rule, people tend not to pursue the arts for the money (we wouldn’t recommend it!), and so the people you work with often truly care about the end product, more than the acclaim. Our house organist, John Paul, is one of those individuals.

Having attended Onondaga Community College for music and Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing arts for his classical training, John Paul says that he has always had a natural performer’s streak. His father, Anillo, was an accordionist who performed at local Syracuse and CNY theaters, gifting unto John Paul a love of public performance.

After working up arrangements on his home organ, a modern day digital version of our theater organ, John Paul then adapts his style to the Capitol’s original 1928 Möller organ. “Playing a theater pipe organ is hard because the keyboard action is slower, you have to adjust to the delay of the theater acoustics. It’s a challenge, playing ahead of what you hear.”

After almost 18 years of working with the Capitol, a few performances stand out for John Paul. “I like accompanying things like Laurel and Hardy’s 2 reel silent [films], because of all of the visual cues with slapstick. It makes for a lively accompaniment.”

Though he says he still occasionally gets pre-performance jitters, “the reason I enjoy playing at the Capitol,” says John Paul, “is the sound you get in a large environment like the theater is thrilling.”

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Meet Kallie

Kallie T. Cat

Hey hooman. My name is Kallie, and I own the Capitol. I appreciate your patronage.

A lot of people don’t know this, but I think I can confide in the internetz. When I first came to the Capitol I had some buns in the oven, and gave them up for adoption. That was a dark chapter in my life, and I won’t be repeating it. I exhibited some bad behavior during that time, but have turned over a new leaf for the most part. I’m a pretty substantial introvert, due mostly to my street-cat roots. I like petting if it’s my idea, and I like groups of people as long as they treat me like a disinterested human. No enthusiastic pursuits, please, and certainly no picking me up.

Though you are a hooman and I am feline royalty, we probably have a lot in common. I prefer anything chewy, like bugs and small rodents (not canned cat food. It’s Purina Cat Chow across the line). That said, I don’t really dig popcorn or candy, though it is fun to play with.

I also consider myself a film and theatre fan. I’m of the opinion that there are a lot of great feline actors—Blofeld’s cat in the James Bond films, Baby in Bringing Up Baby, Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Church in Pet Sematary, General Sterling Price in True Grit, Jonesy in Alien, DC in That Darn Cat, and Cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s all turned in fabulous performances. In the realm of independent filmmakers, I’m very fond of Henri the Existential Cat and Grumpy Cat, and Trololo cat gets me every time, though I tend to play it pretty close to the vest and rarely laugh out loud. Of course, it goes without saying that Cats is one of my favorite musicals. Any show where humans imitate us is sometimes flattering and always a riot.

Promoting my favorite musical: CATS

When I’m not working, I like socializing with my dog friends through the front window. Brown Dog is my favorite, though she’s gotten much taller since we’ve been friends. I love a good confrontation, and terriers are the best. All bark and no substance. I’m rather theatrical, and if I am feeling up to it I like to put on shows for the passing children; my best performances are usually in sleeping and rolling from side to side. I do wish people wouldn’t tap on the glass, though, especially when I am napping. Some audiences need to be trained in the finer points of arts patronage.

One of my other favorite pastimes is a competitive sport I call “Ball.” I enlist the help of an assistant to throw a ball on the stairs, or roll it down the aisle, and I chase it. It may sound easy, but the skills that I have can only be acquired with many hours of practice. In my free time, I’m currently training for the worldwide Olympics of Ball, to take place in Milan in 2016.

Come visit me sometime, by yourself or in a very small group. I may be happy to see you.

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Positively Rome


Here at the Capitol, we know that we are passionate about the future of Rome, but every now and then, it’s reassuring to hear similar sentiments from others. Last night, the City of Rome in association with Rome Clean and Green, held their first annual BEER, WINE, & BUSINESS SUMMIT at the Capitol, an event unveiling their new initiative, Positively Rome. Highlighting the future of economic development within Rome and the Mohawk Valley, a panel of speakers discussed education initiatives, the development of the Marcy nanotechnology center, and local economic development projects.

The panel featured Dr. Robert Geer (President, SUNY IT), Alicia Dicks (President, QUAD C Chip Lab at SUNY IT), Mark Reynolds (VP, MV EDGE), Jake DiBari (Director of Economic Development, City of Rome), Jeff Simons (Superintendent, Rome Schools), NYS Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, and Andrea Bianchi (Representative, NUAIR). The keynote speaker—venture capitalist, real estate investor, and Rome native Patrick Morin—shared his passion for the future of Rome.

The emphasis of the panel being primarily STEM-based (science, tech, engineering, and math) development in the Mohawk Valley, the unveiling of Positively Rome was quite a change of pace. With the tagline “Love Where You Live,” Positively Rome will focus on quality of life in the city via developing the waterfront and cultivating local events including a farmers market and a summer movie series in partnership with the Capitol.

Kylie and Kate highlight the Capitol's expansion project at the Summit

As the city continues to grow and evolve, we at the Capitol are proud to be on the vanguard of downtown and cultural development, and we look forward to the bright future of this city!

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Cinefest 34 Wrap-Up

From left: Jamie, Kate, & Kylie at Cinefest 34

March means one thing for the film community– Cinefest! Hosted by the Syracuse Cinephile Society, the festival just celebrated its 34th year in operation, highlighting rare silent and early talkie “films from the vaults of the world’s greatest libraries and obscure specialties from private collections.”

Given the Capitol’s relationship with Cinefest and the SCS, we are always thrilled to attend. Here, our staff shares highlights from the 4-day event.

Art:

The Syracuse Cinefest has always been a special occasion for me since I started going 28(!) years ago. In my “salad days” as an attendee, I tried to watch virtually every movie (this year there were 32 features and numerous short subjects). Nowadays I take what I have come to regard as a more sensible approach, and try to watch as many as I comfortably can without straining myself to the point that I’m constantly struggling to stay awake. This year my total of features and compilation programs was 13, ranging from 1914 to 1932. Among my favorites were the snappy talkie Fox comedy, BACHELOR’S AFFAIRS, with Adolphe Menjou and the silent operetta , THE WALTZ DREAM. Cinefest doesn’t often show foreign movies but, when they do, it’s generally because it’s an especially good one. EIN WALZERTRAUM (the German title) was one of those good ones. Though the operetta on which it was based has music by Oscar Straus, the movie made much of the fact that Johann Strauss II (no relation) was the Waltz King of Vienna. And it is the atmosphere of Stauss that prevails in this rather charming love story of an Austrian lieutenant and the princess of a mythical (and somewhat backward) neighboring country.

It’s always a highlight to see our cinephile friends, many of whom we only run into twice a year (the other time being Capitolfest in August, of course). Although the show itself takes place over a mere four days, the dedicated crew of the Syracuse Cinephile Society work all year to put this together, and I’m already counting the days until next year’s show, March 19-22, 2015.

Kylie:

Cinefest is always a great chance to visit with oft-unseen friends from afar, and this year was no different. It was fab to see such friends and colleague such as El Brendel historian and Capitol Moxie supplier Louie Despres; Cartoons on Film cryptozoologist Tom Stathes; film critic Leonard Maltin; and Library of Congress preservationist James Cozart. I usually read titles, cast, and a bit of the synopsis in the Cinefest program. Because films are not labelled as silent or sound, as luck (?) would have it, every film I watched this weekend was a silent. Of those that I saw, I enjoyed the Russian Revolution-era film THE NEW MOON with Norma Talmadge, the DeMille emasculated husband picture WHAT’S-HIS-NAME, and the sweet film THE CRAB, where a town grouch sees the light after taking in an orphan. I also picked up some fun educational shorts and commercials that will most likely make their debut at the Capitol in the future!

Jamie:

I love the chance to go to Cinefest every year, I really honestly think the time I spend there is fun and enjoyable. It just isn’t the same fun as sitting at home on a comfy couch and watching “fluff” television. I like to call it “disciplined fun”. At Cinefest, movies range from comedic shorts, to musicals, to home movies of the stars. Although they are all enjoyable for their uniqueness, some of them are admittedly hard to sit through. Take, for instance, the presentation of SANDY with Czech titles. Even with the famous voice of Leonard Maltin reading the few translations provided, it dragged a bit with its missing information. That’s not to say it wasn’t worth while. I mean, come on, what a great story. It just takes practice to find enjoyment in something so unusual.

Kate:

I feel like it should be branded on a t-shirt: “I survived my first Cinefest!” The whole long-weekend was a whirlwind, everyone is so excited to be there, to see the rarities, to catch up with friends and colleagues that you only have the chance to see a few times a year. As a “first timer,” there is something exhilarating about immersing yourself in such a focused niche—when everyone shares a common interest, social gaps are bridged and common ground is explored. Though the socializing was grand, the films were clearly the focus, and we saw a few gems! Out of the selections, my favorite was EIN WALZERTRAUM (‘The Waltz Dream,’ 1925, d. Ludwig Berger). The story, though somewhat conventional in its pat happy ending, was peppered with surprising moments of humor and charm, and DeMille’s WHAT’S-HIS-NAME (1914) was an amusing enough cautionary tale (remember ladies, pursuing a career will only lead to heartache!). However, the true highlight of my weekend was slightly less cinematic—Leonard Maltin gave my earrings a rave review! ;)

Jack:

This Cinefest was particularly exciting for me because it’s the first year I set up a dealer’s table there, offering posters, films, drive-in speakers (!) and more. And while I enjoy the film selection every year, Cinefest is the one time of the year where I get to reconnect with old friends who I don’t get to see otherwise. It’s a great social event. Like so many other conventions, it’s also where great deals are made, both in the dealer’s room and on the side. This year, I picked up a few DVDs and Blu-Rays of classic film releases, some Harold Lloyd re-issue posters, a Charley Chase short in 16mm, and a stack of fifty—count ‘em—FIFTY classic TV commercials in 16mm. And while I had to stop my filmic buying spree short (my goal was to break even or make a little money this year, which I did), I saw plenty of great film prints of classic movies that if they’re available next year, I might just go for!

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Book Review: My Lunches with Orson

Filmmaker, actor and all-around raconteur Orson Welles takes center stage in Peter Biskind’s My Lunches with Orson (ISBN 0805097252), a collection of edited transcriptions of recorded luncheons between the famed director and colleague Henry Jaglom, published last July by Metropolitan Books. Jaglom tape recorded his conversations with Welles between 1983 and just five days before Welles’ death in 1985. Although he knows the tape recorder is on the table, Welles talks intimately—and in some cases, explicitly—about a variety of subjects: celebrities both past and present, who he loves, who he hates, what projects he’s working on, and why some films just work while others don’t.

The fun of the book is, of course, Orson dishing out the dirt—that is, if you take much of what he says with a grain of salt. Famed for his storytelling prowess, Welles was an even greater embellisher of the facts. One would be forgiven if they raised an eyebrow at Welles’ account of how actress Carole Lombard’s infamous last flight was actually gunned down by Nazi agents. Conversely, there are moments where Welles is objective about his own career and the mythos that still surrounds it today. “I should have retired [after Citizen Kane]” he says to Jaglom. Individuals who in the public eye seemed to be Orson’s friends and confidantes are equally skewered—he calls director Peter Bogdanovich a “pompous ass.”

A great deal of the book also gives insight to Welles’ business practices, and how instrumental Jaglom was in trying to get him work. Welles talks about his unreleased film, The Other Side of the Wind, which was finished but to this day has not been seen, and his attempts at filming a version of King Lear.

Without having heard the tapes from which this book is transcribed, it is difficult to pinpoint the context of which many statements are made, although editor Biskind has made attempts to highlight where the various jigsaw pieces of conversation have been glued together. Although perhaps largely fiction (as told by Welles), the book paints an excellent picture of the artist in his last days and is highly recommended to those who enjoy Welles’ work or classic films in general.

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Making a difference, one bag of popcorn at a time!

Like all of our staff here at the Capitol Theatre, I started as a volunteer at our concessions stand. What began as a good way to improve my resume and meet individuals with shared interests rapidly morphed into a full-time job (thanks, Art & Kylie!), and though I couldn’t be more pleased with my position, lately I have been thinking about my time spent volunteering.

Here at the Capitol, we rely on our volunteers for so much, and understand their critical impact on the Mohawk Valley. Often thought of as simply a graduation requirement for students, volunteerism has numerous benefits for all involved. Known for increasing social skills, improving self-confidence, and combatting depression, volunteerism also deliver important services to communities worldwide.

In this era of endless committees, bipartisan squabbling, and general dissatisfaction with bureaucracy, there’s no better way to make a tangible difference in your community than through volunteering. Tired of trash littering the sides of the road? Volunteer with local community beautification project! Want to spread literacy and support the ideals of democracy? Volunteer at your local library!

There are so many benefits to volunteering– want to learn more? Visit our Volunteer Fair on Thursday March 6 from 5 to 8 PM, entirely free and open to the public! There, potential volunteers can meet with local nonprofit organizations (such as local food pantries, animal shelters, and veteran support groups) to get more information about how you can help. Nonprofits: Interested in promoting your cause? Email Jamie at jamie@romecapitol.com to sign up today!

We hope to see you there!

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