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Cinecon 43 in Pictures

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Saturday Day 3

Saturday turned out to be the busiest day of the weekend with all of the extra activities we had planned.

The morning started with the annual Cinecon business meeting. Members look forward to these meetings because it's a chance for them to find out first hand what's going on with the club, ask questions and make their own suggestions. Club president Bob Birchard led the meeting. Various issues were discussed and officers were elected with the slate staying the same as last year: President Bob Birchard, Vice Presidents Robert Nudleman and Marvin Paige and Secretary Stan Taffel.

The business meeting was still winding down when many Cinephiles left to hurry back to the hotel to get there in time for a special presentation on Rudolph Valentino.

It was a screening of the formerly lost Valentino film THE YOUNG RAJAH. Although much of the film is still missing it was restored from surviving clips with stills filling in for the missing footage. THE YOUNG RAJAH is one of four films featured on THE VALENTINO COLLETION a new DVD compilation of rare Valentino films and material. Valentino fans got a chance to preview and purchase the DVD before its official release date of September 11.

Cover of Valentino DVD image

Those of us who chose to stay in the theater for films got to see AIR HAWKS (Columbia, 1935) in a great quality camera neg print courtesy of Sony Pictures. In this early science fiction story star Ralph Bellamy owns a small airline recently plagued by his planes crashing under mysterious circumstances. It turns out that a mad scientist (played to great affect by Edward Van Sloan) has invented a death ray to shoot them out of the sky in a bid to drive Bellamy out of business. Other members of the cast include Tala Birell, Douglass Dumbrille and Robert Middlemass. The film also featured cameos by famed aviators of the era, Wiley Post and Roscoe Turner.

Next up was a new restoration of the lavish silent epic DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL from 1924. The inimitable Mary Pickford starred in the title role as a young noblewoman who finds herself mixed up in a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. There's romance along the way, with Allan Forrest, and some light-hearted moments too with the interplay between the headstrong young woman and her suborn father, played by Anders Randolf. As a special treat the film was accompanied by Bob Mitchell


This was a special treat because of Mr. Mitchell's unique experience with this film. The first time that Bob played for DOROTHY VERNON was during it's original run in 1924! Bob was 12 years old and had learned to play the organ at an even younger age. He only played at church until his family found out that he could make money playing for silent films. Bob, now in his mid nineties, is considered the only surviving accompanist from the silent era.

Bob Mitchell at the organ image

Audience standing ovation image

In spite of his advanced age he played continuously for the entire 2 hour running time of the film without missing a beat. No small feat even for a younger accompanist.

And the audience reaction? A standing ovation!

Hugh Munro Neely, left, who had introduced the Mary Pickford film, interviewed Bob about his career. Besides being an accomplished musician Bob also formed the Bob Mitchell Boys Choir. The popular choir appeared in many films in the 1930s and 40s including GOING MY WAY (1944), THE AL JOLSON STORY (1946) and THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947). Mr. Mitchell took some audience questions and afterwards fans gathered around to talk further with him and take pictures.

Bob Mitchell and Huge Munro Neely at organ image

Bob Mitchell talking with Phil Carli image

It was a meeting of the musical minds as one of our regular film accompanist', Dr. Philip Carli, got his chance to speak with Bob. Phil's interest in music also started at a young age and he accompanied his first silent film at the age of thirteen.

The two very talented musicians pose for a picture together.

Bob Mitchell and Phil Carli pose for a picture image


It was barely an hour for lunch for those who wanted to attend the Hollywood Aviators show over at the hotel.


Cinecon took to the skies Saturday afternoon with a special presentation. During the 1920s, Hollywood (and America) was in love with airplanes and the men who flew them. Stories about aviation caught the imagination of filmgoers and filled theaters across country. Many of these films featured daring aerial

feats such as wing walking, transferring from flying airplane to speeding car or crashing into buildings. These stunts required a special breed of pilot, bold daredevils willing to take stunning risks to bring aerial thrills to the moviegoing public.

Hollywood Aviators told the story of these stalwart pilots in a multi-media show which featured stills and film clips of some of Hollywood's most famous aerial daredevils in action. The program was put together by Shawna Kelly and Marc Wannamaker. Marc is a noted film historian and curator of the Bison Archives and Shawna is the great granddaughter of aviator B. H. "Daredevil" Delay one of those fearless Hollywood stuntmen of the 1920s.

Group of people holding the propeller image

Shawna Kelley holding the propeller image

Shawna got into the spirit of the show donning an aviators cap and goggles and bringing in a very large vintage propeller.


People sitting in audience watch the show imageBefore the start of the presentation Shawna and Marc brought some descendents of aviation film pioneers together for a photo with the giant propeller.

By time the show started nearly every seat in the room was filled as everyone settled in for a great show.


For those who chose to skip the aviation presentation it was back to the theater for the afternoon program of films starting with a Larry Sermon short from 1918, BOOBS AND BABES. Larry Sermon is a little remembered comedian from the silent era. Although long forgotten, during his heyday Larry Sermon's popularity rivaled that of Chaplin. In our short Sermon plays a new father charged with watching the baby while his wife shops.

In the silent film BRANDING BROADWAY (Aircraft, 1918) iconic cowboy William S. Hart plays a rowdy westerner who, after starting a bar fight and tearing up the local saloon, is hog-tied and thrown on a train bound for the east. When he arrives in New York his two-fisted western attitude helps him become the bodyguard for a rich man's son. He has a number of unusual escapades in the big city while trying to keep the young man out of trouble. Other cast members include Seena Owen, Arthur Shirley and Andrew Robson. Hart also directed this fish-out-of-water comedy Western and much of the film was shot on location in New York City.

Between afternoon films fans found a pleasant surprise in the theater lobby.


Alan Young talking to a fan image

Before his scheduled screening in the late afternoon celebrity guest Alan Young set up at a table in the theater lobby to sign autographs. He had many photos from his film and television career available for fans to buy and have signed.


Besides the great selection of black & white and color photos Alan also had lots of copies of his two books for sale.

Alan signing a book image


His newest book MR. ED AND ME and MORE!




Anyone who couldn't make it to Cinecon to pick up a copy of one of Alan's books can pay a visit to his website to buy them.

Close-up of Alan Young speaking to audience image

The last film of the afternoon was a rare big-screen showing of the musical fantasy tom thumb (M-G-M, 1958), produced and directed by George Pal. The beautiful IB Technicolor print was courtesy of Warner Bros. Classics. The film starred Russ Tamblyn, Jessie Mathews, Terry-Thomas, Peter Sellers and our wonderful guest for the afternoon, Alan Young.

Although probably best known for his TV show about the talking horse, Mr. Ed, which ran for 5 years in the 1960s, Mr. Young has had a long and varied career in show business.

He started in radio as a teenager in Canada and later moved to New York where he had his own show. In the 1950s he starred in an Emmy winning variety show THE ALAN YOUNG SHOW. His film career includes MARGIE (1946, his debut), ANDROCLES AND THE LION (1952) and 1960 cult classic THE TIME MACHINE. And if that wasn't enough, for the last 20 years this multi-talented actor has been doing voice characterizations in cartoons most notably voicing Scrooge McDuck in Disney's "DuckTales" (1987).

Alan Young being interviewed by Miles Kruger image

Alan Young close-up image

Miles Kruger introduced Alan and after a brief interview they took audience questions.

Fans asked a variety of questions including what his tom thumb co-stars were like. He said that Jesse Mathews was wonderful and noted that his father was a big fan of hers (She was a popular musical star in British films of the 1930s) and Peter Sellers was "delightful."

Someone asked about Rocky Lane the former western star who voiced Mr. Ed and Alan said that he was a great guy and easy to work with.

A fan asked if it was true that he had dated Marilyn Monroe. Not only did he confirm it but he shared the story of the date. He met her when they were on a float in the Santa Claus Lane Parade in Hollywood when she was still known as Norma Jean.

Alan with Miles image

Alan signing more autographs image

After the question and answer it was back out to the lobby for Alan where he signed more photos and books for fans who didn't get a chance to get an autograph before the film. He continued to chat with fans and sign autographs well into the dinner break.

After dinner the evening session started with MIND DOESN'T MATTER (Columbia, 1932) starring the unusual vaudeville duo of Shaw & Lee. This short was recently restored by Sony Pictures from newly-discovered nitrate material found in the Library of Congress.

WOMEN OF ALL NATIONS (Fox, 1931) a rather disjointed comedy re-teaming Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe as Flagg and Quirt in this episodic sequel to WHAT PRICE GLORY?. The two-fisted, womanizing Marines manage to pull pranks on each other and barely avoid getting in trouble while romancing their way around the world. The cast also featured Greta Nissen, Fifi D'Orsay Bela Lugosi and El Brendel. Brendel is featured in one of the funniest scenes in the film when he (literally) has a monkey in his pants.

HER WILD OAT (1927) featured silent film star Colleen Moore in a sweet natured little rags-to-riches comedy about a poor lunch wagon owner who falls in love for the first time. Larry Kent plays the love interest with Gwen Lee and Hallam Cooley rounding out the cast. Found in a foreign film archive and recently restored, this film is a fine example of the movie star in her prime.

36 HOURS TO KILL (1936) Next was another late night B-movie this one a snappy crime drama with an A-list cast, set mostly aboard a train. A criminal couple (played by Douglas Fowley and Isabel Jewel) trying to lay low have to board a train for Kansas City to claim a winning lottery ticket worth $150 grand. On the train they meet a reporter (Brian Donlevy) and a mystery woman (Gloria Stuart). Amid mistaken identities, secret surveillance and plenty of wisecracks the film move at a fast pace and ends with a shootout in a sanitarium.

Cinecon 43 in Pictures

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Sunday Day 4

The Sunday screenings began with chapter 11 of The Iron Claw the 15 chapter serial from 1941 about a reporter trying to figure out what's going on in an old house amid secret passages, sinister people and hidden gold.

Fans of Claudette Colbert were looking forward to the 1935 Paramount film THE GILDED LILY also starring Fred MacMurray and Ray Milland. And the comedy didn't disappoint with Claudette at her comedic best as a working girl thrust into the spotlight by her reporter friend (MacMurray) after a breakup with an English nobleman.

THE SHOWDOWN (1928), a silent pre-cursor to RED DUST where lust and passion boil over in the steamy jungle on a South American oil field. George Bancroft, Evelyn Brent and Neil Hamilton star in this silent adaptation of the Houston Branch play, Wildcat, directed by Victor Schertzinger

The afternoon session began with the short RUNNING HOLLYWOOD from 1932 with All-Star Thalians

The first feature of the afternoon was a beautiful new print of the silent classic World War I film THE PATENT LEATHER KID (1927). Richard Barthelmess (in an Oscar nominated performance) is the egocentric boxer who tries to avoid military service and then gets drafted into it. Love interest is played by Molly O'Day

The last screening of the afternoon was also our final celebrity screening of the weekend. The 1955 Universal musical AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' which came to us in a beautiful IB Technicolor print courtesy of NBC/Universal.

It's the story of a beautiful chorus girl who marries a wealthy San Francisco Tycoon and has trouble fitting in with his society friends. The film was an excellent showcase for our guest Piper Laurie who got the chance to show off not only her comic timing but her singing and dancing skills as well. The film co-starred Rory Calhoun and featured Jack Carson, Mamie Van Doren and Reginald Gardiner.

After the film Cinecon officer Stan Taffel introduced Ms. Laurie and talked to her about her career.

Piper Laurie talking to Stan Taffel image

Piper Laurie close up image

She took acting lessons as a teen that eventually led Universal Studios to sign her as a contract player at the age of 17 making her debut in the film Louisa (1950) which starred Ronald Reagan. After that the perky redheaded beauty was in demand for comedies and other light weight films. She co-starred with the likes of Donald O'Connor, Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson.

Although the parts for her were plentiful the quality of the films was lacking and by 1955 she quit Hollywood and moved to New York where she studied acting and worked in live TV. Better parts started coming her way and in 1961 she starred in The Hustler which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Piper Laurie talking to Stan Taffel image

Piper Laurie talking to audience image

The audience had lots of questions for Ms. Laurie and she thoughtfully answered every one.

Crowds of fans gathered around Ms. Laurie after the show, many with cameras in hand to get a picture. It was elbow to elbow for pro and amateur photographers alike.

Photographers taking pictures image

Piper Laurie posing with her grandson image

She graciously took time to pose for many pictures and even persuaded her grandson to join her in some of them.

Piper Laurie signing autograph for a fan image Piper Laurie signing autograph for another fan image Piper Laurie signing autograph for yet another fan image

And after posing for photos she patiently signed one autograph after another for the fans that gathered around.


After the show and Q & A with Ms. Laurie, Cinephiles rushed back to the hotel to get ready for the cocktail reception and celebrity banquet.

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