Listen to the Silent(s)

Now here is a film series that looks like a lot of fun and adds titles to the general mix that could include some potential rediscoveries. The Czech Center is offering a "Rooftop Cine-Concert Series" Tuesday evenings this summer that will include a nice selection of Czech and American films from the late silent period, one pre-code classic (Sternberg's Blonde Venus, a typically delirious Dietrich vehicle) and one 1937 ham-and-egger, Sam Wood's Madame X  (which makes the cut because it includes uncredited work from Gustav Machaty). All the silents will feature live musical accompaniment, the most exciting of which, to my mind, are the presence of jazz great Henry Grimes playing for A Woman of Affairs (Clarence Brown), Jiří Bárta playing cello at An Old Gangster's Molls, a 1927 Czech film directed by the euphoniously named Svatopluk Innemann, and Ben Model accompanying Machaty's Erotikon. The combination of silent films with live music and the presence of several Czech films that are virtually unseen in the U.S. makes this one a keeper. Add a little summer moonlight, dance music before the film and is sounds like a very pleasant evening in New York.

Karel Schleichert and Ita Rina get ready to drink the Kool-Aid in Erotikon