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Wings, with special guest Budd Schulberg

Our Silent Clowns show on Nov 11 featured the 1927 “Wings”, and I accompanied on the Miditzer virtual theatre organ. We had a real nice 16mm print, originally owned by Walter Kerr and donated to us a few years ago by the Kerr family (along with a few other titles). The added attraction which happened at the last minute was that Budd Schulberg came to the show to introduce the film. I got an e-mail the Friday evening before the show from Schulberg’s son, saying his father had heard about the show and offered to come and share his memories of “Wings” and of how his father (B.P. Schulberg) produced the film. B.P. Schulberg was associate producer on the picture as well as a few dozen other Paramount releases in the late silent era, and eventually came to run Paramount in the ’30s. Budd Schulberg himself went on to do a great deal of writing and other work in Hollywood, penning the script for On the Waterfront and the novel What Makes Sammy Run among many others.

Schulberg, his wife and son got stuck in traffic and arrived just as we were about to start the film — Bruce and I were stalling, answering questions about the Miditzer and our slide shows — and proved to be a real pro. He entered the theater and walked to the front, while his son helped him off with his coat; I handed him a wireless mic and he leaned against the stage and spoke to our audience for about 10 mins or so about the film and his memories of that era. we were all so thrilled to have him there with us; it’s such a special thing to have a living connection to the silent era right there with us at a silent film show.

Shown in the photo are, L to R: Bruce Lawton, Steve Massa, me, Budd Schulberg and Robert Arkus. (photo by David L. Snyder)

“Wings” is an amazing picture, dramatically compelling and also possessing a slight anti-war message that moved many of our audience members (I heard quite a bit of sniffling toward the end). Why doesn’t this film get shown more often? There are certainly prints around, and I understand that the Academy did a restoration of the picture a couple of years ago. I am working on getting this booked at the monthly series I accompany in Huntington NY at the Cinema Arts Centre.

Am right now winding up work on the orch score for the Nell Shipman short, and I expect to have this shipped out by end of the week. I am also making new titles (main and inter) for a few of the shorts on this Sunday’s Silent Clowns program, and am really having a blast doing this.

Looming on the immediate horizon:

  • Weds 11/28 at 10:30 am – The General at the Museum of the Moving Image
  • Weds 11/28 at 7:30 pm – Sunrise (plus Big Business) at the C.A.C.
  • Sat 12/1 at 6:30 pm – Brooklyn Museum silent film show
  • Sun 12/2 at 2pm – Stan Laurel solo shorts at the Silent Clowns
  • also in December: Asta Nielsen, more Reel Baseball, and Docks of NY

See you at the silents!

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