press room > Press Release: January 26, 2011

Press Room

Press Release: January 26, 2011

Media Contact: Anita Monga 510-843-4245,

For Immediate Release

San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s Winter Event

Features the Premiere of the Dazzling Restoration of
Marcel L’Herbier’s L’ARGENT
Accompanied by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
February 12 at the Castro Theatre

The New York Times hails the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra’s recent performance in the Museum of the Moving Image’s ‘Recovered Treasures’ series: “[T]he undoubted highlight is Marcel L’Herbier’s spectacular Art Moderne adaptation of Zola’s L’Argent, restored to its full three-hour length by the French Film Archives and presented with a live accompaniment by that most sensitive and accomplished of silent film ensembles, the Mont Alto Orchestra.”

Greed and sex drive L’Herbier’s 1928 masterpiece that chronicles the contemporary Paris of high finance, speculation, and corruption. In spite of a butchered last-minute re-edit (rumored to be the result of a feud between the director and a studio head) the film was popular upon its release. But with this beautiful restoration struck from the original negative, featuring L’Herbier’s original cut, L’Argent takes its place among other indisputable masterpieces of the silent era such as Von Stroheim’s Greed, Murnau’s Sunrise, Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. The excess of the story is mirrored in the filmmaking — opulent sets, breathtaking camerawork, and a rhythm that conveys glamour and modernity, with superb performances by Brigitte Helm, Pierre Alcover, and Alfred Abel. Our 35mm print comes from Archives Françaises du Film, with special permission by Marie-Ange L’Herbier, the director’s granddaughter.

Mont Alto’s main theme for L’Argent is the ‘Herod Overture’ is by the American composer Henry Hadley. Hadley was the first conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, arriving exactly 100 years ago in 1911. He composed a variety of music for concert orchestras, several operas, and music for the Bohemian Grove’s annual festivities, and is remembered today as the composer of the Movietone score for John Barrymore’s ‘When a Man Loves,’ one of the finest period scores written for a late silent. There’s a story that after Hadley left the SF Symphony in 1915, the musicians all got more reliable jobs playing in movie theater orchestras and the symphony had to cancel it’s season.

Complete Winter Event Program:

Our early program It’s Mutual (1:00 pm, $15) is a collection of sparkling shorts by Charlie Chaplin, made during his stint at the Mutual Film Corporation where he honed his craft and became the genius director we think of today. The shorts — The Pawnshop, The Rink, and The Adventurer — contain some of the funniest moments ever put to screen, and are a glimpse into the development of this master of cinema. And supplying the perfect accompaniment to Chaplin’s brilliance will be Donald Sosin at the baby grand piano. 35mm film prints from the David Shepard Collection.

Continuing our tradition of presenting world-class blockbusters at the Winter Event afternoon show, we present Marcel L’Herbier’s L’Argent (3:30 pm, $15) accompanied by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

The evening show, La Bohème (8:00 pm, $17) is devoted to the one of the themes movies have excelled at from the beginning — the love story! This eternal romance set in bohemian Paris of the 1830s has been filmed many times, but King Vidor’s classic starring Lillian Gish as Mimi and John Gilbert as Rodolphe is the definitive version. New 35mm print courtesy of Stanford Theatre Foundation and UCLA Film and Television Archive. The Master of the Mighty Wurlitzer, Dennis James, will accompany this perfect Valentine’s weekend fare.

At 6:30 there will be a Winter Event Celebration Party ($20) on the Castro’s mezzanine. Delicious hors d’oeuvres, hearty drinks, and pleasing conversation to be had by all! The extraordinary Michel Saga will serenade on the barrel organ, singing songs of old Paris.

For tickets and more information, please visit the Silent Film Festival Event Page

Screeners and images are available for all films. Please see the sidebar, or contact:
Anita Monga, Artistic Director, 510-843-4245,


The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting treasures from the silent era with live musical accompaniment, to educate the public about silent film as an art form and as a culturally valuable historical record.

Silent filmmakers produced masterpieces and crowd-thrilling entertainments. Remarkable for their artistry and their inestimable value as historical documents, silent films show us how our ancestors thought, spoke, dressed and lived. It is through these films that the world first came to love movies, and learned how to appreciate them as art. They have influenced every generation of filmmakers, and continue to inspire audiences nearly a century after they were made.

The 6th Annual Winter Event will take place February 12, 2011 at the Castro Theatre.

The 16th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival will take place July 14-17, 2011 at the Castro Theatre. Reserve the date!

For more information, please visit the Silent Film Festival website.

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6th Annual Winter Event
Press Stills

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Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance (It’s Mutual)

Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance
(The Adventurer)

Charles Chaplin (It’s Mutual)

Charles Chaplin (The Adventurer)

Charles Chaplin (It’s Mutual)

Charles Chaplin (The Rink)

Brigitte Helm in L’Argent

Brigitte Helm (L’Argent)

Pierre Alcover, Brigitte Helm in L’Argent

Pierre Alcover, Brigitte Helm (L’Argent)

Paris Stock Exchange (L’Argent)

Paris Stock Exchange (L’Argent)

Lillian Gish, John Gilbert

Lillian Gish, John Gilbert (La Bohème)

Lillian Gish, John Gilbert

Lillian Gish, John Gilbert (La Bohème)

Lillian Gish

Lillian Gish (La Bohème)