Here are some recent SECRET CINEMA events...



Program of 35mm rarities at

Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Bryn Mawr Film Institute
824 W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA
(610) 527-9898

Thursday, February 1, 2018
7:30 pm
Admission:$12.50, $6.50 (members), $10 (seniors/students)

On Thursday, February 1, the Secret Cinema will return to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute with hidden treasures from the rarely-seen 35mm section of the Secret Cinema archives -- many of which can not be seen anywhere else.

The program, named The Secret Secret Cinema, is a multi-genre pop culture mash-up of forgotten advertising films, theatrical short subjects, clips and trailers.

Some highlights are: La Danse a Go Go, a 1964 short about twisting discotheque go-go dancers; A Touch of Magic, a surreal Technicolor musical promoting Populuxe cars and kitchens; Mexican Rhythm, a 1953 one-reeler starring "Mexico's Jazz King" Luis Arcaraz; network TV promos; ads for long-gone local businesses; and original previews for such offbeat classics as Groupies, Hells Angels '69, Bummer, Mondo Mod… and much more!

This program is suggested for mature audiences (though immature adults are welcome also).

There will be one complete show at 7:30 pm. Admission is $12.50, $6.50 (BMFI members), $10 (seniors and students).

Like most Secret Cinema programs, The Secret Secret Cinema strives to expose forgotten delights from the often-overlooked annals of motion picture ephemera, films which would be difficult to experience in any other way.

While we normally are proud to announce that "All Secret Cinema presentations are projected in 16mm film on a giant screen," this time we are even prouder to announce that the entirety of The Secret Secret Cinema program will be projected in even higher-quality 35mm film, on an even gianter screen than usual. As always, we will be having nothing to do with video/digital presentation.


I Belonged to the Blank Generation

with D.J. Jay Schwartz at Johnny Brenda's

Monday, January 29, 2018
8:00 pm until Midnight
Admission: FREE

Johnny Brenda's
1201 N. Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia
215-739-9684

On Monday, January 29, the Secret Cinema's Jay Schwartz will be guest D.J. at Johnny Brenda's bar/restaurant (downstairs). Jay will present a music mix called I Belonged to the Blank Generation: Hard Hits and Deep Cuts from the Original Punk/New Wave Era, 1976-1979.

The event runs from 8:00 pm through Midnight, and admission is free.

While Schwartz is best known (for the last 26 years) for helming the Secret Cinema film series, his involvement in local nightlife goes back a bit earlier. When Philadelphia's first new wave nightclub, the Hot Club, started in 1977, Schwartz covered its opening night as local correspondent for the important music paper New York Rocker. He also contributed writing and photography to other local and national publications for the next several years, and in 1979 was hired as the Hot Club's publicist. Schwartz continued this work later at such fabled nightspots as the original (Kensington) Starlite Ballroom, the East Side Club and Filly's Saloon.

In addition to rock journalism, photography and publicity work, Schwartz also managed to capture the first video footage of Philly's new wave music scene -- still embryonic in 1978 -- for a Temple University student project. The resulting short documentary, Philadelphia Seen, includes very early footage of the band X, legendary d.j. Lee Paris, local punks the Jags, and nightclub impresario David Carroll. The original tapes were recently preserved by the University of Southern California's film archive (expect a screening soon!).

The Starlite Ballroom was also where Jay first worked as a club disk jockey, and parts of his growing record collection were shared at several other places in the ensuing years. However, January's night at Johnny Brenda's will be Jay's first d.j. job since the 2007 closing of Rick D's Tritone nightclub, where he had spun at many different thematic events.

Schwartz had a front row seat to a musical revolution, and that will set the theme of I Belonged to the Blank Generation... All of the music (most of it played using first pressing vinyl issues) will come from the crucial first years of punk and new wave. Iconic artists like Television, Richard Hell, Blondie and the Ramones will be heard, but the night will also find room for more obscure records and forgotten local bands.


Classic program Creepy Christmas Films

at Fleisher Art Memorial

Thursday, December 14, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

Fleisher Art Memorial
719 Catharine Street, Philadelphia
215-922-3456 ext. 300

On Thursday, December 14, the Secret Cinema will return to the Fleisher Art Memorial, to present another audience favorite from our 25-year history. Creepy Christmas Films is a special program of vintage Yuletide shorts featuring frightening puppets, demonic animals, and maudlin sentiments. As an added bonus, interspersed randomly between the films will be glimpses of strangers' Christmas home movies, showcasing a nostalgic array of old toys and synthetic trees.

This popular program was shown last at the Sedgwick Cultural Center in 2004 (and before that, at the Prince Music Theater and the long-gone Griffin Cafe). It will be our final presentation of 2017.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00

The screening will be shown in the beautiful sanctuary of the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia's Bella Vista neighborhood (just South of Center City). Free parking is available in the Fleisher's parking lot, just across the street.

A few highlights of the program include:

Santa In Animal Land (1948) - In this bizarre one-reeler, animal puppets (with some of the most painfully cloying voices ever recorded) bemoan the fact that there is no official Christmas celebration in the animal kingdom, and set out to protest to Santa Claus about their situation.

Davey & Goliath: Christmas Lost & Found (1965) - A special edition of the early-'60s, long-rerun clay animation series from Gumby creator Art Clokey (and funded by the Lutheran Council of Churches). Sourpuss Davey searches his town in desperation for the true Christmas spirit, finding little consolation even in the antics of his lovable dog Goliath.

A Visitor For Christmas (1967) - "But we can't have Aunt Hattie here -- she'll ruin our Christmas!" Mawkish live-action drama produced by religious studio Family Films, in which every member of a typical American family complains about the impending visit of their hated Aunt Hattie. With Lassie star Tommy Rettig.

Howdy Doody's Christmas (1951) - Buffalo Bob, Clarabelle, "Ugly Sam," and the grandfather of creepy marionettes, Howdy Doody, all join forces in this excruciating short film that was made especially for home and school projectors, to capitalize on the popularity of television's The Howdy Doody Show.

Plus more!


Secret Cinema participates in Franklin Institute's

"Science After Dark" program

On Tuesday, November 28, the Secret Cinema will present just one of the many attractions offered at the Franklin Institute's "Science After Dark" program, all of which feature a special Hollywood theme.

Read more about it here.


All-new From Philadelphia With Love

at Fairmount Park Horticulture Center

Friday, November 24, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

Horticulture Center
West Fairmount Park
North Horticultural Drive & Montgomery Avenue, Philadelphia
(215) 685-0096

On Friday, November 24, 2017, the Secret Cinema will present the latest chapter in its ongoing series From Philadelphia with Love: Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films (2017 Edition). Once again, it will contain 100% new programming, and this time it will be shown at Fairmount Park's beautiful and verdant Horticulture Center. This exhibition hall and glass-walled greenhouse is filled inside and out with rare plants and historic statuary. It sits on the site of the former Horticultural Hall, an 1876 Centennial Exposition building (and is kept comfortably warm inside, regardless of outdoor conditions).

From Philadelphia with Love... showcases rare 16mm prints from the Secret Cinema archive about different aspects of life in the Philadelphia region. Some were made as sponsored films promoting goods or institutions, and others are educational, documentary or dramatic in nature. Most are virtually impossible to see elsewhere.

The Secret Cinema began showcasing these ephemeral scenes of lost local history back in 1999, and our last such presentation was two years ago. We've now projected over 60 of these films -- and none of them will be repeated for our November program. In fact, few have been seen by anyone since they were originally made.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00.

The Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, minutes off of the Schuylkill Expressway, features a large, free parking lot. It is near Memorial Hall (Please Touch Museum) and is a short walk from Septa Routes 38, 40, 43, and 64 (Route 38 comes closest, with a stop at Belmont Avenue and Montgomery Drive).

Just a few highlights of this 2017 edition of From Philadelphia with Love... are:

20 to the 3rd Power (1967, Dir: Edward J. Bergman, Alan Soffin) - This somewhat experimental student work was produced by the Documentary Film Laboratory of Penn's Annenberg School, under the supervision of Sol Worth. The film, mostly without dialogue, depicts a fashionable, attractive group of young people (perhaps all age 20?) in cocktail parties, nightspots and office buildings -- assumedly adding up to a statement on the lives and lifestyles of modern, well-off undergrads. It's set in a lively Philadelphia of new architecture and expressways, though foreboding radio reports of the Vietnam War are never too far off.

"Mister Rivets" footage (1954) - In the early days of television, Let Skinner Do It on WPTZ-TV (today's KYW) was one of the success stories of local daytime programming. When veteran radio personality Alan Scott took over for host George Skinner, the renamed Let Scott Do It was touted in the trades as the "top rated kitchen show" in the nation, offering light conversation, music...and a beloved mechanical man named "Mister Rivets." In reality this was actor Joe Earley, in a comical robot suit, playing gentle pranks on the genial host. The show was usually broadcast live and thus not recorded for posterity, but occasionally outdoor segments were shot on 16mm film, for use when one of the personalities was on vacation. This ultra-rare surviving reel (we know of only one other) shows some of Mister Rivets' typical antics: hanging laundry behind a house, feeding zoo animals, and hunting groundhogs(!), as well as scenes of the gigantic crowds that turned out to meet the friendly robot at a personal appearance.

Mystery Atlantic City film (197?, Dir: Unknown) - It's unclear why this short was made, and though seemingly uncut, it bears no title and no credits. It begins as a spoof of television's Mission Impossible, with a special agent flying to an early-70s Atlantic City, well after its heyday as America's Playground and some years before casino gambling. There are views of the skyline and boardwalk, and even a car chase through narrow streets. We welcome any information on this film!

Werner - Hunger Project (1976, Dir: Unknown) - Though not likely shot in this area, we included this film because it stars one of Philadelphia's most controversial native sons, Werner Erhard. The former car salesman born as John Rosenberg changed his name after leaving the city (and abandoning his wife and four children), eventually founding the notorious self-help enterprise Erhard Seminar Training (or EST). Widely criticized as a kind of brainwashing cult, EST nonetheless attracted hundreds of thousands to its seminars, in the "Me Decade" of the 1970s. This in-house promotional film features Erhard speaking directly to his followers about a then-new scheme labeled the Hunger Project, which aimed to end world hunger -- not by sending food to hungry people, but by spreading the idea that ending hunger was possible (via a large fundraising program). This rare glimpse of Erhard offers a close-up view of his persuasive powers (with a subtle Philadelphia accent occasionally slipping through), urging followers across the nation to attend a "talk at your center next month."

Plus Rites of Women, Where it All Began: Philadelphia, and much more!


The Secret Cinema reprises/updates

City Of Brotherly Crime program at Fleisher

Friday, November 10, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

Fleisher Art Memorial
719 Catharine Street, Philadelphia
215-922-3456 ext. 300

On Friday, November 10, the Secret Cinema will dust off another of our most popular programs, as part of the year-long celebration of our 25th anniversary. City Of Brotherly Crime, featuring films produced in Philadelphia covering urban crime from very different perspectives, will be shown at the Fleisher Art Memorial on Friday, November 10. This edition will include some new material (film and other) that was not seen in earlier screenings.

Shown again will be The Jungle, a groundbreaking short film made by a North Philadelphia street gang about their violent world. The Jungle was named to the Library of Congress' prestigious National Film Registry in 2009 -- in no small part due to the lobbying efforts of the Secret Cinema.

We will also present, for the first time locally, an illustrated talk detailing the fascinating, tragic story of The Jungle's creation and aftermath (the talk was originally presented in 2012 at the 8th Orphan Film Symposium, in New York).

There will be one complete screening, at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00.

City Of Brotherly Crime will include:

The Besieged Majority (1970, Dir: Pamela Hill)
The rise of violent crime was an inevitable topic of conversation throughout the 1960s, and at the decade's end, NBC News made it the topic of one of their irregular "White Paper" documentary specials. The Besieged Majority looked at the phenomenon by focusing on a single urban neighborhood that was rapidly changing from a peaceful residential area to an unstable crime zone where people no longer felt safe. They chose the Germantown/East Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, interviewing its homeowners, shopkeepers and bartenders about their experiences as victims. Also seen talking for the camera are then-Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo and then-District Attorney Arlen Specter. dIn addition to the many neighborhood scenes, there are glimpses of Center City at the dawn of a new decade.

The Jungle (1967, Dir: Charlie "Brown" Davis, David "Bat" Williams, Jimmy "Country" Robinson)
If The Jungle looks different from other filmed depictions of gang life, there is a reason: Every aspect of its creation, from the script to its photography, editing and acting was manned by the young members of a real Philadelphia street gang. Project director Harold Haskins was an eager young social worker when he approached the 12th & Oxford Street Gang and convinced them they should try to make a movie. The result is a completely inside view of this usually hidden world, with authentic depictions of their unique social codes, activities, fashion and music (the soundtrack includes an early street-corner rap about the joys of cheap wine). Soon the gang was transformed into the 12th & Oxford Film Makers Corporation, presenting their work around the world and committed to positive change in their community. Yet, their cameraman, specially trained for this project, was later slain by a rival gang jealous of their filmmaking success.

Plus more!


The Secret Cinema Afterschool Special:

School Life and Moral Guidance in the '70s & '80s

Friday, October 6, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

The Maas Building
1325 N. Randolph Street, Philadelphia, PA
267-239-2851

Break out the Crayolas and circle Friday, October 6 on your inner child's appointment book -- that's when the Secret Cinema goes warm and fuzzy and presents The Secret Cinema Afterschool Special: School Life and Moral Guidance in the '70s & '80s at the Maas Building.

The program consists of several rare short films made for school projectors and television. While none of them are believed to be from The ABC Afterschool Special (which featured longer programs), some perhaps share that series' comforting and now nostalgic perspective on the problems of growing up.

T.S.C.A.S. is yet another in the continuing series of "Greatest Hits" presentations that we are dusting off this year, to mark 25 years of the Secret Cinema. It was originally presented in our very first season at Moore College of Art & Design, in 1997 (and revisited in 2002 with a packed screening at the Print Center).

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00.

Some highlights of the program are:

Insight: The Party (1971) - Picture this...three high school couples make a weekend trip to the seaside home of someone's absent hipster uncle, with the primary objective of getting laid. A young Meredith Baxter (later Baxter-Birney of Bridget Loves Bernie and Family Ties) counsels her nervous, virgin friend ("Hey, don't get uptight... all you have to do is relax. You've got it all together -- you've got a guy you dig with experience, a fantastic pad, the ocean -- the whole thing!"), all as a very long-haired Billy Mumy (Lost in Space, Bless the Beasts and Children) sings and strums a James Taylor-ish love ballad in the background. This long-running series (25 years) was created by Catholic priest Ellwood E. "Bud" Kieser, for his Paulist Productions company.

In 2006, Mark Quigley and Dan Einstein of the UCLA Film & Television Archive presented a fascinating illustrated talk at the Orphan Film Symposium on this unusual series, called "A Meeting of Church and State: Television's Paulist Twilight Zone: Insight (1963-1980)" It can be listened to (minus illustrations) here and here.

Junior High School (1977) - A 40-minute featurette offering embarrassing musical slices of life in school, most notable for the appearance of a 14 or 15-year-old Paula Abdul (who gives a perky performance singing "We're Gonna Have a Party!"). The plot focuses on a Ricky Segall-lookalike who wears puka shells and frets over asking a girl to the dance, between countless painfully cloying songs, like a modern, shorter (but perhaps not better) Grease. The music was arranged by Julius Wechter, known to A&M Records fans as leader of the Baja Marimba Band.

The participation of Abdul, Wechter, and jazz composer Dave "Schoolhouse Rock" Frishberg (who appears as a rather sadistic shop teacher) marks this otherwise obscure film as having genuine "before and after they were famous" significance. However, we would be remiss if we did not point out an error in IMDB's listing for Junior High School: the cast member named Ira Kaplan did not go on to start the popular indie rock band Yo La Tengo.

Revenge of the Nerd (1983, Dir: Ken Kwapis) - Not to be confused with that Anthony Edwards feature film you're thinking of (that was made one year later, and with plural Nerds), this charming short film was initially seen on CBS' Afternoon Playhouse series. It follows a similar (if more concise) plot arc, however, with the titular hero using his superior skills with early microcomputers and other high-tech devices in an attempt to gain the respect of his intellectually inferior classmates.

...and more!

The Maas Building was previously a brewery and a trolley repair shop. This beautifully restored 1859 brick and timber workshop today serves as a multipurpose art event and catering space. Free parking is available on the street and in the adjacent lot of the James R. Ludlow Elementary School.


Son of Trailer Trash in 35mm

at Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Friday, September 15, 2017
8:00 pm (doors open 7:00 pm)
Admission: $10 online, $12 at the door.

Bryn Mawr Film Institute
824 W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA
(610) 527-9898

Thursday, September 28, 2017
7:30 pm
Admission:$12.50, $6.50 (members), $10 (seniors/students)

The Secret Cinema will follow up on perhaps its biggest presentation ever on Thursday, September 28, when it presents Son of Trailer Trash on the big screen at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. Like the original Trailer Trash program (presented at BMFI last May), this all-new program is a non-stop orgy of rare, original preview "trailers" advertising some of the Secret Cinema's favorite films of the 1960s and '70s -- exploitation, sexploitation, science-fiction, bikers, horror, rock musicals, beach movies, and unclassifiable movies. All will be shown from archival 35mm prints (with several in true, IB Technicolor) on the BMFI's gigantic screen, along with vintage drive-in messages, theater commercials and date strips, from the 1950s and beyond.

A sampling of the many trailers to be shown includes Invasion Of The Bee Girls, Riot On Sunset Strip, The Third Sex, Bedazzled, The Big TNT Show, Psycho, Hallucination Generation, The Devil's Wedding Night, and many, many more. There will be some guaranteed surprises, not to mention several movies that nobody has ever heard of! The combined giant cast this time includes Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson, Maurice Chevalier, The Byrds, Simone Signoret, George Jones, Frankie & Annette, Bob Denver, George Raft, Peter Cushing, Linda Blair, and Francoise Hardy. Son of Trailer Trash was directed by a huge team of greats and less-than-greats which includes John Frankenheimer, Russ Meyer, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Donen, and Chuck Barris (we feel all those cited here qualify as greats).

There will be one complete show at 7:30 pm. Admission is $12.50, $6.50 (BMFI members), $10 (seniors and students).

Throughout 2017, the Secret Cinema will be celebrating its 25th anniversary, presenting favorite programs from its past, as well as several all-new presentations, in venues throughout the Philadelphia area. Son of Trailer Trash was first presented at the Prince Music Theater in 2002.

More Archive Discoveries: Unseen Curiosities from

the Secret Cinema Collection at the Maas Building

Saturday, July 22, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

The Maas Building
1325 N. Randolph Street, Philadelphia, PA
267-239-2851

On Saturday, July 22, The Secret Cinema will return to the historic Maas Building with an all-new program called Archive Discoveries: Unseen Curiosities from the Secret Cinema Collection. It features a mélange of fascinating short films from the past, representing a variety of genres and subject matter. None have been shown in previous Secret Cinema programs; indeed, few of these films are likely to have been seen anywhere in recent years.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00.

The Secret Cinema's private archive contains literally thousands of reels of 16mm (and 35mm, and 8mm) features, theatrical shorts, cartoons, newsreels, television shows, educational films, travel films, industrial films, and home movies. Together, they add up to well over three million feet of often rare celluloid, with several prints thought to be the only extant copies in the world.

Some of the more interesting of these amazing films will again see the light of a projector bulb in Archive Discoveries… This previously ungroupable group of short films will include films that were made to entertain, to teach, to encourage commerce and to alter opinion. Spanning many decades, they show wondrous places, styles and things that have long-since vanished. Some of them now seem campy, others still have valid lessons to teach, but all are fascinating, and extremely unlikely to be seen anywhere else.

A few highlights from this new edition of Archive Discoveries… include:

Wide Open Spaces (1932, Dir: Arthur Rossen) - The Masquers Club of Hollywood was officially an actors fraternity, though it also included directors, theater owners, and studio executives in its all-male membership. Like other acting fraternities in Hollywood, they eventually began to producing their own short films, as an activity for their sometimes out-of-work members, and to raise funds for the clubhouse. The Masquers' films were distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, and were all professionally filmed. Wide Open Spaces is a good example of their house style, being a wild spoof of the Western -- with every line of dialogue being a hilariously well-worn genre cliche, and comically out-of-place sound effects. The cast includes dozens of character actors whose faces would mostly have been familiar to contemporary audiences, (but are largely forgotten now). The most notable of these include Antonio Moreno, William Farnum, Frank McHugh, Mack Swain, and in the lead role of "Sheriff Jack Rancid," deadpan comic genius Ned Sparks.

Andy (1968, Dir: Peter Bryant) - Short, stark drama of a tomboyish farm girl who lives a seemingly idyllic life taking care of herself and her animals. And then there is a startling interruption. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

Rochester's Railroad (1957) - This fascinating film clip was found in the middle of a reel containing unrelated footage. It probably originated on a television program showing celebrities in their home life. In this clip we meet Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, beloved sidekick to comedian Jack Benny. Anderson shows off the elaborate model railroad layout he designed and built in his home, complete with custom-built control board. In his lifetime, Anderson also built model airplanes and a working sports car, piloted a boat, and owned racehorses, besides being a star of radio, TV, and over 60 movies.

The Gooney Bird (1950s) - For some reason now lost to history, the Evinrude Motors company sponsored this documentary about the peculiar habits of the albatross, or "gooney bird." The film was shot entirely on the Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, shortly after the Navy decommissioned their Naval Air Station there, leaving the island to the birds. The Goonies are seen in their comical mating dance, and in awkward take-offs and landings. Made in Anscochrome.

The Code: The U.S. Fighting Man's Code of Conduct (1959) - In 1955, President Eisenhower signed an executive order outlining how members of the U.S. armed forces should act if captured in battle (in short, not to surrender, accept any favors form the enemy, nor reveal anything besides minimal personal identification). This film, hosted by stone-faced actor Jack Webb (of Dragnet) was made to explain the importance of the code to new servicemen -- using dramatic recreations of captured Americans standing up to psychological torture during the then-recent Korean conflict.

Shopping Around (1954) - "Successful selling is largely a matter of point of view." This Chevrolet sales training film shows the point of view of a rather choosy automobile customer -- as portrayed by William Frawley (better known as "Fred Mertz" from I Love Lucy). He explains, in his trademark, growly voice, that he now runs from rude salesmen, because, "Today, I can shop around!"

Plus much, much more!

The Maas Building was previously a brewery and a trolley repair shop. This beautifully restored 1859 brick and timber workshop today serves as a multipurpose art event and catering space. Free parking is available on the street and in the adjacent lot of the James R. Ludlow Elementary School.


Anniversary screening of Bicycle Shorts

at Rotunda

Saturday, June 10, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

The Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia

On Saturday, June 10, The Secret Cinema will present Bicycle Shorts, a program of vintage short films all about the bicycle. Bicycle Shorts will include rare retro educational films on bike safety, as well as bicycle-focused documentary, drama, and even a musical short. This popular special program was last shown eight years ago (at Moore College of Art) -- and is being revived as part of the ongoing celebration of the Secret Cinema's 25th anniversary.*

There will be one complete screening at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

Just a few highlights are:

The Day the Bicycles Disappeared (1967) - By way of intriguing special effects, a town's population of bicycles ride off by themselves and announce they are on strike, until they can be convinced that local kids will adopt safer riding practices.

We Decide: Trade-offs (1978) - In what will likely prove to be a prescient educational film, a class must analyze and then vote on how to solve a serious problem in their school: a severe shortage of bike rack spaces!

I'm No Fool with a Bicycle (1955) - A colorful, animated history of self-propelled locomotion precedes a comical safety lesson, hosted by beloved Disney character Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards).

The Bike (1969) - When two young boys steal a neighbor's fancy new banana-seated bike for a joyride, it's just the beginning of their problems. A surprisingly compelling mini-drama, with then-unusual handheld camerawork from future Oscar-winning cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, a Philadelphia native (and father of actress/singer Zooey Deschanel).

Psychling (1981) - This fascinating documentary chronicles cyclist John Marino's grueling attempt to set a speed record for riding a bicycle from coast to coast.

The Eton Boys: "Bicycle Built for Two" (1941) - A "Soundies" musical clip originally shown on coin-operated film jukeboxes, this features the Eton Boys belting out the title song (a.k.a. "Daisy Bell") in a barbershop quartet style that was already quite retro in 1941.

…plus more.

*The Secret Cinema presented a second, completely different program of films about bicycles in 2012, at the Broad Street Ministry (it included a talk by author Steven Rea). Our Rotunda screening will be a repeat of the original Moore program from 2009.


Trailer Trash in 35mm

at Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Thursday, May 11, 2017
7:30 pm
Admission:$12.50, $6.50 (members), $10 (seniors/students)

Bryn Mawr Film Institute
824 W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA
(610) 527-9898

On Thursday, May 11, the Secret Cinema will return to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute with a revival of one of its biggest presentations ever. It stars Elvis Presley, Sean Connery, Nancy Sinatra, Roy Orbison, Sonny & Cher, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, Linda Blair, Dean Martin, Cherie Currie, Tony Curtis, The Village People, The Yardbirds, and a cast of unknowns. It was directed by a team that includes Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Chaplin, Tom Laughlin, William Friedkin, John Boorman, John Cassavetes and several forgotten hacks. Its budget (adjusted for inflation) was in the hundreds of millions of dollars, it's in black and white and color, and it has laughs, screams, spies, monsters, sex, drugs, rock n' roll and bikinis. What is it?

Why, it's Trailer Trash, a non-stop orgy of rare, original preview "trailers" advertising some of the Secret Cinema's favorite films of the 1960s and 70s -- exploitation, sexploitation, science-fiction, bikers, horror, rock musicals, beach movies, bloated big budget bombs and possibly some films that no longer survive in feature form. All will be shown from archival 35mm prints (with several in true, IB Technicolor) on the BMFI big screen.

A sampling of the many trailers to be shown includes Bikini Beach, Bury Me an Angel, Wild in the Streets, You Only Live Twice, Mondo Teeno, Devil's Angels, Paradise Hawaiian Style, Foxes, Murderers' Row, Chastity, The Trial of Billy Jack, Blow Up and many, many more, with some guaranteed surprises.

As if this weren't enough, additional graphic eye candy will be provided in the form of vintage drive-in messages, theater commercials and date strips, from the 1950s and beyond.

There will be one complete show at 7:30 pm. Admission is $12.50, $6.50 (BMFI members), $10 (seniors and students).

Throughout 2017, the Secret Cinema will be celebrating its 25th anniversary, presenting favorite programs from its past, as well as several all-new presentations, in venues throughout the Philadelphia area. Trailer Trash was first presented at the Prince Music Theater in 2001.

Since 1992, the Secret Cinema has been the Philadelphia area's premiere floating repertory cinema series, bringing hundreds of unique programs to nightclubs, bars, coffee houses, museums, open fields, colleges, art galleries, bookstores, and sometimes even theaters and film festivals. Drawing on its own large private film archive (as well as other collections), the Secret Cinema attempts to explore the uncharted territory and the genres that fall between the cracks, with programs devoted to educational and industrial films, cult and exploitation features, cartoons, rare television, local history, home movies, erotic films, politically incorrect material, and the odd Hollywood classic. As long as it exists on real celluloid, that is -- Secret Cinema screenings never use video/digital projection. While mainly based in Philadelphia, the Secret Cinema has also brought programming to other cities and countries.


Secret Cinema presents famous films (again!)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

The Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

In this, our 25th anniversary year, we'll again present a popular theme from our past...but this time, with all new content...

The Secret Cinema is known for showing rarest-of-the-rare, otherwise impossible to see celluloid treasures. That changes on Wednesday, April 19, as we revive our Famous Films program concept, at University City's Rotunda.

Once again, we've scoured our archive shelves for the most famous short film titles we could find...and realized there was still more great, non-obscure viewing that we'd not shown before. The program will include legendary documentaries, notable silent films, animation milestones, and once-mainstream theatrical subjects. Some were landmark achievements for their unusual style, or other innovative techniques. Others endure simply as great entertainment.

Of course, "famous" is a relative term, and fame is a fleeting thing. One reason we wish to share these great works is the growing realization that even classic films are becoming hard to see in their original form (projected celluloid on a large screen). Not so long ago, all of these films would have been mandatory viewing (via 16mm or 35mm prints) in university courses and repertory cinemas, but that is sadly no longer true. Indeed, several of these reels will be unknown to today's casual viewer -- all the more reason to celebrate them again.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

Just a few highlights of Famous Films 2017 include:

The Adventures Of Dollie (1908, Dir: D.W. Griffith) - A true landmark in film history, this film was the very first directorial effort by D. W. Griffith. He is generally credited with developing, in a series of short dramas made for the Biograph studio, the very grammar of the motion picture. Those advancements took another leap forward a few years later, when he made his first feature, The Birth of A Nation. Griffith's wife Linda Arvidson co-starred in this story of the kidnapping of a young girl by gypsies.

Lot in Sodom (1933, Dir: James Sibley Watson & Melville Webber) - This pioneering avant garde film, based on the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, was experimental in both its expressionistic style and its fearless, erotic depiction of sexuality (both homo- and hetero-). Watson, heir to the Western Union fortune, was a true renaissance man, with achievements as a medical doctor, philanthropist, publisher, editor, and photographer, in addition to his highly influential amateur filmmaking. Other Watson and Webber credits include Tomatoes Another Day and National Film Registry entry The Fall of the House of Usher. Watson's close friend, the noted composer Alec Wilder, recruited cast members and served as assistant director on Lot in Sodom.

Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906, Dir: J. Stuart Blackton) - A series of chalk drawings that come to life, this is thought to be the very first animated cartoon. It inspired many others to animate drawings, though it is marred by the inclusion of some unfortunate racial stereotypes. Blackton was a newspaper reporter and illustrator until he purchased an early projector and films from Thomas Edison. This led to his co-founding of Vitagraph, one of the most important of the early film studios.

Vitaphone trailer for The Jazz Singer (1927) - Al Jolson famously ad-libbed "You ain't heard nothing yet!" in The Jazz Singer, the first talking feature film. However, audiences lucky enough to catch this coming attraction preview for the film had already heard something! In what must have been the first talking trailer, prolific character actor John Miljan awkwardly addresses the camera to promote the new Vitaphone sound process, and shows scenes of the film's star-studded New York opening.

Plus Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse, The Incredible Jewel Robbery, What's Opera Doc, I'll Never Heil Again, and much more!

Secret Cinema history/trivia: Our first Famous Films program was presented in 2007. Additional volumes were screened in 2008 and 2011. No films from these earlier editions will be repeated in Famous Films 2017.


Secret Cinema celebrates 25 years with

The Best of Secret Cinema Short Films: The Early Years

Friday, March 10, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

The Maas Building
1325 N. Randolph Street, Philadelphia, PA
267-239-2851

On Friday, March 10, we will present what will be for us, at least, a very special screening at the Maas Building, called The Best of Secret Cinema Short Films: The Early Years. That's because twenty-five years and one day earlier marked the very first Secret Cinema screening!

Yes, it is now twenty-five years since we first carried our 16mm projector (we only had one then) up the steep stairs to the second floor of the Khyber Pas Pub. We began our series there with a screening of Don't Knock The Rock (plus "unusual short films"). Since then, there have been as many as 1000 Secret Cinema screenings (we're not exactly sure how many, but that is probably close to accurate), attended by thousands of people, in over 100 venues. We're very happy to still be here!

During 2017, we plan to revive several of our most popular programs, possibly a few unpopular ones, and will also continue presenting brand new programs. The Best of Secret Cinema Short Films: The Early Years will be the year's first anniversary event, and will include miscellaneous audience favorites that were shown in our first five years. These films, which include rare educational, advertising, musical and theatrical short subjects (and maybe a found home movie), are all very unlikely to be seen elsewhere. Some of them were featured in past "best of" programs…while others have not been shown again since 1992! (In the interest of variety, no titles will be repeated from our last "Best of shorts" program, which was shown June 2015, also at the Maas Building.)

Just a few of the titles to be screened are Let's Have a Tea (campy, Kodachrome 1940s etiquette film), Whatta Built (amusing theatrical short about body builders), Sponge Divers of Tarpon (actually fascinating 1932 documentary about Florida sponge industry), Latin Soundies (1940s musical performances photographed for a film jukebox, including "Chaquita Banana"), and Yours, Mine, Ours (1960s Technicolor fun teaches grade school kids respect for others' property)…plus much, much more.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00. Beer and refreshments will be available at the screening.

The Maas Building was previously a brewery and a trolley repair shop. This beautifully restored 1859 brick and timber workshop today serves as a multipurpose art event and catering space. Free parking is available on the street and in the adjacent lot of the James R. Ludlow Elementary School.


Fasten Your Seat Belts: Films from the Jet Set Era

in Fairmount Park Horticulture Center

Saturday, February 11, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Horticulture Center
West Fairmount Park
North Horticultural Drive & Montgomery Avenue, Philadelphia
(215) 685-0096

On Saturday, February 11, take a break from the winter doldrums and escape to exotic lands and high living, as the Secret Cinema presents Fasten Your Seat Belts: Films from the Jet Set Era -- shown in an actual hothouse! We'll return to Fairmount Park's beautiful and verdant Horticulture Center, an exhibition hall and glass-walled greenhouse filled inside and out with rare plants and historic statuary. It sits on the site of the former Horticultural Hall, an 1876 Centennial Exposition building (and is kept comfortably warm inside, regardless of outdoor conditions).

The program will consist of shorts from the 1950s and '60s highlighting then new and luxurious air travel, and exotic vacation destinations. Many of these rare films were made by long-gone airlines like Pan Am and T.W.A. to promote overseas jet service, once a radical innovation that drastically reduced travel time to glamorous European capitals and Caribbean hot spots (for those who could afford it).

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

The Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, minutes off of the Schuylkill Expressway, features a large, free parking lot. It is near Memorial Hall (Please Touch Museum) and is a short walk from Septa Routes 38, 40, 43, and 64 (Route 38 comes closest, with a stop at Belmont Avenue and Montgomery Drive).

Highlights of Fasten Your Seat Belts… will include:

6-1/2 Magic Hours (1954) - This delightful color film takes a promotional look at 1950s transatlantic air travel, complete with onboard powder rooms, lounges and gourmet food.

New Horizons: Caribbean (1958) - Pan-American airlines produced a series of short advertising films in the 1950s and '60s promoting then-novel travel destinations. This entry in the Technicolor series was particularly dream-like and meditative, its scenes of snorkeling, Calypso bands and beautiful women matched with poetic, hypnotic narration by Lee Vines smooth voice (among other notable work, he was the announcer for Korla Pandit's early television show). "One of these islands...will be your island."

The Tail that Wags the Dog (1966) - This fascinating film, made for the Boeing Vertol Division in nearby Morton, Pennsylvania, was intended to encourage the use of their twin-rotor transport helicopters for shuttling wealthier travelers from city center rooftops to nearby airports. Produced by Philadelphia's prolific Louis Kellman Productions in the same year they released the pop music theatrical feature Disk-O-Tek Holiday.

Across the World in Three Seconds (1962) - Color short from Pan-Am Airlines, showing off a new ease of booking international travel reservations, made possible by their new "Panamac" IBM computer system.

Plus much, much more!


Be Careful!: Social Guidance and Industrial Jeopardy Films

at Fleisher Art Memorial

Friday, January 27, 2017
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Fleisher Art Memorial
719 Catharine Street, Philadelphia
215-922-3456 ext. 300

We've shown many themed groupings of short films over the nearly 25 years of Secret Cinema programming -- but surprisingly, only once before (10 years ago!) did we devote an evening to the social guidance film. A subset of the educational, or classroom film genre, social guidance films exist not to teach children the traditional school wisdom of history, science and grammar, but to impart to their unformed minds the correct attitudes and behavior. They came into their own in the post-war years, and were omnipresent in American schools in the 1950s and '60s. In recent decades they have been rediscovered, in documentaries like The Atomic Cafe, in books like Mental Hygiene, and on cable television and numerous home video compilations. The Congress-created National Film Registry even named one of the most (in)famous social guidance films, Duck and Cover, to its pantheon of important films.

It's time to revisit this rich genre, and we'll do so on Friday, January 27, when we will compile, for the second time, some of the best S.G. reels from our private archive into one big show. And while social guidance films seem to be everywhere nowadays (yep, on the internet too), the best way to see them is in the dark -- using real film projected onto a big screen (albeit a screen much bigger than found in any classroom), among a group of one's peers (albeit peers many years past the target audience of most of these films).

Be Careful!… will be shown in the beautiful Sanctuary of the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia's Bella Vista neighborhood (just South of Center City). Free parking is available in the Fleisher's parking lot, just across the street.

This new program will differ a bit from our previous social guidance outing, in that it will include films aimed at older audiences, as well as at children. "Industrial Jeopardy" is a genre named by film archivist Rick Prelinger (in ReSearch Publications' landmark 1986 book Incredibly Strange Films), to collectively include educational shorts that attempted to prevent life-threatening misbehavior by workers, motorists and homemakers.

There will be one complete show, at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

Be Careful!… will include many rare titles never before shown by us, and others not seen for many years. They will span many different years and show examples of work from important producers of social guidance film like Coronet (originally a division of Esquire Magazine) and Young America Films. Just a few highlights will be: You and Your Parents, Meeting Strangers: Red Light Green Light, Dope is for Dopes, Accidents Don't Happen and Options to Live.


From Philadelphia With Love:

Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films

at Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
7:30 pm
Admission:$12.50, $6.50 (members), $10 (seniors/students)

Bryn Mawr Film Institute
824 W. Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA
(610) 527-9898

On Wednesday, January 11, the Secret Cinema will return to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute to present a unique program of short films called From Philadelphia With Love: Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films. While most area residents are familiar with Philadelphia films such as Rocky, Trading Places, and the works of M. Night Shayamalan, there is a whole world of locally-made films that has been forgotten -- the "ephemeral" short films that were primarily made by small independent companies for the then-booming non-theatrical market. While most school districts, television stations and traveling salesman have long ago discarded their 16mm film projectors, we at Secret Cinema have not, and are proud to present a look back at these celluloid time capsules that would otherwise not be seen again.

The Secret Cinema has been collecting, archiving and screening this fascinating area of local film history for over two decades now. Our BMFI presentation will be a "best of" selection from past volumes of From Philadelphia With Love…

There will be one complete show at 7:30 pm. Admission is $12.50, $6.50 (BMFI members), $10 (seniors and students).

Highlights of From Philadelphia With Love… will include:

Our Changing City (1955) - Made by the city during the administration of Mayor Joseph Clark, this vivid color film makes the case for urban renewal (i.e., demolition and new construction) while showing a wide range of cityscapes, from new homes in the Northeast to the poverty of people living in houses without plumbing or electricity.

Is a Career in Television or Radio For You? (1970s) - This educational film, part of a series of career guidance shorts for high school audiences, was shot locally at the City Line Avenue studios of WCAU and WPVI (shortly after the latter's call letter change from WFIL).While showing the work of different kinds of jobs available in the field, we see glimpses of past local broadcasters John Facenda, Gene London, Joe Pellegrino and Jim O'Brien.

The Spirit of Success (1984) - A tourism and business promotional film touting the many benefits of life in Montgomery County. It shows off numerous historical sites (Valley Forge, Pennypacker Mills, Hope Lodge), recreational and leisure facilities (Elmwood Park Zoo, Lily Langtry's nightclub), business headquarters, and bountiful shopping opportunities (including both King of Prussia Plaza and then-new Willow Grove Park Mall).

Brooklyn Goes To Philadelphia (1954) - This obscure theatrical release from Universal was part of a series of humorous travelogues narrated by wisecracking, thickly-accented Brooklynite Phil Foster. "Philadelphia is the third largest city in America ... big deal!" Aside from dwindling population, the jokes about demolition of historic property and confusing parking regulations show that some things don't change.

Portrait of a College (1963) - A colorful campus tour of what was then known as the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, and is today, in greatly expanded form, the University of the Arts. The film begins with a view of Haviland-Strickland Hall (originally the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, and the oldest building on Broad Street), and then visits facilities for painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and graphic arts. "Since 1876, the best possible instruction in the arts happened here." Interestingly, this film was produced in the very last year of the school's affiliation with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Philadelphia With Love (1972) - Our "title film" is a colorful, tourism boosting paean to "Philadelphia, a fabulous city that puts it all together!" This perky reel manages to show a lot of things that are gone, including Playhouse In The Park, the Perelman Toy Museum, Pub Tiki and George X. Schwartz -- not to mention a lot of long-vanished hairstyles. With special guest Sergio Franchi, singing the theme song on the Ben Franklin Parkway!


New Jersey Pine Barrens films in historic library

of Academy of Natural Sciences

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
7:00 pm
Admission: FREE

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Use 19th Street entrance.
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
(215) 299-1000

On Wednesday, November 30, the Secret Cinema will help present a program of nature films focusing on wildlife in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The screening will take place in the historic library of the Academy of Natural Sciences (built 1876), during a working meeting of the equally historic American Entomological Society. This event honors the memory of late filmmaker, writer, and naturalist Howard P. Boyd, the pre-eminent scholar on the Pine Barrens.

The meeting starts promptly at 7:00 pm, and is open to the public. Admission is free. Attendees should use the 19th Street entrance to the Academy.

Featured will be Howard and Doris Boyd's film Life on a Coastal Plain, a beautifully photographed, silent look at the variety of flora and fauna found in the Pine Barrens. Howard and his wife would travel with films they had produced such as this, and present them with a live narration to groups around the country (AES members will provide narration for this showing).

Also on the bill is a rare 1940s short from the Secret Cinema archive, Cranberry Industry of New Jersey, which details the unusual process of growing and harvesting this traditional Thanksgiving treat, in glorious Kodachrome. Plus, we'll show some very early educational films about insects.

About Howard Boyd: The entomologist, author, activist and Pine Barrens guru served as president of the AES from 1977-1981, and was editor of its scientific journal, Entomological News, for almost 30 years. He was a leading expert in scientific circles on the insect group Cicindelinae, the Tiger Beetles. Howard was a conservationist, educator and authority on the ecology of the Pine Barrens. In 1991 he penned his first book, A Field Guide to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey: Its Flora, Fauna, Ecology and Historic Sites, which is recognized as the definitive field guide to the New Jersey Pinelands. In 2004, he was one of two premiere inductees into the Pine Barrens Hall of Fame, established by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance to honor heroes of Pine Barrens protection. By 2006, Howard, with the AES, spearheaded a five-year insect diversity study of the approximately 11,000 acre Franklin Parker Preserve, a reclaimed cranberry operation in Chatsworth, New Jersey. Howard, with his wife Doris as photographer, produced and presented films through the National Audubon Society Wildlife Film Tours from 1966 to 1976.

About the American Entomological Society: AES is the oldest continuously operating organization devoted to the study of insects in the New World. It began in Philadelphia in 1859 as the Entomological Society of Philadelphia, broadened its scope and name in 1867 to the American Entomological Society, and in 1876, moved its rooms, library and collections to the Academy of Natural Sciences, where it still holds its meetings today.

AMERICAN ENTOMOLOGICAL SOCIETY WEBSITE


Creepy Puppet Films

at University City's Rotunda

Saturday, November 26, 2016
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

The Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

Puppetry is an age-old artform that has charmed and delighted both children and adults for countless generations. And, puppets have been a source of inspiration to filmmakers almost since the movies began.

So why do puppets become so...creepy, when filmed and projected on a giant screen?

On Saturday, November 26, the Secret Cinema will attempt to answer that question -- or at least show our favorite examples of this peculiar genre of cinema -- when we present Creepy Puppet Films at the Rotunda. Using assorted educational and entertainment shorts from past decades, we'll show films using hand puppets, marionettes, and stop-motion animated figures and claymation. Some were made by great masters of special effects like George Pal and Ray Harryhausen. Others were made by nameless hacks for forgotten educational film mills. Yet, they are all creepy.

Secret Cinema originally presented Creepy Puppet Films seven years ago, almost to the date (and we showed it one more time, more recently, at New York's Anthology Film Archives).

There will be one complete screening starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

A few highlights of Creepy Puppet Films include:

Hansel and Gretel (1951, Dir: Ray Harryhausen) - This early work from stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen was from a series of animated fairy tale shorts in which he explored the techniques he would soon perfect in features like Jason and the Argonauts. Harryhausen began his experimentation as a teenager, shortly after being entranced by Willis O'Brien's pioneering special effects in King Kong.

George Pal Puppetoon (1940s, Dir: George Pal) - George Pal's "Puppetoon" shorts showed a brilliant imagination and flawless stop-motion technique. We'll show an example from this oft-overlooked series, from the Hungarian animator who went on to create sci-fi feature film classics like War of the Worlds.

Making Change (1970s, Dir: Unknown) - From the sublime to the hackneyed-beyond-belief: This short was made during the peak sales years of the 16mm educational film industry. It employs the crudest of stick puppets to teach money math skills to grade school kids.

Gumby: Hot Rod Granny (1957, Dir: Art Clokey) - Claymation superstar Gumby encounters a speed crazed senior citizen racing an animated plastic model kit roadster around the town.

Pirro and the Scale (1948, Dir: Alvin J. Gordon) - Marionette clown Pirro imparts a valuable lesson on weight and measurement. A 1951 guide book for teachers thought that "Pat Patterson, who created and manipulates the puppet, provides the running commentary, which is warm and pleasant at its best, at worst too nervously repetitive." That's part right.

...and much, much more!


Archive Discoveries: Unseen and Forgotten Favorites

from the Secret Cinema Collection at the Maas Building

Friday, November 11, 2016
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

The Maas Building
1325 N. Randolph Street, Philadelphia, PA
267-239-2851

On Friday, November 11, The Secret Cinema will return to the historic Maas Building with a new program called Archive Discoveries: Unseen and Forgotten Favorites from the Secret Cinema Collection. It features a mélange of fascinating short films from the past, representing a variety of genres and subject matter.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00. Beer and refreshments will be available at the screening.

The Secret Cinema's private archive contains literally thousands of reels of 16mm (and 35mm, and 8mm) features, theatrical shorts, cartoons, newsreels, television shows, educational films, travel films, industrial films, and home movies. Together, they add up to well over three million feet of often rare celluloid, with several prints thought to be the only extant copies in the world.

Some of the best of these amazing films will again see the light of a projector bulb in Archive Discoveries… This previously ungroupable group of short films will include films that were made to entertain, to teach, to encourage commerce and to alter opinion. Spanning many decades, they show wondrous places, styles and things that have long-since vanished. Some of them now seem campy, others still have valid lessons to teach, but all are fascinating, and extremely unlikely to be seen anywhere else, including on video.*

A few highlights from Archive Discoveries… include:

Alexander Calder: From the Circus to the Moon (1963, Dir: Hans Richter) - This film presents a whimsical look at the celebrated, Philadelphia-born artist and his creations, as he constructs miniature mobiles in a very cluttered studio-barn. Filmmaker Richter had collaborated with Calder years before, in his groundbreaking 1947 feature Dreams that Money Can Buy.

Cab Calloway & his Orchestra: "Virginia, Georgia and Caroline" (1942, Dir: unknown) - This film clip of a typically high-spirited Calloway performance was originally seen on the Mills Panoram "Soundies" film jukebox.

Rock 'n' Roll Trailers (1957-59, Dir: Fred Sears et al) - A collection of coming attraction previews for early rock and related movies, with (brief) appearances by Little Richard, Bill Haley and Danny and the Juniors. Several of the films were produced by exploitation genius Sam Katzman (including Calypso Heat Wave).

The Wooden Soldier (1928, Dir: Jacques Rollens) - This bizarre silent short was released in a series called "Laemmle Novelties," billed as "Something new under the sun." What made them novel is that they mostly did not focus on human actors. In this film, a ghoulish toymaker enacts an experiment with "Oxo-Vapor" to bring his toy creations to life -- though some of them wind up dead.

Star Trek bloopers (1966-69) - Shatner, Nimoy and company flub lines, crack jokes, and crack up in several unaired takes from the beloved, original sci-fi series. With bonus Mission Impossible bloopers.

Plus Middletown Goes to War (1942), This World of Ours: Chicago (1951), and more!

The Maas Building was previously a brewery and a trolley repair shop. This beautifully restored 1859 brick and timber workshop today serves as a multipurpose art event and catering space. Free parking is available on the street and in the adjacent lot of the James R. Ludlow Elementary School.

*If this program description sounds familiar, that's because Archive Discoveries… is the latest round of a series we've presented for some time, but under another title: Curator's Choice. We've retired that name, owing to the egregious, pretentious misuse of the words "curator" and "curated" in recent years. While Secret Cinema boss Jay Schwartz, as caretaker of a collection, really is a curator, those words have ceased to have any actual meaning. So, we'll stick with Archive Discoveries (or we'll do so until gallery owners, band bookers, menu makers, d.j.'s, shopkeepers, film programmers, and similarly high-minded folks decide that they are presenting offerings from their "archives"). P>


1930 American Indian documentary The Silent Enemy

at American Philosophical Society

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
7:00 pm (Museum open 6:00 pm)
Admission: FREE

American Philosophical Society
Franklin Hall
427 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
(215) 440-3442

On Wednesday, October 19, 2016, the Secret Cinema will return to the American Philosophical Society to present The Silent Enemy. An independently made, mostly silent film (with spoken introduction and musical soundtrack), its producers attempted to document the original lifestyle of the Ojibway tribe of Native Americans, in the Canadian Far North -- and their perpetual fight against the silent enemy of hunger. The result is a fascinating, exciting and beautiful film, which critic Leonard Maltin called a "remarkable blend of documentary footage and a fictional story…(the) climactic caribou run is one of the most astonishing sights you'll ever witness."

The Silent Enemy has been most often seen (when seen at all) in an edited version, made for the educational market. Our screening will be a rare showing of the film's original version, as rescued by film preservationist David Shepard.

The screening celebrates the exhibition, Gathering Voices: Thomas Jefferson and Native America, which will be on display at the APS Museum through December 30.

This Secret Cinema event will feature a chance to explore the exhibition, free refreshments and snacks, and the screening of a rarely shown documentary (as always with Secret Cinema, using real film projected on a giant screen). Best of all, admission is free.

On the screening day, the museum doors will open at 6:00 pm, allowing time to explore the exhibition. The film screening starts at 7:00 pm. Seating is limited.

Please note that there is no longer free meter parking offered in Center City on Wednesday evenings! The Philadelphia Parking Authority announced that this long-standing program would end starting in October, and that all posted regulations will now be enforced as on other days.

A full description of the feature follows.

The Silent Enemy (1930, Dir: H.P. Carver)
The desire to make a film that would authentically record Native American life before the arrival of Columbus is very much the idea at the heart of W. Douglas Burden's production. As Burden told Kevin Brownlow, "it was all too obvious that the Indians were dying off so rapidly from the white man's diseases that if the story of their endless struggle for survival against starvation was ever to be captured on film, we had no time to lose."

It is hard to say whether The Silent Enemy achieves its goal of ethnographic accuracy, but it is easy to see that it achieves its cinematic goal of being a beautiful and exciting film. While the story is fictional, Burden based it on a 73-volume account of missionary work entitled Jesuit Relations, and he claimed that "not one episode was invented by us, with the exception of the bear on a cliff." Indeed, by striving for anthropological precision, Burden and his co-producer William Chanler took on a larger challenge than the already formidable task of making a feature film in the harsh environment of Northern Canada.

Seeking to correct the spurious and demeaning image of Native Americans in mainstream films, Burden and Chanler attempted to film only aboriginal people, their tools and their activities, in their actual habitat. Some of their achievements in this regard are staggering. Filming into the harsh Canadian winter, the cast and crew lived exclusively in teepees. Burden himself shared a teepee with Chief Yellow Robe. All the hunting implements and crafts shown in the film were made on the set by local Ojibway Indians. In a further tragic twist, some of the Ojibway who appeared in The Silent Enemy died soon after of tuberculosis, flu or pneumonia contracted from the white filmmakers.

Ultimately, we should be cautious in responding to the film as an authentic anthropological document. However, we should equally be eager to view it as the immensely impressive and exciting film it is. The filmmakers, cast and crew were unequivocal in their intention and commitment to honor the heritage of a noble and disappearing people, and to overcome the enormous challenges associated with making it. - David Shepard

About Gathering Voices: Thomas Jefferson and Native America:
The last of three exhibitions at the American Philosophical Society on Jefferson, Gathering Voices tells the story of Jefferson's effort to collect Native American languages and its legacy at the Society. Jefferson had an abiding interest in Native American culture and language, while at the same time supporting policies that ultimately threatened the survival of indigenous peoples. As president of the APS from 1797 to 1814, Jefferson charged the Society with collecting vocabularies and artifacts from Native American nations. Over the next two hundred years, the APS would become a major repository for linguistic, ethnographic, and anthropological research on Native American cultures. Gathering Voices traces the Native American language collection at the APS from Jefferson's vocabularies to the current language revitalization projects at the Society's Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR).

About the APS: When Benjamin Franklin and friends decided, in 1743, to establish the American Philosophical Society (APS), they studied nature and called themselves natural philosophers. Now we'd call them scientists. But the word "philosophical" stuck. Over the years, the APS has counted among its members individuals as varied as George Washington, Charles Darwin, and Yo-Yo Ma. The APS has gathered and preserved a rich collection that traces American history and science from the Founding Fathers to the computer age. It includes scientific specimens and instruments, and more than ten million manuscripts. The APS combines sophisticated exhibitions of its collections with provocative works by contemporary artists. Museum visitors will find challenging new perspectives on history, science, and art. The galleries are at Philosophical Hall, 104 S. Fifth Street, Philadelphia, right next to Independence Hall. Admission and all programs are free.


The Inside View: Short Films about Prison

at Eastern State Penitentiary

Friday, September 9, 2016
8:00 pm (doors open 7:00 pm)
Admission: $10

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia
(215) 236-3300

On Friday, September 9, the Secret Cinema will return to Eastern State Penitentiary, to present our 16th film screening at the historic site and museum. This year -- for the first time -- the program will not be based around a prison-themed feature film. The Inside View: Short Films About Prison will instead be a collection of rare documentaries, television drama and even a cartoon, all about life behind bars, with none longer than 30 minutes. Some of these reels were used as "opening acts" for prior Secret Cinema events at ESP, and some will be getting their first-ever showing.

As usual, we'll be entertaining our "captive" audience by projecting prison-themed film fare in a screening room complete with real steel bars, echoing the scenes on screen in a unique twist on "3-D" movies. Since the first Secret Cinema/ESP event, we've presented prison film subgenres ranging from death row drama, women in prison, tough film noir, '70s sexploitation, chilling documentary, and even a prison-set Laurel and Hardy comedy.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Doors open at 7:00 pm, allowing the audience time to take a look at many new and existing museum exhibits at ESP. Admission is $10.00.

A few highlights of The Inside View: Short Films about Prison include:

The Expert (1983, Dir: Don Petrie, Jr.)
The Expert follows a state execution doctor as he trains his replacement in how to administer a gas chamber execution. The American Film Institute produced this thoughtful, thought-provoking, and little-seen short drama. Director Petrie would go on to make many successful comedy features (including Mystic Pizza, Grumpy Old Men and Miss Congeniality), but The Expert shows a decidedly darker sensibility.

Types of Inmates (1965, Dir: Ernest Reid)
Produced by the National Film Board of Canada for that nation's Department of Justice, Types Of Inmates was made strictly for the purpose of training prison personnel, as evidenced by a warning title that limits the short film's viewing to working professionals. This fascinating documentary then proceeds to classify various inmates by their psychological profiles, defining such breeds as "Rebel," "Dependent," "Manipulator" and "Mental." The grim filmed interviews with actual inmates provide a close-up view of a difficult life faced by men on both sides of the cell door.

M-Squad: The Hard Case (1957, Dir: Bernard Girard)
The noirish 1950s TV series M-Squad served as a showcase for the screen's ultimate tough guy, Lee Marvin. In this episode, Marvin's detective character poses as a new prison convict, to help clear a night watchman that was framed for a robbery.

Plus The Prison Community, Northwest Hounded Police and more!

Eastern State Penitentiary, built in the 1820s, is a world famous historic landmark, which influenced the design of hundreds of other prisons. Closed as a working prison since 1971, the decaying structure, which once housed Al Capone and Willie Sutton, has become a popular tourist attraction and museum over the last two decades. The film will be projected right inside the main prison building in a hallway just outside Capone's cell, surrounded by iron bars and the memories of convicts past.


Cinema Ephemera festival in Baltimore

Friday, June 24 - Sunday, June 26 @ Baltimore, MD (various locations): Cinema Ephemera: The Festival of Useful Film (Click link for full details!)


Old Films About Old Films About...

at Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Thursday, July 21, 2016
7:00 pm
Admission: $12.00 adults, $6.50 members, $9.00 seniors, $8.00 students

Bryn Mawr Film Institute
824 W. Lancaster Avenue
, Bryn Mawr, PA
(610) 527-9898

On Thursday, July 21, the Secret Cinema will present a unique program of rare short subjects, all of them concerned with filmmaking and film history. Old Films About Old Films About... provides several self-reflexive glimpses of the film industry, made when its story was only partially written. The films range from a comprehensive tour of a silent film studio to a promotional film for home movie cameras.

The selection combines highlights from two earlier Old Films About... programs (shown back in 1999 and 2011) with a few new acquisitions that we've never shown before. This will be the Secret Cinema's first presentation at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, and ties in with their summer series of "Hollywood Classics."

There will be one complete show at 7:00 pm. Admission is $12.00 adults, $6.50 members, $9.00 seniors and $8.00 students.

As always -- still -- Secret Cinema programs are shown using 16mm (not video, not digital) film projected on a giant screen (an extra giant one in this case!).

A few highlights of Old Films About Old Films About... include:

MGM Studio Tour (1925) - A grand tour of the grandest of Hollywood studios, seen at the peak moment of the silent era. We see different creative and technical departments, directors like John Ford, Victor Seastrom and Tod Browning, and countless stars, from a young Joan Crawford to Zasu Pitts.

The Film That Was Lost (1942) - This vintage, MGM one-reeler, from their "John Nesbitt's Passing Parade" series, takes a look at the work of the Museum of Modern Art Film Library -- America's first film archive.

A.M.P.A.S. shorts (1950) - In 1950, a series of one-reel theatrical shorts was made about various aspects of the film industry, under the guidance of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Each short was produced by a different studio. We'll show three: The Soundman (made by Columbia), plus…

Screen Actors (1950) - M.G.M, the studio with "more stars than there are in heaven," made this look at the lives of actors, with special attention to their off-screen activities. A Screen Actors Guild meeting is seen, as is Dan Duryea's work as a Cub Scout leader!

The Costume Designer (1950) - This A.M.P.A.S. short, produced by RKO, explains the importance of the wardrobe department -- with a special focus on sunglass-wearing designer Edith Head (who, surprisingly, is not identified).

The Movie...a Window on Life (1964) - "I'd like to introduce you to my Bolex..." The famed Swiss movie camera manufacturer produced this promotional film, most likely for screenings in camera stores. With tips on making better home movies, and some colorful shots of Bolex's line of 8mm moviemaking gear.

Plus much, much more.


Made to Persuade: Propaganda Films

at Fleisher Art Memorial

Saturday, June 4, 2016
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Fleisher Art Memorial,
The Sanctuary
719 Catharine Street, Philadelphia
(215)922-3456, ext. 300

On Saturday, June 4, the Secret Cinema will present Made to Persuade: Propaganda Films, with a new program of rare short films which were intended to sell ideas.

While a media theorist could probably make a good case that most films (and certainly all of the sponsored films that we frequently showcase) have ideological agendas, for this screening we will mainly focus on films that strongly promote messages about patriotism, the military, and religion. Many of the shorts will be having their Secret Cinema debut in this program.

Made to Persuade: Propaganda Films will be presented in the beautiful Sanctuary of the Fleisher Art Memorial, in Philadelphia's Bella Vista neighborhood (just South of Center City). Free parking is available in the Fleisher's parking lot, just across the street.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

The final sequence of Made to Persuade... is still being assembled, but should include the following…

The Bond (1918) - Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in this comical pitch to sell war U.S. Liberty Bonds during World War I. It co-starred his regular players Edna Purviance and Albert Austin, as well as his half-brother Sydney.

The House I Live In (1945) - Frank Sinatra starred in this famous short promoting tolerance and respect of different religions and ethnicity's.

The American Way (1944) - As the ravages and sacrifices of World War II peaked, this film stressed that at home, democracy was still working -- by focusing on Americans both humble and famous (like actors Lewis Stone and Bob Hope) voting in the year's presidential election.

Our Cities Must Fight (1952) - Made at the height of Cold War paranoia, this Civil Defense reel attempts to encourage city dwellers to remain at home in case of enemy attack, and if needed, engage him in combat. "Have you got the guts?"

Wendell Willkie campaign films (1940) - Produced by the Republican National Committee, for Willkie's unsuccessful run against F.D.R. (We'll show different Willkie films than we've shown before!)

It's Everybody's War (1942) - Henry Fonda tells America how to help win World War II on the homefront, by showing it's impact on a typical small town.

My Japan (1945) - This incredible short was made to show that Japan was a much more formidable foe than many had assumed. It is narrated by a white actor in the role of a seemingly invincible Japanese military spokesman.

…plus much more!

About the Fleisher Art Memorial:
Founded in 1898, Fleisher is one of the country's oldest nonprofit community art schools. Fleisher's mission is to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of economic means, background, or artistic experience. In 1916, Fleisher acquired the former building of the Saint Martin's College for Indigent Boys on Christian Street, and in 1922, added the adjacent Romanesque church which had formerly been the Episcopal Church of the Evangelist. The space was converted to house Fleisher's private collections of paintings and sculptures, and he made it available to neighborhood residents day and night as a quiet place for contemplation and reflection. Fleisher serves over 16,000 annually, with 1,702 young people attending tuition-free classes and low-cost workshops, 3,820 adults taking free and low-cost classes and workshops, 358 children and youth being served in public schools and community centers throughout Southeast Philadelphia, and 8,430 visitors to the galleries annually.


The Secret Cinema Cavalcade of Commercials

at Manayunk's Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center
7 Lock Street
Philadelphia, PA 19127
215-685-3583

On Wednesday, May 25, The Secret Cinema will bring a classic old program -- The Secret Cinema Cavalcade of Commercials -- to an exciting new venue, Manayunk's Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center.

Cavalcade is a specially assembled evening of rare TV commercials from the '50s, '60s and '70s, both classic and obscure. The vintage views of toothpaste, pain reliever, cereal, cigarettes, automobiles, soft drinks, appliances, hair spray, cleansers and much more should leave the audience with a craving to consume -- or at least a strong urge to run to the bathroom.

Our last all-commercial program was presented nearly 13 years ago! This enhanced Cavalcade will include the best from past presentations, plus some never-shown reels.

Just a few highlights from the feature-length program are: A pre-stardom Cybill Shepherd flashing a smile for Ultra Brite, circa 1969; '70s TV icons Mr. Whipple (Charmin toilet paper) and Cora (Maxwell House coffee, played by screen great Margaret Hamilton); examples of the lost television contraband known as cigarette commercials (including Lee Marvin pitching Pall Mall's); and an informative minute from Carter's Little Liver Pills all about "The Miracle of Your Liver Bile."

Interspersed with the above will be forgotten public service announcements and a few TV spots for feature films. The entire program will be projected in 16mm film (not video) on a screen frighteningly larger than these ads were ever meant to be seen.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

The Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center is the best-kept secret in Manayunk. This 250-seat auditorium, with stadium seating and state-of-the art lighting and sound systems opened as a community theater in late 2014. Located steps off of Main Street, the facility has an on-site pay parking lot ($8 evening flat rate), and is close to street parking, public transportation, and the Schuylkill River Trail for cyclists.

PARKING
Once you arrive you may use Venice Island's parking lot. The lot is managed through the Manayunk Development Corporation and not through the Venice Island Performing Arts Center. Pay at the kiosk, or take advantage of Manayunk's free street parking a short walk away

SEPTA
Google Maps will show different public transit options. Here's a link to getting to the show from City Hall using Septa. Change the starting point as needed...


Movies for Every Occasion: The Best and Worst of

Castle and Official Films at Maas Building

Friday, April 15, 2016
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

The Maas Building
1325 N. Randolph Street
Philadelphia

267-239-2851

On Friday, April 15, The Secret Cinema will return to the beautiful Maas Building with a new program called Movies for Every Occasion: The Best and Worst of Castle and Official Films. Culled from the depths of the Secret Cinema archive, it will highlight the abundant and varied output of two companies that were pioneers in home entertainment.

For four decades starting in 1937, Castle Films and Official Films released hundreds of unique short subjects sold (through mail order, camera and department stores) to owners of 8mm and 16mm home movie projectors. Long before home video, consumers could buy their own film prints of travelogues, cartoons, sports reels, musical shorts, newsreels and much more. While home editions of Hollywood-made cartoons and comedy short subjects were popular, and highlight reels of Universal horror features doubly so, many of their best-selling titles were original productions -- with many earlier releases made by Castle founder Eugene Castle himself (Official Films, founded in 1939 by freelance cameraman Leslie Winik, was pretty much a direct copy of Castle's business model).

Often amusingly dated, but just as often surprisingly captivating, the 9-minute reels from these two companies have enlivened many Secret Cinema programs over the last quarter-century (yes, we are now in our 25th year!). Yet, this will be our very first program exclusively devoted to these two former giants of movies in the home, and will include favorites from previous screenings as well as several titles never before shown. And as an added attraction, deluxe Castle Films t-shirts will be available for sale!

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00. Beer and refreshments will be available at the screening.

A few highlights from Movies for Every Occasion… include:

Fishing Vagabonds (1955) - Castle and Official each released countless sports-themed topical films, aimed at the dads who were presumably the operators of their family's home movie equipment. This is a typical fishing short, but unlike most was shot in blazingly-saturated Ansco Color. The choice helped to show off not only angling technique, but also the fishermen's bikini-clad boatmates, who do their best to stay out of the way. The narrator notes, "Our heroine makes a smart decision…this is man's work!"

The Chimp's Adventure (aka Monkey Shines, 1934) - The "Chimp" series of comedy shorts were a staple of Castle Films catalogs for many years. They all depicted an actual chimpanzee wandering around the civilized world and getting mixed up in various mischief. This was the first entry in the series, shot on location in Manhattan, and was originally released by Paramount for their "Shorty the Chimp" series. Castle's generic "The Chimp…" retitling allowed them to keep the franchise going after the Paramount series ended, later substituting films featuring television star Zippy the Chimp.

Survival Under Atomic Attack (1951) - Castle released a series of eight "Official U.S. Civil Defense Motion Pictures" to instruct the population how to best survive nuclear war. These films were sold at a slight discount form their usual prices, and also included titles such as Disaster on Main Street, What You Should Know About Biological Warfare, and the ever popular Duck and Cover. "Let us face the realities of our times…"

Atlantic City (1951) - Castle made countless travel films, showcasing exotic lands across the globe, but this one was made closer to home. The seaside resort was shown in all of its pre-gambling glory, with views of long-demolished, palatial hotels, the boardwalk and its rolling chairs, restaurants Hackney's, Mammy's, and the Knife & Fork Inn, and a Miss America parade.

Let's Sing a Western Song (1947, Dir: Harold James) - From Universal's theatrically-released Sing and Be Happy series, one of many "bouncing ball" sing-along films, this one featuring Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians. Feel free to join in (and be happy!).

Roaring Wheels (1952) - A look at all kinds of fast-moving vehicles, including gas-powered miniature cars, midget race cars, soap-box derby cars, dirt bikes and experimental vehicles at the Bonneville salt flats.

Four Melodies in Allegretto (1940s?) - "A free interpretation of four musical compositions whose themes are based on animal life." That's a rather high-falutin' introduction to what is actually a super-low budget production made to showcase the cuteness of kittens and baby chicks (and stock footage of…bees?). All of their activity ostensibly occurs in the dreams of a sleeping little girl, who favors the music of Mussorgsky and Saint-Saens. Castle and Official films were rarely pretentious, but is seems there were exceptions.

Castle Quiz Game: Movies Greatest Headlines (1952) - An interactive film game n which the audience is tested on their knowledge of (then) current events, using newsreel clips and a ticking timer.

…and much more!

The Maas Building was previously a brewery and a trolley repair shop. This beautifully restored 1859 brick and timber workshop today serves as a multipurpose art event and catering space. Free parking is available on the street and in the adjacent lot of the James R. Ludlow Elementary School.


Parks and Rec Rarities

at Fairmount Park Horticulture Center

Friday, March 25, 2016
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Horticulture Center
West Fairmount Park
North Horticultural Drive & Montgomery Avenue, Philadelphia
(215) 685-0096

On Friday, March 25 the Secret Cinema and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation will present Parks and Rec Rarities, a screening of little-seen city-made films. The event will take place in Fairmount Park's beautiful and verdant Horticulture Center, an exhibition hall and glass-walled greenhouse filled inside and out with rare plants and historic statuary. It sits on the site of the former Horticultural Hall, an 1876 Centennial Exposition building.

The program will consist of shorts from the 1960s, '70s and '80s, documenting leisurely times gone by in Philadelphia's abundant park and recreation facilities. We showed the park films, from the Fairmount Park archive, just once before, at a 2010 event at Northeast Philly's Ryerss Museum. The Recreation Department films, however, have probably not been seen since they were made -- the reels were recently found in a rec center storage closet. (Upon the discovery of each set of films, PPR's Rob Armstrong called on the Secret Cinema for help in inspecting, repairing and viewing the aging reels).

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

The Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, minutes off of the Schuylkill Expressway, features a large, free parking lot. It is near Memorial Hall (Please Touch Museum) and is a short walk from Septa Routes 38, 40, 43, and 64 (Route 38 comes closest, with a stop at Belmont Avenue and Montgomery Drive).

Highlights of Parks and Rec Rarities include:

WFIL Salutes the Philadelphia Department of Recreation (1965, Produced/edited: Bill Lawrence) - This television documentary (made by the station known today as WPVI), gives a broad overview of our recreation system and its programs as they existed 50 years ago -- from swimming pools in the Northeast's Jardel Rec Center, to a Eugene Ormandy-led Philadelphia Orchestra concert with Van Cliburn, to folk guitar lessons for teenaged girls, and to programs at the Chamounix youth hostel. Robert Crawford, the city's influential Commissioner of Recreation for nearly 30 years, discusses changes that introduced during his tenure.

Journey of a Philadelphia Zoo Sculpture (c. 1962, Ralph Lopatin Productions) - Heinz Warneke's granite sculpture called Cow Elephant and Calf was designed for the Philadelphia Zoo and created in Norway. This archival footage depicts the massive sculpture arriving on a ship, driven on an open truck through Philadelphia's streets, and finally installed by the artist at the Philadelphia Zoo, where it can be seen today.

Better Break (1978) - A young Larry Kane introduces this short by asking. "Can we take a tour of the city in ten minutes?" The film then offers just that, while highlighting various activities funded by the "Better Break" program. This decade-long initiative was started in 1968 to provide jobs for vacationing school youth and "give the hope needed to keep the City 'cool' from social unrest which had been manifested so tragically in other major cities throughout the nation" (as per a 1969 Better Break press release). Shown are a boxing match, ballerinas dancing near City Hall, Mayor Rizzo, a "Gospelrama" concert, and notable musical talents like Lionel Hampton, Arthur Prysock, Maynard Ferguson, Carmen McRae and Ray Charles, all performing at the Robin Hood Dell.

A Day with the Fairmount Park Mounted Patrol (c. 1960, Dir: George Smith and Charles Bender) - Between 1867 and 1972, the Fairmount Park system was patrolled by the Fairmount Park Guard, an elite park police force separate from the Philadelphia Police Department. This charming amateur production, produced by home movie hobbyists within the Fairmount Park Mounted Unit, humorously depicts a typical day in the life of the Park Guard as they patrol Fairmount Park...and keep the park safe from litterbugs and perverts!

The Valley Green (1981, Dir: Jeff Farber) - In his 1844 essay "Morning on the Wissahiccon," Edgar Allan Poe wrote: "Now the Wissahiccon is of so remarkable a loveliness that, were it flowing in England, it would be the theme of every bard, and the common topic of every tongue..." This film, produced nearly 30 years ago (and 137 years later) by the Friends of the Wissahickon, offers a tour of the sights and sounds of the Wissahickon Creek, as it winds through Montgomery County and into Philadelphia. Along the way there are discussions of environmental and conservation issues with urban planners, developers and park officials


Pop art feature The Touchables

at Philadelphia Museum of Art


Wednesday, February 24, 2016
6:00 pm
Admission: Pay What You Wish

Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
(215) 763-8100

After twenty-four years of film screenings, the Secret Cinema is happy to announce our first-ever event at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. On Wednesday, February 24, we'll present The Touchables, a "psychedelic screwball comedy" -- filled with mod fashions and pop art décor -- that we've championed since our very first year. This audacious and colorful feature, capturing peak "Swinging London," is being shown to celebrate PMA's new exhibition "International Pop." The screening is part of the museum's weekly "pay what you want" Wednesday nights.

The program will also include a surprise short film, and free popcorn and refreshments will be provided. The feature will be introduced by critic and WPRB disk jockey Dan Buskirk, who will also lead a post-screening discussion. Seating is limited.

There will be one complete show, starting at 6:00 pm. Admission is free after Pay What You Wish museum admission (This admission policy begins at 5:00 pm, and the museum will remain open until 8:45 pm)

A complete description of the feature follows.

The Touchables (1968, Great Britain, Dir: Robert Freeman)
A group of four beautiful, inexplicably wealthy and exceptionally whimsical girls live together. When not attending their American friend's ballet-like pro-wrestling bouts, they commit outlandish pranks such as stealing a wax dummy of Michael Caine. They take their impulsive behavior a step further when they abduct a young pop star to their bizarre country retreat, a large inflatable dome filled with pinball machines and mod furnishings. There they tie him down and take turns having their way with him. Things start to get out of hand -- especially when their friend's wrestling rival, a wealthy black gangster, decides he must also possess the pretty boy.

The Touchables is a cult film waiting to be discovered. Ignored or quickly dismissed in most film reference books, it is both ahead and wholly a part of its unique moment in time. The Touchables is also the best example of a heretofore unrecognized film genre, the Psychedelic Screwball Comedy (other British examples include The Magic Christian and the obscure Work Is A Four Letter Word). Like the classic screwball comedies of earlier decades, the plot zigzags through a series of unlikely complications and is populated by outrageous characters. Unlike any Carole Lombard or Cary Grant vehicle, The Touchables is set in a surreal, pop-art world and features characters that act irrationally and with little exposition (possibly Cary Grant imagined such a world during his admitted LSD experiments!).

Robert Freeman was a top fashion photographer who made many memorable photos of the Beatles (including the Rubber Soul album cover). He directed The Touchables with great pop-art flair. Combining bright, colorful photography, stylish editing, spirited performances, and a snazzy Ken Thorne score, Freeman has left a film that is both a unique vision and an evocative time capsule.


The long awaited return of Stag Movie Night:

Vintage Porno from the 1920s, 30s & 40s

at Maas Building

Saturday, November 21, 2015
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

The Maas Building,
1325 N. Randolph Street, Philadelphia
(267) 239-2851

On Saturday, November 21, The Secret Cinema will return to the beautiful Maas Building for a revival of one of our most popular thematic programs of archival film -- Stag Movie Night: Vintage Porno from the 1920s, 30s & 40s.

This collection of rare erotica films will surprise and shock those who believe the "sexual revolution" of the sixties and seventies gave birth to the celluloid depiction of sex. True, the seedy adult theaters of the seventies and the home video industry that followed it did not exist when these films were made behind closed doors. The original stag movies were distributed through a covert network of all-male screenings at lodges, bachelor parties, and fraternities. Seeing these forbidden films was nonetheless a fairly common rite of passage for American men back then, as the surviving reels of film testify.

The earliest extant pornographic film dates from 1915, and they were probably made well before then. The introduction of 16mm film in 1923 really opened the floodgates of stag production, and a standard format was established. Virtually all stag films are black and white, one 10 to 15 minute reel in length, and silent -- assuring compatibility with the relatively low-cost home movie projectors that were typically rented along with a night's worth of programming.

What shocks today's audiences about these films is that most (though not all) of them are completely explicit in their depiction of sexual acts. The variety of acts and couplings filmed long ago is another eye-opener, and it is somehow comforting to note that the camera angles for such action, worked out over half a century ago, survive in today's adult videos.

The silent films will be accompanied by recordings of period music, including early jazz, crooners, and dirty blues songs.

This new edition of Stag Movie Night will include both new, never shown material as well as the return of some favorite reels from the past screenings. The final selection is still being planned, but titles likely to be chosen include Hollywood Honeys, A Jazz Jag, Through the Keyhole, Mortimer the Salesman, and more, plus Buried Treasure, a hilarious pornographic cartoon from the 1920s attributed to the Max Fleischer studios and others.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00. Beer and refreshments will be available at the screening.

Secret Cinema's first Stag Movie Night was presented at the old Silk City Lounge way back in 1996, and that venue also hosted several sequel volumes (with different content). Our last presentation of Stag Movie Night was almost 9 years ago (at a sold-out screening in the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival) -- so it is definitely overdue for a new showing.

The Maas Building was previously a brewery and a trolley repair shop. This beautifully restored 1859 brick and timber workshop today serves as a multipurpose art event and catering space. Free parking is available on the street and in the adjacent lot of the James R. Ludlow Elementary School.


From Philadelphia with Love: Industrial, Educational

and other Lost Local Films (2015 Edition)

at Fleisher Art Memorial

NEWS FLASH!
We are very excited to announce that Michael Lopatin, who, back in the 1970s, directed two of the short films in this program, will be present at our screening! Michael will share his memories of sponsored filmmaking in the 16mm era, when just a few pioneering local companies dominated the field.


Saturday, November 14, 2015
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Fleisher Art Memorial,
The Sanctuary
719 Catharine Street, Philadelphia
(215)922-3456, ext. 300

On Saturday, November 14, 2015, the Secret Cinema will present the latest chapter in its ongoing series From Philadelphia with Love: Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films. Once again, it will contain 100% new programming, and this time it will be shown in a 100% new venue -- the beautiful Sanctuary of the Fleisher Art Memorial, in Philadelphia's Bella Vista neighborhood (just South of Center City).

Beer and refreshments will be available during the screening.

From Philadelphia with Love... showcases rare 16mm prints from the Secret Cinema archive about different aspects of life in the Philadelphia region. Some were made as sponsored films promoting goods or institutions, and others are educational, documentary or dramatic in nature. Most are virtually impossible to see elsewhere.

The Secret Cinema began showcasing these ephemeral scenes of lost local history back in 1999, and our last such presentation was two years ago. We've now projected over 50 of these films -- and none of them will be repeated for our November program. In fact, few have been seen by anyone since they were originally made.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00. Seating is limited.

Just a few highlights of this new edition of From Philadelphia with Love... are:

Assembly Line (1961, Dir: Morton Heilig) - This dramatic short film focuses on a lonely worker who toils at the Hunting Park plant of the Budd auto body factory. Ignoring the warnings of his alcoholic roommate, he heads out for what he imagines will be a big night on the town, but instead finds only betrayal and disappointment. The incredibly grim, noir mood could have come from a David Goodis pulp novel. It was a co-production of two departments at Penn: the Annenberg School of Communications, and the somewhat-mysterious Institute for Cooperative Research. Director Heilig, a winner of a fellowship in the first year of the School, would go on to make many documentaries, and also invented some early virtual reality devices. Besides its compelling narrative, Assembly Line captures amazing footage of mid-century Philadelphia, including Horn & Hardart's, movie theater marquees, bars and streetscapes both neon-lit and gloomy.

They Do Come Back (1940, Dir: Edgar Ulmer) - Celebrated Hollywood auteur Ulmer (Detour, The Black Cat) directed this and several other sponsored short films for the National Tuberculosis Association, with the aim of educating the public about good hygiene practices. This one was shot around Philadelphia with the help of prolific local industrial film studio the DeFrenes Company. It dramatizes the tale of a young couple whose first kiss leads to the boy coughing up blood, but he soon learns how to treat his problem.

Ready for Tomorrow (1970s, Dir: Michael Lopatin) - Legendary broadcaster John Facenda appeared in this overview of new innovations in the School District of Philadelphia. Scenes were shot throughout the city, including looks at Central and Girl's High, and the Parkway program.

Temple RTF film scraps (1975-6) - Random footage from Rosa, a film shot by Temple University's Radio-Television-Film department, for use in film editing classes. The scenes showcase Center City during its first urban renaissance. Also included are bonus, student-shot camera tests starring then-young film critic Irv Slifkin and future musician/bon vivant Rocco Sacco.

Plus Glass at PCA, A Day Behind the Beagles, and much more!

About the Fleisher Art Memorial:
Founded in 1898, Fleisher is one of the country's oldest nonprofit community art schools. Fleisher's mission is to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of economic means, background, or artistic experience. In 1916, Fleisher acquired the former building of the Saint Martin's College for Indigent Boys on Christian Street, and in 1922, added the adjacent Romanesque church which had formerly been the Episcopal Church of the Evangelist. The space was converted to house Fleisher's private collections of paintings and sculptures, and he made it available to neighborhood residents day and night as a quiet place for contemplation and reflection. Fleisher serves over 16,000 annually, with 1,702 young people attending tuition-free classes and low-cost workshops, 3,820 adults taking free and low-cost classes and workshops, 358 children and youth being served in public schools and community centers throughout Southeast Philadelphia, and 8,430 visitors to the galleries annually.


D.W. Griffith's silent epic America, live music

at American Philosophical Society

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
7:00 pm (Museum doors open at 6:00 pm)
Admission: FREE

American Philosophical Society
Franklin Hall
427 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
(215) 440-3442

On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, the Secret Cinema will return to the American Philosophical Society to present the rarely-screened 1924 silent film America. This sprawling historical spectacle, dramatizing the battles and events of the American Revolution, was the last big-budget epic from pioneering director D.W. Griffith (The Birth of a Nation, Intolerance).

This silent film presentation will not be silent, as expert keyboardist Don Kinnier (veteran collaborator for several past Secret Cinema programs) will bring the movie alive with his accompaniment.

America will be the second of two Secret Cinema events at the APS this year celebrating their current exhibition, Jefferson, Science, and Exploration.

This Secret Cinema event will feature a chance to explore the exhibition, free refreshments and snacks, and a fascinating screening (as always with Secret Cinema, using real film projected on a giant screen). Best of all, admission is free.

On the screening day, the museum doors will open at 6:00 pm, allowing time to explore the exhibition. The film screening starts at 7:00 pm. Seating is limited.

There is free meter parking available in Center City on Wednesday evenings. For details, see: http://www.philapark.org/2012/03/free-meter-parking-on-wednedays/

A full description of the feature follows.

America (1924, Dir: D.W. Griffith)
D.W. Griffith virtually invented the grammar of film while making short films for the Biograph studio. These ideas culminated in the groundbreaking and controversial Civil War feature The Birth of a Nation, and Griffith's reputation as the master of the new art form was firmly established. He followed this with the even larger-scale Intolerance, and such popular features as Broken Blossoms, Way Down East and Orphans of the Storm, made with exacting attention to period detail at Griffith's own studio in Mamaroneck, New York. It was here that he began work on what would be his last grand historical epic, America.

With America, Griffith attempted to repeat the success of Birth of A Nation, once again placing a personal story in the middle of sweeping public events - here, the American War of Independence. The script was adapted from a story by popular historian-novelist Robert Chambers, and was approved by both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the War Department. There were careful reenactments of the battles of Bunker Hill, Lexington and Concord, Paul Revere's ride, and Indian wars in the Mohawk Valley. There was also a romance between a Minuteman (Neil Hamilton, much later to play Commissioner Gordon on TV's Batman) and the daughter of a Tory-leaning family (Carol Dempster, who had replaced Lillian Gish as Griffith's lead actress). Lionel Barrymore appeared as the villainous Captain Butler, and other actors portrayed George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and King George III.

America's giant budget ultimately forced the sale of Griffith's studio, and the loss of his independence. The critics gave it mixed reviews and it fared poorly at the box office, "possibly," as film historian Eileen Bowser suggested, "because its historical detail and educational spirit were at odds with the Jazz Age in which it was produced." That attention to accuracy enabled the film to enjoy a more successful afterlife, however -- America reportedly turned a profit thanks to numerous school rentals and stock footage sales.

About Don Kinnier:
The silent film era, from its tentative first steps to its final artistic masterpieces, lasted for about 35 years. Musician Don Kinnier has been accompanying silent film screenings for over 50 years! Pennsylvania's foremost exponent of this very specialized art form, he has studied the techniques and repertoires of the original theater musicians of the silent era. A Philadelphia native (now based in Lititz), Don has provided the soundtrack for the local Betzwood Film Festival since its inception, as well as for many Secret Cinema events.

About Jefferson, Science, and Exploration:
Thomas Jefferson had a passion for knowledge that encompassed theoretical and applied sciences. As president of the APS for 17 years -- before, during, and after he was president of the nation -- he fostered American participation in a broad range of fields from paleontology to botany to meteorology, all of which are featured in this exhibition. President Jefferson advocated for westward exploration, providing explorers with detailed instructions on how to prepare for their expeditions. He sent Meriwether Lewis to study with five Philadelphians, all APS members with specific expertise that Lewis would need to be successful. This exhibition demonstrates the inseparable connections between science and national pride in Jefferson's time and takes visitors up to the eve of Lewis and Clark's journey.

Jefferson, Science, and Exploration is the second of three exhibitions on Jefferson to be held at the American Philosophical Society (APS) from 2014 through 2016. Support provided in part by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

About the APS:
When Benjamin Franklin and friends decided, in 1743, to establish the American Philosophical Society (APS), they studied nature and called themselves natural philosophers. Now we'd call them scientists. But the word "philosophical" stuck. Over the years, the APS has counted among its members individuals as varied as George Washington, Charles Darwin, and Yo-Yo Ma.

The APS has gathered and preserved a rich collection that traces American history and science from the Founding Fathers to the computer age. It includes scientific specimens and instruments, and more than ten million manuscripts.

The APS combines sophisticated exhibitions of its collections with provocative works by contemporary artists. Museum visitors will find challenging new perspectives on history, science, and art. The galleries are at Philosophical Hall, 104 S. Fifth Street, Philadelphia, right next to Independence Hall. Admission and all programs are free.


Poe-themed Halloween program

in Community College film festival

Thursday, October 22, 2015
6:00 pm
Admission: FREE

Community College of Philadelphia
Bonnell Building
S. 17th Street below Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia

On Thursday, October 22, 2015, the Secret Cinema will participate in the Community Underground Film Festival (CUFF) at Community College of Philadelphia's Bonnell Auditorium. The college is simultaneously hosting a special celebration called "The Philadelphia Work of Edgar Allan Poe," and this Secret Cinema event will tie-into both festivals -- with a screening of Jean Epstein's 1928 feature The Fall of the House of Usher, a silent, avant-garde adaptation of Poe's dark tale.

The program will be rounded out with surprise, Halloween-themed short films.

As always with Secret Cinema screenings, we will show real film projected onto a giant screen (in a giant auditorium!).

This screening starts at 6:00 pm and lasts about 90 minutes. Admission is free.

The rest of CUFF (which starts that morning and runs through October 23) includes new documentaries, lectures, student films and a short film competition.

A full description of the feature follows.

The Fall Of The House Of Usher (La Chute De La Maison Usher) (1928, France. Dir: Jean Epstein)
Jean Epstein's last film before he broke with the avant-garde movement is based on the tales of Edgar Allan Poe. The mysterious house of Usher is visited by a friend who finds Roderick following the family tradition of painting his wife's portrait with such passion that he draws the life from her to put it into his picture. Refusing to accept her death he declines to have her coffin nailed shut.

Everything in the film is subordinated to the creation of' atmosphere. Misty, fog-shrouded scenes, slow-motion filming, low angles, lighting, and camera tricks lend themselves to eerie supernatural effects. Epstein was a cinema theoretician, and the maker of the important Impressionist film Coeur Fidèle. After this film, he launched a series of lyric documentaries among the fishermen of Brittany, and found a new use for slow-motion in drawing emotional performances from nonactors.


The Best of Secret Cinema Short Films

at Maas Building...outdoors!

Saturday, June 27, 2015
9:00 pm (after dark!)
Admission: $8.00

The Maas Building
1325 N. Randolph Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19122
267-239-2851

UPDATE: Due to the forecast of potentially heavy rain, Saturday night's screening at the Maas Building is being moved from the outdoor garden space to indoors, in the upstairs main event room we used in April. Note that the entrance will therefore be at 1325 N. Randolph Street (as before), NOT on 5th Street. The 9:00 pm start time will stay the same.

Note also that free parking is available, in the school lot across Randolph Street!

We hope to show off the Maas Building's lovely garden patio at a future event!

TOMORROW -- Saturday, June 27 -- The Secret Cinema will return to the beautiful Maas Building to present the unique program The Best of Secret Cinema Short Films.

Since we began in early 1992, all Secret Cinema screenings of feature films have included bonus short subjects, and some of our best presentations have been comprised entirely of short films: such oddities as campy educational reels, industrial films, TV commercials, and home movies. Most of these films -- literally hundreds of them -- have only been shown once or twice, despite frequent requests to repeat them. The Best of Secret Cinema Short Films will compile the most memorable of these celluloid treasures, most of which are impossible to view anywhere else. We try not to repeat ourselves too much, which is why our last "greatest hits" program was presented eight years ago

The Maas Building was previously a brewery and a trolley repair shop. This beautifully restored 1859 brick and timber workshop today serves as a multipurpose art event and catering space.

There will be one complete show at 9:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

Just a few highlights of The Best of Secret Cinema Short Films are:

The Stranger At Our Door (1940) - This dramatic two-reeler, made by a religious group to promote ethnic tolerance, shouldn't be funny -- but the outrageous overacting by Bowery Boys rejects and their non-specific European-born target make it surreally so.

How Quiet Helps at School (1953) - The answer should be obvious, but the level of quiet expected by the uptight narrator of this classic '50s social guidance film probably had kids holding their breath in class.

Skateboarding To Safety (1976) - One of the most beloved films ever shown by Secret Cinema is this 1976 look at thrills and spills of young daredevils as they maneuver skinny wheeled boards through the streets of Southern California -- enhanced in this print by a dubbed Swedish soundtrack.

Big Mouth Goes to the Dentist (1984) - A frightening, McDonaldland-esque giant mouth attempts to teach kids not to be afraid of the dentist.

Pro Kleen commercial (1950s) - A mind-numbingly crass eight minute TV commercial in which an unappealing pitchman with a thick Baltimore accent extols the wonders of a new spot cleaner.

The Story of Bubblegum (1952) - This beautiful Kodachrome film sets out to answer the question, "Can bubblegum be good food?" Made at the old Fleer bubblegum plant in Olney, showing its giant vats of pink rubber, plant cafeteria and garden, and their amazing R&D department. Quite possibly the greatest film ever made, short or long.


Betzwood Film Festival celebrates "Powerful Katrinka"

with screening, author talk

Saturday, May 9th, 2015
8:00 pm
Admission: $15.00

Science Center Theater
Montgomery County Community College
340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
215-641-6518

Silent film star Wilna Hervey was a very big girl. At six foot three and over three hundred pounds, she was perfect for the role of "Powerful Katrinka" in the Toonerville Trolley comedy shorts. These silent comedies, faithful adaptations of Fontaine Fox's popular comic strip, were made in the early 1920s in the Betzwood film studios, built by Siegmund Lubin outside of Philadelphia. After her Betzwood work, she played a similar role in series of films made in San Francisco, and even had a "big" part in a Three Stooges short in the 1930s.

Beyond the movies, Wilna Hervey's life held more unexpected twists and turns than the plots of the three-dozen comedies she made. A skilled portrait painter, award-winning enamel artist, and erstwhile farmer, she also hosted some of the wildest parties ever seen in the Catskills. With her companion Nan Mason, Ms. Hervey became a legend in the Woodstock, New York, art colony where she lived for over fifty years.

On Saturday, May 9th, 2015, The adventurous life of Wilna Hervey is the focus of the 2015 Betzwood Film Festival. Along with a program of her ever-popular Toonerville Trolley films, we will present an illustrated retrospective of Ms. Hervey's career, from her early days as "Katrinka" to her later years as a celebrity artist, when she numbered among her friends some of 20th Century America's top writers, painters and movie directors.

As always, we strive to recreate the experience of going to the movies one hundred years ago. Our films are shown using real film, at their original projection speed, and are accompanied live on the organ by the incomparable Don Kinnier.

And, after the show, stick around for a "Meet the Author" reception and book signing. Wilna Hervey's remarkable story is now the subject of a full-length biography, Living Large, by Betzwood Film Festival founder and author, Joseph Eckhardt. Copies of Living Large will be offered at the event, at a 20% discount.

Once again, Secret Cinema will provide 16mm projection for this very special event.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm

Tickets are $15, and available at the Box Office or by phone, 215-641-6518.

Free Parking (enter the Blue Bell Campus using the 1313 Morris Road entrance).

BETZWOOD ARCHIVE WEBSITE


The Secret Cinema presents Selected Short Subjects at

Union Transfer's Stephin Merritt concert

Friday, April 10, 2015
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Union Transfer
10th & Spring Garden Streets, Philadelphia, PA
215-568-1616

On Saturday, May 2, the Secret Cinema will present a special film screening called Selected Short Subjects before a concert performance by the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, at the large and popular Union Transfer live music venue.

For this special pre-concert movie program -- still being selected from the Secret Cinema archive, in consultation with Stephin Merritt -- expect an emphasis on filmed pop music spanning multiple decades past and…more past, including clips originally viewed on early film jukeboxes, movie trailers, and other surprises.

Doors will open at 8:00 pm, and the screening will start at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $25.00.

This will be only the second time the Secret Cinema has served as a support act for a musical performance (the first was at a 2009 Halloween concert at the Trocadero, starring the Dead Milkmen). However, in our 23+ year history, we've brought our projection equipment to countless local music venues, and we look forward to lighting up a movie screen at Union Transfer - especially at this concert, with an artist whose music we've long admired.

This show will be the very first date of a rare solo tour for Merritt, who will be accompanied by long-time bandmate Sam Davol on cello. For this series of performances, Merritt will present a set of solo, acoustic versions of selected songs from his extensive catalog. Merritt will perform exactly 26 songs with each song title starting with a different letter of the alphabet and running in alphabetical order.

The concert will be seated, and all-ages.

ABOUT STEPHIN MERRITT: He has written and recorded ten Magnetic Fields albums over two decades, starting with Distant Plastic Trees in 1991. In 1999, the three-CD collection, 69 Love Songs, established Merritt as one of his generation's most talented songwriters and garnered widespread acclaim, including year-end "best of" lists in Rolling Stone, SPIN, The New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post and other national publications.

Between Magnetic Fields releases, Merritt has recorded side projects and albums with his other bands, Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies and the 6ths, as well as soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley and Pieces of April. In 2009, Merritt scored the Off-Broadway adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel Coraline -- for which he received an Obie Award.

Merritt and the Magnetic Fields have performed as part of Lincoln Center's "American Songwriters" series and at BAM's "Next Wave of Song." In 2012, saw the latest Magnetic Fields album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, and in 2013, Merritt released a Future Bible Heroes album, Partygoing. In the fall of 2014, he penned the first-ever musical episode of NPR's popular show, "This American Life." Around the same time, his book 101 Two-Letter Words, a whimsical aid for Scrabble players with illustrations by Roz Chast, was published. An avid film buff, Stephin Merritt has created original scores for the silent films 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Unknown.

"[The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt is] a contrarian* pop genius." -- The New York Times

"The Cole Porter of his generation." -- Rolling Stone

*NOTE: We beg to differ about the "contrarian" label.

ABOUT US: Since 1992, the Secret Cinema has been the Philadelphia area's premiere floating repertory cinema series, bringing hundreds of unique programs to nightclubs, bars, coffee houses, museums, open fields, colleges, art galleries, bookstores, and sometimes even theaters and film festivals. Drawing on its own large private film archive, as well as other collections, the Secret Cinema attempts to explore the uncharted territory and the genres that fall between the cracks, with programs devoted to educational and industrial films, cult and exploitation features, cartoons, rare television, local history, home movies, erotic films, politically incorrect material, and the odd Hollywood classic, as long as it exists on real celluloid -- Secret Cinema screenings never use video/digital projection. While mainly based in Philadelphia, the Secret Cinema has also brought programming to other cities and countries.


The Secret Cinema is back!

Curator's Choice 2015: Unseen Corners of the Secret Cinema Archives

at new venue!

Friday, April 10, 2015
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

The Maas Building
1325 N. Randolph Street, Philadelphia, PA
267-239-2851

On Friday, April 10, The Secret Cinema will present its first program in eight months, with a hand-picked program of nearly-lost treasures from the deepest depths of the Secret Cinema film vaults. Curator's* Choice 2015: Unseen Corners of the Secret Cinema Archives will include just that -- films never shown before by us, and probably not by anybody else either since their original release.

This will be the first full-fledged Secret Cinema event since SC founder Jay Schwartz was injured in a bicycle accident last September. This unfortunate event (and subsequent hospital stay and recuperation period) forced the cancellation of several Secret Cinema events last fall. We'll celebrate the return of our series by showing unseen films in a brand new venue, the Maas Building. A former brewery and trolley repair shop, this beautifully restored 1859 brick and timber workshop today serves as a multipurpose art event and catering space.

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

The Secret Cinema's private archive contains literally thousands of reels of 16mm (and 35mm, and 8mm) features, theatrical shorts, cartoons, newsreels, television shows, educational films, travel films, industrial films, and home movies. Together, they add up to well over one million feet of often rare celluloid, with several prints thought to be the only extant copies in the world.

Since 1992, the Secret Cinema has created programming that exposes every category of such films, by showing these fascinating, historical, and often hilarious shorts before features or in themed groupings. Yet, despite exposing hundreds of rare works this way, there are still many choice reels that we've never got around to screening publicly, often unclassifiable films that had inconvenient running times or could fit into no common theme.

Some of the best of these rare prints will at last see the light of a projector bulb in Curator's Choice 2015. This previously ungroupable group of shorts will include films that were made to entertain, to teach, to encourage commerce and to alter opinion. Spanning many decades, they show wondrous places, styles and things that have long-since vanished. Some them now seem campy, others still have valid lessons to teach, but all are fascinating, and extremely unlikely to be seen anywhere else, including on video.

The program is still being assembled, but just a few highlights are:

Camp Meetin' (1936, Dir: Leslie Goodwins) - Staged one-reel musical short subjects were a bread and butter studio product in the first decades of talkies, but this one from Radio Pictures feels different than most. Evidently shot on location, with a documentary-like realism, it captures an open-air tent-and-camp meeting of the Hall Johnson Negro Choir, somewhere in the deep South. Johnson, who helped train Marian Anderson, lent the sound of true spiritual music to many Hollywood films, from The Green Pastures to Song of the South. The film manages to include some humor, with help from cast member Stymie (Our Gang) Beard.

Wringo (1940s? Dir: Unknown) - This comic yet x-rated novelty item was made to be shown at men's "smoker" parties, and is quite unusual among its made-on-a-shoestring "stag movie" peers in that it has a soundtrack, with synchronous dialog. The setting is a carnival sideshow and the action centers on a most unusual attraction therein…but to say more would be a terrible spoiler. This film was a sensation at the first "Bastard Film Encounter," an academic symposium held in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Herman's Hermits (1968) - A common form of movie promotion in the 1960s and '70s was the "production reel," short "making of" documentaries that were usually provided to television stations to fill out extra minutes after the broadcasting of feature films. This one takes us behind the scenes of Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter, the second musical feature to star Peter Noone and his titular British invasion rock band.

The Renunciation (1909, Dir: D.W.Griffith) - A.K.A. Divided Love. One of many short dramas D.W. Griffith shot at the Biograph studio, where he perfected the art that would fully blossom in The Birth of a Nation and several other classic silent features. Mary Pickford (who would similarly go on to greater things in longer films) stars as the shared object of affection for two miners whose friendship turns to violence, but the surprise climax shows that the melodrama was tongue in cheek.

Today's Teens (1964) - An uncredited Boris Karloff narrates this mini "mondo" documentary with eyebrows raised, as we take a tour of the wild doings of teenagers around the globe - in nightclubs, record stores, and on beaches, often in bikinis and always to the pounding beat of a non-stop instrumental rock soundtrack.

Plus: How to Undress (1937), White Treasure (1945) and much more!

*It should be noted that we object to the expanding, and now quite cliched usage of the word "curated" to describe what was called "programming" in less pretentious times. However, we stubbornly label this program "Curator's Choice" because: A) It's a title we've used for this ongoing, if sporadic program concept since 2004, and B) As caretaker of the Secret Cinema film archive, programmer Jay Schwartz really is a curator (too).


The Secret Cinema returns to Freeman's auction house for,

all-new edition of From Philadelphia With Love

Friday, September 6, 2013
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00

Freeman's
1808 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
215-563-9275

On Friday, September 6, the Secret Cinema will return to Freeman's historic Chestnut Street auction house for an all-new edition of From Philadelphia With Love: Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films.

From Philadelphia With Love... showcases rare 16mm prints from the Secret Cinema archive about different aspects of life in the Philadelphia region. Some were made as sponsored films promoting goods or institutions, and some are educational or documentary in nature. All are virtually impossible to see elsewhere.

Last April, as part of the first Cinedelphia Film Festival, we presented a "best of" edition with many of our favorite selections from the nearly 50 Philadelphia-related short films we've presented in several past volumes of this popular (if irregular) series. But September's event will include a batch of 100% never-before shown films -- well, never shown by us, and probably not by anybody else either, since their original release in the 1940s, '50s, '60s and '70s!

And to make the screening even more different, it will take place in another grand space in Freeman's 1924 Beaux Arts building than April's screening (in their third-floor auditorium). This time, the walls will be covered with lots offered in Freeman's upcoming Photographs & Photobooks auction, with images from photographers such as Cindy Sherman, Berenice Abbott, Imogen Cunningham, and Eugene Atget; a portfolio of 10 Marilyn Monroe photos from 1962;and everything from daguerreotypes and tin types to contemporary photography to signed and limited-edition photo books.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00. Seating is limited.

As usual, all Secret Cinema programs are projected in 16mm film on a giant screen (not video).

Just a few highlights of this new edition of From Philadelphia With Love... are:

Holiday in Philadelphia (1954) - This promotional travelogue takes us on a tour of many sights and sites in our fair city, some of which are long gone, others drastically changed, and many happily still around. From a "clothesline art show" in Rittenhouse Square, to the Penn Relays, to the now demolished Convention Hall and Commercial Museum, to the Spring Garden Mint (today part of Community College), we see a very different Philadelphia, then at its population peak. Especially intriguing is a quick look at WFIL-TV's "Bandstand" program, a few years before Dick Clark took the host job from Bob Horn -- ironically, Clark narrates this short, just two years after he moved to our town to work for WFIL-AM

Portrait of a College (1963) - A colorful campus tour of what was then known as the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, and is today, in greatly expanded form, the University of the Arts. The film begins with a view of Haviland-Strickland Hall (originally the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, and the oldest building on Broad Street), and then visits facilities for painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and graphic arts. "Since 1876, the best possible instruction in the arts happened here." Interestingly, this film was produced in the very last year of the school's affiliation with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Philadelphia Celebrates (1975) - This short film documents a giant outdoor fair called "Old City Sunday," complete with vendors, carnival rides, dance troupes, costumed colonial reenactors, Frank Rizzo and an assortment of musical performers, ranging from Mummers and a modern funk band to a baroque classical ensemble. The event, and film, were produced by Philadelphia 76 as a sneak peek/trial run for the following year's bicentennial events. Narrated by E.G. Marshall.

Maggie Kuhn: Wrinkled Radical (1975) - An intimate portrait of Maggie Kuhn, 69-year old founder of the Gray Panthers -- the locally-based organization that became world famous in their advocacy for the rights of seniors. Journalist Studs Terkel introduces this made-for-public television documentary, which takes us inside the Germantown Victorian house where Kuhn lived and also her office inside the Tabernacle Church (near International House).

Is a Career in the Performing Arts for You? (1973) - We'll show yet another entry from the "Library of Career Counseling Films," a multi-film project made for the U.S. Department of Labor by Philadelphia's Ralph Lopatin Productions, often taking advantage of local sites and resources. This time future high school graduates are invited to consider the career paths of musicians, actors and assorted support staff. Along the way they see the Shubert and Forrest theaters, Latin Casino and Just Jazz nightclubs, and local educational facilities for performing arts.

Atlantic City (1951) - Castle Films, the most successful purveyor of movie prints for home projectors, released this now-nostalgic look at "America's Playground," when it was still the most popular destination for seashore-bound Philadelphians -- but long before the invasion of the casinos. We see glimpses of the Claridge Hotel and fountain, a Miss America parade, rolling chairs on the boardwalk, salt-water swimming pools, and the Knife and Fork Inn restaurant. From a gentler time, when the phrase "Do A.C." would have been considered a grammatical atrocity.

Plus The 1946 Army-Navy Football Game, Build Yourself a City (1968), Rikki the Baby Monkey (1949), and more!

The headquarters of Freeman's Auctioneers & Appraisers is the oldest purpose-built auction house in America, and Freeman's, established in 1805, is America's oldest auction business.


Green films at

American Philosophical Society Museum

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
7:00 pm (doors open 6:00 pm)
Admission: FREE

American Philosophical Society Museum
Philosophical Hall
104 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia
(215) 440-3442

The Secret Cinema will return to the American Philosophical Society Museum to present two screenings celebrating the Museum's current exhibition, featuring unusual films that explore, respectively, the plant kingdom, and optics and photography.

That's fitting, as the exhibition, Through the Looking Lens: Cornelius Varley's Wondrous Images of Art and Science, 1800-1860 documents the nexus of Varley's interest in these two areas. On display, for the first time, are his beautiful, innovative watercolor illustrations of flora, as well as the optical devices he invented to see and reproduce their hidden worlds.

The first Secret Cinema event tied to this exhibition will be on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, and is called The Beauty in Nature: Short Films from the Secret Cinema Archive. This unique program will include a careful selection of rare and vintage (from the 1920s through the 1960s) educational films, newsreels, cartoons and even home movies focusing on different unusual aspects of plants, flowers and agriculture.

This Secret Cinema event will feature a chance to explore the exhibit, free refreshments and snacks, and a fascinating screening (as always with Secret Cinema, using real film projected on a giant screen). Best of all, admission is free.

On the screening day, the museum doors will open at 6:00 pm, allowing time to explore the exhibition. The film screening starts at 7:00 pm. Seating is limited.

Just a few highlights of The Beauty in Nature will be:

The Battle of Plants (1926, silent, British Instructional Films, Ltd.,) - Incredible time-lapse photography reveals the literal "turf war" of neighboring species of seemingly mild-mannered plants as they fight to the end to become "the victor in the struggle for existence." Filmed by pioneering nature cinematographer F. Percy Smith.

Cranberry Industry of New Jersey (late 1940s) - Beautiful Kodachrome educational film shows the laborious process of farming cranberries, which are grown in bogs and harvested by hand. Filmed in nearby Chatsworth, New Jersey.

Flower home movies (1940s-60s) - A representative sampling from one (unknown) amateur filmmaker's obsession with filming his gardening work.

Seeds Grow Into Plants (1956) - Colorful and charming educational short for young children with stop-motion footage of growing wildflowers and plants.

The March of Time: New Ways of Farming (1945) - The famous, provocative newsreel series looks at the (then) latest developments in agriculture, including South Jersey's Seabrook Farm, whose methods get food "from field to can in less than three hours."

Plus much more!

On Wednesday, October 16, 2013, we'll return to the APS Museum to present Lured by Lenses: Short Films from the Secret Cinema Archive, this time devoted to films about optics, telescopes and photography (program details to be announced later).

About the APS: When Benjamin Franklin and friends decided, in 1743, to establish the American Philosophical Society (APS), they studied nature and called themselves natural philosophers. Now we'd call them scientists. But the word "philosophical" stuck. Over the years, the APS has counted among its members individuals as varied as George Washington, Charles Darwin, and Yo-Yo Ma.

The APS has gathered and preserved a rich collection that traces American history and science from the Founding Fathers to the computer age. It includes scientific specimens and instruments, and more than ten million manuscripts.

The APS Museum combines sophisticated exhibitions of its collections with provocative works by contemporary artists. Museum visitors will find challenging new perspectives on history, science, and art. The galleries are at Philosophical Hall, 104 S. Fifth Street, Philadelphia, right next to Independence Hall. Admission and all programs are free.


Trailer Trash

at Phoenixville's Colonial Theater

Sunday, July 28, 2013
2:00 pm
Admission: $9.00, $7.00 students and seniors (62+), $5.00 members

Colonial Theatre
227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA
610-917-0223

On Sunday, July 28, 2013, the Secret Cinema will return to Phoenixville's historic Colonial Theatre with one of its biggest presentations ever. It stars Elvis Presley, Sean Connery, Nancy Sinatra, Roy Orbison, Sonny & Cher, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, Linda Blair, Dean Martin, Cherie Currie, Tony Curtis, The Village People, The Yardbirds, and a cast of unknowns. It was directed by a team that includes Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Chaplin, Tom Laughlin, William Friedkin, John Boorman, John Cassavetes and several forgotten hacks. Its budget (adjusted for inflation) was in the hundreds of millions of dollars, it's in black and white and color, and it has laughs, screams, spies, monsters, sex, drugs, rock n' roll and bikinis. What is it?

Why, it's Trailer Trash, a non-stop orgy of rare, original preview "trailers" advertising some of the Secret Cinema's favorite films of the 1960s and 70s -- exploitation, sexploitation, science-fiction, bikers, horror, rock musicals, beach movies, bloated big budget bombs and possibly some films that no longer survive in feature form. All will be shown from archival 35mm prints (with several in true, IB Technicolor) on the Colonial's big screen.

A sampling of the many trailers to be shown includes Bikini Beach, Bury Me an Angel, Wild in the Streets, You Only Live Twice, Mondo Teeno, Devil's Angels, Paradise Hawaiian Style, Foxes, Murderers' Row, Chastity, The Trial of Billy Jack, Blow Up and many, many more, with some guaranteed surprises.

As if this weren't enough, additional graphic eye candy will be provided in the form of vintage drive-in messages, theater commercials and date strips, from the 1950s and beyond.

Trailer Trash was previously shown by the Secret Cinema at the Colonial in 2001 -- so catch it now, or come back in 2025!

There will be one complete show at 2:00 pm.

Admission: $9.00, $7.00 students and seniors (62+), $5.00 members.


Early space travel feature Rocketship XM,

at "PAFA After Dark"

Thursday, May 2, 2013
6:00 pm until 9:00 pm (whole event)
Admission: $10 in advance, $15 at door, FREE for PAFA members

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
118 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia
215-972-7600

On Thursday, May 2, the Secret Cinema will be at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, to participate in their popular PAFA After Dark series. The theme this evening will be "Spaced-Out," with a variety of activities that reflect on our rich history of celestial exploration, on the eve of National Space Day. Fittingly, we will present the 1950 science fiction film Rocketship XM, the first film of its era depicting practical space travel. Our presentation will use the original, full version of the film, which is rarely shown today -- complete with red tinting effects for scenes on the planet Mars. We will also show a surprise, space-themed short film.

PAFA After Dark runs from 6:00 pm through 9:00 pm. We're actually not certain at press time when the film starts -- probably around 7:00 -- but come on time, so you can sample some of the other fun stuff on offer:

Play with light and shadows and take home your own Self-Portrait Silhouette
Sign up for special Flashlight Tours of the Historic Galleries
Join the Space Bingo Tournament and sip a Cosmos, the evening's signature cocktail
Enjoy free, fresh popcorn all night for your movie viewing pleasure!
And more fun surprises!

Space is limited. Admission is $10 in advance, $15 at the door (or FREE for PAFA members).

A complete description of the feature follows...

Rocketship XM (1950, Dir: Kurt Neumann)
B-movie studio Lippert Pictures rushed Rocketship XM into production, explicitly to beat Destination Moon onto theater screens. That higher-toned release, in full color with a much bigger budget and superior special effects from stop-motion master George Pal, was one of the most anticipated of 1950s films -- and a huge hit. Yet Lippert, normally an assembly line of routine programmers, did indeed cash in by releasing the first feature of the space age to depict rocket travel as a practical reality. What surprises many viewers is that more than just being the first, Rocketship XM may in fact be the superior film.

Being the first of its kind, its story was simple: a crew (led by Lloyd Bridges) on board the first flight to the Moon is thrown off course by a meteor storm, and forced to land on Mars. There they encounter a primitive race, and the film begins to take a surprisingly dark tone.

Some significant talent worked on the project. The soundtrack was written by Ferde Grofé, who besides scoring several films, was an accomplished jazz arranger and classical composer (most famously for "Grand Canyon Suite"). Cinematographer Karl Struss had worked for D.W. Griffith and F.W. Murnau (and won the first Oscar for his work on Murnau's Sunrise). One ingenious photographic touch was also economical. While Rocketship XM could not afford Technicolor, the scenes that depict Mars were tinted red, to striking effect. Most modern video copies get this color effect completely wrong (using sepia toning rather than red tinting), and worse, insert modern special effects footage shot in 1976 by a later producer. We will show the all-original version of the film, with the correct color effect.


The Secret Cinema celebrates 21 years of screenings,

with Cinedelphia Film Festival event From Philadelphia With Love,

Friday, April 5, 2013
8:00 pm
Admission: $9.00
Festival info: www.cinedelphia.com

Freeman's
1808 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
215-563-9275

April 2013 brings the first ever Cinedelphia Film Festival. It's a nearly month-long assortment of film screenings and special events, honoring Philly film history past and present, and produced by the popular local movie news and reviews website Cinedelphia. And naturally, the Secret Cinema is participating, with a very special screening/presentation in the Festival's opening weekend, at a brand new (and surprising!) location.

On Friday, April 5, the Secret Cinema will offer a "best of" edition of From Philadelphia With Love: Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films. There is a whole world of locally-made films that have been forgotten -- the "ephemeral" short films that were primarily made by small independent companies for a once-booming non-theatrical market. While most school districts, television stations and traveling salesman have long ago discarded their 16mm film projectors, the Secret Cinema have not, and thus can properly present a look back at these celluloid time capsules that would otherwise not be seen again.

We'll present many of our favorite selections from the nearly 50 Philadelphia-related short films we've presented in several volumes of this popular (if irregular) series -- most of which we have not shown for at least seven years.

The evening will also include an illustrated talk by programmer Jay Schwartz on the 21-year history of the Secret Cinema. This will be an expanded, updated version of a lecture first presented a few years back at the Association of Moving Image Archivists international conference.

This event will take place in Freeman's Auctioneers & Appraisers historic headquarters. This 1924 Beaux Arts building is the oldest purpose-built auction house in America (and Freeman's, established in 1805, is America's oldest auction business).

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $9.00.

Just a few highlights of From Philadelphia With Love... are:

Our Changing City (1955) - Made by the city during the administration of Mayor Joseph Clark, this vivid color film makes the case for urban renewal (i.e., demolition and new construction) while showing a wide range of cityscapes, from new homes in the Northeast to the poverty of people living in houses without plumbing or electricity.

Philadelphia With Love (1972) - Our "title film" is a colorful, tourism boosting paean to "Philadelphia, a fabulous city that puts it all together!" This perky reel still manages to show a lot of things that are gone, including Playhouse In The Park, the Perelman Toy Museum, Pub Tiki and George X. Schwartz -- not to mention a lot of long-vanished hairstyles. With special guest Sergio Franchi, singing the theme song on the Ben Franklin Parkway!

The Story of Bubblegum (1952) - This beautiful Kodachrome film sets out to answer the question, "Can bubblegum be good food?" Along the way we get a complete tour of the recently shuttered Fleer bubblegum plant in Olney, from its giant vats of pink rubber to its plant cafeteria and gardens and their amazing R&D department. Fleer is believed to have invented bubblegum in 1928, and its Dubble Bubble brand was a household name for most of this century.

The Troc (1966) - A confusing yet amusing University of Pennsylvania student film, with dancers creating interpretive art along colorful views of the Schuylkill River banks, and a climactic visit to the titular burlesque house, all set to 60's pop music. Directed by a young Randy Swartz, today prominent in Philly's dance community.

The Philadelphia Story of 1963 (1963) - This rare sales film was made to promote a new televised bingo game/program called "RINGO," played with game cards distributed to shoppers at Acme Markets.

Friends in Philadelphia (1970) - A quick cinematic portrait of the Friends Select school on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The Philadelphia-Lancaster Counterfeiters (1931) - The "William J. Burns Detective Mysteries" series of one-reel shorts, filmed in the early 1930s by Educational Pictures, is beginning to acquire a cult reputation among savvy vintage film buffs. This is due more to the stiff yet non-stop narration style of nationally-famous detective Burns, and the campy, stagy recreations of prominent true crimes, than for any inherent quality. This locally themed entry in the series is typical, as Burns breathlessly recounts the fantastic (and perhaps difficult to follow) tale of a counterfeiting ring that operated within Philadelphia's Moyamensing Prison. The trade publication Motion Picture Herald rated this short as "gripping."


Exotica Music Films 2: Music and More!

at The Trestle Inn

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

The Trestle Inn
11th & Callowhill, Philadelphia, PA
267-239-0290

On Wednesday, January 23, 2013, the Secret Cinema returns to The Trestle Inn, the popular "Whiskey and Go Go" nightspot in Philadelphia's emerging "loft district." On that night we'll again revisit a favorite Secret Cinema program concept: Exotica Music Films. This new collection of ultra-rare footage from a variety of sources -- including lost TV shows, theatrical shorts, industrial and educational films, and film jukeboxes of the 1940s -- offers a chance to hear, and see, a wondrous assortment of international music (both authentic and gloriously fake), from a carefree, boozy time, before David Byrne rendered "World Music" a politically-correct bore.

This new program will contain 100% different programming from the Exotica Music Films show we did at the Trestle Inn in November, little of which is likely to have been seen before by anyone attending (unless, of course, they attended our last screening of this material in the 1990s)! As noted in the title, it will contain music and more, meaning some films explore exotic locales and culture (both indigenous and artificial).

All of the films will be projected from 16mm film prints on a giant movie screen (not video).

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

A few highlights of Exotica Music Films 2: Music and More! include:

Astrud Gilberto and Jimmy Smith clips (1964) - Gilberto performs the song that launched the Bossa Nova movement in the United States -- the softly haunting "Girl from Ipanema" --backed by Stan Getz and band. Philadelphia's Jimmy Smith Trio lay down some of their archetypal, super-cool Hammond groove. Both clips come from the beachless beach party feature Get Yourself a College Girl.

New Horizons: Caribbean (1958) - Pan-American airlines produced a series of short advertising films in the 1950s and '60s promoting then-novel travel destinations. This entry in the Technicolor series was particularly dream-like and meditative, its scenes of snorkeling, Calypso bands and beautiful women matched with poetic, hypnotic narration by Lee Vines smooth voice (among other notable work, he was the announcer for Korla Pandit's early television show). "One of these islands...will be your island."

André Brasseur et son Orchestre: World Music et Setect (mid-1960s) - Brasseur was a Belgian keyboard player who played a "now sound" blend of instrumental jazz and pop music that was popular throughout Europe in the 1960s. This film was a possibly never shown TV special or pilot that used rock video-style clips with Peter Max-like animation and pop-art special effects. We'll show a nice sample of the show, from an ultra-rare 16mm workprint (so unique that we'll need to manually synchronize the separate soundtrack tape...wish us luck!).

Polynesia in America (early 1960s) - This documentary, probably made for television, offers a colorful look at a Polynesian cultural center in Hawaii, showcasing tiki carving and other customs of the South Seas.

Hawaiian Nights (1954) - Pinky Lee started as (and pretty much remained) a baggy-pantsed, seltzer-squirting burlesque comedian. Though mostly forgotten today, he was famed for hosting a 1950s kiddie TV show that was one of the inspirations for Pee Wee's Playhouse. This rare theatrical musical comedy short, however, was intended for older audiences -- as evidenced by the casting of Mamie Van Doren! Also included are singer Alfred Apaka, the Tani Marsh dancers, several Miss Universe contestants and lots of Hawaiian music.

Plus... filmed performances by Trini Lopez, Korla Pandit, The Three Suns, Latin music Soundies, and much more!

The latter-day explosion of interest in "exotica" music stemmed from the publication of Re/Search's Incredibly Strange Music books in 1993. That set forth a wave of unforeseeable events: prices for old Martin Denny albums skyrocketed, bands like Combustible Edison explored new "cocktail" music, and the success of Esquivel reissues and martini bars prompted nearly every record label to start up a "lounge" division. While most of those imprints (or indeed, many record labels) do not survive, today interest continues with international Tiki conventions, and new groups exploring their ancestors' record collections for musical inspiration. The opportunity to see vintage exotica music performances on a big screen remains rare, however.

The Trestle Inn presents a mash up of retro entertainment, music, food and drink. Expect to find Barbarella-clad Go Go dancers swinging to French pop, blue-eyed soul, psychobilly, funk, garage and disco on most other nights of the week.


Second screening of "timely" films at

American Philosophical Society Museum

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
IT'S ABOUT TIME: Short films from the Secret Cinema Archive
7:00 pm (doors open 6:00 pm)
Admission: FREE

American Philosophical Society Museum
Philosophical Hall
104 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia
(215) 440-3442

The Secret Cinema will return to the American Philosophical Society Museum to present the second (and final) of two screenings featuring unusual films that explore, in multiple ways, the topic of time. The screenings are inspired by the APS Museum's current exhibition TEMPUS FUGIT: Time Flies, which explores how we try to capture, measure, and find meaning in the midst of time's inevitable passage.

On Wednesday, December 5, we'll conclude the series with a feature-length collection of rare short films about time, called IT'S ABOUT TIME: Short Films from the Secret Cinema Archive. The program will explore our subject through vintage educational, experimental, industrial and dramatic films, from the 1930s through the 1970s.

This Secret Cinema event will again feature a chance to explore the exhibit, a screening (as always with Secret Cinema screenings, using real film projected on a giant screen), and a moderated post-film discussion. Best of all, admission is free.

On the screening day, the museum doors will open at 6:00 pm, allowing time to explore the exhibition. The film screening starts at 7:00 pm. Seating is limited.

The moderator for the evening's post-screening discussion will be Phawker.Com film critic and WPRB jazz disk jockey Dan Buskirk, who capably served this role in two previous Secret Cinema events at APS.

Our first "timely" screening in October, showcasing the little-seen science-fiction musical time-travel comedy Just Imagine, was especially memorable: It drew a large audience and things were going smoothly -- until the projector stopped ten minutes before the film's conclusion, due to a sudden, block-long power outage! Film historian and author Richard Barrios kept the room entertained (under the room's ample emergency lighting) by starting his Q & A session a bit early, and when it became clear that the electricity was not coming back on any time soon, he recounted how Just Imagine ended. Everybody left satisfied! We anticipate no further problems with the power supply.

IT'S ABOUT TIME: Short films from the Secret Cinema Archive
A few highlights of this feature-length collection of vintage educational, experimental, industrial and dramatic films are...

Time Piece (1966) - This fast-moving series of visual gags, abstract animation and unclassifiable slices of the filmmaker's imagination loosely detail the travails of one man's daily grind. Starring and directed by Jim Henson.

Travelling Through Time (1965) - Pan-Am sponsored this Technicolor educational film that looks at man's long history of measuring his days (as well as the impact of developments in air travel that effectively shrank the size of our world).

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1963) - Expertly filmed depiction of Ambrose Bierce's short story about a Civil War prisoner's last moments as he faces execution, and treasures each second of living. This popular, legendary film won best short film honors at both Cannes and the Oscars, and was the only external production to be shown on television's The Twilight Zone.

Secrets of the Plant World (1956) - Gorgeous Technicolor time-lapse photography shows a wide array of flowers and plants as they blossom and maneuver for survival, all skillfully edited to classical music.

The Time Machine trailer (1960) - Original theatrical "coming attractions" preview for this sci-fi time travel classic.

Drive-In Countdown Clock (1960s) - Colorfully animated snack foods fill the minutes between the clicking of this giant projected clock, which kept drive-in theater audiences appraised of the time remaining until the main feature's start.

Plus more!

About the APS: When Benjamin Franklin and friends decided, in 1743, to establish the American Philosophical Society (APS), they studied nature and called themselves natural philosophers. Now we'd call them scientists. But the word "philosophical" stuck. Over the years, the APS has counted among its members individuals as varied as George Washington, Charles Darwin, and Yo-Yo Ma.

The APS has gathered and preserved a rich collection that traces American history and science from the Founding Fathers to the computer age. It includes scientific specimens and instruments, and more than ten million manuscripts.

The APS Museum combines sophisticated exhibitions of its collections with provocative works by contemporary artists. Museum visitors will find challenging new perspectives on history, science, and art. The galleries are at Philosophical Hall, 104 S. Fifth Street, Philadelphia, right next to Independence Hall. Admission and all programs are free.

About the exhibition: TEMPUS FUGIT: Time Flies: Time flies, leaving its mark on the people and objects it touches. This exhibition explores how we try to capture, measure, and find meaning in the midst of time's inevitable passage. Award-winning Chicago artist Antonia Contro has selected books, manuscripts, and curiosities from the APS collections and juxtaposed them with her own artwork, including drawings, paintings, videos, and a sound installation.


Exotica Music Films at The Trestle Inn

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

The Trestle Inn
11th & Callowhill, Philadelphia, PA
267-239-0290

On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, the Secret Cinema returns to The Trestle Inn, the popular "Whiskey and Go Go" nightspot in Philadelphia's emerging "loft district." On that night we'll revisit a favorite Secret Cinema program concept that we last presented nine years ago,* Exotica Music Films. This collection of ultra-rare footage from a variety of sources -- including very early TV shows and film jukeboxes from the 1940s -- offers a chance to hear, and see, a wondrous assortment of international music (both authentic and gloriously fake), from a carefree, boozy time, before David Byrne rendered "World Music" a politically-correct bore.

All of the films will be projected from 16mm film prints on a giant movie screen (not video).

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00,

The latter-day explosion of interest in "exotica" music stemmed from the publication of Re/Search's Incredibly Strange Music books in 1993. That set forth a wave of unforeseeable events: prices for old Martin Denny albums skyrocketed, bands like Combustible Edison explored new "cocktail" music, and the success of Esquivel reissues and martini bars prompted nearly every record label to start up a "lounge" division. While most of those imprints (or indeed, many record labels) do not survive, today interest continues with international Tiki conventions, and new groups exploring their ancestors' record collections for musical inspiration. The opportunity to see vintage exotica music performances on a big screen remains rare, however.

The November edition of Exotica Music Films at the Trestle Inn will include past favorites, as well as some reels never shown by us before. A few highlights include:

Korla Pandit - The handsome Hindu master of the Hammond organ captivated women with his beautiful music and hypnotic eyes, even though he never spoke during his 15-minute TV show, allegedly the first all-music program on television. We'll screen a complete episode of this show, featuring Pandit's haunting, mystical keyboard sounds. Korla was seen in Tim Burton's film Ed Wood, and Fantasy has reissued some of his original '50s albums.

Yma Sumac - Exotica personified, the beautiful Peruvian legend burst onto the international scene in 1950, displaying all four of her octaves on the LP Voice of the Xtabay, and creating new musical languages with her abstract, wordless vocals. We'll show a kinescope of Sumac performing on The Frank Sinatra Show, a CBS television series of the early 50s.

The Three Suns - Another cause célèbre of the Incredibly Strange books, this guitar/organ/accord ion instrumental trio from Philadelphia sold lots of albums for RCA in the'50s, and figured prominently on that label's Space Age Pop series of CDs in the 1990s. Guitarist Al Nevins teamed with Don Kirshner in 1959 to form Aldon Music, which became the most successful music publisher of the Brill Building era. We will present rare early footage of the group from 1944.

Plus ... Hawaiian sing-alongs, Latin music from the 1940s, and much more!

The Trestle Inn presents a mash up of retro entertainment, music, food and drink. Expect to find Barbarella-clad Go Go dancers swinging to French pop, blue-eyed soul, psychobilly, funk, garage and disco on most other nights of the week.

*The Secret Cinema often describes itself as a "floating repertory cinema." But in 2012, does everyone even know what "repertory cinema" means, in its purest sense? We suspect the phrase was not coined until the 1970s, when a nationwide network of movie theaters (such as Philadelphia's TLA Cinema and the Bandbox) programmed an eclectic mix of Hollywood classics, midnight oddities, and recent cult favorites, establishing a repertoire of worthy film fare that could be repeatedly showcased to those who had not seen them, as well as allow repeat viewings over a period of time -- much as live repertory theaters had kept alive the great plays of the past for new audiences.

The Secret Cinema was started with the aim of rescuing forgotten films from the past to add to this repertoire of great viewing, by showing films of all kinds that traditional repertory outlets had ignored. We did not foresee in 1992 that we would someday be one of the only presenters of the cinema of the past left -- or that we would be just about the only one to do so by consistently projecting actual film. On the other hand, we did not anticipate lasting more than 20 years, either.

Over that period of time we've presented hundreds of programs of films never revived by anyone else. We've also created our own repertoire of these programs, which we occasionally revive for new audiences. We're still working on brand new ideas for Secret Cinema programs, but as we return to our "roots" by showing films in a small nightclub (the Trestle Inn), we take the opportunity to revive one of our favorite revivals, with a program concept we first developed in 1996: Exotica Music Films. This collection of fascinating filmed musical performances from the pre-rock era was later expanded to include three separate "volumes," and was eventually presented by us in venues in New York, Baltimore and San Francisco, as well as here in Philly. We last presented an Exotica Music Films program nine years ago.


Scopitone Party screening and talk

at Phoenixville's Colonial Theater

Sunday, October 14, 2012
2:00 pm
Admission: $8.00, $6.00 students and seniors, $5.00 members

Colonial Theatre
227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA
610-917-0223

On Sunday, October 14, The Secret Cinema will present Scopitone Party, a unique collection of music films from the early and mid 1960s. They were originally made for a French film jukebox called Scopitone, which entertained patrons in bars, cafes and bus stations in both Europe and America. The film clips, which feature performers both famous and obscure -- and are considered to be among the more important of the many predecessors to the modern rock video -- are today quite scarce, and difficult to see in their original form.

Shown will be a large assortment of the precious prints (most of which were discovered by a film collector, in pristine, never-used condition, in the long-warehoused inventory of a retired Virginia jukebox dealer). Adding interest to the Scopitone Party program will be a special talk about the history of film jukeboxes (which date back to the 1940s), illustrated with color slides of rare photos and original advertising materials.

There will be one complete show at 2:00 pm.

As always with Secret Cinema events, the films will be shown using real film (not video) projected on a giant screen.

The talk will be given by Secret Cinema director Jay Schwartz, who has now presented the Scopitone Party program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Columbia University in New York, the Festival Internacional de Cine de Gijon (Spain), the Benicassim music festival (also Spain), and a rock film festival in Athens, Greece.

Scopitone Party will include performances by such well-known oldies icons as Dion, Nancy Sinatra, Paul Anka and Procul Harum. Also on view will be many French pop performers, including currently in retro-vogue names like Francoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, Michel Polnareff, Juliette Gréco, rockabilly-belting Johnny Hallyday, and doomed chanteuse Dalida. And then there are mystifying, bizarre clips by the British Elvis imitator Vince Taylor, a quartet of singing Jerry Lewis-types named Les Brutos, and even a few songs by performers whose names were lost to history.


Two screenings of "timely" films at

American Philosophical Society Museum

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Just Imagine
7:00 pm (doors open 6:00 pm)
Admission: FREE

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
IT'S ABOUT TIME: Short films from the Secret Cinema Archive
7:00 pm (doors open 6:00 pm)
Admission: FREE

American Philosophical Society Museum
Philosophical Hall
104 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia
(215) 440-3442

The Secret Cinema will return to the American Philosophical Society Museum to present two screenings featuring unusual films that explore, in multiple ways, the topic of time. The screenings are inspired by the APS Museum's current exhibition TEMPUS FUGIT: Time Flies, which explores how we try to capture, measure, and find meaning in the midst of time's inevitable passage.

The two Secret Cinema events will feature a chance to explore the exhibit, a screening (as always with Secret Cinema screenings, using real film projected on a giant screen), and a moderated post-film discussion. Best of all, admission is free.

On the two screening days, the museum doors will open at 6:00 pm, allowing time to explore the exhibition. The film screening starts at 7:00 pm. Seating is limited.

The first screening will happen on Wednesday, October 10, and will showcase a little-seen science-fiction musical time-travel comedy (!) from the early talkie era, Just Imagine. Film historian and author Richard Barrios, an expert on the screen's first musicals, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterwards.

On Wednesday, December 5, we'll conclude the series with a feature-length collection of rare short films about time, called IT'S ABOUT TIME: Short Films from the Secret Cinema Archive. The program will explore our subject through vintage educational, experimental, industrial and dramatic films, from the 1930s through the 1970s. (The moderator for this program's post-screening discussion will be announced later).

Below are complete descriptions of the two programs...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 7:00 pm (doors open 6:00 pm)
Admission: FREE
Just Imagine (1930, Dir: David Butler)

Time travel and the world of the future have long been staples of science fiction, both on paper and on film. But putting them into a 1930 musical comedy is quite another, and stranger, proposition. Just Imagine is a product of that long-ago time when films were finding their voice, musicals were still trying to figure out what form they could take, and anything went. So why not a look at the faraway future of 1980, inspired by Fritz Lang's Metropolis and fitted out with songs and dances? And, for good measure, add a top-of-the-line million-dollar budget and spectacular, Oscar-nominated designs. The plot takes its cue from Rip Van Winkle and Sleeper: a boob from 1930 (Swedish-dialect comedian El Brendel) passes out and wakes up fifty years in the future, after which he hitches a ride on the first spaceship to Mars and runs afoul of a Star Trek-like race of evil twins. Also on hand: a pre-Tarzan Maureen O'Sullivan as the leading lady, an avant-garde Martian ballet, and wisecracks about gay men, birth control, and Henry Ford's anti-Semitism. Truly, this is a film like none other, and you may find yourself leaving the screening singing the bouncy "Never Swat a Fly"! - Richard Barrios

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 7:00 pm (doors open 6:00 pm)
Admission: FREE
IT'S ABOUT TIME: Short films from the Secret Cinema Archive

A few highlights of this feature-length collection of vintage educational, experimental, industrial and dramatic films are...

Time Piece (1966) - This fast-moving series of visual gags, abstract animation and unclassifiable slices of the filmmaker's imagination loosely detail the travails of one man's daily grind. Starring and directed by Jim Henson.

Travelling Through Time (1965) - Pan-Am sponsored this Technicolor educational film that looks at man's long history of measuring his days (as well as the impact of developments in air travel that effectively shrank the size of our world).

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1963) - Expertly filmed depiction of Ambrose Bierce's short story about a Civil War prisoner's last moments as he faces execution, and treasures each second of living. This popular, legendary film won best short film honors at both Cannes and the Oscars, and was the only external production to be shown on television's The Twilight Zone.

Secrets of the Plant World (1956) - Gorgeous Technicolor time-lapse photography shows a wide array of flowers and plants as they blossom and maneuver for survival, all skillfully edited to classical music.

The Time Machine trailer (1960) - Original theatrical "coming attractions" preview for this sci-fi time travel classic.

Drive-In Countdown Clock (1960s) - Colorfully animated snack foods fill the minutes between the clicking of this giant projected clock, which kept drive-in theater audiences appraised of the time remaining until the main feature's start.

Plus more!

About Richard Barrios: Film historian Richard Barrios is the author of the award-winning A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film, first published in 1995 and recently re-published in a much-updated second edition. After the publication of his second book, Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood from Edison to Stonewall, Barrios served as programmer and co-host of the month-long film series it inspired, on the Turner Classic Movies cable network. Barrios has written on film for the New York Times, provided commentary tracks for the DVDs of State Fair, The King and I, South Pacific and Words And Music, and appeared in the PBS film Busby Berkeley: Going Through The Roof as well as numerous DVD documentaries, plus the recent HBO documentary feature Vito. He has lectured for the Library of Congress and the American Film Institute, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Institution's new Warner Bros. Theater.. Barrios lives just outside of Philadelphia, where he is working on his next book,.Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter.

About the APS: When Benjamin Franklin and friends decided, in 1743, to establish the American Philosophical Society (APS), they studied nature and called themselves natural philosophers. Now we'd call them scientists. But the word "philosophical" stuck. Over the years, the APS has counted among its members individuals as varied as George Washington, Charles Darwin, and Yo-Yo Ma.

The APS has gathered and preserved a rich collection that traces American history and science from the Founding Fathers to the computer age. It includes scientific specimens and instruments, and more than ten million manuscripts.

The APS Museum combines sophisticated exhibitions of its collections with provocative works by contemporary artists. Museum visitors will find challenging new perspectives on history, science, and art. The galleries are at Philosophical Hall, 104 S. Fifth Street, Philadelphia, right next to Independence Hall. Admission and all programs are free.

About the exhibition: TEMPUS FUGIT: Time Flies: Time flies, leaving its mark on the people and objects it touches. This exhibition explores how we try to capture, measure, and find meaning in the midst of time's inevitable passage. Award-winning Chicago artist Antonia Contro has selected books, manuscripts, and curiosities from the APS collections and juxtaposed them with her own artwork, including drawings, paintings, videos, and a sound installation. APS MUSEUM WEBSITE: www.apsmuseum.org


Plan Nine from Outer Space and eerie exhumation film

at historic Laurel Hill Cemetery

Friday, July 13, 2012
9:00 pm
Admission: $10.00

Laurel Hill Cemetery,
3822 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
215-228-8200

The Secret Cinema has brought its 16mm film projectors to many diverse venues over its 20-plus year history, but none have been quite as unusual as their destination this Friday the 13th of July. On that evening, after the sun sets, we'll begin the first ever movie screening amid the historic tombs of Laurel Hill Cemetery (and we do mean amid-there is no open field or event space at this now-crowded old burial site, so the audience will need to sit between and on top of the graves).

Recognizing the significance of this event, we chose our films carefully. The feature presentation will be cult auteur Ed Wood's 1959 sci-fi horror opus Plan Nine From Outer Space, named by many buffs as "the worst film ever made." The film, also released as Grave Robbers from Outer Space, appropriately includes many spooky scenes inside of a cemetery.

Many Secret Cinema screenings have been advertised as including "unusual short subjects," but this evening's opening film may be the most bizarre one ever: a mysterious reel of found home movies, depicting vacation travel and the court-ordered 1937 exhumation of the Laurel Hill grave of Henrietta Garrett! It's a long story-and we'll tell it at the screening, which will be its first public viewing since its identification by Laurel Hill historians. We don't know who shot the film, or why fate placed it in our hands, but we're glad it did.

There will be one complete screening, starting at 9:00 pm.

There is a rain date of Friday, July 20.

Admission is $10.00. Advance reservations are recommended, and can be made by phone (215) 228-8200 or email tours@thelaurelhillcemetery.org. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or online at www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org.

Ticket holders can check in at Laurel Hill Cemetery's Gatehouse entrance, 3822 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, PA. Free parking is located in the lot across the street from the Gatehouse. Bring your own blankets, beach chairs, snacks, beer, wine and/or other beverage.

Laurel Hill Cemetery is the first cemetery in the United States to be honored as a National Historic Landmark, and is among Philadelphia's most unique destinations. Founded 175 years ago, it is the final resting place for numerous notables who have impacted our city and nation, including influential politicians, important inventors, visionary artists, and powerful industrialists, whose lavish gilded age mausoleums are among the most striking features of the beautifully landscaped site. Open daily with free admission for self-guided exploration and recreation, the site also offers diverse tours and programs for all ages and interests. For more information, visit www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org.

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959, Dir: Edward D. Wood, Jr.) Starring Bela Lugosi, Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Vampira, Tor Johnson, Dudley Manlove, Paul Marco, Conrad Brooks and Criswell. Originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space, the science fiction thriller was directed by Ed Wood and bills Bela Lugosi, posthumously, as the star. The film's plot (which hinges on aliens resurrecting the Earth's dead), awkward acting and meager production values have earned it the title of "Worst Film Ever Made" in various polls. Its charm and entertainment value has spurred continuing interest for decades. Tim Burton explored its production in Ed Wood, and it has been referenced in television series including Seinfeld and The X-Files. Video games, comic books and plays have been based on the film. Love it or hate it, this cult classic leaves a lasting impression.

About Henrietta Garrett: When Henrietta Garrett died in 1930, she left behind a 22 million dollar fortune from her late husband's snuff company, but no will to divide it, and no direct heirs to claim it. Before her affairs were settled, 26,000 people from all over the world came forward filing false claims as relatives. Numerous threats of grave robbers yielded the need for armed guards to keep nightly vigils at the Garrett gravesite in Laurel Hill Cemetery. In 1937, the court ruled that Henrietta's body be exhumed to determine if the missing will had been buried with her. The violation of her right to rest in peace was mysteriously captured in a stranger's shaky, black-and-white home movie, which was unearthed by the Secret Cinema. Now, exactly 75 years after this celluloid vestige was made, it will be screened for the public among the very graves that gave it purpose.


D.J. Silvia and Secret Cinema's Jay Schwartz spin records

at The Trestle Inn at Saturday's Child

Saturday, June 30, 2012
9:30 pm - 2:00 am
Admission: FREE

The Trestle Inn
11th & Callowhill, Philadelphia, PA
267-239-0290

This Saturday, June 30, D.J. Silvia ("La Chica Ye Ye," from Gijon, Spain), and the Secret Cinema's Jay Schwartz (from good old Philadelphia) return to the Trestle Inn to spin "mostly '60s mod/psych/soul/bubblegum/French/Spanish/everywhere/everything dance music" (whew!) at our newest cleverly-named music event, Saturday's Child. At least, that is what is promised in the descriptive blurb we supplied to the club last month, when asked what we were planning to do! It will no doubt include all that and more (little girl). The title pretty much guarantees at least one spin of The Monkees, and the reference in the prior sentence suggests the potential playing of punk rock. But you'll just have to attend (and stay late!) to know for sure.

And yes, there will be live go-go dancers!

Saturday's Child will start at 9:30 pm, and last until 2:00 am.

Admission is FREE.

This event comes in the middle of a resurgence in Secret Cinema d.j. events, but fear not, our film screenings will return in July (starting with a newsworthy event at Laurel Hill Cemetery on Friday the 13th).

The Trestle Inn presents a mash up of retro entertainment, music, food and drink. Expect to find Barbarella-clad Go Go dancers swinging to French pop, blue-eyed soul, psychobilly, funk, garage and disco on most nights of the week.


Baroque hoedown (with Secret Cinema D.J's)

at the Level Room

Friday, June 1, 2012
8:00 pm - 2:00 am
Admission: $8.00

Market Live at The Level Room
2102 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA
215-564-4202

In June the Secret Cinema d.j. team-Jay Schwartz and D.J. Silvia (La Chica Ye Ye) will be carrying our bulging boxes of vintage vinyl (and some now-vintage CD's) to two different downtown nightspots. On Saturday, June 30, we'll make a hopefully triumphant return to the dance floor of the Trestle Inn (where many of you attended our two film screenings) with a party called Saturday's Child.

THIS Friday, June 1, we'll be spinning for the first time at the still-being-discovered club, Market Live at The Level Room. We hear it's a comfortable size, and it certainly has a central location at 21st & Market. You can use your old Moore parking tricks!

The event is a garage/psych happening with two great sounding visiting bands...

Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness hail from Washington, D.C., and make their Philly debut to support their brand new single, "Don't Need Your Lovin'", available on Ghost Highway Recordings. After this show they head to a mod scooter rally in Wildwood! They tear it up on many mod classics, and can be heard...

here...

and here.

Jake was previously in the band Adam West and here's a bio on them:

Local faves House of Fire also perform, with a more psychey (psychy? sike-ee?) groove. Some have compared them to the Brian Jonestown Massacre. You should hear them

here

and make your own comparisons.

Jay and Silvia will be playing 60s and 60s-inspired sounds in a mod/psych/soul/sunshinebubblefreak vein.

There will also be a guest d.j. set by Sir Christian Oz-Goode.

Very approximate set times are as follows:

Doors open: 8:00 pm
DJ's:8:00 -10:00 pm
House of Fire: 10:00 -11:00 pm
Jake Starr and the Delicious Fullness: 11:15 pm -12:15 am
DJ's: 12:15-2:00 am

Admission is $8.00

Hope to see you there!


35mm Archival Surprises at International House:

A Secret Cinema Blind Date

Friday, May 11, 2012
7:00 pm
Admission: $9.00 ($7.00 for students & seniors, $5.00 IHP members)

International House Philadelphia
3701 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 387-5125

On Friday, May 11, 2012, the Secret Cinema will return to International House for A Secret Cinema Blind Date: 35mm Archival Surprises. It's a program so mysterious that even we don't know what it is!

Huh? A bit of background is in order...

The Secret Cinema film archive has been collecting 35mm film prints for about a dozen years (in addition to our large, longer-collected collection of 16mm films). However, we have not owned a functioning 35mm projector in nearly ten years. Still, we continued accumulating prints in this high-quality format -- called 'the real thing' by some cinema purists, because it has reigned as the standard medium of movie theaters from 1895 until...January 1, 2013, the date that most film distributors have declared as when they will forever cease to issue 35mm (or any size) film prints of new releases.

Not having a 35mm projector at Secret Cinema headquarters has resulted in a backlog of acquisitions that we have never viewed. A Secret Cinema Blind Date is sure to be filled with surprises, as it consists of an assortment of 35mm reels with one thing in common: We have never watched any of them before!

This intriguing potpourri of rare short theatrical subjects, odd reels of features, sponsored/industrial films, and trailers were acquired mainly by instinct, often solely on the basis of their intriguing titles (and in some cases, our infatuation with dye-transfer Technicolor prints). Come and see if our collecting instincts were right, in a unique program likely to include the good, the bad and occasionally the mundane.

There will be one complete program, starting at 7:00 pm.

A complete description of the program does not follow...you'll have to trust us on this one!


The Secret Cinema and film critic Steven Rea celebrate

bike culture with Hollywood Rides a Bike

Thursday, April 26, 2012
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Broad Street Ministry,
315 South Broad Street, Philadelphia (across from Kimmel Center, between Spruce & Pine,
215-735-4847

On Thursday, April 26, The Secret Cinema will bring its projectors to yet another new venue, to collaborate with Inquirer film critic Steven Rea in a combined live presentation and film screening called Hollywood Rides a Bike -- a two-part celebration of 20th-century cycling culture.

Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling with the Stars is the name of Rea's brand-new book (Angel City Press), consisting of vintage photographs of bike-riding stars from the movies' golden age. Steven will present a carefully chosen slide show based on the book, displaying how often bicycles found their way into the studios' publicity photos. His narration will comment on the images' origin and on the varied bike hardware shown, graced by a range of movie royalty from Shirley Temple to Brigitte Bardot. Rea will also answer questions about his dual passions of movies and cycling. (NOTE: This presentation will be a different one than that recently given at the Central Library).

Following the still photos, we'll show an assortment of short films about bikes, ranging from retro educational shorts to old newsreels to a beloved New Wave auteur's earliest surviving work (these films have mostly never been shown by Secret Cinema before)

There will be one complete screening at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

This special program will be the Secret Cinema's debut screening at the Broad Street Ministry. BSM fosters the arts as an expression of imagination, beauty and a medium to raise social consciousness. The century-old Chambers-Wylie church building, in the heart of the city (across from the Kimmel Center) boasts a large and beautiful space that we are excited to set up in.

Just a few highlights from Hollywood Rides a Bike (the films) are:

Bicycle Thrills (1951, Dir: Harry Foster) - This fast-paced entry from Columbia Pictures' newsreel series "Bill Stern's World of Sports" finds the legendary sportscaster bringing theater audiences close-up looks at "the Butcher Boy Sweepstakes" (a race of bicycling delivery men); velodrome racing in Holland ("The names of the riders are as familiar to the Dutch as the name of Joe DiMaggio is to us."); and a startling look at Amsterdam's rush hour, jam-packed with self-propelled vehicles.

Handlebars (1933, Dir: Jules White) - From the one-reel series "MGM Oddities." After working as a movie critic and a press agent, Pete Smith launched one of the longest careers in the once prevalent world of theatrical short films. Starting with a series called "Fisherman's Paradise," and ending with over 200 "Pete Smith Specialties," he created topical newsreels, compilations of old footage, and short gag scenes, all marked by Smith's breezy, pun-filled, wise-guy narration. Handlebars (directed by prolific Three Stooges director White) offers a comical history of the bicycle, with satiric recreations illustrating its evolution. From a pedal-less, brakeless vehicle to its modern (1933) state-of-the-art.

Les Mistons (1957, Dir: Francois Truffaut) - Truffaut's second short film (the first is lost) is charming, bittersweet, and visually lovely. It chronicles a group of mischievous boys who follow and torment a beautiful older girl (Bernadette Lafont, later to star in the director's Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me) as she rides her cycle through the French countryside to rendezvous with her boyfriend.

Paul Gordon: Bicycle Tricks (1951, Dir: unknown) - Snader/Studio Telescriptions offered canned filler programming in the form of small reels of 16mm film that were sold outright to early television stations, to schedule as they pleased. The films captured studio-set bound performances of usually musical guests, from Mel Torme to Korla Pandit, but occasionally veered towards novelty acts -- such as this circus trick bike rider doing his thing for an imaginary audience.

Plus Bicycling on the Safe Side (197?), and more.


Rare carnival/burlesque exploitation feature

Girl on the Run at The Trestle Inn

Wednesday, March 28
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

The Trestle Inn
11th & Callowhill, Philadelphia, PA
267-239-0290

On Wednesday, March 28, the Secret Cinema will bring its 16mm film projectors for the first time to The Trestle Inn, the new and buzz-worthy "Whiskey and Go Go" nightspot in Philadelphia's emerging "loft district." On that night, we'll present Girl on the Run, a 1953 ultra-low budget, noirish crime film set in the tawdry world of a carnival burlesque show. The program will also include selected short subjects, including some vintage girlie films.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

The Trestle Inn presents a mash up of retro entertainment, music, food and drink. Expect to find Barbarella-clad Go Go dancers swinging to French pop, blue-eyed soul, psychobilly, funk, garage and disco on most nights of the week.

A complete description of the feature follows...

Girl on the Run (1953, Dir: Joseph Lee and Arthur J. Beckhard)
This ultra-low budget independent production drops a standard crime melodrama into the noirish, tawdry world of a carnival burlesque show. This soon-to-vanish world was seemingly captured on film largely on location, which is also where much of the cast was evidently found (the credits list six women as simply "the Carny Girls"). The minimal plot concerns a reporter visiting the midway to uncover the facts of the murder of his editor; simultaneously hiding from the law, he is also the primary suspect. In between expected dance routines and some nasty exchanges between a corrupt cop and the carnival's hard-boiled midget owner, there are some surreal plot twists. But the technical qualities of Girl on the Run offer perhaps the most unexpected pleasures on display (the Carny Girls' ample bodies notwithstanding) -- the often striking black and white cinematography features extreme close-ups, dramatic lighting and sometimes surprising compositions. The low-angled shots in a boxing scene resemble an earlier, cruder Raging Bull.

Some of the makers of Girl on the Run had substantial Hollywood resumes. Supervising editor Sidney Katz won an A.C.E. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 (the year he died). Producer Robert Presnell, Sr. wrote and produced classics and programmers alike for major studios. While little is known about Joseph Lee, co-director (and co-writer) Arthur J. Beckhard had a fascinating career. In the 1930s he wrote a couple of Shirley Temple vehicles, and for many years was a successful producer and director of Broadway plays. Late in life he authored biographies of Einstein, Eisenhower, Tesla, and William D. Beckhard, a pioneering surgeon who was addicted to drugs throughout his life.

The most notable cast member of Girl on the Run has one of the smallest roles: Steve McQueen, seen in the background of two scenes during his first known film role.


The Secret Cinema presents "B" Picture Double Feature

at Chestnut Hill Film Group screening

Tuesday, March 20
7:30 pm
Admission: FREE

Chestnut Hill Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia
8711 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia
215-248-0977

The Secret Cinema will return to the Chestnut Hill Film Group on the first day of spring -- that's Tuesday, March 20 -- to present a unique program called "B" Picture Double Feature, consisting of two brisk-paced genre features from the 1940s, plus surprise short subjects.

The phrase "B-Movies" has come to have many connotations over the years, mostly negative, but originally the designation simply meant a film was the "second feature" on a standard double bill. As this usually meant it was a lower-budgeted, shorter-length affair, the format lent itself to fast-paced genre films that didn't require big-name stars, such as Westerns, mysteries, and horror films (though there were also many comedies, romantic dramas and even musicals made as "b" pictures).

Our double feature includes two films with close to one-hour running times, and combines comic strip crime with creepy horror.

There will be one complete screening, at 7:30 pm. Admission is free.

Complete descriptions of the two features appears below:

Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947, Dir: John Rawlins)
Chester Gould's comic strip police detective debuted in 1932, and has remained one of the most popular media characters ever since. Besides the still-syndicated newspaper strip, he has appeared in radio dramatizations, television cartoons, comic books, children's record albums, and of course, motion pictures. Dick Tracy's big screen debut was in a Republic serial starring Ralph Byrd, considered by many the actor who portrayed Gould's square-jawed creation most accurately. After four different complete serials, a series of Dick Tracy b-features was produced by RKO. First they put Morgan Conway in the lead role, but before long they recruited Byrd to return and complete the series.

Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome is fast and lively, and probably the best of the Tracy b-features, thanks largely to the strong cast. Besides Ralph Byrd, the film is enlivened considerably by the appearance of no less than Boris Karloff as the titular villain. Gruesome is an evil ex-con who enlists Dr. A. Tomic's invention for temporarily freezing human motion as an aid to bank robbing. Also on hand are Anne Gwynne (as Tess Trueheart), Lex Barker, and the unforgettable Skelton Knaggs as X-Ray. Director John Rawlins also helmed Arabian Nights, the Maria Montez vehicle shown in an earlier Secret Cinema presentation at CHFG.

The Brute Man (1946, Dir: Jean Yarbrough)
Rondo Hatton may have had the saddest of all movie careers. In his youth he was a handsome college athlete and popular with women, but while fighting in France in World War I, Hatton was injured by poison gas, and as a side effect contracted acromegaly. This rare, progressive disease makes the pituitary gland overly active, causing severe disfigurement of the hand, hands and feet. While working as a journalist on a Florida movie set, Rondo's unusual looks were noticed by director Henry King, who cast him as rugged saloon owner in the 1930 film Hell Harbor. Hatton eventually moved to Hollywood and was signed to Universal, usually playing heavies in small, non-speaking parts.

Despite possessing no real acting ability, Hatton's unique looks resulted in a lot of work. Beginning with the Sherlock Holmes series entry The Pearl of Death, Hatton was featured in a succession of films as "The Creeper," a super-strong giant, usually used by others to dispose of their enemies. Other "Creeper" films include The Spider Woman Strikes Back, House of Horrors, and Hatton's final film, The Brute Man. Eerily paralleling Rondo's own life, it is the story of a bright college student who is physically and mentally disfigured in a lab accident, and then enacts violent revenge on those he judges responsible. In real life, Rondo Hatton died shortly after the film was completed, for in those days acromegaly was both incurable and fatally damaging to the heart. Feeling that the film's release might now appear in bad taste, Universal sold off The Brute Man to Poverty Row studio PRC. Appearing as the pre-disfigured student was doomed tough guy/actor Tom Neal, who would star in PRC's film noir classic Detour (and later go to jail for killing his wife).


Insane double-feature at International House:

Trailer Trash and The Black Angels

Saturday, February 4, 2012,
8:00 pm - Trailer Trash
10:00 pm - The Black Angels
Admission: $9.00 (Free to IHP members, $7.00 for students & seniors)

Click here to purchase advance tickets

International House Philadelphia
3701 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 387-5125

On Saturday, February 4, 2012, the Secret Cinema will return to International House for a fun-filled and quite unusual Saturday-night double-feature, all shown from scarce 35mm prints. It begins with Trailer Trash, a mind-blowing assortment of coming attractions previews culled from the Secret Cinema archive, featuring "our kind of movies" from the 1960s and '70s. That will be followed by the ultra-rare race-baiting biker film The Black Angels.

Trailer Trash was previously shown by the Secret Cinema ages ago (at the Prince Music Theatre and Colonial Theatre), but is long overdue for a revival-while we're pretty sure The Black Angels has not been shown anywhere since 1970!

General admission is $9.00 (Free to IHP members, $7.00 for students & seniors).
A single admission covers one or both features.

A complete description of the program follows...

8:00 PM
Trailer Trash (First showing in 10 years!) 35mm

Trailer Trash is a non-stop orgy of rare, original preview "trailers" advertising some of the Secret Cinema's favorite films of the 1960s and 70s-exploitation, sexploitation, science-fiction, bikers, horror, rock musicals, beach movies, bloated big budget bombs and possibly some films that no longer survive in feature form. All will be shown from archival 35mm prints (with several in true, IB Technicolor). Trailer Trash stars Elvis Presley, Sean Connery, Nancy Sinatra, Roy Orbison, Sonny & Cher, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra, Linda Blair, Dean Martin, Cherie Currie, Tony Curtis, The Village People, The Yardbirds, and a cast of unknowns. It was directed by a team that includes Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Chaplin, William Friedkin, John Boorman, John Cassavetes and several forgotten hacks. Its budget (adjusted for inflation) was in the hundreds of millions of dollars, it's in black and white and color, and it has laughs, screams, spies, monsters, sex, drugs, rock n' roll and bikinis. As if this weren't enough, additional graphic eye candy will be provided in the form of vintage drive-in messages, theater commercials and date strips, from the 1950s and beyond.

A sampling of the many trailers to be shown includes Bikini Beach, Bury Me an Angel, Wild in the Streets, You Only Live Twice, Mondo Teeno, Devil's Angels, Paradise Hawaiian Style, Foxes, Murderers' Row, Chastity, The Trial of Billy Jack, Blow Up and many, many more, with some guaranteed surprises.

PLUS:

10:00 PM
The Black Angels (1970, Dir: Laurence Merrick) 35mm

"White is pale, and pale is sick -- and I hate all sickness!" This extremely rare entry from the biker genre also sought to cash in on the newer phenomenon of blaxploitation films, by pitting two rival motorcycle gangs, one white and one black, against each other in a race-motivated war for turf. This intriguing idea is either foiled or enhanced (depending on one's tastes) by mostly amateur acting, aimless script and a nearly-constant stream of awkward dialogue, intermittently interrupted by some thoughtful commentary on race relations. The film was written and photographed by the director in various locations in and outside of Los Angeles. The black biker gang "The Choppers" was portrayed by a real-life black biker gang. The original rock music soundtrack contains several decent instrumentals and songs in assorted styles, some performed by Smokey Roberds, previously of soft rock band The Parade. Much of the cast and crew from The Black Angels worked on the equally obscure Guess What Happened to Count Dracula.

And here's a little teaser that shows off both halves of our program: A Trashy Trailer for The Black Angels!


Penn Museum film series continues

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
3260 South Street, Philadelphia
(215) 898-4000

The Secret Cinema will collaborate with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (aka Penn Museum) for a four-part film series. On the third Wednesday of the month in September, October, November, and January, Penn Museum welcomes audiences to view a mix of rarely-screened, significant, and still powerful vintage films from the 1920s and '30s, as part of the "PM @ Penn Museum" fall/winter programming.

The Secret Cinema selected the feature films (plus occasional surprise short subjects) for having themes and geographic settings that fit in with the Museum's exhibits, as well as its last century of archeological expeditions. The screenings will take place in different areas of the historic Museum building, adding an evocative flair to the screening experience and providing an intimate look at this architectural gem.

The programs are free with Museum admission, and free popcorn will be provided.

Museum Admission Donation
$10 general admission
$7 senior citizens (65 and above)
$6 for children 6 to 17 and full-time students with college ID
FREE for Museum members, children 5 and under, and PENNcard holders

Program details for the final film in the series are as follows...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
6:00 pm
Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927, Dir: Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack)
Silent with music soundtrack

Before they dreamed up that oversized ape, King Kong's creators Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack filmed this amazing semi-documentary film, which was, along with the team's earlier Grass, an early example of the adventure-exploration movie. Chang is not only the obvious prototype for their later masterpiece, King Kong, but a terrifically entertaining film in its own right. Shot entirely on location in Siam under dangerous conditions, the film tells the story of a farmer and his family who have settled a small patch of land on the edge of the jungle. Their existence is a constant struggle against the many wild animals around them -- bear, tigers, and even -- changs! The climactic elephant stampede remains one of the most exciting scenes in cinema history. "It's still the best picture I ever made." - Merian C. Cooper, 1966


A Swingin' Summer at International House --

with Richie Rotkin of the Rip Chords, in person!

Thursday, December 15, 2011
7:00 pm
Admission: $9.00 (Free to IHP members, $7.00 for students & seniors)

International House Philadelphia
3701 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 387-5125

On Thursday, December 15, the Secret Cinema will return to International House to celebrate the imminent arrival of winter with, yes, A Swingin' Summer. This lesser-known entry in the "beach party" genre of 1960s drive-in movies includes all of the key elements of the breed -- not to mention a singing, gyrating Raquel Welch in her first major role. Who cares if there's no beach?

If that weren't enough, we'll be showing a gorgeous 35mm vintage, archival print, made in real, vibrant, dye-transfer Technicolor, and shot in the widescreen "Techniscope" format.

And as if that weren't enough, we'll have on hand one of the film's stars! Richie Rotkin, of surf rock band the Rip Chords, will be present to introduce the film, and answer questions about what it was like to make a sixties teen movie.

There will be one complete show, starting at 7:00 pm.

General admission is $9.00 (Free to IHP members, $7.00 for students & seniors).

A complete description of the feature follows...

A Swingin' Summer (1965, Dir: Robert Sparr)
After the success of Gidget and Beach Party, there was a tidal wave of 1960s drive-in movies that featured surfing, dancing teens, bikinis, rock 'n' toll music, and minimal plotlines. Independent production A Swingin' Summer combined all of those genre trademarks sans the surfing, since the setting was shifted inland from the Pacific Ocean to the mountainside (and waveless) resort of Lake Arrowhead, California. The story concerns some good-natured kids, led by James Stacy and William Wellman, Jr. (son of the legendary Hollywood director), who plan to take over the dance pavilion and become rock concert promoters for the summer. They somehow recruit such acts as the Righteous Brothers, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Donnie Brooks and surf-rock group The Rip Chords (famed for their hit "Hey Little Cobra"). While planning the big event, the gang still finds time for both romance and swimwear-oriented recreation, including a tense "chicken race" on water skis. The eclectic cast includes choreographer/actor Michael Blodgett (blond "Lance Rocke" in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls), pioneer hippie/health food advocate "Gypsy Boots," and a young and especially striking Raquel Welch, in her first featured role -- she brings down the house with her scorching song "I'm Ready to Groove."

Richie Rotkin appeared in A Swingin' Summer as a singer in featured act The Rip Chords, and still performs across the nation with the group to this day. Richie will be present at the screening to introduce the film and share stories about what it was like to make a teen movie and live in Hollywood during the sixties.


Another Romance of Celluloid:
More Old Films About Film
at Moore College of Art & Design

Saturday, October 22, 2011
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

Not a day seems to go by lately without another reminder that the world of movies as we've known it since 1895 is about to change in a big way. While the "non-theatrical" world that Secret Cinema theoretically sits in has preferred the economies of video projection for most of our two decades of existence, the neighborhood multiplex (what's left of them, anyway) is now getting in on the act and scrapping their film projectors en masse in favor of "digital cinema." In 2013, Hollywood is scheduled to cease making celluloid prints of movies.

It is hopefully needless to state that the Secret Cinema is not jumping on this bandwagon anytime soon, and we aim to keep the film-as-film experience alive for as long as possible. Indeed, we go to great effort and expense to maintain our film archive and maintain our 16mm projectors, the newest models of which date to the mid-1980s (and the ones we use more often are 20 years older than those!). But with all of this gloomy news about, we felt like saluting both the material and art-form of motion picture film with a special cinephilic program.

On Saturday, October 22, the Secret Cinema will present Another Romance of Celluloid: More Old Films About Film. The screening will include a variety of just what its name* suggests, including films about film technology, studios, movie stars, film archives, and home movies, plus, if time permits, some vintage promotional shorts and trailers. These original short films date from the 1920s through the 1970s.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

Just a few highlights of Another Romance of Celluloid: More Old Films About Film are:

The Hollywood Kid (1924, Dir: Roy Del Ruth & Del Lord) - This frenzied silent comedy packed more stars and celebrities into its running time than usual -- that's because its minimal plot concerns the making of a slapstick film at the real-life studios of Mack Sennett. With Charles Murray, Vernon Dent, Andy Clyde, Ben Turpin, Marie Prevost, Billy Bevan, Teddy the Dog and many more!

MGM Studio Tour (1925) - A grand tour of the grandest of Hollywood studios, seen at the peak moment of the silent era. We see different creative and technical departments, directors like John Ford, Victor Seastrom and Tod Browning, and countless stars, from a young Joan Crawford to Zasu Pitts.

The Voice of Hollywood #3 (1930) - This was one of the earlier series of short films to capitalize on the public's fascination with seeing movie stars having fun off the set, and depicts two ancient periods of show-biz history by setting their banter in the format of a fictitious radio program. This episode features Reginald Denny, Bobby Vernon, Anita Page, bandleader Paul Whiteman, female impersonator Julian Eltinge, and more.

Screen Actors (1950) - In 1950 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) oversaw the production of a series of one-reel shorts covering different aspects of the film industry, each short being produced by a different studio. M.G.M, the studio with "more stars than there are in heaven," made this look at the lives of actors, with special attention to their off-screen activities. A Screen Actors Guild meeting is seen, as is Dan Duryea's work as a Cub Scout leader!

The Costume Designer (1950) - Another short from the A.M.P.A.S. series of behind-the-scenes looks at moviemaking, this one on the importance of the wardrobe department, with a special focus on sunglass-wearing designer Edith Head (who, oddly, is not named).

The Movie...a Window on Life (1964) - "I'd like to introduce you to my Bolex..." The famed Swiss movie camera manufacturer produced this promotional film, most likely for screenings in camera stores. With tips on making better home movies, and some colorful shots of Bolex's line of 8mm moviemaking gear.

Documentaries Unlimited (1965?) - This beautiful sponsored film, printed in true I.B. Technicolor, follows a frustrated filmmaker searching for just the right slant to give his new assignment. Along the way we are provided with a rare glimpse inside a fully-equipped industrial film studio of its time. Too bad it's all in the service of propaganda promoting evil power utilities! Produced by the Edison Electric Institute.

Plus much, much more.

*The first half of the title of this program pays homage to a promotional MGM short of the same name from 1938. We were sadly unable to secure a print for inclusion here, though it can occasionally be seen on TCM. Nonetheless, we happily borrow the poetry of its title. The last Secret Cinema program on this theme was the perhaps awkwardly-titled Old Films About Old Films About..., shown on December 17, 1999. Despite waiting 12 years to venture back to this subject, ...More Old Films About Film repeats none of the earlier program's material.


The Secret Cinema presents summer screenings

at Institute of Contemporary Art

July 13, July 27 & August 3

Institute of Contemporary Art
118 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia (next to Urban Outfitters and Pod)
(215) 898-7108

The Secret Cinema is excited to announce our latest three screenings, happening in a succession of Wednesday evenings In July and August at the Institute of Contemporary Art, in the heart of University City. The films will focus on a variety of summery and artful concerns, and will take place on the ICA's delightful rooftop patio (weather permitting -- otherwise, the screenings will be moved to ICA's indoor auditorium).

After two themed Secret Cinema programs of short films, we'll collaborate with ICA on a special multi-media party celebrating ICA's current gallery exhibition "That's How We Escaped: Reflections on Warhol," complete with live music and film projections.

Wednesday, July 13
9:00 pm
Admission: $7.00
The Secret Cinema presents Summer Means Fun!

This unique program of long-unseen newsreels, educational films, comedy shorts, and cartoons focuses on assorted aspects of summertime recreation: surfing, swimming, camping, fishing, the rodeo and more, as seen by classrooms and moviegoers of the past. Highlights include New England Holiday (1947), Swim Parade (1949), Helter Swelter (1950), Skaterdater (1966), How Do They Make Surfboards? (1970)...plus Shemp Howard in Boobs in the Woods (1940)!

Wednesday, July 27
9:00 pm
Admission: $7.00
The Secret Cinema presents Art for Art's Sake

This selection of short films about art and artists, all from The Secret Cinema archive, features two rare television documentaries: "Art of the Sixties" (1968, from the CBS series The 21st Century) takes a behind-the-scenes look at such established art world personalities as Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Sol LeWitt, and George Segal, as well as artists working in filmmaking and light shows. What I Did on My Summer Vacation (1966) examines the work of "art happening" pioneer Allan Kaprow, as he produces a series of interactive events among surprised yet game vacationers in the Hamptons. Plus, Let's Paint with Water Color, Texture, Grandpa Called it Art, and other vintage school films and theatrical shorts.

Wednesday, August 3
8:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Admission: FREE
Sister Ray Slam with Secret Cinema

The Secret Cinema will help make the media more multi as all celebrate the close of ICA's summer season with screenings of rare Andy Warhol short films and "Screen Tests," accompanied by four live bands reinterpreting the Velvet Underground's epic "Sister Ray." Many of the films selected were originally part of Warhol's "Exploding Plastic Inevitable" shows with the Velvet Underground. In conjunction with the exhibition "That's How We Escaped: Reflections on Warhol," come channel The Factory with music by U.S. Girls, Dry Feet, Megajam Booze Band, and The Sweet Sister Ray Band (featuring Dan Murphy of Megawords). Plus artisanal treats by Little Baby's Ice Cream!


Famous Films III, plus
"A History of the Secret Cinema"
at Moore College of Art & Design

Friday, May 6, 2011
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00*

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

The Secret Cinema is known for presenting rarest-of-the-rare, otherwise impossible to see celluloid treasures. That changes on Friday, May 6, 2011, as we present our third program of Famous Films (yes, this is just one week after the Top Secret program at Moore).

Once again, we've scoured our archive shelves for the most famous short film titles we could find...and realized there was still more great, non-obscure viewing that we'd not shown before. The program will include legendary documentaries, a couple of notorious parody films, notable silent works, and once-mainstream theatrical subjects. Some were landmark achievements for their unusual style, beautiful photography, or other innovative techniques. Others endure simply as great entertainment.

Of course, "famous" is a relative term, and fame is a fleeting thing. One reason we wish to air these great works is the growing realization that even classic films are becoming hard to see in their original form (projected celluloid on a large screen). Not so long ago, all of these films would have been mandatory viewing (via 16mm or 35mm prints) in university courses and repertory cinemas, but that is sadly no longer true. Indeed, several of these reels will be unknown to today's casual viewer -- all the more reason to celebrate them again.

Speaking of fame, the Secret Cinema attained a little more name recognition in the archival community during the annual conference of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, held in Philadelphia's Loew's Hotel last November. We were invited to provide "A History of the Secret Cinema," projecting a sampling of our favorite films as well as giving a brief Powerpoint look back at nearly two decades of Secret Cinema. The thought struck us that it might be fun to share this illustrated talk with our regular audience, and we will do so just before the Famous Films III screening.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

Highlights of Famous Films III include:

Lumière's First Picture Show (1895, Dir: Louis Lumière) - This compilation reel recreates nothing less than the first program of motion pictures ever presented for a public audience, as originally seen in the Salon Indien of the Grand Cafe in the Boulevard des Capucines, in Paris, on December 28, 1895. Several of the very-short titles included, such as Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, Arrival of a Train and Watering the Gardener are now iconic; other of these early "actualities" film are less well remembered by history. Among the audience that first night was magician Georges Méliès, who soon set out to make his own fantastic films. The original prints used for this restored reel were of good quality, but had non-standard perforations that required special printing techniques devised by pioneer cinematographer and historian Don Malkames, using an original Lumière projector.

Hardware Wars (1978, Dir: Ernie Fosselius) - This beloved parody of Star Wars was made and released just months after its big budget subject. Using bargain basement special effects, props made from barely-disguised steam irons and vacuum cleaners and brutal send-ups of the original film's characters, Ernie Fosselius and his friends made a hilarious short that went on to win numerous awards at film festivals and fan conventions. The narration was by veteran (and instantly recognizable) voiceover artist Paul Frees.

The River (1938, Dir: Pare Lorentz) - As with The Plow That Broke the Plains and Valley Town (earlier entries in our "Famous Films" series), The River documents not only its subject, but a fascinating, long-gone time when the federal government funded politically progressive and artistically avant-garde art. Lorentz made this project after the success of The Plow... to tell what he described to his bosses as "the biggest story in the world -- the Mississippi River." The subject encompassed several issues of importance to the FDR administration: flood control, soil and timber conservation, and rural electrification, and turned them into a powerful narrative via rhythmic and lyrical narration (read by baritone Thomas Chalmers), discordant music (by modernist composer Virgil Thomson), and striking photography (by, among others, Floyd Crosby). The River was, like The Plow..., a popular and box office success, but it had ruffled many feathers. Lorentz was slated to head a new agency established by presidential order, the U.S. Film Service, but before this project could get underway its budget was written out of existence by a hostile congress. Named to the National Film Registry in 1990.

Mama's Little Pirate (1934, Dir: Gus Meins) - This short from the Our Gang series, remembered especially fondly by many fans, deftly blends comedy, thrills and fantasy. Spanky, Stymie, Buckwheat and the rest of the gang explore a dark cave hoping to find an abandoned pirate's treasure. They find themselves instead in the lair of a terrifying giant, who discovers -- and captures! -- the kids. When did you last get to see Our Gang on the big screen?

De Düva: The Dove (1968, Dir: George Coe, Anthony Lover) - A spot-on satire of the films of Ingmar Bergman (especially Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal), featuring ersatz Swedish dialogue, pseduo-stoic acting, and far-fetched symbolism, plus a young Madeline Kahn as "Sigfrid." De Düva was, naturally, a most popular short subject in the same art house circuit where Bergman's films had triumphed.

Ballet Mécanique (1924, Dir: Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy) - An influential classic of the early avant garde, co-directed by artist Fernand Leger and filmmaker Dudley Murphy, whose career accommodated both his experimental instincts and studios' entertainment demands. This short uses special effects to animate the clockwork structure of everyday 20th-century life.

Plus A Corner in Wheat, Olympia diving sequence, and more.


TOP SECRET:
Films You Weren't Supposed to See

at Moore College of Art & Design

Friday, April 29, 2011
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00*

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, April 29, 2011, the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design will present a program of short films never intended for viewing by the general public.

Top Secret: Films You Weren't Supposed to See includes films produced to convey private information from the government, the military and big business, instructional or motivational in nature, to carefully targeted audiences of battle forces in the field, farmers, middle management and wholesale buyers of products. Spanning from World War II through the 1960s, these forgotten reels reveal long hidden and often surprising views of mid-century America. At least one of these films was originally marked as containing "Restricted" information (and for all we know it is still officially restricted!).

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.

Just a few highlights of Top Secret: Films You Weren't Supposed to See are:

Army-Air Force Combat Digest #53 (1944) - A weekly newsreel made just for soldiers, bringing news, developments in the war, and aerial footage of bombing missions right to the barracks via portable 16mm projectors. This episode is from October 4, 1944.

Cull For Profit (1951) - Made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this color educational film argues in favor of eugenics in egg farming, advising farmers to carefully remove from their coops hens that are lower egg producers. It might have just as easily been called Kill for Profit.

Inside Test City U.S.A. (1953) - A promotional film from Readers Digest magazine that declares "Industry has discovered that what happens in Columbus (Ohio) today will be happening all over America tomorrow." The filmmakers interview local businessmen and consumers, all of whom are loyal Reader's Digest readers. Two comment that "most people read the Bible and the Digest." The narrator points out with pride that the Reader's Digest has greater market penetration in affluent areas than in poorer ones.

Recognition of AFV's (1943) - Adapted by the U.S. Signal Corps from a British training film, this short aims to teach soldiers a valuable lesson: how to distinguish Allied tanks (or Armored Fighting Vehicles) from those of the enemy.

1104 Sutton Road (1958) - Motivational dramatization shows the story of a dissatisfied factory worker who imagines what it would be like to become foreman or the company president. He learns that every employee must be productive to succeed. Sponsored by the Champion Paper and Fibre Company, with blazing Technicolor views of home and workplace life.

Plus an in-house training film from Bell Telephone, Naval Aircraft Workers' Digest, The Delco 12-Volt System, and much more!

------

*The Secret Cinema regrets to announce our first increase in admission prices in nearly four years. This became a necessity due to recent changes in our financial arrangement with our host venue Moore College of Art & Design. In fact, our ultimately unsuccessful attempt to renegotiate what in the end was a sudden 60% rise in our rental fee (and this coming just one year after an even steeper raise) is the reason why we did not have a program at Moore in January or February. Combined with ever-increasing costs of many other things we do (like maintaining climate-controlled storage for our large private film archive), this means that even this $1.00 may not keep our program at Moore sustainable -- only time will tell. Meanwhile, we welcome any inquiries from other institutions interested in hosting the Secret Cinema.


Cinema/Science at
International House

Saturday, April 16, 2011
2:00 pm
Admission: $8.00 ($5.00-$6.00 for members, students & seniors). This event is FREE for all UPenn ID holders.
This event is FREE for all UPenn ID holders.

International House Philadelphia
3701 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 387-5125

On Saturday, April 16, 2011, the Secret Cinema will return to International House to present Cinema/Science, a program of some of the oldest surviving educational films about science and nature. The program will be moderated by Oliver Gaycken, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Cinema Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, who are sponsoring the event as part of a one-time seminar, also called "Cinema/Science."

Cinema/Science will feature an assortment of fascinating "popular science" shorts. The films range in date from the 1910s through the 1950s, and were distributed by pioneering companies such as Kodascope Libraries, Eastman Teaching Films, and Pathe. These ultra-rare reels, many of which haven't been seen in eight or nine decades, are still potent in their powers to entertain, amuse, and yes, educate modern-day viewers about a variety of subjects.

And, to keep things interesting, this program will include little or no duplication of titles from previous programs of silent classroom films shown recently at Moore, Delaware County Institute of Science or the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Many of the films have never been shown by Secret Cinema -- or anyone else, since the 1920s!

The actual 16mm prints to be projected, many of which are believed to be exclusive to the Secret Cinema archive, are mostly original prints (rather than restored or duplicated prints) dating to the time of the production. They are mostly in excellent condition.

There will be one complete show, starting at 2:00 pm.

General admission is $8.00 ($5.00-$6.00 for members, students & seniors). This event is FREE for all UPenn ID holders.

Just a few highlights of Cinema/Science include:

Honey Makers (Pathe Screen Studies, 1920s?) - Whimsical and occasionally poetic subtitles enhance this examination of the practice of beekeeping and honey farming, with detailed looks into the molding of honeycombs, and a look at "An Apiary in the Old Country." "For centuries, great scientists and philosophers have pondered these strange little creatures...Virgin Daughters of Toil."

Trip to the Sky (1937, Prod: Jean Painlevé, France) - Painlevé collaborated with special effects innovator A.P. Dufour to make this three-dimensional point-of-view tour through our solar system, as part of a series of films commissioned by the Palais de la Découverte science museum. Painlevé was a pioneering writer, photographer, filmmaker and inventor who made hundred of films on science and nature. He was just as interested in the creative as the factual and was friends with many giants in arts and avant-garde circles. Painlevé's prolific output is being rediscovered through screenings of his films scored by Yo La Tengo, a book, and a Criterion DVD collection (the latter two both titled Science is Fiction).

The Battle of the Plants (British Instructional Films, Ltd., 1920s?) - Incredible time-lapse photography reveals the literal "turf war" of neighboring species of seemingly mild-mannered plants as they fight to the end to become "the victor in the struggle for existence."

Laws of Motion (Encyclopedia Brittanica Films, 1952) - Billiard balls, model trains, and automobiles are filmed in visual experiments that show that Newton's theories still hold true, in this vintage school film.

The Science of Life (Bray Educational Films, 1920s?) - Microscopic photography and simple animated drawings depict reproduction in the higher forms of life, from fish to humans. Bray Studios was the first company founded, in 1916, to make animated cartoons, and many future animation giants passed through their doors, including Paul Terry, Max and Dave Fleischer and Walter Lantz, but by 1927 the company limited its output to educational fare such as this reel.

...plus much, much more!

After the Cinema/Science program, International House will screen another special program devoted to a different early use of motion pictures, Independent Artist Movement in Cinematography. The earliest experimental films were tied inextricably to certain painters, collagists, and photographers living principally in Paris, Berlin, and Munich during the twenties. Rarely shown works by Alberto Cavalcanti Hans Richter, Robert Florey, and others will be included.

Oliver Gaycken received his BA in English from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His teaching interests include silent-era cinema history, the history of popular science, and the links between scientific and experimental cinema. He has published on the discovery of the ophthalmoscope, the flourishing of the popular science film in France at the turn of the 1910s, the figure of the supercriminal in Louis Feuillade's serial films, and the surrealist fascination with popular scientific images. He is currently writing about the figure of the detective/scientist in the films of Billy Wilder and conducting research into the American popular science film before 1920. His book project is entitled Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema And Popular Science.


A Walk on the Soft Side:
Films of the Beach Boys and Friends at Moore

Musician/pop music historian Dennis Diken to speak

Saturday, March 26
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Saturday, March 26, the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design will present our first screening in several years centered on rock music, when we show A Walk on the Soft Side: Films of the Beach Boys and Friends. The program, sure to be welcomed by those rediscovering the charms of the "sunshine pop" and "soft rock"* genres, features difficult to find footage from lost television specials and educational films. Much of the program features the Beach Boys, but there are also rare appearances by the Fifth Dimension, Jimmy Webb, Johnny Rivers, Merrilee Rush and others.

Noted musician, pop historian, and Beach Boys authority Dennis Diken will join us to introduce the screening. Best known as the drummer for The Smithereens (and gaining attention for his solo project Bell Sound, who performed recently at Johnny Brenda's), Diken has written liner notes for and helped produce numerous reissue albums by artists such as the Lovin' Spoonful, the Four Seasons, Louis Prima, Del Shannon, Henry Mancini, Joe Meek, the Four Freshmen, and of course the Beach Boys -- whose every member he managed to meet. Diken will place our Beach Boys films in context within their time and the group's career, as well as discuss the other films to be shown, and if time allows, answer questions about his life of making and chronicling pop music.

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $8.00.**

The program will include:

It's OK: The Beach Boys 15th Anniversary TV Special (1976, NBC) - This documentary came at an odd juncture in the ever-fascinating career of that most American of '60s pop bands, the Beach Boys. They were at a commercial peak, coming off the platinum success of the Endless Summer and Spirit of America albums of repackaged '60s hits, which re-introduced their music to sizable new audiences (much as the "Red and Blue" albums had for the Beatles). And yet, the group's onetime leader Brian Wilson was seriously troubled, not quite recovered from the pain of seeing his Smile masterpiece get shelved, and watching from afar as his brothers and bandmates floundered their musical direction without his help. He became an overweight recluse and abused various substances, emerging from his bedroom only occasionally to embarrass himself with spontaneous, drunken public appearances, dressed in a bathrobe.

In 1976, Brian was brought -- some would say forced -- back into the studio to work again on new Beach Boys music, and that fact was widely trumpeted in a hugely successful publicity campaign built around the phrase "Brian's Back." It was at this point that Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels made It's OK. Michaels and his director Gary Weis used the occasion to turn the Brian Wilson situation on its head and lampoon his eccentric image: In his first interview scene, talking about not leaving his room, Brian was filmed in bed and under the covers; while singing with his brothers in the studio, the song choice was the notorious "I'm Bugged at My Old Man," written about their often-cruel father Murry Wilson. In It's OK's most outrageous (and comical) bit, SNL cast members John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd appear at the Wilson front door dressed as California Highway Patrol officers and cite the bedridden Brian for such violations as "Failure to Surf." They then proceed to drag a very uncomfortable Brian to the beach and force him to ride a surfboard (probably for the first time in his life)! Between these surreal scenes is a lot of music, the band headlining at an outdoor concert in Anaheim, and sitting in to harmonize with the Double-Rock Baptist Church Choir -- as well as interviews with Smile collaborator Van Dyke Parks, a Dennis Wilson-judged beauty pageant, Al Jardine making out in a hot tub (!), and a Brian birthday party attended by Paul & Linda McCartney.

Brief scenes (and outtake footage) of It's OK appeared in Malcolm Leo's excellent 1985 documentary The Beach Boys: An American Band, but the complete TV special (which runs about 50 minutes) was never aired again, and is nearly impossible to see today. We will be showing an extremely rare 16mm print of the full program.

Musicmakers (1978, Phoenix Films) - Beach Boy Al Jardine co-stars with Johnny Rivers ("Secret Agent Man," et al) in this lively and unusually hip (and rare) educational film. It attempts to introduce basic music-making concepts to primary school viewers, with Al performing "Add Some Music to Your Day" as a recurring theme. The late jazz great George Shearing discusses the art of improvisation, and a visit is paid to songwriting genius Jimmy Webb, who plays portions of "Up, Up and Away," By the Time I Get to Phoenix," and a (then) new composition, "Christian, No." There are also brief cameos by Helen Reddy, and inexplicably, an especially wacky Michael Douglas.

It Couldn't Be Done clip (1970, Lee Mendelsohn Productions) - This brief segment is from a Bell Telephone-sponsored TV special about great engineering feats (produced by the makers of the Peanuts animated specials, and hosted by Lee Marvin!). It shows sunshine pop masters the Fifth Dimension performing their little-known, excellent song, "A Pocketful of Seeds."

Something Else (1970, ABC) - Comedian John Byner hosted this weekly TV series sponsored by the American Dairy Association, which featured Top 40-ish (and "Bubbling Under") pop groups of the day. This episode includes performances by the Clique and Merrilee Rush.

...plus other surprises!

*The study, appreciation, and naming of American "Soft Rock" as a subgenre of rock music was pioneered in the early 1990s by Japanese record collectors, and focused on upbeat melodic pop as created by artists such as the Association and the Cowsills, and producers like Curt Boettcher. It did not refer to the introspective "singer-songwriter" music of James Taylor or the likes of Hall & Oates, though some have since labeled these later genres as soft rock. We use the term here in its original sense.

**The Secret Cinema regrets to announce our first increase in admission prices in nearly four years. This became a necessity due to recent changes in our financial arrangement with our host venue Moore College of Art & Design. In fact, our ultimately unsuccessful attempt to renegotiate what in the end was a sudden 60% rise in our rental fee (and this coming just one year after an even steeper raise) is the reason why we did not have a program at Moore in January or February. Combined with ever-increasing costs of many other things we do (like maintaining climate-controlled storage for our large private film archive), this means that even this $1.00 admission increase may not keep our program at Moore sustainable -- only time will tell. Meanwhile, we welcome any inquiries from other institutions interested in hosting the Secret Cinema.

Dennis Diken web site


Velvet Underground Film Discoveries

at Moore

Friday, November 12, 2010
8:00 pm & 10:00 pm (each show includes both films)
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

Over the years the Secret Cinema has devoted many programs to exploring the 1960s filmmaking activities of Andy Warhol, and of those, the shows that attracted the most interest were, not surprisingly, those that featured the legendary rock band the Velvet Underground. As big fans of the group, we attempted to show every known film they were in (including works from other filmmakers like Jonas Mekas and Ron Nameth).

Thus, we are quite excited to announce Velvet Underground Film Discoveries, an all-new program featuring two Velvet Underground films that are not only newly-restored, but whose existence was completely unknown until recently -- including one film with color, synchronous sound footage of the band playing live in Boston in 1967 (the only other live sync-sound footage of the band known to exist, capturing a long, untitled improvisation, is in The Velvet Underground and Nico, aka A Symphony of Sound, and was included in all of our previous VU screenings).

The second new film discovery was shot and edited not by Andy Warhol or Paul Morrissey, but by Danny Williams, a previously-obscure yet important figure in the early Warhol/Velvets scene. Thought to be a lover of Andy Warhol, Williams helped create the frenetic light shows for Warhol's multi-media experience "the Exploding Plastic Inevitable," which were centered around the Velvet Underground's dynamic performances.

There will be two complete screenings of Velvet Underground Film Discoveries (each screening includes both films), at 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm on Friday, November 12.

Admission is $7.00

As always with Secret Cinema events, the films will be shown using 16mm film (not video) projected on a giant screen.

Complete details of the individual films are as follows. Each screening will include both films.

The Velvet Underground in Boston (1967, sound, color, 33 mins. Dir: Andy Warhol)
This newly unearthed film, which Warhol shot during a concert at the Boston Tea Party, features a variety of filmmaking techniques. Sudden in-and-out zooms, sweeping panning shots, in-camera edits that create single frame images and bursts of light like paparazzi flash bulbs going off mirror the kinesthetic experience of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, with its strobe lights, whip dancers, colorful slide shows, multi-screen projections, liberal use of amphetamines, and overpowering sound. It is a significant find indeed for fans of the Velvets, being one of only two known films with synchronous sound of the band performing live, and this the only one in color. It's fitting that it was shot at the Boston Tea Party, as the Beantown club became one of the band's favorite, most-played venues, and was where a 16-year-old Jonathan Richman faithfully attended every show and befriended the group. Richman, who would later have his debut recordings produced by John Cale, and later yet record a song about the group, is just possibly seen in the background of this film.

Uptight #3 (1966, 60 mins. Edited by Danny Williams. Photographed by Danny Williams and Barbara Rubin)
During the early days of the Velvet Underground's collaboration with Andy Warhol, they began to experiment with multi-media performances called "Andy Warhol's Uptight," a predecessor to the Exploding Plastic Inevitable shows that were staged later in 1966. Around this time, a series of films were shot, possibly for use as background projections in the shows. This reel, recently discovered and restored, is the only one that was edited into a finished form. It was shot on January 27 & 28, 1966, and chronicles the appearance of the Velvet Underground on David Susskind's television show, long before they signed their record contract or were known to almost anyone. The footage, shot by VU light-show engineer Danny Williams and young experimental filmmaker Barbara Rubin (Christmas on Earth), includes scenes in the television studio and travelling on a bus. Besides the band, the "cast" includes many notable faces from the New York avant garde underground and Warhol's entourage, including Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders of the Fugs, Angus Maclise, Gerard Malanga, Paul Morrissey, and many more.

Danny Williams, who edited the footage shot by himself and Rubin, is just emerging as a rediscovered, previously-unchronicled yet crucial member of the early Warhol/Factory circle. Williams' filmmaking career got an auspicious start with his work as an editor for the Maysles brothers (notably on their 1964 documentary What's Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.). Soon after this he met Andy Warhol and became his boyfriend, moving into Warhol's Manhattan townhouse. He was put to work wiring the flashing, tension-inducing light shows that were a key element of the Velvet Undergound's performances, and also shot experimental reels using Warhol's own Bolex 16mm camera. These recently rediscovered films reveal an expert manipulator of in-camera editing and stroboscopic techniques. At age 27, Williams mysteriously vanished after visiting his family in Massachusetts, his borrowed car found next to the ocean but his body never found. Danny Williams' full story is told in the excellent 2007 documentary A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory, made by his niece Esther B. Robinson.


Secret Science and Bizarre Beliefs

with Stephen Parr at Moore

Friday, October 29, 2010
8:00 PM
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, October 29, the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design will kick off the Halloween weekend with an appropriately scary special program. Secret Science and Bizarre Beliefs is a mind-boggling collection of 1950s crackpot science films made by the world's strangest bible film producers, The Moody Institute of Science. Evangelist Erwin "The Million Volt Man" Moon stars in many of these eye-popping classroom films as he inhales helium, runs electricity through his body, makes metal float in space, experiments with electric eels and preaches god's creationist "intelligent design" ideology.

Secret Science and Bizarre Beliefs was compiled by guest programmer Stephen Parr, of San Francisco's Oddball Films, a screening series and stock footage house specializing in the offbeat and outré. Parr, who will be present at the screening to introduce the films and share his research on the Moody Institute, will be in Philadelphia to attend the conference of the Assocation of Moving Image Archivists -- an international gathering of film preservationists and scholars that will descend on our city the following week.

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Program notes by Stephen Parr:

Erwin Moon got his start In 1938 when he began traveling as a full-time as evangelist demonstrating his "Sermons From Science" under the auspices of The Moody Bible Institute. The next year, with the help of businessmen from San Francisco, a SFS pavilion was built at the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair. For nine months, Moon presented up to eight demonstrations each day, seven days a week. The crowds were so large that demonstrations began hours prior to the scheduled time because early arrivals had filled the auditorium while others waited outside. With more than two tons of equipment, most of it homemade, Moon performed such wonders as frying an egg on a cold stove, lighting a bulb on his bare fingers, and allowing one million volts of electricity to smash through his body. Following the presentation he asked, "Can you believe these miracles are the result of chance or accident? Or are they part of a divine pattern?"

In 1945 The Moody Institute of Science was founded with a two-pronged evangelistic approach incorporating films and live demonstrations. Operating on a shoestring budget, The Moody Institute of Science staff would remodel war surplus material and invent and build the equipment to perform live demonstrations and produce films. More than 6 million people have seen their live demonstrations at the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair, the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, the 1967 Montreal World's Fair and many more fairs and expositions. Their classroom science films were marketed to schools and churches across the United States and their biblical subtext hit the viewer over the head with the proverbial hammer of faith, far predating today's "debate" over "intelligent design". Tonight's program features a sample of some of the quirkiest gems from the Oddball Moody Science collection.

Program highlights include the following short films, all in color unless noted:

Blind as a Bat (1956) - The Moody Science bat truck goes on location to study the secrets of bat navigation. Their in-house mammal abuse experiments show us the science of bat radar. An Oddball screening favorite.

Freedom in Flight (1972) - Man's Law or Natural Law? This unusual aviation film compares the rules of man to the laws of god. Flying a Beechcraft Twin Bonanza plane around the world, Irwin Moon and son guide us through macabre audio of a pilot losing direction in mid air and crashing, a surreally blindfolded gymnast totally losing his sense of direction in an equilibrium experiment, an interview with astronaut John Glenn, and the mysterious story of the Lady Be Good, the WWII bomber lost in the Libyan desert. The inevitable end sums up the film's point of view as Moon honks: "It is only because of these laws, both man made and god given, and because of man's submission to them. that he has been able to make meaningful progress in his search for true freedom, both in the air and in his personal life."

Mystery of Time (1957) - Watch Erwin Moon demonstrate the theory of relativity -- in 15 minutes!

The Electric Eel (1954) - Irwin Moon shows us the electric eel and demonstrates its amazing abilities to shock fish for food and to use "radar" to find them. Don't miss the scene where he illuminates a florescent light tube using his eel then jolts his staff!

Facts of Faith (1956) - Mind-blowing science experiments showcase Moon running thousands of volts of god's creation though his entire body. A stunner!

Snowflakes (1956) - "Snow, given to us by the hand of god" Brilliant Kodachrome snowflake crystals. God made these!

Plus...rare clips from the 1950s B+W kinescope of Science in Action shot at the California Academy of Sciences; includes the Animal of the Week! Also a rare silent clip of the quack science short Sun Healing: The Ultra Violet Way with Life Lite.

About Stephen Parr
Stephen Parr's cinematic and sound experiments began in the 70s when he was artist -in-residence at the Experimental Television Center in Binghamton, NY. He also videotaped performers as diverse as John Cage and the Ramones, later creating unique signature montages that screened around the world. From New York's club Danceteria to the Moscow Cinemateque his burlesque dancers and female contortionists gyrated over teeming tornadoes and atomic disasters. His programs have explored the erotic underbelly of sex-in-cinema ("The Subject is Sex"), the offbeat and bizarre ("Oddities Beyond Belief"), the pervasive effects of propaganda ("Historical Hysterical"!) as well as his last film Euphoria! which premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Recent projects include visual cinematic for the group "Grass Widow" and "Cafe Cinemette", a program of coffee inspired films. His ongoing cinema/sound exploration "Sonic Oddities" has been performed with live musicians such as Bodhan Hilash's avant garde group 4FiveVI, the late Rod Poole and Evidence for the King. His films have screened at the World Music Festival, The Belfast Film Festival, The Leeds International Film Festival, The Anthology Film Archives, and many other theaters around the world. He is the director of Oddball Film+Video.

About Oddball Films
Oddball Films is the film programming component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, and clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world. Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educationals, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We're actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant garde and ethno-cultural documentaries which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us for our award-winning weekly offerings of offbeat cinema when in San Francisco,

Press:
thebolditalic.com
San Francisco Bay Guardian
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Rare films from Fairmount Park archive

at historic Victorian museum site

Saturday, October 23, 2010
7:30 pm (doors open 5:30 pm)
Admission: $7.00

Ryerss Museum & Library
Burholme Park
7370 Central Avenue, Philadelphia
215-685-0544

Last year, Rob Armstrong of the Fairmount Park Historic Resource Archive called upon the Secret Cinema to help in viewing some mysterious 16mm films that were collecting dust on the archive's shelves. The films proved to be quite interesting, and it was decided that this discovery should be shown to the public as soon as possible.

On Saturday, October 23, the Secret Cinema will present Fairmount Park Film Treasures, a program of short films about various aspects of Philadelphia's Fairmount Park system, dating from the 1950s through the 1980s.

The site of this one-time only special event will be the historic Ryerss Museum and Library, in Burholme, the beautiful 1859 mansion that served as the opulent summer retreat of Joseph Waln Ryerss, in Northeast Philadelphia's Fox Chase neighborhood. The museum features period rooms with Victorian furnishings, as well as galleries showcasing art objects collected by Ryerss family members in their travels around the globe. The property was gifted to the city of Philadelphia in 1905, and the museum and library have operated continuously since 1910, under the administration of the Fairmount Park Commission. The museum and surrounding park are convenient to transportation by train, bus and car, with ample free parking.

Doors open at 5:30 pm, allowing time to tour the museum. The screening begins at 7:30 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Highlights of Fairmount Park Film Treasures include:

A Day with the Fairmount Park Mounted Patrol (c. 1960, Dir: George Smith and Charles Bender) - Between 1867 and 1972, the Fairmount Park system was patrolled by the Fairmount Park Guard, an elite park police force separate from the Philadelphia Police Department. This charming amateur production, produced by home movie hobbyists within the Fairmount Park Mounted Unit, humorously depicts a typical day in the life of the Park Guard as they patrol Fairmount Park...and keep the park safe from litterbugs and perverts!

A Japanese House (1955, Produced by Sidney Peterson for the Museum of Modern Art) - The Japanese House was constructed in Japan in 1953, and transported to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City in 1954, to illustrate aspects of Japanese architecture that have influenced modern theories of design. In 1957 it was once again moved, this time to West Fairmount Park, where it stands today. This lyrical film depicts the original installation of the Japanese House (Shofuso), familiar to today's Fairmount Park visitors, in its original MOMA setting by Japanese craftsman. Filmmaker Sidney Peterson was famed in the avant garde world for pioneering works like The Potted Psalm, but this documentary's directorial credit was reserved for "The Department of Architecture and Design" at MOMA.

Journey of a Philadelphia Zoo Sculpture (c. 1962, Ralph Lopatin Productions) - Heinz Warneke's granite sculpture called Cow Elephant and Calf was designed for the Philadelphia Zoo and created in Norway. This archival footage depicts the massive sculpture arriving on a ship, driven on an open truck through Philadelphia's streets, and finally installed by the artist at the Philadelphia Zoo, where it can be seen today.

The Valley Green (1981, Dir: Jeff Farber) - In his 1844 essay "Morning on the Wissahiccon," Edgar Allan Poe wrote: "Now the Wissahiccon is of so remarkable a loveliness that, were it flowing in England, it would be the theme of every bard, and the common topic of every tongue..." This film, produced nearly 30 years ago (and 137 years later) by the Friends of the Wissahickon, offers a tour of the sights and sounds of the Wissahickon Creek, as it winds through Montgomery County and into Philadelphia. Along the way there are discussions of environmental and conservation issues with urban planners, developers and park officials


Science-fiction film series continues at

Chemical Heritage Foundation

with Things to Come

Wednesday, October 13, 2010
6:30 pm
Admission: FREE

Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
(215) 925-2222

Throughout this year, the Secret Cinema is teaming up with the Chemical Heritage Foundation to present a science-fiction film series. The occasion is to celebrate the CHF Museum's exhibit "Marvels and Ciphers: A Look Inside the Flask." The exhibit, which opened March 1, is described as being "about reactions -- not chemical reactions -- but ordinary human reactions to chemical phenomena." The accompanying film series will explore depictions of public reaction to scientific debate and discovery, through science-fiction films of the past, both notable and obscure.

The film screenings will take place in the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum's spacious auditorium. The features will be preceded by rare short science films from the Secret Cinema archive, and will be followed by discussions led by local humanities experts. Free popcorn and refreshments will be provided.

Each screening begins at 6:30 pm, and best of all, admission is free. The CHF Museum will stay open late on screening days (continuously from 10:00 am through showtime), allowing audience members a chance to take in "Marvels and Ciphers" and other exhibits.

Details for the third screening appears below:

Wednesday, October 13 - 6:30 pm
Things to Come (1936, Dir: William Cameron Menzies)
"Science? It's an enemy of everything that's natural in life!"
Quite simply, Things to Come is one of the most important and intelligent science fiction films ever made. The scope and ambition of what was put on screen by producer Alexander Korda, director William Cameron Menzies, and the great author H.G. Wells (contributing his own screenplay, for the first time) -- in both stunning visual effects and provocative political message -- have not been surpassed in the last 74 years of filmmaking. Among its numerous ideas that proved prophetic, Things to Come predicted the coming World War and blitz bombing of London (here called "Everytown"). The story depicts the aftermath of senseless, decades-long warfare which turns the world into an apocalyptic chaos, until a super-intelligent group called the Airmen, representing "law and sanity," use science to end war and build a technological utopia. Menzies, who had won the first Oscar for art direction, created magnificent sets depicting a truly fantastic looking art deco vision of a streamlined future technocracy. The cast, headlined by Raymond Massey as the cool-headed leader of "the freemasonry of scientists" and (Sir) Ralph Richardson as the bombastic, narcissistic warlord, are excellent, while the sophisticated dialogue renders today's CGI-driven sensations embarrassing in comparison.

Things to Come's copyright lapsed into the public domain long ago, resulting in a flood of poor quality, multi-generational film and video copies denigrating this classic film. We will be projecting a rare, high-quality original film print.

Followed by a discussion led by Oliver Gaycken, Assistant Professor, English, Temple University.

(Our final program in this series will be on Wednesday, November 10; details to be announced soon).


From Philadelphia with Love 2010 at Moore

(National Film Registry edition, featuring The Jungle)

Saturday, September 11, 2010
8:00 PM
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design will launch its fall season with a new edition of From Philadelphia with Love, our ongoing investigation of industrial, educational and other lost local films. In addition to digging up a fresh batch of these hometown cinematic rarities, we'll feature a very special repeat showing of the remarkable 1967 short film The Jungle -- in recognition of it's addition last year to the prestigious National Film Registry.

When we chanced upon a 16mm print of this title about six years ago, we were fascinated. The Jungle was made not by professionals, but by the members of an actual North Philadelphia street gang, in order to tell their own story unfiltered, in an ultra-gritty documentary style. We then located Harold Haskins, the inspired social worker who instigated the project, and soon put together a special program called City of Brotherly Crime that many will recall. It included a screening of The Jungle, followed by a spirited discussion with Haskins and several of the surviving gang/crew members present.

But we felt The Jungle merited greater recognition, and thus began lobbying to have it added to the National Film Registry. This list of important films, created by an act of Congress, honors 25 films each year to be preserved for future generations. Through allies in the archive community and "orphan films" movement, The Jungle was placed under consideration for the Registry, and the Secret Cinema's print was eventually shown to voting members of the board at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Science screening room. On December 30, 2009, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced the names on the newest list of films officially designated as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant"...and that list included The Jungle (alongside Dog Day Afternoon, Winsor McCay's 1911 animation of Little Nemo In Slumberland, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video and 21 other choices).

While this news circulated around the world, there has been surprisingly little coverage of this event in Philadelphia. Perhaps our September screening will help change that.

On Saturday, September 11, we'll proudly present From Philadelphia with Love 2010. In addition to our spotlight on The Jungle, the program will also include an all-new selection of other local film shorts from the past.

Project director Harold Haskins, today a recently-retired administrator for the University of Pennsylvania, will be present at our screening to discuss making The Jungle.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

While most area residents are familiar with Philadelphia films such as Rocky, Trading Places, and the works of M. Night Shayamalan, there is a whole world of locally-made films that has been forgotten -- the "ephemeral" short films that were primarily made by small independent companies for the then-booming non-theatrical market. While most school districts, television stations and traveling salesman have long ago discarded their 16mm film projectors, we at Secret Cinema have not, and are proud to present a look back at these celluloid time capsules that would otherwise not be seen again.

Just a few highlights of From Philadelphia with Love 2010 are:

The Jungle (1967, Dir: Charlie "Brown" Davis, David "Bat" Williams, Jimmy "Country" Robinson) - If The Jungle looks different from other filmed depictions of gang life, there is a reason: Every aspect of its creation, from the script to its photography, editing and acting was manned by the young members of a real Philadelphia street gang. Project director Harold Haskins was an eager young social worker when he approached the 12th & Oxford Street Gang and convinced them they should try to make a movie. The result is a completely inside view of this usually hidden world, with authentic depictions of their unique social codes, activities, fashion and music (the soundtrack includes an early street-corner rap about the joys of cheap wine). Soon the gang was transformed into the 12th & Oxford Film Makers Corporation, presenting their work around the world and committed to positive change in their community. Yet, their cameraman, specially trained for this project, was later slain by a rival gang jealous of their filmmaking success. Hear the incredible story of this one-of-a-kind film, when Harold Haskins recounts its making over four decades ago.

Westside Store (1982) - An interesting contrast to The Jungle is this fun, color film that presents a very different view of supposed gang activity. Though this film shows some incredibly squalid North Philly streetscapes, the multi-racial, mixed-gender members of the fictitious "Seveners gang" (of 7th & Indiana Streets) seem to have been cast right out of a Benetton fashion ad! They pool their efforts and meager assets to start a thrift store and learn about responsibility.

Kid Gloves (1951, WCAU) - We'll show excerpts from this rare kinescope of a long-forgotten live TV show -- in which little kids compete in fierce boxing matches! See "two scrappy 9-year-olds," Irish Joe Gallagher versus Andy Fineman; see all 48 lbs. of 5-year-old Joltin' Joe Sidario...they may be small but they pull no punches! They sometimes cry, however.

Is a Career in the Hotel or Motel Business for You? (1972, Dir: Ralph Lopatin) - This guidance-counseling school film, made for the Department of Defense, introduces kids to an assortment of different jobs possible in the lodging industry. Along the way, it documents a near-complete catalog of long-gone Delaware Valley hotels and motels (plus a precious few that survive today), as well as equally extinct fashions and some hideous corporate design. See the Adelphia Hotel, Ben Franklin Hotel, Penn Center Inn, Marriott (with Kona Kai restaurant), Oasis Motel, Rickshaw Inn, and many more.

I & E Sports Reel clip (1957, Office of Armed Forces Information & Education) - In this short segment from a newsreel made by the military, we'll see highlights of a swimming and diving competition that was held at Fairmount Park's Kelly Pool, long before a hairy-backed Mayor Ed Rendell staged a photo opportunity in its previously clear waters.

...plus more!


1933 documentary This Nude World

at RUBA Club

Friday, July 9
10:00 pm
Admission: $10.00 ($9.00 for Philadelphia Cinema Alliance members)

RUBA Club
414 Green Street, Philadelphia
(behind Silk City Lounge)
215-627-9831

On Friday, July 9, The Secret Cinema and Philadelphia Q-Fest will present This Nude World, a rarely-seen 1933 documentary on the then-largely unknown phenomenon of nudism. The film offers a fast-moving travelogue of nudist colonies around the world, from upstate New York to more exotic locales in France and Germany. And while this may seem unexpected in a film from so long ago, This Nude World does show extensive nudity, with revealing scenes of naturalists of both genders and various ages. Before the feature, there will be a bonus short subject, Boy with a Knife.

The screening will take place at the historical RUBA (Russian United Beneficial Association) Club, the former ethnic social club located just behind the Silk City Lounge at 414 Green Street in Northern Liberties.

The RUBA Club is producing a special preliminary program of "nudist-themed" live skit comedy hosted by Christa D'Agostino, which starts at 8:30 pm in the downstairs cabaret. The Secret Cinema screening will follow at 10:00 pm in the rarely-opened upstairs ballroom.

Admission is $10.00 (or $9.00 for Philadelphia Cinema Alliance members). Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.qfest.com, or by phone at 267.765.9800, extension 4. Tickets can also be purchased at the screening.

A complete description of the feature appears below...

This Nude World (1933, Dir: Mike Mindlin)
Cult film buffs may be familiar with the cycle of "nudie cutie" exploitation films released in the wake of Russ Meyer's hugely successful The Immoral Mr. Teas, at the very end of the 1950s. These films offered many moviegoers their first filmed view of naked flesh, with many featuring unexpurgated views of nudist colonies. What is less known is that the same type of films were made over 25 years earlier. This Nude World is a prime example of this genre, and like the later films, was made chiefly to exploit scenes of naked bodies by very independent (and very low budget) filmmakers. It was probably distributed by just a few people who rented theaters and transported prints from town to town, staying one step ahead of the censors.

This Nude World was either directed or reedited from a German import by Mike Mindlin, (who the following year made an exploitation feature, Hitler's Reign of Terror, that was surely the first anti-Nazi film made in the U.S.A.). This Nude World features brisk editing, glib (and campy) narration, and a globe-trekking continuity as it travels from the Catskill Mountains through France and into Germany in search of sun worshippers. In each outpost of nudism, countless naked enthusiasts are shown in all their glory, both male and female (as well as children). Along the way, more traditional travel scenes are shown as well, setting a backdrop for the different cultures where the movement had taken root.

Including an American nudist camp in this film was significant, for while the naturalism movement began in Europe around the turn of the century, the first known permanent nudist camp in the U.S. opened just the year before this film was shot. The controversial periodical The Nudist (later renamed Sunshine & Health) appeared on newstands also in 1933, and the nudist lifestyle continued to spread and flourish. This Nude World, a quickie exploitation film made to cash in on headlines, likely provided inspiration for new recruits to the lifestyle, at least among those who managed to see it in its original limited release.


Screened Out: Gay Images On Film

with film historian Richard Barrios in person

Wednesday, July 14,
7:15 pm
Admission: $10.00 ($9.00 for Philadelphia Cinema Alliance members)

The William Way Center
1315 Spruce Street, Philadelphia
(215) 732-2220

On Wednesday, July 14, The Secret Cinema and Philadelphia Q-Fest will present the unique talk and screening Screened Out: Gay Images On Film, featuring author and film historian Richard Barrios in person. This special event is based on Barrios' detailed, witty book Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood From Edison to Stonewall, which looks at portrayals of sexuality throughout the classic era of Hollywood cinema.

There will be one complete program, starting at 7:15 pm.

Admission is $10.00 (or $9.00 for Philadelphia Cinema Alliance members). Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.qfest.com, or by phone at 267.765.9800, extension 4. Tickets can also be purchased at the screening.

Rapacious dykes, self-loathing closet cases, hustlers, ambiguous sophisticates, and sadomasochistic rich kids: most of what America thought it knew about gay people it learned at the movies. Using carefully selected, often-hilarious clips from a variety of film genres and categories (including cartoons and comedy shorts), Barrios will show how much gay and lesbian lives have shaped the big screen. Spanning popular American cinema from the 1900s until today, his presentation will provide a rich and entertaining analysis of how Hollywood has used and depicted gays and the mixed signals it has given us. Such iconoclastic images, Barrios argues, send powerful messages about tragedy and obsession, but also about freedom and compassion, even empowerment.

The rare film clips to be shown will include Edward Everett Horton seducing Douglas Fairbanks in Reaching for the Moon, Marlene Dietrich in sailor's suit drag in Seven Sinners, Hans Conreid as the prissy piano instructor of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, plus scenes from Caged, Screaming Mimi, The Boys in the Band, and many more. There will even be appearances by Bugs Bunny, Flip the Frog, and the Three Stooges!

As with all Secret Cinema screenings, the films will be shown using 16mm film (not video) projected onto a giant screen.

About Richard Barrios: After writing Screened Out, Barrios served as programmer and co-host of a month-long film series inspired by his book for the Turner Classic Movies cable network. His acclaimed earlier study, A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film, was recently re-published in a much-updated second edition. Barrios has written on film for the New York Times, provided commentary tracks for the DVDs of State Fair, The King and I, South Pacific and Words And Music, appeared in the PBS film Busby Berkeley: Going Through The Roof as well as numerous DVD documentaries, and lectured for the Library of Congress and American Film Institute. He was interviewed for the upcoming documentary feature Activist: The Times of Vito Russo, to be released in 2011. A native of Louisiana, Barrios lives just outside of Philadelphia.


Secret films from the

J.X. Williams Archive at Moore

Friday, May 7, 2010
Underworld Cinema: The Life and Works of J.X. Williams
8:00 PM
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, May 7, the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design will help shine a light into one of the most secret corners of cinema history, when we host a special presentation and film screening assembled by Noel Lawrence, curator of the J. X. Williams Archive. In Underworld Cinema: The Life and Works of J.X. Williams, Lawrence will give an illustrated talk on the previously lost work of this mysterious and legendary cult-film director. The program will also include several samples of Williams' films, including a screening of his best-known work, Peep Show.

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Numerous critics have proclaimed J.X. Williams as one of the most influential figures in American underground cinema as well as an innovative cult director for several notorious exploitation films produced in the 1960's and 1970's. Yet, his films are rarely exhibited today, due to legal issues and the poor condition of surviving prints. After a legal settlement in 1981 with several major film studios over copyright disputes, Mr. Williams moved to Zurich, Switzerland and retired from filmmaking. He is infamous for his reclusiveness and distaste for the public eye.

Archivist and film scholar Noel Lawrence has lectured about J.X. Williams at George Eastman House, Pacific Film Archives, The New York Underground Film Festival, as well as museums and universities worldwide. Lawrence has assembled programs for Other Cinema, a long-running experimental film series in San Francisco, and, along with director Craig Baldwin, founded Other Cinema Digital, a home video label for independent and documentary film.

Underworld Cinema: The Life and Works of J.X. Williams, will include the following films:

Peep Show (1965, 46:00) Chicago 1961. The Labor war between the Teamsters and the Seafarers is heating up and Union Cab Local #777 is caught in the frying pan...A passenger enters a taxi. Pulls a gun on himself. A backseat suicide? No. He just wants to talk. Needs a confessor. He's mobbed up. They've got a contract on him. Has one last story to tell. Fasten your seat belts for a wild ride through the mean streets of Chicago, the fleshpots of Hollywood, and the secret corridors of Washington where the real decisions are made. Hold your breath, shut your eyes and get ready for the Peep Show! - From a 1965 press kit for Peep Show, author unknown

Psych-Burn (1968, 3:00) 'Psych-Burn was what musicians call a 'contract-breaker'. ABC had given us some coin to make a few short films for a TV Pilot. Love-In Tonite was to be a psychedelic rock variety show with live performances, skits, and whatnot to cash in on the emerging hippie demographic. I quickly realized the show would be a disaster. So I decided to deliver the suits a farewell kick-in-the-butt called Psych-Burn' The best part was that they presented my film sight unseen at a board meeting about the new Fall Season. I heard some heads rolled over that one." - J.X. Williams (from the forthcoming documentary The Big Footnote)

Satan Claus (1975, 3:00) "In the mid-Seventies, I was working as a projectionist for this crummy movie theatre in downtown LA. The owner owed me six weeks back wages and when I ask him for the money, the scumbag has the gall to inform me that I'm getting laid off Christmas week. If he'd known my reputation for mischief, he might have thought twice about it. On my last day of work, I had to project a Christmas matinee for kids. Before the main feature, I added an unannounced opener to the program called "Satan Claus". I fled the theatre right after my film ended but I heard the owner had to refund the entire box office. Even then, several outraged parents filed a lawsuit against the theatre. Merry Christmas, you cheap bastard!" - J.X. Williams (excerpted from Sonny Jones' unpublished memoir Through a Lens Darkly: Reflections of a 'cine-spook')

The Virgin Sacrifice (excerpt) (1969, 9:00) "Before Virgin, I never put much stock in the idea of a 'cursed' production. Take a film like Incubus. Just cause the director's nephew died, the production company went belly up, and Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate attended the premiere....Those could all just be coincidences. But with Virgin, you could just smell the vapor of evil clouding the set. It didn't help that our chief investor was a ranking member of the Church of Satan. In the end, we tallied three OD's, a maimed-for-life set designer, bankruptcy, and a car bombing (sort of). Even the film itself disappeared. The film lab burnt down and we lost the negative. All I've got left is the nine minute opening to the main feature." - J.X. Williams (from the forthcoming documentary The Big Footnote).

J.X. WILLIAMS LINKS:

The J.X. Williams Archive

Interview with Noel Lawrence

Site for forthcoming J.X. Williams documentary


Rare noir feature & NYC film historian Richard Koszarski

at Moore College of Art & Design

Friday, April 30, 2010
"Hollywood on the Hudson"
8:00 PM - illustrated talk with Richard Koszarski
8:45 PM - Guilty Bystander (feature film)
Admission: $7.00 for all

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, April 30, the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design will host a special presentation on the long and colorful history of New York City filmmaking. "Hollywood on the Hudson" will include an illustrated talk by noted film historian Richard Koszarski, based on his book of the same name. Following the talk, Koszarski will introduce a rare screening of the 1950 independently made film noir feature Guilty Bystander, which was shot on location in various atmospheric Gotham locales..

Thomas Edison invented his motion picture system in New Jersey in the 1890s, and within a few years most American filmmakers could be found within a mile or two of the Hudson River. They needed the artistic and entrepreneurial energy that D. W. Griffith realized New York had in abundance. Most of them moved out as land and labor costs skyrocketed, yet many writers, producers, and directors continued to work there, especially if their independent vision was too big for the Hollywood production line. East Coast filmmakers -- Oscar Micheaux, Rudolph Valentino, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Paul Robeson, Gloria Swanson, Max Fleischer, and others -- quietly created a studio system without back-lots, long-term contracts or seasonal production slates. They substituted "newsreel photography" for Hollywood glamour, targeted niche audiences instead of middle-American families, and pushed the boundaries of motion picture censorship.

Richard Koszarski will bring this rich subject to life, using rare photos and film clips, in a talk based on his landmark study Hollywood On the Hudson: Film and Television in New York from Griffith to Sarnoff (which comes out in paperback just this month).

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

After the presentation, we'll project a rare print of this little-known film noir feature...

Guilty Bystander (1950, Dir: Joseph Lerner)
Zachary Scott stars as Max Thursday, the alcoholic house detective at a seedy hotel, who is spurred to action when his son is kidnapped. His quest takes him through various tawdry Lower East Side and Brooklyn locales, leading to a gang of smugglers working near the Gowanus Canal. The film was based on the first of a series of pulp novels featuring the Max Thursday character, and boasts a score by Oscar-winning composer Dimitri Tiomkin. The cast of this low budget, independent production includes Philadelphia-born Mary Boland, sweet-persona-ed character actress of many 1930s screwball comedies, in a change-of-pace role as a nasty flophouse owner. Curvaceous Faye Emerson, who plays the detective's ex-wife, had a minor career in movies but a bigger one in television -- perhaps related to a "wardrobe malfunction" that resulted in what are thought to have been the first exposed breasts on a live telecast. "Heightened by the use of locale, Guilty Bystander is able to portray a world populated by losers." - Bob Porfirio, Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style.

Richard Koszarski is an associate professor of English and film studies at Rutgers University, and the editor-in-chief of Film History: An International Journal. His books include The Man You Loved to Hate: Erich von Stroheim and Hollywood and An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture. He is also the secretary of the Fort Lee Film Commission. In 1991, he was awarded the Prix Jean Mitry by the Giornate del cinema Muto "for safeguarding and apprising the cinematographic patrimony."


The Secret Cinema presents short films

about community for "Love It" fundraiser

Saturday, April 17th
Doors at 7 PM, Films at 8 PM
Admission: by donation*

*We at the Secret Cinema have not been informed if there will be a minimum suggested donation, but we suspect that if there is one, it will be modest.

Ukrainian League of Philadelphia
800 North 23rd Street, Philadelphia
(215) 684-3548

The Ukrainian League of Philadelphia, located in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia, will be the site of a special party called Love It: Celebrating Ten Places We Want You To Love on Saturday, April 17th. The event celebrates a new mural by artists Jeffrey Wright and Thom Lessner, which itself celebrates ten notable and local non-profit organizations that do good things for Philadelphians.

Admission is by donation, and funds will be collected on behalf of your favorite organization of the group of ten. All proceeds will go directly to the organizations, which are: Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS,) Indie Hall, Girls Rock Philly, West Philly Tool Library, Mill Creek Farm, Mazzoni Center, Breadboard, Free Library of Philadelphia, Smith Kids' Play Place, and Mighty Writers.

As part of the proceedings, the Secret Cinema will present a special program of "Short Films About Community" -- rare documentaries and educational films culled from the Secret Cinema archives. This program is still being assembled, but a few titles likely to be shown include The Welfare, The Crofters, Helpers in the Community and It Takes Everybody to Build This Land.

Just a few of the highlights of the film program are:

It Takes Everybody to Build This Land (1951) - This unusual educational film tells the story of "our basic interdependence," by showing various workers in industry and agriculture, and weaving their stories together through the voice of "Oscar Brand, American Folksinger." Brand, a nationally prominent performer since the 1940s, hosted radio and TV programs of American folklore (some of which featured a young Bob Dylan).

The Welfare (1966, Dir: Ernest Rose) - A documentary focusing on the different players trying to make the best of the public welfare system, from the overworked bureaucrats to the struggling single mothers attempting to better their troubled lives. The Welfare was shot in semi-verite style in vogue throughout the 1960s (though it does have narration), and gives revealing views of a pre-gentrified San Francisco.

Helpers in the Community (1958) - This educational short was a typical product of Coronet Films, perhaps the most prolific maker of "social guidance" school films during the baby boom era. Esquire magazine publisher David Smart reportedly started Coronet after observing the Nazis' use of propaganda film in the 1930s. This film, which was designed to be shown in grades 1-3, gave children a primer on the contributions to society by various members, from authority figures/protectors like police and firemen, to more ordinary workers like milkmen and switchboard operators.

The Crofters (1944, Dir: Ralph Keene) - Crofting is a unique form of cooperative land tenure which became popular in Scotland in the 19th Century. This film is one of three titles in the Pattern of Britain series, produced for the Ministry of Information in the latter half of the war. Superbly photographed and using complex off-camera narration, it was set in the small crofting township of Achriesgill in Sutherland. The community of crofters is seen working together in the difficult work of peat harvesting and shearing sheep by hand. A review in the Monthly Film Bulletin of the British Film Institute noted that, "The musical accompaniment, though pleasant in itself, is a hindrance to concentration."

Emperor Norton (193?) - John Hix's Strange as it Seems series was a long-running rival to Ripley's Believe it or Not -- in comic strips, a radio program, and at least two different short film series. This episode depicts the legend of John Norton, an eccentric character of old San Francisco who in 1859 declared himself "Emperor of these United States." Beloved in his community as a harmless and good-natured soul, the entire city humored his illusions and treated him with great respect.

There will also be a 4-6 PM open house at event partner Breadboard/Next Fab Studio (3711 Market Street Ground Floor) All are welcome to stop by to take a look at the facilities and talk to their members and staff.

You should RSVP to attend, as follows: Text "LOVE" and the name of your favorite organization to 44144. The organization that receives the most votes wins a very special prize.

Raffles! Info! Movies! Refreshments!


Curator's Choice 2010: Unseen Corners

of the Secret Cinema Archives

Friday, February 26, 2010
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

Against all odds (and, perhaps, common sense), the Secret Cinema continues to acquire old films, on a fairly regular basis. Films of every category and genre, and from all eras, are constantly being added to the shelves of the Secret Cinema archive -- sometimes faster than we can watch them.

But watch them we eventually do, and many gems invariably turn up, which in turn are collated into future screenings within the various themes we've explored over our eighteen-year history. However, many great finds that we are eager to share fit into no obvious programming concept. When enough of these pile up, we do a "potpourri" program (though not very frequently; the last one was nearly two years ago).

On Friday, February 26, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will present Curator's Choice 2010: Unseen Corners of the Secret Cinema Archives. This hand-picked program of nearly-lost treasures from the deepest depths of the Secret Cinema film vaults will include just that -- films never shown before by us, and for that matter, probably 100% guaranteed to have never been seen before by any of the audience.

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

The program is still being assembled, but just a few highlights are:

The Sound and the Story (1956, Jam Handy Productions) - This industrial film was made for RCA Victor, a company that began as the Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, New Jersey. It shows in fascinating detail the complete process of making vinyl phonograph records, from the recording, through the mastering, pressing and packaging of the disks.

What is Modern Art? (1948, William Reithof Productions) - This low-budget yet effective Kodachrome production, shot at the Museum of Modern Art, aims to answer an age-old question, by showing a provocative discussion between an intellectual artist and a pretty young photographer who is baffled by the works of Picasso and Dalí. Screen actors Vladimir Sokoloff and Neva Patterson star.

Wendell Wilkie campaign films (1940, Produced by the Republican National Committee) - These rare 16mm prints, struck during Wilkie's 1940 presidential run against F.D.R., were likely originally projected in meeting halls throughout the land, in a pre-television era. By modern standards, Wilkie was a relatively progressive Republican who ultimately supported many of Roosevelt's policies, but that's hardly clear from the strident tone of some of these films -- the non-stop ranting against the New Deal is remarkably similar to today's conservative themes.

Hollywood Screen Test (1937, Dir: S. Sylvan Simon, Universal) - This theatrical two-reeler gave movie audiences a look behind-the-scenes at the star-making process during Hollywood's golden age. A nervous young ingenue is guided through the filming of her first screen test by friendly technicians and handsome star Cesar Romero (famous to later audiences as The Joker on television's Batman). Director Simon (who portrays himself) had spent years filming actual screen tests at Warner Brothers before moving to shorts and feature films at Universal.

Plus Corvair in Action, The Mechanics of Love, Pasatiempos Españoles, and much, much more!

The Secret Cinema's private archive contains literally thousands of reels of 16mm (and 35mm, and 8mm) features, theatrical shorts, cartoons, newsreels, television shows, educational films, travel films, industrial films, and home movies. Together, they add up to well over one million feet of often rare celluloid, with several prints thought to be the only extant copies in the world.

Some popular Secret Cinema programs get repeated over the years, to expose them to new audiences; other program ideas have been reused but with new/different films. Curator's Choice 2010 falls in the latter category. This is only the fourth outing for the Curator's Choice concept. We have never shown any of these actual films ever before.


The Secret Cinema and A/V Geeks present

A Medical Film Cabinet of Curiosities

Saturday, January 23
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Saturday, January 23, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will present A Medical Film Cabinet of Curiosities.

Medical films comprised one of the earliest film genres, but the majority of these films are unseen and unknown today. A Medical Film Cabinet of Curiosities will present various categories of medical films: actualities and documentations of surgical procedures, training films for health professionals, and hygiene tutorials for children and teenagers. These short films date from the 1920s through the 1980s, and display a wide range of filmmaking approaches, from quaintly dated or sweetly entertaining, to in-your-face explicitness and hide-your-eyes gore.

There will be one complete screening at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

This special screening will be the closing event of the four-day Medical Film Symposium, which will present screenings, presentations and papers by scholars and archivists from across the nation and globe, in venues throughout Philadelphia. The Moore screening is open to the general public as well as to symposium registrants. Information on the rest of the symposium can be found at: www.medicalfilmsymposium.com

A Medical Film Cabinet of Curiosities is co-programmed by Jay Schwartz of the Secret Cinema and Skip Elsheimer of North Carolina's A/V Geeks, who will be present at the screening. This will be Skip's first return visit since he presented his popular program S is for Sissy! at Moore, just over one year ago.

The program will include:

The Feet (1920s) - This reel, from the earliest era of 16mm educational films, aims to explain the physiology of feet and how to best take care of them. It demonstrates through x-rays how the well-dressed young flapper of the time often did not choose the best footwear. Made with the cooperation of M.I.T. and the American Posture League.

Cryoextraction (195?) - A sales and demonstration film showing off the Thomas Cryopter -- a device which resembles a power router, which is then shown in use for eye surgery.

Ro-Revus Talks About Worms (1971) - An amazing film about intestinal parasites made by the University of South Carolina, told by a frog puppet. This wacky character had a TV show on South Carolina Public Television in the early 1970s that supposedly became a cult hit with high school students.

Colds And Flu (1975) - Kids dressed in armor battle each other to seize control of a giant-mouthed castle.

Cell Wars (1987) - A lively introduction to immunology that shows kids how the body's cells defend themselves against invading germs. Crazy-costumed actors and dazzling video effects demonstrate what happens after germs enter the body through a skinned knee.

Achieving Sexual Maturity (1973) - At a time when Deep Throat played in neighborhood cinemas alongside traditional Hollywood fare, educators struggled as to how to best meet increasingly rebellious high school and college students on their own terms. It was during this possibly unique moment in pop culture that Achieving Sexual Maturity was successfully sold to school districts around the country. Its use of graphic live photography of nude males and females to explain and illustrate sexual anatomy from conception to adulthood is today quite surprising.

Non-Syphilitic Venereal Disease (195?) - This short film made for the medical community -- in still-stunning Kodachrome color -- details a variety of exotic venereal diseases, in close-up after horrifying close-up. This mainstay of Secret Cinema Halloween screenings is guaranteed to have audiences screaming in terror.

Just Awful (1972) - This film was made to help eradicate any fears children may have about visiting the school nurse.


Creepy Puppet Films at Moore

Friday, November 20
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

Puppetry is an age-old artform that has charmed and delighted both children and adults for countless generations. And, puppets have been a source of inspiration to filmmakers almost since the movies began.

So why do puppets become so...creepy, when filmed and projected on a giant screen?

On Friday, November 20, the Secret Cinema will attempt to answer that question -- or at least show our favorite examples of this peculiar genre of cinema -- when we present Creepy Puppet Films. Using assorted educational and entertainment shorts from past decades, we'll show films using hand puppets, marionettes, and stop-motion animated figures and claymation. Some were made by great masters of special effects like George Pal and Ray Harryhausen. Others were made by nameless hacks for forgotten educational film mills. Yet, they are all creepy.

Many Secret Cinema fans will recall our popular Creepy Christmas Films program of some years back. This will be similar, except that these are all puppet films, and minus the Yuletide theme (well, maybe we'll throw one of those in).

There will be one complete screening starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00

A few highlights of Creepy Puppet Films include:

Hansel and Gretel (1951, Dir: Ray Harryhausen) - This early work from stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen was from a series of animated fairy tale shorts in which he explored the techniques he would soon perfect in features like Jason and the Argonauts. Harryhausen began his experimentation as a teenager, shortly after being entranced by Willis O'Brien's pioneering special effects in King Kong.

Phillips Cavalcade (1942, Dir: George Pal) - George Pal's "Puppetoon" shorts showed a brilliant imagination and flawless stop-motion technique. This example also showed Pal's business savvy -- early on he made a series of sponsored films that were shown in theaters to promote Phillips shortwave radios, including this entertaining example.

Making Change (1970s, Dir: Unknown) - From the sublime to the hackneyed-beyond-belief: This short was made during the peak sales years of the 16mm educational film industry. It employs the crudest of stick puppets to teach money math skills to grade school kids.

Gumby: Hot Rod Granny (1957, Dir: Art Clokey) - Claymation superstar Gumby encounters a speed crazed senior citizen racing an animated plastic model kit roadster around the town.

Pirro and the Scale (1948, Dir: Alvin J. Gordon) - Marionette clown Pirro imparts a valuable lesson on weight and measurement. A 1951 guide book for teachers thought that "Pat Patterson, who created and manipulates the puppet, provides the running commentary, which is warm and pleasant at its best, at worst too nervously repetitive." That's part right.

...and much, much more!


The Secret Cinema to provide films at

Dead Milkmen Halloween gala at Trocadero

Saturday, October 31 (Halloween)
8:00 pm
$18.50 advance, $21 day of show

The Trocadero
1003 Arch Street, Philadelphia
215-922-6888

You may have read in the Philadelphia City Paper that this Saturday, October 31 -- Halloween -- the Secret Cinema will be bringing its 16mm projection equipment to the Trocadero nightclub (for the first time in many years). The occasion is a special Halloween concert with the Dead Milkmen and friends, and we will be showing assorted "scary" short films before and between the three bands that are playing that night. The Dead Milkmen have reunited for some scattered concerts around the country after a long time away. For about ten years they were Philadelphia's most successful and enduring band on the national alt-rock/punk rock/college radio/underground music circuit.

This message is not meant to convince you to attend this event. If you are mainly interested in the films, the ticket price might seem kind of high ($18.50 advance, $21 day of show). If you are a fan of the Dead Milkmen, you likely already have tickets (and if not, you might want to hurry and buy some!).

Instead, we send this message just to brag and say how happy we are to be supporting our friends...and to reminisce a little.

In the "pre-history" of the Secret Cinema, there were a handful of events that were trial runs for what developed into what SC ultimately became. Probably the most prototypical was a screening at Penn's Pi Lam fraternity house, around 1986-7, of the great "Swinging London" feature Smashing Time, plus assorted shorts and cartoons. The event was booked by future member of the Wishniaks Jim Moran, and timed to coincide with their weekly "happy hour" (yes, there was a time in America when college fraternities could promote regular free booze nights!). Most of the attendees passing through the doors were only momentarily distracted/confused by the movies showing near the entrance, which they quickly passed on their way to the open kegs in the basement. But sitting and enjoying the movies were a small handful of people, including, yep. the Dead Milkmen.

This led, some time later, to another experiment in 16mm film showing. The band was booked at the (now long-gone) Chestnut Cabaret, and asked me to bring my projector and show some of the same short films before their show...this time in front of hundreds of fans. The boisterous audience enjoyed the old cereal commercials, but asking them to get into films of 1940s swing music was probably a miscalculation on my part (though in fact, this very same reel was shown with good results this week at Ursinus College).

Our next project together was better received. Joe and Dave from the group had begun to play live in small clubs as "Ornamental Wigwam," a folky duo that actually pre-dated the Dead Milkmen. They felt that this act, which performed seated, needed another dimension to make it entertaining, and they wanted films projected on themselves. They wore white lab coats to make it easier to see the films, and we hung a screen as a background. I have fond memories of the three of us splicing random lengths of educational and industrial films in my kitchen for the set-long reel we pieced together (although ultimately, the parts that worked best with the music were longer uncut films about a river and the solar system). My table still has a mark where someone (I think me) spilled splicing cement on it that night. It was probably one of the last times I used cement (rather than tape splices), and I think it was the only time Dave Blood was in my home. I've come to like that the table still has this scar.

My one regret about Saturday's show is that Milkmen bassist Dave Blood will not be present. As many of you know, he took his own life in 2004, several years after the band originally broke up.

That said, we're lucky to have them back (and Dandrew Stevens does a great job filling in on bass). Sure, the Phillies are playing and the Spectrum is closing, but you could have no more fun this Halloween than to see the Dead Milkmen at the Troc.

Hope to see you there...

Jay Schwartz
The Secret Cinema

Here is the tentative schedule of activities for Saturday's concert:

8:00 pm - doors open
8:15 pm - Secret Cinema films
9:00 pm - Tough Shits
9:30 pm - Secret Cinema films
9:50 pm - Live Not On Evil
10:20 pm - Secret Cinema films
10:40 pm - Dead Milkmen

DEAD MILKMEN WEBSITE


The Secret Cinema comes to Ursinus College with

"History of the Film Jukebox" talk, film screening

Tuesday, October 27
7:00 pm
Admission: FREE

Musser Lecture Hall, Pfahler Hall
Ursinus College

601 E. Main Street, Collegeville, PA
(610) 409-3000

On Tuesday, October 27, the Secret Cinema will travel for the first time to Ursinus College to present "The History of the Film Jukebox." This multi-media presentation will include an illustrated talk by the Secret Cinema's Jay Schwartz on the early pop music clips known as "Soundies" and "Scopitones," as well as screenings of several examples of both.

As at all Secret Cinema events, the films will be projected using 16mm film on a giant screen (not video).

The presentation begins at 7:00 pm, and is open to the public. Admission is free.

Ursinus College is in Collegeville, Pa., about 30 miles Northwest of Center City Philadelphia, in Montgomery County.

About Soundies and Scopitones
Before MTV, before rock promo clips, indeed before rock and before video, there were rock videos. Well, not exactly, but beginning in 1941 people could see short visualizations of top performers singing hit pop songs, on small screens across the land.

What they were seeing were Soundies -- the 16mm film software that fed an exhibition network of thousands of film jukeboxes, conveniently placed in bars, restaurants and bus terminals. Patrons of these gathering spots would insert a dime into a large cabinet resembling an overgrown record jukebox, but with a glass rear-projection screen. Shortly after, a 16mm projection mechanism inside would rumble to life, and the lucky clientele would see what was probably their first moving image of performers they had previously only heard on the radio.

Some of these film clips were straightforward recordings of a visual and audio music performance, showing a band in a nightclub-like setting. Others were much more complex and imaginative, using multiple scenes, fantasy story lines, comic relief and sophisticated optical effects -- in other words, exactly like what would later be shown on MTV, except shot in black and white and featuring swing and pop music of the World War II era.

In the early and mid 1960s, the film jukebox concept was revived. A French device called Scopitone entertained viewers in both Europe and America. The Scopitone film clips, featuring performers both famous and obscure, are considered (like Soundies) one of the more important of the many predecessors to the modern rock video. Today they are quite scarce, and difficult to see in their original form.

The "History of the Film Jukebox" talk will be given by Secret Cinema director Jay Schwartz, who has now presented similar programs at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Columbia University in New York, the Festival Internacional de Cine de Gijon (Spain), the Benicassim music festival (also Spain), and the "Gimme Shelter" rock film festival in Athens, Greece.

The film screening will include rare jukebox clips with performances by Buddy Rogers, Yvonne De Carlo, Francis Faye, Paul Anka, Dion, Nancy Sinatra, Procul Harum and many more.


The Secret Cinema presents

Bookworms' Revenge at 215 Festival

Friday, October 2
9:00 pm (door/bar opens at 8:00 pm)
Admission: FREE

Philadelphia Society of Free Letts (Latvian Society)
531 N. 7th Street, Philadelphia

The Secret Cinema is excited to participate in, for the first time, the 215 Festival, Philadelphia's weekend-long celebration of the written and spoken word. We'll be presenting a special program called Bookworms' Revenge: Various Short Films on the themes of Reading, Writing, and General Nerdy Bookness.

It happens on Friday, October 2 at the multi-leveled Philadelphia Society of Free Letts (Latvian Society), at 7th and Spring Garden Streets. The films will be screened in the venerable hall's roomy upstairs ballroom.

Throughout the event, the Latvian hall's funky (and reasonably priced!) downstairs bar will be open and serving refreshments. Immediately after the films, stick around for the built-in after-party, featuring music by D.J. Joey Sweeney.

Best of all, admission is free.

The bar will open at 8:00 pm, and the film screening will start at 9:00 pm.

Secret Cinema fans will recall the Latvian Society as the site of our 2007 screening/author event Riot on Sunset Strip.

The 215 Festival is a celebration of the written and spoken word, and has been held in Philadelphia since 2001. This annual festival focuses on Philadelphia-based writers, performers, and word connoisseurs, along with special guests from outside our fair city. The 2009 Festival will be held October 2nd through 4th, with performances, parties, and revelry scattered throughout Philadelphia.

Details of other festival events can be found here

Just a few highlights of Bookworms' Revenge: Various Short Films on the themes of Reading, Writing, and General Nerdy Bookness are:

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: A Self Portrait (1975, Dir: Harold Mantell) - The late and great author is captured in his own words, in his home and walking around New York City.

Revenge of the Nerd (1983, Dir: Ken Kwapis) - Not to be confused with that Anthony Edwards feature film you're thinking of (that was made one year later, and with plural Nerds), this charming short film was initially seen on CBS' "Afternoon Playhouse" series. It follows a similar (if more concise) plot arc, however, with the titular hero using his superior skills with early microcomputers and other high-tech devices in an attempt to gain the respect of his intellectually inferior classmates.

How to Use the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature (1966) - Surfy guitar music and a spy movie plot enliven what might otherwise be a rather dry instructional film, about...well, you know exactly what it's about.

Grammar Rock (1973-4) - We'll unspool several episodes of this groundbreaking and much-loved short educational cartoon series, originally aired as add-on bits to regularly-scheduled Saturday morning television programs. Most feature the wonderful songwriting of Bob Dorough, and a post-psychdelic animation style that only could have been created during the early 1970s. If there's time, we may throw in Multiplication Rock as well.

...and much, much more!


Jazz & Swing Rarities at Moore

Friday, September 25
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, September 25, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will present Jazz & Swing Rarities, a program of short films from Hollywood's golden age showcasing musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Stan Kenton, Eubie Blake, Rodgers & Hart, and many others.

Jazz, America's own music, came of age roughly at the same time as the motion picture, and they have shared a long and fruitful history together. Many of the first experiments in synchronizing sound with movies were used to capture performances of early jazz musicians, and the first talking feature film starred Al Jolson as The Jazz Singer.

Jazz & Swing Rarities will include a variety of vintage short subject genres: straight performance films, musical shorts with dramatic and comedic plots, a cartoon with both animated and live-action jazz, and "Soundies" films produced for use in the Mills Panoram film jukebox of the early 1940s. The Secret Cinema has presented other programs in the past that have included these types of films, but most of the films to be included in Jazz & Swing Rarities will be making their Secret Cinema debut.

There will be one complete screening at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Just a few highlights Jazz & Swing Rarities are:

He Was Her Man (1929, Dir: Dudley Murphy) - The traditional 1870 murder ballad "Frankie & Johnny" has been sung by countless performers in the last 139 years (including Lena Horne, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley). It is also the basis for this early melodramatic musical short, easily the rarest offering of Jazz & Swing Rarities. Director Dudley Murphy had a singular career, working both in the avant garde (he collaborated, with Fernand Léger, Man Ray and Ezra Pound on the experimental classic Ballet Mécanique) and the Hollywood mainstream, where he excelled in films focusing on black characters (such as Paul Robeson's The Emperor Jones or the Duke Ellington short Black & Tan Fantasy). This early project for Paramount shows some of the techniques he would use in all these projects. At least two film history books (including the recent biography Dudley Murphy, Hollywood Wild Card) state that He Was Her Man is a lost film, but the Secret Cinema archive has recently acquired a very scarce 16mm print.

Makers of Melody (1929, Dir: S. Jay Kaufman) - This enjoyably corny piece of fluff features Great American Songbook composing superstars Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart playing themselves, being interviewed by a pretty reporter about how they wrote some of their classic songs. Their anecdotes are interrupted by performances of "Manhattan," "The Girlfriend" and "The Blue Room." Filmed against some very false-looking backgrounds at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Queens, New York.

Pie Pie Blackbird (1932, Dir: Roy Mack) - This surreal one-reeler packs a lot of crazy visuals and hot music into it's short length, starring ragtime innovator Eubie Blake and his Band, striking actress/singer Nina Mae McKinney, and the jaw-dropping tap dancing of young Fayard and Harold Nicholas. Made by Warner Brothers' Vitaphone division, whose short films captured countless performers otherwise lost to history. Many of the more interesting Vitaphone shorts were directed by Roy Mack, whose career deserves further exploration.

Minnie the Moocher (1932, Dir: Dave Fleischer) - Contemporary music was used to enliven every product of the film industry, and animated cartoons were no exception. Amongst the producers of cartoons, Max Fleischer was surely the most astute at following trends in American music. His various cartoon series are filled with hot jazz scores, and some series were based on music itself, such as the sing-along bouncing ball shorts that he invented (and patented). Besides using great music, Fleischer recorded and photographed early performances of several jazz legends, including Louis Armstrong, Rudy Vallee, the Boswell Sisters and Don Redman. This incredible entry in the Betty Boop series includes a filmed performance of jazz wild man Cab Calloway, as well as an animated walrus that was rotoscoped to copy Calloway's filmed movements.

Let's Make Rhythm (1947, Dir: Wallace Grissell) - The originator of the phrase "Wall of Sound," was not Phil Spector, but innovative West Coast band leader Stan Kenton, who stars in this mini-musical comedy with his orchestra and vocalists June Christy and the Pastels. Kenton and combo perform several samples of what he would label "progressive jazz," including "Down in Chihuahua," "Concerto to End all Concertos" and "Tampico." The romantic subplot is based on a returning sailor's infatuation with the attractive voice on the other end of a switchboard jukebox line, highlighting a long-extinct technology sure to surprise (or perhaps puzzle) modern viewers.

...and much much more!


Laurel & Hardy prison classic

at Eastern State Penitentiary

Friday, September 11, 2009
8:00 pm (doors open 7:00 pm)
Admission: $8.00

Eastern State Penitentiary
22nd & Fairmount Sts., Philadelphia
(215) 236-3300

Now entering our second decade of collaboration with popular tourist destination Eastern State Penitentiary, we will present our first screening there of an outright comedy film on Friday, September 11. That's when we'll unreel Pardon Us, the prison-themed (naturally!) first feature-length film to star beloved comedy duo Laurel & Hardy. One of the pair's best effort's, this will be a one time opportunity to see this classic film as never before -- inside a genuine prison, with real steel bars in the screening room echoing the scenes on screen in a unique twist on "3-D" movies.

Pardon Us will be shown with a prison-themed short film to be announced. There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Doors open at 7:00 pm, allowing the audience time to take a look at many new and existing museum exhibits at ESP. Admission is $8.00.

As always at our annual film screening at ESP, seating is limited, so early arrival is suggested (there's plenty to look at while you're there!).

Pardon Us (1931, Dir: James Parrott)
When Stan & Ollie get caught selling bootleg beer during the prohibition era this film was made in, they get sentenced to the big house, sharing a cell with the toughest convict in the joint. The comic misadventures find them mixed up in a jailbreak, a prison riot, and at one point they even resort to using blackface to hide from the law! This fast-paced film, starring the most famous comedy duo in movie history, still amuses after nearly 80 years.

When production started on Pardon Us, Laurel & Hardy and their employer Hal Roach Studios were arguably at the peak of their respective powers. The comedy team had effortlessly survived, and even thrived during the recent transition from silent to sound filmmaking. They had just made a series of classic shorts, and would make their Academy Award-winning film The Music Box in less than a year. Roach was the most savvy producer of comedy shorts in the business, not only with Laurel & Hardy, but with Our Gang and other series starring less-remembered but still brilliant comedy talents, like Charlie Chase, Thelma Todd and Max Davidson.

Pardon Us was originally going to be another two-reel short, but Roach convinced his distributor MGM to allow re-use of large sets left over from their prison drama The Big House. He was thus able to afford to make the first feature film with his biggest stars, filling it out with memorable scenes supported by familiar comedy talents from the Roach stock company, like James Finlayson, Walter Long, Charlie Hall and Tiny Sandford.

Eastern State Penitentiary, built in the 1820s, is a world famous historic landmark, which influenced the design of hundreds of other prisons. Closed as a working prison since 1971, the decaying structure, which once housed Al Capone and Willie Sutton, has become a popular tourist attraction and museum over the last decade. The film will be projected right inside the main prison building in a hallway just outside Capone's cell, surrounded by iron bars and ghosts of convicts past.


The Secret Cinema and the Galleries at Moore

celebrate bike culture with Bicycle Shorts

Friday, May 29
8:00 pm
(Gallery reception 6:00-8:00 pm)
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, May 29, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will present Bicycle Shorts, a program of vintage short films all about the bicycle. The screening will happen in tandem with the opening kickoff of the Galleries at Moore's new exhibition series "Bicycle: people + ideas in motion," celebrating various facets of local bike culture.

The Bicycle Shorts film program will include rare retro educational films on bike safety, as well as bicycle-focused documentary, drama, and even a musical short.

There will be one complete screening at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

There will be also be a gallery reception from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, open to all.

Just a few highlights are:

The Day the Bicycles Disappeared (1967) - By way of intriguing special effects, a town's population of bicycles ride off by themselves and announce they are on strike, until they can be convinced that local kids will adopt safer riding practices.

We Decide: Trade-offs (1978) - In what will likely prove to be a prescient educational film, a class must analyze and then vote on how to solve a serious problem in their school: a severe shortage of bike rack spaces!

I'm No Fool with a Bicycle (1955) - A colorful, animated history of self-propelled locomotion precedes a comical safety lesson, hosted by beloved Disney character Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards).

The Bike (1969) - When two young boys steal a neighbor's fancy new banana-seated bike for a joyride, it's just the beginning of their problems. A suprisingly compelling mini-drama, with then-unusual handheld camerawork from future Oscar-winning cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, a Philadelphia native and father of actress/singer Zooey Deschanel.

Bicycle Built for Two (1941) - A "Soundies" musical clip originally shown on coin-operated film jukeboxes, this features the Eton Boys belting out the title song (a.k.a. "Daisy Bell") in a barbershop quartet style that was already quite retro in 1941.

...plus much more.


Pop culture critic Thomas Hine in person at

'70s screening/talk The Great Funk

Friday, April 24
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, April 24, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will present a unique exploration into the style and meaning of 1970s design, called The Great Funk. The Seventies, though much-maligned, is the decade that will not go away, constantly referenced in movies (Boogie Nights, Almost Famous), television (That 70s Show), radio (oldies formats embracing disco), and advertising ("Survive the '70s?" Geico campaign). What forces have kept these loud, turbulent, and mismatched years in our consciousness?

The Great Funk will include the showing of Seventies short films and clips from the Secret Cinema archives, plus an illustrated talk and discussion with acclaimed pop culture critic Thomas Hine. Hine, whose first book Populuxe both defined a style and coined a new word, has recently written The Great Funk: Styles of the Shaggy, Sexy, Shameless 1970s, which just this month was released in paperback (yes, we borrowed the title).

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

The look of the Seventies will be revealed in rare films, including industrial propaganda, school films, television and feature clips, commercials, and trailers, all chosen for maximum visual impact.

Thomas Hine will present an introductory, illustrated talk, offer commentary between films, and answer questions from the audience.

We've dipped into the Seventies in many past Secret Cinema presentations, but this will surely be our most thorough, illuminating and entertaining look back at the double-knit decade -- a confused, confusing era that preached being "natural," yet often practiced a stylistic excess that seems more surreal with each passing year.

Thomas Hine writes on design, culture, and history. He is the author of five books, including Populuxe, the book which propelled his reputation as one of the world's most important and insightful analysts of pop culture. That title, coined by Hine to describe the style and enthusiasms of post-World War II America, has entered the American idiom and is now included in the American Heritage and Random House dictionaries. From 1973 until 1996, Hine was the architecture and design critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he wrote a weekly column called "Surroundings." He has worked as an adviser for museums across the country and contributes frequently to magazines, including The Atlantic, Martha Stewart Living, Architectural Record, and others. He lives in Philadelphia.

This month The Boston Globe commissioned Hine to write an article on current echoes of 1970s style, viewable here.

THOMAS HINE WEBSITE

FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX WEBSITE


Secret Cinema co-presents Films from the Urban Archives:

Secrets from Philadelphia's Past

Thursday, April 16
4:00 pm & 6:00 pm (different programs)
Admission: FREE

Lecture Hall
Samuel L. Paley Library
1210 W. Berks Street, Philadelphia
215-204-2828

On Thursday, April 16, the Secret Cinema will team up with Temple University Libraries' Urban Archives to present Films from the Urban Archives: Secrets from Philadelphia's Past. This event will be the first ever public screening of films held in this unique collection, comprised of the former news and public affairs film libraries of two Philadelphia television stations.

The Secret Cinema long ago added to its mission the collecting, documenting and exposing of lesser-known and rarely seen films made in the Philadelphia region. Thus, we are thrilled to help explore treasures from what is surely the city's largest film archive. The Television Audiovisual Collections of the Urban Archives consists of approximately 14,000 cans of 16mm film from WPVI (formerly WFIL) and KYW. They include both aired and unused news footage, original documentaries and other special programming. The footage dates back to 1947 (when WFIL-TV first went on the air) and continues through the early 1980s.

Our screening will take place in the Lecture Hall of Paley Library, in the center of Temple University's main campus. We will show two different blocks of film, each lasting approximately 90 minutes. The start times for each block is 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm.

Admission is free (photo ID is required to enter the library building).

The films to be shown are still being selected. In a hectic but fun collaboration, the staffs of Secret Cinema and the Urban Archives are pulling and checking items of potential interest that span the eras and subjects of the collection. Here are a few highlights that will be included:

Assignment: 1747 Randolph Street (1966) - A hard-hitting documentary from an ongoing series produced by WFIL-TV, this episode focuses on North Philadelphia's Ludlow neighborhood -- then awash with gangs, graffiti, abandoned homes, and violent crime. While many of these problems may now seem eternal, this close-up view of urban decay not yet taken for granted remains powerful and shocking.

The Electric Factory, news footage (1968?) - This reel of silent, outtake footage from a news report provides an invaluable look inside Philadelphia's legendary psychedelic rock ballroom, then located in a former tire warehouse at 22nd & Arch Streets. On display are lightshows, see-saws and sliding boards, clothing and face paint vendors, and coffin-like "body racks" for patrons in need of relaxation -- the one detail of the old club that was faithfully recreated in the much larger concert venue of the same name that opened in the 1990s. The original Electric Factory, which hosted concerts by Jimi Hendrix, The Mothers of Invention, The Who, and many other legends, closed forever in 1970.

Connie Mack Stadium closing, news footage (1970) - Another reel of outtake footage, showing the final game, fans removing seats, the man who stole home plate, and the final fan-made wreckage of the once proud baseball stadium in the calm of the following day.

The Spirit of Philadelphia: The Unending Renaissance (1966) - "By the end of the second World War, Philadelphia was a sick city." This documentary takes a hopeful look towards a better future, with looks at the redevelopment of Society Hill, Market East and Penn's Landing, archival scenes of the building of the Ben Franklin Parkway, and interviews with visionary city planner Ed Bacon.

Broad Street Station closing news footage (1952) - A nostalgic and sad view of the last train to leave Frank Furness' grand railroad station, with music played on board by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Plus much, much more.


The Secret Cinema presents early science films

in historic setting for Media, Pa.'s Second Saturday

Saturday, March 14
7:30 pm
Admission: FREE

Delaware County Institute of Science
11 Veterans Square, Media, Pa.
(610) 566-5126

The Secret Cinema will bring its roving film projectors to Media, Pennsylvania on Saturday, March 14, to present a program of early science films. The screening will take place in the historic 1867 lecture hall of the Delaware County Institute of Science, in downtown Media. The event coincides with Media's monthly "2nd Saturday" arts stroll -- as well as with Pi Day, an international celebration of math and science that happens annually on March 14 (or 3.14, an approximation of the mathematical constant that expresses the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter).

The short film program (running about 45 minutes) will feature an assortment of vintage "popular science" shorts, all shown from rare original 16mm prints. The films range from the silent era through the 1950s, and were made by early film companies such as Pathe, Urban-Kineto and Eastman Classroom films. Titles include The Mysteries of Science (1910s), Food and Growth (1930), and Our World in Review: Astronomy (1932), which provides an early look at the Mount Wilson Observatory.

The screening begins at 7:30 pm. Admission is free.

This event, and Media 2nd Saturdays, are sponsored by the Media Arts Council.

On the 2nd Saturday of every month, over 30 businesses on and around State Street in Media stay open late as part of a free arts event. From 6:00 to 9:00 pm, shops, galleries and cafes host local musicians or display the work of local artists. Visitors can stroll the friendly streets of Media and use M.A.C.'s map to find music, art and participating shops.

The Delaware County Institute of Science was formed on September 21, 1833 as an association of five individuals interested in sciences and natural history. Today, its historic 1867 headquarters in Media's Veterans Square houses a museum, library, monthly lectures and other special events.


Scopitone Party screening

and talk at Moore

Friday, February 27
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, February 27, The Secret Cinema will present Scopitone Party, a unique collection of music films from the early and mid 1960s. They were originally made for a French film jukebox called Scopitone, which entertained patrons in bars, cafes and bus stations in both Europe and America. The film clips, which feature performers both famous and obscure -- and are considered to be among the more important of the many predecessors to the modern rock video -- are today quite scarce, and difficult to see in their original form.

Shown will be a large assortment of the precious prints (most of which were discovered by a film collector, in pristine, never-used condition, in the long-warehoused inventory of a retired Virginia jukebox dealer). Adding interest to the Scopitone Party program will be a special talk about the history of film jukeboxes (which date back to the 1940s), illustrated with color slides of rare photos and original advertising materials.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

The talk will be given by Secret Cinema director Jay Schwartz, who has now presented the Scopitone Party program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Columbia University in New York, the Festival Internacional de Cine de Gijon (Spain), the Benicassim music festival (also Spain), and a rock film festival in Athens, Greece.

Scopitone Party will include performances by such well-known names as Dion, Nancy Sinatra, Paul Anka and Procul Harum. Also on view will be many French pop performers, including currently in retro-vogue names like Francoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, Michel Polnareff, Juliette Gréco, rockabilly-belting Johnny Hallyday, and doomed chanteuse Dalida. And then there are mystifying, bizarre clips by the British Elvis imitator Vince Taylor, a quartet of singing Jerry Lewis-types named Les Brutos, and even a few songs by performers whose names were lost to history.


EARLY EDUCATIONAL: Classroom Films of the Silent Era

(new 2009 edition) & live music at Moore

Friday, January 30
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, January 30, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will revisit an unusual program concept not tapped since we last used it in 2001: Early Educational: Classroom Films of the Silent Era. These ultra-rare reels, most of which haven't been seen in seven or eight decades, are still potent in their powers to entertain, amuse, and yes, educate modern-day viewers about a variety of subjects. The various short films, most of which were made in the 1920s, include now ancient travels to distant lands, historical dramatizations, looks at industry and nature studies.

And, just to keep things interesting, our 2009 edition of Early Educational will include no duplication of titles from our 2001 show. Most of the films have never been shown by Secret Cinema -- or anyone else, since the 1920s.

The prints to be projected, many of which are believed to be exclusive to the Secret Cinema archive, are mostly original prints (rather than restored or duplicated prints) dating to the time of the production, from pioneering companies such as Kodascope Libraries, Eastman Teaching Films, and Urban-Kineto. They are mostly in excellent condition, and many were made on tinted stock. The films will be projected at the correct speeds, with a live musical accompaniment from Don Kinnier.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Don Kinnier has played music for several previous Secret Cinema presentations of silent movies. Don is Pennsylvania's most prominent silent film accompanist, and has been plying his craft for over forty years. The Philadelphia native (now based in Lititz) has studied the techniques and repertoires of the original theater musicians of the silent era. Don recently played for our screening of Nanook of the North at the American Philosophical Society.

A few highlights of the program include:

Studies in Animal Motion (1922, British Instructional Films, Ltd.) - A seemingly random (though no less fascinating) assortment of animals are shown ambulating in normal and slow motion, including seagulls, flamingos, snakes, snails...and a boxing kangaroo, seen with his human sparring partner!

First Aid: Control of Bleeding (1932?, Eastman Classroom Films) - Made in cooperation with the Department of Biology and Public Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This film demonstrates the application of tourniquets to stop blood loss in various types of wounds, using simple animation as well as real models.

America's Little Lamb (1928, Fox Varieties, The World We Live In series) - Here's an example of how a Hollywood studio approach (i.e., lots of cute animals and corny subtitle copy) to an otherwise standard documentary about animals and industry can result in a releasable theatrical short. It was subsequently distributed to schools through the Kodascope rental library; their catalog entry promised that "in an unusually attractive portrayal, this film tells the story of a typical American range sheep...You'll like this picture."

Modern Basketball Fundamentals (1925, Eastman Classroom Films) - Basketball was a young sport when this instructional film was produced: metal hoops and backboards had replaced the game's original peach baskets just 19 years earlier, and the NBA was decades away from being formed. Vital passing and shooting skills are demonstrated in this film directed by legendary University of Kansas coach F.C. "Phog" Allen, who learned basketball while a freshman there directly from the sport's inventor, James Naismith.

Mendelsohn (1926, FitzPatrick Pictures, Famous Music Master series) - A fanciful dramatization of the famed composer's supposed inspiration for writing "The Wedding March," and a sweet love story as well. Producer James A. FitzPatrick became well-known as a leading producer of travelogues for MGM, but few have seen this earlier series, showcasing his flair for staging narrative scenes. We'll show a beautiful multi-tinted original print from the Universal Show-at-Home library.

PLUS In Rural Belgium, Monkeys of Asia, Ethyl Alcohol, and much, much more!


The Literary World of Frank and Eleanor Perry

at International House

Co-presented by Secret Cinema

Thursday, January 22 - Saturday, January 24
Co-presented by Secret Cinema

International House Philadelphia
3701 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 387-5125

Secret Cinema is co-presenting a three-day screening at International House, called The Literary World of Frank and Eleanor Perry. We'd like to take full credit for this great idea, but in fact our participation was really limited to making sure the series included the great David and Lisa, and finding a rare television drama made by the Perrys, The Thanksgiving Visitor.

However, I've been curious about these filmmakers for a long time (since seeing David and Lisa and the equally amazing Diary of a Mad Housewife), and this is a great opportunity to see some rarely shown films on the big screen.

From the plot description (and from the site of my original viewings of this film, in school auditoriums), David and Lisa sounds potentially less than exciting. Two lonely, mentally-disturbed teenagers meet in a residential home for their kind, and form a romantic bond. Sounds like a TV movie-of-the-week, something that gets shown because it's good for you, educational about an important cause, and probably full of cliches?

David and Lisa is the opposite of such a film. It's incredibly entertaining, fun, funny, offbeat, weird and psychotronic (and indeed, is viewed as politically incorrect by some modern mental health experts). It features a stunning pair of performances from its young leads, especially Keir (2001) Dullea, seen here in only his second feature film, in the full-on, intense, nervous mode he was so good at). It has striking black and white photography. It has surrealist nightmare sequences worthy of Dali. If all that weren't enough reason to see it, it's a low-budget, independent production shot in the Philadelphia area 46 years ago, with key scenes taking place in the art museum!

We've never seen the other two features (Ladybug Ladybug and The Swimmer) but they both enjoy strong reputations as original (and bizarre) works. I'm looking forward to seeing them both.

Below is International House's program notes for the series, with a few added notes from me.

Jay Schwartz
The Secret Cinema

Thursday, January 22 at 7pm
David and Lisa
dir. Frank Perry, US, 1962, 16mm, 95 mins, b/w

Both Frank and Eleanor Perry were nominated for Academy Awards in 1962, (he for Best Director and she for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium) for this screen adaptation of the Theodore Isaac Rubin novel. David suffers from a severe obsessive compulsive condition. At a treatment center he meets Lisa, who is dealing with a split personality disorder. The two forge a unique romance despite the disapproval from the adults around them. This low-budget feature is an excellent example of filmmaking which paved the way for independents in the decades to follow.

[Shot entirely (I think) in the Philadelphia area. According to Irv Slifkin's book Filmadelphia, the building that served as the school was the former Isaac Clothier estate in Wynnewood. Clothier was the famed department store partner of Justus Strawbridge. The Victorian mansion, near the intersection of Lancaster and Wynnewood Avenues close to the Wynnewood train station (which also appears in the film), was originally known as Ballytore. It was used by the Agnes Irwin School from 1933 to 1961, and was evidently conveniently vacant at the time of David And Lisa's filming. It was then remodeled for the Armenian Church of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob, which it remains today. Other scenes take place inside and outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and on a bustling nighttime Chestnut Street.]

preceded by

The Thanksgiving Visitor
dir. Frank Perry, US, 1967, 16mm, 51 mins, b/w

This made for television film is based on a short story by Truman Capote, who also narrates. It's the tale of Buddy, who seeks to humiliate his tormenter Odd at the family Thanksgiving dinner. Starring Geraldine Page as Buddy's cousin Sook, who teaches him that kindness is better than revenge. Page won the Best Actress Emmy for the role.

[We'll see the original version that was broadcast by ABC-TV in 1967. In late 1969 it was shortened and renamed "A Christmas Memory" as one part of the Perrys' Truman Capote's Trilogy, aka Trilogy. This limited-release theatrical feature also included filmed versions of the Capote short stories "Miriam" and "Along The Paths To Eden."]

Friday, January 23 at 7pm
Ladybug Ladybug
dir. Frank Perry, US, 1963, 16mm, 82 mins, b/w

Frank Perry's second feature, this odd and disturbing film goes far beyond the genre of cold-war drama. At a small rural school, the siren signifying a nuclear attack goes off. Unable to determine if it's a false alarm, the children are sent home accompanied by their teachers. Tension mounts as the feeling of impending doom weighs heavy on the young, impressionable minds. This overlooked early work by the Perry's is a truly haunting emotional roller-coaster ride.

Saturday, January 24 at 7pm
The Swimmer
dir. Frank Perry, US, 1968, 35mm, 95 mins, color

Shifting from the fragile emotional world of children and young adults, The Swimmer focuses on the seemingly banal yet deeply dysfunctional lives of middle-aged suburbanites. Burt Lancaster brilliantly plays Ned Merrill, who after a mysterious long absence returns to his affluent Connecticut town where he proceeds to slowly unravel in a psychological nightmare. John Cheever's short story is brought to life as a fascinating juxtaposition of the materially wealthy and the emotionally bereft.

Free admission members above Internationalist level; $5 Internationalist members, students + seniors; $7 general admission.


The Secret Cinema at Moore welcomes

A/V Geeks with S is for Sissy

Friday, December 12
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, December 12, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will, for the first time ever, welcome a guest programmer: Skip Elsheimer, of A/V Geeks will come up from Raleigh, North Carolina just for us and present a unique program called S is for Sissy!

What could be worse than to have a little boy become a sissy? The program includes vintage and campy social guidance school films from the 1950s through the 1980s that examine the behavior of potential wimps and what can be done to correct it.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Skip will also project some nostalgic educational filmstrips as part of this presentation.

Skip Elsheimer founded and maintains the A/V Geeks Educational Film Archive, an archive of over 22,000 educational and industrial films which he screens for audiences across the country. He presents them at such venues at the American Museum of the Moving Image, Coolidge Corner Cinema, Anthology Film Archives, Aurora Picture Show and Chicago Filmmakers. He produced a popular series of DVD compilations called the "Educational Archives." Recently, Skip co-wrote an article with Marsha Orgeron entitled "Something Different In Science Films -- The Moody Institute of Science and the Canned Missionary Movement," published in The Moving Image: Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists.

Just a few highlights of S is for Sissy! are:

Soapy the Germ Fighter (1951)
Billy Martin is concerned that being clean is tantamount to being a sissy. Perhaps a giant cake of soap in pantaloons can convince him otherwise.

William's Doll (1985)
William is an athletic kid but his fascination with baby dolls has his father concerned and his friends picking on him. Can Grandpa fix things with William's birthday gift?

Fears of Children (1951)
Paul's being a little stinker by challenging his father and moping about the house. Is his mother babying him too much and his Dad being too strict?

Neurotic Behavior - a Psychodynamic View (1973)
College-aged Peter has problems talking to girls. Could stern toilet training be making him a sissy?

...plus much more!


Look at early South Street, talk featured at

From Philadelphia With Love 2008: More Industrial,

Educational and other Lost Local Films

Friday, November 14
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, November 14, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will offer From Philadelphia With Love 2008: More Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films. This new entry in one of our most ambitious and best-loved series (first presented in 1999) will feature 100% new programming -- and a special look back at the South Street Renaissance of the 1970s. After a rare showing of the 1977 documentary South Street Philadelphia: Street of Contrasts, there will be a live conversation with Ezekiel Zagar, who grew up in the neighborhood (and appeared in the film when he was 10 years old!).

While most area residents are familiar with Philadelphia films such as Rocky, Trading Places, and the works of M. Night Shayamalan, there is a whole world of locally-made films that has been forgotten -- the "ephemeral" short films that were primarily made by small independent companies for the then-booming non-theatrical market. While most school districts, television stations and traveling salesman have long ago discarded their 16mm film projectors, we at Secret Cinema have not, and are proud to present a look back at these celluloid time capsules that would otherwise not be seen again.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Just a few highlights of From Philadelphia With Love 2008 are:

South Street Philadelphia: Street of Contrasts (1977, Dir: Paulette Jellinek) - This early examination of what was then called the South Street Renaissance captured the vibrancy of a vital new part of the city, at a time before chain stores invaded. Interviews with the older shopkeepers (mostly Jewish immigrant garment sellers) and a younger generation of artists and merchants reveal the two groups' shared excitement about the recent changes on South Street. Shown are such pioneers as Rick and Ruth Snyderman of the Works Gallery, the Group Motion dance group, and now-legendary mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, along with his wife Julia and young son Ezekiel. Following this film will be a discussion about the early days of the South Street renaissance with Ezekiel Zagar.

Ezekiel Zagar literally grew up with the new South Street, from the its rebirth in the late 1960s through its full blossoming in the 1970s. As a teenager he played music with early-'80s Philly hardcore bands F.O.D. and McRad. Today he upholds the traditions of South Street merchants with his new store, Ezekiel's Music and Culture, around the corner from where his parents helped revive the venerable shopping district.

Modern Magazine Magic (1956) - This colorful promotional film looks at the many skilled workers who are needed to produce the magazines we read, from the paper plant to the writers, editors, photographers, layout designers, illustrators, cartoonists, advertising salesmen, pressmen, and even typists of Braille editions. Made in vivid Kodachrome, the short film resembles a stock-footage company's "Fifties Lifestyles" demo reel, as we also glimpse families reading at home and shopping for groceries, not to mention artist Norman Rockwell at work in his studio. The film was sponsored by and made in the facilities of the Curtis Publishing Company, perhaps the most important publisher of periodicals in the 20th century, with The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, and Jack & Jill among their roster. The company's eventual collapse is legendary and the subject of multiple books, though founder Cyrus Curtis' legacy endures today through his former real estate: the company's mammoth Independence Square headquarters building, and Curtis Arboretum in Wyncote, once the site of his palatial estate. His daughter founded the Curtis Institute of music.

Is a Career in Television or Radio For You? (1970s) - This educational film, part of a series of career guidance shorts for high school audiences, was shot locally at the City Line Avenue studios of WCAU and WPVI (shortly after the latter's call letter change from WFIL).While showing the work of different kinds of jobs available in the field, we see glimpses of past local broadcasters John Facenda, Gene London, Joe Pellegrino and Jim O'Brien.

The Philadelphia Story of 1963 (1963) - This rare sales film was made to promote a new televised bingo game/program called "RINGO," played with game cards distributed to shoppers at Acme Markets.

The Spirit of Success (1984) - A tourism and business promotional film touting the many benefits of life in Montgomery County, showing off numerous historical sites (Valley Forge, Pennypacker Mills, Hope Lodge), recreational and leisure facilities (Elmwood Park Zoo, Lily Langtry's nightclub), business headquarters, and bountiful shopping opportunities (including both King of Prussia Plaza and then-new Willow Grove Park Mall).

Friends in Philadelphia (1970) - A quick cinematic portrait of the Friends Select school on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

And much, much more, including a commercial for the Liberty Bell Park racetrack, a clip from an old Nova episode about Legionnaire's Disease, and home movies.


The Bela Lugosi Halloween Grab Bag

at Moore College of Art & Design

Friday, October 31
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

October is always a special time for the Secret Cinema, and we've used it to showcase many different cinematic observances of Halloween, including "Scream-O-Thons," all-night horror feature fests, and even a William Castle feature shown with an approximation of its off-screen "Emergo" process (a skeleton that traveled through the theater on a wire). Well, this year we offer another SC first by actually showing films on Halloween!

Yes, a careful review of our records shows that we've never actually had a Secret Cinema screening on October 31. This year, with Halloween falling on a Friday night, it was time to change that. On Friday, October 31, the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design presents The Bela Lugosi Halloween Grab Bag. The program will be comprised of a surprise selection of spooky short films, two rarely-shown B-movie features starring Bela Lugosi (including a rare archival print of Scared To Death, Lugosi's only color film), plus for the first time in years, a dusting off of the two scariest reels of film in the Secret Cinema archives.

As with most 1940s B-movies, the running time of each feature is just over an hour, keeping our whole program to a manageable length.

Wearing of costumes is definitely encouraged!

Admission to any or all of the screening is $7.00.

All Secret Cinema programs are projected in 16mm film (not video).

Below are complete descriptions of the features.

Scared To Death (Dir: Christy Cabanne, 1947. 65 min.)
This obscure wonder was the only horror film made in 1947, and Bela Lugosi's sole color feature. Told in a series of flashbacks narrated by a female corpse lying on a mortuary slab, the strained story brings together George Zucco as the victim's sinister physician father-in-law, Lugosi as a mysterious stranger with a murky past as a vaudeville hypnotist, prolific movie dwarf Angelo Rossitto (Freaks) as Bela's wordless and completely-unexplained sidekick, star-in-decline Joyce Compton, and comic character players Nat Pendleton and Douglas Fowley (father of weirdo record producer Kim Fowley). Scared To Death is a bewilderingly surreal, comic opera of overwrought dialogue and ripe performances, with a script that recalls the "best" of Ed Wood (though perhaps not quite as floridly written as the master's works). "Watch it closely and decide: Had the actors ever seen the script? Were some of them under the influence of a very disorienting drug? Fascinating." - The Psychotronic Encylopedia of Film.

Scared To Death was made in the now-obscure Cinecolor process, a would-be rival to Technicolor that used a similar imbibition dye-transfer process, but with less chromatic range. The result is a gaudy, dreamlike look that perfectly suits this bizarre little film. We will be projecting a very rare, 61-year-old original Cinecolor print from the year of the film's production.

Director Christy Cabanne (pronounced CA-ba-nay) entered motion pictures in 1910 as an actor in D.W. Griffith's Biograph films. He soon became Griffith's assistant, and started directing in 1913, working with many of the greatest stars of the silent era. Cabanne worked as second unit director on the 1926 classic Ben-Hur, before settling into a later career of making low-budget programmers. Cabanne directed well over 100 feature films, of which Scared To Death was one of his last.

The Ape Man (Dir: William Beaudine, 1943. 64 min.)
Bela Lugosi was forced to accept some embarrassing roles during his B-movie exile of the 1940s; perhaps none were more ludicrous than in The Ape Man. Bela plays a mad scientist who's experiment of injecting himself with the spinal fluid of apes goes awry. Thus, he appears throughout most of this film covered in hair, walking with a silly sway in poor imitation of a half-simian. Hidden away in his basement lab, he sleeps in a cage with a real ape ("I locked myself in there with him...fearing I might do something terrible!"), which he periodically takes out to kill unsuspecting victims whose spinal fluid may bring him back to normal. Wallace Ford (Freaks) and Louise Currie play a pair of reporters investigating the weird goings-on, and Minerva Urecal plays Bela's protective, spooky sister.

In The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, Michael Weldon raved: "An unbeatable combination: Beaudine and Lugsosi!...great stuff!" Beaudine was William "One Shot" Beaudine, a prolific director of mostly grade B and lower exploitation films of every genre, from The Cohens and Kellys in Paris to Mom and Dad to Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula. He earned his nickname by rarely shooting more than one take of any scene. Like Christy Cabanne, he started by assisting D.W. Griffith, and directed his first films in 1915. His early work included such prestigious, quality silent features like Mary Pickford's Sparrows; he later worked in television, directing episodes of The Mickey Mouse Club and Lassie. When he died in 1970 he was 78, and Hollywood's oldest active director.

Surprise Shorts
Assorted spooky cartoons, TV bits, and more, to Not be announced…it's a surprise!

...and the promised two scariest reels of film?

Options To Live (1978)
Earl J. Deems, a former accountant, started the Mansfield, Ohio based Highway Safety Films, Inc. in 1959 to release Signal 30. This notorious Drivers' Ed short, shocking even today, gave viewers a front-row seat to gore-filled, still-smoking car wreck scenes, in an effort to instill respect for careful driving practices. His company became the most successful purveyor of this nightmarish film genre, and sold many copies of titles like Mechanized Death, Wheels of Tragedy, and Highways of Agony. In 1978 Deems completed Options To Live, his swan song and a "greatest hits" (in every way) compilation of the bloodiest scenes from his footage library. "This is what pain looks like!"

Non-Syphilitic Venereal Disease (195?)
This short film made for the medical community -- in still-stunning Kodachrome color -- details a variety of exotic venereal diseases, in close-up after horrifying close-up. This repulsive reel of film (like Options To Live) is guaranteed to have audiences screaming in terror.


at Moore College of Art & Design

Friday, September 26
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, September 26, The Secret Cinema start its eleventh season at Moore College of Art and Design, with Curator's Choice 2008: Unseen Corners of the Secret Cinema Archives. This hand-picked program of nearly-lost treasures from the deepest depths of the Secret Cinema film vaults will include just that -- with all films never shown before by us, and for that matter, probably 100% guaranteed to have never been seen before by any of the audience!

Some popular Secret Cinema programs get repeated over the years, to expose them to new audiences; other program ideas have been reused but with new/different films. Curator's Choice 2008 falls in the latter category. This is only the third outing for the Curator's Choice concept, which we last did exactly two years ago. We have never shown any of these actual short films ever before.

The Secret Cinema's private archive contains literally thousands of reels of 16mm (and 35mm, and 8mm) features, theatrical shorts, cartoons, newsreels, television shows, educational films, travel films, industrial films, and home movies. Together, they add up to well over one million feet of often rare celluloid, with several prints thought to be the only extant copies in the world.

Since 1992, the Secret Cinema has sought to create programming that exposes every type of these films, by showing these fascinating, historical, and often hilarious short films before features or in themed groupings. Yet, despite exposing hundreds of rare works this way, there are still many choice reels that we've never got around to screening publicly, often unclassifiable films that had inconvenient running times or could fit into no common theme.

Some of the best of these amazing films will again see the light of a projector bulb in Curator's Choice 2008. This previously ungroupable group of short films will include films that were made to entertain, to teach, to encourage commerce and to alter opinion. Spanning many decades, many show wondrous places, styles and things that have long-since vanished. Some of them now seem campy, others still have valid lessons to teach, but all are fascinating, and extremely unlikely to be seen anywhere else, including on video.

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

The program is still being assembled, but just a few highlights are:

You in Great Britain (1954) - This Armed Forces Information Film was never meant to be seen by a general audience, but a uniformed one -- specifically, members of our military who were stationed in a recovering England in the post-war era. The short begins with a short historical segment showing why the U.K., despite a very different temperament in its citizens, was much closer to the American ideal than other nations being harmed by "aggressive communism." We then take a more intimate peek at the lives of typical Britons. As England was still struggling to put its economy back together, the American soldiers were cautioned not to throw their money around in a boastful way that might offend our less-fortunate allies. A fascinating document, with Larry Hagman yet.

Coca Cola: Operation Tiger (1975?) - Yet another private film made for privileged eyes: This corporate motivational film was made to instill pride and passion in the hearts of Coca Cola bottlers and their delivery men, in hope that they would take extra care when setting up store displays of the "beautiful red and white labels" on countless cases of Coca Cola. It was part of a 1970s campaign secretly titled "Operation Tiger," and attempted to inspire these men to become fierce kings of the soft drink jungle. A rare view from inside the belly of the carbonated corporate beast!

The Making of the President 1960 (1961) - This timely classroom short, made entirely from period newsreel footage, looks at the presidential campaigns and political conventions that launched our most tumultuous decade. Includes close-up looks at the winners (Kennedy and Nixon) and also-rans (Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Nelson Rockefeller, Adlai Stevenson and others). This was the first presidential election to collect votes from our two newest states, which coincidentally were the childhood homes of Barack Obama (Hawaii) and Sarah Palin (Alaska). Neither were yet born, but they were no doubt later inspired by the presence of local voting booths.

Red Light, Green Light: Meeting Strangers (1969) - This potentially scary educational film uses a simple color-coded visual effect to allow its primary school audience to quickly divide people into two possible categories -- strangers, all of whom seem to be predatory perverts, and known, trustworthy authority figures (such as teachers, police, clergy and friends' parents!). Perhaps a more reliable litmus test would be to beware of anyone with an undue interest in the 1924 silent film Wild and Wooly.

Wild and Wooly (1924, silent) - The opening credits inform us that Wild and Wooly is "one of the Novelty Comedy Ribticklers," but little else is known about the origin of this truly bizarre short from the golden age of silent comedy. The brief story of a genteel mother who grooms her young boy to look like a sissy when he would rather play rough with the neighborhood tough kids is creepy enough...but it is rendered that much more disturbing by the filming of a gratuitous and shocking nude scene of the curly-haired child, as his mother dries him off after a shower! Not to be confused with the better-known Douglas Fairbanks film of the same title.

...plus much, much more!


Bon Voyage II: More Vintage Travel Films

at Moore

Friday, May 16
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, May 16, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design will present Bon Voyage II: More Vintage Travel Films. Another collection of rare original prints from the Secret Cinema archives, this program will focus on one of the earliest yet most enduring uses of motion pictures -- bringing views of far-off lands to audiences unlikely to experience them in person. This will be a sequel to the original Bon Voyage show, first presented at Moore in 2005 (and recently reprised at the Hiway Theatre). Bon Voyage II will feature 100% new programming with no repeats from the previous edition.

The assortment of short subjects collected for Bon Voyage II: More Vintage Travel Films illustrates the range of styles and approaches used by travel filmmakers through the years. There will be examples of shorts made by Burton Holmes, who originally gave live lectures illustrated by silent film footage, and also by his latter-day rival, James A. FitzPatrick, who produced dozens of one-reel "Traveltalks" for MGM. There will be some color and some silent tinted prints, some films made as promotion for travel and others meant to be more educational. Yet all are fascinating (and sometimes amusing) just by virtue of their vintage. The styles of filmmaking and narration are definitely from another time, and often politically incorrect by present standards. On the other hand, most of the films still have a lot to teach in the context of their original intent, too.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Just a few highlights of Bon Voyage II: More Vintage Travel Films are:

In Old New Orleans (1930s, Talking Picture Epics) - Made decades before Hurricane Katrina, with vintage views of Canal Street, a pre-Girls Gone Wild Mardi Gras, and dancing street kids -- all filmed an narrated in a style very much like the travel films of James FitzPatrick.

Sights of Suva (1918, Paramount-Burton Holmes Travel Pictures) - Burton Holmes, dubbed "the World's Greatest Traveler" in a recent Taschen book showcasing his hand-colored photography, was famous throughout the early 20th Century as a prolific travel lecturer, writer, photographer and filmmaker. His films are now the hardest of his works to find and experience. This rare early short takes us to the primitive capital of Fiji, where we see a general store, "coolie" laborers, a "good Indian" porter, and locals referred to as "sons of Fiji cannibals."

Bonus Land (1954, Universal-International Color Parade) - A trip through Venezuela, from bustling downtown Caracas streets to dizzying Angel Falls, all in blazing Kodachrome.

The Mystic East (1935, Ideal Pictures Corporation) - From the series "Quaint People in Queer Places," a look at then-unified Korea, which was under Japanese rule from 1910 through the end of World War II.

Hawaiian Islands (1926, Eastman Classroom Films) - Lovely multi-tinted print from long ago, showing Waikiki Beach complete with surfers, early animated graphics, an active volcano, and a fascinating look at the Dole Pineapple cannery.

Song of Siam (1948, Paul White Productions) - This independent production used vivid color photography to highlight the differences, and similarities, of Siamese culture to our own: "Witness these teenagers -- they could be any high school students from Main Street -- and their favorite dance music is American swing!"

Across the World in Three Seconds (1962, Pan-Am) - Color promotional short from Pan-Am Airlines, showing off a new ease of booking international travel reservations, thanks to their new "Panamac" IBM computer system.

...and much, much more


The Secret Cinema celebrates Women's History Month

with Girl Films

Friday, March 21
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

In the past the Secret Cinema has presented programs of films about cars, films about war, and even a program called He-Man Films. In recognition of National Women's History Month (March), it's time for a kinder and gentler program, as the Secret Cinema presents special selections from the better half of our archive: Girl Films.

No, not "girlie films" (although we've been known to show those too) -- Girl Films is a program of rare short films made for, about, or by women. OK, only one of the shorts was (partially) produced by females, but that was kind of unusual in the time that these films were made (the 1930s through the 1970s).

Some of the shorts selected for Girl Films were originally intended for an all-girl audience, in segregated hygiene or home economics classrooms. Others were made for all to see, and celebrate women's contributions to sports, arts, the military, and industry. The one quality they all share is that they were the products of very different eras than the present one.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Highlights of Girl Films include:

Mother Melodies (1930s) - Forgotten crooner Jack Arthur, with help from Philadelphia-born organist Lew White, sings a trio of sentimental songs about mothers, in what is surely the most maudlin film in the Secret Cinema archive.

The March of Time: Careers for Girls (1949) - This topical newsreel from Louis DeRochemont's legendary series (produced under the auspices of Time, Life and Fortune magazines) takes a look at the likely jobs women could aspire to in the post-war years. These included expected jobs in offices and retail stores, but also shows more glamorous possibilities, as we see glimpses of singing great Marian Anderson performing in the NBC radio studios.

The Ancient Art of Belly Dancing (1977) - An intimate look at an art form 5000 years old, featuring interviews with several of its practitioners. Produced by the Belly Dancing Co-op.

Arranging the Buffet Supper (1946) - Kodachrome educational film that instructs the precise rules of etiquette for the title subject.

She Serves Abroad (1943) - Produced by Britain's Ministry of Information, this fast-moving newsreel shows the female role in World War II, ranging from teletypists in the RAF's Middle East Command, to ambulance drivers in South Africa.

Women's Wrestling Matches (1950s) - Two pairs of tough gals go at each other in no-holds-barred style -- and heaven help the poor referee who winds up between them!

Love Carefully (1970s) - "This movie is about having babies...and about NOT having babies." Most hygiene classes were still single-sex at the time of this film, aimed at a presumably female audien/ce, but that didn't stop the male hippie announcer's gentle narration style from using "street" slang and terminology as he explains various birth control options.

...and much more!


Famous Films II at Moore

Saturday, February 23 (new date because of Friday's snow)
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

The Secret Cinema is known for presenting rarest-of-the-rare, otherwise impossible to see celluloid treasures. That changes on Saturday, February 23, as we present our second program of Famous Films.

Once again, we've scoured our archive shelves for the most famous short film titles we could find...and realized there was still more great, non-obscure viewing that we'd not shown before. The program will include legendary documentaries, silent films and theatrical subjects. Some were landmark achievements for their unusual style, use of music, or other innovative techniques. Others endure simply as great entertainment.

Of course, "famous" is a relative term, and fame is a fleeting thing. One reason we wish to air these great works is the growing realization that even classic films are becoming hard to see in their original form (projected celluloid on a large screen). Not so long ago, all of these films would have been mandatory viewing (via 16mm or 35mm prints) in university courses and repertory cinemas, but that is sadly no longer true. Indeed, several of these reels will be unknown to today's casual viewer -- all the more reason to celebrate them again.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Highlights of Famous Films II include:

Kid's Auto Races (1914, Dir: Henry "Pathe" Lehrman) - Charlie Chaplin's second film -- and the first in which he adopts the "Little Tramp" costume and persona he was to use for more than 30 years. Improvised at a real-life children's soapbox derby in Venice, California, Charlie plays a mischievous troublemaker who comically interferes with the shooting of a newsreel.

The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936, Dir: Pare Lorentz) - This unique film documents not only its subject (soil erosion and the resulting dust bowl of the depression years), but a fascinating, long-gone time when the federal government funded politically progressive and artistically avant-garde art. FDR's Resettlement Administration assigned this project to Pare Lorentz, a political columnist freshly-fired by William Randolph Hearst. Lorentz assembled a crew of notable photographers, including Leo Hurwitz, Ralph Steiner and Paul Strand, all from the leftist Film and Photo league. He set their dramatic footage to haunting music from prominent modernist composer Virgil Thomson, and poetic narration read by Metropolitan Opera baritone Thomas Chalmers. The troubled and controversial production ultimately became one of the most famous documentaries of all time. It was hugely popular with theater audiences, and its influence on later Hollywood productions like The Grapes of Wrath is clear.

A Trip to the Moon (1902, Dir: Georges Méliès) - One of the very first science-fiction films, and one of the longest and most elaborately produced motion pictures of its time. Former stage magician Méliès employed his trademark whimsical two-dimensional sets and innovative special effects to their best and grandest use yet, showing the planning and execution of a manned flight to the moon and back (even predicting the "splashdown" landing method still used by NASA). Much of the story ideas were based on books by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, but Méliès' unique vision infuses every frame. The shot of the rocket ship landing in the eye of the "man in the moon" is one of the most iconic (and charming) images in film history.

Toys (1966, Dir: Grant Munro) - This notable anti-war short was seen by millions, both in international film festivals and by schoolchildren (it was a staple of school film libraries). A group of schoolchildren stare into the window of a toy shop, where the toys come to life via stop-motion animation, to horrifying effect.

The Stolen Jools, aka The Slippery Pearls (1931, Dir: William C. McGann) - Over half a century before Band Aid's "Do They Know it's Christmas," this curio was made as an all-star and all-studio effort to raise funds for a Tuberculosis sanitarium (later to become the Will Rogers Hospital), under the aegis of the National Variety Artists. Every movie studio contributed its production facilities and contract players to make a star-studded spoof of a detective yarn, about the search for Norma Shearer's missing jewelry. Paramount handled distribution; the film stock was paid for by sponsor Chesterfield Cigarettes. The gigantic cast includes such 1930s superstars as Laurel & Hardy, Our Gang, Joan Crawford, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, and Barbara Stanwyck, plus many beloved character players such as Eugene Pallette, Charles Butterworth, Mitzi Green, and Gabby Hayes.

Plus: Men in Black (1934), The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912, Dir: D.W. Griffith), Porky's Hare Hunt (1938), and more.


Bon Voyage: Vintage Travel Films

at Hiway Theatre film series

Friday, February 15, 2008
10:00 pm
Admission:
Adults, $8.50; Seniors/Students: $6.50;
Children: $5.50; Hiway members: $5.00

Hiway Theatre
212 Old York Road, Jenkintown, Pa.
(215) 886-9800

On Friday, February 15, 2008, The Secret Cinema will present its first-ever screening at the historic Hiway Theatre, in Jenkintown. As part of the Hiway's Road Trips and Amazing Journeys, a week-long series of special programming, the Secret Cinema will show Bon Voyage: Vintage Travel Films. A collection of rare original prints from the Secret Cinema archives, this program will focus on one of the earliest yet most enduring uses of motion pictures -- bringing views of far-off lands to audiences unlikely to experience them in person.

(This is the same program that was shown at Moore College of Art & Design in 2005. An all-new Bon Voyage program is in the works for Moore in the coming months).

The assortment of short subjects collected for Bon Voyage: Vintage Travel Films illustrates the range of styles and approaches used by travel filmmakers through the years. There will be examples of shorts made by Burton Holmes, who originally gave live lectures illustrated by silent film footage, and also by his latter-day rival, James A. FitzPatrick, who produced dozens of one-reel "Traveltalks" for MGM. There will be some color and some silent tinted prints, some films made as promotion for travel and others meant to be more educational. Yet, all are fascinating (and sometimes amusing) just by virtue of their vintage. The styles of filmmaking and narration are definitely from another time, and often politically incorrect by present standards. On the other hand, most of the films still have a lot to teach in the context of their original intent, too.

There will be one complete show at 10:00 pm.

Just a few highlights of Bon Voyage: Vintage Travel Films are:

The Story of Our National Parks (U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1920s silent) - Early government film promoting use of National Park system. Begins with the framing device of a well-to-do housewife showing off a photo album of her recent trip to Yellowstone; soon, the photos come to life for a detailed look at the park and its attractions.

6-1/2 Magic Hours (Pan Am, 1954) - This delightful color film takes a promotional look at 1950s transatlantic air travel, complete with onboard powder rooms, lounges and gourmet food.

A Dutch Treat (1920s) - Four very short films (in yellow and amber tints) made for direct sale to owners of home 16mm projectors, with picturesque looks at Amsterdam, Volendam, and "The Cheese Market of Alkmaar."

An Egyptian Adventure (1928) An early sound adaptation of an even earlier silent film, "produced in Egypt" by Louis de Rochemont, who later created the acclaimed March of Time documentary series. This short previews the March of Time modus operandi of using staged scenes in reality films, by mixing in an amusing story of U.S. sailors on shore leave being hoodwinked by crafty Egyptian antique traders.

Hong Kong: Gateway to the Orient (Castle Films, 1957) - Color short showing, by day and night, an already-crowded city that has changed greatly since this film.

European History Atlas: Ethiopia (1930s, Burton Holmes) - Rather disparaging narration sets the tone for this short, which shows then-ruler Haile Selassie, and the Coptic Church, "a strange mixture of the supernatural and barbarism."

Fairest Eden (1931, William M. Pizor Port O' Call series) - Early sound ("recorded on the Cinephone System") travel film of Pago Pago in American Samoa. See tattoos, ukuleles, a nude boy in a canoe made from discarded gasoline cans, and much more. "Unlike the women, the men are rarely corpulent."

Native Africa (1940s, Castle Films) - Sensational if exploitive narrated short made for the non-theatrical market, with looks at tamed elephants, rickshaws, Victoria Falls, ritual scarification, and much more.

Panama - The Peculiar Prodigy (1933, Kodascope Libraries) - A look at the Canal Zone and operations at the Panama Canal. Old tinted print has added bonus of a spliced-on title from its sub-distributor, Cunard-White Star Ltd.'s Sunshine Cruises.

With roots going back to 1913, the Hiway Theatre has had many names and owners over its nearly century-long history. After a period of being closed, the Hiway was bought by local residents and set up as a non-profit organization. The comfortable single-screen cinema has since undergone a major renovation. The Road Trips and Amazing Journeys series celebrates one year of operations in its present incarnation, and in addition to special programming, the Hiway shows first-run foreign and independent features throughout the year.


Remember Pearl Harbor!

Films of Vengeance and Fear

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

Remember Pearl Harbor! Films of Vengeance and Fear
Friday, December 7
8:00 pm - Behind the Rising Sun + short subjects
10:00 pm - Samurai + short subjects

On December 7, 2007 -- the 66th anniversary of the "Day that will live in infamy," the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design presents a very special program, reflecting on both world history and film history. Remember Pearl Harbor! Films of Vengeance and Fear is a look back on Hollywood's response to the Japanese sneak attack on the American naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The pre-emptive military strike by the Empire of Japan's Imperial Japanese Navy (which killed 2,333 men) not only immediately drew the United States into World War II, it just as quickly ignited flames of anti-Japanese hatred that would smolder for many years. And, as usual, Hollywood films both reflected and exploited their times, for better and worse.

Much popular culture of that era became xenophobic, racist, and jingoistic, though it is important to view them through the context of their place in history: the threat to the U.S. and the free world was certainly not imaginary, and there were clearly identifiable bad guys. That said, the Japanese probably fared even worse in Hollywood product than Hitler did.

Remember Pearl Harbor! will include two feature films, one made on a big budget by a major studio (R.K.O.'s Behind the Rising Sun) and one extremely independent "Poverty Row" production (Samurai). Filling out the program will be short films of the era, including rare propaganda reels and cartoons.

There will be a single admission charge of $7.00 for one or both parts.

Descriptions of the two features follow:

Behind the Rising Sun (1943, Dir: Edward Dmytryk)
"SEE captive women treated with unspeakable barbarity! SEE girls forced into gilded Geisha palaces! SEE cruel acts of war committed against even babes in arms!" The ad campaign for this look at the face of America's new enemy pulled no punches, nor did the film itself, created by the same writer/director team that one year before made the similarly themed Hitler's Children. When a Japanese minister of propaganda forces his American-educated son (played in heavy makeup by Tom Neal, of Detour fame) to join the Nipponese army, the son becomes more of a nationalistic warmonger than he wished for. Though filmed as a sensationalistic call to arms, the atrocities depicted -- including Japanese soldiers tossing Chinese babies onto bayonets -- were based on fact. Scenes like American boxer Robert Ryan's fight with a Japanese jiu-jitsu expert (played, like many of the Japanese villains, by a white American), however, were more likely the concoction of the script department.

Samurai (1944, Dir: Raymond Cannon)
American evangelists adopt a boy orphaned by a Japanese earthquake, and raise him in their home in San Francisco. He becomes Americanized and a talented artist, but is visited by a Japanese priest, who recruits him into the doctrine of Bushido. When the boy travels to Europe for his education, he comes back a changed man, believing the Japanese are destined to conquer the world. He hides code messages in his paintings, murders a reporter and his parents, and in preparation for the military invasion of California, becomes governor of that state with the help of fellow double agents.

This incredible tale is told in documentary style, with narration about the Samurai, "a creed of hate, lust and death." The film was made by the otherwise unknown Cavalcade Pictures on an incredibly low budget, making use of unknown Chinese actors, stock footage, and even backgrounds of stock still photos! Marketed with an exploitation-style ad campaign, the film was released in the final days of the war in the Pacific, and is virtually lost to history. "Has to be one of the most outrageous (and cheapest looking) American WWII propaganda movies" - Michael Weldon, Psychotronic Video magazine.


A Birthday Salute to Larry Fine

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

Friday, September 14, 2007
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Just a year and a half after a memorable tribute to underappreciated "third Stooge" Shemp Howard, the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design is excited to now turn the spotlight onto another member of the Three Stooges: one of Philadelphia's greatest movie stars, Larry Fine.

On October 5, 1902, Larry entered the world as Louis Feinberg, at the Southwest corner of Third and South Streets (today the site of Jon's Bar & Grille, which now features a giant mural of Larry). A childhood mishap with a bottle of acid in his father's jewelry shop burned his arm badly, and doctors suggested violin lessons as a form of therapy. His musical skill soon became so impressive that he became a professional entertainer, leading him, after graduation from Central High School, to a vaudeville career that took him across America. At a fateful Chicago booking in 1925, he was asked to join a rising comedy act called Ted Healy and his Stooges. Larry clicked with the group, and after they left Healy some years later, the Three Stooges began a movie career unparalleled in film history, starring in 190 two-reel shorts for Columbia that have been replayed on television around the world ever since. Today they are more popular than ever.

On Friday, October 5, 2007 -- Larry's 105th birthday! -- we will begin a two-day, two-location celebration that includes a screening of some of his greatest Stooge appearances, rare footage, guest speakers, and a special Secret Cinema visit to a nearly unbelievable, private Three Stooges museum containing the world's largest and greatest collection of Stoogeiana.

A Birthday Salute to Larry Fine, Part 1: The presentation at Moore
Friday, October 5 - 8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

At the auditorium of Moore College of Art and Design, to celebrate Larry Fine's 105th birthday, we will present several of the best Three Stooges shorts from throughout their career, focusing on films that show Larry to especially good (or unusual!) effect. Additionally, we will show some extra-rare Stooges footage, including TV commercials and other little-seen clips.

Our presentation at Moore will also include two very special guest speakers, both of whom are travelling to Philadelphia just to be a part of this weekend celebration:

Scott Reboul is a lifelong Stooges fan, who in the early 1970s began a cross-country correspondence with Larry Fine. Larry invited his young pen pal to visit him if he was ever in Los Angeles, and thanks to a very understanding father, Scott got to do just that! In fact, he not only met Larry Fine, but also Moe Howard, Joe Besser and Curly Joe DeRita too. Scott will share his memories with a multi-media presentation, employing unique photos, audio recordings and home movie clips. This fascinating, funny, and touching talk will provide a revealing look at the real personalities of some of the world's best-loved screen comics.

Also appearing at Moore will be Larry Fine's niece, Phyllis Goldbloom. Phyllis' mother was Larry's younger sister Lyla Budnick, and her father Nate Budnick served as the Stooges' road manager for their personal appearance tours in the 1950s and '60s. Like Scott, as a child Phyllis was able to meet not only her famous uncle Larry, but the other Stooges as well (including Shemp!). Phyllis has many funny anecdotes to share.

All who attend the Moore event will receive a free voucher and directions to...

A Birthday Salute to Larry Fine, Part 2: The museum visit!
Saturday, October 6, 10:00 am through 5:00 pm
Admission: Included free with voucher from Friday night Moore screening

Screening of newly discovered color footage of the Three Stooges, and more.

In recent years, the Secret Cinema has partnered with some of the Philadelphia area's greatest museums to create some unique film events: The Franklin Institute, The Academy of Natural Sciences, and Eastern State Penitentiary, to name three. However, we've never been prouder than we'll be on this day, when we offer the second Secret Cinema visit to The Stoogeum.

What's a Stoogeum? Opened in 2004, it's a fantastic private museum devoted exclusively to the Three Stooges! This is not simply an array of collected objects mounted in somebody's rec room -- it's a bonafide, purpose-constructed, multi-floored museum, with exhibits created by a museum design firm in collaboration with owner Gary Lassin, president of the Three Stooges Fan Club and possessor of the world's largest and best collection of Stoogeiana. Housed there are thousands of rare posters, photos, clippings, fan merchandise, and jaw-dropping personal objects (The Three Stooges' pay checks! Jules White's driver's license! Shemp's custom-made watch chain! Shemp's honorable discharge papers from the army -- documenting his bedwetting!!) More than a collection of memorabilia, the informative displays and groupings provide a context explaining the Three Stooges long journey through stage, movies and television to become pop culture icons. There are also exhibits devoted to the many other performers and creative personnel they worked with. Even if you don't like the Three Stooges, the Stoogeum would provide a fascinating walk through the history of 20th century American show business.

Of course the designers of The Stoogeum thought to include a screening room, and our visit will take advantage of it! Throughout the day there will be various presentations (our Saturday trip coincides with a meeting of the Three Stooges Fan Club), including a viewing of newly discovered color footage of the Three Stooges at work filming a comedy short.

The Stoogeum would be on the maps of every regional tourism group, except that it is not open to the public. This private museum is usually open only to fan club members by special invitation, and very occasionally has special event open houses like this one. There is no extra charge to visit the Stoogeum, but to attend you must pick up the voucher (with directions) at the Friday night Moore screening. The Stoogeum is located in the nearby Northwestern suburbs of Philadelphia, easily accessible by car. Do not miss this rare opportunity!

The Stoogeum was recently covered in a nationally-distributed story by Associated Press, viewable here.


The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design

celebrates 10-Year Anniversary!

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

Friday, September 14, 2007
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Earlier in 2007, the Secret Cinema marked 15 years of showing weird and wonderful film fare in Philadelphia and beyond. This fall, we have another milestone to note. On Friday, September 14, The Secret Cinema will celebrate our tenth anniversary of showing films at our flagship venue, Moore College of Art & Design.

In September of 1997 we inaugurated the series with the Philadelphia premiere of So Wrong Theyt're Right, a feature-length documentary about people who collect 8-track tapes. Since then we've presented 87 unique programs on the big screen at Moore, including hard-to-see features, themed groupings of rare shorts and cartoons, silent films with live accompaniment, special guest filmmakers and speakers, and more.

We're very happy to be partners with Moore in this endeavor. Their auditorium is by far the best, most cinema-like setting we've been able to call home in all of our years of showing films, with a screen larger than that in many multiplexes, comfortable seating and great sight lines.

Friday, September 14 will be an opportunity to look back on our years at Moore, with another of our always-popular best-of programs, Secret Cinema Shorts: The Best of a Decade.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Since we began in early 1992, all Secret Cinema screenings of feature films have included bonus short subjects, and some of our best presentations have been comprised entirely of short films. While we have shown several rare old theatrical shorts (including classic cartoons and musicals), often the most popular shorts have been such oddities as campy educational reels, industrial films, TV commercials, and home movies. Most of these films have only been shown once, despite frequent requests to repeat them. Just four times before, we presented all--encompassing "Best of" shorts programs. Secret Cinema Shorts: The Best of a Decade will highlight strange, funny and fascinating short subjects chosen from the 486 titles we've run at Moore in the last ten years.

The program is still being compiled, but a few highlights will likely be...a surprise! You'll just have to come and see!

To further mark this momentous occasion, we've prepared a mini-history of our years at Moore.
Click here to read it!


Riot on Sunset Strip: super screening and author event,

rare photos and films, plus after-party! Exciting new venue!

Philadelphia Society of Free Letts (Latvian Society)
531 N. 7th Street, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

Friday, August 10
8:00 pm
Admission: $8.00 (for talk, film, & after-party)

Earlier this year, the Secret Cinema presented a sold-out evening of music and rock history, when Lenny Kaye co-hosted a garage-rock themed event called Nuggets. We're happy to continue that tradition on Friday, August 10, when the Secret Cinema presents another very special program called Riot on Sunset Strip, celebrating an old movie and a brand new book of the same name.

The subject of each is Hollywood's famed Sunset Strip itself, the winding road that for a brief but memorable time became the epicenter of a whole new world of youth based excitement, especially including a new wave of home-grown rock music. From the moment the Byrds debuted at Ciro's on March 26th 1965 -- with Bob Dylan joining them on stage -- through the demonstrations of November 1966, Sunset Strip nightclubs introduced Love, Buffalo Springfield, the Mothers of Invention, the Doors, and so many more.

Our special guest will be rock historian Domenic Priore. His just published book, Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood (published by Jawbone Press, with foreword by the late Arthur Lee), shows how this legendary scene came together, burned briefly but brilliantly, and then fell apart after the Summer of Love.

Our August 10 event takes place in an exciting new venue for the Secret Cinema: The roomy upstairs ballroom of the venerable Philadelphia Society of Free Letts (Latvian Society), at 7th and Spring Garden. The night starts with an illustrated talk by Domenic about this fascinating moment in pop culture, accompanied by rare slides from original scene photographers like Henry Diltz, Yoram Kahana and Marc Wanamaker, as well as some relevant film clips from the Secret Cinema archives.

After some Q&A with our guest author, there will be a screening of the classic, garage rock-filled exploitation feature film Riot on Sunset Strip, which obviously provided the inspiration for the book's title (as well as the scorching Standells' theme song). The film will be presented, as usual, in glorious 16mm film on a giant screen.

Then, we provide a built-in after-party, in the funky (and reasonably priced!) downstairs bar of the Latvian hall with music provided by Domenic Priore and D.J. Silvia. Domenic will bring a choice selection of Sunset Strip sounds, including records by L.A. locals (Byrds, Standells, Bobby Fuller Four) and touring bands that made the Strip scene (Them, Velvet Underground), plus some valuable vinyl rarities. D.J. Silvia will add some international flavor, to show how the new sixties teen scene reverberated around the globe.

The approximate schedule is as follows:

8:00 pm - Illustrated talk by Domenic Priore: "Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood"
9:00 pm - Film screening: Riot on Sunset Strip
10:30 pm until ? - After party with Domenic Priore and D.J. Silvia, book signing, etc.

Admission to all of the above is $8.00

More info follows about both the guest speaker and feature film...

Domenic Priore is a writer and television producer specializing in pop culture and music. He is the author of Beatsville (with Martin McIntosh) and Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece (with forewords by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks), and was the main writer on the AMC documentaries Hollywood Rocks The Movies. His great and long running, if infrequently published (four issues spanning three decades!) zine, The Dumb Angel Gazette, explores his various obsessions; its 1989 book-sized special edition Look! Listen! Vibrate! Smile! kick-started a revival of interest in Brian Wilson's unreleased Smile project that ultimately led to Wilson recording a new album of this music. A native of Los Angeles, Priore met Secret Cinema programmer Jay Schwartz when both served as contributing editors to Marshall Crenshaw's book Hollywood Rock: A Guide to Rock 'n' Roll in the Movies (1994, Harper Collins).

Riot on Sunset Strip (1967, Dir: Arthur Dreifuss)
One of the best loved of American International's late-60s drive-in fodder movies, "the most shocking film of our generation" purported to blow the lid off the wild goings on in the Hollywood discotheques of the day. Producer Sam Katzman, ever watchful of trends, based the film on the real-life violent riots that erupted on the Sunset Strip after police harassment of the mobs of teenagers there.

Mimsy Farmer (who also starred in Hot Rods to Hell before moving to Europe) plays a troubled girl who gets in with a bad crowd at the local rock club. She then goes off to a wild party where she is slipped LSD in her diet coke and is taken advantage of by five boys. Her absent father happens to be the chief of police, and the previously-tolerant man's violent reaction triggers a massive demonstration (the father is played by the late Aldo Ray, who began his career in mainstream movies and by the '70s had fallen to accepting a non-sexual role in a hardcore porno film).

As fun as all of this acid-crazed wild youth business is, the best reason to see Riot on Sunset Strip is the great footage of the garage rock heroes who appear in the nightclub scenes. The Standells (of "Dirty Water" near-fame) play the great title track and "Get Away From Here." The amazing Chocolate Watch Band, featuring genius Mick Jagger-imitator Dave Aguilar (now an astronomy professor) dish up two scorching punk anthems. Aguilar's snarling performance of "Don't Need Your Lovin" (a canny rewrite of "Milkcow Blues") stands as the cinematic definition of punk rock, past, present and future. The underrated Enemies (who left behind a few 45s on MGM before singer Cory Wells reunited with founding member Danny Hutton to form Three Dog Night) also perform.


The Secret Cinema brings '50s shockumentary Karamoja!

to International House

International House
3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

Thursday, May 17,
7:00 pm
General admission is $7.00 ($5.00 students & seniors)

On Thursday, May 17, the Secret Cinema will return to guest program a night at International House, featuring a rare "shockumentary" from the early 1950s. The film, Karamoja!, features an unforgettable look at the primitive and brutal rites of an obscure African tribe. This rare film will be presented using an archival 35mm print.

The screening will include surprise short subjects.

There will be one complete show, starting at 7:00 pm.

General admission is $7.00 ($5.00 students & seniors)

A complete description of the feature follows:

Karamoja! (1954, Dir: William B. Treutle)
"This is the story of a man with six months to live...and of the strangest honeymoon a bride ever had." California dentist William B. Treutle had never made a film when doctors gave him his fatal prognosis. It gave him the courage to fulfill his lifelong ambition to travel to Africa, and while doing so, he filmed this unforgettable documentary, in a closed territory of Uganda.

An early entry into the "Shockumentary" genre (an international phenomenon ten years later, in the wake of Mondo Cane, Ecco, and countless others), this often-unsettling look at the rites and lives of the primitive people of Karamoja does have a fascination with the bizarre and the visceral. There are graphic scenes of blood drinking, ritual scarification, tattooing, and knocking out of teeth, and the eating of raw bull intestines, not to mention copious full frontal nudity, both male and female.

Notorious exploitation distributor Kroger Babb played this up to the fullest ("See it all! Uncut! Uncensored! Unclothed! Unashamed!"), but behind the sensation was a revealing, sincere and even sensitive look into a way of life 6000 years out of step with the Western world. Treutle, who met and married his wife early on his African voyage (she worked as sound recordist while he ran the camera), surely felt a kinship with the excited, shy young nuptials in a filmed Karamojan wedding ceremony...as he documented their many differences (in one tradition, the bride and groom smear cattle dung on each other).


The Secret Cinema at Moore presents

Counter-Culture Obscurities double-feature

Saturday, May 12
The Monitors - 8:00 pm
A Session With the Committee - 10:00 pm

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Saturday, May 12, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will offer a special double-feature event called Counter-Culture Obscurities. Comprised of two ultra-rare feature-length films from the late-1960s. The two films are quite different from each other, but both clearly could only have been made in the hippie era, and oddly, are both centered around underground comedy troupes. Needless to say, both of these features are hopelessly forgotten in 2007, not available on DVD, and unlikely to be shown anywhere else ever again on the big screen!

First off will be The Monitors. This sci-fi farce, about an Orwellian race of bowler-hatted aliens who set out to control human behavior, was centered around the talents of the already-legendary Second City comedy group. It was produced by film-equipment maker Bell & Howell, who hoped to encourage filmmaking in their hometown of Chicago.

Next we'll show A Session With the Committee, a straight-up performance film showcasing a long-lost live concert with the titular improv comedy group, whose familiar faces included Howard Hesseman and Peter Bonerz.

Each feature will be preceded by unusual short subjects. Admission is $6.00 for either one or both films.

Complete descriptions of the two features follows:

The Monitors (1969, Dir: Jack Shea)
In an Orwellian dystopia of unknown date, an omnipotent army of suited, turtle-necked, bowler-hat clad overseers monitor citizens for illegal acts -- including sex, violence, politics and display of emotions -- in an effort to force peace on the world. Loudspeakers instruct that "The Monitors are your friends." Underground, a right-leaning resistance movement plots the overthrow. That's the minimal storyline, and it frequently makes little sense.

The Monitors is a real curiosity from a time when filmed strangeness was in theaters everywhere (just a few examples from the same year are Head, Alice's Restaurant, The Bed-Sitting Room, Putney Swope, and Wonderwall). The production of The Monitors was a collaboration between Bell & Howell (makers of motion picture equipment -- including Secret Cinema's most-used projectors!), prolific industrial film studio Wilding, and the then fast-rising (and now truly legendary) Second City comedy troupe. They all had hoped to promote Chicago as a major feature-filmmaking city, but The Monitors did not succeed in this mission (though the city's futuristic skyline contributed a suitably eerie look). The cast includes all of the following, and more: Guy Stockwell, Susan Oliver, Avery Schreiber, Keenan Wynn, Ed Begley, Larry Storch, Alan Arkin, Xavier Cugat, Senator Everett Dirksen, Stubby Kaye, Peter Boyle and Jackie Vernon. The often-excellent music was composed by Fred Kaz, with singing by Odetta. Cinematography was by Vilmos Zsigmond.

A Session With the Committee (1968, Dir: Del Jack)
In the "head-y" atmosphere of the late-'60s/early-'70s, pot-friendly comedians could be like rock stars, and some popular hipster comedy teams were even named like bands: The Firesign Theater, The Conception Corporation, Ace Trucking Company...and The Committee. Though forgotten today, The Committee were among the most visible during their brief prime, even providing some "relevant" improv scenes to popular films like Petulia, Billy Jack, and Steelyard Blues. Before those, they made this lost concert film, shot minimally and cheaply, capturing the troupe's propless, setless skits in a nightclub, live in front of a real audience.

The cast includes a few instantly recognizable faces -- Howard Hesseman (then calling himself "Don Sturdy") and Peter Bonerz (best known as the dentist on The Bob Newhart Show) -- and perhaps a few familiar yet less-placeable ones (character actors Garry Goodrow and Mel Stewart). Being from the late 1960s, there are some predictable comedy themes: marijuana, race relations, draft boards, and fear of police. Quite a few bits are still funny, however, and deserve to not be lost. Thanks to the past golden age of repertory cinemas (which provided a readymade market for movies like this), and to the hardy nature of non-digital media, the hippie humor of the Committee is still with us, to amuse and confuse future generations.


The Secret Cinema at Moore presents

Totally Wired: The Films of Bell Telephone

Friday, April 20
8:00 pm
Admission: $6.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, April 20, the Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art & Design will present an evening of short films from one of the major motion picture producers of the 20th century -- the phone company!

For 99 years, until its breakup in 1984, the Bell System (aka A.T. & T.) enjoyed an unprecedented monopoly of the telephone communications business in America. And one of the ways it consolidated its strength was by utilizing movies to their fullest potential as a shaper of attitudes: of its employees, its business customers and the general public.

Totally Wired: The Films of Bell Telephone is a varied collection of short, non-theatrical films produced by the Bell System, covering all of these uses. As the largest corporation in the world, Bell had unlimited resources, producing corporate films more skillfully and more entertainingly than most companies could. They spared little expense, with frequent use of color, animation, and expert talent, on both sides of the camera.

We will show an assortment of rare Bell sales films, in-house training films, commercials and public relations films. As they depict the various missions and agendas of one business throughout the years, the movies also provide a revealing look at mid-century America in general. Many of these reels have never been shown to the general public -- until now.

As with all Secret Cinema presentations, Totally Wired will be shown using real 16mm film projected on a giant screen (and not using video or DVD projection, which is inferior).

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $6.00

Just a few of the highlights of Totally Wired: The Films of Bell Telephone will be:

Telephone Highlights (1947) - Using the lively techniques of the classic theatrical newsreel (quick editing, enthusiastic narration, peppy background music), this action-packed one-reeler details post-war news and accomplishments of the New York Telephone Company. Shown are the top-to-bottom construction of a new (pre-electronic) phone exchange in midtown Manhattan, and the connecting of the one-millionth telephone in upstate New York. Producer Leslie Roush was a veteran director of short subjects for Paramount in earlier years.

What's in a Name? (1950s) - This rare business office training film uses a dramatized story to explain the potentially snowballing impact of getting just one character of a customer's phone listing incorrect.

Dial "O" for Operator (1965) - A peculiar and possibly frightening short, using dramatic scenes from the Sidney Poitier film The Slender Thread to demonstrate the advancements made in the technology of...tracing phone calls.

Invisible Diplomats (1965) - This humorous look at business telephone etiquette, made in gorgeous Technicolor, tells its message through the perspective of two cheerful but harried PBX (private branch exchange, or in-house switchboard) operators. The familiar cast includes not only The Honeymooners' Audrey Meadows, but also One Day at a Time's Bonnie Franklin and Harold Peary of radio's The Great Gildersleeve (he was also a character actor in countless TV and voiceover credits). Directed by prolific Hollywood choreographer Leroy Prinz.

Operator (1969) - Documentary pioneer Richard Leacock (working here for Maysles Films) uses the cinema verite techniques he helped invent to show the challenging but rewarding work of a telephone operator, in an effort to recruit young women into the profession. With psychedelic music provided by the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble.

Picture Phone (1970) - This demonstration film shows off the enhanced business capabilities of an updated version of the Picture Phone, famously demonstrated at the 1964 New York World's Fair. It was sadly to remain one of Bell Telephone's greatest failures.


D.J.'s Silvia & Jay spin international vinyl rarities at

third Made in Spain night at Tritone

Thanks for the kind words in response to our emailed memories of Rick D.

The last time we saw Rick was at the second Made in Spain party, a night of Spanish rock 'n' roll spun at Tritone by D.J. Silvia and Secret Cinema's Jay Schwartz (me). Our final conversation was about when we would do Made in Spain next -- while we originally contemplated this being a monthly event, as we parted that night we decided to hold off on doing it in April. Rick really felt it could build into a very popular monthly party, and I felt almost guilty saying we preferred to space them out more.

Well, as it turns out Rick will get his wish of an April Made in Spain: It seems he never did get a chance to book another event for Tuesday, April 24 before he passed away, which we realized when we saw Tritone's strip ad in the Philadelphia Weekly and City Paper this week. Rick's surviving Tritone partner Dave Rogers confirmed that he had nothing else available to book for this date, so we agreed to pack up the vintage vinyl and do it again. In fact, D.J. Silvia will be out of the country in May, so this will be the last MIS until at least late June.

So, if you missed out previous MIS's, or if you came and dug it, then come next Tuesday for another night of rare rock and Iberian oddities, plus a chance to meet some interesting bilingual party-ers. And while you're at it, raise a drink to Rick. Admission is free. More details below...

Tuesday, April 24,
9:00 pm until late
Admission: FREE

Tritone
1508 South Street, Philadelphia
(215) 545-0475

On Tuesday, April 24, Tritone will once again host a special music party called Made in Spain, featuring a variety of beat, mod and soul music from the sixties -- all of it recorded in Spain.

It all starts at 9:00 pm and runs until the end of the night. Admission is free.

The first Made in Spain party, in February, was a smashing success. Crowding into Tritone were a happy mix of Spanish expatriates, other Spanish-speaking locals, sixties/mod music devotees, and just regular people seeking some fresh sounds and good times. A few days after the event, D.J. Silvia was even interviewed live on Spain's RTPA radio station, to report on the growing presence of Spain's culture in Philly!

The event will again be hosted by "La Chica Ye Ye," D.J. Silvia. A favorite spinner at many past sixties-music events in Philly, New York and her native country of Spain, Silvia is sure to have some new surprises and rare sides in the multiplying boxes of discs she keeps bringing over. Silvia moved to Philadelphia in 2004, from her birthplace in the Spanish city of Gijón, in the green province of Asturias.

Assisting will be Jay Schwartz. Jay is of course the long-time programmer/creator of the Secret Cinema film series, and is the musical (and marital!) partner of D.J. Silvia.

Some of the artists to be played at Made in Spain will be Los Brincos (the period's most inventive group; arguably the Beatles of Spain), Los Bravos (Spain's most successful export act, of "Black is Black" fame), Los Iberos (produced by U.K. "Nothing But a Heartache" songwriting team Bickerton and Waddington), Los Salvajes, Los Sirex, Formula V, and many more, plus Spanish "Ye Ye" girls like Karina and Conchita Velasco. Records played will include both original songs and several Spanish language versions of familiar American and British pop hits.

In addition to sixties sounds, some time will also be devoted to Spanish music of today in the garage, indie and power pop styles.

As part of what is planned to be a regular series of events, Made in Spain is co-sponsored by The Secret Cinema and Los De Pata Negra En Philadelphia, a group recently formed to unify the growing community of Spaniards in Philadelphia and promote friendship, culture and networking.


The Secret Cinema returns to Philadelphia Film Festival, dirty movies

...plus a selective guide to PFF highlights

We at the Secret Cinema are excited to be back presenting a program in the Philadelphia Film Festival. It happens next Friday the 13th, and is a reprise of an old SC classic, Stag Movie Night: Vintage Porno From the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Some of you may remember our past presentations of these naughty reels at the late (and deeply lamented) Silk City Lounge. It's been about five years since we've shown them, however, and it seemed like a good time and good place to dust them off and corrupt some more unsuspecting viewers. If you've never seen vintage stag movies, you're in for a surprise! More details below...

Meanwhile, we'd like to possibly steer you towards some of the other very nice repertory/classic programming in this year's PFF, with appearances from some of our favorite people! The shows cater to many film obsessions of the Secret Cinema...

This weekend, don't miss the opportunity to see and hear Leonard Maltin present several great programs...well, we THINK he is going to be at the Disney shorts programs (the festival's program guide does not make this clear). But, Leonard will definitely lead A Conversation with Roy Disney (Walt's nephew), and also present Silent Our Gang shorts (accompanied by our friend Don Kinnier!).

Leonard Maltin is a true national treasure, a movie maniac who wrote the first edition of his best-selling Movie Guide books (originally called TV Movies) before he reached voting age. His many other published works are classics and well-thumbed reference sources in the Secret Cinema programming office (our favorite: 1972's The Great Movie Shorts). Besides being the leading authority on Hollywood's golden age, Leonard manages to see and review every new movie, too!

If you didn't take our last-minute advice to catch Leonard Maltin at the Syracuse Cinefest in March (and I think only one of you did), here's a much easier appearance to get to! If you only know Leonard from his television appearances, you probably like him anyway, but if you own any of his books or numerous video/DVD intros/commentary tracks, then you're already planning to attend these very special events.

Our afore-mentioned friend Don Kinnier will be adding music to another PFF silent film presentation, Saluting Siegmund Lubin on Wednesday, April 11. If you attended our 1999 special program A Tribute to the Siegmund Lubin Film Studios of Philadelphia, note that this will be a somewhat different event (though also presented by our friend Joseph Eckhardt, with contributions from Don Kinnier's wife Judy, and another good friend of Secret Cinema, Lou DiCrescenzo! It also affords another opportunity to see The Silver King, a rare Lubin short discovered by the Secret Cinema. Here's a full description of the show:

The Philadelphia Film Festival presents "A Tribute to Siegmund Lubin." Experience a recreation of movie-going one hundred years ago with this nickelodeon program in tribute to Philadelphia movie pioneer, Siegmund Lubin.

April 11 at 7:00 p.m. at International House. $10.00

Curated by film scholar Joseph Eckhardt, the Lubin film program will recreate the unique experience of a nickelodeon circa 1907-- with live music, Magic Lantern slides, songs, narration, and sound effects. The films program includes comedies, melodramas and westerns, and offers a glimpse of Oliver Hardy in his earliest surviving movie role, and a cameo appearance by Siegmund Lubin himself. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by Don Kinnier with vintage songs and sound effects by Judy Townsend. In addition, film technology expert Lou DiCrescenzo will demonstrate the way that movies were originally shown by hand-cranking one film through a vintage Edison 1897 Kinetoscope.

The importance of film pioneer Siegmund Lubin to the American film industry would be hard to overestimate. He was America's first movie mogul, opening theaters, building projectors and fighting Edison in an endless stream of patent litigation. By 1910 he had built one of the world's largest studio complexes, "Lubinville," located in Northern Philadelphia. By 1917 he was bankrupt. In recognition of Lubin's work, the Philadelphia Film Festival is proud to participate in an evening screening of some of his best surviving films, on a day that also will see the unveiling of a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker at the site of his former home at 1608 N. 15th St.

[and don't miss the Lubin-centric Betzwood Film Festival in May; check the Betzwood link below]

On Friday, April 13, just before our own Stag Movie Night, you can see The Burglar, showing at the Ritz 5 at 7:00 pm. This is the shot-in-Philadelphia Jayne Mansfield film noir that we presented at Moore in 2001, produced by Secret Cinema hero Louis Kellman. This time, however, you can see it in an improved 35mm print, with introduction by our friend Irv Slifkin, author of the new book Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City's Movies. Then, grab a taxi and tell him to step on it, to catch...


The Secret Cinema presents
Stag Movie Night: Vintage Porno from the 1920s, 30s And 40s

Friday, April 13
9:30 pm
Admission: $10.00 (see here for ticketing info)

International House
3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
(215) 387-5125

This collection of rare erotica films will surprise and shock those who believe the "sexual revolution" of the sixties and seventies gave birth to the celluloid depiction of sex.

The seedy adult theaters of the seventies and the home video industry that followed it did not exist when these films were made behind closed doors. The classic stag movies were distributed through a covert network of all-male screenings at lodges, bachelor parties, and fraternities. Though illegal contraband at the time, seeing these forbidden films was nonetheless a fairly common rite of passage for the American male back then, as the surviving reels testify.

The earliest extant pornographic film dates from 1915, and they were probably made well before then. The introduction of 16mm film in 1923 really opened the floodgates of stag production, and a standard format was established. Virtually all stag films are black and white, one reel in length (10 to 15 minutes), and silent -- assuring compatibility with the relatively low-cost home movie projectors that were rented along with a night's worth of programming.

What shocks today's audiences about these films is that most (though not all) of them are completely explicit in their depiction of sexual acts. The variety of acts and couplings filmed long ago is another eye-opener, and it is somehow comforting to note that the camera angles for such action, worked out nearly a century ago, survive in today's adult videos.

All of the films will be projected using 16mm film prints from the Secret Cinema archives onto a giant movie (not video) screen. The films will be accompanied by vintage period music, including early jazz, swing and dirty blues.

Titles to be screened include Sally's Sunbath, Mortimer The Salesman, Through A Keyhole, A Jazz Jag, Buried Treasure and more.


The Secret Cinema celebrates 15-Year Anniversary

with screening of The Touchables, more

Friday, March 23
8:00 pm
Admission: $6.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

We almost let the occasion pass, but through a last-minute programming change, it came to our attention that we've just had our 15th birthday.

The Secret Cinema was born on March 9, 1992, with its debut film screening in a then unused upstairs at the Khyber Pass nightclub. The program consisted of the 1956 rock 'n' roll movie Don't Knock the Rock, plus bonus "unusual short subjects." Shorts shown that night included an educational film called Effective Listening, a 1950s infomercial for a spot-removing product, and a "coming attractions" trailer for an obscure psychedelic wonder called The Touchables. Total attendance for the event was eight persons, but the Secret Cinema continued on. A four-film schedule had already been distributed, so we really had no choice. By the fourth program (yep, The Touchables), we had our first sell-out.

The full history of the Secret Cinema is beyond the scope of this announcement, but suffice to say that since that humble start, we have presented hundreds and hundreds of screenings, in countless venues from San Francisco to Spain. The vast majority of those events happened right here, in the nightclubs, cafes, bookstores, art galleries, open fields and even movie theaters of Philadelphia. In every single one of them -- even when they took place in as informal an environment as a coffee house with whooshing espresso machines -- we took great pains to make the presentation as high-quality as possible, always using real film in real movie projectors. And each one of them has continued the mission that we began 15 years ago: To show the neglected, the rare, and the unclassifiable parts of film's rich culture, both high and low -- films that would otherwise just not get seen.

To celebrate this anniversary, we thought it would be appropriate to bring out a favorite film that has been an enduring part of Secret Cinema history. The Touchables, an incredibly inventive, fast-moving, colorful and wholly original plunge into late-sixties pop culture (directed by famed Beatles photographer Robert Freeman), is a movie that seems to get no love elsewhere. Either wholly ignored or quickly dismissed by traditional critics as so much psychedelic excess, it has enjoyed a tremendous reception at each of several screenings we've presented. Having created an audience for this essentially lost film is one of our proudest achievements.

The 15-Year Anniversary screening of The Touchables will happen at Moore College of Art & Design*, on Friday, March 23.

Rounding out the program will be an extra helping of surprise short subjects.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $6.00

A complete description of the feature follows:

The Touchables (1968-Great Britain) Dir: Robert Freeman
A group of four beautiful, inexplicably wealthy and exceptionally whimsical girls live together. When not attending their American friend's ballet-like pro-wrestling bouts, they commit outlandish pranks, such as stealing a wax dummy of Michael Caine. They take their impulsive behavior a step further when they kidnap a young pop star and take him to their bizarre country retreat, a large inflatable dome filled with pinball machines and mod furnishings. There they tie him down and take turns having their way with him. Things start to get out of hand -- especially when their friend's wrestling rival, a wealthy black gangster, decides he must also possess the pretty boy.

The Touchables is a cult film waiting to be discovered. Ignored or quickly dismissed in most film reference books, it is both ahead and wholly a part of its unique moment in time. The Touchables is also the best example of a heretofore unrecognized film genre, the Psychedelic Screwball Comedy (other British examples include The Magic Christian and the obscure Work Is A Four Letter Word). Like the classic screwball comedies of earlier decades, the plot zigzags through a series of unlikely complications and is populated by outrageous characters. Unlike any Carole Lombard or Cary Grant vehicle, The Touchables is set in a surreal, pop-art world and features characters that act irrationally and with little exposition (possibly Cary Grant imagined such a world during his admitted LSD experiments!).

Robert Freeman was a top fashion photographer who made many memorable photos of the Beatles (including the Rubber Soul album cover). He directed The Touchables with great pop-art flair. Combining bright, colorful photography, stylish editing, spirited performances, and a zippy Ken Thorne score, Freeman has left a film that is both a unique vision and an evocative time capsule.

*Another Secret Cinema anniversary will be marked later this year, in September, when we celebrate a full decade at our flagship venue, Moore College of Art & Design.


Lenny Kaye and Nazz singer Stewkey join Secret Cinema

for Nuggets: Celluloid Artyfacts of Sixties Rock

Friday, February 16
8:00 pm
Admission: $6.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, February 16, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will revive a special program last shown over six years ago. Nuggets: Celluloid Artyfacts of Sixties Rock is a unique hodgepodge of ultra-rare reels consisting of various short films and television shows showcasing mod, garage and pop music from the mid-to-late 1960s. When we named that program back in 2001, it was in naked homage to the inestimably influential 1972 garage rock compilation album of the same name. This year, we are thrilled to announce that in addition to the rare films, we will have with us the creator of the original Nuggets, Lenny Kaye.

Prior to his 30-plus years as Rock Hall of Fame inductee Patti Smith's chief musical collaborator, Lenny Kaye was a prolific rock critic and historian. He contributed to leading rock periodicals, wrote legendary liner notes (even earning mention within a Steven King novel), and was one of a handful of rock critics at the time to take serious interest in the supposedly frivolous corners of rock history, from doo wop to the previously-unlabeled genre of garage rock. This work reached a pinnacle when he compiled for Elektra Records a double-LP of what were then considered regional obscurities and "one hit wonders" of mid-late sixties rock, titled Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968. The collection brought together great proto-punk singles by The Electric Prunes, The Standells and The Seeds, sides that had been recorded just a few years earlier but had already been forgotten in the wake of progressive rock and singer-songwriters.

Nuggets insured that this music would never be forgotten again. It first spawned a host of similarly-named compilations of garage rock (Pebbles, Boulders, et al), and then Rhino Records turned the name Nuggets into something of a sixties reissue franchise, culminating in no less than three deluxe CD box sets of psych and garage rarities. Lenny Kaye, meanwhile, moved on, as leader of the Patti Smith Group, record producer, teacher of a university class in rock history, and author. His latest book is You Call It Madness: The Sensuous Song of the Croon.

At Nuggets, the film screening, Lenny Kaye will discuss sixties rock and add his insightful commentary between films.

To make this an even more special event, we'll have Stewkey (lead singer and keyboardist of Philadelphia's greatest sixties band The Nazz) in person to present a rare print of the promo film for "Open My Eyes."

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $6.00.

A few highlights of Nuggets include:

Girls In Short Short Dresses (1966) - Paramount made this topical film in the final days of the theatrical short subject era, to capitalize on the worldwide interest in then very-Swinging London. It stars actual mod band The Thoughts, who are best known to collectors for their recording of Ray Davies' otherwise unreleased song "All Night Stand," on Shel Talmy's Planet Records label. In this previously unheralded Technicolor film, they perform two songs in the famous Blaise's nightclub, and in a reverse on the usual rock band scenario, they chase girls around tube stations and Carnaby Street boutiques. The film also makes a visit to the studio of fashion designer Mary Quant, inventor of the mini-skirt.

The Ecstasy Is Sometimes Fantastic (1966) - Made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, this is a rare cinema verite look at a working, not-quite-made-it rock group. Toronto garage band Jon and Lee and the Checkmates reveal all sides of their world, from belting out James Brown numbers in packed clubs, to going over itineraries and accounting, to the crucial business of getting the right haircut.

The Nazz: Open My Eyes (1968) - Rock videos weren't invented in the eighties; they've been around since sound film was perfected. In the sixties they were called "promo films," and this was one of the better ones. Stewkey, the lead singer and keyboardist of Philly's greatest mod band, will introduce this rare public screening of his personal 16mm print (which is actually a rare alternate edit of the clip MTV has shown!)…and be interviewed by Lenny Kaye, who included this great song on the original Nuggets LP!

Plus clips from feature films and television with music performed by The Standells, The Chocolate Watchband, The Seeds, The Birds (UK), The Marmalade, The Orphan Egg, The Zombies and more!


D.J.'s Silvia & Jay spin international vinyl rarities

at Tritone's Made in Spain night

Tuesday, February 27,
9:00 pm
Admission: FREE

Tritone
1508 South Street, Philadelphia
(215) 545-0475

On Tuesday, February 27, Tritone will host a special music party called Made in Spain, featuring a variety of beat, mod and soul music from the sixties -- all of it recorded in Spain.

It all starts at 9:00 pm and runs until the end of the night. Admission is free.

Some of the artists to be played at Made in Spain will be Los Brincos (the period's most inventive group; arguably the Beatles of Spain), Los Bravos (Spain's most successful export act, of "Black is Black" fame), Los Iberos (produced by U.K. "Nothing But a Heartache" songwriting team Bickerton and Waddington), Los Salvajes, Los Sirex, Formula V, and many more, plus Spanish "Ye Ye" girls like Karina and Conchita Velasco. Records played will include both original songs and several Spanish language versions of familiar American and British pop hits.

In addition to sixties sounds, some time will also be devoted to Spanish music of today in the garage, indie and power pop styles.

The event will mark the return of "La Chica Ye Ye," D.J. Silvia. A favorite spinner at many past sixties-music events in Philly, New York and her native country of Spain, Silvia is sure to have some new surprises and rare sides in the multiplying boxes of discs she keeps bringing over. Silvia moved to Philadelphia in 2004, from her birthplace in the Spanish city of Gijón, in the green province of Asturias.

Assisting will be Jay Schwartz. Jay is of course the long-time programmer/creator of the Secret Cinema film series, and is the musical (and marital!) partner of D.J. Silvia.

The first night of what is planned to be a regular series of events, Made in Spain is co-sponsored by The Secret Cinema and Los De Pata Negra En Philadelphia, a group recently formed to unify the growing community of Spaniards in Philadelphia and promote friendship, culture and networking.


Indie beatnik rarity The Greenwich Village Story

to headline The Secret Cinema Holiday Spectacular at Moore

Friday, December 8
8:00 pm
Admission: $6.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, December 8, the Secret Cinema will present The Secret Cinema Holiday Spectacular. The Spectacular will begin with an assortment of surprise short films, then climax with a screening of The Greenwich Village Story, a super-rare 1963 independent feature about life among the beats, shot entirely on location in downtown Manhattan.

The short film portion will probably total about one hour in running time, and is included as a bonus Christmas gift to the Secret Cinema audience. The final selection has not been completed, but it will include unusual tributes to some film talents that we lost in 2006, including Robert Altman and Don Knotts.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $6.00.

A full description of the feature follows:

The Greenwich Village Story (1963, Dir: Jack O'Connell)
This independently produced movie -- which has seemingly vanished from all channels of film, video and television distribution -- offers an invaluable, inside look at New York bohemia in the early-1960s. Its heartfelt (if slight) plot involves a young writer struggling to complete his first novel, his live-in ballet dancer girlfriend who wants to marry, and their circle of eccentric friends. The camera follows them to parties that get raided by the cops, poetry readings, and smoky cafes. Shot in 1961, and with a strong (and early) pro-choice message, this arty exploitation film's real strength is its documentary-like photography of real locales and faces, shot in the heart of the world capital of beat-era bohemia, Greenwich Village. We go on location to Washington Square Park singalongs, or to legendary folk club the Gaslight Café (including a brief glimpse of Noel Paul Stookey's pre-Peter & Mary comedy act), or to Elaine Starkman's real-life clothing boutique (where a young Mary Travers once worked).

Most of the cast, including ex-Off Broadway lead actors Robert Hogan and Melinda Plank, would remain unknown, but they give good, earnest performances. A few went on to bigger things: James Frawley, who plays a bearded, horn-rimmed, pipe-smoking publisher's agent, would just a few years later help develop The Monkees as the start of a long directing career in television. John Avildsen, who has a minor role and served as assistant director, would later direct Joe, Rocky and The Karate Kid. But TGVS director Jack O'Connell stayed true to form: His later made the hippie documentary Revolution (which spawned a soundtrack album that was much more successful than its film), then updated it decades later as The Hippie Revolution.

"With the aid of the principals and the unwitting citizens of Manhattan's Bohemia who never previously faced cameras professionally, and with the excellent assistance of his photographer, Baird Bryant, Mr. O'Connell has roamed the bars and beatnik caverns, the dingy pads and lofts and the colorful, clangorous confines of Washington Square Park and Bleecker Street to come up with a Cook's Tour that is both picturesque and germane to his tale of young love and desire for a place in the arts in Gotham." - A. H. Weiler, New York Times


Hot Wheels! Short Films About Hot Rods, Slot Cars,

Skateboards and More at Moore

Friday, November 17
8:00 pm
Admission: $6.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, November 17, the Secret Cinema will revisit a favorite themed program of shorts that has not been seen in nearly seven years. Focusing on all things that go! go! go!, the title of Hot Wheels! Short Films About Hot Rods, Slot Cars, Skateboards and More, pretty much says it all -- except for the fact that most of the films come from those wonderful mid-1960s.

Last shown at the late, lamented Silk City Lounge back in January of 2000, this new presentation of Hot Wheels! will include some new acquisitions never before shown.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $6.00.

Just a few program highlights are:

The Wonderful World of Wheels (1965?) - This super-colorful industrial film, produced by the Petersen group of automotive magazines, is hosted by the late actor Lloyd Bridges. Covering all forms of car racing, from the NHRA Winternationals of drag racing, to slot cars, the Indy 500, and the custom space-age creations of George Barris and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, this 30-minute film was the inspiration for this entire Secret Cinema presentation! With great "now sound" music, photography by Vilmos Zsigmond (around the same time he was shooting Mondo Mod) and Laszlo Kovacs, plus an appearance by "Fabian, the popular singer-actor," you just can't go wrong.

Skaterdater (1966) - This amusing, touching, and wordless drama tells the story of an adolescent boy who is shunned by the fellow members of his skateboard gang when he falls for a young girl. The much-praised soundtrack consists of instrumental surf rock played by Davie Allan and the Arrows (and included his first use of fuzz guitar). The film was directed by Noel Black (Pretty Poison).

Hot Wheels (1969) - An episode from this rarely seen Saturday morning cartoon show, loosely based (or at least named after) the popular, then-new Mattel toy. The plot concerns crime fighting auto racers, and the theme song is by "Mike Curb and the Curbstones" (also with Davie Allan involvement?)

It's Wanton Murder (1946) - Lowell Thomas narrates this melodramatic driver safety film, which includes some rather graphic car crash images considering the film's age. Eerier, however, are shots in which fatal accident victims fade away from scenes of their once-daily life. One old-fashioned touch in our original release print of It's Wanton Murder is the use of hand-colored frames of a traffic light, a technique harking back to the earliest days of cinema.

Plus much, much more!


From Philadelphia With Love Again:

More Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films

at Sedgwick Cultural Center

Friday, October 6
8:30 pm
Admission: $7.00

Sedgwick Cultural Center
7135 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia
(215) 248-9229

On Friday, October 6, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will offer From Philadelphia With Love Again: More Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films. This latest entry in one of our most ambitious and best-loved series will include the same set of films shown last spring in Center City. Note that it is 100% different programming than what was previously shown at the Sedgwick.

A sure highlight of this new Sedgwick event will be the appearance of Chestnut Hill resident Ralph Hirshorn, who will be on hand to introduce his 1960 satirical short film The End of Summer.

While most area residents are familiar with Philadelphia films such as Rocky, Trading Places, and the works of M. Night Shayamalan, there is a whole world of locally-made films that have been forgotten -- the "ephemeral" short films that were primarily made by small independent companies for a once booming non-theatrical market. While most school districts, television stations and traveling salesman have long ago discarded their 16mm film projectors, we at Secret Cinema have not, and are proud to present a look back at these celluloid time capsules that would otherwise not be seen again.

If you've never been to the Sedgwick and are interested at all in classic movie theaters, you really need to check it out -- and this Secret Cinema event offers a rare chance to see actual projected celluloid in this site that was once a cathedral of celluloid. The Sedgwick Cultural Center consists of the surviving lobby areas of what was once the Sedgwick Theater, a mammoth movie palace built in 1928. The survival of even some of the Sedgwick's areas reminds us that earlier generations were lucky enough to have amazing theaters not just downtown but also in their residential neighborhoods. The huge auditorium, which once seated 1636 patrons on one level, was bricked up and essentially gutted in the 1960s (it survives as a giant storage warehouse with a rather ornate ceiling). What remains in today's Cultural Center are the original facade, and two separate lobbies, which together are larger than many multiplex screening rooms. Many original art deco features are intact.

There will be one complete show at 8:00 pm. Admission is $7.00.

Just a few highlights of From Philadelphia With Love Again are:

Wonders of Philadelphia (1962) - This amusing and rare theatrical short was part of a series of musical "Travelarks" that Columbia Pictures released. This segment is narrated by Dick Clark, who takes a look at Philly nightlife and other local sites as they were in the early sixties.

The Cherry Hill Story (1969) - Produced by the Cherry Hill, New Jersey Board of Education, this colorful short takes a quick look around local sites before settling down to the main business at hand -- trumpeting the strengths of the local school system, with an emphasis on the newly-constructed, state-of-the-art Cherry Hill East High School.

The Maestro (1971, Dir: Jim and Janet Hirschfeld) - This color documentary short, produced for local television, gives a behind-the-scenes look at Eugene Ormandy, legendary conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The film shows Ormandy at work in Philadelphia, on tour, and at rest in his Berkshires summer home. Includes nice looks at the Academy of Music and the Robin Hood Dell, and its illustrious "cast" includes Zubin Mehta, Isaac Stern, Marian Anderson, Aaron Copland, Frank Rizzo and Richard Nixon! Narrated by the great John Facenda.

The End of Summer (1960, Dir: Ralph Hirshorn) - This award-winning satirical short was intended as a gentle spoof of then popular avant-garde films, somewhat in the style of Roman Polanski's Two Men and a Wardrobe. It shows "a girl in summer" as she wanders around such bucolic locales as West Mount Airy, Wissahickon Creek, Fairmount Park, the Curtis Arboretum and the Art Museum. Print courtesy of the director, who will be familiar to many as a film festival regular and overall friend of film.

United We Stand, Issue #112 (1949) - This title was made by the American Legion for distribution to their members, and in this episode takes a look at their largest ever national convention, held in Philadelphia in 1949. The members are seen parading and convening all around our fair city, the film providing invaluable recordings of how it (Ben Franklin Parkway, Bellevue-Stratford, the navy yard) looked 57 years ago. Most speeches mention "the shadow of Communist power." Of special interest are the many scenes shot inside Convention Hall (aka Municipal Auditorium, later renamed the Civic Center), including a visit from President Truman. This monumental Art Deco structure that previously hosted presidential conventions and later was the site of the first Beatles concert in Philadelphia was sadly demolished only last year.

And much, much more...


Curator's Choice 2: Unseen Corners and

Forgotten Favorites from the Secret Cinema Archives

at Moore

Friday, September 29
8:00 pm
Admission: $6.00

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Friday, September 29, The Secret Cinema begin its ninth season at Moore College of Art and Design, with a hand-picked program of nearly-lost treasures from the deepest depths of the Secret Cinema film vaults. Curator's Choice 2: Unseen Corners and Forgotten Favorites from the Secret Cinema Archives will include just that -- films never shown before, and films not shown in many years.

The Secret Cinema's private archive contains literally thousands of reels of 16mm (and 35mm, and 8mm) features, theatrical shorts, cartoons, newsreels, television shows, educational films, travel films, industrial films, and home movies. Together, they add up to well over one million feet of often rare celluloid, with several prints thought to be the only extant copies in the world.

Since 1992, the Secret Cinema has sought to create programming that exposes every type of these films, by showing these fascinating, historical, and often hilarious short films before features or in themed groupings. Yet, despite exposing hundreds of rare works this way, there are still many choice reels that we've never got around to screening publicly, often unclassifiable films that had inconvenient running times or could fit into no common theme.

Some of the best of these amazing films will again see the light of a projector bulb in Curator's Choice 2. This previously ungroupable group of short films will include films that were made to entertain, to teach, to encourage commerce and to alter opinion. Spanning many decades, many show wondrous places, styles and things that have long-since vanished. Some of them now seem campy, others still have valid lessons to teach, but all are fascinating, and extremely unlikely to be seen anywhere else, including on video.

There will be one complete program, starting at 8:00 pm. Admission is $6.00.

The program is still being assembled, but just a few highlights are:

It Takes Everybody to Build This Land (1951) - This unusual educational film tells the story of "our basic interdependence," by showing various workers in industry and agriculture, and weaving their stories together through the voice of "Oscar Brand, American Folksinger." Brand, a nationally prominent performer since the 1940s, hosted radio and TV programs of American folklore (some of which featured a young Bob Dylan).

Dream Girl (1967?) - This reel -- combining both black & white and color scenes -- is actually unfinished workprint footage from what was going to be either an unusually arty softcore sex film, or an unusually adult student film.

Wings to Tomorrow (1957) - Pan Am produced this colorful short about teen aviation buffs that build working model airplanes out of balsa wood. Printed in non-fading Kodachrome stock, the better to enjoy the super-saturated colors of a long-gone era.

The Meaning of Patriotism (1961) - Produced by school film giant Coronet Films at the height of the Cold War, this film wonders out loud if ordinary citizens like teachers and housewives can be true patriots, by comparing them to great figures that preceded them in American history. Coincidentally (?), the film's title was shared by that of a speech made by presidential candidate Richard Nixon just one year earlier.

The Mysteries of Science (1920s) - This film gives an example of the final activities of one of the great pioneers of early cinema. American-born Charles Urban developed one of the first projectors, then moved to England to avoid patent problems from his rival Edison. He experimented with an early color process, and when this failed to catch on, produced this, one in a series of early educational films making full use of such techniques as time-lapse and macro-photography, exploring the science to be found in soap bubbles and sound waves.

...plus much, much more!


Convicted

at historic Eastern State Penitentiary

Friday, June 2, 2006
8:30 pm (doors open 7:30 pm)
Admission: $8.00

Eastern State Penitentiary
22nd & Fairmount Sts., Philadelphia
(215) 236-3300

The Secret Cinema will return to its most historic and atmospheric venue ever on Friday, June 2, with a screening at Eastern State Penitentiary of the 1950 prison-break thriller Convicted.

There will be one complete show, starting at 8:30 pm, which includes the usual unusual short subjects. Doors open at 7:30 pm, allowing the audience time to take a look at many new and existing museum exhibits at ESP. Admission is $8.00.

Eastern State Penitentiary, built in the 1820s, is a world famous historic landmark, which influenced the design of hundreds of other prisons. Closed as a working prison since 1971, the decaying structure, which once housed Al Capone and Willie Sutton, has become a popular tourist attraction and museum over the last decade. This will be the seventh Secret Cinema presentation at ESP. The film will be projected right inside the main prison building in a hallway just outside Capone's cell, surrounded by iron bars and ghosts of convicts past.

A full description of the feature follows:

Convicted (1950, Dir: Henry Levin)
Glenn Ford plays an innocent man framed for the murder of a prominent citizen, and when denied parole after years in prison he joins in with hardened violent prisoners in an escape plot. Broderick Crawford is the honest warden trying to set things straight, in this noir era remake of the 1931 film (and earlier Broadway play) The Criminal Code. "Some good twists and turns in this well-scripted and tautly directed wrong man story wherein Ford excels as the victim." - Motion Picture Guide.

"There is a noir quality in (Convicted) due primarily to the presence of Glenn Ford. Ford's presence in many of the noir films of Columbia Pictures during that period (Framed, Undercover Man, and the superb Gilda), established a screen personality that. of itself, articulated a close affinity to the noir world. The ironies of the plot, playing off Ford's assumed persona, imbue Convicted with a noir sensibility that would have been unattainable without Ford." - Carl Macek, Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style. Glenn Ford recently turned 90.

Director Henry Levin was a University of Pennsylvania graduate who worked for many years in Broadway theater. After being brought to Hollywood as a dialogue coach, he enjoyed a lengthy career directing films for Columbia and 20th Century-Fox in an amazing variety of genres, ranging from his first film Cry of the Werewolf in 1944 to Dean Martin's Matt Helm movies in the 1960s.


Exploration/Exploitation double-feature

closes season at Moore

Saturday, May 13
Congorilla - 8:00 pm
Beyond the Caribbean - 10:00 pm

Moore College of Art & Design
20th & Race Streets, Philadelphia
(215) 965-4099

On Saturday, May 13, The Secret Cinema at Moore College of Art and Design will offer a special double-feature event called Exploration/Exploitation. Comprised of two ultra-rare feature-length films from the 1930s, the program will take a look back on a time when exploration and exotic peoples were the stuff of popular entertainment, and the concept of political correctness was many years away.

First off will be Congorilla. Made by the then-famed husband and wife explorer team of Martin and Osa Johnson, this 1932 documentary was the first sound film made in Africa. While offering many fascinating glimpses of pygmy life and nature in the wild, Congorilla is most notable today for the sometimes-excruciating political incorrectness of the filmmakers, who show a disrespect for their subjects worthy of the most sensational exploitation film producers.

Our second feature is even more obscure and curious. Beyond the Caribbean was produced and directed by a nephew of Theodore Roosevelt. It mixes actuality footage shot in Central American jungles with a concocted plot about lost treasure and heathen savages who follow the strange sado-masochistic rituals of the Penitente cult.

Showtimes for Exploration/Exploitation are as follows:

Saturday, May 13
Congorilla - 8:00 pm
Beyond the Caribbean - 10:00 pm

Each feature will be preceded by exotic short subjects. Admission is $6.00.

Complete descriptions of the two features follows:

Congorilla (1932, Dir: Martin & Osa Johnson)
Congorilla was the first sound film from Martin & Osa Johnson, a husband and wife explorer team who achieved huge popularity in the early 20th century by blending daring adventure with Hollywood entertainment values. Martin Johnson had traveled the South Pacific with Jack London. While home in Kansas he met 16-year-old Osa and promptly married her. Thus began a lifelong partnership summed up in the title of Osa's later autobiography, I Married Adventure. They journeyed to Africa, the South Seas and Borneo, becoming celebrities as pioneering pilots, filmmakers, authors, photographers and lecturers, sharing their studies of the people and nature of previously unseen lands. Their eight feature films were released by major Hollywood studios and were box office hits. Their successful marketing concepts included their own clothing line, and even early product placement in their films.

Congorilla, covering trips to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the Congo basin, and billed as being about "big apes and little people," is a good example of their movie style. Martin usually manned the camera, allowing perky Osa to frequently star on screen, and make friends with monkeys and pygmies alike. The Johnsons clearly had a love of their subjects, but latter-day writers have taken a more critical view of their efforts. Film historian Erik Barnouw (in his book Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film) noted that "Self-glorification was the keynote. Unabashed condescension and amusement marked their attitude toward natives...Johnson's narration speaks of 'funny little savages,' 'happiest little savages in Earth.' His idea of humor was to give a pygmy a cigar and wait for him to get sick...to give a monkey beer and watch the result. During a shot of a crocodile opening its mouth. Johnson's narration comments: 'Gee, what a place to throw old razor blades.'" We will be showing a flawless archival print of Congorilla.

Beyond The Caribbean (1938, Dir: Andre Roosevelt, Ewing Scott)
Not even listed in most film reference books, we guarantee that you will never see this movie projected again in your lifetime. Produced and directed by Andre Roosevelt (a nephew of President Theodore Roosevelt), it mixed actual travel footage with awkwardly staged dramatic scenes, cheaply shot with post-dubbed dialogue. The simple yet contrived plot concerns a pair of fortune hunters who get stranded on an island. They are rescued by Andre Roosevelt (playing himself), and find their way to a dangerous tribe of natives who are engaged in weird voodoo ceremonies.

Though reportedly filmed off the coast of Panama and in Central American jungles, the natives are labeled "Penitentes." They perform the sado-masochistic rituals of the actual, mainly New Mexico-based Catholic cult, including flagellation and crucifixion (perhaps not coincidentally, Beyond The Caribbean was filmed as the 1937 exploitation film Lash of the Penitentes was gaining notoriety). This strange production (which lasts only 51 minutes) has always-stilted dialogue, endless use of stock music, some horrendous acting, and confusing action and continuity. Its strengths are the documentary footage of exotic/cute jungle animals and the depictions of religious rites, clearly calculated to give nightmares to white audiences.

According to the film's own dialogue, Andre Roosevelt was an authority on underwater life. He also directed the more widely-distributed, Balinese-themed exotica semi-documentary Goona-Goona (1932).


The best of From Philadelphia With Love:

Industrial, Educational and other Lost Local Films

at Sedgwick Cultural Center

Saturday, May 6
8:00 pm
Admission: $7.00

Sedgwick Cultural Center
7135 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia
(215) 248-9229

Hot on the heels of a highly-successful screening of From Philadelphia With Love 3 at Moore College of Art & Design, the Secret Cinema is happy to have a chance to present a night of highlights from earlier entries in this series of rare locally-oriented films at the newly re-opened Sedgwick Cultural Center, on Saturday, May 6.

Many area residents are familiar with Philly films such as Rocky, but there is a whole world of locally-made movies that have been forgotten -- "ephemeral" shorts made by small companies for a once-booming non-theatrical market. While most school districts, television stations and traveling salesman have long discarded their 16mm film projectors, the Secret Cinema has not, and proudly presents a look back at these celluloid time capsules that would otherwise not be seen again.

This special presentation of rare Philly film at the re-opened Sedgwick Cultural Center includes the best short films from the first two editions of From Philadelphia With Love, previously presented by Secret Cinema years ago at Moore College of Art & Design (however, there will be no overlap with any of the films just shown in From Philadelphia With Love 3