Milwaukee’s Oriental Theatre to mark 80th Birthday with film

posted by senk1198 on October 12, 2007 at 3:51 pm

MILWAUKEE, WI — The Oriental Theatre this year 80 years young and still going strong, is celebrating its “birthday” on Thursday, October 18, with a showing of the classic 1927 silent film, “Underworld”—accompanied live by the world-famous Alloy Orchestra.

The program starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 each ($10 each for seniors, children, and students). As the Web site for Landmark Theatres, which runs the Oriental, states, “Period gang[ster] attire is encouraged, and prizes will be awarded for the best outfits.”

“Underworld,” directed by the great Josef von Sternberg, is the prototype for many of the great Prohibition-era “gangster” films that followed—
“Little Caesar,” “Public Enemy,” “Scarface,” and so many more. It’s grim, dark visual style shows just how sophisticated silent film cinematography truly was—ironically, at the point silents themselves would soon fall to sound. The film’s lead actor, George Bancroft, played his role as the “heavy” well—arguably too well for his own good, since he ended up being typecast.

To find out more about this classic film, take a look at its entry at the Internet Movie Database.

Called by Roger Ebert “[t]he best in the world at accompanying silent films,” the three-member Alloy Orchestra, with its thoroughly modern, “cutting-edge” music, helps bring fresh life to “the silents” for 21st-century audiences, showing anew why silent film, especially with great music, truly is a powerful, universal language.

To learn more, check out this group’s Web site.

The October 18 program, like many of today’s silent-film events, will prove anew that one doesn’t necessarily have to be a silent-film fan to become hooked by this fascinating and beautiful art form. Especially when presented the right way—with a high-quality print and great live music and in a historic theater designed for just such films where you can share the event with others—silent film is a totally immersive, energizing entertainment experience. Even if you’ve never before seen a “silent,” come to this one—you’ll be glad you did.

Hope to see you there—spread the word!

Scott Enk

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