It's Showtime Again!
Countdown begins toward Cinevent and Slapsticon, my two favorite Spring-Summer destinations. Getting there has become half the fun for drives through the Virginias, Ohio --- both shows begin for me on Interstate 77 and each amount to apx. six hours on the road (Cinevent happens in Columbus, while Slapsticon headquarters in Arlington, VA). Driving time's good for meditating on fun I've had at previous Cine/Slaps. Actually, 2010 was my first at Slapsticon. Would that I could go back and attend ones missed! It's great reuniting with folks known primarily by mails, or now, internet. If reaction to movies and crowd cheer in general is any indication, everyone has a blast at Cinevent and Slapsticon. I get a rush just entering the hotel at Columbus --- near every year since 1982. There used to be guys camped in the lobby with 16mm lists. We'd look at those before checking in. There's still a thriving dealer room at Columbus, with more on the sixth floor where Morris Everett's annual poster auction is held. So much happens here that it seems four days pass in as many minutes.
Slapsticon last year yielded as many films as I've ever watched in a single weekend. I just couldn't pass any of these rarities up. Organizer Richard Roberts and staff book rarest and most recently restored/rediscovered titles. There's little at Slapsticon you'll find on DVD. Truly it's a show for those who think they've seen everything. This year there is treasure long buried that I'm particularly revved for --- War, Italian Style is a late career starring feature for Buster Keaton last sighted at the Liberty in 1966. It'll be a thrill revisiting this one on Slapsticon's big screen, and with an audience. Harold Lloyd's Professor, Beware is scheduled as well. This one was syndicated with pre-48 Paramounts long ago, but never surfaced in close-by tele-markets. Slapsticon 2011 will be my first time viewing it, as will, I suspect, be the case for many attending. Comedians who don't get enough mainstream exposure are served generously at Slapsticon. Lloyd Hamilton, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew, Harry Langdon, assorted Hal Roach all-stars, many more unheralded and richly deserving of play before an appreciative crowd, which Slaps' assuredly is. Best of all here is comfort and quality of hosting Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, where projected film looks great and acoustics for live music accompaniment is note-perfect. I lasted hours last year on Spectrum seating without fatigue and expect to do so again this July. How many other venues are as hospitable?
Cinevent has their customary line-up of unique attractions, in addition to lure of the auction and dealer rooms. Steve Haynes really does a splendid job of organizing. This year's program includes a Deanna Durbin, His Butler's Sister, so far unreleased on domestic DVD, and My Gal Sal in IB Technicolor. That one's not available on disc either. A Universal I've long waited to see, Bombay Mail, is scheduled. There's even The Lady and The Monster for horror and Von Stroheim completists. Man In The Dark was an early 3-D feature pretty much unseen since 1953. Many silent features are scheduled, with on-site talent at the piano. Any opportunity to catch pre-talkers with live music is worth seizing. Good as digital is, there's no substituting for performers in the room. Cinevent does a Saturday morning cartoon revue that's especially popular, dependable always for (way) off beaten path animation. A longer list of scheduled films is here. I'll be situated at least part-time at tables where Robert Matzen and Mike Mazzone will be selling a very impressive cache of posters and lobby cards they recently acquired. Readers I've met (and especially ones I haven't) are encouraged to stop by. Maybe this time I'll finally encounter Nitrateville's Mike Gebert after several years of just missing each other.