Big Business (Leo McCarey, James W. Horne, US 1929, 19 min., 16mm)
The Valiant (William K. Howard, US 1929, 61 min., 35mm)
Silence and sound shakily coexisted in the American film world of 1929, but as we all know, the latter won out in the end. This shift is displayed in tonight’s program, first featuring silent Laurel and Hardy in one of their defining films, Big Business, in which their salesmanship “abilities” run up against the world’s most unwilling and stubborn prospect. Then, we see speaking Paul Muni in his film debut as The Valiant, a mysterious condemned prisoner who intensely guards his secrets against all prying. Laurel, Hardy, and Muni all went on to even greater successes once the “talkie revolution” had settled down, but it is fascinating and entertaining to see these three legends coming into their own in what turned out to be a cataclysmic year.
Live piano by Philip C. Carli.