The Big Parade (King Vidor, 1925, 2h 20m)
Featuring musical accompaniment on piano by Clay Hilman of KC Bonkers
October 25, 6:30pm; Doors open at 6
Carnegie Museum Community Room, Houghton
Metro-Golden-Mayer’s The Big Parade was directed by King Vidor and based on the autobiographical novel Plumes, written by war veteran Laurence Stallings. The Big Parade enjoyed huge box office success as the highest grossing silent film at the time. The film held exceptionally long bookings at picture palaces with full musical orchestration such as the spectacular Grauman’s Egyptian theater in Hollywood and New York’s Astor on Broadway, where it took in $1.5 million alone during a ninety-six-week run. Reviews praised The Big Parade as the greatest of war dramas, and Vidor became known as one of Hollywood’s best directors.
“The blockbuster World War I silent film that brought home the traumatic impact of war . . . The Big Parade is among the first to explore the psychological trauma of war.” – Smithsonianmag.com
If there had been Academy Awards in the 1920s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s The Big Parade would have swept the prizes. Jim (John Gilbert), son of a wealthy businessman, is swept up in the nation’s patriotic fervor and his fiancée’s suggestion that he’ll ‘look gorgeous in an officer’s uniform.’ He joins the Army and becomes best friends with two working class stiffs, Slim and Bull. The trio endure training camp together in a small French village where they meet Melisande (Renée Adorée), a farmer’s daughter. Jim and Melisande fall in love just before he and his buddies are sent to the front. Summary adapted from Smithsonianmag.com
This classic silent film will be shown in the Carnegie Museum’s Community Room, on the ground floor, with live music accompaniment by Clay Hilman, a local pianist known for his improvisational style. Hilman has played for 35 years, and started performing regularly for public engagements at the age of 12. His accompaniment will mimic the improvisational nature of live musical accompaniment in small picture houses in the 1910s.