Capitol Theatre gears up for annual Capitolfest


Rome’s Capitol Theatre, 220 W. Dominick St., will present the 17th annual Capitolfest movie festival from Friday, Aug. 9, through Sunday, Aug. 11. The festival consists of features and short subjects made in the 1910s, ‘20s, and ‘30s, most of them shown via 35mm film prints. 

Each year Capitolfest highlights the work of a particular star, several of whose movies are shown in the course of the weekend (in addition to films with other stars). Capitolfest 17 has two tribute stars, the married couple of Frances Dee and Joel McCrea.

Seven feature films starring McCrea and/or Dee will be shown as part of the festivities, and the couple’s son, Peter McCrea, will be on hand to introduce some of the movies and participate in a question and answer session about his parents. Also present for the weekend will be Victoria Riskin, who will introduce a film written by her father, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Robert Riskin. Former child actress Cora Sue Collins will participate in a question-and-answer session after the screening of the second film of her career, The Strange Case of Clara Deane (1933). 

In addition to the McCreas, Capitolfest will show movies starring such actors as Clara Bow, Barbara Stanwyck, Maurice Chevalier, George Reeves, Edward Everett Horton, and others.

During the three days, approximately 15 features and an equal number of short subjects will be shown. About 60% of the films at Capitolfest will be “talkies,” with the remaining 40% from the silent era. All the silents on the bill will be accompanied live on the theater’s 1928 Möller theater organ; the guest organists at Capitolfest 17 will be Dr. Philip C. Carli, Avery Tunningley, and Ben Model. 

For full Capitolfest schedule, see Thursday’s Entertainment section on Aug. 1.

Last year’s Capitolfest attracted patrons from 27 different U.S. states, plus Canada, England, and Ireland. The Oneida County Tourism Bureau has estimated that the local economic impact for the three day festival exceeds $450,000. 

Here is the upcoming schedule at a glance:

Session #1: Friday, Aug. 9 — 11:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

11:15 a.m. — Helen’s Babies (Sol Lesser, 1924); Director: William Seiter; Starring: Baby Peggy, Clara Bow, Edward Everett Horton. Author Edward Everett Horton, Jeanne Carpenter, Clare Adams. (approx. 80 min.) A bachelor with a dislike for children undertakes to write a book about how to bring them up. He gets more than he bargained for when his two little nieces are left in his care.

12:25 p.m. Intermission

12:40 p.m. — Rich Man’s Folly (Paramount, 1931) Director: John Cromwell; Starring: George Bancroft, Frances Dee, Robert Ames, Juliette Compton. A wealthy manufacturer lavishes all his attention on his son, who is being groomed to take over his business, but in the process his daughter (Frances Dee) is neglected.

2:05 p.m. — Extended Intermission-Dealers Room Open

2:30 p.m. — Men in Her Life (Columbia, 1931) Director: William Beaudine; Starring: Lois Moran, Charles Bickford, Victor Varconi, Luis Alberni (70 min.) A sympathetic portrait of an uncouth retired bootlegger (Bickford), who connects with a formerly rich socialite (Moran) and arranges for the lady to teach him how to become a gentleman.

3:40 p.m. — The Eagle and the Squawk (Universal, 1933). No director credited. Starring: Andy Devine, Sterling Holloway (4 min.) Short subject to promote the government’s NRA (National Recovery Act) program.

3:45 p.m. — The Strange Case of Clara Deane (Paramount, 1932) Director: Louis J. Gasnier; Max Marcinmin; Starring: Wynne Gibson, Pat O’Brien, Dudley Digges, Frances Dee, George Barbier, Russell Gleason, Lee Kohlmar, Cora Sue Collins. (60 min.) An innocent women marries a ne’er do well who is arrested and sent away to prison.

4:45 p.m. Cora Sue Collins question & answer session — Cora Sue Collins, who appeared as one of the principals in the preceding film, will engage in a question & answer session with the audience.

5:05 Dinner Break

Session #2: Friday, Aug. 9 — 6:45 to 11 p.m.

6:50 p.m. — The Bookworm Turns (Keystone/Triangle, 1917). Director: Charles Avery; Starring: Harry Depp, Claire Anderson, James Spencer. (10 min.) Very little information is available onThe Bookworm Turnsbut, as Depp was particularly well-known for appearing in movies that required him to don female clothing, we might expect to see him in drag at some point in this one.

7 p.m. Captain Blood (Vitagraph, 1924), Director: David Smith; Starring: J. Warren Kerrigan, Jean Paige, Charlotte Merriam, James Morrison (aprox. 105 min.). Dublin doctor Peter Blood, abused by the English government for treating a rebel, is forced by circumstances to take up the trade of piracy; as “Captain Blood,” he becomes the terror of Spanish shipping.

9 p.m. Intermission

9:10 p.m. Old Man Trouble (Columbia, 1929). Director: Basil Smith; Starring: Jules Bledsoe (Columbia-Victor Gems series) (7 min.) The Columbia-Victor Gems series was Columbia’s answer to Warner Bros.’ Vitaphone shorts, often featuring vaudevillians or musical performers in a short sketch or musical number.

9:20 p.m. The Unseen (Paramount, 1945). Director: Lewis Allen; Starring: Joel McCrea, Gail Russell, Herbert Marshall, Phyllis Brooks, Elisabeth Risdon, Norman Lloyd. (81 min.) A follow up to the previous year’s The Univited, The Unseenis a gothic mystery revolving around a young woman who is hired to be governess to the two children of a widower.

Session #3: Saturday, Aug. 10 — 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

9:55 a.m. Ben Blair (Pallas/Paramount, 1916) Director: William Desmond Taylor; Starring: Dustin Farnum, Winifred Kingston, Herbert Standing, Lamar Johnstone (Silent digital - 59 min.) Dustin Farnum plays a young man whose life-long obsession is to avenge himself on his father, who was responsible for his mother’s death. Based on the popular novel by Will Lillibridge.

10:55 Extended Intermission

11:20 a.m. Peter McCrea question & answer sessionPeter McCrea, the son of our tribute stars Frances Dee and Joel McCrea, will introduce the movie that follows and engage in a question & answer session with the audience.

11:50 a.m. Caught! (Paramount, 1931) Director: Edward Sloman; Starring: Richard Arlen, Louise Dresser, Frances Dee, Tom Kennedy (68 min.) Louise Dresser plays Calamity Jane in Caught!, who is the head of a gang of rustlers, and runs a gambling establishment where the female employees are “for sale.”

1 p.m. Lunch Break-Dealers Room Open

Session #4, Saturday, Aug. 10 — 2:20 to 5:55pm

2:20 p.m. Youth Takes a Fling (Universal, 1938) Director: Archie Mayo; Starring: Joel McCrea, Andrea Leeds, Frank Jenks, Dorothea Kent, Isabel Jeans, Virginia Grey, Grant Mitchell. (77 min.) A Kansas farm boy (Joel McCrea) comes to New York City and gets a job as a truck driver for a department store. He soon finds himself having to ward off the advances of a girl (Andrea Leeds) in the sales department.

3:45 p.m. Intermission

4:05 p.m. Roamin’ Thru the Roses (Columbia, 1933) Director: Archie Gottler; Starring: Arthur Jarrett, Margaret Neering, Neely Edwards, Carol Wines, Bobby Watson (20 min.) A Columbia short subject in theMusical Noveltiesseries.

4:30 p.m. Interns Can’t Take Money (Paramount, 1937) Director: Alfred Santell; Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Lloyd Nolan (78 min.) The first movie in what would become (at MGM) the Dr. Kildare series, Joel McCrea stars as the idealistic young doctor who becomes involved in helping a woman just released from prison (Barbara Stanwyck) locate her three-year-old daughter.

5:55 Dinner Break

Session #5, Saturday, Aug. 10 — 7:40-11 p.m.

7:40 p.m. Big Red Riding Hood (Roach, 1925) Director: Leo McCarey; Starring: Charley Chase, Martha Sleeper, Helen Gilmore. (Silent -10 min.) Charley Chase has been commissioned by the Swedish government to translate the famous children’s classic,Little Red Riding Hood, but the fact that he can’t afford to buy a copy leads to unforeseen misadventures.

7:55 p.m. Sally, Irene and Mary (MGM, 1925) Director: Edmund Goulding; Starring: Constance Bennett, Joan Crawford, Sally O’Neill, William Haines, Helen Kolker, Douglas Gilmore. (approx. 60 min.) The lives and loves of three chorus girls,Sally, Irene and Marywas adapted and directed by Edmund Goulding from the successful Broadway musical comedy.

9:05 Intermission (15 min)

9:20 p.m. Curse of a Broken Heart (Columbia, 1933) Director: Lester Neilsen; Starring: Robert Ellis, Marion Byron, Robert Ellis, Al Klein, Carol Wine. (20 minutes) A two reel short in Columbia’sSunshine Comedies series.

9:40 p.m. Signing ‘em Up (RKO, 1933) (no director credited); Starring: Roscoe Ates, Bruce Cabot, Wheeler & Woosley, Dorothy Lee. (4 min.) An all-star short designed to promote the National Recovery Act.

9:45 p.m. Legion of Terror (Columbia, 1936) Director: C.C. Coleman, Jr.; Starring: Bruce Cabot, Marguerite Churchill, Crawford Weaver, Ward Bond (63 min.) An ambitious Columbia programmer inspired by the May 1935 murder of WPA worker Charles Poole, Legion of Terror is a hard-hitting melodrama exposing the atrocities committed by a Ku Klux Klan-type organization.

Session #6, Sunday, Aug.11 — 9:30 a.m. to 1:05 p.m.

9:30 a.m. Boys Will Be Boys (Universal, 1932) Director: George Stevens; Starring: Frank Albertson, Sally Blane, Richard Carle, Guinn Williams, Fred Kelsey. (20 min.) A young man’s family objects that he is seeing a showgirl, and his father becomes particularly alarmed when he discovers the girl is one that he himself has been flirting with.

9:50 a.m. Playboy of Paris (Paramount, 1930) Director: Ludwig Berger; Starring: Maurice Chevalier, Frances Dee, O.P. Heggie, S. Erwin, E. Pallette (79 min.) A Maurice Chevalier musical comedy in which a waiter in a Parisian café inherits a fortune, but must continue working to get it.

11:10 a.m. Extended Intermission-Dealers Room Open

11:35 a.m. Her Lucky Day (Reelcraft, 1920) Director: Dick Smith; Starring: Alice Howell, Dick Smith, Rose Burkhardt (Silent - Digital 20 min.)

11:55 a.m. Kentucky Pride (Fox, 1925) Director: John Ford; Starring: Gertrude Astor, J. Farrell MacDonald, Henry B. Walthall, Man o’ War (Silent - 70 min.) One of the lesser known movies of the great director John Ford, Kentucky Pride is a horse racing melodrama, the story told in flashback by a horse.

1:05 p.m. Lunch Break

Session #7, Sunday, Aug. 11 — 2:10-5:45 p.m.

2:10 p.m. Ride, Cowboy, Ride (Warner Bros., 1939) Director: George Amy; Starring: Dennis Morgan, Maris Wrixon, George Reeves, Cliff Edwards, Frank Wilcox, Esther Howard. (Digital - 22 min.) Dennis Morgan rescues Maris Wrixon from a runaway stage after it has been held up by bandits.

2:35 p.m. He Done His Duty (Columbia, 1937) Director: Charles Lamont; Starring: Andy Clyde, Robert McKenzie, Dorothy Granger, Bud Jamison (17 min.) Andy Clyde is the sheriff of a small town who is running for reelection, his rival being his sworn enemy (Robert McKenzie). But when a confidence woman (Dorothy Granger) swindles his opponent out of his cash, Andy teams with him to bring her to justice.

2:55 p.m. Talking short subject t.b.a.

2:55 p.m. This Reckless Age (Paramount, 1932) Director: Frank Tuttle; Starring: Buddy Rogers, Peggy Shannon, Charles Ruggles, Frances Dee, Richard Bennett (80 min.) The story revolves around a seemingly ungrateful son and daughter (Buddy Rogers and Frances Dee), who come to the aid of their father (Richard Bennett) when he finds himself in dire straits.

4:15 Intermission

4:30 p.m. Going Crooked (Fox,1926) Director: George Melford; Starring: Bessie Love, Oscar Shaw, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Leslie Fenton, Edgar Kennedy (Silent) A female thief (Bessie Love) under the thumb of a master criminal (Gustav von Seyffertitz), decides to squeal after an innocent young man in framed for murder and sentenced to death.


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