Three screening rooms showing comedies, silent movies, pre-code films and animation, a celebration of the Golden Age of Radio and the popular feature “In the Zone with Rod Serling” are part of the returning Western New York Movie Expo, Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 in the Adam’s Mark Hotel (120 Church St.).
The third annual event opens at 9 a.m. daily with activities through midnight daily (except Monday). For those looking to add to their memorabilia and film collection, the Dealers and Expo Room opens at 9 a.m. daily. An auction is planned for Saturday and Sunday.
Many of the silent films will be accompanied with live music by Jeff Rapsis, including one of the event's highlights: the 1928 version of “Sadie Thompson” with Gloria Swanson and Lionel Barrymore, which will be shown at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 1.
Rapsis, considered the "house accompanist" for the festival, uses an improvisational method for his performance.
"I use no sheet music and don't prepare beforehand, but create the music live as the film is run. It's kind of a high-wire act, but results in a much more intense experience for everyone, I think. I do about 120 shows a year, and so I've gotten pretty fluent in this technique," Rapsis said. "In several cases during the festival, I'll be playing films 'cold,' meaning I've never seen them before. That's always a challenge but often the results are surprising. It's all part of the experience."
Here are other highlights. The full schedule is available wnymovieexpo.wordpress.com.
Comedy. Favorites Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy and the Three Stooges will again be represented. Of particular note this year for Laurel and Hardy fans is a restored version of “Blotto,” at 11:10 p.m. Sept. 1 and “The Nickel Hopper,” a 1926 film directed by Stan Laurel, starring Mabel Normand in what is described as a “beautiful tinted” film at 11:35 p.m. Sept. 1. Look for W.C. Fields in “Honest John” at 2:50 p.m. Aug. 31 and the popular “Tillie and Gus” at 7 p.m. Aug. 31. Silent comedy fests at noon and 8:35 p.m. Sept. 2 will be accompanied by Rapsis.
Horror films. The first day, Aug. 31, closes out with a trio of horror: “Corridors of Blood” with Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee at 9:25 p.m., “Island of Doomed Men” with Peter Lorre at 11 p.m. and the documentary “The Haunted World of Edward Wood Jr.," at 12:10 a.m. Terence Fisher fans will be interested in seeing his 1953 sci-fi film "Spaceways," showing at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31.
Vintage television. See episodes from the shows of Jimmy Durante, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Danny Thomas and Sammy Davis Jr., plus “Carson’s Cellar” with Johnny Carson in his early comedy show (1953-54).
“In the Zone with Rod Serling” hosted by Mike Pipher, 7 p.m. Sept. 1. Always a highlight of the festival. This year, Amy Boyle Johnson will read from her book “Unknown Serling.” To be shown: "Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Carlson Legend" (1952) and "The Telltale Club: The Case of Operation Death" (1954), both written by Serling. The rarely seen 9-minute promo film for Serlings post-Civil War western series, "The Loner," will also be shown at the event.
Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 at the Adam's Mark Hotel, 120 Church St. Hours are 10 a.m. to midnight Aug. 31, 9 a.m. to midnight on Sept. 1 and 2; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 3. Tickets are $40 at the door for a weekend package; $12 daily admission for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, $6 on Monday with discounted student admission.