New Season Begins May 4 with “Bill Hart in Evening Clothes”: William S. Hart’s Branding Broadway in 35mm

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N Southport Ave., Chicago, IL 60613
Tickets: $11

Saturday, May 4 @ 11:30 AM
BRANDING BROADWAY
Directed by William S. Hart • 1918
Live organ accompaniment by Music Box house organist Dennis Scott
The popular Western actor-director William S. Hart was releasing films at such a gallop—1918 saw eight features and a half-reel short for the Liberty Loan Campaign in which Hart took a six-gun to the Kaiser—that studio marketers understandably emphasized novelty whenever possible. Hence Branding Broadway, the story of a Western rabble-rouser run out of Arizona on a rail and deposited in Manhattan to play bodyguard for a rich kid, was advertised as a gawky new opportunity to “See Bill Hart in Evening Clothes!” The formal get-up was surely old hat to Hart, born in Newburgh, New York, and a Broadway star long before he ever plied his trade on screen, but he understood the need to vary the product as much as any studio flack; he would also play an Aztec chieftain in The Captive God (1916) and a factory-foreman-turned-kidnapper in the labor drama The Whistle (1921). This proto-Coogan’s Bluff finds time for unlikely romance, physical comedy, and a few saloon dust-ups, and remains a Hart film through-and-through. As Hart scholar Diane Koszarski has argued, “Hart’s characteristic signature as an auteur is the glowing moral intensity of his films; it glimmers fitfully even in a light-hearted piece like Branding Broadway.” (KW)
53 min • Paramount-Artcraft • 35mm from the Museum of Modern Art
Short: “Angel of Hell’s Kitchen” (a.k.a. “Mr. ‘Silent’ Haskins”) (William S. Hart, 1915) – 10 min – 35mm from Library of Congress

Check out the rest of the new season here!

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