Gregory LaCava’s His Nibs – A Comedy for Projectionists Screens April 13 at the Music Box – 35mm Print from UCLA

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

Saturday, April 13 @ 11:30 AM
Directed by Gregory La Cava • 1921
Vaudeville star Charles (Chic) Sale was already well-known as America’s foremost interpreter of rustic tomfoolery when he transitioned to the silent screen with His Nibs. Originally begun as a straight adaptation of Irvin S. Cobb’s short story “The Smart Aleck,” His Nibs eventually became something else entirely—a comedy about the Slippery Elm Picture Palace that serves as a sloppy, starstruck valentine to rural cinema exhibition. Sale plays no less than seven different characters, including Slippery Elm proprietor and projectionist Theo “His Nibs” Bender, theater organist Miss Dessie Teed, and The Boy, star of this week’s attraction, He Fooled ’Em All. Colleen Moore plays Sale’s costar in this film-within-the-film, but the His Nibs marketing campaign focused exclusively on Sale and touted his versalite ability to play so many distinct characters, “probably for the first time in the history of the industry.” (Buster Keaton had over twenty parts in his two-reeler The Playhouse, released three weeks prior to His Nibs, but who’s counting?) Sale is capably guided by director Gregory La Cava, himself transitioning to live action after several years of making animated cartoons under the Hearst banner. Together they concocted a surprisingly rigorous hick comedy that, per film scholar Richard Koszarski, “suggests Pirandello more than Sennett or Roach.” (KW)
56 min • Exceptional Pictures • 35mm from UCLA Film & Television Archive

Cartoon: Happy Hooligan in “He Tries the Movies Again” (Gregory LaCava, 1916) – 2 min – 35mm from George Eastman Museum

Preservation of “Happy Hooligan” funded by the Save America’s Treasures Grant, generously supported by the National Park Service in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities

Live accompaniment by Music Box house organist Dennis Scott

Check out the rest of the season here!

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