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Cinecon 52 Preview

August 16, 2016

Labor Day is fast approaching, and that means it’s almost time for the Cinecon Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. I usually jet off somewhere over the long weekend, but last year I stayed in LA and got my very first taste of Cinecon. Now I can’t seem to justify leaving and missing out on the festival's one-of-a-kind slate of "rare, unusual and unjustly forgotten" films.


Cinecon, heading into edition 52 this year, claims the event "is truly 7th Heaven for Cinephiles who have seen nearly everything TCM and AMC have to offer," which is definitely a true statement (minus the AMC part... someone should probably update that). Cinecon screens some of the rarest films I’ve ever heard of - or haven't heard of, more accurately, because I'm guessing they don’t make it out of the vault often. The fest usually throws in a handful of well known comedies or films noir, all spaced out with a superb selection of serials and shorts, to balance the schedule out.

As an attendee of both festivals, I must say that Cinecon is a completely different experience from TCMFF in almost every way imaginable. Though they share the same venue – the Egyptian is one of the many spaces TCMFF utilizes – and classic film theme, that’s where the similarity ends. There’s a more laid back atmosphere at Cinecon, but at the same time the event as a whole is also more arduous, at least for me (I may be alone in that second statement). Whereas TCMFF presents up to 32 movies/screenings/events each day of the festival across as many as eight venues, Cinecon only screens at the Egyptian, presenting one picture after the other. Cinecon also only sells festival passes and individual day tickets, which means the crowd generally stays the same, and with one theater, the turnaround time between films is short, oftentimes only 5 minutes! Add all that to the fact that Cinecon's longest days are on par with TCMFF's, save for a midnight show. Whew, I'm getting exhausted just thinking about it! Even with the pre-scheduled lunch and dinner breaks, which give Cinecon a true convention feel that makes it very possible not to miss a thing, I can't last one full day without taking extra time off in between.


Last year, I attended two of Cinecon 51's five days. For financial reasons, this time around I am trying to limit myself to one day, but I'm already assuming I'll cave and make that two. Stay tuned for a wrap up post afterwards so you can find out if I crumbled and bought more than one day pass! In the meantime, here’s some of my Cinecon picks for the entirety of the festival, regardless of whether I’ll be able to see them or not.



7:05pm – Looking for Trouble (1935)

According to IMDb: “Joe and Casey trouble-shoot for the phone company. They try to prove that Joe's girl Ethel's boss Dan is a crook but are trapped by criminals and left in a burning building.” 1. I want to see what trouble-shooting for a phone company looks like in 1935. 2. How will they escape the burning building?!? 3. Director William Wellman and stars Spencer Tracy and Constance Cummings (in one of her few American films). That's all. 


8:35pm – The Last Warning (1929)

I’m fascinated with early horror talkies, and though this is a silent movie, the plot has me intrigued: a producer reopens a theater that shuttered when one of the actors was murdered during a performance…and decides to stage the same play, with the same (surviving) actors. What could possibly go wrong?

Another epic foreign-language movie poster: The Last Warning in Danish. 

10:15pm – The Spoilers (1930)

I have no idea what this is about except that it’s a western starring a young Gary Cooper - and that is always a welcome sight. 


Great, now I think I have to buy a ticket for Thursday.





1:50pm – More Pay – Less Work (1926)

It's going to be hard to pass up a comedy with a title like this and a cast that includes Buddy Rogers.


3:10pm – None Shall Escape (1944)

Marsha Hunt is receiving the inaugural Cinecon Legacy Award after this screening. Though I’ve seen None Shall Escape before, it’s such a powerful film - not to mention one that isn't widely available - that I would almost pay the price of a day pass just to watch it again and see Marsha get this award. I've also already heard Marsha speak about the picture, which is one of her favorites, but it’s always hard to pass up the opportunity to just be in her presence.

Advert for None Shall Escape



10:45am – Diplomacy (1926)

No clue what this is about except that IMDb lists it as a silent mystery. Oh, and hearthrob Neil Hamilton stars. That’s enough to whet my appetite.


10:30pm – Sky High (1922)

This silent Tom Mix western apparently has some awesome stunt work…and it was partly filmed at the Grand Canyon. Definitely something I’d like to see.

Note: Initially, the new restoration of King of Jazz (1930) - which was filmed in two-strip Technicolor - was on my list for Saturday night. When I found out the Academy booked it for tomorrow night, though, I changed my schedule around. If I like it enough, perhaps I'll catch it again at Cinecon! 





11:50am  The Danger Game (1918)

Once again, IMDb wins: “A naive débutante longs for a romantic adventure, and sets out to have one, scandalous or not. She rashly decides to burgle a random home, but is caught. At the jail, she's mistaken for a notorious con woman, and nervously is taken into a gang.” I would love to see how 1918 does this…


5pm  Play Safe (1927)

I don’t know anything about Italian comedian Monty Banks, and what better way to educate myself than with what (at least one person) has called his greatest work? I’ve also read that this picture was a failure upon its release, which makes it all the more intriguing.

9:45pm – In Again, Out Again (1917)

Sunday seems to be all about the 50 minute wacky comedies. This one finds a drunken, despondent Douglas Fairbanks getting thrown in jail, falling in love with the jailer’s daughter, trying to get back in jail to see her once he’s out, being mistaken for an anarchist bomber, and then facing execution. Sure.





9am – His Marriage Mix-Up (1935)

His Marriage Mix-Up, one of the several shorts screening this year, concerns a man's fiancée who resembles an "escaped axe murderess." Sounds like a hoot.


11:10am – Girl Shy (1924)

I've actually never seen this well-known Harold Lloyd entry. What better way to behold a comedy for the first time than with a (surely) enthusiastic audience?

I believe this is a Swedish poster for Girl Shy.

2pm - Ghost Town: The Story of Fort Lee (1935)

As a New Jersey native, I feel it's my duty to watch this short doc about the first so-called movie capital of the US. Also, I love anything relating to film history, especially the early, early days.


2:20pm - Thieves Highway (1949)

I've yet to see this Jules Dassin noir, and though it's one of the few Cinecon selections already on DVD, if I have a chance to watch it on the big screen, I might as well take it.


4:10pm - So This is Paris (1926)

Originally, this was the sole reason I was set to attend Cinecon on Monday. I missed a previous screening of this silent Ernst Lubitsch comedy earlier this summer at the Cinefamily, and I heard it was spectacular. When I found out that Cinecon booked it, I immediately put the date into my calendar. Hopefully, it lives up to the hype! 


5:40pm - Who Done It?  (1942)

I honestly can't recall if I've seen this Abbott and Costello entry in its entirety, but I am leaning towards no. And if I'm up for their brand of comedy after a long day, why not indulge?

Though half of Monday's selections are widely available on DVD and/or streaming platforms, the presence of So This is Paris makes the day a can't miss for me. 



I'll be sure to report back afterwards with my thoughts on Cinecon 52! Anyone else attending the festival this year? If so, what movies are you looking forward to most?

thanks for stopping by!

I See a Dark Theater is a website dedicated to classic movie-going—and loving—in the City of Angels. Whether it's coverage on screenings, special presentations, or Q&As around Los Angeles that you're looking for, or commentary on the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of classic cinema, you've come to the right place for a variety of pieces written with zeal, awe, and (occasionally) wit. Enjoy.

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