Capitolfest 2014! Bill Powell awaits.

In less than two months I’ll be in Rome, New York for Capitolfest 12, my second visit to the City and the festival which honors silent film and early talking pictures.


I had a blast at Last year’s festival, a laid-back homage to the early days of the movies presented in the glorious Capitol Theater, a 1,788-seat movie palace which opened in 1928.  The experience was true to the festival’s motto, “A vacation, not a marathon!”

Aside from the attention and detail paid to bringing festival attendees programming that pays tribute to early film by way of restored films in original formats, also offered throughout the weekend is the charm of musical accompaniment.  Rome’s Capitol Theater is home to one of the few surviving fully working Möller organs, which had people dancing in the aisles during intermissions at last year’s festival.


I’ve just reviewed this year’s planned Capitolfest schedule and I don’t believe I’ve seen one film or short subject listed, but some look irresistible. For instance who wouldn’t want to watch a 1930 movie titled DERELICT? Or HORSE PLAY, a 1933 comedy with Andy Devine and Una O’Connor. Then there’s ROMAN SCANDALS from 1933, a Busby Berkeley choreographed musical with a fantastic cast, a 1932 Western called STEADY COMPANY with ZaSu Pitts and from 1933 MY WEAKNESS with Lew Ayres in which he bets that he can transform any plain woman into a temptress. Add to those a host of familiar names in silents I’ve never heard of and a variety of animated and live-action shorts.

Then there are the films of this year’s featured star, William Powell, a terrific follow-up to last year’s star of the weekend, Carole Lombard.  Expected Powell fare includes THE BRIGHT SHAWL, which also stars Dorothy Gish, Mary Astor and Edward G. Robinson among others. Now that I think about it, THE BRIGHT SHAWL may well be my pre-festival pick, but it is just one of the several films to feature the debonaire star.  Other scheduled Powell films are: Paramount’s LADIES MAN (1931) co-starring Kay Francis and Carole Lombard, a newly restored FORGOTTEN FACES (1928), POINTED HEELS (1929) and SHADOW OF THE LAW (1930).

Bill Powell with Fay Wray in POINTED HEELS (1929)
Bill Powell with Fay Wray in POINTED HEELS (1929)

Considering the line-up at this year’s Capitolfest it’s no wonder festival registrations are up from previous years, which is wonderful to see. Hopefully one day soon Rome’s Capitol Theater will house a sold-out audience and look much like it does in this image from 1940:


In fact, there is no reason why this historic movie house shouldn’t be filled to the rafters.  Capitolfest is reasonably priced for what turns out to be a step back in time to when movie palaces were the center of life in everywhere USA.  And that’s exactly what Rome, New York seemed to me last year.  I’d say this festival, which is quite a different experience from TCMFF, is a must.  It’s a perfect balance against the frenzied gloriousness of Hollywood in April.  I encourage everyone who has the means and opportunity to attend this visit to movies past for three days in August.

The weekend-long screenings at Capitolfest start late Friday morning, August 8th and go through Sunday evening, August 10th.  You can attend for the entire weekend or pick a particular day as your schedule allows.  There are plenty of breaks and time for meals built in as well so that everyone can mingle and bask in the love of film in-between screenings.  Visit the Capitolfest site for details about tickets, lodging, etc. and prepare to spend time with knowledgable cinephiles, many of whom have been attending Capitolfest since the event was inaugurated 13 years ago.  I must add I am especially excited this year to be attending with a few friends that I had the pleasure to spend time with at TCMFF – Coleen, Annemarie and Nora at The Nitrate Diva who’s already expressed her excitement about attending this year’s Capitolfest in this fantastic post.

I’ll be back with more on Capitolfest 12 as the event nears and will be tweeting and posting to Facebook during the festival.  Follow me on Twitter @CitizenScreen and Facebook Citizen Screen. I must extend a thank you to Art Pierce, the Executive Director of the Capitol Theater for extending me media credentials to cover the festival on this blog.

For now just counting the days – Bill Powell awaits.


6 thoughts

  1. I want to cry now.
    I was supposed to be there too. I’m devastated I can’t be there. So, I’m counting on you to spread as much William Powell love as you can during your trip. Gosh I love him, and I’d love to see this festival, more than you know. Have a wonderful time and enjoy!

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