Villa Aurora Hosts Silent Film Series

Still from “Never Weaken,” directed by Fred Newmeyer and starring Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis.    Courtesy: A.M.P.A.S.
Still from “Never Weaken,” directed by Fred Newmeyer and starring Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis. Courtesy: A.M.P.A.S.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Villa Aurora present “Silent Salon,” featuring the Villa Aurora pipe organ and four nights of picnic and film at 520 Paseo Miramar.
For the first time, the Villa gardens will be open for patrons to come early and picnic, watch the sunset and then settle into the salon for a program of comedies by Hollywood’s silent film legends.
The first film screens on Saturday, July 13 at 8:30 p.m., featuring three short comedies starring Max Davidson, with Gunter Buchwald on organ.
Davidson’s heyday was in the late 1920s when he was engaged at the Hal Roach Studios for a series of Jewish comedies that are among the best and funniest shorts the studio ever produced.
The program includes “Jewish Prudence” (1927), “The Boy Friend” (1928) and “Pass the Gravy” (1928).
Conductor, pianist, violinist and composer Buchwald is one of the founders of the international renaissance of silent film. Since 1978, he has accompanied more than 2,100 silent films in more than 2,500 film concerts all over the world.
On Saturday, July 27, French comedian Max Linder stars in five short films, with Dean Mora on organ.
Linder predated and influenced Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd by several years, and was largely responsible for the creation of the classic style of silent slapstick comedy. He debuted in French theater in 1905, but quickly became an enormously famous and successful film comedian on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to his character “Max,” a top-hatted dandy.
Mora’s interest in pre-World War II America was forged in childhood.  After he received his music degree at Cal StateNorthridge, he was hired to accompany silent films at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood, where he worked for six years. He studied theatre organ with the legendary Gaylord Carter, learning all the tricks and techniques needed to effectively accompany a silent film, which he has done all over the United States and Japan.
åœOn Saturday, August 10, Harold Lloyd is the featured comedian with Christoph Bull on organ.
Born in Burchard, Nebraska, on April 20, 1893, Lloyd became an icon of the silent-film era. His popularity continued after the coming of sound, with movies including “Mad Wednesday.” Suzanne Lloyd, Harold’s granddaughter, is expecting to attend and introduce the program, which includes Young Mr. Jazz” and “Number Please,” a 30-minute movie filmed on location in Santa Monica.
Equally versed in classical and popular music, Bull has performed all over the world and is the winner of numerous organ and songwriting competitions.
The festival concludes on Saturday, August 24 with Charles Chaplin, and featuring Dean Mora on organ.
Chaplin came to Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studios late in 1913 as a little-known British vaudevillian, and after a year had not only established his Tramp character and learned to write and direct his own films but also achieved public recognition as a star comedian. Although Keystone did not publicize its performers by name, standees affecting Chaplin’s likeness  stood outside theatres attracting audiences.
For tickets ($15), visit
Street parking is available on Los Liones Drive, where shuttle service starts at 6 p.m. from Los Liones Drive. The grounds at Villa Aurora also open at 6 p.m.