The Toronto Silent Film Festival has announced it will screen the celebrated 1926 silent comedy, It’s the Old Army Game, at next year’s event. The film stars Louise Brooks and screen legend W.C. Fields.
Fields plays Elmer Prettywillie in this “Epic of the American Druggist.” Prettywillie is a man who suffers the endless abuse of petty customers, overbearing relatives, obnoxious children, and various offensive objects in his quest for simple peace and quiet. Brooks co-stars as the object of his affection and as the drug-store “counter attraction.”
It’s the Old Army Game will be shown on Wednesday April 6 at 8:30 pm at the Fox Theater, 236 Queen Street East, in Toronto.
It’s the Old Army Game is an important film in Brooks’ history. The film reunited Brooks and Fields. The two had appeared together in the 1925 Ziegfeld Follies. J.P. McEvoy, who wrote material for the 1925 Follies, also contributed to the story behind It’s the Old Army Game.
The film features William Gaxton and acclaimed stage actress Blanche Ring. It’s the Old Army Game was directed by Ring’s nephew, Eddie Sutherland, who would become Brooks’ first husband. The two met during the making of the filmin early 1926, and married in July.
Brooks and the city of Toronto also have a history. The actress’ films were shown there in the 1920s and 1930s (as they were elsewhere across Canada). And, later in life, while living in Rochester, New York, Brooks struck up a relationship with the Toronto Film Society after her films were screened by the group in the late 1950s.
In North America, these were some of the earliest post-WWII screenings of Brooks’ film. Because of their interest, Brooks served as an official patron of the group from 1965 to 1982. She also contributed short essays to Toronto Film Society program notes. Brooks’ relationship with Toronto continued with the publication of Lulu in Hollywood. Brooks’ volume of autobiographical essays was serialized in the Toronto Star.
Prior to It’s the Old Army Game, the Toronto Silent Film Festival will screen the 1924 Harold Lloyd film, Hot Water. Both films will be accompanied by Toronto organist Andrei Streliaev.
For more info: The Toronto Silent Film Festival is now in its second year. The festival runs March 30 to April 7, 2011. Complete program notes and information on ticket availability can be found at http://www.torontosilentfilmfestival.com/home.html
Thomas Gladysz is a longtime fan of Louise Brooks, so much so that in 1995 he founded the Louise Brooks Society, an internet-based archive and international fan club devoted to the silent film star. Gladysz has contributed to books on the actress, organized exhibits, appeared on television, and introduced her films around the country. Recently, he edited and wrote the introduction to the “Louise Brooks edition” of Margarete Bohme’s The Diary of a Lost Girl. Gladysz will speak about his new book at the Village Voice Bookshop in Paris on January 13, 2011. This author talk will be followed by a screening of the film at the nearby Action Cinema.