Words can't express the joy of silents

The Senator has Chaplin and Keaton tonight

Movies: On screen, DVD/Video

April 10, 2003|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Back in the silents' days, movies didn't need words. They had faces, and two of the most famous were Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. To this day, both The Tramp and The Great Stone Face remain among Hollywood's most identifiable stars, their humor and artistry undimmed by either the passage of time or the addition of dialogue to the movies.

Did we mention that they're as funny as ever?

Tonight at the Senator, 5904 York Road, as a fund-raiser for the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, these two movie giants will be featured, giving local audiences not only the rare chance to see silent comedy on the big screen, but also to see them with musical accompaniment by the orchestra. The result should prove a feast for the senses, not to mention a busy evening for the funny bone.

Chaplin, who's only the most important figure in movie history, will be represented by The Immigrant, a 20-minute short from 1917. A relic of Chaplin's days at Mutual Film Corp. , it sheds an early spotlight on his tramp character, who even by this time had become famous the world over, and a prime example of the star's class consciousness.

Chaplin and Edna Purviance (his primary leading lady) are passengers on a ship making its way to New York, and much of the humor stems from Charlie's efforts to simultaneously scrape up enough money to survive on and selflessly do unto others. When he wins money in a poker game, for example, he puts his winnings inside Edna's pocket; then, in a typical Chaplin touch, is accused of stealing when he tries to retrieve a little for himself.

Keaton, whose popularity rivaled Chaplin's, stars in the hilarious One Week (1920), in which he and his new bride purchase a do-it-yourself homebuilding kit, which carries with it a pledge that it can be put together in a week or less, regardless of the builder's skill level. Unknown to Buster, however, his romantic rival has mixed up the numbers on the various parts, and the result looks like something Salvador Dali could have envisioned. An undaunted Keaton throws himself and his bride a housewarming party anyway.

Show time tonight is 8 p.m., preceded by a gala dinner at the newly renovated Take One, 529 E. Belvedere Ave. Tickets for dinner and the movies are $150; $40 for the movies only. Information: 410-426-0157.

For more film events, see page 38

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