Category Archives: Hand-Crank Show

Packed House! Buster Keaton & Live Orchestra

Video courtesy of Stan Taffel, the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.

What hap­pens when you com­bine a live orches­tra with a silent film? A packed house! Over 300 peo­ple showed up, and we had to open up the bal­cony. There was laugh­ter, applause, and excite­ment through­out the entire show. 

As Bob Dun­can says, “An impres­sive evening in every way — the orchestra’s score was in sync with the film from begin­ning to end and def­i­nite­ly enhanced the audience’s enjoy­ment and the film print was crys­tal clear. A mem­o­rable evening that all the par­tic­i­pants can be very proud of.”

The show includ­ed a cou­ple car­toons and the pop­u­lar “Steam­boat Bill Jr.” star­ring Buster Keaton; hand-cranked on a Power’s 1909 Cam­er­a­gragh Mod­el 6 Motion Pic­ture Machine by Joe Rin­au­do; and accom­pa­nied by the Famous Play­ers Orches­tra, scored and con­duct­ed by Scott Lasky. Stan Taffel served as Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies and Shane Glan­der pro­ject­ed the glass lantern slides.

In addi­tion to the silent cin­e­ma and live orches­tra, there was a raf­fle of orig­i­nal Dis­ney art­work, hot dogs, refresh­ments, and of course pop­corn. 

Famous Players Orchestra Board of Directors

Famous Players Orchestra Board of Directors

The evening was an over­whelm­ing suc­cess. As Mr. Taffel says, “It’s an hon­or to be involved with Famous Play­ers Orches­tra and to serve on the board of direc­tors with Scott Lasky, Joe Rin­au­do, Joni Varn­er, Gary Lach­er, Gary Gib­son, Paul But­ler, and Dean Mora.”

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3 Silent Spooky Apparitions this October

Phantom of the Opera PosterThree Itinerant Shows are planned for October at which I will hand-crank my 1909 Power’s Cameragraph Model 6 Moving Picture Machine, with other visual and musical delights provided by my colleagues. I hope to see you there. —Joe Rinaudo

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2016 at 7:30 PM
Han­ford, Cal­i­for­nia

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phan­tom Of The Opera” will be screened at the his­toric Han­ford Fox The­atre. Built in 1929, the Han­ford Fox boasts a 12 rank Wurl­itzer pipe organ to be played by Dean Mora. The film is the only 35mm print in exis­tence that tells the com­plete sto­ry (as orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed) by com­bin­ing the 1929 release and the 16mm show at home ver­sions (blown up to 35mm). It also now has all of the orig­i­nal col­or sequences restored as they were seen in 1925. Orig­i­nal nar­ra­tive and spo­ken inter-titles (about 68) have been restored as well as the pro­logue titles that describe the begin­nings of the Phan­tom and his con­nec­tion to the Paris Opera House. Plus see the orig­i­nal Tech­ni­col­or end­ing as well! Since this print is drawn from the orig­i­nal 1925 and the 1929 (sound speed) ver­sions, hand crank­ing will allow you to see, for the first time, the film pre­sent­ed at the prop­er speeds. Gary Gib­son will present a glass lantern slide show dur­ing all reel changes.

The Phan­tom of the Opera”
Restora­tion Cred­its:
see below

Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 15, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Han­ford Fox The­atre
326 N. Irwin Street
Han­ford, CA 93230

Tick­et Infor­ma­tion

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2016 at 8 PM
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2016 at PM & 8PM
Nether­cutt Col­lec­tion
Syl­mar, Cal­i­for­nia
Request Tick­ets
(Admis­sion is free but you must order tick­ets in advance.)

Halloween Show

organ-pipes-with-ghost600x438The Nether­cutt Col­lec­tion will host anoth­er three silent film hand crank shows. Fri­day at 8:00 p.m. & Sat­ur­day at 2:00 & 8:00 p,m. The pro­gram will be the same for each show. Dean Mora will play the mighty Wurl­itzer pipe organ which is the third largest in the world. Gary Gib­son will pro­vide orig­i­nal glass lantern slides dur­ing all reel changes. Tick­ets will be avail­able on Sep­tem­ber 21 start­ing at 4:00 p.m. by call­ing in for up to 4 tick­ets per caller. Phone: (818) 364‑6464. Please be per­sis­tent as the office only has 3 phone lines. How to Request Nether­cutt Show Tick­ets

Musi­cal nar­ra­tion and sound effects by Dean Mora at the Mighty Wurl­itzer, the third largest the­ater organ in the world.

Gary Gib­son will pro­vide orig­i­nal glass lantern slides dur­ing all reel changes.

Your host is Kyle Irwin, cura­tor, who will demon­strate the Nether­cutt Collection’s auto­mat­ed musi­cal instru­ments before the show and dur­ing inter­mis­sion.

You may also tour the col­lec­tion of over fifty clas­sic cars which are on dis­play in a muse­um set­ting that recre­ates the mar­ble and mir­rored show­room of an ear­ly auto­mo­bile deal­er­ship.

Busi­ness or semi-for­mal attire is appro­pri­ate. Chil­dren must be 10 and old­er.

Pow­ers Cam­er­a­graph pro­jec­tor
Dean Mora, organ­ist and swing band leader
Nether­cutt Col­lec­tion

Don’t for­get to call for tick­ets Wednes­day Sept. 21 at 4pm sharp — and enjoy the show!

Fri­day, Octo­ber 21, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.
Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 22, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Nether­cutt Col­lec­tion
15200 Bled­soe Street
Syl­mar, CA 91342

Admis­sion is free, but you must obtain tick­ets in advance.
How to Request Nether­cutt Show Tick­ets

Christ Luther­an Church
Bur­bank, Cal­i­for­nia

The Phantom of the Opera & Habeas Corpus

Phantom of the Opera Posterhabeas corpus poster l&h

Original Posters from Universal and MGM

Famous Play­ers Orchestra’s “Hal­loween Silent Film Spook­tac­u­lar” is com­ing up. This will be a very spe­cial show you won’t want to miss.

The main fea­ture on the pro­gram will be a one-of-a-kind restored ver­sion of the 1925 hor­ror clas­sic,“The Phan­tom of the Opera” star­ring the “man of a thou­sand faces,” Lon Chaney. This restored print of “Phan­tom” can­not be seen any­where else, and is the only 35mm print in exis­tence which tells the com­plete sto­ry as orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed. All of the orig­i­nal col­or sequences have been restored as they were seen in 1925 under Joe Rinaudo’s direc­tion and super­vi­sion. Orig­i­nal nar­ra­tive and spo­ken inter-titles (about 68) have been restored by Chaz DeS­i­mone, as well as the pro­logue titles that describe the begin­nings of the Phan­tom and his con­nec­tion to the Paris Opera House. Plus, see the orig­i­nal Tech­ni­col­or end­ing as well! Since this print is drawn from the orig­i­nal 1925 and the 1929 (sound speed) ver­sions, hand crank­ing will allow you to see, for the first time, the film pre­sent­ed at the prop­er speeds. “The Phan­tom of the Opera” will be pre­sent­ed with a live musi­cal score accom­pa­nied by Scott Lasky on the pipe organ.

Also includ­ed on the pro­gram will be the 1928 two reel Lau­rel & Hardy com­e­dy “Habeas Cor­pus.”  

Not a trick, just a very spe­cial treat:

Famous Play­ers Orches­tra will per­form a live score for “Habeas Cor­pus.” This is the first time that the Famous Play­ers Orches­tra will play pub­licly for a film. Please attend and sup­port this non prof­it orga­ni­za­tion. The Famous Play­ers Orchestra’s mis­sion is to pre­serve and per­form authen­tic motion pic­ture music as it was intend­ed to be used with silent film pre­sen­ta­tions.

Both films will be shown in 35mm, pro­ject­ed by Joe Rin­au­do on an orig­i­nal hand-cranked Power’s 1909 Cam­er­a­graph Mod­el 6 Motion Pic­ture Machine.

Glass lantern slides will be pre­sent­ed dur­ing reel changes by Mr. Shane Glan­der.

Your Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies will be Stan Taffel. Show­time is at 7pm and the doors open at 6:15pm. Admis­sion is a sug­gest­ed dona­tion of $10.00. Tick­ets may be pur­chased at the door approx­i­mate­ly one hour before show­time, or you may buy them in advance secure­ly online here:



The Phan­tom of the Opera”
Restora­tion Cred­its:
see below

Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 29, 2016
Doors open at 6:15 p.m.
Show starts at 7:00 p.m.

Christ Luther­an Church
2400 W. Bur­bank Blvd.
Bur­bank, CA 91506
(South­east cor­ner of Bur­bank Bl. & Bue­na Vista St.)

Admis­sion is $10.00 (sug­gest­ed dona­tion)

Tick­ets will go on sale at the door approx­i­mate­ly one hour before show­time.

Famous Play­ers Orches­tra


The Phan­tom of the Opera”

35mm source mate­r­i­al:
Spe­cial thanks to
Mr. David Shep­ard
Black­hawk film library

16mm source mate­r­i­al:
Mr. Stan Taffel

Script and cut­ting con­ti­nu­ity:
Mr. George Wag­n­er

Title re-cre­ation, design and typog­ra­phy:
Mr. Chaz DeS­i­mone

Title & film dig­i­tiz­ing & out­put to film:
Mr. Michael Broder­sen
Mr. Rico Her­nan­dez
Neg­a­tive and print col­or tim­ing:
Mr. Doug Ledin
Project man­ag­er:
Mr. Allan Tudzin
Fotokem Film & Video Ser­vices

Film and title restora­tion
pro­duced and super­vised by:
Mr. Joe Rin­au­do

Habeas Cor­pus” film cour­tesy of the Black­hawk film library.


The End

Fresh Young Audience Loves Funny Old Films

The Dancing PigOur event was something like this (with Dean Mora, not Mildred Smith, at the piano).

It was just amaz­ing!
We had nev­er had an audi­ence like that before.”

On a recent Sat­ur­day evening, Scott Lasky, founder of Famous Play­ers Orches­tra, host­ed an itin­er­ant show billed as

Hand-Cranked 35mm Film on

Orig­i­nal Power’s 1909 Cam­er­a­graph Mod­el 6 
Motion Pic­ture Machine
with Live Musi­cal Accom­pa­ni­ment

The March 5, 2016 event was held at the Christ Luther­an Church in Bur­bank, Cal­i­for­nia. Admis­sion was $10 for a 2-hour show with inter­mis­sion (pro­gram list­ed below).

I, Joe Rin­au­do, cranked the pro­jec­tor and Dean Mora played the piano. Gary Gib­son changed the glass slides dur­ing inter­mis­sion. And the audi­ence blew us all away!

Same old show, brand new audience

I’ve done over some 200 shows and, for the first time, hav­ing adver­tised on Face­book thanks to Scott Lasky, we got a young, effer­ves­cent, 30-some­thing crowd in there. From the very begin­ning there was an elec­tric­i­ty in the air. They were laugh­ing and talk­ing and buy­ing hot dogs and pop­corn and look­ing around and talk­ing to every­body and inspect­ing the pro­jec­tor. It wasn’t the same audi­ence that we usu­al­ly get, which is most­ly elder­ly and rather qui­et. (They don’t laugh or talk very much, as they are famil­iar with this for­mat as well as the films.) This was a young, new crowd and a new expe­ri­ence for them — and they even induced the “reg­u­lars” to laugh and enjoy the show even more.


When we start­ed the first film, The Danc­ing Pig (fea­tur­ing the ever-pop­u­lar but always slight­ly dis­turb­ing danc­ing pig), brought forth gales of laugh­ter and howl­ing and cheer­ing — and shock — from the audi­ence. The response just kept grow­ing and grow­ing, and by the time we got to The Gro­cery Clerk, which is one of Lar­ry Semon’s mas­ter­pieces, it brought the house down. We had peo­ple laugh­ing hys­ter­i­cal­ly. They were boo­ing the vil­lain, cheer­ing the hero­ine, and shout­ing and laugh­ing.

The audience saw a “moving picture” for the first time

It struck me that this is what the reac­tion would have been like for a 1920 audi­ence see­ing this film for the first time. Many of these peo­ple not only had nev­er seen a silent film before, but they have nev­er seen a show like this with live musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment and a hand-cranked pro­jec­tor doing the whole show for them. So it was a total over­load, I think, of their sens­es. It absolute­ly floored me because their reac­tion was so pos­i­tive and so upbeat. They were catch­ing every lit­tle nuance in the film and every lit­tle gag was get­ting laughed at. It was just amaz­ing. We had nev­er had an audi­ence like that before.

Not only was the film enter­tain­ing, many peo­ple want­ed pic­tures of the pro­jec­tor and with me and with Dean and Gary. We were pos­ing in peri­od cos­tume with the pro­jec­tor and they were film­ing it with their cam­era phones and such.

Don’t miss the next show!
to the Silent Cin­e­ma Soci­ety News­reel.

It was a very inter­est­ing evening and every­thing went all very well. It end­ed on a big bang with Buster Keaton in Cops and we got a huge cheer and an ova­tion at the end. It was just a won­der­ful time.


I had a moment of clar­i­ty at that show, a life-chang­ing moment, where sud­den­ly I saw the rea­son for doing what I’m doing:

I’m bring­ing some­thing to these peo­ple that they had nev­er seen before and that tru­ly enter­tained them — as if it was an audi­ence that was see­ing “mov­ing pic­tures” for the first time. Because it actu­al­ly was! It wasn’t a mod­ern film in col­or and in dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy in 3D; it was a flat screen black and white image from a hun­dred years ago.

The audi­ence was also amazed that we were doing all the work by hand — I’m crank­ing the pro­jec­tor, Gary’s chang­ing the slides and Dean is play­ing the piano. They lis­tened atten­tive­ly as I explained the role of the itin­er­ant pro­jec­tion­ist trav­el­ing from town to town, set­ting up a show in a hall or church base­ment, and draw­ing audi­ences through advance telegraphed announce­ments.

This show renewed my faith in human­i­ty. The won­der­ful young audi­ence is hun­gry for this type of enter­tain­ment.

I real­ized in this one show that what I’m doing is right, that it does make a dif­fer­ence.

Facebook: the new telegraph

Adver­tis­ing on Face­book was a whole new dynam­ic for us. It spread the word and drew the audi­ence, a fresh and curi­ous audi­ence who real­ly didn’t know what to expect, much the same as the tele­graph and hand­bills would have spread the word 100 years ago.

Through our new “tele­graph” called social media, and your help in spread­ing the word, we’ll intro­duce this 100-year-old form of enter­tain­ment to a young, new gen­er­a­tion of audi­ences who are atten­tive, curi­ous and amazed. After all, you can’t hand-crank an iPhone.

The Dancing Pig” (1907) Pathe
“The Acrobatic Fly” (1910) Comet Films
“It’s a Gift” (1923) Starring Snub Pollard
“The Rink” (1916) Starring Charlie Chaplin
“The Grocery Clerk” (1920) Starring Larry Semon
“Cops” (1922) Starring Buster Keaton

Don’t miss the next show!
to the Silent Cin­e­ma Soci­ety News­reel.

The End


Holiday Fun at Annual Crescenta Valley Party

Cres­cen­ta-Val­ley-Week­ly-12 – 17-2015 – 3

See full-size new­pa­per arti­cle here.

We had a great show at the C.V. His­tor­i­cal Society’s Christ­mas par­ty. Stand­ing room only. There were young kids there watch­ing the silent films. One lit­tle girl laughed hys­ter­i­cal­ly through­out most of the films. That made the show more worth­while for me because she prob­a­bly had nev­er been to a silent film show and that’s what it’s all about! Dean Mora did a tremen­dous job on the piano, as usu­al, and Gary Gib­son had fun with the glass lantern slide shows in between each film. All in all it’s always a great show when young peo­ple (teenagers and grade school kids alike) can come, expe­ri­ence and real­ly enjoy such a show.

Read com­ments about the show on Face­book.