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


Original Power’s Cameragraph Catalog

This orig­i­nal Power’s Cam­er­a­graph cat­a­log, pub­lished in 1916, is in the col­lec­tion at the Hobo­ken His­tor­i­cal Muse­um.

Accord­ing to the website’s “Scope and Con­tent” descrip­tion — as quot­ed:

Power’s Cam­er­a­graph. Nicholas Pow­er Com­pa­ny, 50 Gold Street, New York. Copy­right 1916. Priced cat­a­log of 35mm pro­jec­tors and stere­op­ti­cons [lantern slides] with tipped-in revised price list dat­ed Feb­ru­ary 15, 1918. Book­let, 6 – 3/4” x 8 – 3/4″ high, 52 pp, pho­to illus­trat­ed.”

Click to view full catalog.View the entire Power’s Cam­er­a­graph Cat­a­log here.
Click on “MULTIMEDIA LINKSCLICK HERE to view the PDF” and you’ll see the pages in high res­o­lu­tion. You can also order any page for ref­er­ence or fram­ing.

The Hobo­ken His­tor­i­cal Muse­um fur­ther explains:

This copy belonged to Julius Durste­witz, Direc­tor of Hobo­ken Play­grounds (under the Parks depart­ment) for the City of Hobo­ken in this era. It was appar­ent­ly used for the pur­chase of a “Cam­er­a­graph No. 6A, Com­plete Equip­ment” as shown and described on pages 10 – 11 where this out­fit is marked with pen­cil (along with the 1918 revised price list is tipped-in.) The orig­i­nal equip­ment plus ele­ments of its lat­er mod­i­fi­ca­tion are in the Muse­um col­lec­tions as objects cat­a­log 2005.078.1200.

Appar­ent­ly kept by Durste­witz with the set which includ­ed a lamp with an inte­gral stere­op­ti­con (lantern slide pro­jec­tor) and the cam­er­a­graph, a 35mm film silent film pro­jec­tor. Stand and acces­sories are part of this portable out­fit. It was used used for many years in Play­ground Depart­ment activ­i­ties for chil­dren includ­ing, but not stat­ed, at 109 Jef­fer­son St. Prob­a­ble date of pur­chase 1918 and end date prob­a­bly in the late 1930s and cer­tain­ly by the mid 1940s when Durste­witz retired.”

attachment pg 10 rotated revised price list Feb. 15 1918

Parts list with prices. View entire cat­a­log here.
Click on “MULTIMEDIA LINKSCLICK HERE to view the PDF” and you’ll see the pages in high res­o­lu­tion. You can also order any page for ref­er­ence or fram­ing.

My pro­jec­tor is the Power’s Cam­er­a­graph Mod­el 6, pro­duced in 1909, with the portable table as shown on Page 22 of the cat­a­log. This was called a “bread­board” because the wal­nut slab of wood upon which the project and lamp hous­ing are mount­ed resem­bles a kitchen cut­ting board.

This 1909 Power’s Mod­el 6  was dis­cov­ered in a chick­en coup on a farm by the projectionist’s grand­chil­dren, who told me it was used between 1909 and 1916 as an orig­i­nal itin­er­ant pro­jec­tor. I ful­ly restored the pro­jec­tor and updat­ed it with a high-inten­si­ty halo­gen lamp. It is now repris­ing its orig­i­nal role as a “portable mov­ing pic­ture machine” which trav­els with me from venue to venue, enter­tain­ing audi­ences with hand-cranked silent cin­e­ma enter­tain­ment.

The End


Evening of Classic Silent Comedies
Mar. 5, 2016

This show was a tremendous success…

proving our passion and efforts to preserve Silent Cinema are fully worthwhile. The audience of no less than 100 were primarily 30- and 40-year-old “kids” who laughed and applauded as if seeing a moving picture for the first time. Many of them were, in fact…as black-and-white and silent, except for Dean Mora’s live piano score.

It's A Gift Main Title


Presents an Evening of

Classic Comedies

Hand-Cranked Clas­sic Silent Film Come­dies
With Live Musi­cal Accom­pa­ni­ment

Sat­ur­day March 5th, 2016
7:00 pm


35 mil­lime­ter film pro­ject­ed by Joe Rin­au­do on an orig­i­nal hand-cranked Power’s 1909 Cam­er­a­graph Mod­el 6 Motion Pic­ture Machine.
Live musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment fea­tur­ing Dean Mora on piano.

Pro­gram Includes:
“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

Sat­ur­day, March 5th, 2016
Doors open at 6:15 pm
Show starts at 7:00 pm

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

Admis­sion is $10.00 (sug­gest­ed dona­tion)

Show will run approx. 125 min­utes with a short inter­mis­sion. Con­ces­sions for sale.


All proceeds to benefit Famous Players Orchestra, a 501©3 non profit organization, whose mission is dedicated to performing and recording the historic film music used by movie theater orchestras during the silent era.  Please visit our website at:

Thank you for your sup­port. Enjoy the show!

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.

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