Silence is Golden Silent Movie - The Mark of Zorro
‘The Mark of Zorro’ (1920, dir. Fred Niblo)
Brian Unverricht conductor
Rick Friend silent movie pianist
The 7 pm evening performance is SOLD OUT.
The Silence is Golden Silent Movie event returns with the ‘The Mark of Zorro,’ directed by Fred Niblo, presented with a live orchestral accompaniment by the Saskatoon Symphony. Back from Los Angeles by popular demand is the silent movie music pianist, Rick Friend.
The film stars Douglas Fairbanks as the masked hero of the people fighting an oppressive colonial government. Fairbanks contrasts the athletic acumen of Zorro with the foppishness of Zorro’s alter ego, blazing the trail for many physical comedies and hidden identity tales to come.
A visual delight and an adventure in LIVE surround sound, this unique experience is presented in the Spanish courtyard ambience of Riversdale’s Roxy Theatre, one of Canada’s last atmospheric movie palaces.
Silence is Golden Maestro Minute
This is the third season that Rick Friend has collaborated with the Saskatoon Symphony’s Silence is Golden event. In 2011, Rick brought his score for Buster Keaton’s The General, and performed it with the SSO. Last season, Rick and the SSO performed his compiled score for The Thief of Bagdad.
A native of Clifton, New Jersey, Rick Friend studied piano and composition at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.
An avid movie buff since childhood, Rick became interested in silent movies in his high school days, when, just for fun, he and his friends rented from the library a 20 minute version of Buster Keaton’s The General. Watching it in silence for a few minutes irked his curiosity to go over to the piano and start improvising for the film as it played. From then on, he was hooked on silent movie improv music. Serious improvisations began 20 years later at the Loyola Movie Palace in Los Angeles, California, where he accompanied international silent movies such as Faust, and Madame Dubarry. It this point Rick realized that there are so many great movies from the silent era, that he decided to make a career of it. He played for 4 seasons of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Open Vault Series, and in 1987 began playing for the Toronto Film Society. He became involved in Cinemateque Ontario, accompanying their showings of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. Later, he mounted his own showing of The Passion of Joan of Arc with his own score for 9 musicians, at The Music Gallery in Toronto. Also, he has appeared as soloist with various orchestras, performing his arrangements for The Mask of Zorro, The General, The Phantom of the Opera, Nosferatu, and The Thief of Bagdad. He has appeared with The Atlanta Symphony, The Fort Worth Symphony, the Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec, Elgin Symphony, IL, the Ocean City Pops in New Jersey, and numerous times with the symphony orchestras of Springfield, MA, Regina, SK, Traverse City, MI, and Saskatoon, SK.
Rick joined the Savannah Music Festival 3 times, performing his piano scores for F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise, Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail, and Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid.
In 1997, Rick helped Toronto honor their own Mary Pickford (1891 — 1979) in a TV biography special, “The Life and Times of Mary Pickford” which airs periodically on CBC. In the same year, he finished scoring a dramatic short film, The Red Window. His piece Wilcox Street for brass quintet was performed in Los Angeles.
He has appeared at the Silent Movie Theater in Hollywood, California, where he studies film composing, while teaching piano and occasionally mounting his own production of silent movie concerts.
He has developed a never ending passion for live music with silent movies. His favorite venue is the symphony orchestra, which serves well the values, moods, and feelings in these great movies from the 1920′s. His mission is to bring this art form to audiences everywhere.
Born, raised, and educated in the province of Saskatchewan, Brian Unverricht pursued further studies in New Jersey, Australia, Strasbourg, and the University of Calgary.For many years he taught band, choir, jazz studies, guitar, and general music in Saskatoon, Australia, PEI, and the DND schools in Germany.He is currently a sessional lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, teaching music education.
While at Evan Hardy Collegiate, Brian was music director for 15 musicals and commissioned eight Saskatoon composers to write music for various performing groups. As a writer he has been published in Cadenza, the International Trombone Association Journal, and Canadian Winds, was editor of the Sask. Band Association journal, contributed to local music curricula, and wrote a high school guitar course.
Brian has often served as a low brass clinician, a director and coordinator for band camps and brass days or Jazz Days at Hardy, an adjudicator for music festivals, and the regional rep for the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association. In 2004 he received SMEA’ s outstanding Achievement Award that recognizes outstanding accomplishment and an ongoing dedication to excellence in music. In 2012, Brian received the Saskatchewan Band Association Distinguished Band Director Award.
As a trombonist, Brian has been a member of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra since the late sixties, and has performed with numerous groups in a wide variety of genres over the years, including the Metro Jazz Ensemble and the Saskatoon Klezmer band. Brian conducted the SSO’s performance of ‘The General’ and “The Thief of Bagdad” in the last two seasons.
The Mark of Zorro (1920)
With a grin and athletic exhuberance that Gene Kelly learned from, and a perennially adolescent cockiness that Clark Gable later claimed for himself (though steadfastly eschewing the swooning suavity that Errol Flynn later brought to the same character), Douglas Fairbanks, in the 1920′s, sweepingly established the romantic, slapstick swashbuckler as a hero and genre equal to any in world-wide popularity.Whether as Zorro, Robin Hood or D’Artagnan, the role Fairbanks played was always the same one: it was Douglas Fairbanks himself, as distinctively as Chaplin was Chaplin, Garbo was Garbo, and Cary Grant was Cary Grant in movie after movie.
The best Fairbanks classics all had the same satisfying qualities, pace and wit, that sent viewers home with grins on their faces and a lightness in their step. The stories and action were clear and the tone was invariably self-mocking, yet triumphant.The villains were often Dickensian bumblers and the hero always saved the day thrillingly, with self-assured, devil-may-care humour.
Fairbanks made his last movies in the early thirties (in sound), but his influence has resonated for decades hence in Burt Lancaster’s high-wire comedies (The Crimson Pirate, Trapeze), in the early “operatic” Mighty Mouse cartoons, Toshiro Mifune’s famous all-purpose samurai, right up to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and Indiana Jones. (Today’s nearest equivalent is Jackie Chan — much more comic , of course, than romantic).
Whether a Fairbanks adventure is set in Richard Lionheart’s England or in pre-revolutionary France, the theme is always the same too : good old Yankee feistiness defeats all the odds — one of the most endurable of all movie fantasies. In The Mark of Zorro, Fairbanks found his niche as the irrepressible rebel who laughs his way out trouble and into the hearts of women, and into the trust and loyalty of the oppressed, as well as of the gratefully entertained movie audiences. His acting skills were limited, but his spirit seemed boundless. It was to carry him, and us, through further memorable adventures in The Thief of Baghdad (as the thief), The Three Musketeers (as D’Artagnan), Robin Hood, The Iron Mask (D’Artagnan again), and The Black Pirate among others.
The Mark of Zorro is zippily directed by Fred Niblo (Ben Hur); it’s well produced and acted by a variety of game cast members including Noah Beery, and Margarite De La Motte (as Zorro’s amusingly confused love interest). But, enjoyable as it is, it’s not likely you’ll remember much from it outside of Douglas Fairbanks himself, shamelessly leaping over tables and under donkeys, vindicating forever the sheer pleasure of showing off.