Mary Pickford

Silents are golden


The 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival isn't until July, but the fest's Silent Winter offshoot offers a day packed full of classic delights to tide over its legions of fans until summer. Sat/16, Castro Theatre plays host to four features and one shorts program, all of which boast live musical accompaniment.

Silent Winter's earliest (1916) and latest films (1927) are both buoyed by charismatic leading ladies: Marguerite Clark, in J. Searle Dawley's Snow White, and Mary Pickford in Sam Taylor's My Best Girl. Clark, who found early fame as a Broadway star, was already in her 30s by the time film acting became a viable career option. No matter — she's believably girlish as the princess with "skin white as snow," hated by her jealous stepmother, whose own beauty comes courtesy of witchcraft. (Dig the proto-Witchiepoo who helps the conniving queen in her various evil schemes, and her giant kitty helper, too.) A teenage Walt Disney saw the film in 1917 and made animation history with the same story 20 years later — though his version of the fairy-tale heroine lacks Clark's easy effervescence.

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