The Kennebec Historical Society’s August Presentation: “Silent Films in Maine”

14 Jun 2024 2:49 PM | Anonymous member

   From 1919 to 1921, Augusta was home to a movie production company founded by Edgar Jones and local businessmen. His goal was to make “North Woods” films. He chose the Augusta area because of the Kennebec River, surrounding lakes and forestland, and its four seasons. Jones brought in a company of actors and a film crew, who all lived together at 129 Sewall Street. Jones used locals as extras in the films. The films premiered at the Colonial Theater in Augusta.

    Jones worked with local writer Holman Day to adapt many of Day’s stories for the films. In 1921 Day and local businessmen took over the company, ousting Jones. Day soon bankrupted the company.

    Six of the dozens of two-reel films from this era are known to survive. Four are archived at the Library of Congress in various collections, and British Film Institute donated a pair to Northeast Historic Film in Bucksport. Digital scans of the original 35-millimeter films, with new music scores added, were screened in June 2023 at the Colonial.

    KHS presenter Ed Lorusso will show two of the films, Caught in the Rapids and Cupid, Registered Guide, roughly 20 minutes each. He also will provide commentary, then answer questions after the viewing.

    Lorusso has been restoring silent films since he retired. Six of his projects have been licensed by Turner Classic Movies, including The Enchanted Cottage (1924), which will air later this year. His projects have been screened at various theaters and silent film festivals across the country. He’s also the author of The Silent Films of Marion Davies and is working on a book about filmmaking in Maine during the silent era.

    The Kennebec Historical Society presentation is free to the public (donations are gladly accepted) and will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 21, at Augusta City Center, located at 16 Cony Street in Augusta. If you have questions about the program, call Scott Wood, executive director, at 622-7718.

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