By Lisa Eddy, Curator of the Appanoose County Historical & Coal Mining Museum
After doing some extensive research, it’s been discovered that there’s never been a film festival in Centerville before. That’s about to change.
On Saturday, Nov. 17 the Appanoose County Historical Society will host the first Historic Holiday Film Festival at the newly renovated Majestic Theater.
For nine hours, the Historical Society will show old and rare Christmas films that will transport you back to simpler times, when Christmas was not so much about shopping and trampling over one another for the best Black Friday deals, but when gathering with family and sharing a meal were the highlight of the season.
All of these heartwarming films shown will be pre-1960, most in black and white. Most will be pre-1940. The very oldest will be a variety of silent Christmas films, which are a rare find and a rare treat to watch. Some of these films were produced before 1910 by Thomas Edison’s production company. Several versions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” will be shown, spread throughout the event. There will also be a great selection of very old Christmas cartoons, and some Christmas specials from some of your old favorites: Our Gang (The Little Rascals), Abbot and Costello, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Ozzie and Harriet and many more. These old movies are the perfect way to showcase Morgan Cline’s latest project — the renovation of the Majestic Theater. The ballroom and lounge upstairs has been enjoying busy weekends, and now the historic theater itself will be on display as we show some of the same films that played there when they were first released. Watch the Iowegian for more details about exact times for certain types of films, as they will be grouped together so you can plan your day knowing when your choices will be shown.
At 7:30 p.m., the Christmas movies will come to an end, and “The Wonderful Thing” will begin. “The Wonderful Thing” is a silent movie filmed in 1921 starring Norma Talmadge and Harrison Ford (no, not the Harrison Ford you’re thinking of) and includes scenes filmed in Appanoose County. The Appanoose County Historical Society acquired the film a few years ago from the Library of Congress. Prior to that, you could only view the film at the Library of Congress. The Historical Society had a fundraising drive to raise the $2,100 needed to purchase a copy from Library of Congress and obtained permission from the copyright holder to show the film periodically. This is another chance for more people to enjoy it.
Start off your Christmas season right by coming to the Historic Holiday Film Festival. The festival will open at noon and run films continuously through 9 p.m. with some short intermissions to change the films, and for guests to stretch their legs. The admission cost is $5 and this will admit you for the whole day. You will be able to come and go and come back again if you don’t want to stay for the whole event. Refreshments will be available for purchase. We’ll have popcorn, candy and bottled water.
Watch for more information about the film festival in upcoming issues of the Daily Iowegian and the Appanoose County Historical Society web site at www.appanoosehistory.com.