By Lisa Eddy, Curator Appanoose County Historical & Coal Mining Museum
In case you haven’t heard, the Appanoose County Historical Society is hosting a film festival on Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Majestic, running from 12-9 p.m. Many very old and rare Christmas movies, cartoons, and specials will be shown that will conjure up your nostalgic memories of a simpler Christmas time.
There have been lots of questions on how the event will be set up. We have a large assortment of films, so there will be no repeats during the nine-hour event. You may come in at any time during the event, paying $5 admission for the whole day, and you can leave at your leisure. Your hand will be stamped so you may re-enter the event later. The day will be set up in two-hour blocks, with short intermission periods in between. You’ll notice that each block in the festival features a different version of Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol.” The story has been retold on film hundreds of times, and it is fascinating to see the different ways that different productions treat the story line.
As for outline of the day, here’s what we have in store:
The first two-hour block that runs from 12-2 p.m. will primarily be 1950s Christmas TV episodes including Red Skelton, Ozzie & Harriet and Burns & Allen. There will also be a couple of cartoons and a 1950s TV version of “A Christmas Carol.”
The centerpiece of the 2-4 p.m. block will be an Abbott & Costello Christmas special. There will also be short features with Howdy Doody, a couple of very old cartoons, and our return to the silent screen will begin with a 1923 silent version of “A Christmas Carol.”
The 4-6 p.m. block will feature the silent era, with the exception of the cartoon at the beginning of the block, and a feature in the middle to break up the silents. This block will feature mostly Thomas Edison productions, including a 10 minute silent version of “A Christmas Carol.”
From 6-7:15 p.m., features include a vintage cartoon, a Little Rascals Christmas segment, a 1926 silent version of “A Christmas Carol,” plus early wintertime footage of a sleigh ride filmed by Thomas Edison productions in 1904, the oldest film to be shown during the festival. Movement is created only by the actions in the film, never by the camera, which is moved from location to location to film the scenes that pass by the camera.
At 7:15 p.m., a 15-minute intermission will allow people who are coming to view “The Wonderful Thing” a chance to be seated. During this intermission, vintage theater Christmas greetings will roll on the screen.
At 7:30 p.m., a short newsreel will be shown, then the last film of the night, the highlight of the event, “The Wonderful Thing,” starring Norma Talmadge and Harrison Ford. You’ll want to be sure to watch for outdoor scenes filmed in Appanoose County. (I’ll give you a hint – those scenes are well into the movie, in the second half).
The Appanoose County Historical Society invested in purchasing these old and rare films just for this unique event. If you come and watch these nostalgic Christmas features, we promise you’ll go home full of Christmas spirit.