Organist Clark Wilson accompanies silent films Feb. 1
Buster Keaton’s silent film comedy “Sherlock Jr.” and a Laurel and Hardy short, “That’s My Wife,” will be accompanied by Clark Wilson on the Wurlitzer theater pipe organ on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. at The Phipps Center for the Arts.
In the 1924 silent film comedy “Sherlock Jr.,” Keaton is a cinema projectionist who dreams of being a famous detective, like Sherlock Holmes. In love with a beautiful girl (Kathryn McGuire), he presents her with chocolates and a ring, but another suitor (Ward Crane) also vies for her affections. The projectionist unsuccessfully tails his romantic rival, a deceitful sort who has stolen a watch from the girl’s home and pawned it to buy her a larger box of candy. Falsely accused of the crime by his girlfriend’s family, the heartbroken young man falls asleep at work while exhibiting a movie. He dreams that he walks into the screen and interacts with the characters in the film — now the players in the stolen watch imbroglio.
In the 1929 Laurel and Hardy comedy, Oliver stands to inherit a large fortune from his rich Uncle Bernal, with the condition that he be happily married. But when Mrs. Hardy walks out just before Uncle Bernal is due for a visit, Laurel is pressed into duty to impersonate Oliver’s loving spouse. He is convincing enough to earn a pass or two from a drunk at a nightclub, but when a stolen necklace gets dropped down his dress, attempts to recover it disclose Laurel’s true gender.
Wilson is one of the most prominent and recognized scorers of silent photoplays in America today. He works exclusively with the organ in developing accurate and historic musical accompaniments as they were performed in major picture palaces during the heyday of the silent film.
Wilson began his scoring career in 1980 and has successfully toured North America with hundreds of film presentations at schools and universities, performing arts centers, theaters, film festivals, and conventions. His work has led to performances for the Chautauqua Institution, Cinequest and San Francisco film festivals, the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Packard Foundation’s Stanford Theatre film series, and annual presentations for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Society at the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ. He is the organist of choice for many of the American Theatre Organ Society’s international convention silent film presentations, and he has scored pictures for Kino International for public DVD release.
Wilson has been organ conservator and resident organist at the Ohio Theatre for the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts since 1992 and is responsible for all music during the annual classic movie series, which also features one or more major silent films each season.
Tickets are $22 for adults and $15 for all students. Reservations may be made by contacting The Phipps ticket office at (715) 386-8409 or online at www.ThePhipps.org.