Bill West of Friends of Hart Park offers a preview of and a behind-the-scenes story about Saturday’s “Silents Under the Stars” fundraiser screening of the William S. Hart cowboy classic “Square Deal Sanderson,” starting at 6 p.m.
I wanted to give ya’ll an update on the movie we picked for “Silents Under the Stars” this year, “Square Deal Sanderson.” We really wanted to show this movie because of its 100th anniversary (plus – bad planning on our part – the other 1919 films we could’ve shown, we showed too recently in 2015 and 2017).
Now, as in years past, we hunted for the best copy of the film we could find. However, “Square Deal Sanderson” is quite a rarity (the book it’s based on is much more easily gotten, oddly enough), So the copy we have… well, sometimes it looks 100 years old.
But the images are clear enough to follow, and it’ll be a real treat to see this scarce flick that hasn’t been widely viewed in 100 years.
The only real problem was the film’s title cards, many of which were difficult to read. It’s easy to make out Hart on his horse, but it can be tough to read small text on the big screen.
That’s when our accompanist Ray Lowe came up with a brilliant suggestion: clean up and replace the title cards.
I’m ashamed I hadn’t thought of it. I’ve watched TONS of silent movies where that was done, but it simply didn’t occur to me until Ray suggested it.
So I set about to replace all 162 title cards. Some jet-lagged-induced insomnia after a trip to Europe came to the rescue, and I got them all done in about two and a half days.
Now, sometimes when this is done for silent flicks, someone just slaps text on a blank screen. I didn’t want that… it takes you out of the picture too much. So, instead I included the artwork from the original title cards (cleaned up a bit), and only replaced the text which was sometimes barely legible. The results brought these images to life.
Then the real magic happened. Ray cut them into the film, and very artistically I might add. I just watched the finished product. The titles fade in and out beautifully…not jarring in any way. And being able to see the dialog makes following the plot of the movie a breeze.
William S. Hart and Ann Little star in the 1919 silent western “Square Deal Sanderson.”
It’s actually quite a fun flick, and now I can watch it without straining to read fuzzy text, while worrying about you, our dear audience, trying to read what was being “said” by Hart and the other actors. We think you’ll love the result.
All this yammering to thank Ray publicly for all his hard work and wonderful idea, and to give y’all a peek behind the curtain into a small part of what goes on to make this memorable evening for all.
This is going to be a great “Silents Under the Stars” with a really fun (and rare) 100-year-old movie.
Tours of the Hart Mansion will begin at 5 p.m. and dinner, provided by Rattler’s, will start at 7 p.m.
All proceeds from “Silents Under the Stars” benefit Hart Park and Museum and the Hart Park animals.
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