Tennessee Theatre shows rare 1927 silent film for Knoxville film festival

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Tennessee Theatre is inviting guests to step back in time to view a rare silent film.

The 1927 Paramount silent film Stark Love opens Saturday at 7:00 p.m., accompanied by organ music from Mighty Wurlitzer. The film is on loan from the Museum of Modern Art as part of the Great Smoky Mountain Film Festival. It is the story of a father and son who both fall in love with the same girl.

(Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound)
Helen Mundy (Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound)

Stark Love truly highlights the history of the Appalachian region. The film’s star, Helen Mundy, was discovered at a downtown Knoxville drugstore soda fountain by Paramount. The 16-year-old was a student at Knoxville High School at the time.

The film opened in February 28, 1927 with what the Tennessee Theatre is calling a “mostly unprofessional cast of actors from the mountain communities.” Mundy was actually the only member of the cast that had ever seen a motion picture. Director Karl Brown said he wanted to make an authentic film featuring real people in the Appalachian environment and showcasing the stunning landscape of the Great Smoky Mountains.

“Accompanied by the Mighty Wurlitzer, silent films come alive and are much more interactive with the audience,” Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Becky Hancock said. “Guests will be able to experience a silent film in its original movie palace setting. This is as close as you can come to an authentic silent movie experience.”

Hancock said that while the Tennessee Theatre was build in 1928, one year after the first silent film, silent movies were still played in to the 1930s.

The Tennessee Theatre said the film is really a treat, because up until the 1960s no copies of the film were thought to have survived. Filmmaker Kevin Brownlow discovered a 35mm real was found in Czhechloslavakia and donated to the Museum of Modern Art.

“TAMIS is dedicated to preserving and promoting the moving image and audio heritage of East Tennessee,” TAMIS Director Bradley Reeves said. “The screening of ‘Stark Love’ and the other documentary and home video footage from East Tennessee that will be shown offers modern audiences a glimpse into how our culture has developed.”

The screening of “Stark Love” is $9 for adults and $7 for children. Tickets are available at tennesseetheatre.com or by calling the Tennessee Theatre box office at 865-684-1200.










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