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Harold & Margaret

Saturday, May 6, 2006 ,  2PM-4PM

Block Cinema, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL

CFA presents the work of Margaret Conneely and her favorite comic Harold Lloyd. Margaret’s award-winning amateur films take you back to the magic and danger of the family life in the 1950s. Join us!

Harold accompanied by David Drazin on the piano.

Saga of the First and Last
Dir. Margaret Conneely, 1954, 4 min., Color, 16mm
A boy and his first cigarette. Wonderful detail from the era.

All Aboard
Dir. Alfred J. Goulding, 1917, 9 min., B&W, 16mm, Silent w/ live accomp.
Harold Lloyd, Snub Pollard and Bebe Daniels in a pre-domestic full tilt romp towards Bermuda. Harold finds his sea legs, but they’re cut out from under him just as quickly.

Mister E
Dir. Margaret Conneely, 1950s, 15 min., Color, 16mm
“I need to have fun, too!” says a wife seeking redress to a power imbalance in her home. With the help of an all too eager girlfriend and a mannequin, this skirmish in the war for equilibrium gets dangerous.

Don’t Shove
Dir. Alfred J. Goulding, 1919, 11 min., B&W, 16mm, Silent w/live accomp.
Slap stick straight, no chaser. A break-neck paced physical assault of every actor on every other actor featuring a roller-skate dominated final half.

The 45
Dir., Margaret Conneely, 1961, 11 min., Color, 16mm
Plays out at an amateur level Jean-Luc Godard’s dictum that all a film needs for a plot is a woman and a gun. This is how Conneely says The ’45 came about: with a prop and an actor. From these elements she crafts another mischievous and entertaining film about a woman willing to employ any means to send away the man who comes looking for her husband with a gun.

Just Neighbors
Dir. Harold Lloyd & Frank Terry, 1919, 13 min., B&W, 16 mm, Silent w/ live accomp
Harold, ‘Snub’, the short man and Bebe from All Aboard are back in this slap-stick set in a domestic middle-class milieu, a rare frame for early Lloyd. Hal Roach’s free-wheeling and lackadaisical slow-build of the plot clearly points towards Lloyd’s developing idea of his ‘glass’ character.

The Fairy Princess
Dir. Margaret Conneely, 1950s, 7 min., Color, 16mm
Restored to its original glory by the National Film Preservation Foundation! The first public showing of this sterling new print! In this Christmas film the d├ęcor and narrative fuel the feel of a fantasy within a fantasy. True to these ideas, Margaret frames stop-motion animation and trick photography with live action footage.

 

Margaret Conneely, now 91 years old, donated her films and documentation to the Chicago Film Archives. She was active in amateur filmmaking both locally and internationally for nearly half a century, first joining a local club in the 1950s. Her films in the 1950s won awards from major amateur contests in both America and Europe, after which Margaret became a highly regarded competition judge and attended amateur film festivals around the world. She wrote articles on amateur film that appeared in club newsletters, the Journal of the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and even the New York Times.

Conneely’s story films might be divided into two categories. The first group (from the late 40s and 50s) often use her kids as the principal actors (a zoo Safari, for example, or a narrative about trying a cigarette, or a boy trading his grandmother for a bike). Her film “Fairy Princess” was a PSA “Top Ten” film in 1956 and employs some stop-motion animation. A second general category of films that Margaret participated in were “club films” made by one of the many Chicago movie clubs that she belonged to (there were about a dozen amateur movie clubs in Chicago in the 60s). Mostly these films are a little later, from the 60s, 70s and even 80s. Usually they’re little skits or short fictions, often revolving around some kind of “married life” gag, in which a wayward or obnoxious husband (or wife) gets his (or her) comeuppance.

Some scholars have argued that post-WWII amateur films marked a domestication of the medium into mere “home movies,” which sublimated aesthetic of political potential into acts of consumption. But even while Margaret Conneely’s films drew on her domestic experiences, they’re markedly different from “home movies.” Margaret was a very savvy filmmaker and thinker whose interest in making movies just happened to find an early subject in her family. In the 1960s Margaret was able to parlay her amateur photographic skills into non-amateur work as a medical photographer/filmmaker at Loyola University. And while her amateur films are not identifiably avant-garde, in the 1960s and 70s Conneely funded an award in the PSA for best amateur experimental film, and lectured about the benefits of experimentalism to the PSA membership. Margaret was a filmmaker who reflected upon the aesthetics and social function of amateur film, and whose career challenges scholarship that dismisses amateur film as simply a function of domesticity.

Margaret Conneely knew Harold Lloyd and admired his work. A similar playful tone is threaded throughout the work of these two filmmakers. They are both as clever as they are fun. And so we present to you a delightful afternoon of stories by Harold and Margaret.

Location:
Block Cinema, Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL
Hours:2PM-4PM