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Silent Movies & The Mighty Wurlitzer!


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I'm lucky enough to live in an area that has not one,but two theaters equipped with Wurlitzer organs.

most of the time I go to the Stanford Theater.I've never seen a silent movie there,but they do play the organ between features;



anyhow,last night I went to The California Theater in San Jose,and saw "Big Business" with Laurel & Hardy;


and "The Kid Brother" with Harold Lloyd;


I gotta tell ya,that thing gets pretty loud!


they also have an organ in the lobby;


anyhow,if you ever get the chance,GO!






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Good lord!


I'm almost surprised some of those crazy 70s prog rock acts like Wakeman or Emerson didn't tour with one of those, just for show.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck


"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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It was a donation from the Church Of Gaud.

"It is a danger to create something and risk rejection. It is a greater danger to create nothing and allow mediocrity to rule."

"You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at." W.H. Auden


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When I was in grad school, a fellow named Dennis James used to appear regularly at IU (he was an alum) to play the organ for silent movies. The theater organ was the middle ground for silent movie presentation. For "A" pictures a real orchestral score was written and performed in large markets. In smaller markets, the music was played on instruments like the mighty Wulitzer which often had sound effects banks. I'm sure given the abundance of westerns, that "native dance" was somewhere in there. In small towns, someone would be hired to play the score on piano. That was the way most Americans heard them, hence the stereotyped "silent movie" piano sound. After school, I moved to northeast Ohio where the Akron Civic Theatre was restored right along with its Mighty Wulitzer. Still quite a sight to see that monster rising from the pit. A real show in itself. If nothing else, we owe the theatre organ for inspiring Don Leslie to create the B3's soulmate.
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There is an old theater in my town with a mighty Wurlitzer still in use. The Byrd Theatre, which has been around since the '20s.




This theatre shows recent movies for $1.99 and it is a great place to take the family, particularly on Saturday nights, when the organ is played before the movie. It rises up out of the floor. I have memories of it from childhood, so it is very nostalgic.


More info here:





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I would love to find L&H silent movies on DVD.


I have Chaplin and Keaton silent movies, but L&H seem to be MIA.


Yes there are L&H movies on DVD but they are talkies - I want the silent movies.


I have found some real gems on silent movies, especially Buster Keaton.

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