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Silent Movies Prove Some Things are Best Left Unspoken

February 14 is Valentine's Day, and that means love is in the air! And while some folks like to shout it from the rooftops, over at The Paramount Theatre, love needs not utter a word.

"This theater was built in 1928 as a movie house," said Vicky Lee, Director of Education and Performance Programs. "It started as a silent movie house. So in the late 80s, we started showing silent movies and have kept it going."

It's all about love this month at The Paramount Theatre's Silent Movie Mondays, but that's not all.

"This winter theme is about love stories but also about movie stars that are really crossover movie stars," explained Lee. "The first Latina, the first Japanese-American star. So maybe films people haven't seen before and then at the same time showing some all-time favorites. They're all entertaining but sometimes you might learn something you didn't know before."

"First, you can approach it as a historical experience," added Mark Sweeney, Assoc. Librarian, Library of Congress. "What was it like to see a silent movie from the 1920s? It can also tell you an awful lot about what society was like, just the street scenes, what people are wearing, what kind of vehicles people are driving that sort of thing."

Seventy percent of the original silent films were not preserved and are lost forever. So, people like Mark Sweeney of the Library of Congress help collect and protect what they can.

"It's the great American art form, a motion picture," said Sweeney. "So, it's something we should celebrate."

The classic movies are a big draw, but the star attraction might be the Paramount's Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

"This instrument is original to this building. So what you're hearing are the sounds the people would have heard in the late 1920s when the theater was created and when the theater was built," explained Tedde Gibson, .Silent Film Accompanist, Organist. "Because this was standard operating equipment that came with theaters so you get to hear literally the exact sounds that they would have heard at that time."

Teddy Gibson is the maestro behind the music, creating the perfect score for each film.

"The music has to go with the action, whether it's slapstick and you have different percussive effects or with a love scene where you have the theme of the two characters coming together," said Gibson. "That for me is something I enjoy doing. Is how do I weave this story musically to continue telling the story that the actors are telling."

Gibson sits front and center, but he hopes the audiences never notice.

"The focus for me is to essentially become unseen, explained Gibson. "If they're watching the film and listening to the music, it's kind of like when you're watching a film nowadays where the music intertwines with the action and so for me, the greatest compliment I can get is someone to day oh, I forgot you were even playing because they're watching the film and I've done my job."

Tickets are $10. Silent Movie Mondays runs through March 6, 2017, and will return with comedy classics in April.

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