Silent Movie at the Paramount

Roger Ebert recently wrote on his wonderful blog that silent movies are more dreamlike than talkies for him because in his dreams he can understand people without hearing their voices. I’ve had the same experience of reaching a dreamlike state when watching silent movies – particularly lyrical ones like The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Sunrise.

Last night we went to see The Magician, Rex Ingram‘s 1926 horror film, at Seattle’s original silent movie palace, the Paramount Theater. The Paramount has been offering a series of silent films every winter for 12 years, accompanied by Dennis James on the Paramount’s own mighty Wurlitzer organ.


The fabulous interior of the Paramount is certainly conducive to a dreamlike feeling.



More photos of the Paramount and some stills from The Magician below.


The Wurlitzer keyboard and foot pedals control a phalanx of instruments that hide behind giant screens on either side of the theater.



The Magician is the story of a sculptress held under the irresistible hypnotic spell of a psychopath who keeps her sexually sequestered in order to preserve her “maiden heart’s blood” for his nefarious experimentation in the creation of life. It’s an obvious model for many later films, most notably James Whale’s Frankenstein.

Here is an original poster and some stills from The Magician.




~ by lolarusa on January 13, 2009.

3 Responses to “Silent Movie at the Paramount”

  1. Dennis James is a master at the mighty Wurlitzer. Nice pictures, looks fun.

  2. Fascinating. Huge, ornate, golden, holds many sitting people who mustn’t talk to their neighbours for just over an hour, has an organ and lamps — is it RC or Episcopalian?

  3. You can talk to the screen, though. Hissing the villain and cheering the hero is encouraged, within the bounds of decorum. So maybe it’s more like an unusually ornate Baptist church.

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