Slapstick comedy will be focus of first night of Movies in the Park

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Shelly Birkelo
Monday, June 3, 2013

— It will be an evening of slapstick comedy under the stars Friday when Ken Regez and his Silver Showcase of vintage films launch the 2013 Movies in the Park series.

A Laurel and Hardy comedy, “Wrong Again,” will be the highlight of these eight films—all from 16 mm prints.

Here's why.

The two-reel silent, short film from 1929 was not included in the television package in the 1950s and '60s because the soundtrack discs were lost and had never been transferred to sound-on-film or any other media, said Regez, a Janesville film collector and historian.

They were rediscovered several years ago, long after the days when Laurel and Hardy were shown in children's television programs, so most people today have never seen this film, he said.

“I'll be running a preservation print from 2005 with the original soundtrack,” Regez said.

“The best bits in this film come from an outrageous extended gag with a broken statue and a horse that ends up on a grand piano,'' he said.

The evening of entertainment from another era also will feature Spanky and the Gang searching for treasure in a cave in “Mama's Little Pirate.”

“The (1934) film was supposedly the inspiration for the 1985 classic children's adventure film, 'Goonies,'” Regez said.

Friday's showcase will kick off with a late 1930s film that is a singalong of the National Anthem.

“That's the way the movies started back then,” he said.

Also on the program is a 1969 “Bambi Meets Godzilla” classic.

“This is a new print struck from producer/animator/director Marv Newland's negative that I have his permission to screen,'' Regez said.

Other films include:

-- A Betty Boop cartoon, “Betty in Blunderland,” which is a version of “Alice in Wonderland.”

-- “Spooks,” a 1931 Iwerks Flip the Frog cartoon that captures Flip spending the night in a house haunted by skeletons.

-- “Living Dangerously,” a 1951 Castle Films newsreel about some wild daredevil stunts. “This is exciting stuff, and if you have a fear of heights, you are guaranteed to squirm,” Regez said.

-- Vintage intermission “snipes” that sell theater ticket packages, popcorn and candy, including the classic “Let's Go Out to the Lobby,” with the dancing 7-Up cans.

“These are public domain and designed to be shown to a large group of people in the dark,” Regez said of this collection of films.

“When you see them with an audience, they're magic,” he said.

That's why Al Draeger of the Optimists, which partners with Janesville Leisure Services to present these movies for free, hopes grandparents will bring their grandchildren, along with blankets, lawn chairs, bug spray and jackets to take advantage of this community offering.

“How many things can you do that doesn't cost anything?” he said.

Free barrel rides will start at 7 p.m. and continue until the movies start. Concessions also will be available, Draeger said.

Last updated: 7:57 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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