This 1926 silent film stars Colleen Moore in a latter-day Cinderella story. Info/tix
While many of her films deteriorated beyond repair, Madison audiences still have the chance to see silent film star Colleen Moore in director Alfred E. Green's Ella Cinders (1926), based on a once-popular comic strip character. Moore is immediately charming as Ella, armed with a flapper haircut that'd be fashionable on today's Netflix stars. Trapped in a loose take on the Cinderella story, Ella is forced to work for her stepmother and sisters, who soak up that sweet Gilded Age leisure time. With the help of the local ice delivery man, Ella enters a beauty contest that will supposedly win her fame in Hollywood. After several gags and tribulations, it becomes clear that the contest was a sham, and Ella has to work her way up to stardom from less nothing.
With a hilarious performance from Moore highlighting her body comedy, the film works as a window into the Hollywood of her day. With the paparazzi, the need to market your selfies, and a parasitical studio system, the film portrays a burgeoning movie production system already critical of itself, as the camera pulls back from scenes within scenes to show us how the line between performance and reality was already troubled in the '20s. With organist Jelani Eddington playing a live score, these screenings should prove to be an authentic silent film experience with thematic ties to today's moviegoing adventures. In addition, Duck Soup Cinema proves that trigger warnings don't than have to herald the cultural apocalypse some critics foresee, as the series website warns of offensive jokes from back before Americans developed empathy. Especially disappointing in Ella Cinders are white performers dressed as stereotypical Native Americans. —Reid Kurkerewic