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Duck Soup Cinema: The Freshman (2 & 7 p.m.)

  • Capitol Theater 201 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

If you're in the mood for some high-spirited entertainment and you're not wrapped up in the outcome of the Badgers v. Nebraska game, the Capitol Theater at Overture Center has the perfect alternative autumn game plan: a screening of Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor's acclaimed silent slapstick comedy feature, The Freshman (1925), set to live music by organist Jelani Eddington. Starring a skinny, bespectacled, but nimble Harold Lloyd as Harold Lamb, the film follows the overzealous titular character as he enrolls at Tate University with an ill-advised attempt to make friends by emulating the mannerisms and ambition of his movie idol, The College Hero. This earns him the nickname "Speedy" amongst his peers and leads to him trying out for the football team. A sport as physical as football not only provides the backdrop for one of the silent era's most crowd-pleasing comedies, but Lloyd and company also avoid the inclination to run a series of progressively unimaginative training gags like a blooper reel. Off the field, the charming narrative is strengthened by a romantic subplot that leads up to a Fall Frolic dance sequence involving the apple of Harold's eye, Peggy (Jobyna Ralston). However, the writing throughout also carries an infectious underdog spirit that reveals the depths of individuality; in fact, the basic premise of the unassuming team hero who was once a principal subject of ridicule was overtly lifted for Adam Sandler's far less subtle The Waterboy (1998). Lloyd's performances may not ultimately have the unwavering sentimentality of Charlie Chaplin or the deadpan innovation of Buster Keaton, but his impression here as the resilient everyman is just as memorable. As is usual with Duck Soup Cinema, local vaudeville acts will precede the feature presentation at both shows.  —Grant Phipps

Earlier Event: October 6
Null Device, Justin Carver, DJ Ellafine
Later Event: October 7
Tanya Tagaq