Film series focuses on Allegheny City


Left: Lois Weber was once one of the most influential women in Hollywood and was a native of Allegheny City.

Allegheny City Society is hosting Winter Film Series to celebrate Allegheny City and offers some entertainment out of the cold weather.

Since the Garden is not an operating theater, it’s a good opportunity for people to get together and have a shared experience, which is what movie-watching was intended to be,” said Tom Wilson of the Allegheny City Society.

The Allegheny City Society hosts the monthly events. The films will play at the Allegheny Unitarian-Universalist Church at the corner of West North Avenue and Resaca Place. The programs begin at 7 p.m. and feature a brief talk about each film and its connection with Allegheny City before the showing of the film. The next screening on March 20 will feature films by Lois Weber.

I’ve been researching Lois Weber, who was from Allegheny City, and learning a lot of interesting things, which I’m hoping to share at the screening. It’s kind of neat to know that Allegheny does have a Hollywood connection,” said Wilson.

On Feb. 21 the films were “The Bat Whispers” from 1931 and “The Bat” from 1958, which Wilson said had a successful turnout. Tuesday, March 20 is the Lois Weber movie night and will feature the 1915 film “Hypocrites,” as well as “Suspense” and “How Men Propose,” both from 1913. On April 4, the film will be “The Valley of Decision,” which was released in 1942.

The Allegheny City Society wants to use this film series to remind people of the neighborhood’s history.

We think that keeping that [history] alive by getting people involved is important,” said Wilson.

Light refreshments will be served at each event, and a free-will donation will be accepted to defray the cost of the programs.

March 20, Lois Weber Movie Night: “Hypocrites” follows two parallel stories about a Christian ascetic and a modern minister. Lois Weber directed the silent film in 1915. The night will also feature “Suspense” and “How Men Propose,” both directed by Weber in 1913.

Weber grew up in Allegheny City and became one of the most influential women in the early American film industry. In 1916, she was Universal Studio’s highest paid director. She was very popular in the heyday of silent films, though she is little known today. The program will feature a brief discussion of Weber’s life before the film, and live musical accompaniment by Allegheny City composer Tom Roberts will complement the silent films.

April 4, “The Valley of Decision” (1945): The screening of this film will mark the 70-year anniversary of release of the novel by Marcia Davenport that inspired this movie.

The film takes place in Allegheny City in the late 19th century and features a romance plot alongside issues surrounding the steel industry. The film stars such notable actors and actresses as Gregory Peck, Greer Garson and Lionel Barrymore.


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