12/08/2011 01:45 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Movies Make Merry Month at Niles

This month, as they have every December for more than a few years, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont has put together a schedule of films which both celebrate the holidays and early cinema. This month's movies -- both silent and talkies -- include a holiday classic, a nostalgic documentary, a heroine in distress, an adventure story, a 100-year-old Broncho Billy short, and a whole lot more well worth checking out.

Here is the line-up for the rest of December:

"Saturday Night at the Movies" with Frederick Hodges at the piano
Saturday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m.

In The Heart O' the Hills (1919, Mary Pickford Company), Mary Pickford shines as a mountain girl from Kentucky fighting a group of dishonest businessmen trying to seize her land. The cast includes Claire McDowell and John Gilbert. The Pickford film will be preceded by the shorts, Something in Her Eye (1915, Crystal) with Oliver Hardy, and Ten Dollars or Ten Days (1924, Sennett) with Ben Turpin.

"Laurel & Hardy Talkie Matinee"
Sunday, December 11 at 4:00 p.m.

In Babes in Toyland (1934), Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel star as Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum in this holiday favorite about storybook characters come to life. Virginia Karns plays Mother Goose, and Charlotte Henry plays Bo-Peep. Babes in Toyland will be preceded by Shrimps for a Day (1935) featuring Our Gang, and Below Zero (1930) with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

"Comedy Short Subject Night," with Judy Rosenberg at the piano
Saturday, December 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Once again, this laugh-packed comedy short subject night features some of the most famous comedians of the silent era. On the bill are The Cure (1917, Lone Star) with Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance, There Ain't No Santa Claus (1926, Hal Roach) with Charley Chase, The Scarecrow (1920, Comique) with Buster Keaton, and Big Business (1929, Hal Roach) with Laurel and Hardy.

"Saturday Night at the Movies" with Frederick Hodges at the piano
Saturday, December 24 at 7:30 p.m.

In The Man from Beyond (1922, Houdini Picture Corp.), Harry Houdini plays a man who has been frozen in the Arctic for 100 years who returns to civilization to find his lost love. Along the way, he repeatedly escapes from evil men out to do him and his love harm. The Man from Beyond, likely Houdini's best film, also features Nita Naldi; it will be proceed by two short films, a 35mm print of the 100 year old Broncho Billy's Christmas Dinner (1911, Essanay) starring Gilbert M. Anderson, Edna Fisher and Arthur Mackley, and Hearts and Diamonds (1914, Vitagraph) with John Bunny and Flora Finch. [The screening of the Houdini film coincides with "Houdini: Art and Magic," an exhibit on display at the Jewish Community Museum in San Francisco.]

"Saturday Night at the Movies" with Bruce Loeb at the piano
Saturday, December 31 at 7:30 p.m.

In The Iron Mask (1929), Douglas Fairbanks stars in a rousing, action-packed follow up to The Three Musketeers (1921). Preceding the Fairbanks classic will be seldom seen Mud and Sand (1922, Amalgamated Producing), a Rudolph Valentino parody with Stan Laurel (as Rhubarb Vaselino) and Leona Anderson.

For more info: The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum is located at 37417 Niles Blvd. in Fremont, California. For further information, call (510) 494-1411 or visit the Museum's website.

Thomas Gladysz is an arts journalist and early film buff, and the Director of the Louise Brooks Society, an internet-based archive and international fan club devoted to the legendary film star. Gladysz has contributed to books, organized exhibits, appeared on television and radio, and introduced the actress's films around the world. He writes about movies, books, and popular culture for various websites and blogs.