You might think silent movies are a thing of the past, only to be appreciated for their historical significance. According to Sammy Harkham, director of programming at L.A.’s Silent Movie Theatre, you’d be wrong. “I say, ‘fuck history.’ That’s the problem. Silent movies just seem boring if you’re unfamiliar with them, or had to sit through one in high school. But the great silent films haven’t aged a bit… and if anything are even more powerful when compared with much of work being made now.” Harkham, who is 26, and his 24-year-old brother Dan bought the Los Angeles landmark just this past June, reopening the theater to the public in early October.


The Silent Movie Theatre, which is the only silent film cinema in the United States, opened in 1942, just as the popularity of silent film was waning. As the Theatre passed from owner to owner, it has survived mainly through the hosting of private parties, since, as Harkham points out, “the audience for silents is pretty small obviously, but loyal.”

Through a careful business strategy, the Harkhams hope to reward this loyal fan base with a diverse screening of classic silent films, while branching out to a wider audience with the additional showing of films from the 1930s to the ’70s. It’s often said that the young have no respect for the past, but the Harkham brothers’ dedication to preserving this nearly-lost cinematic experience proves the exception to the rule.

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