Press release

New score to get film lovers in tune with silent cinema

Published on 26 March 2019

A special screening at the University of Dundee will add a new chapter in the story of one of silent cinema’s most beloved pictures

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Steven Gellatly, silent film pianist and composer, will perform an original score to the Mary Pickford classic ‘Daddy Long Legs’ as part of a centenary showing of the classic comedy-drama.

Designed to support the School of Humanities’ Film Studies programme, the event will take place in the Baxter Suite of the University’s Tower Building from 6-7.30pm on Wednesday 27 March.

Matthew Jarron, the University’s Museum Curator and a silent film expert, said that the evening would thrill and inform cinema enthusiasts.

“Silent cinema is something that people may be unsure of at first, but is something that viewers very quickly adjust to,” he said.

“Just as with a modern film score, the music helps the audience interpret what is happening on the screen, but having it performed live creates an immediacy and an emotional connection to the film that goes beyond what is possible with recorded scores.

“Steven’s passion for silent film, as well as his composition skills, means that anybody attending will be in for a fantastic evening of entertainment.”

Made in 1919, Daddy Long Legs stars Mary Pickford, an immensely powerful figure in silent cinema who co-founded the United Artists studio that year and would later win an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929.

The story follows an orphaned girl who is supported by a mysterious benefactor throughout her education, and whom she eventually meets in adult life as a potential suitor.  The movie was released at the height of Pickford’s fame, which would continue until the emergence of ‘talkies’ at the end of the 1920s.

Though the film may be a century old, Matthew said that it is a snapshot of a particularly important time in cinema.

He added, “This film comes from a time when many of the industry’s most powerful figures were women. When Daddy Long Legs was released, Mary Pickford was arguably the most famous woman in the world and had huge influence in the industry, with complete creative control over her own work. There were also many successful women writers and directors.

“The male-dominated Hollywood only really emerged when the big studios took control in the subsequent decades, but it is important that stars like Pickford are not overlooked when we speak about influential women within the film industry.”

The screening of Daddy Long Legs is free and will take place in the Baxter Suite of the University’s Tower Building on Wednesday 27 March at 6pm. All are welcome.


Press Office, University of Dundee