Arts and Entertainment

Celebrating silent film and the Lynwood's 73rd with Dennis James

Dennis James will be at the keys July 5 on Bainbridge, providing live accompaniment behind King Vidor’s 1928 work “The Crowd” to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the island’s first home for silent film — the historic Lynwood Theatre. - Courtesy photo
Dennis James will be at the keys July 5 on Bainbridge, providing live accompaniment behind King Vidor’s 1928 work “The Crowd” to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the island’s first home for silent film — the historic Lynwood Theatre.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

World renown organist Dennis James returns to accompany the Lynwood’s 73rd anniversary.

From the keys of an old-fashioned instrument, Dennis James strikes the chords of history.

Over the past 30 years, he’s been an ardent supporter and pivotal proponent of the vanishing art form of live music played behind silent films. Although he wasn’t born until well after the advent of talkies and motion picture soundtracks, James was introduced to silent films early in life when they were used as filler in the early days of television.

“Some of them weren’t even synchronized with the music, so I used to turn the scores off, and said, ‘Ah, I hear my own music,’” James remembered. “That kind of says it all.”

He’ll be at the keys July 5 on Bainbridge, providing live accompaniment behind King Vidor’s 1928 work “The Crowd” to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the island’s first home for silent film — the historic Lynwood Theatre.

Before the advent of talkies and motion picture soundtracks, movies were silent, except for musical accompaniment provided by live orchestras or organists. After Warner Brothers introduced a sound-on-disc system in 1926, everything changed.

“The fastest and most amazing revolution the whole history of industrial revolutions,” Fortune Magazine raved in 1930.

James began formal organ training at age 12 in the early 60s and went on to a successful career as house organist in esteemed music halls across the country, while helping keep live music behind silent films alive all along.

He now keeps one of the largest silent film score libraries in the country at his home in Tacoma and was, until last week, the house organist at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle.

The Lynwood is located at 4569 Lynwood Center Road on Bainbridge. Tickets to “The Crowd” are $12, with shows a 1:30 and 7 p.m. July 5.

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