Lights, Action, Camera, Roll-em: the Silent Films of the La Jolla Cinema League

San Diego—with its spectacular coastal vistas, wide sandy beaches, and perpetually balmy weather—has long been a draw as a filming location for Hollywood motion picture studios. Not nearly as well known, however, is the fact that in the 1920s, La Jolla once boasted its own thriving community of filmmakers—the La Jolla Cinema League—which flourished in the waning days of silent cinema.

The UC San Diego Library will be celebrating the films of the La Jolla Cinema League with a screening of several films on Saturday, May 25 at 3 p.m. in the Geisel Library’s Seuss Room on the UC San Diego campus. The films will be accompanied by a live music score performed by the Library’s Scott Paulson and his Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra. In addition to the screening, an exhibit, “Silent Era Filmmaking of the La Jolla Cinema League,” which sheds light on the filmmakers and their work, is currently on view through June 20 on the 1st floor, West wing of Geisel Library. The events, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by the UC San Diego Arts Library.

The La Jolla Cinema League, a silent film club founded in La Jolla in 1926, was an amateur group with surprisingly professional standards. League members, which produced a number of entertaining melodramatic silent films, wrote their own screenplays, ran the cameras, and experimented with shooting angles and lighting. They developed the films themselves with their own lab equipment and utilized some sophisticated editing techniques.

While La Jolla gentlemen of the League operated the cameras, most of the films were directed by female members of the club. Good acting from local residents was enhanced by sets featuring beautiful gardens and homes of La Jolla, as well as many familiar landscapes and landmarks such as a the early campus of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, newly-built Irving Gill buildings, and a delightfully unchanged Biological Grade.

The La Jolla Cinema League films to be screened include: Consuelo di Capri (1926-7), Avarice (1926-7), Uninvited Guest (1926-7), Virtue’s Reward or Blood for Bond (1926-7), 
 and A Midsummer’s Day (1926-7).

For more information about the exhibit or the screening, contact Scott Paulson at (858) 822-5758 or spaulson@ucsd.edu.

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