Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

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Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

PostSat Dec 17, 2016 9:20 pm

http://www.seattleweekly.com/film/eight-decades-later-tacomas-1927-lost-film-eyes-of-the-totem-makes-its-seattle-debut/

Eight Decades Later, Tacoma’s 1927 Lost Film ‘Eyes of the Totem’ Makes Its Seattle Debut

The relic from the days of Tacoma’s dreams as a ‘Hollyood-by-the-Sea’ shows at Northwest Film Forum.

Kelton SearsFri Dec 16th, 2016 1:30amFilm

The year The Eyes of the Totem, was filmed, back in 1926, Tacoma was thoroughly engaged in the war with Seattle for the title of the Northwest’s greatest city (which some might argue continues today). They made a few notable power plays that year, both of which, however, ultimately flopped. First, they attempted to rename Mount Rainier as Mount Tacoma—a drawn-out campaign that met its end in the House of Representatives. Second, Harvey C. Weaver would get the closest he ever got to turning Tacoma into “Hollywood-by-the-Sea” with the buzzed-about production of Eyes of the Totem. This weekend, the film sees its premiere in the city limits of its lifelong adversary Seattle for the first time at the Northwest Film Forum.

An ad for the film from the Tacoma Ledger newspaper, 1927.

Eyes of the Totem was the second of what would only be three silent films produced by H.C. Weaver Productions Inc. before Al Jolson’s paradigm-shifting “talkie,” The Jazz Singer, would effectively wipe silent films out for good in late 1927—the same year Eyes and Weaver Productions’ final film Heart of the Yukon saw commercial release. The Tacoma studio would shutter a year later, unable to afford the expensive sound equipment it would take to compete with the new wave of talkies being funded by the major big-budget studios in Hollywood. But right before Jolson and Hollywood dealt the finishing blow, Eyes of the Totem was the film that gave weight, albeit briefly, to Tacoma’s dreams as a future center for cinema. Weaver secured Woodbridge Strong Van Dyke to direct the film, a well-known director with 37 films under his belt, as well as Wanda Hawley, an actress who had her big break in a film by Cecile B. DeMille (credited as “a founding father of the Hollywood Film Industry”) and who just so happened to have grown up in the Tacoma area. The production’s filming caused a big buzz in town.

But Eyes of the Totem and the two other Weaver films, which effectively disappeared after their commercial release, turned into something of a local myth as eight decades passed by. Fast forward to 2014 when City of Tacoma historic preservation coordinator Lauren Hoogkamer, who had heard of the mythical Tacoma film, began doing some detective work. Her investigation and research led to a phone call to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), one that would end with the ultimate prize: the discovery of the complete film on five reels, tucked away deep in MoMA’s film archives. After a restoration project supported by the Tacoma Historical Society, Northwest history professor Michael Sullivan at UW Tacoma, and the Tacoma Art Museum, the newly-discovered Eyes of the Totem returned home to re-debut in Tacoma last year.

The film features shots from historic parts of Tacoma both reamining and long-gone, and takes its name from the iconic totem pole still standing at Fireman’s Park. The plot is a psychological murder-mystery following the wife and daughter of a miner who live in a log cabin in a frigid Northern town. When the family moves down to Tacoma to finally cash in on their mining claim, the husband is murdered and their family savings stolen by a mysterious man with distinctive eyes. The wife wanders the streets a begger with a child to care for, constantly on the lookout for the eyes of the killer. The Northwest Film Forum’s screening will include a discussion with the film’s preservationists as well as the composer of its new score. If you want to brush up a bit more on the film’s history and the story of its preservation so you have some informed questions to ask the panel, Craig Sailor at The News Tribune has an excellent deep dive into just that. Eyes of the Totem, Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., nwfilmforum.org. $11. All ages. 4 p.m. Sun., Dec. 18.
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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

PostFri Dec 23, 2016 12:16 am

Thanks for sharing the news of this film's public showing in Seattle.

We had the same film shown at the Little Blue Mouse theatre in Tacoma the last weekend of November 2016 and for $7 you could see the film, buy a lobby card, a poster, or popcorn, but no one from the preservation process was present. Tacoma has always been culturally lagging behind the Seattle scene and as someone born here and still living in Tacoma it is a bit bewildering.

I took my 10 year old son to see Totem and he enjoyed it. I did a head count of the total number of people present at the first of 3 showing's at this theatre and I counted 21 total including the two of us........disappointing.

My news year's resolution is getting this theatre to get back on the band wagon for showing silent films as the theatre began in 1923 during that era. The original Blue Mouse is no more and was replaced by an outdoor escalator.

Maybe a Mark Hamilton (1889-1963) or Mack Swain (1876-1935) Film Festival (Hamilton settled in Tacoma after Hollywood and Swain assed away at a Tacoma Hospital in 1935) may rekindle n 2017 a little more interest in silent film?

Thanks,
Dana
Last edited by Hamilton's Grandson on Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

PostSun May 07, 2017 5:04 pm

Eyes of the Totem 1926 will be shown again at the Rialto Theater in Tacoma on June 9, 2017 at 8:30 pm with a preliminary documentary "A Totem Tale" 2016 (Mariposa Productions) shown prior to the film at 6:30 pm. Tickets $15 for both. The Rialto is where the film was originally screened by the film's director and production team 90 years ago. On June 10th at 10 am a Totem walk "Waking with the Eyes" will take place which will explore the same route of the city that the filming took place with the 90th anniversary party of the film held later in the day at the Pythian Temple in Tacoma at 6 pm. The Tacoma Historical Society is also opening up an exhibit starting June 8th called "Showtime in Tacoma" which will have some material showcased from this film.
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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

PostFri Jun 09, 2017 10:41 pm

Just returned from Rialto in Tacoma. Had to see this film again as it was better the second time around. Spoke with historical society president in lobby and he said that "Eyes of the Totem will be at the San Francisco Film Festival later this year" (confusing as I thought that festival was the first week of June 2017 and it is already completed?). No DVD distribution until after this year once film festival tour of the film is completed. There was a glitch with the theatre's hard drive so the documentary before the film was unable to be shown ........oh well so much for a two for one bargain.
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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

PostMon Jun 12, 2017 8:40 pm

I uploaded the lobby cards from the film to imdb for this film if anyone has not seen the film yet OR if you want a sneak peak of some of the scenes from the film if you haven't seen the trailer yet. (you tube or eyesofthetotem.com I have seen it at a small 200 seat theatre (Blue Mouse), larger theatre (Rialto), and at the Pythian Temple on a pull down screen with 50 people 2 nites ago. One of the better silent films I have seen in the last 6 months. The hope is that it is available in 2018 on DVD.
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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

PostWed Jun 28, 2017 10:49 pm

This film is going to be shown one more time in Tacoma on Thursday July 13th , 2017 at the Blue Mouse Theater at 7 pm.
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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

PostThu Aug 03, 2017 7:40 pm

Film is at the Grand Cinema in Tacoma 8/3rd and then on to San Francisco this fall.
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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 8:34 am

Hamilton's Grandson wrote:Spoke with historical society president in lobby and he said that "Eyes of the Totem will be at the San Francisco Film Festival later this year" (confusing as I thought that festival was the first week of June 2017 and it is already completed?)


The SFSFF also has a "Day of Silents" as a mini-winter festival, this year on December 2. They haven't officially announced the line-up yet, so what you've got there is a "scoop"!
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"
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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 11:39 pm

Rodney,

Looks like their website indicates that the line up in SF will be determined by 10/9th with early bird discounted passes on sale 8/21st. If this film makes the cut it would be great to hear about the reviews after 12/2 festival to see how folks liked it.

Dana
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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)

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Re: Seattle: EYES OF THE TOTEM (1926)


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