Classic silent films return to Brooklyn Public Library — with live piano

for The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s hard to keep quiet about silent film this good.

This fall, the Brooklyn Public Library will continue its popular pre-talkies series, featuring some great films that are so last century: “Grandma’s Boy,” a slapstick comedy starring Harold Lloyd; “Daddy Long Legs,” a comedic drama starring the immortal Mary Pickford; and “The Strong Man,” another slap-and-tickle fest starring Harry Langdon.

But just because the soundtracks are empty doesn’t mean today’s audience won’t have plenty to listen to. As in past years, Stuart Oderman will provide the live piano accompaniment (which, in a Harold Lloyd film, means plenty of fast fingers).

“Stuart is our secret weapon,” said Ken Gordon, host of the first-Sunday-of-the-month Silent Movie Matinee series. “He is like a jukebox for that era of music. You aren’t just in a movie, you are in a concert.”

The ninth season of the series will take place in the basement theater in the main branch of the library, but Gordon says the audience will feel like transported back in time.

“Films are like time machines,” he said. “They froze a moment in history that we can revisit.”

With the combination of live piano and a theater full of people, this is an experience that can’t be replicated by watching a DVD.

“You need shared laughter in a room to experience these comedies correctly,” Gordon added. “You can feel that human touch.”

Silent Movie Matinee at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch [Flatbush Avenue at Eastern Parkway in Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope, (718) 230-2100]. Oct. 3, Nov. 7, Dec. 5 at 1:30 pm. Free. For info, visit

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