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The Man Who Laughs

1hr 50mins
Directed by
Paul Leni
Conrad Veidt,
Mary Philbin,
Olga Baclanova

The Coolidge Corner Theatre is proud to welcome back Berklee College of Music Professor Sheldon Mirowitz and the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) for the world premiere of the BSFO’s new, original score to The Man Who Laughs (1928). This is the twelfth original Berklee score the Coolidge has commissioned for our Sounds of Silents® program.

The shadowy exteriors, the carnival setting, the demonically misshapen "hero" made director Paul Leni’s The Man Who Laughs something entirely new to American cinema-the foundation upon which the classic Universal horror films would be built.

Conrad Veidt (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) stars as Gwynplaine, a nobleman's son who is kidnaped by a political enemy, and then is mutilated by a gypsy "surgeon" who carves a monstrous smile upon his face. Finding shelter in a traveling freakshow, he falls in love with a blind girl (Mary Philbin, The Phantom Of the Opera), the one person who cannot be repulsed by his appearance. As years pass, the hand of fate draws Gwynplaine back into the world of political intrigue. He becomes the plaything of a jaded duchess (Olga Baclanova, Freaks), and his enemies renew their efforts to control him.

About the BSFO

​The recipient of a special commendation from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) is dedicated to composing new, original scores for silent feature classics, and performing them live-to-picture. Based at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, in the world’s only undergraduate degree program in film scoring, the student orchestra composes its new works, and performs as an ensemble, under the leadership of Professor of Film Scoring Sheldon Mirowitz (Outside Providence, Missing in America). To date, the BSFO has scored and performed twelve iconic silent features including F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise, Faust, and The Last Laugh, Clarence Badger’s It, Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitality, E.A. Dupont’s Piccadilly and Varieté, Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera, and Harold Lloyd's The Freshman, each commissioned by the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Sounds of Silents® program. 

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