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I’ve told this story before, but this time for @EminaMelonic: So I’m living in San Francisco, and it’s time for the annual Silent Film Festival at the Castro Theater. Buddy and I are looking over the listings when we get to one called The Sideshow.
The local free rag describes the 1928 film—it’s about a midget—but the description was so PC they didn’t mention it in the write-up. You had to look at the photo to see that, yes, it obviously featured Little Billy Rhodes. Ok, that’s more than enough to book tickets.
Then, in fine print, the description added that cinematographer Gary Graver would be introducing the film. Wow—he was Welles’ last cameraman, including on F for Fake. That was more exciting than watching the silent film itself.
So we got there early. The place was packed. Not with the usual silent film fanatics, but with midget movie fans and Orson Welles fans. Great, totally weird crowd.
Graver gave a speech about Orson’s relationship with midgets throughout his life. It was hysterical and fascinating. When it was over, I grabbed Graver outside in the lobby. We talked about F for Fake and the Other Side of the Wind, another project he was deeply involved with.
After about 10 minutes of chatting, he asks me, “say, have you seen the Terror of Tiny Town?—you know, the 30s musical with the all-midget cast.” So we went to his car, and he sold me a bootleg DVD.
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