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‘Conrad,’ ‘Siren’ in Festival of Silent Movies

To coincide with Cinecon, the Society of Cinephiles’ convention being held at the Hollywood Roosevelt over Labor Day weekend, the Silent Movie is presenting a festival of five rarely seen double features tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. Among them are “Conrad in Quest of His Youth” (1920), directed by William de Mille, Cecil B.'s esteemed brother, and “Heart of a Siren” (1925), starring the ill-fated, scandal-ridden Barbara La Marr, once labeled by a judge as “too beautiful for her own good,” who died of drink and drugs at 29.

The first is a charming tale of a well-born Englishman (Thomas Meighan), returned to London after long years of military service in India, who desperately tries to recapture the happiness of his youth. The film is unusual for its portrayal of a lonely, vulnerable man by a handsome, virile star at the height of his career.

Since La Marr made only two more pictures after “Heart of a Siren,” it’s tempting to see the real woman in her portrayal of a feverish, intense Spanish adventuress, whom La Marr satirizes as a pretentious tease--until the woman unexpectedly falls in love for real.

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“Heart of a Siren,” stylishly directed by Phil Rosen, is preceded by “Fighting Love” (1927), a heady, dated desert romance with Jetta Goudal and Victor Varconi, who emote rather than act, and is notable mainly for the gorgeousness of Henry Conjager’s cinematography.

Full schedule: (213) 653-2389.


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