Historical Society to screen DeMille film

  • The Majestic Theater on Church Street in Keene first showed “The Whispering Chorus” in July 1918. Courtesy photos

  • “The Whispering Chorus,” first shown in Keene in 1918, will be shown Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Thursday, July 12, 2018 11:12AM

As part of its 2018 New Hampshire Film Series, on Wednesday, July 18, at 7 p.m., the Historical Society of Cheshire County plans to show The Whispering Chorus, which came to Keene at the Majestic Theater on Church Street in July of 1918.

The silent film was directed by Cecil B. DeMille and written by actress/screenwriter Jeanie McPherson. A discussion of the film will be facilitated by Larry Benaquist – filmmaker, retired film professor, and founder of the Keene State College film program.

The Whispering Chorus is a tightly-written melodrama, the story of John Tremble, a man whose life is governed by urges, which are externalized onto the screen through DeMille’s use of double exposure. A series of bad decisions, driven largely by his desire to give his family a more secure financial footing, takes Tremble through a nearly-surreal downfall to a strange and tragic redemption. The acting is excellent, making the improbable story very powerful.

The Whispering Chorus made $242,000 on a $72,000 budget. Cecil B. DeMille and Jeanie McPherson went on to make 30 films together as a writer and director team. DeMille made about 70 films between 1914 and 1958 including the Academy-Award-winning The Greatest Show on Earth and the Academy-Award-nominated The Ten Commandments.

With The Whispering Chorus, the Historical Society will show Shoulder Arms, Charlie Chaplin’s short comedy, set on the battlefields of the First World War, and shown in 1918 at both the Scenic and the Majestic theatres. Shoulder Arms was released two weeks before the Armistice was declared. It shows Chaplin at the height of his popularity, and also stars Edna Purviance, and Syd Chaplin, Charlie’s brother.

The Historical Society of Cheshire County is located at 246 Main St. in Keene, New Hampshire. The organization has been collecting, preserving, and communicating the history of Cheshire County for 91 years. The Society puts on about 150 programs each year to help people of all ages “find their place in history.”

For more information, visit hsccnh.org or call 352-1895.