Joshua Kosman has an excellent article in the Chron about symphony orchestras that are scheduling movie screenings enhanced by live performances of the film scores. He chats with orchestra administrators, conductor / composer David Newman, and some fans about these programs.
Joshua mentions the appeal of seeing these films with better sound than you will get anywhere else. I think there's the additional appeal of seeing a classic film on a really big screen. The disappearance of repertory movie theaters means it's almost impossible to see these movies other than on DVD. Yes, there are occasional special showings such as the Paramount classic film series or the unbelievably great showing of Abel Gance's Napoleon, which was also at the Paramount, under the aegis of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Alas, these are sadly rare.
The article says that SFS started its series in 2013. I have no doubt that the date is correct, but there were occasional showings of films-with-live-orchestra before that. I attended a summertime showing of great cartoons with live original scores a good long time ago, and they've done a couple of those since. There was also a showing of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times with what I recall was Chaplin's own scoring.*
Joshua has a very nice ca-CHUNG at the end of a craftily ordered sentence: "....and his cousin Randy." Read it for yourself.
Lastly, you have to wonder why on earth SFS hasn't yet done any of the films scored by Korngold:
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
- Captain Blood (1935)
- Anthony Adverse (1936)
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
- Juarez (1939)
- The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
- The Sea Hawk (1940)
- The Sea Wolf (1941)
* My experience of Modern Times was not ideal; an usher refused to admit me because the lights had gone down two minutes before I got to the door to the theater. My seat was on the aisle in the last row of Davies and the film hadn't started yet. I was seated elsewhere but spent the first half-hour of the film in a pissed-off state of mind, because seating me would have disturbed no one.