The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Fortnight: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 30-January 12

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Hell’s Hinges (1916)
Directed by William S. Hary and Charles Swickard
Hart wore a graven face throughout his silent-screen-era roles as a cowboy touched by God and by his fellow human beings alike into better living. The star (voted by exhibitors as America’s most popular screen idol in 1915 and 1916) assumed a look of concern and moral responsibility from the time that he first entered films in his mid-forties onwards. In Hell’s Hinges—which is both one of his darkest and among his most celebrated films—he plays Blaze Tracy, a badman key to the makeup of the titular outlaw-ruled remote Western town. Blaze is called in by an evil saloon owner (Alfred Hollingsworth) to drive out the newly arrived, weak-willed young Reverend Robert Henley (Jack Standing) and his eternally present stern-willed sister Faith (Clara Williams). The gunman finds himself falling in love with Faith and tries to alter his wicked path, after which other villains arise in his stead and the Reverend’s church goes up in flames. Blaze’s past is left to burn down with the town, and a new life—perhaps a better one—finds space to grow in its gloomy wake. Aaron Cutler (January 7, 22, 1:30pm at MoMA’s “Modern Matinees” spotlight on Hart)

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