Festival to mark director of silent films

Thu, Sep 13, 2012, 01:00

A film of Huckleberry Finn directed by an Irish-born film director is to finally get a screening in Ireland – 92 years after it premiered in Hollywood.

The 1920s black-and-white silent adaptation of the Mark Twain classic will be seen for the first time by an Irish audience at TaylorFest, a festival in Carlow celebrating the life and work of one of the pioneers of the Hollywood silent movie era, William Desmond Taylor, on the 140th anniversary of his birth.

TaylorFest will run in Carlow town from September 21st-23rd. It is expected to spark fresh debate about Taylor’s still-unsolved murder in Los Angeles in 1922.

Taylor was born in the area now known as The Elms on the Athy Road, Carlow, in 1872. He moved to America when he was 18 and to Hollywood in his late 30s. He acted in 27 films and directed 60 during the golden era of the Hollywood silent movie.

He directed the first film version of Huckleberry Finn in 1920, followed by Soul of Youth, about an orphan which looked at social problems that confronted teenagers. This was the precursor for the iconic James Dean movie, Rebel Without a Cause.

Less than two years after finishing Huckleberry Finn, Taylor’s body was discovered lying on the floor of his living- room by his butler with a bullet wound in the back. A major investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department followed, but the murder remains unsolved.