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FLICKS: FILM AND VIDEO NOTES : Silent Classics : The Olivas Adobe will show some early films, including one with scenes filmed in Oxnard.

August 16, 1990|LEO SMITH

Moviegoers who have been around the county for a while may remember a Pacific Theaters drive-in off Borchard Avenue in Thousand Oaks. Since it closed about six years ago, the lot has been sprouting weeds. Now, however, folks at that same theater chain are planning a replacement.

OK, now for a chance to go for what's behind curtain No. 3. . . . Which Rudolph Valentino movie was partially filmed in Oxnard? If you said "The Sheik," give yourself some extra butter on that popcorn.

"They had big old sand dunes in Oxnard," said Richard Senate, the historian at Ventura's Olivas Adobe. "There weren't a lot of people there, and it was a lot closer than going to the Mojave Desert."

Specifically, the filmmakers used the sand at what is now the mouth of Port Hueneme Harbor. Before it was dredged, the area also featured a lagoon that served as a nice oasis, around which prop people planted papier-mache palm trees.

Senate will offer up other Ventura County film trivia similar to these tidbits as part of silent movie night, Saturday at the Olivas Adobe. After a short history lesson, he will present three films, the feature attraction being the 1925 classic "The Phantom of the Opera."

Prior to "Phantom," Senate will show "Pedigreedy," the 1927 Felix the Cat cartoon, which contains one of the earliest recorded musical scores, and "Doing, Doing, Done" (1918), starring Bebe Daniels and Snub Pollard. The last one is the story of two con men who are foiled by a phony fortuneteller. In the tradition of old silent movies, piano accompaniment will be provided. The pianist is Robert Barnum of Ventura.

This will be the debut of silent films at the Adobe. A good turnout, Senate said, could mean a much larger schedule next year.

The Adobe, by the way, has its own claim to cinematic fame. Back in 1912, The Melies Star Film Co. of Santa Paula used the site to shoot the movie "The Gringo Strikes." Senate won't be showing the film because no one has been able to locate it. "It's kind of a reverse Zorro. That's all I know about it," Senate said. "For all we know, it is gone now."

Admission is free. The lecture will begin a little after 7 p.m. and Senate will talk until it gets dark enough to show the films (about half an hour).

For those who prefer talkies, there's an auditory option Saturday night. Being the third Saturday of the month, the Thousand Oaks Library has scheduled "Classic Cinema Night."

This month's classic is "The Roof," a 1956 film directed by Vittorio De Sica. "It's about the struggles of a young married couple trying to find a place of their own," said Amani Fliers, a member of the movie selection committee. "That's a very contemporary topic, right?"

The movie will begin shortly after 7 p.m., with a discussion afterward. Admission is $1.

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