The past comes to life again with the screening of a classic silent movie at Union’s Old Town House on Town House Road Saturday, July 17 at 7 p.m., part of the annual Founders Day celebration.

The Union Historical Society will present “The Cameraman,” filmed in 1928 and starring Buster Keaton and Marceline Day. Doug Protsik of The Old Grey Goose band will play the non-stop piano accompaniment from an original score.

Directed by Edward Sedgewick and an uncredited Keaton, “The Cameraman” is one of the last films from Keaton’s classic period and his first film with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He stars as a bumbling portrait photographer who, hoping to win the love of beautiful MGM secretary Sally, takes a job as a newsreel cameraman. Hilarity ensues as, both assisted and impeded by an organ-grinder’s monkey, he stumbles through Charles Lindbergh’s tickertape parade; films a Tong battle in Chinatown; shares a Coney Island dressing room and bathing suit; and plays baseball with himself in an empty Yankee Stadium. By the end of the movie, Keaton has foiled his love rival Harold, landed a steady job with MGM and won Sally.

Demonstrating Keaton’s signature athleticism and visual cleverness, his gift for comic timing and unscripted creativity, as well as his penchant for dangerous stunts, “The Cameraman” considered by silent movie fans to be Keaton’s last truly important work. In later years, he would describe signing a contract with MGM as “the worst mistake of my career.” After 1928, the studio assumed creative control over Keaton’s pictures, demanding that he give up his loose and improvisational working style to follow a prepared script. With his comic creativity effectively stifled, Keaton’s career suffered drastic and long-lasting harm. “The Cameraman” was the final film made exactly as Keaton wished.

Pianist Protsik is a silent movie fan for whom playing 67 minutes non-stop of mood pieces to suit each scene of the movie is a little bit of heaven. With a varied background in classical, folk, old-time and dance music, Protsik fell naturally into his role as the “heir” of the late Danny Patt who, at age 11 and for years thereafter, accompanied silent movies at the Old Town House in the 1920s. Using Patt’s techniques, and aided by research into 1920s standard works like Erno Rapee’s “Motion Picture Moods for Pianists and Organists” and J.S. Zamecnik’s “Sam Fox Moving Picture Music,” Protsik created his own score for the film. Other research resources are Internet silent film sites and what Protsik describes as the fabulous silent movie music collection of the Bagaduce Music Lending Library in Blue Hill.

Protsik’s enthusiasm for silent movies has led to work composing and recording original scores for silent film restorations for Turner Classic Movies cable network. He performs these scores at the Maine International Film Festival every year. A resident of Woolwich, Protsik joined with other musicians to form The Old Grey Goose in 1978 and their energetic blend of traditional and folk music has become a staple of the Maine music scene.

Union Historical Society is proud to present this old-time entertainment for all ages and gratefully acknowledges the sponsorship of Susan Fay whose generosity underwrites this event. Doors will open at the Old Town House, Town House Road off Route 17, at 6:30 p.m. and admission will be $5 at the door.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to