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Organist to accompany World War I silent film


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TOURING ORGANIST Jim Riggs will accompany the 1927 silent film “Wings,” a World War I movie, Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Crystal Theatre in Crystal Falls.

CRYSTAL FALLS — Crystal Theatre’s 2013 “Gem of a Season” opens Saturday at 7 p.m.

Theater organist Jim Riggs will accompany the World War I silent film “Wings” on the theatre’s Moller pipe organ.

Riggs has toured across the nation, in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand for more than 30 years. During his 20-year tenure as house organist at the Art-Deco Paramount Theatre in Oakland, Calif., he performed at every major Bay Area movie house equipped with a theatre organ. His music has been featured on PBS, NPR and BBC radio as well as on television.

Riggs currently lives in Wichita, Kan., where he is artist in residence for the Wichita Theatre Organ Inc., custodians of the former New York Times Square Paramount Wurlitzer organ.

Of the handful of touring theatre organists worldwide, Riggs is one of the few who specializes in live scoring of silent films. He was recently chosen to present the Silent Movie Mondays series at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle.

“‘Wings’ is a 1927 film about two WWI fighter pilot friends played by Buddy Rogers and Richard Arlen,” Crystal Theatre spokesperson Ruth Warmanen said. “Romance thickens the plot when they both fancy the same girl, played by Clara Bow. Gary Cooper appears in a role that helped launch his Hollywood career and his real-life affair with Bow.

“‘Wings’ won the very first Academy Award for Best Picture,” Warmanen said. “It was the only silent film to ever win the Oscar until 2011 when ‘The Artist’ received the award.”

“This is a unique opportunity for whole families to experience what going to the movies was like before ‘talkies,” said Dave Wickerham, Crystal Theatre manager. “We don’t get to watch and hear a musician performing a live sound track at the movies today.”

Tickets are available online at, by phone at 906-367-4072 or at the door.


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