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The First Degree at the Gene Siskel Film Center

September 29, 2021 ,  7:00 PM

Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601 , go to map

Admissions: General admission: $20
Gene Siskel Film Center Members: $10
SAIC students: $8

Chicago Film Archives is delighted to announce the world premiere of our new scan of  the recently rediscovered 1923 silent film The First Degree, on September 29 at 7PM at the Gene Siskel Film Center.


In celebration of National Silent Movie Day, CFA will present the previously ‘lost’ ‘rural melodrama’ in partnership with the Film Center. The screening will feature live musical accompaniment from Chicago’s own Quasar Wut-Wut, who will perform an original score.

Frank Mayo stars as Sam Purdy, a banker-turned-politician-turned-sheep farmer who is repeatedly blackmailed by his jealous half-brother Will (Philo McCullough) due to their mutual affection for Mary (Australian actress Sylvia Breamer). The film was directed by Edward Sedgwick, who primarily directed westerns and comedies including Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman (1928). The First Degree was originally released on February 5, 1923 to strong reviews; Exhibitor’s Trade Review declared “There are five reels of bully entertainment in this picture, with no waste material clogging up the action, and a surprise finish that gets across with tremendous effect.”

With only 25% of American silent feature films surviving, CFA is thrilled to have uncovered this little-known feature in our own Charles Krosse collection while weathering the long pandemic summer of 2020. We are excited to reintroduce the film to today’s audiences 98 years after its original theatrical run. To learn more about CFA’s rediscovery of The First Degree, please visit our blog



Gene Siskel Film Center
164 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601
go to map
Hours:7:00 PM
Admissions:General admission: $20
Gene Siskel Film Center Members: $10
SAIC students: $8
Additional Information: