Stan Lawder was an inspirational figure for me when I was a Yale undergraduate in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He and Jay Leyda were my two main film studies teachers–what a deal! Stan taught a Silent Film course in the Yale Art Gallery–and filled lecture hall (one of the biggest on campus). There were at least two hundred students–probably more. I still remember many of the films that were shown in that class: Rene Clair’s Entr’Acte (1924) and The Crazy Ray (Paris Qui Dort, 1927), plus Bunuel’s L‘Age D’or (1930). (Was this even possible then?) He also showed us Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929), about which I wrote my first film paper. As I have said on other occasions, when I came to Yale to teach I was determined to maintain the tradition and show that film in Introduction to Film Studies. Eventually we were able to buy a 35mm print. If Stan was the inspiration for that then I was able to pass that inspiration on to John MacKay who was a teaching assistant for Introduction to Film Studies and subsequently decided to write his first post-dissertation book on Vertov, turning John into a film professor–and now chair of Yale’s Film Studies Program. So it was great–and I think also symbolic for John to not just meet Lwader but to introduce Stan when he came to show us his films and collect the Yale Film Studies Program Award.
Our audience was medium size–mostly faculty and graduate students (undergrads are always finishing papers and otherwise getting ready for the summer).
I had seen most of these films as an undergraduate –and Necrology (one of my favorites) since then. But I have to say that I was stunned to see them as a group. They were so fresh, sparkling with a knowing, sophisticated sense of humor. Earlier in the day, Stan had given a lecture on early and silent cinema.