Olivia Cattabriga / Art Director

Matt Goselin

Equinox Staff

On April 10, 2019, at 7 p.m The Historical Society of Cheshire County and The Keene Public Library presented “Al Jolson, The Singing Fool.” The movie is part of a 4 sequence film series displaying some of the first films to be played in Keene Theaters to have sound in them. The movies were presented in the basement of the Keene Public Library.

According to the program, “Following each movie, film historian Larry Benaquist will discuss the history of the coming of sound and its profound effect on audiences, the actors, the screenwriters, and the studios.”

For example, at the end of the film, the final performance of the main protagonist is done in blackface. Benaquist believed that the director of the movie, Lloyd Bacon, was not actually a racist man. He said It was just due to where society was at when the film was released. When asked about the blackface scene, audience member Mary Jensen said “it was pretty jarring.”

Benaquist said the Historical Society of Cheshire County started showing film series similar to this one starting about six years ago. The point of the series was to find films that related to both New Hampshire and life in New Hampshire that people in Keene would relate to.

Benquist said, “When you show a film with a certain theme, people will come watch it based on their affiliation with that topic.”

When trying to find films that would fit the theme he was trying to convey, Benaquist had a bit of a hard time. He said that this was due to the fact that “90% of films that were made before the year 1930 have been completely lost or destroyed.”

Jensen said that the film was “fascinating.” She also said that she will be attending the next movie showing if she can. She said she found out about the showing of “The Singing Fool” from reading it in the Keene Sentinel.

Audience member Jonathan Sheemax also said he thought that the film was very interesting. He also said the child actor in the movie was “quite the actor.”

The next film in the series will be shown on April 17 at 7 p.m in the downstairs of the Keene Public Library. For more information about the movies being shown, visit The website of the Historical Society of Cheshire county at www.hsccnh.org.

Silent movies accompanied by live music can also be found at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre on Sunday, April 28.

Matt Goselin

can be contacted at


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