Rarely-seen footage of the celebrated Scottish entertainer Harry Lauder performing alongside Hollywood legend Charlie Chaplin is to be screened to the public at Scotland’s oldest purpose-built cinema next month.
An eight-minute short film the pair made together at Chaplin’s own studio exactly 100 years ago will be shown as part of a new Scottish Comedy Film Festival, which is launching at the restored Campbeltown Picture House, which reopens today after a multi-million pound restoration.
The short film was intended to raise money for soldiers injured in the First World War and honour Lauder’s son, John, who was killed in action in Poziers in France while serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. However it was never completed and the footage was never shown publicly at the time.
The screening of the short film at the Campbeltown Picture House will be accompanied by the singer and broadcaster Jamie MacDougall and pianist Derek Clark, head of music.
Footage of Scottish legends Chic Murray, Stanley Baxter, Jimmy Logan, Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy will also be screened as part of the three-day comedy festival’s “Bunkered” strand.
Curator Shona Thomson said: “Scotland has an international reputation for its much-loved comedians and you can see it in the on-screen warmth between Sir Harry Lauder and Charlie Chaplin,” says Shona. “It’s so exciting to be able to bring this selection of films back to the big screen in the glorious Campbeltown Picture House.”
Ailsa MacKenzie, programmer of the Scottish Comedy Film Festival, said: ““We are delighted that we have been given the opportunity to screen the famous Lauder- Chaplin film. Even more exciting, we will have live musical performance complementing the footage.”
Highlights of the comedy festival will include an appearance by Dave Johns, the comic and actor best known for his starring role in the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake.
The Picture House, which dates back to 1931, has had its main auditorium and “art nouveau” exterior restored as part of a £3.5 million overhaul to secure its long-term future.
Work on the project, which has also seen the creation of a second screen and a new cafe-bar, began two years ago after backing was secured from Historic Environment Scotland, Creative Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The cinema had been closed down in 2014 while fundraising efforts were still ongoing.