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AUG. 15 & 22
“Humorist” is a folksy but respectable title, and these days the name of Will Rogers (pictured, far right, in the 1933 film Doctor Bull) rarely goes anywhere without it. In his time, though, the rope-twirling comic was as showbiz as Pokemon or professional wrestling. The Oklahoma Territory-born entertainer made his debut in a Wild West show touring South Africa and worked county fairs and vaudeville theaters before discovering the movies. He didn’t quite click as a silent-picture star, but from the advent of sound to his 1935 death in an airplane crash, he made as many as five films a year. This retrospective reconsiders Rogers’ silent films, most of them directed by Hal Roach, although it includes one, 1922’s The Roping Fool, directed by the man himself. That short is featured in the Aug. 15 program, which also includes Jes’ Passin’ Through, The Headless Horseman, and a 1960 compilation of Rogers’ work, Silents Please: Will Rogers Show. The Aug. 22 program finds Rogers taking on a favorite subject in Going to Congress, and also includes Uncensored Movies, Big Moments From Little Pictures, Don’t Park There, and a seven-minute snippet of Rogers in Europe. The musical accompaniment for both programs is by organist Ray Brubacher. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15, and Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. For reservations call (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)