Many Paris cultural institutions are closed on Mondays. But not the Cinema Museum at the Cinèmatheque Française! Created by archivist and cinephile Henri Langois, the museum features all kinds of early cinematic and pre-cinematic devices of wonder plus clips and ephemera from films both celebrated (the head of Mrs. Bates from Psycho) and obscure (a fabulous poster from the 1915 Paris silent crime serial Les Vampires featuring the seductive Musidora as Irma Vep!). I also learn the answer to a question that’s been puzzling me for a while now: why do European 8mm cameras run at a standard speed of 16 frames per second rather than the 18 fps customary in the US? Because 16 fps equaled two full cranks of the cinematograph, the device used by the Lumière Brothers in France to shoot and project some of the earliest motion pictures in the mid-1890s!
Not quite as old as the cinematograph, the original Shakespeare and Company dates back to 1919. The beloved bookshop, started by Sylvia Beach and continued in its current location by George Whitman and his daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman, has always been a gathering place for the glittering literati as well as up and coming young writers (you know…everybody who was in Midnight In Paris…). Tonight’s featured readers leave me cold but the little room upstairs delights with its old piano, manual typewriters, yellowing photographs, comfy couches and walls of books (The Case of Salvador Dali by Fleur Cowles?!?!?) just begging to be browsed….