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THE PENALTY: Special Screening On Location at The Old Mint!

  • The Old U.S. Mint 88 5th Street San Francisco, CA, 94103 United States (map)

Join the California Historical Society and the Tenderloin Museum for a special night that shares the history of the Old Mint through a screening of the 1920s silent movie, The Penalty.

The Penalty is a frightening noir that draws heavily on San Francisco's historical viceland and stars Lon Chaney in his breakout role as Blizzard, a vengeful, amputee crimelord hell-bent on robbing the Old Mint. Now, nearly a century later, the California Historical Society and the Tenderloin Museum are granting this gangster his wish by screening The Penaltyinside the Mint’s majestic receiving room, replete with a live musical score and a century-spanning presentation on the film’s many recognizable locales.

The live score will be performed by dueling duo ensembles featuring a few of the Bay Area's most-feted improvisors. Sarah Lockhart (percussion, electronics) and Christina Stanley (violin, electronics, voice) will play opposite Mark Clifford (vibraphone) and Crystal Pascucci (cello, voice) to conjure an evocative, haunting soundtrack for Chaney's portrayal of the ruthless Blizzard. Don Herron, acclaimed literary walking-tour guide and Dashiell Hammett expert, will host the evening, which features an exclusive virtual tour of movie’s locations by CitySleuth (aka Brian Hollins), the authority on the urban history of SF film noir.

Based on the serial novel by Gouverneur Morris, The Penalty is rife with sights of “lost” San Francisco. It is, building for building, the equivalent of the Bogart-Bacall Dark Passage (1947) or the Stewart-Novak Vertigo (1958) and makes an ideal subject to explore the link between the noir genre and the history of vice in the Barbary Coast and Tenderloin. Brian Hollins, whose dedicated and insightful blog maps the locations of films shot in the Bay Area, will present a slideshow after the screening that pinpoints where all of the action took place. As the mysterious CitySleuth, Hollins illuminates the connections between the SF on screen and the city as it stands today. His especially detailed work with The Penalty brings this twisted, silent thriller clearly into the present.

Discover local history in one of San Francisco’s most magical settings. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience this piece of classic cinema from inside the film’s most iconic location-shot along with a site-specific live musical score!

Purchase tickets here.

RSVP on Facebook here.


Presenter & Performer Bios:

Sarah Lockhart is a musical dilettante, with projects ranging from the conceptually based SL Morse, (percussion-centered music with notation based on Morse code text translations), to the more visceral, simple structures of No Wave influenced Sharon Tate Fetus Explosion. A fan of one-off "joke bands," Sarah helped spawn the "Enya with blast beats" duo, Mortinocco Flow, the "female noise musicians playing office equipment" supergroup, Secretarial Pool, and the "make pointless noise while wearing ape masks" party band, Mutually-Assured Gorilla Warfare. Lockhart has also been a guest member in other local eccentric bands, Zeek Sheck, Murder Murder, and Moe!kestra. Sarah has a degree in media arts, including early film history, from Brown University.

Christina Stanley is a Bay Area based singer, multi instrumentalist, recording artist and electronic musician. She is currently an active performing musician working as a solo artist and as a member of various groups. She has performed and recorded as a member of SF Sound and ROVA Quartet, and she was a featured vocalist for the William Winant percussion ensemble and the Lightbulb Ensemble. Stanley has been a featured Solo performer for the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival and premiered works by George Lewis and Roscoe Mitchell for Mutable Music. She has been a studio musician for Kill Rockstars and 4AD, and has performed throughout the world. She studied music and performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco State University, HB Studio and Mills College. Her new self produced and authored album Fabric is now available at

Mark Clifford is a vibraphonist, composer and percussionist living in Oakland, CA. He is involved in multiple projects around the Bay Area that span free improvisation, new music, jazz and rock, including recent collaborations with Lisa Mezzacappa, Rent Romus, Brett Carson, and the Oakland Active Orchestra. He is the leader of The Dirty Snacks Ensemble, an eclectic post jazz ensemble in which he serves as the  composer, vibraphonist and vocalist. Clifford’s recent writing employs strong conceptual parameters for long form works, such as basing compositional interval structures on the ratio of vertebrae in human spines in Fair Slope.

Crystal Pascucci is a cellist, composer and improvisor active in the Bay Area. Pascucci trained in the chamber music tradition, and an encounter with Earle Brown’s “December 1952” sparked her interest in graphic notation and the relationship between notation and improvisation. Current projects include Two Aerials and Inner Movements, along with robust schedule of solo and collaborative performances. Crystal holds a Bachelor's of Music Performance from SUNY Fredonia, a graduate professional degree from The Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, and has attended Mills College.

Brian Hollins is a retired gentleman who has nothing better to do than tramp the hills and alleys of San Francisco in search of locations used in classic San Francisco movies.  The beneficiary of his efforts are those who share his interest through his blog, which presents the locations in Then and Now format in order to illustrate how this unique city of ours has evolved, or not, over the decades. Mr. Hollins is perhaps better known to most as his alter ego, CitySleuth.

Don Herron has led The Dashiell Hammett Tour in San Francisco since 1977, the longest-running literary walk in America. Among his books are The Literary World of San Francisco, a neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to local lit sites, and Willeford, a biography of the cult crime writer Charles Willeford.