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Doug Booher
IU Auditorium

Last modified: Wednesday, October 14, 2009

IU Auditorium welcomes home Jacobs alumnus Dennis James for Halloween concert

WHAT: Dennis James Hosts Halloween. The world-class organist plays along to Alfred Hitchcock's film Blackmail.
WHEN: Oct. 29, 8 p.m.
WHERE: IU Auditorium, 1211 E. 7th St.
TICKETS: $7-$15 for IU Bloomington students with a valid student ID and $13-$18 for general public, on sale now. Individual tickets may be purchased online at, in person at the IU Auditorium Box Office, as well as through, all Ticketmaster outlets, or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. The IU Auditorium Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Oct. 14, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University alumnus Dennis James returns to IU Auditorium to perform his annual Halloween organ performance, this year accompanying Alfred Hitchcock's film Blackmail, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. Audience members who arrive by 7:30 p.m. will be eligible to compete in the B97-sponsored costume contest in the categories of "Scariest Costume," "Most Creative Costume" and "Best Overall."

Dennis James

Dennis James

An IU Jacobs School of Music student during the 1960s and 70s, James is now an internationally renowned silent film organist. Three years ago he revived the annual IU Auditorium tradition that he started almost 40 years ago while he lived in Bloomington -- playing organ during silent films at Halloween. James is currently on tour and has made appearances at prominent venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

Released 80 years ago on the cusp of film's conversion from a silent to a sound medium, Blackmail was originally released in both versions and at the time, was hailed as "the first British all-talkie film." In recent years, James was commissioned to create a new solo theater organ score for the U.S. tour of the rarely seen but more critically acclaimed-silent film version.

Adapted from a play by Charles Bennett, Blackmail features Anny Ondra as Alice White, a young woman who flirts with a handsome artist, played by Cyril Ritchard, in front of her police officer boyfriend, Frank Webber, played by John Longden, with ultimately fatal results.

Blackmail cemented Hitchcock's reputation as Britain's finest director, and was the second of his films to use devices now thought of as classically "Hitchcockian" -- a beautiful blonde heroine, a dull policeman, a chase near a familiar public landmark -- in this case, the British Museum -- a murder, suspense and a cameo by the director himself.

"We always look forward to welcoming Dennis back to Bloomington," said IU Auditorium Director Doug Booher. "It's definitely a treat to hear him perform on the magnificent IU Auditorium organ for our community, which has embraced this event as part of its annual Halloween celebration."

James' production company, Silent Film Concerts, currently holds one of the largest private collections of authentic silent film music. He is currently a research fellow at University of South Carolina in film and media studies and has been appointed house organist at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, Historic Everett Theatre in Everett, Wash., and The Ohio Theatre in Columbus, Ohio, among many other theaters.

The Dennis James show is sponsored by Walnut Grove Spring Water, Limestone Grille and Lamar Advertising. IU Auditorium's 2009-2010 season is presented by Curry Auto Center, B97, The Herald-Times, Indiana University Document Service Center, Indiana University Residential Programs and Services and Ivy Tech Community College.

More information on Dennis James and all shows from IU Auditorium's 2009-2010 season can be found at The Web site features video clips and a selection of songs from this season's performances, in addition to podcasts and a direct link to the IU Auditorium Facebook Fan Page, whose members receive exclusive benefits throughout the year.