Sunday, July 02, 2000

IL CINEMA RITROVATO, BOLOGNA, 1-8 JULY, 2000

Antti Alanen

Report from Bologna 1-8 July, 2000

Screenings at Il Cinema Ritrovato

In the silents, expert piano accompaniment was provided by Alain Baents, Antonio Coppola, Deborah Silberer, Donald Sosin, and Gabriel Thibaudeau.

DIVINE APPARITIONS

Bologna’s film star project highlighted this year Pauline Frederick, Vilma Banky, Marion Davies, Clara Bow, Florence Vidor, Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, Pola Negri, and Lillian Gish.

Three Women (Kolme naista, US 1924), D: Ernst Lubitsch, starring Pauline Frederick. At last, a chance to see in the original this brilliant film which previously was available in French only. ****

Smouldering Fires (US 1925, never released in Finland), D: Clarence Brown, starring Pauline Frederick. This acclaimed love story has been almost impossible to see. Kevin Brownlow brought it to Bologna on Betacam. Visual flair and unconventional performances in the story of a fortysomething female boss who falls in love with a young employee. ****

The Night of Love (Rakkaudenyö, US 1926), P: Goldwyn, D: George Fitzmaurice, starring Vilma Banky. Beautiful print from Cinémathèque Royale of a glamourous film. In exotic Spain, Gypsy king Ronald Colman fights tyrannical Duke Montagu Love and ruins his wedding night with Vilma Banky in revenge. **½

The Patsy (Tulinen tyttö, US 1928), D: King Vidor, starring Marion Davies. A broad family farce with MD as Cinderella. ***

Going Hollywood (Kevään sävel, US 1933), D: Raoul Walsh, starring Marion Davies. A spirited musical. Bing Crosby is madly adored by Marion Davies, but tables turn, and he turns alcoholic pining for her. Lunatic plot turns backed with nice tunes by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. ***

Show People (Ilveilijöitä, US 1928), D: King Vidor, starring Marion Davies. The late performance of this brilliant film I almost completely lost to Morpheus.

Mantrap (Synti joka houkuttelee, US 1926), D: Victor Fleming, starring Clara Bow. Mantrap is actually the name of a place. The story is like Juha with Ernest Torrence as Juha, Clara Bow as Marja and Percy Marmont as Shemeikka; with the difference that PM tries to avoid falling for the seductions of CB ”the mantrap”. Erotic fun in rugged milieux. ***

It (Jokin, US 1927), D: Clarence Badger, starring Clara Bow. The definitive flapper movie is feather-light non-feministic entertainment. ***

The Marriage Circle (Avioliiton ilveilyä, US 1924), D: Ernst Lubitsch, starring Florence Vidor, with Adolphe Menjou. EL’s first American social comedy: the Cinémathèque Royale print is more beautiful than the ones I’ve seen before. ****

The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (Lainahöyhenissä, US 1925), D: Malcolm St. Clair, starring Florence Vidor, with Adolphe Menjou. 1920s Hollywood sophisticated comedy at its best: AM has to become a waiter in order to approach the Grand Duchess who has survived the Bolshevik Revolution. ***½

Paid (US 1930, banned in Finland in its day by the self-regulation office of the film industry), D: Sam Wood, starring Joan Crawford. A tough Pre-Code crime drama of a female convict and her revenge. ”You took my name and gave me a number... ”. ***

Our Dancing Daughters (Tanssivat tyttäremme, US 1928), D: Harry Beaumont, DP: George Barnes, starring Joan Crawford. A true Zeitgeist movie, this is a film of surprises, where the first impressions fail, and the second ones, as well. ***½

Zaza (Zaza, US 1923), D: Allan Dwan, starring Gloria Swanson. The story of a tempestuous French actress who once was a singing gamine of the streets; remade in 1939 by Cukor with Claudette Colbert. **½

Stage Struck (Teatteritauti, US 1925), D: Allan Dwan, starring Gloria Swanson. Farce on a waitress’s dreams of stardom starts with a Technicolor daydream sequence and climaxes with a disastrous performance on a showboat. Swanson shows great range as a comedienne. ***½

Tonight or Never (Hänen suurin yönsä, US 1921), D: Mervyn LeRoy, starring Gloria Swanson, with Melvyn Douglas. Brilliant UCLA print. A glamourous sophisticated erotic comedy with a witty script by Ernest Vajda, one of Lubitsch’s screenwriters. Shot by Gregg Toland. ****

Die Bergkatze (Vuorikissa, DE 1921), D: Ernst Lubitsch, starring Pola Negri, DP: Theodor Sparkuhl. Restored in 2000 by FWMS / Bologna / ARTE, music composed and conducted for an orchestra of eight by Marco Dalpane. Classic fantasy-comedy never looked better. ****

The Wind (Pohjoismyrsky, US 1928), D: Victor Seastrom, starring Lillian Gish, with Lars Hanson. Photoplay print with HiFi synchronization by Patrick Stanbury of the score by Carl Davis. For me, familiar with the original sonorized print and silent presentations, this was the most brilliant performance of the film, which grows every time. ****

TRIBUTE TO RODOLFO SONEGO

Rodolfo Sonego, one of Italy’s great screenwriters since WWII, is not a household name abroad, but he would deserve to be.

Rodolfo Sonego: Racconto orale a Tatti Sanguineti (IT 2000), video, extract.

Una lezione di anatomia (IT 1949), D: Rodolfo Sonego. RS’s only work as a director is a witty animated anatomy lesson.

Il sorpasso (IT 1962, never released in Finland, only shown in a special screening), D: Dino Risi, starring Vittorio Gassman. A brutal contemporary satire on ”what price success”, a road movie about an unscrupulous ”hero” who accompanies his outrageous lane changes with annoying horn signals. This became a memorial screening for Gassman, buried the day before in Rome. ***

Totò e Carolina (IT 1954, never released in Finland), D: Mario Monicelli, SC: Flaiano, Age, Scarpelli, Sonego, Monicelli, starring Totò, with Anna Maria Ferrero. Reconstructed presentation of the full version cut in its day by the censorship office. Silent portions shown with electronic subtitling, and a lengthy censored episode dubbed as a live performance. Totò is an elderly policeman on the verge of being fired. As his final mission he has to escort back home Carolina, a desperate young girl who has started to prostitute herself and is about to commit suicide. Totò has to keep Carolina alive to keep his job. Out of this black material, daring comedy is born. ***½

Un eroe dei nostri tempi (IT 1955, never released in Finland), D: Mario Monicelli, M: Nino Rota, starring Alberto Sordi. Sordi develops his classic ”vitellone” character, a master of evading responsibility, in a comedy full of droll incidents. ***½

Lo scopone scientifico (IT 1972, never released in Finland), D: Luigi Comencini, starring Alberto Sordi, Silvana Mangano, Bette Davis, and Joseph Cotten. Sordi and his wife Mangano want to get rich quick playing scopone against billionairess Bette Davis, who is in her death throes. Sordi’s performance is a literal definition of ”a loser”. ***

Il diavolo (IT 1962, never released in Finland), D: Gian Luigi Polidoro, starring Alberto Sordi. An Italian merchant wants to discover Swedish women on his trip to a fur market in Stockholm in December. A marvellously original comedy of manners, with Sordi in great form as the frustrated would-be-Latin-Lover. ***½

RITROVATI & RESTAURATI

Le Criminel (FR 1926, never released in Finland). D: Alexander Ryder. Restored in 2000 by La Cinémathèque Française. Beautiful images from Andalusia. (I only saw the start.)

La Folie du Docteur Tube (FR 1915). D: Abel Gance, DP: Léonce-Henry Burel. Beautiful 2000 restoration by La Cinémathèque Française. I never saw a print this good of this film. **

Au secours! (FR 1924, never released in Finland), D: Abel Gance, starring Max Linder. ”Pochade funambulesque” restored in 2000 by La Cinémathèque Française. Daredevil Max has to keep his nerve for one hour in a haunted castle without crying ”Help!”. **

Paris qui dort (FR 1924, never released in Finland), P+D+ED: René Clair. Restored in 1999 by La Cinémathèque Française. The print excels in comparison to the ones that have been available during the last decades. ***

Cento anni dopo: omaggio ad Alessandro Blasetti. A Blasetti Centenary special in the presence of his daughter: two 1950s car commercials preserved on video

Fiat 600

50.000 per uno solo

Die Insel der Dämonen (DE 1933, never released in Finland), D: Dr. Dalsheim, M: Wolfgang Zeller. Restored in 2000 by Nederlands Filmmuseum, presented by Mark-Paul Meyer and Luciano Berriatua. A discovery in the spirit of Murnau and Flaherty, a powerful drama from the isle of Bali. Zeller’s music has the same kind of inspiration as his score for Vampyr, and the restoration succeeds interestingly with digital sound. ****

Hinter Schloss und Riegel – Trailer for the German version of Pardon Us (Mohikaanimonnit motissa, US 1931). Restored in 2000 by Det Danske Filmmuseum, this is the only known material where Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel dub themselves in German.

Marquis D’Eon, der Spion der Pompadour (Pompadourin vakooja, DE 1928), D: Karl Grune, starring Liane Haid and Fritz Kortner. Restored in 2000 by Cinemateca Portuguesa. Liane Haid as a cross-dressing spy and Fritz Kortner as mad czar Paul in a stately historical adventure. (I missed the middle.)

Maria do Mar (PG 1930, never released in Finland), D: José Leitão de Barros. Restored in 1998 by ANIM, Freixal (Portugal). Powerful images about the life of fishermen bring to mind The Man of Aran and La terra trema. (I saw only the start.)

Oevers der Viege (FR 1915) c.m.

The Source of the River Peschiera (IT 19--) c.m.

Les Fleurs dans les jardins (FR ca 1914) c.m.

Ideale Filmerzeugung (AT ca 1913) c.m.

Mademoiselle Lotus (FR 1914) c.m.

ORSON WELLES

Posthumous works of Orson Welles reconstructed in 2000 by Münchner Filmmuseum, presented by Stefan Droessler, co-copyrighted by Oja Kodar. These often incomplete sketches are a true Welles treasure. They have the same kind of a touch as F for Fake. ****

Orson Welles’ London (1968-1971). Five sketches: Churchill, Swinging London, Four Clubmen, Stately Home, and Tailors.

Orson Welles’ Vienna (1968). To the accompaniment of zither music, OW walks in Vienna and talks about everything from Sachertorte to espionage. With Senta Berger.

Orson Welles’ Magic Show (1976-1985). Sketches for a feature film on magic: The Light Box, Abu Khan’s Levitation Trick, The Magic Mummy, Chung Ling Soo, The Thread Trick, and The Duck Trick. With Angie Dickinson.

Orson Welles’ Moby Dick (1971). Six scenes of a one-man performance of Moby Dick: Call Me Ishmael, The Wharf in Nantucket, Ahoy the Pequod!, Here’s Little Pip, A Short Pause, and Give Me the Last Harpoon!

Orson Welles’ Unsung Heroes (1979). OW recites a poem by Earl Fultz: ”There Are No Heroes Anymore”.

Orson Welles’ The Spirit of Charles Lindbergh (1984). OW’s last film: recital of a passage from Lindbergh’s diary.

CINEMA LIBERO: OSKAR FISCHINGER IN AMERICA

Allegretto – Early Version (1936)

Allegretto – Late Version

An Optical Poem (1937) – Liszt

An American March (1940) – Sousa

Motion Painting No. 1 (1941) – Bach

Radio Dynamics (1943)

New restorations by the Academy Film Archive, presented by Bill Moritz. I saw these films, some of which are easily available on 16mm, for the first time on 35mm. Stirring pioneers of Visual Music. ****

PROGRAMME PICTURES DALLA CINEMATHEQUE ROYALE: B-MOVIES DEGLI ANNI VENTI

The Old Homestead (Lapsuuden koti, US 1922), D: James Cruze, DP: Karl Brown. Introduced by Gabrielle Claes and Kevin Brownlow, this is no B Movie but an important discovery from a director who was popular in his day (also in Finland) but forgotten now. The hit play on which the film is based has been opened out successfully: there is a feeling for the milieu, and the storm sequence is powerful. **

SPECIAL EVENTS

Peter Greenaway: Bologna Towers 2000 on the Piazza Maggiore. ”Writing on architecture”: an installation of sound, light and history for Bologna 2000, European city of culture. Like Prospero’s Books performed live, as environment art. **

Four Sons (Neljä poikaa, US 1928), D: John Ford. First screening of a 2000 restoration by Cinemateca Portuguesa etc. of Ford’s most popular though not best silent film. With a new score performed by an orchestra of 56 composed and conducted by Antonio Coppola. ”Saving Private Ryan of WWI”: the story of a Bavarian mother who loses three sons in the war, but the last one is saved. I saw this film for the first time on 35mm (it has been available on 16mm only). The Murnau influence is heavy. The theme of maternal love, seminal for Ford, is at its most explicit. The original music and effects track is very important; let’s hope they restore it on 35mm, as well. **½

Vedi Napule e po’ mori! (IT 1924, never released in Finland), P: Gustavo Lombardo, starring Leda Gys. Marvellous live guitar duet and vocals by Guido Sodo and François Laurent provided an authentic Neapolitan musical accompaniment for a memorable performance.

The Living Nickelodeon

Rick Altman (director and pianist), Ann Lamond (soprano), Corey Creekmar (sound effects), and Lauren Rabinovitz (slide projection).

Dress Parade of Scouts, St. Louis Expo (US 1904), PC: Biograph.

The Cowboy and the Lady (US 1903), PC: Biograph, D: Billy Bitzer.

A Discordant Note (US 1903), PC: Biograph, D: Billy Bitzer.

Le Mélomane (FR 1903), D: Georges Méliès.

The Irresistible Piano (FR 1907), PC: Gaumont.

The Suburbanite (US 1904), PC: Biograph.

Schneider’s Anti-Noise Crusade (US 1909), PC: Biograph, D: D.W. Griffith.

Slim Jim and Jack Fat at Luna Park (US 1910)

Suspense (US 1913), D: Lois Weber.

Plus illustrated song slides.

An exciting discovery, for instance getting to listen to J.S. Zamecnik’s original 1912 movie tunes in the last two films. ****

Hanno rubato un tram (IT 1954, never released in Finland), D and starring: Aldo Fabrizi, SC: Luciano Vincenzoni, Ass.D.: Sergio Leone, DP: Mario Bava. In the presence of Luciano Vincenzoni. An open air special on the Piazza Maggiore packed with people. Inspired by a true incident, the film tells the same story as Luis Buñuel did in La ilusion viaja en tranvia: the rebel ride of a suspended tram driver in the nocturnal city. Filmed in Bologna, which so far had rarely been a film location. Full with charming detail. **½

Modern Times (Nykyaika, US 1936), Charles Chaplin. Premiere of the reconstructed score conducted by Timothy Brock and performed by the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna at the magnificent Teatro Comunale. The most elaborate and imaginative of Chaplin’s scores is more gripping and charming now. There’s more to the score than could be recorded on the soundtrack in the release year. ****