Monday, October 06, 2008

Des pieds et des mains

FR 1916. PC: Gaumont. D+SC: Gaston Ravel, Jacques Feyder; AD: Robert-Jules Garnier; cast: Kitty Hott (Mme. de Florange), André Roanne (M. de Lestrac); 320 m /18 fps/ 16 min; print: Archives Gaumont-Pathé, original in French, with e-subtitles in English and Italian, grand piano: Donald Sosin, viewed at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Cinema Verdi, 6 October 2008. - Print ok, Donald Sosin fine at the piano with classical inspiration. - Lenny Borger: "The chronology and circumstances surrounding the directing debut of Jacques Feyder have always been unclear – and Feyder and his wife, Françoise Rosay, only added to the confusion in their memoirs. This much seems certain: around late 1915-early 1916, Feyder, a young Belgian actor and would-be-director at Gaumont Studios in Paris – he had only recently played an underworld henchman in Feuillade’s Les Vampires – earned the sympathetic support of contract director Gaston Ravel, who took him on as an assistant. Their first collaboration may have been a one-reel comedy called Des Pieds et des mains; others cite Monsieur Pinson, policier, presumably begun by Ravel and completed by Feyder – the former either being called up for military service or falling ill. What seems more sure (a letter survives to this effect) is that Ravel asked company boss Léon Gaumont to give Feyder a try-out as a co-director, and then left Feyder a free hand to direct solo.
Feyder passed his screen test with flying colors, and at age 31 won his first directing stripes. In the next two years, he would make about 20 short and medium-length comedies and skits for Gaumont (many of them casually imagined by playwright-humorist Tristan Bernard). Their quality was uneven, but all were technically polished and displayed a striking sense of framing." Lenny Borger. - A love story told only via hands and feet. The dogged suitor finally succeeds. The opening quote is that from a well formed leg one can already conclude the rest. A beautiful sketch of the woman. The shoe stuck in the trolley rail. In the finale we first see the faces, and the baby.

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