Monday, October 06, 2008

Potselui Meri Pikford

The Kiss of Mary Pickford. SU 1926. PC: Mezhrabpom-Rus / Sovkino. D: Sergei Komarov; SC: Sergei Komarov, Vadim Shershenevich; DP: Y. Alexeiev; AD: S. Kozlovsky, D. Kolupaev; AN: Y. Merkulov; cast: Igor Ilinsky (Goga Palkin), Anel Sudakevich (Dusia Galkina), Mary Pickford (herself), Douglas Fairbanks (himself), Vera Malinovskaya, Nikolai Rogozhin, M. Rosenstein, Abram Room, M. Rosenberg, N. Sisova, Y. Lenz, A. Glinsky; orig. l: 1715 m /2o fps/ 68 min; print: La Cineteca del Friuli (Fondo Gastone Predieri), duration of screening 60 min, Ukrainian intertitles with e-subtitles in English and Italian, grand piano: Günter A. Buchwald. Viewed at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Cinema Verdi, 6 October 2008. - The print of this Ukrainian version is not very good, with a duped look. - David Robinson: "A month after the premiere of Sparrows, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks took off for a European holiday, and on 20 July 1926 arrived in Moscow. At Yartsevo, 330 versts from their destination, the train was stopped to allow a press conference. From the moment of their arrival, they were constantly mobbed by vast, adoring crowds. The suggestion by some writers that there was a foredoomed official attempt to achieve a news blackout on the visit seems unfounded. In fact, in the wake of the New Economic Policy it was a moment when tourism to the USSR was being actively encouraged. Doug and Mary proved ideal Western tourists, and were publicized as such. An autograph was inscribed, “We are delighted with the wholehearted reception accorded us – charmed with enthusiasm of the Russians – truly a great people”. They voiced their enthusiasm for the new Soviet wonder film, The Battleship Potemkin (Bronenosets Potyomkin), told interviewers how much they admired Lenin, and said that their strongest desire was to meet Trotsky.
Inevitably they were invited to visit the Mezhrabpom-Rus studios. At that moment Miss Mend (Miss Mend) was almost certainly still in production, which would explain the presence in the studio of Sergei Komarov and Igor Ilinsky, who both have prominent roles in Otsep’s film (completed and released in three parts in October 1926). The two seized the opportunity offered by the ceremonial visit of the American stars. Myth has it that Komarov posed as a newsreel cameraman, which is possible, though in any event it would not have been too difficult to arrange the crucial shot of Pickford bestowing a kiss on Ilinsky. Ilinsky (1901-1987) had leapt to national popularity as Petya Petelkin, the lottery-winning hero of Yakov Protazanov’s comedy The Tailor from Torzhok (...), and would certainly have been presented to Pickford as a rising young star, so that a kiss and a camera record of it were easy to arrange as a publicity shot. In the course of the next year, Komarov and his co-scenarist Vadim Shershenevich concocted a story to build around both the kiss and actuality material of the adoring crowds in the streets of Moscow.
The plot they came up with casts Ilinsky as Goga Palkin, the ticket-taker in a movie theatre. Goga is in love with Dusia, but she dreams only of film stars, and tells him that she will only reciprocate his love if he becomes famous. He gets into the film studio, and after a variety of adventures is involved in a stunt which requires his being hung from the studio ceiling. But in the excitement of the arrival of Doug and Mary, everyone rushes out, forgetting Goga’s plight. When the visitors come into the studio however, they notice him above them: Mary decides he is the new Harry Piel, and rewards him with a kiss. Now at last he is famous, and Dusia gives him her hand. The satirical edge in the depiction of Hollywood style and the follies of fan-worship is softened by amiable envy.
Goga is the kind of clumsy hero which brought Ilinsky great popularity. Primarily a stage actor, Ilinsky worked from 1920 to 1934 with Vsevolod Meyerhold. His intermittent film appearances began auspiciously with Aelita (1924), and subsequently included The Doll with Millions (Kukla s millionami, 1928), the only other film directed by Komarov (...) Komarov (1891-1957) was a favourite actor of Kuleshov, Pudovkin, and Barnet, with one or other of whom most of his films were made up to the mid-1940s. (...)"
– David Robinson. - Soviet comedy revisited: a charming little film with funny clowning, I seem to remember having seen a better print from Gosfilmofond in the 1980s.

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