Friday, October 09, 2009

Ein Mädel und 3 Clowns

[The film was not released in Finland] Ein Mädel und 3 Clowns (Die drei Zirkuskönige) / The Three Kings / (Die Beute der Männer)
GB/DE 1928. PC: British and Foreign, Orplid. D: Hans Steinhoff; SC: Henry Edwards, based on an idea by Curt J. Braun; DP: Nikolaus Farkas; AD: Franz Schroedter; M Hansheinrich Dransmann; AST: Henry Edwards (Edgar King), Evelyn Holt (Maria), Warwick Ward (Frank King), Evelyn Holt (Maria), John Hamilton (Charlie King), Clifford McLaglen (Fredo), Ilka Grüning (Mrs. Smith, landlady), Maria Forescu (Maria’s mother); orig: 6824 ft (GB), 2141 m (DE); 2057 m /20 fps/ 90 min; from: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin. Reconstructed in 2009. Deutsche Fassung. Presented by Horst Claus. E-subtitles in English + Italian, grand piano and violin: Günter Buchwald. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, 9 Oct 2009.

From the GCM Catalogue: "The circus film The Three Kings / Ein Mädel und 3 Clowns was British and Foreign Film’s first production following this rather speculative London-based venture’s founding in May 1928 and its acquisition of the German production and distribution partners Orplid and Messtro. Shooting in Berlin’s Grunewald Studios lasted from 1 August until mid-September, interrupted (from 27 August onwards) by 10 days of location work in the streets and the famous Tower Circus and Ballroom of Blackpool, the popular holiday resort in North-West England. The film was marketed in the UK as an English production, highlighting matinee idol Henry Edwards as the person responsible for the script, while in Germany it was presented as a German picture authored by the highly prolific Curt J. Braun, who by the end of the silent era had about 40 films to his credit. Similarly, the German censorship card identifies Orplid’s director Georg M. Jacoby as producer, ignoring the fact that Sidney Morgan served in that function for the English side of what was clearly an Anglo-German co-production (with the Germans dominating in the technical departments).
The Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv’s reconstruction of 2009 is based on three nitrate prints, all of which have at least one act missing – one with French and two with English intertitles (in which the final sequence of a circus fire is tinted red, while the French print is in black-and-white only). Originating from private sources, these are held by the Centre National de la Cinématographie (Bois d’Arcy), the British Film Institute (London), and Film and Photo Ltd. (Tony Scott, London). As no German print seems to have survived, the German censorship card and the French print (which adheres to the title-sequence of the censorship card) served as point of departure and guide for the final version. Though in finer details the French material seems to have been more tightly edited than the English, the main difference between the German/French and English versions (apart from the inclusion of different circus acts) is in the opening sequence. For spectators on the Continent the film began with the title “Artisten sind wie Vögel...” (“Artistes are like birds...”), followed by a shot of flying birds, and then a high-angle shot from the sky descending onto the Blackpool Tower and dissolves that finish with the arrival of new circus acts at the artistes’ entrance. The English version opens with the title “Behind the scenes”, followed by the sequence in which the lion tamer Fredo accuses his stepdaughter Maria of stealing his money and brutally forces her to work for him (which in the Continental version comes much later, as a flashback related to Edgar by Maria). – Horst Claus". - The quality of the image is beautiful whenever the source material allows in this restoration produced by tender care from difficult sources by the Bundesarchiv. I saw the beginning with the introduction of "artists are like birds", the camera descending from the birds' eye viewpoint to the ground, to the bustle of the circus artists, the three clowns who rescue a mysterious girl sleeping in a cab. - The fascination of the circus and the clowns during the silent era was immense. Often the stories were tragic. This story is a comedy. - I watched just the beginning.

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