Friday, October 09, 2009

Special Event: The Rink. Premio “Strade del Cinema” 2009

The Rink / Rullaluistimilla. US 1916. PC: Lone Star Mutual. D, P, SC, ED: Charles Chaplin; DP: Roland Totheroh; second camera: George C. Zalibra; AD: George (Scotty) Cleethorpe; tech. D: Ed Brewer; filmed: Lone Star Studios, Hollywood; CAST: Charles Chaplin (waiter and skating enthusiast), Edna Purviance (society girl), James T. Kelly (her father), Eric Campbell (Mr. Stout), Henry Bergman (Mrs. Stout and angry diner), Lloyd Bacon (guest), Albert Austin (chef and skater), Frank J. Coleman (restaurant manager), John Rand (waiter), Charlotte Mineau, Leota Bryan (Edna’s friends); 545 m /18 fps/ [26 min announced] 24 min; from: Cineteca di Bologna / this version (c) 2007 Film Preservation Associates, Inc.

Accompagnamento dal vivo di The Federico Missio Movie Kit (Federico Missio, saxophone; Juri Dal Dan, grand piano). E-subtitles in Italian. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, 8 Oct 2009.

From the GCM Catalogue: "With the comparative independence of his own studio, the Lone Star, by 1916 Chaplin was progressively taking longer to perfect each new 2-reel film – to the chagrin of his distributors, the Mutual Company. Exceptionally, however, The Rink was released a mere 3 weeks after Behind the Screen. This is the more remarkable since the two roller-skating scenes, respectively 5 and 3 minutes in length, represent some of the most elaborate, elegant, and polished physical comedy in all cinema. Chaplin’s own virtuosity on roller-skates is dazzling, and his impeccable by-play with Mr. Stout (the giant Eric Campbell) and his rotund spouse (a delectable female impersonation by Henry Bergman), as well as the ensemble rink choreography, is faultless in execution and timing. Like all of Chaplin’s 2-reelers, the film is conceived in two halves, though here they are more than usually interwoven. While the skating sequences dominate the second reel of the film, the first concentrates on the misadventures of Charlie the skating enthusiast in his day-job of restaurant waiter. Among the classic gags are Charlie’s making up Mr. Stout’s bill by checking off the food-stains on his lapels. The musical accompaniment performed at this screening won first prize at the 2009 edition of “Strade del Cinema”, the Aosta festival of live accompaniment for silent film. The winning duo, “The Federico Missio Movie Kit”, are both from Friuli – saxophonist Federico Missio from Udine and pianist Juri Dal Dan from Pordenone. The other nine festival contestants were from all parts of Europe. The Aosta jury announced the motivation for its award: “For the fine musical sensibility in relation to the images and a musical structure respectful of the narrative line. Characterization and choice of themes very appropriate to the mood of the film, yet capable of allowing to shine through an interpretation that is personal, intimate, and at the same time easily accessible. Appreciated is the masterly use of melodic composition and its development, rendering viewing of the film fluid and never obvious.” Juri Dal Dan adds, “Federico Missio succeeded in adding poetry to a film in which Chaplin is never sad: this is the unpredicted element which won the victory... The biggest compliment we received from the Jury was, ‘We forgot you were there.’” – David Robinson".

A delightful performance, and a fine, complete print in full frame. The film is a throwback to the more primitive Chaplin, but, as David Robinson says, it's a balletic tour de force.

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