Saturday, July 03, 2010

Arrowsmith

14.30 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 3 July 2010
ARROWSMITH / Un popolo muore / Tohtori Arrowsmith, US (c) 1931 Samuel Goldwyn. D: John Ford. Based on the novel (1925) by Sinclair Lewis. DP: Ray June. Starring Ronald Colman, Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy. 101 min
From: LoC, preserved in 1974 from a nitrate positive by the AFI (anonymous collection).
Electronic subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti.

A low contrast print from which it is not possible to appreciate the art of the cinematography.

A prestige production in which the director's signature is unrecognizable. This is a Samuel Goldwyn film rather than a John Ford film. Yet thematically the story fits in the John Ford canon very well. It is about a doctor's dedication to help people, to the point of sacrificing his own private life tragically. First his wife loses her ability to bear children in miscarriage, and finally, she dies during a plague epidemic. The theme of sacrifice is crucial to all Ford's military films and most of the westerns, and finally to Seven Women. Like in Pilgrimage, in this film the protagonist's single-mindedness leads to disaster for others, including to the West Indian people used for vaccine testing. In the conclusion the protagonist breaks away from the commercial research laboratory institute to start a new and independent life. Under John Ford's direction Ronald Colman is at his worst.

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