Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Interlude (1957)





Salzburgin rakastavaiset / Sista ackordet / September-intermezzo. US © 1957 Universal Pictures Co., Inc. PC: Universal International Pictures Co., Inc. P: Ross Hunter. D: Douglas Sirk. SC: Daniel Fuchs, Franklin Coen – adaptation: Inez Cocke – based on the screenplay When Tomorrow Comes (1939) by Dwight Taylor  – based on the unpublished story ”A Modern Cinderella” by James M. Cain. DP: William H. Daniels – Technicolor – CinemaScope 2,35:1. AD: Alexander Golitzen, Robert Emmet Smith / Robert E. Smith. Cost: Jay A. Morley, Jr. Makeup: Bud Westmore. M: Frank Skinner. M dir: Joseph Gershenson. Flute: Ethmer Roten. Song: “Interlude” (comp. Frank Skinner, lyr. Paul Francis Webster) perf. The McQuire Sisters.
    Music: Symphony no. 41 in C (Jupiter Symphony, KV 551), Symphony no. 36 in C (Linzer Symphony, KV 425) and other selections by W. A. Mozart; Symphony no. 1 in C Minor, op. 68 by Johannes Brahms; Symphony no. 3 in E flat (Eroica Symphony ) and Piano Sonata no. 2 in C-sharp Minor ("Moonlight Sonata") by Ludwig von Beethoven; Symphony no. 4 in D Minor by Robert Schumann; The overture from the opera Tannhauser by Richard Wagner; Consolation No. 3 by Franz Liszt.
    S: Leslie I. Carey – mono (Westrex Recording System). ED: Russell F. Schoengarth. Technicolor consultant: William Fritzsche. Rossano Brazzi's piano performances and advisor: Wolfgang Edward Rebner.
    Shot entirely on location in Munich, Germany at the Hercules Hall, Konigsplatz, Bernried Castle, Schleissheim Castle, Starnberger See and Amerika Haus (built in 1935 as the Nazi party headquarters), and in Salzburg, Austria at Geburthaus, Mozart’s birthplace. Interiors were shot at the Geiselgasteig Studios in Munich.
    C: June Allyson (Helen Banning), Rossano Brazzi (Tonio Fischer), Marianne Koch / Marianne Cook (Reni Fischer), Françoise Rosay (Countess Irena Reinhart), Keith Andes (Dr. Morley Dwyer), Frances Bergen (Gertrude Kirk), Lisa Helwig (housekeeper), Herman Schwedt (Henig), Anthony Tripoli (Dr. Smith), John Stein (Dr. Stein), Jane Wyatt (Prue Stubbins).
    Helsinki premiere: 27.9.1957 Elysee, distributor: Oy Filmiseppo – tv: 4.10.1992 TV3 – VET 47293 – K12 – 2450 m / 90 min
    A previous film adaptation: Huomispäivä on meidän... (When Tomorrow Comes, US 1939), D: John M. Stahl, C: Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer.
    A 35 mm print, dansk tekst, viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Douglas Sirk), 27 Sep 2016.

Interlude is a well made entertainment film with good production values. Main assets include beautiful location shooting in sunny Munich, Bavaria, and Salzburg. That asset is so strong that the film has travelogue value. Another asset is the magnificent score with symphonical works by Mozart, Schumann, Brahms, Beethoven, and Wagner, and solo piano works by Liszt and Beethoven.

The story follows the classical narrative formula true to convention, even including the final demand: "Take me home". The performances are professional. Interlude is the coming of age story of Helen Banning, and June Allyson plays her role of "an American abroad" well ("I'm an ordinary girl"). There are two rivals to Helen's attentions. Unfortunately, the male performances are uninspired. Rossano Brazzi is stiff as the conductor Tonio Fischer, and so is Keith Andes as the doctor Morley Dwyer. Douglas Sirk belongs to the directors who can elicit interesting performances from wooden actors, but here he was not inspired enough.

Richard Brody has written that in Interlude Sirk takes the opportunity to film music itself, and it is true that there is real passion in the sequences where music is being played. Brody singles out the interesting camera movement at the Munich Concert Hall where Schumann is being played, and he compares the approach with Straub and Huillet. Memorable are also the solo piano sequences where Tonio plays Liszt's Consolation and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata to his wife whose face we see reflected on the lid of the grand piano. All music in Interlude is meaningful.

Interlude is a sunshine film with one storm sequence: when Tonio takes Helen to picnic a thunderstorm breaks out, and they take shelter in Tonio's summer house across the lake. Storms are important turning-points in Sirk's films (Summer Storm). The inevitable happens, but Tonio has not told Helen that he is married.

Next morning Helen is surprised to meet Reni, Ms. Tonio Fischer. Marianne Koch's performance as the mentally unbalanced Toni is subtle and convincing. "Don't take him away from me" is Toni's plea to Helen. Françoise Rosay, the veteran of the opera, the stage and the screen who had started before WWI (including in Les Vampires) and who was Mrs. Jacques Feyder, offers a performance of gravity as Countess Irena Reinhart, Reni's aunt. "Be selfish", is Irena's surprising advice to Helen. "There is no Reni anymore". Sirk has taken good care of the psychologically most delicate dimension of the story, but there is not enough passion in the main triangle itself.

The visually most powerful scene is Reni's suicide attempt. It has been foreshadowed by a sunny sequence at Lake Starnberg historically known as the site where the dead body of Ludwig II of Bavaria was found. We see Reni's empty bed, the wind blowing in the curtains of the open window, and Reni wandering like a ghost towards the lake at night. Helen rescues her in the nick of time and is almost dragged to the lake herself by Reni.

An enjoyable print with a pleasantly saturated Technicolor look.

OUR PROGRAM NOTE BASED ON RICHARD BRODY beyond the jump break:
OUR PROGRAM NOTE BASED ON RICHARD BRODY beyond the jump break:

Hollywoodin suuresta melodramaatikoista Douglas Sirk oli se, joka toi lajiin filosofista itsetietoisuutta. Onni päättyy huomenna (1955), yksi hänen parhaista elokuvistaan, oli kauan unohduksissa, kunnes se julkaistiin dvd:llä. Toinen unohdettu elokuva, Salzburgin rakastavaiset, on täynnä samaa haltioitunutta voimaa. Sen Sirk kuvasi kotimaassaan Saksassa, josta hän oli lähtenyt maanpakoon 20 vuotta aiemmin.
    Väljästi James M. Cainin aiheeseen perustuva tarina kertoo amerikkalaisesta Helen Banningista (June Allyson), joka saapuu Müncheniin työskennelläkseen yhdysvaltalaisen kulttuurivaihdon parissa Amerika Hausissa. Perheystävä kutsuu hänet treffeille ja ihastuu häneen, mutta työtehtäviinsä liittyen Helen kohtaa kuuluisan kapellimestarin Tonio Fischerin (Rossano Brazzi), joka on jo naimisissa – yksityiskohta, jota mies ei huomaa mainita. Tonion vaimo Reni (Marianne Koch) on mielisairas, kuten asia elokuvassa ilmaistaan. Reni on vaipunut syvään masennukseen ja elää lääkärien valvonnassa perheen lähellä sijaitsevassa linnassa. Tonio syyttää vaimonsa tilasta itseään, mutta lääkärit kehottavat häntä luopumaan syyllisyydentunteesta ja elämään. Kuvaan ilmestyvä Helen rakastuu Tonioon kiihkeästi, ja suhde, jonka piti olla vain episodi, muuttuu intohimoksi ja mahdottomaksi uneksi.
    Sirkin suurten melodraamojen emotionaalinen voima ja suuri taiteellinen draama juontuu täysin ohjauksesta. Tämän elokuvan todellinen aihe on Saksa, jossa Sirk ei ollut filmannut 1930-luvun jälkeen. Hän katselee maata katkeransuloisen hellyyden vallassa kuin pettynyt rakastaja, joka on selviytynyt erosta ja näkee ensi kertaa vuosikymmeniin millainen raunioitunut olento palaa näkyviin kuntoutuksesta. Kaupungin kasvot, ympäröivä vihreys, mahtava kartano, Salzburgin nähtävyydet ja kuninkaallisen kohtaamisen mahtavan koristeelliset puitteet tulevat osanottajiksi kulttuurien yhteentörmäyksen eskaloituvassa kriisissä.
    Taiteella on tärkeä sija monessa Sirkin tärkeimmistä elokuvista. Salzburgin rakastavaisissa hän tekee jotakin vieläkin rohkeampaa ja onnistuu siinä nerokkaasti. Tonion ammatin kautta Sirk saa tilaisuuden filmata musiikkia itseään. Münchenin konserttitalolla Helen näkee Tonion johtavan Schumannin neljättä sinfoniaa. Sirk ohjaa kohtauksen kuin filmattavana olisi sinfonia itse, kuin se olisi mahtava mobileveistos, joka täyttää konserttisalin. Kohtaus on hämmästyttävän pitkä, ja kuvat ja ääni nousevat kirkkaasti ja intohimoisesti esiin kuin Sirk ohjaisi suurta näyttelijää lähikuvassa. Merkittävää kyllä tämä on Helenille ensimmäinen kohtaaminen suuren musiikin – ja Tonion – kanssa. Hänen taiteellinen heräämisensä on samalla eroottinen herääminen. Myöhemmin Sirk tekee saman Wagnerin Tannhäuser-alkusoitolle, Brahmsin ensimmäiselle sinfonialle ja Mozartin linziläiselle sinfonialle. Viipyilevä, hyväilevä ote, jolla Sirk kuvaa Salzburgin konserttitalon kauniita kuvioita tuo mieleen Straubin ja Huillet’n Anna Magdalena Bachin kronikan.
    Elokuvassa tulee esiin näkökohta, että sota pelasti Saksan omalta itseltään, samoin kuin Helen pelastaa itsetuhoisen Renin pahimmalta. Helen kuvailee itseään myöhemmin lauseella, jonka voisi kaivertaa amerikkalaiseen sotamuistomerkkiin: ”Halusin uskotella, etten ollut nähnyt mitään – että voisin antaa hänen tehdä mitä hän haluaa”.
    Salzburgin rakastavaiset on filosofinen matkakuvaus, allegorinen romanssi ja mahtava sinfoninen kulttuurihistoriallinen näky. Se on yksi Sirkin tiheimmistä ja hurjimmista elokuvista. Kun toiminnan dramaturgia ja ohjauksen huolenpito yksityiskohdista sulautuvat yhteen, tuloksena on teräviä oivalluksia. Salzburgin rakastavaiset on korkealla uudelleenlöytämisen ansaitsevien elokuvan mestariteosten listalla.

– Richard Brody (Douglas Sirk’s “Interlude,” a Hidden Masterwork, The New Yorker, 12.2.2013) AA 27.9.2016

SYNOPSIS FROM AFI CATALOG: "When naive American Helen Banning arrives in Munich, Germany, hoping to have an adventure and see the world, she meets Prue Stubbins, her excitable new boss at the American cultural agency called Amerika Haus. Soon afterward, Helen is courted by American doctor Morley Dwyer, a friend of her family’s, and although she begins to date Morley, she warns him that she is not in Germany to find romance. As part of her first assignment, to help facilitate an orchestral concert sponsored by Amerika Haus, Helen accompanies Prue to the rehearsal, where they are asked to leave by the temperamental conductor, Tonio "Tony" Fischer. When Tony then receives a message and rushes out, Prue insists that Helen follow him to ensure that he will perform at the concert. Helen visits his home, the estate of Countess Irena Reinhart, where Tony is behind closed doors, playing the piano for his wife Reni. Tony comes to the door and brusquely informs Helen that the concert will go on as scheduled. After she leaves, a noted psychiatrist informs Tony that Reni cannot be cured, and urges him not to blame himself but to go on living without her. At the hugely successful concert that night, Prue instructs Helen to watch from the wings, where she tries to avoid Tony. He seeks her out, however, to apologize for his previous behavior, and after he offers to drive her home, she finds herself drawn to his sophistication and good looks. The next day, Helen attends a party at the Nymphenburg Palace, where Tony spots her and insists that she accompany him on a day trip to Salzburg, Austria. Impressed by her simplicity and optimism, Tony is delighted with Helen, and takes her on a whirlwind tour of the beautiful city. A few weeks later, Helen is dating both Morley and Tony, prompting her American friend, Gertrude Kirk to warn her to be careful of European men. Ignoring the advice, Helen cancels a date with Morley to attend Tony’s concert, but once there, she hears that he is leaving for Stockholm soon, and later tearfully asks him why he wants to spend time with such an ordinary girl. His reply, that she is important to him and he is leaving for only two weeks, cheers her. Before he leaves town, he takes her on a picnic, but a summer storm forces them to take shelter in his nearby summer house. Although she nervously avoids his advances, when he pulls her into his arms, she responds passionately. Hours later, Tony starts to tell Helen that he is married, but stops himself, afraid that she will cut off their affair. When she insists on returning to his house with him, he acquiesces, and there she sees Reni for the first time. Reni dreamily recounts dancing with her husband, but suddenly grows suspicious of Helen and bolts out the door. Helen, furious, turns to leave, but Tony begs her to stay until Reni is calmed, and Irena explains to Helen that Reni has been mentally ill for years and is completely dependent on Tony. Weeks later, Morley visits a depressed Helen, who has not left her house since learning about Reni. He invites her to a dance, and on the walk home, proposes to her. She replies that she is not the virtuous girl he thinks she is, but Morley has guessed about her affair, and tells her that she is fine and decent and does not belong in Europe. Visiting him at the hospital the next day, she is impressed to see how respected and competent he appears, but as they leave together, she sees Tony in the hallway and he explains that Reni has had a breakdown. Helen is stirred by seeing him again and visits his rehearsal, where he tries to turn her away, but finally falls into her arms. Morley is waiting for her when she returns home, and reveals that he is leaving the next day, but that it is not too late for her to go with him. Helen is resolute that she must stay to help Tony, earning even more of Morley’s admiration. That night, Helen is watching Tony’s concert from the wings when she is pulled into the cloakroom by Reni, who has snuck out of the house. First enraged, then in tears, the ill woman begs Helen not to take Tony away from her. Helen escorts her home, where Irena urges Helen to forget about Reni, who is only a shell of who she used to be, and to give Tony the love he needs. Helen calls Morley, however, and then, finding Reni gone from her room, chases after her across the lawn towards the lake. Reni plunges into the water, hoping to die, but Helen rescues her. After Reni is sedated, Helen confesses to Tony that for a moment she fantasized about Reni’s death, and that she cannot live that way. She insists that what he loves in her is only what he has lost in Reni, and finally he agrees that they cannot be together. Helen says a tearful goodbye and then escapes to Morley’s waiting car, asking him to take her home to America." (SYNOPSIS FROM AFI CATALOG)

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