Thursday, June 30, 2011

Taxi Driver (2011 Sony Pictures 4K restoration)

US 1976. D: Martin Scorsese. T. it.: Taxi Driver; SC: Paul Schrader; DP: Michael Chapman; ED: Marcia Lucas, Tom Rolf, Melvin Shapiro; PD: Charles ‘Chuck’ Rosen; Op.: Fred Schuler; Ass. op.: Alec Hirschfeld, Bill Johnson, Ron Zarilla, Sandy Brooke; M: Bernard Herrmann; Cast: Robert De Niro (Travis Bickle), Jodie Foster (Iris), Albert Brooks (Tom), Leonard Harris (Charles Palantine), Peter Boyle (Mago), Cybill Shepherd (Betsy), Harvey Keitel (‘Sport’ Matthew), Leonard Harris (Charles Palantine), Steven Prince (Andy, il trafficante d’armi); P: Michael Phillips, Julia Phillips per Columbia Pictures; Pri. pro.: maggio 1976. 35 mm. 114’. Col. English version. From: Sony Columbia. Restored in 4K from the original camera negatives. Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 22.00, Piazza Maggiore (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Restauro promosso da Sony Columbia. Presentano Margaret Bodde (The Film Foundation), Grover Crisp (Sony Columbia). Serata promossa da GUCCI.

Catalogue: "The appearance of the “yellow cab”, driving around in slow motion through the steam spewing from manholes, has all the solemnity of a ceremony. Robert De Niro’s ordinary taxi emerges in the setting of Manhattan like an apocalyptic cavalcade. With the fascination and terror of someone who relives a familiar nightmare, Scorsese celebrates the rediscovered city in this film. Like with Mean Streets, he is not afraid of using hyperbole to conjure up evil. Is this hellish iconography over the top? No doubt about it, but we know not to expect a calm realistic approach from the clairvoyant. He is in too much of a hurry to stop at the surface of the world he is filming, and he first has to demonstrate its spectacular side. It is not surprising that Bernard Herrmann made his own contribution to the undertaking: the dark emphasis of his orchestration mimics the same disproportion, the same sense of impending disaster, the same certainty that a fatal air wraps the urban setting he makes us enter. (…) The tangible hell of the city and the hell of roasted souls. Travis knows both of them very well, and Taxi Driver shows him in an attempt at martyrdom (...). His room is in the last circle: at the drift’s edge, De Niro looks crumpled like in the bottom of a well, flattened by a vertical high angle shot that seems to be the point of view of God. The metaphor reigns as far as the director uncovers the hero’s mental landscape. Hell, Travis coasts along it every day, on the sidewalks where the indistinct fauna of prostitutes, pimps and drug addicts swarm about, in his taxi where his passengers spray sperm and blood in sordid mating, and even in the loftiest circles of high society. (…) It would be futile to look at Taxi Driver as if it were a sociological study of the phenomenon of the vigilantes or even the phenomenological analysis of a “case”. The film’s point of view is that of solipsist who has lost touch with reality. (…) We are warned right from the opening credits in which De Niro’s eyes, framed in the rectangle of a rear-view mirror, are superimposed with the iridescent lights of the city. The film’s puritanical iconography is summed up in this vision of him as if severed from his body. Obsessed with the filth of the spectacle of the city that gathers waste." Michael Henry, Qui veut faire l’ange..., “Positif”, n. 183-184, July-August 1976.

AA: Again the Piazza was crowded. I believe this together with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was the most popular and exciting Piazza film of this year's Il Cinema Ritrovato. The Italian connection (Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese) brought a special electric charge to the screening. I sampled just the beginning, with a fresh memory of our Kino Tulio screenings in 2K and 4K. Both the visual quality and the sound quality were unrecognizable, I could not have told that this was the same restored version. The excellence of the restoration was not evident on the Piazza Maggiore.

A Hundred Years Ago: Programme 6: Pathé and Its International Brands

Cento anni fa: Programma 6: Pathé e i suoi marchi internazionali. Programme and notes by Mariann Lewinsky. Thursday 30 June 2011 at 18.15, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian and English. Grand piano: Gabriel Thibaudeau. Presentano Bryony Dixon e Mariann Lewinsky.

Catalogue: "In January 1911 the Établissements Pathé Frères started announcing their new films in a weekly Bulletin Hebdomadaire Pathé Frères. The market leader now made a definitive change in its production and marketing system, which would now be based on subsidiaries in different Countries, while the séries de production categories, which had previously dictated the industry’s operational methods, now served simply as an indication of genre. In offering these different brands, Pathé promised greater variety in its presentations: “What does the cinema manager want? A programme with enough variety to satisfy its customers and secure their loyalty. Is it easy to put together such a programme? No.” So as to offer the possible range, the Établissements Pathé Freres decided “to produce fewer scenes in order to concentrate on releasing those developed by the different brands, each one specialising in its own individual genre.” The article then goes on to introduce the brands: the Film d’Arte Italiana (F.A.I.), the Société Cinématographique des Auteurs et Gens de Lettres (S.C.A.G.L.), the Film Russe, American Kinema, Modern Pictures, Comica, Nizza and Imperium, as well as the parent company’s products, the PathéJournal, the Série d’art, the Série Pathécolor and the Vues de vulgarisation scientifique. (“A varied programme”, Bulletin Hebdomadaire Pathé Frères, 1911, pp. 11-12).""

"Our programme can only illustrate six of these brands. The American Kinema films, especially their many Westerns with stories centring on the Indians, should be seen more frequently and properly appreciated. Thanhouser was, according to Bousquet, not a Pathé subsidiary but Pathé distributed its product. The Coffin-Ship was plainly low-budget – which was never a Pathé characteristic. Imperium’s industrial films are visually impressive, transforming the lighting conditions that made interior filming so tricky into a virtuoso play of soft and sharp focus. Collezione Fondation.""

LA PHYSIQUE AMUSANTE. FR 1911. PathéSerie No. 6: Enseignement sciences naturelles; P: Pathé (No. 4576). 35 mm. 165 m. 9’ a 16 fps. Col. Intertitres français. From: CNC-Archives Françaises du Film. - AA: A scientific film. Wonderful about uranium, hydrogen, carbonic acid. Nearly experimental. A brilliant print.

A WESTERN MEMORY / [the title of the print:] Le Cœur de Violette. US 1911. Cast: Crane Wilbur; P: American Kinema; Distr.: Pathé Frères (No. 5108). 35 mm. 302 m. 14’ a 18 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: CNC-Archives Françaises du Film. - AA: A Western. The cowboys pull a trick on the convalescent Jack and put him on an untamed horse. Violette saves him. Having recovered Jack returns to the city. There is a memorable extreme long shot where we see the train puffing away in the valley. Years later Jack returns with his wife and finds a grave on the mountain where he used to meet Violette: "Ici repose Violette Drew". Ok print.

AN UP-TO-DATE SQUAW / L’Indienne Ko-To-Sho se modernise. US 1911. P: American Kinema; Distr.: Pathé Frères (No. 4876). 35 mm. 212 m. 10'' a 18 fps. B&w. English and French intertitles. From: CNC-Archives Françaises du Film. - AA: A Western. White folks visit an Indian camp, and the white women's wear attracts attention. A 1997 Cinémathèque française print.

THE COFFIN SHIP / [the title of the print:] In Meere verloren. US 1911. P: Thanhouser. 35 mm. 300 m. 15’ a 18 fps. B&w. Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. - AA: Drama. In the harbour a girl greets a captain. The ship-owner declines the request to repair the ship. There is a shipwreck and a rescue.

[LA] FABRICATION MÉCANIQUE D’UN LIVRE. FR 1911. P: Imperium Film; Distr.: Pathé Frères (No. 4563). 35 mm. 189 m. 10’ a 16 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: CNC-Archives Françaises du Film. - AA: Non-fiction. A fine account on the process of the printing of a book. An ok print.

LE ROMAN DE LA MOMIE / Il romanzo della mummia. FR 1911. D: René Leprince, Co-D: Albert Capellani. Based on the novel by Théophile Gautier (1858); SC: Théo Bergerat; Cast: Paul Franck (Lord Evandale), Romuald Joubé (il faraone), il mimo Thalès, Louis Ravet, Miss California (la mummia), Jeanne Brindeau; P: S.C.A.G.L.; Distr.: Pathé Frêres (No. 4063). 35 mm. 220 m. 11’ a 18 fps. Pochoir. Didascalie italiane. From: CSC – Cineteca Nazionale. - AA: A drama based on the decadent novel by Théophile Gautier. A man will not marry a woman since he is in love with a mummy. In his hallucinations he returns to ancient Egypt. A spectacle of forbidden love played in histrionic style. The man wants to shoot himself, but "We'll know how to heal you from your neurasthenic idea". A beautiful 1995 print preserves the pochoir colour effects.

ROSALIE EMMÉNAGE. FR 1911. D: Roméo Bosetti. Cast: Sarah Duhamel; P: Comica; Distr.: Pathé Frères (No. 4135). 35 mm. 124,5 m. 6’ a 18 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: Cinematek (Brussels). - AA: A comedy based on the chaos principle. Rosalie's moving and cleaning is wildly exaggerated. She cleans the floor so thoroughly that it gets planed. The neighbour's book-case falls down. The ceiling is broken and Rosalie swings up on a capstan. An excellent catastrophe comedy. A fine 1994 print from the Alan Roberts collection. *


Catalogue: "The Siege of Sidney Street occured on 3 January 1911 as the consequence of the murder of three London policemen on 16 December 1910 who interrupted members of a Latvian anarchist group burgling a jeweller’s shop in Houndsditch (a street in the City of London). Two associates of the anarchists (not directly involved in the murders) were tracked down to rooms in No. 100 Sidney Street in the poor East End of London. The subsequent siege by armed police and Scots Guards was filmed by five news film companies and witnessed by great crowds of Londoners and the then Home Secretary Winston Churchill, whose involvement in the action caused much controversy. The two anarchists died in the house, which eventually caught fire and a fireman died when part of the burning building collapsed. The final shoot out of the siege was immortalised by Hitchcock in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Films by Co-operative and Warwick are not known to exist but we do have these three films, different views from Pathé, Gaumont and Andrews Pictures." Bryony Dixon

THE BATTLE OF LONDON. FR 1911. P: Pathé Frères. DigiBeta. B&w. English intertitles. From: BFI National Archive.

THE GREAT EAST END ANARCHIST BATTLE. FR 1911. P: Gaumont. 35 mm. 76 m. 4’ a 18 fps. B&w. English intertitles. From: BFI National Archive.

HOUNDSDITCH MURDERS / [the title of the print:] Die Houndsditch Mörder. GB 1911. P: Andrews Pictures. 35 mm. 87 m. 4’ a 18 fps. B&w. Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: BFI National Archive.

AA: Non-fiction. A fascinating opportunity to compare three news films of the same dramatic event in London.

Searching for Colour in Films: The Two Zigomars, Or, How to Reproduce Tinting

Alla ricerca del colore dei film: I due Zigomar ovvero come riprodurre le imbibizioni. Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 14.30, Cinema Jolly (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Grand piano: Donald Sosin and Maud Nelissen. Intro: Blažena Urgošíková.

Catalogue: "In the Fifties and Sixties of the last century the archives which had large collections of nitrate films intensively worked on their transfer to safety stock. NFA Praha acted in the same manner but soon realized that by duplicating to acetate b&w material, the films lose the most important aesthetic and emotional components – richness of colour, of tinting and toning. That is why NFA, in the mid-seventies of the last century, asked the prestigious Research Institute of Sound, Image and Reproduction Technique (VÚZORT) for help to solve this problem. Together with this institute three methods were tested:
1) to make a colour internegative and a colour print
2) to make a black – and - white dupe negative and a colour print with the help of colour filters
3) to make a black and white dupe negative, a black and white positive print and do tinting and toning, according to the original nitrate print.""

"From these three methods, the third gave the best results. In seventies we made our first tinted copy of the French film Zigomar. The first prints were tinted in the classical manner, that is to say the corresponding coloured scenes were cut up, dyed and spliced into a final form. Later a procedure without splicing was realized in a small private laboratory. In the Nineties we made 40.000 m of tinted prints in a year. The documentary film Raft Voyage from the Town of Hluboká to Štĕhovice shows beautiful landscapes of the basin of the Czech river Vltava, rural cottages, castles and manors (Hluboká, Zvíkov, Orlík), river streams calm and wild, the laborious work of rafters, in wild rapids and passing through culverts. Many of the places the cameraman filmed so skilfully do not exist any more. The deep valleys of the Vltava river, old churches, mills, ferries, have all disappeared under the water of big barrages forever. The tinting, coming from the laboratory of Mr. Ledecký, underlines the beauty of the natural scenery, before its devastation." Blažena Urgošíková, Senior Curator and Restaurator, Národní Filmový Archiv.

ZIGOMAR ROI DES VOLEURS. FR 1911. D: Victorin Jasset. DP: Lucien Andriot; Cast: Alexandre-Charles Arquillières (Zigomar), Charles Krauss (Nick Carter), André Liabel (Paulin Broquet), Olga Demidova (Olga Leontieva), Josette Andriot (La Rosaria); P: Éclair. 35 mm. 260 m. 15‘ a 16 fps. Tinted (Desmet). From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. [Nederlandse tussentitels. An improvised loudspeaker translation into Italian and English was difficult to follow.] - AA: Another wild and fantastic Zigomar action movie with disguises, catacombs, coffins, secret passages, and ruins. Nick Carter lands into a coffin, there is gunplay on horseback, and a fantastic dance sequence at Moulin Rouge (*). The story ends in ruins. - A Jan Olsson moment: a beautiful triple-screen telephone sequence between Zigomar and a woman (*).


ZIGOMAR CONTRE NICK CARTER. FR 1912. D+SC: Victorin Jasset. DP: Lucien Andriot; Cast: Alexandre-Charles Arquillières (Zigomar), Charles Krauss (Nick Carter), André Liabel (Paulin Broquet), Olga Demidova (Olga Leontieva), Josette Andriot (La Rosaria); P: Éclair. 35 mm. 921 m. 51‘ a 18 fps. Tinted (Ledecký, ca 1980). Deutsche Fassung, deutsche Zwischentitel. From: Národní Filmový Archiv. - AA: In Pordenone's great Éclair retrospective in 1992 I saw a black and white NFM print with Dutch intertitles. The story started in an electric room. A fake Zigomar was created. A magician was able metamorphose people and beings. - This Czech colour print with German intertitles is in direct continuation to Zigomar roi des voleurs. The story starts in ruins. Zigomar's boisterous gang can turn into peaceful inhabitants in an instant, and the gamblers of  Zigomar's electric casino can change into a dignified concert audience. Zigomar leads Nick Carter astray by hiring a double. At the very moment Nick Carter tries to place Zigomar's gang under arrest Zigomar's engineer arranges a black-out. In Marseilles, Zigomar, attempting a big jewel robbery, is surprised by an X ray. There is a last minute rescue at Nice. In Zigomar's den there is an opium hallucination sequence (*). Finally Nick Carter realizes that there are two Zigomars. The curtain falls, there is a free-for-all at the pub, and a chase at sea. Disguises change, black capes and masks are adopted, there is a car chase. Nick Carter and Olga land into the hands of the enemy. They are dropped into a deep cellar where there is a red glowing oven. Nick and Olga clear an escape route through bundles of brushwood. The cellar and the villains' den go up in flames. During their escape Nick and Olga are separated by wild bulls. Olga and La Rosaria fight it out while running in the sea. Olga is captured and tied to a galloping horse. Seriously injured she is rescued by country folks. Marc Martial (= Nick Carter) plants a misleading news item into the newspaper ("Nick Carter Found With Skull Broken"). Zigomar throws a big party to celebrate, but the maître d' is none other but Nick Carter in disguise. Zigomar falls into the hands of the police, but La Rosaria slips poison into his hands, and lifeless, Zigomar falls down, all stiff. - Victorin Jasset is the father of the action film, and the action was incredibly fast and crazy from the very beginning. - The strong tinting of the print is effective.

PLAVBA PO VORECH ZHLUBOKÉ DO ŠTĔCHOVIC. [The title of the print:] [Fahrt und Flössen von Hluboká nach Štĕchovice]. CZ 1925. T. ing.: Raft Voyage from the Town of Hluboká to Štĕchovice. P: Slavia Film. 35 mm. L.: 582 m. 24‘ a 24 fps. Tinted (Ledecký). Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: Národní Filmový Archiv. - AA: a beautiful print with beautiful tinting and toning of a beautiful travelogue: a river voyage with magnificent views of Prague, Budweis, Frauenberg, lumberjacks, Moldau with its rapids, Schloss Klingenberg, Vltava, rapid-shooting on a raft, Johannis with its rapids. "Nichts Schöneres und Überwältigenderes", nothing more beautiful or overwhelming could one expect to see.

Albert Capellani: Programme 5: Local Colour I, including The Feast of Life

Albert Capellani: Programma 5: Colore locale I. Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 11.15, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone translation in Italian and in English. Grand piano: Donald Sosin, violin: Günter Buchwald.

Catalogue: "In the foreword to his drama Cromwell (1827), Victor Hugo proposes new principles to challenge the classical unities of place and time in drama: namely, the principles of Romantic drama, local colour and historical colour. This idea remained, up to the end of the 19th century, the strongest influence on theatrical design. Costumes and stage architecture aspired to a learned historical accuracy: in operas tarantellas and barcaroles rang out against a background of Naples; all times, cultures and traditions were appropriated by European 19th-century culture, by its entertainments, its theatre and its books. Cinema was (and is) a direct heir of this love of historical and local colour. The programme starts in the 16th century (France-Scotland-England), moves to 18th-century Italy and ends, with The Feast of Life, in the present, in Cuba." (ML)

Capellani’s Star: Clara Kimball Young (II)

"The announcement of the Clara Kimball Young Film Corporation was made in the 2 February, 1916 Cleveland Plain Dealer (scooping Variety by two days). She was still under contract to World until 15 July, and had films to make in order to fulfill her obligations, but according to an advertisement explaining her decision, “Mr. Selznick and I intend by our efforts to raise the motion picture profession to the dignity of an art and take it out of the machinery class.” The following months saw the trade papers inundated with ads, many boasting of Selznick’s master stroke: to break the block bookings monopoly and allow exhibitors the ability to pick and choose which films they wanted to screen. In return, he was charging four times the amount Young’s films commanded in regular programs."

"William Brady, Selznick’s erstwhile partner at World bitterly protested the moves of his former colleague and instructed his exchanges to withdraw all Clara Kimball Young releases from distribution with the exception of the recently released The Feast of Life."

"Bookings for the new company’s first production, The Common Law, directed by Capellani, exceeded expectations. Gloria Swanson paints Clara Kimball Young a business-minded woman thoroughly conversant with the intricacies of her enterprises: “In what other business in the world, I wondered, could this delightful, elegant creature be completely independent – turning out her own pictures, dealing with men as equals, being able to use her brain as well as her beauty, having total say as to what stories she played in, who designed her clothes, and who her director and leading man would be.”" Jay Weissberg

MARIE STUART. FR 1908. D: Albert Capellani. Cast: Jeanne Delvair, Jacques Grétillat, Henry Krauss, Paul Capellani, Véra Sergine; P: Pathé Frères No. 2313. 261 m. 12’ a 18 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: La Cinémathèque française. - AA: A historical tragedy. An action film in Film d'Art style and in the chase format. Escape from Scotland dressed as a man. Death sentence. A striking finale with the executioner's back towards us. There are instances of beautiful composition and light effects in the film. The visual quality of the b&w print is ok.

LE LUTHIER DE CRÉMONE. FR 1909. D: Albert Capellani. Based on the play by François Coppée (1876). Cast: Amélie Diéterlé, Jean Dax, Julien Clément, Rolla Norman; P: Pathé Frères 229 m. 12’ a 16 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: CNC-Archives Françaises du Film. - AA: A romantic period drama. In Film d'Art style. Winning the gold chain. A print with high contrast. *

THE FEAST OF LIFE. US 1916. D: Albert Capellani. SC: Frances Marion; DP: Lucien N. Andriot; [Loc: Cuba]. Cast: Clara Kimball Young (Aurora Fernandez), E.M. Kimball (Signora Fernandez), Edward Kimball (Padre Venture), Paul Capellani (Don Armada), Doris Kenyon (Celida), Robert Frazer (Pedro); P: Paragon Films; Pri. pro.: 1 maggio 1916. 35 mm. 1274 m. 64’ a 20 fps. B&w. Czech intertitles. From: Národní Filmový Archiv. - AA: A Clara Kimball Young vehicle set and filmed in Cuba. - A quadruple tragedy. There are two loving couples (Aurora and Pedro, Diego and Celida), but Aurora has to marry Diego, because the Perez family has "bought all our assets from Spain". There is a grand wedding, but it is a disaster, and the film almost belongs to the cancelled wedding (*) tradition. The abandoned Celida eats a poison fruit. There is a revolt. Diego survives but his eyes have been badly hurt. If Diego gets excited, he may go blind, and he lets people think he is actually blind, but he sees how Aurora and Pedro go on with their romance. - The print is slightly dark, with a somewhat high contrast, there are some signs of water or nitrate decomposition, and the image is partially soft. - The film is still largely based on long shots and long takes. Not very exciting.

Alice Guy: Programme 5: Independent Features

Alice Guy: Programma 5: Produzioni indipendenti. Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 10.00, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian. Grand piano: Günter Buchwald. Presenta Kim Tomadjoglou.

Catalogue: "The Western genre provided the opportunity for female actresses to display their physical agility and skill at a range of stunt work in action-packed narratives of adventure. In Two Little Rangers, Guy’s protégé, Vinnie Burns and her younger counterpart take up a lasso and a sixshooter to carry out a daring rescue of their father and a young male hero who have been protecting a battered woman from her villainous husband. The film’s finale features the two sisters setting the villain’s cabin on fire."

"After closing Solax, Guy worked as an independent director on a number of photoplays centered on stories of naïve young women who discover that love and romance often involves untrustworthy suitors. Based on the short story The Painted Scene by Henry Kitchell Webster (in The Painted Scene, and Other Stories of the Theater, 1916), The Great Adventure finds a young provincial girl, Millie, traveling with her aunt to the big city in search of stardom and fame. While Millie’s tender age and innocence place her in a compromising situation with the older leading male star, Sheen, she turns his attentive advances and desire to please her to her advantage. Sheen winds up a fool beat at his own game."

TWO LITTLE RANGERS. US 1913. D: Alice Guy Blaché. Cast: Vinnie Burns, Darwin Karr, Blanche Cornwall; P: Solax. 35 mm. 281.4 m. 13’ a 18 fps. B&w. [not English intertitles, but:] Nederlandse tussentitels with no translation. From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. - AA: A Western, a solid Western but with a female viewpoint. I did not understand everything since there was no translation (but see synopsis above). A fine print with a good tinting effect.

THE GREAT ADVENTURE / [the title of the print:] Her Great Adventure. US 1918. D: Alice Blaché. T. alt.: Spring of the Year; SC: Agnes C. Johnston, inspired by the story The Painted Scene by Henry Kitchell Webster (1916); Op.: George K. Hollister, John G. Haas; Cast: Bessie Love, Flora Finch, Donald Hall, Chester Barnett, Florence Short; P: Pathé Exchange, Inc. 35 mm. 40’ a 20 fps. English intertitles. From: BFI National Archive. - AA: Drama / romance / comedy. Theatre milieu. The departing star's line of dialogue: "I have had enough of this beastly play. I'm going to Cinema where true talent is appreciated" got one of the biggest laughs of the festival, also resonating with Carole Lombard in Twentieth Century. A moving, sensitive performance by Bessie Love in the leading role (Bessie Love, what a remarkable career starting in 1915 and continuing until 1983). Sheen lures Milly to an excursion and want them to stay at an inn, but Milly wants to the zoo, and soon exhausts Sheen. Sheen falls into the water, Harry rescues Milly, and the end of the great adventure is marriage. There is a duped quality in the print, struck from a source full of signs of wear and tear.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Les Enfants du paradis (2011 Pathé 4K digital restoration)

Marcel Carné: Les Enfants du paradis (FR 1945).

Paratiisin lapset. FR 1945 D: Marcel Carné (in due parti: Le Boulevard du Crime e L’Homme Blanc) T. it.: Amanti perduti; SC: Jacques Prévert; DP: Roger Hubert; Op.: Marc Fossard; ED: Henri Rust, Madeleine Bonin; PD: Alexandre Trauner, Leon Barsacq, Raymond Gabutti; M: Maurice Thiriet, Joseph Kosma, Georges Mouque (musica delle pantomime); S: Robert Teisseire; Cast: Arletty (Caire Reine detta Garance), Jean-Louis Barrault (Jean-Baptiste Debureau), Pierre Brasseur (Frédérick Lemaître), Marcel Herrand (Lacenaire), Pierre Renoir (Jéricho), María Casares (Natalie), Etienne Decroux (Anselme Debureau), Leon Larive, Gaston Modot (Fil de Soie), Fabien Loris (Avril), Marcel Pérès (il direttore dei Funambules), Pierre Palau (direttore di scena dei Funambules), Albert Remy (Scarpia Barrigni), Jane Marken (Madame Hermine), Louis Salou (conte Edouard de Montray), Jacques Castelot, Jean Gold (dandy), Maurice Schutz, Paul Frankeur, Robert Dhéry; P: S.N. Pathé Cinéma; Pri. pro.: 15 marzo 1945.
    DCP 2K.
    B&w. Version française.
    Electronic subtitles in Italian and in English.].
    From: Pathé.
    4K digital restoration from the original camera negative.
    Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 22.00, Piazza Maggiore (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato).
    Presentano Gian Luca Farinelli and Jérôme Seydoux.
    It started to rain, the piazza screening was interrupted, and the film was screened in its entirety later in Cinema Jolly.

Catalogue: "I loved the period and I was particularly attracted to the possibility of bringing the Boulevard du Crime of those times back to life. “Listen,” I said to Prévert, “I go back to Paris to visit the Musée Carnavalet and look at the documents of the Cabinet des Estampes on the period that interests us.”""

"(…) What I discovered at the Cabinet des Estampes went beyond my greatest expectations. I found absolutely everything I was looking for in the prints from the period: documents on the Boulevard du Crime but also on the Théâtre des Funambules and other similar venues; drawings of little cafés and taverns of La Courtille in addition to the silhouettes of street vendors and artisans. I asked for and got permission to photograph what interested me in the museum’s specialized area. (…) The immense sets of the Boulevard du Crime was built on a large piece of land next to the Victorine studios, where just a year before stood the white castle of Les Visiteurs du Soir. Nevertheless, we did not want a repeat of what had happened last time: as a precautionary measure, we prepared some “back-up sets” in the studio. The work plan was the following: the Boulevard du Crime (as long as the weather conditions made it possible), than the interior shots and finally the return to Paris where filming – considering the vast number of scenes – would have continued in different studios, in particular Joinville and Francoeur. Unfortunately, due to the small amount of time given to him and the problems at the time, Bersacq was unable to complete the sets for the outside shots for the planned date. We had to fall back on the interiors, Garance’s boarding house and the infamous tavern. Marcel Carné: La Vie à belles dents (Jean Vuarnet, Paris, 1979).""

"With this crowd – I think above all of the film’s opening and end – the filmmakers made a surprising farandole around the most ephemeral destinies, a storm of perishable individuals, in the light, a whirlwind of puppets who lose themselves in pleasure. Play on words winds about this extravagant dream, la Bohême of the amusement park where melodrama finds the right habitat. As for the luxurious sets – a furtive luxury – they emphasize the sordid spectrum, the shacks, the backstage. (...) Let’s list other beautiful moments of this film: that Corot-like landscape, the pantomime scenes, Arletty huddling on stage, how we feel her burn with her unhappy love! Fate hangs over the whole film: each character obeys contradictory impulses and, the victim of passionate density, wanders off lost. (…) I believe Bergson would have loved this whirl of images full of (…) disorganized, vital momentum." Jean Sollies: Les Enfants du Paradis, “Gavroche”, March 22, 1945.

AA: I watched the first 20 minutes, examining the projection at close range, from the middle distance, and from afar. I was positively surprised by the look of the 2K DCP projection based on a 4K digital master. Immediately the opening crowd scene on the market square strikes me as full of life.

People who had heard four hours before the Incontri sul restauro cinematografico: Pathé e il restauro di Les Enfants du paradis with Stéphanie Tarot (Pathé), Christian Lurin (Éclair), and Davide Pozzi (L'Immagine Ritrovata) were more reserved, having heard that each image was digitized in six separate sections.

A Piazza Maggiore screening may be deceptive, but at least I felt a marked step forward from last year's digital Boudu sauvé des eaux.

I was too tired to see over three hours of this movie at midnight, but I look forward to seeing this restoration in its entirety.

A Hundred Years Ago: Programme 7: A Thrill Is Born

Cento anni fa: Programma 7: Nascita del giallo. Programme and notes by Mariann Lewinsky. Wednesday 29 June 2011 at 18.15, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian and English. Grand piano: Neil Brand. Presenta Mariann Lewinsky.

Catalogue: "Thanks to the breakthrough of Victorin Jasset’s Zigomar, the Danish film Gar-el-hama and Pathé’s Nick Winter (comedy) series, 1911 can go down in cinema history as the year of the crime thriller. The genealogy however goes further back, to a 1903 stage production, a mimodrame entitled La Main, by Henry Bérény (music) and Charlotte Wiehe (mime). This spawned a film version of the show (La Main 1908, Le Film d’Art, with Charlotte Wiehe and Max Dearly) and several other films, including Flirt dangereux (1911) and Le Visiteur (1911), with the dancer Polaire (who also starred in a mime show with the same title for the stage), as well as two films by Albert Capellani, L’Homme aux gants blancs (1908, in our first programme) and L'Épouvante (1911, programmed in Capellani’s retrospective last year). [Film cancelled: Our programme pairs The Lonedale Operator – the classic montage, cross-cutting and last-minute-rescue film – with a comparable European example], the suspenseful Un cri dans la nuit, by Victorin Jasset. Contrasted with these is a group of films in which no montage is used in the creation of suspense. Quite the contrary. Here tension is created by the expressiveness of the mime: to be effective it needs very long shots, preferably with no cuts.""


UN CRI DANS LA NUIT / [the title of the print:] Un grito en la noche. FR 1911. D: Victorin Jasset. SC: Victorin Jasset; Op.: Ravet; Cast: Charles Krauss, André Liabel, Paul Guiché, Marcel Vibert, Marise Dauvray, Cécile Guyon; P: Éclair. 35 mm. 217 m. 12’ a 18 fps. B&w. Intertítulos en español. From: Národní Filmový Archiv. - AA: A thriller. A huge trap is set in the forest. The hunters set forth with their hounds. The night falls, and there is a horrible cry: "Help! Help!" A tramp has fallen into the trap. The hunters save him.

NICK WINTER ET L’AFFAIRE DU CÉLÈBRIC HÔTEL. FR 1911. [PC: Pathé Frères. D: Gérard Bourgeois]. Cast: Georges Vinter, Jacques Normand (il complice), Jacques Vandenne (il padrone). 35 mm. 147 m. 8’ a 16 fps. B&w. Didascalie italiane. From: Cineteca di Bologna. - AA: Thriller / action. A cat burglar hides in a trunk with a double bottom, but the cunning Nick Winter solves the case donning a disguise and hiding in the trunk himself. There is a fine sense of humour in the brisk rhythm of the action.* Print based on a Pathé Kok source, with a duped look, even a photocopy look.

[cancelled: THE LONEDALE OPERATOR. US 1911. D.W. Griffith.]


LA MAIN. FR 1908. Mimodramma di Henry Bérény; Cast: Wiehe (la ballerina), Coquet (l’amico), Max Dearly (il furfante); P: Film d’Art; Distr.: Pathé Frêres (No. 2603). 35 mm. 252 m. 12’ a 18 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: CNC Archives Françaises du Film. - AA: A thriller. A fine film with a pantomime approach. A beautiful print.

[cancelled: FLIRT DANGEREUX. FR 1911.]

[added:] L’HOMME AUX GANTS BLANCS. FR 1908. D: Albert Capellani. SC: Georges Docquois; Cast: Marguerite Brésil, Henri Desfontaine, Jacques Grétillat; P: S.C.A.G.L. (Pathé No. 2588). 35 mm. L. or.: 310 m. B&w. Intertitres français. From: Cineteca di Bologna, La Cinémathèque française, EYE Film Instituut Nederland, Lobster Films. Restored in 2011 thanks to a grant by Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, combining 35 mm e 28 mm elements. - AA: A thriller. Brisk action conducted like a ballet, with a delicious sense of the pantomime. A Jan Olsson moment: a wonderful triple screen telephone scene (two persons and a road between). The print is based on sources of variable quality. The night sequence should be in blue.

LE VISITEUR / [the title of the print:] Das Angstgefühl. FR 1911. D: René Leprince, Albert Capellani. Cast: Polaire, Georges Tréville, Georges Baud, Thalès, Cécile Barré. P: S.C.A.G.L.; Distr.: Pathé Frêres (No. 619). 35 mm. 265 m. 16’ a 16 fps. Pochoir. Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: Deutsches Institut für Filmkunde. - AA: A thriller, a tragedy. "I will become your wife only if you can make me feel fear." No attempt of the man is successful. But then there is a real burglar who stabs the man. Uncanny moments. * A print with beautiful colour effects.

ROBINET INNAMORATO DI UNA CHANTEUSE. IT 1911. D: Marcel Fabre. DP: Giovanni Vitrotti; Cast: Marcel Fabre (Robinet), Gigetta Morano; P: Ambrosio. 35 mm. 146 m. 7’ a 18 fps. B&w. Nederlandse tussentitels. From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. - AA: A comedy. Slapstick at the music hall. On Robinet's way to meet the singer there is an assault and robbery on Robinet, and his clothes are taken. Ok.

A Hundred Years Ago: Programme 2: 1911 - Tripoli, Beautiful Land of Love... of War and Cinema

Cento anni fa: Programma 2: 1911 - Tripoli, bel suol d'amore... di guerra e di cinema. Programme and notes by Giovanni Lasi. Wednesday 29 June 2011 at 17.00, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Grand piano: Marco Dalpane. Presenta Giovanni Lasi.

Catalogue: "“Tripoli, beautiful land of love...” is how the refrain of A Tripoli! begins, a song of propaganda written by the journalist Giovanni Corvino of “La Stampa” in the wake of the 1911 Italo-Turkish war. The Italian government’s decision to send a military envoy and take over the Turkish territory of Tripolitania was met with general, overall enthusiasm. The conviction that the colonial conquest would legitimate Italy as a world power, the idea that territories abroad could absorb growing emigration, the illusion that control of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica would become the passport to a greater influence over the trade routes of the Mediterranean were a few of the debatable geo-political reasons propelling nearly all the political parties and movements to demand (nationalists first of all) or at least support the reckless enterprise. With the unanimous consent of the institutions, there is no question that the Libyan expedition was approved of by the majority of Italians, conditioned by a massive, pro-armed intervention propaganda campaign that used traditional instruments of political information (press, speeches, conferences, posters…) as well as every other means of communication capable of engaging public opinion emotionally. 1911 was the ideal year for a media campaign of this kind: the lavish commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Unification of Italy and the nationalist celebrations of the Risorgimento battles were the perfect stage for promoting a new military enterprise. The special rhetorical emphasis placed on the Risorgimento by newspapers and consumer publications was reused to support the African expedition, and film would play an important part in the manipulation of the collective Italian imagination. Between 1911 and 1912 all the important Italian production studios undertook to validate the reasons for the military intervention by producing various types of films that all more or less explicitly supported the war underway. In a few cases, reference to the war’s events were direct: films like Raggio di luce (Episodio della presa di Tripoli) (Cines, 1911) or Due volte colpito nel cuore (episodio della guerra italo-turca) (Vesuvio Films, 1912), L’eroica fanciulla di Derna (Vesuvio Films, 1912) were set in the theater of war, paid tribute to the heroism and courage of the Italian soldiers and criticized the oppression and crimes of the Turkish enemy. Moreover, the Italian film industry did not fail to emphasize the cruelty of the Ottomans, making films about historical events that demonstrated the eternal conflict between the Christian West and the Turkish Empire: films like I cavalieri di Rodi (Ambrosio 1912), Hussein il pirata (Vesuvio Films, 1912), Gulnara (Una storia dell’indipendenza greca 1820-1830) (Ambrosio 1911). When later on in the conflict several Arab tribes of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica began to support the Turkish army, the idea of justifying the war as an inevitable epilogue of an ancestral clash of civilizations solidified even further. In support of this perspective were explicitly racist films such as Infamia araba (Cines, 1912), which demonized Arab and Muslim culture and depicted Italian colonization as the dutiful exportation of progress and Christianity: Enrico Guazzoni’s La Gerusalemme liberata (Cines, 1911), which anticipated Italy’s entry into war by a few months, was certainly influenced by this climate. The propaganda campaign in favour of the war involved all classes of society and every age range. To this end, the national film industry disseminated war themes also through the genre of comedy and children’s films: in 1912 cinema posters featured titles like Cocciutelli in guerra (Milano Films, 1912), Le medaglie di Bidoni (Cines, 1912), Pik Nik odia il turco (Aquila Films, 1912), Pik Nik vuole andare a Tripoli (Aquila Films, 1912) or Guerra italo turca tra scugnizzi napoletani (Film Dora, 1912). The production of nationalist films set in Tripolitania did not come to a halt with the end of the Italo-Turkish conflict, officially established in October 1912 when Turkey gave up its claim on the contested territory; in fact, the peace treaty did not stop the armed resistance of the local population, especially the inhabitants of Cyrenaica, opposed to the Italian occupation. The enduring state of hostility, which hardened during the First World War, would become the pretext for other films set in the colony that were openly antagonistic towards the local rebel population; titles of this kind include: Il tricolore (Film Dora, 1913), Il bacio della gloria (F.A.I., 1913), Negli artigli del Pascià (1914) and Il sogno patriottico di Cinessino (Cines, 1915). If fictional war films were decisive for building popular consent for the war, documentary films made in the war zone by a few Italian production companies would become increasingly important in this direction. In October 1911 Cines began the production of a series of documentaries, 150 m. each, which were distributed weekly to theaters in order to informer moviegoers about the latest events of the military campaign. Reassuring images scientifically studied to tranquilize the soldiers’ families back home. In addition to the infinite correspondence filmed by Cines (over 80 films) between 1911 and 1912, dozens of documentaries about war events were also made by Ambrosio of Turin, by Itala Film, by Giovanni Pettine’s company and Luca Comerio of Milan, one of the most active cameraman in the war zone. Italians responded with rabid enthusiasm to the screenings of these films, which often became occasions for wild, noisy demonstrations of patriotic pride: the public cheering, railing against the hated Turk and chanting the tune in vogue at the moment: “Tripoli, beautiful land of love...… Tripoli, enchanted land, you will become Italian with the rumbling of cannons!” Giovanni Lasi.

{I missed these films: LA GUERRA ITALO TURCA. IT 1911. P: Luca Comerio. 35 mm. 40 m. 2’ a 18 fps. B&w. Didascalie italiane. From: CSC-Cineteca Nazionale.
DAL TEATRO DELLA GUERRA ITALO-TURCA. IT 1912. 35 mm. 75 m. 3’24'' a 18 fps. B&w. Didascalie italiane. From: Fondazione Cineteca Italiana.
CORRISPONDENZA CINEMATOGRAFICA DELLA GUERRA ITALO-TURCA/XX SERIE. IT 1912. P: Cines. 35 mm. 90 m. 4’22'' a 18 fps. Tinted. Didascalie italiane. From: Fondazione Cineteca Italiana. Restored in 2011 by Fondazione Cineteca Italiana and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory from a nitrate tinted print.
PENDAISON PENDANT LA GUERRE ITALO-TURQUE. FR 1912(?). P: Pathé. 35 mm. 20 m. 58'' a 18 fps. B&w. From: Gaumont Pathé Archives.
TRA LE PINETE DI RODI. IT 1912. P: Savoia Film. 35 mm. 100 m. 5’ a 16 fps. Tinted, pochoir. Nederlandse tussentitels. From: Cineteca di Bologna.}

RAGGIO DI LUCE (EPISODIO DELLA GUERRA DI TRIPOLI). IT 1911. Cast: Gastone Monaldi, Fernanda Negri Pouget, Cesare Moltini; P: Cines. 35 mm. 258 m. 13’ a 18 fps. Tinted. Didascalie italiane. From: CSC-Cineteca Nazionale. - AA: Drama. Patriotic fare.

KELLY IN BATTLE. IT 1912. Cast: Eduardo Monthus (Cocciutelli); P: Milano Films. 35 mm. 117 m. 5’ a 18 fps. B&w. English intertitles. From: Cineteca del Friuli. - AA: Comedy. A baby (?) as war loot.

IL SOGNO PATRIOTTICO DI CINESSINO. IT 1915. D: Gennaro Righelli. Cast: Eraldo Giunchi (Cinessino); P: Cines. 35 mm. 120 m. 5’49'' a 18 fps. Tinted. Didascalie italiane. From: CSC-Cineteca Nazionale. - AA: Comedy. On child soldiers (!). "Is this the way to Benghazi?" Tasteless, perhaps.

Germinal (1913) (2011 restoration at la Cinémathèque française)

Searching for Colour in Films: Capellani 3: Decoding the Colours of Germinal (1913) (restored at la Cinémathèque française in 2011) / Alla ricerca del colore dei film: Capellani 3: I colori ritrovati di Germinal (1913)

Catalogue: "The elements of Capellani films in the holdings of the Cinémathèque française seem to be part of a collection deposited by Pathé in 1951. It contains negatives of more than twenty films by the director, including Germinal and Quatre-vingt-treize. While the negative is certainly the best element to have for the purposes of restoration, it does not make it any easier to get a complete version."

"In the 1910s, negatives were organised so that they could be printed in small sections, preceded by a strip of leader containing the information that would be needed for editing and for the application of colour. These colour indications were, in the case of the Pathé films, coded (with numbers and letters). For a long while it was impossible to reproduce the colours of films for which only the negative survived."

"However, in 2007 new information came to light, in a notebook that had belonged to Marcel Mayer, director of the Pathé works at Joinville, and was preserved in the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé. It allowed us to interpret the codes and we are now in a position to re-introduce the colours that were originally intended. Germinal boasts nine different tintings."

"The Courrier Cinématographique of 17 May 1913 published a report on the shooting of the film, which tells us that “the distinguished artistic director of S.C.A.G.L. is surrounded by forty or so miners, coal hauliers and pit boys and assisted by two cameramen.” This practice was normal at Pathé: they often used two cameras. Two negatives could be made, the first with the best shots, for the domestic market, and a second, for export, consisting of the less good shots. In the case of Germinal, we also hold the second negative, which is shorter."

"Germinal is one of the great films of 1913 and was, unusually, projected alone at the opening of the 1913-1914 season on 3 October, 1913." Camille Blot-Wellens.

FR 1913. D: Albert Capellani. Based on the novel by Émile Zola (1885); SC: Albert Capellani; DP: Louis Forestier, Pierre Trimbach; Cast: Henry Krauss (Lantier). Sylvie (Catherine), Jean Jacquinet (Chaval), Dharsay (Souvarine), Mévisto (Maheu), Albert Bras (Hennebeau), Jeanne Cheirel (la Maheude), Paul Escoffier (Négrel), Cécile Guyon (Cécile Hennebeau), Marc Gérard (Bonnemort); P: S.C.A.G.L. (Pathé No. 6224). 35 mm. 3017. 147’ a 18 fps. Tinted. Intertitres français. From: La Cinémathèque française. Restored in 2011. Wednesday, 29 June 2011, 14.30 at Cinema Jolly (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Accompagnamento alla fisarmonica di Marc Perrone. Presentano Sophie Seydoux (Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé), Camille Blot-Wellens (La Cinémathèque française), e Mariann Lewinsky.

AA: I sampled this screening to get an impression of the new beautiful restoration, which reproduces the tinting of the film. Colour certainly adds to the film which has been available in a beautiful black and white La Cinémathèque française restoration by Renée Lichtig (see my comment 1997).

Albert Capellani: Programme 4: Camille and Other Traviate

Albert Capellani: Programma 4: Camille e altre Traviate. Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 11.15, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian and English. Grand piano: Mie Yanashita.

Catalogue: "After his first film, Le Chemineau, made in 1905, Capellani made a series of realistic dramas of outstanding quality. How can we account for this? Was it his talent, his theatre experience? Did he have a concept about cinema? Is it the mise en scene that makes all the difference? How much did Heuzé’s scripts contribute? And Ferdinand Zecca’s production skills, and the work of the unnamed camera operators? Certainly films such as L’Age du cœur and Les deux sœurs (1907) are clearly recognisable as Capellani works. In Les Deux sœurs, in the scene where the two sisters are reunited and they travel across Paris, Capellani and his camera team capture the atmospheric, photogenic essence of the city; a moment of timeless immediacy in the compressed plotting of the short film."

"Drama does not have a wide choice of possible endings: marriage, madness or death. But who actually dies of a broken heart? In our programme, on one occasion it is the deceived husband, once the abandoned mother and, in Camille, the traviata herself. The film is a miracle of textile art direction; Dumas’s story is widely known, thanks to Verdi’s musical version, while star actress Clara Kimball Young no longer is." (ML)

Capellani and the stars: Clara Kimball Young (I)

"Can it really be true, as Paxton Hibben claimed in 1925, that a cinema in Moscow was entirely devoted to Clara Kimball Young? In later years, Young (1890 - 1960) was remembered as the first actress to have her own production company (“I was the first star to finance her own production outfit” she asserted in 1956), and the first to see her name in lights on Broadway. The first claim is certainly not true – Helen Gardner, Marion Leonard, Gene Gauntier and others came before – and the second is questionable, though the giant sign at the corner of Broadway and 46th Street was considered newsworthy in 1916. Whatever the accuracy of these statements, Young’s fame is more than a mere footnote to film history: apart from her enormous popularity throughout the mid-to-late-teens, the Clara Kimball Young Film Corporation, guided by Lewis J. Selznick, helped to deliver the death blow to block program bookings and inspired a host of other actresses to form their own companies."

"The lack of serious scholarship on Young, despite the fair number of films that survive (alas, few from her crucial period between 1916 and 1918, and only two of the six directed by Albert Capellani), is bound up with the paucity of research on the figure of the American film diva of the teens. The recent explosion of studies surrounding Francesca Bertini, Lyda Borelli, Asta Nielsen, and other European divas of the era has woefully bypassed their American counterparts. It’s not for a lack of candidates: Ethel Barrymore, Pauline Frederick, Marie Doro, Olga Petrova, Elsie Ferguson, Alice Brady fit the concept. That they all became stars first on stage and then moved to the screen is surely no coincidence – the legitimacy of the theatre guaranteeing a gravitas for Americans that Europeans didn’t feel constituted a required pedigree. Young, “the quintessence of refinement,” and Norma Talmadge, are the exceptions to this rule, as neither were stars on stage before their screen celebrity, and both alternated, at the start of their careers, between comedy and drama before becoming fixed in the public mind as examples, par excellence, of the sophisticated diva."

"Soon after World Film Corporation’s William A. Brady and Lewis J. Selznick poached Young from Vitagraph, they set out to refine her star image, choosing the high-profile vehicle Trilby (1915) and pairing Young with prestige director Maurice Tourneur. Three months later they selected Capellani as her director on Camille (1915) in an obvious move to settle an aura of continental sophistication on their star; shortly before Camille’s release, Photoplay declared Young “a veritable Bernhardt of the screen.”" Jay Weissberg.

L’AGE DU CŒUR. FR 1906 D: Albert Capellani. SC: André Heuzé. P: Pathé. 35 mm. 85 m. 5’ a 16 fps. Col. Intertitres français. From: Gaumont Pathé Archives. - AA: Tragedy. Father, son, mistress. Vignette: suicide. A fine print.

LES DEUX SOEURS. FR 1907. D: Albert Capellani. P: Pathé. 35 mm. 195 m. 9’ a 18 fps. Col. Intertitres français. From: CNC-Archives Françaises du Film. - AA: Drama. The daughter's letter to the mother is a fatal missive. Retour à devoir. La rencontre des deux sœurs. The one's beau flirts with the other. Loses both.

CAMILLE. US 1915. D: Albert Capellani. Based on the novel La Dame aux camélias (1848) by Alexandre Dumas (figlio); SC: Frances Marion; Cast: Clara Kimball Young (Camille), Paul Capellani (Armand Duval), Lillian Cook (Cecile), Robert Cummings (Monsieur Duval), Dan Baker (Joseph), Stanhope Wheatcroft (Robert Bousac), Frederick Truesdell (Conte di Varville), William Jefferson (Gaston), Edward Kimball (il Dottore), Louise Ducey (Madame Prudence), Beryl Morhange (Nanine); P: Shubert Film Corporation; Pri. pro.: 27 dicembre 1915. 35 mm. 1400 m. 70’ a 20 fps. B&w / col. Czech intertitles. From: Národní Filmový Archiv. - AA: Tragedy. There is a low intensity in this assured interpretation of the famous story. The early cinema style (long shots, long takes) is combined with pans.

Alice Guy: Programme 4: The Best of Solax

Alice Guy: Programma 4: Il meglio della Solax. Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 10.00, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian. Grand piano: Maud Nelissen. Presenta Kim Tomadjoglou.

Catalogue: "At Gaumont, Guy worked with and trained a network of artists, including director Louis Feuillade, Henri Menessieur, set designer for Guy’s Passion, and cameraman Anatole Thiberville. Both Menessieur (who later worked with French directors Capellani and Jasset), and Thiberville followed Guy to the U.S. to work at Solax. Under Guy’s management, the company produced a range of genres, from comedy, to drama, mystery and crime, as well as westerns."

"Menessieur’s expressive range (his father was a theatrical set designer) is displayed in the ominous interiors of The Sewer (1913), for which trenches were dug around Solax’s Flushing studios and then inhabited with trained rats, and in the airy and atmospheric exterior garden shots of Falling Leaves (1912), where a young girl ties leaves to tree branches with the hope of preventing her older sister from dying before the last leaf falls."

"Mixed Pets (1911), an early short comedy made within a year of the establishment of Solax, is about misunderstandings that arise when a newlywed refuses to buy his new wife a dog, and the couples’ domestic help conceal the fact they are married with a baby. One of the earliest surviving Solax films, it allows us to observe how stylistic devices such as close-ups and diegetic inserts (newspaper advertisements) function somewhat simplistically as key narrative components for telling a simple story that touches on controversial class and gender relationships within the domestic sphere."

"In the fall of 1911, Guy returned with husband Herbert Blaché from a trip through Europe and reorganized Solax with the goal of specializing in comedies. The improvement and increased attention to production values (lighting, camerawork, staging, set design) are evident in Guy’s single-reel 1911 films and the feature The Sewer, when compared to Mixed Pets, where a shift in focal length evident in interior scenes results in a blurry or slightly out of focus image, offer evidence of changing production values and technique during cinema’s transitional period."

"The films of this program are screened from blu-ray. Restoration by Dayton Digital Film Works, Dayton Ohio, Funding from American Express and New York Women in film and Television."

[this I missed: MIXED PETS. US 1911. D: Alice Guy Blaché. Cast: Blanche Cornwall; P: Solax. Blu-ray. 13’ a 16 fps. B&w, tinted. English intertitles. From: Library of Congress.]

[this I missed: FALLING LEAVES. US 1912. D: Alice Guy Blaché. PD: Henri Menessier; Cast: Marion Swayne, Magda Foy, Mace Greenleaf, Blanche Cornwall, Darwin Karr, Lee Beggs; P: Solax. Blu-ray. 13’ a 16 fps. B&w, tinted. English intertitles. From: Library of Congress.]

THE SEWER. US 1912. D: Edward Warren. SC+PD: Henri Menessier; Cast: Darwin Karr, Magda Foy, Lee Beggs; P: Alice Guy, Solax. Blu-ray. 23’ a 16 fps. B&w Tinted. English intertitles. From: Library of Congress. - AA: A drama. There is a powerful atmosphere in the sewer drama. The child gives the man a blade. There is a battle against rats. The ascent from the sewer hole to the street. A blu-ray presentation of a 2010 reconstruction from battered sources, with rainy scratches, nitrate or water damage marks and missing footage replaced with stills. *

GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN. US 1911. D: Alice Guy Blaché. Cast: Vinnie Burns, Romaine Fielding; P: Solax. Blu-ray. 13’ a 16 fps. B&w, tinted. English intertitles. From: Library of Congress. - AA: A Western. A drama of rivals. Jake overhears a plot to kill Harry, and the noble rival does the right thing. Uncle Sam gets on the spot: the cavalry to the rescue. Primitive syntax.

Twentieth Century

Primadonna / Ventesimo secolo. US © 1934 Columbia Pictures Corporation. P+D: Howard Hawks. Based on the play (1932) di Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, adapted from Napoleon on Broadway di Charles Bruce Milholland; SC: Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur; DP: Joseph H. August, Joseph Walker; ED: Gene Havlick; S: Edward Bernds; Ass. D: Charles C. Coleman; Cast: John Barrymore (Oscar Jaffe), Carole Lombard (Mildred Plotka alias Lily Garland), Walter Connolly (Oliver Webb), Roscoe Karns (Owen O’Malley), Ralph Forbes (George Smith), Dale Fuller (Sadie), Etienne Girardot (Matthew G. Clark), Herman Bing (primo attore barbuto), Lee Kohlmar (secondo attore barbuto), James P. Burtis (controllore del treno), Billie Seward (Anita), Charles Levison (Max Jacobs), Mary Jo Mathews (Emmy Lou), Edgard Kennedy (McGonigle), Gigi Parrish (Schultz), Fred Kelsey (detective); Pri. pro.: 3 maggio 1934. 35 mm. 91’. B&w. English version. From: Sony Columbia. Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 9.00, Cinema Arlecchino (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato).

Catalogue: "The birth of screwball. Pauline Kael actually defined it as “a hardboiled farce”, and Twentieth Century has a hard heart, a mocking spirit and a cynical contempt for romanticism. It appears to be a film about theater, a consolidated sub-genre of the times, but it is really a movie about theatricality as gift, vice or curse, not interpreted by chance by John Barrymore, who was the quintessential example of it on stage and on the screen. Twentieth Century was a comedy by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, written and performed in 1932; they “drew their inspiration for the main character from the three giants of Broadway: Jed Harris, Morris Gest and David Belasco” (Barbara Grespi), and it was their greatest success after The Front Page. The same writers adapted it for film, breaking up the settings. As a play it began on the train, on film Oscar and Lily meet, fall in love and break up in a long prologue between the theater and hotel rooms, which Hawks used to liven up the characters and radicalize the relationship: John Barrymore is a seductive impresario and braggart, who looks like he has seen both the sacred fire and an alcoholic coma, while Carole Lombard is a country girl shaped by a despotic Pygmalion who takes off for Hollywood – an a-star-is-born variant with unforgiving derision of all sentimentality. Barrymore has to get Lombard back, and their histrionic war is fought on the Twentieth Century Limited, a train as luxurious as a grand hotel and sparkling with modernity. Twentieth Century received a lukewarm reception from critics and audiences (which in the Depression of 1934 decidedly preferred the heartening populism of It Happened One Night) but later was given masterpiece status by Andrew Sarris, who in the 1960s defined it as a foundational work arguing that it was the first comedy in which comic weight was pulled not by character actors but by the leading of the romance. In Italy, Pietro Bianchi was the first to re-evaluate the film." Paola Cristalli.

AA: The legendary comedy revisited. The Columbia comedies Twentieth Century and  It Happened One Night (both 1934) were pathbreakers of screwball. Oscar the Broadway director is a Svengali-like character who makes a big star of the lingerie model Lily, and they score big successes together, but Lily escapes Oscar's tyranny to Hollywood. Lily's success grows, but Oscar only has flops. They meet by chance on the Twentieth Century luxury train, and Oscar stages his ultimate coup de théâtre to win Lily back. - I have always had trouble with this film, and although I wanted again very much to like it, the trouble remained. Oscar Jaffe is meant to be ridiculously theatrical, but John Barrymore overdoes it. Barrymore may have been a fantastic actor in live theatre, but he never learned to project quietly in a movie. He sets the tone, and there is too much shouting. Carole Lombard tunes into the John Barrymore wavelength, and the result is a bit too much shrill screaming. - The screenplay is witty, and a little less frenetic interpretation would have been great. - Another fine Sony Columbia print.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Herrat pitävät vaaleaverisistä / Gli uomini preferiscono le bionde. US © 1953 Twentieth Century-Fox. D: Howard Hawks. Based on a musical comedy by Joseph Fields and Anita Loos and the novel by Anita Loos; SC: Charles Lederer; DP: Harry J. Wild; ED: Hugh S. Fowler; PD: Lyle R. Wheeler, Joseph C. Wright, Claude E. Carpenter; Cost: Charles Le Maire, Travilla; FX: Ray Kellogg; M: Leigh Harline (non accred.), Lionel Newman (non accred.), Hal Schaefer (non accred.), Herbert W. Spencer (non accred.); S: Roger Heman Sr., E. Clayton Ward; Ass. D: Paul Helmick, Don Torpin; Cast: Marilyn Monroe (Lorelei Lee), Jane Russell (Dorothy Shaw), Charles Coburn (Sir Francis “Piggy” Beekman), Elliott Reid (Ernie Malone), Tommy Noonan (Gus Edmond Jr.), George Winslow (Henry Spofford III), Marcel Dalio (il magistrato), Taylor Holmes (Esmond Sr.), Norma Varden (Lady Beekman), Howard Wendell (Watson), Steven Geray (direttore dell’hotel), Harry Carey Jr. (Winslow), Harry Letondal (Grotier), Leo Mostovoy (Philippe); P: Sol C. Siegel. Pri. pro.: 1 luglio 1953. 35 mm. 91’. Col. English version. From: Twentieth Century Fox. Tuesday, 28 June 2011 at 22.00, Piazza Maggiore (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Presenta Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Precedono due cortometraggi accompagnati alla fisarmonica da Marc Perrone [wheelchair bound]:
LES BORDS DE LA TAMISE D'OXFORD À WINDSOR (Sul Tamigi, FR 1914). 6'. Did. italiane. - AA: Beautiful.
LE DUE INNAMORATE DI CRETINETTI. [Title on the print: (De Vereening van Gribouille)]. (IT 1911). 9'. Did. olandesi. - AA: Funny (repeated from the Cento anni fa shows).

Catalogue: "In other movies, you have two men who go out looking for pretty girls to have fun with. We pulled a switch by taking two girls who went out looking for men to amuse them: a perfectly modern story. It delighted me. It was funny. The two girls, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe, were so good together that any time I had trouble figuring out business, I simply had them walk back and forth, and the audiences adored it. I had a staircase built so that they could go up and down, and since they are all well built… This type of movie lets you sleep at night without a care in the world; five or six weeks were all we needed to shoot the musical numbers, the dances and the rest." Howard Hawks, from Entretien avec Howard Hawks, by Jacques Becker, Jacques Rivette and François Truffaut, “Cahiers du Cinéma”, n. 56, February 1956.

"The second and last musical comedy by Hawks after A Song Is Born. Some of the film’s stylistic elements are part of the aesthetic of the American style animation film. To note especially is the marked caricaturization in the plot’s adventures, the gestures, tones, desires and behavior of the characters. As far as rhythm is concerned, it is calm and sober like in most films by Hawks, whatever genre they may be. Hawks is not the only American director with comedies influenced by animation. (…) In comedy – and the musical comedy here to Hawks is a comedy enlivened by constant intervals in which characters comment on their desires and obsessions with more than a little detachment – Hawks saw the opportunity to satirize some of the most mechanical and widespread tics and defects of society. They are lined up like in a drawer. Dorothy’s subdued nymphomania and Lorelei’s rationalized greed do not create conflict between the two friends because as the true maniacs that they are they are exclusively interested in one specific thing and absolutely ignore everything else. Like butterflies in a painting, Hawks transfixes on the screen the monstrosity of each one with luminous clarity and simplicity. The curt Hawksian tone is just as alien to expressing contempt as it is to expressing compassion and connivance towards the characters. This curtness, which to Hawks is the search for the right distance for stigmatizing a mania, an obsession or a vice without being indignant or dirtying its prey, has never been more classic, serene and expressive than in this film. And he never demanded more art and talent from his actors." Jacques Lourcelles, Dictionnaire du cinéma. Les films, Laffont, Paris 1992.

AA: Jonathan Rosenbaum gave the best introduction during the Festival, short and to the point. (Synopsis): He commented on the contradiction of the artificial and the documentary aspects of the performances. The film is based on the Marilyn Monroe / Jane Russell relationship. Jane Russell still got top billing, and she regarded it the favourite movie in her career. It is a broad satire of U.S. prosperity, almost like an animated cartoon. Lorelei is unreal, Dorothy is real. Lorelei is very intelligent and very stupid at the same time, which is possible only in a performance of an actor. Please notice the way they look at each other in the beginning and in the end. (End of synopsis).

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is my favourite Marilyn Monroe film, and this Piazza Maggiore screening was for me the best ever Marilyn Monroe experience. The punchlines worked like in a dream, and the audience was living the film. When a comedy works, it is the best possible cinema experience. The piazza was full, and people were sitting on the warm stones where there were no chairs.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a farce, the characters are caricatures, and the structure is stark and simple. It is a perfect Piazza film. Yet, like in a Charles Chaplin film, there is more beyond the strong outline. Lorelei Lee is a cartoon figure like Jonathan Rosenbaum said. She is as interesting and complex as Donald Duck.

Howard Hawks the capitalist laughs at capitalists. Marilyn and Jane the sex bombs laugh at sex bombs. The surprising thing is the tenderness and warmth just below the surface. And the camaraderie, the highest value in the Howard Hawks universe. There is a difference between the Hawks comedies of the 1930s and of the 1950s. Hawks in the 1930s is thoroughly cynical. In the 1950s his cynicism is on the surface only.

The last time I saw Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was in our 2006 Marilyn Monroe retrospective, and we screened a brilliant Twentieth Century Fox studio print which in my understanding was all photochemical. The print screened now was also a 35 mm Twentieth Century Fox studio print and the bright, bold colour looked right, but I also felt a digital video look / or a look that comes from one generation of duplication too many. Or maybe the Piazza circumstances are impossible for assessing the visual quality of a print. I watched the first 40 minutes or so of the film at close range, from the middle distance and from far away. I wanted to sample the screening just for 15 minutes, but the audience reaction was so mesmerizing and the film so captivating that it was hard to leave.

A Hundred Years Ago: Programme 5: Gaumont Palace, "The Biggest Cinema in the World"

Cento anni fa: Programma 5: Gaumont Palace, "il più grande cinema del mondo". Programme and notes by Agnès Bertola, Pierre Philippe. Tuesday 28 June 2011 at 17.45, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian and English. Grand piano: Gabriel Thibaudeau. Presenta Martine Offroy.

Catalogue: "In 1911, Léon Gaumont bought the immense hippodrome on Place de Clichy, so as to give his company the showcase it needed at this period, when competition with the Pathé brothers was at its height. Up to then this venue had only housed massive spectaculars, including a celebrated Vercingétorix, which featured a Roman chariot race master-minded by Victorin Jasset (whom Gaumont had already employed as assistant director to Alice Guy on La Vie du Christ). The auditorium was rapidly furnished with a screen appropriate to its size, over a thousand seats and all the advantages offered by entertainment venues at the time: comfortable seating, a vast promenade area with small shops, bars and, in front of the (backprojection) screen, an orchestra of 40 players, conducted by Paul Fosse. The organ would arrive later, but right from the beginning variety acts formed a major part of the programme of this complex – which was already calling itself “the biggest cinema in the world”."

"The variety acts alternated with the short and medium-length films that the studio – or théâtre de poses – in the Buttes Chaumont park was turning out at speed, just to feed the voracious appetite that was the Gaumont Palace – besieged as it now was by crowds seduced by its ostentatious luxury and the variety of its attractions. On screen were the whole range of what this company with the daisy trade-mark considered the very essence of the new art: humanitarian dramas and anarchic farces, testimony to what this new technology allowed ordinary people to enjoy at first hand: popular singers filmed as if they were present in the flesh (the Phonoscènes), and the documentaries and current affairs that this period considered to be the school of the future. Not to mention the live interludes with performances of the most beautiful parts of works currently playing at opera houses."

"Later still it would offer the wonders of cinema in natural colour, Gaumontcolor’s famous “trichromic” system: its high point, in 1919, would be the triumphant La Revue, an exclusive report on the 1918 victory parade."

"Thus, from the very beginning, the legend of this mythical venue grew, until, alas, it was destroyed in 1972, its place taken by a depressing hotel and shopping complex. But in its time the Gaumont Palace did indeed become “the biggest cinema in the world”, with 6,000 seats, its look entirely revamped in 1930, its multi-purpose screen and its variety acts by then ever more sophisticated. Most of the films in the programme “An Evening at the Gaumont Palace” date from 1911, the year this liner set off on its dream cruise. We hope they will bring you too on board, for a grand voyage in images." Pierre Philippe

L’ECOLE DES PUPILLES DE LA MARINE. FR 1911. P: Gaumont (No. 5290). 35 mm. 155 m. 7’ a 18 fps. B&w. No intertitles. From: Gaumont Pathé Archives. - AA: Non-fiction. The students march and perform gymnastics. Ok print.

LES CHALANDS. FR 1911. D: Georges-André Lacroix. P: Gaumont (No. 3549). 35 mm. 260 m. 12’ a 18 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: Gaumont Pathé Archives. - AA: Non-fiction. Another contribution to the French barge genre (Antoine, Renoir, Grémillon, Vigo...), wonderful plein air cinematography. A beautiful 1993 print.

ANNA, QU’EST-CE QUE T’ATTENDS? FR 1911. Fonoscena; Testo: Alexandre Trébitsch, Henri Christiné; M: Clarence W. Murphy, Harry Fragson; P: Gaumont (No. 760). 35 mm. 64 m. 3’. B&w. From: Gaumont Pathé Archives. - AA: A phonoscene: a filmed song. The family goes out on a picnic. Funny, humoristic, the audience was laughing. A fine print does justice to the beautiful cinematography.

LA MUSICOMANIE. FR 1911. D: Emile Cohl. P: Gaumont (No. 3235). 35 mm. 110 m. 5’ a 18 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: Gaumont Pathé Archives. - AA: Animation / live action. Metamorphoses on the basis of a simple drawing. Nice.

BÉBÉ EST NEURASTHÉNIQUE / [{The title on the print:} Fritsje et nit zoo dom]. FR 1911. D: Louis Feuillade. Cast: Clément Mary (Bébé), Paul Manson (il padre), René Carl (la madre), Jeanne Saint-Bonnet (la balia); P: Gaumont (No. 3634). 35 mm. 215 m. 10’30'' a 18 fps. B&w. Nederlandse tussentitels. From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. - AA: A comedy. Fritsje has hypochondria and loses his joy of life. A nice film and a good print.

QUESTIONS INDISCRÈTES. FR ca. 1905. D: Alice Guy. Fonoscena; Cast: Félix Mayol; P: Gaumont (No. 154). 35 mm. 100 m. 3’. B&w. From: Gaumont Pathé Archives. - AA: A phonoscene (a filmed song) starring Félix Mayol. A nice film, I wish I could have understood the lyrics better.

L’INTRUSE. FR 1911. Cast: Clément e Alphonsine Mary; P: Gaumont (No. 3503) 16 mm. 113 m. 13’30'' a 18 fps. B&w. From: Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek. - AA: A beautiful print (but duped / digimastered?).

ATTUALITÀ GAUMONT / NEWSREEL GAUMONT. FR 1911. Selezione di 7 estratti dai cinegiornali Gaumont:
- France. Départ du paquebot France pour New York
- Paris. Manifestations du 1er mai
- Les Londoniens donnent à manger aux mouettes sur les bords de la Tamise
- Moscou. Bénédiction des eaux de la Moskova
- Chamonix. Sports d’hiver
- Milan. La Foire la plus ancienne
- France, mode. Présentation de manteaux et robes du soir dans un salon
35 mm. 4’. B&w. From: Gaumont Pathé Archives.

NON, TU NE SORTIRAS PAS SANS MOI. FR 1911. D: Jean Durand. P: Gaumont (No. 3695). 35 mm. 140 m. 7’ a 18 fps. B&w. Intertitres français. From: Gaumont Pathé Archives. - AA: A comedy. A catastrophe comedy, a family comedy. The hyperbolic principle is followed with a wonderful dream logic. Wild, crazy, funny.

Only Angels Have Wings

- only Angels Have Wings [the way the title appears on the print] / Vain enkeleillä on siivet / Eroi senza gloria / Gli avventurieri dell’aria. US © 1939 Columbia Pictures. D: Howard Hawks. SC: Howard Hawks, Jules Furthman, Howard Hawks (non accred.), William Rankin (non accred.), Eleanore Griffin (non accred.); DP: Joseph Walker; ED: Viola Lawrence; PD: Lionel Banks; Co.: Robert Kalloch; Eff. spec.: Roy Davidson; Op.: Elmer Dyer; M: Dimitri Tiomkin; Cast: Cary Grant (Jeff Carter), Jean Arthur (Bonnie Lee), Richard Barthelmess (Kilgallon alias Bat MacPherson), Rita Hayworth (Judy MacPherson), Thomas Mitchell (Kid Dabb), Noah Beery Jr. (Joe Souther), Allyn Joslyn (Les Peters), Sig Ruman (Dutchy), Victor Kilian (Sparks), John Carroll (Gent Shelton), Donald “Red” Barry (Tex Gordon), Melissa Sierra (Lily), Lucio Villegas (dr. Lagorio), Pat Flaherty (Mike), Pedro Regas (Pancho), Pat West (Baldy), Forbes Murray; P: Howard Hawks; Pri. pro.: 25 maggio 1939. 35 mm. 121’. B&w. English version. From: Sony Columbia. Tuesday, 28 June 2011 at 14.30, Cinema Arlecchino (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato).

Catalogue: "Only Angels Have Wings is the first Hawks film in which the visual concept is completely unrealistic. More so than in Barbary Coast, the sets and the lights are set off by a stylization and dramatic effect that accentuate the use of mist and the succinct signs of an artificial exoticism. The clever use of model airplanes reinforces this artificial appearance. This panoply does not hinder the viewer’s enjoyment. It creates an architecture that, like a comic, hints at an underlying imaginary structure and reveals truth. This choice of representation reminds us how much Hawks abhors naturalism. If he tends towards a documentary quality, he does so to better avoid mimicking reality. Nature is hostile in his films both thematically and conceptually. And that he can create human beings does not soften his opinion. He believes it would generate characters who are too weak: the suicidal “heroes” of The Road to Glory, the professor in Bringing Up Baby, Johnny Lovo in Scarface and, in Only Angels Have Wings, the funeral speech for the dead pilot is summed up in these words: “He wasn’t strong enough.” Nature can also create sick tyrants and psychopaths: Tony Camonte in Scarface, Pancho Villa in Viva Villa, Chamalis in Barbary Coast and, in a different way, Barney in Come and Get It. These characters can never communicate directly with nature. They need accessories produced by civilization to deal with an enterprise of this kind. They need mechanical objects: cars, airplanes, ships, machine guns. Used like prostheses, they replace what nature did not give them or took away, like the hook of the character in Tiger Shark." (Noël Simsolo: Howard Hawks, Edilig, Paris, 1984.

AA: Revisited the first fully Hawksian film, with Jules Furthman's contribution essential, the first of the core Hawks-Furthman trio (Only Angels Have Wings, To Have and Have Not, Rio Bravo). I have usually been seeing a low contrast print of this film. Now for the first time I saw a brilliant print on screen. Another great achievement from Sony Columbia.

Wind Across the Everglades

Suolla tuulee / Il paradiso dei barbari. US © 1958 Schulberg Productions. D: Nicholas Ray. SC: Budd Schulberg; Dialogue: Sumner Williams; DP: Joseph C. Brun; ED: Georges Klotz, Joseph Zigman; PD: Richard Sylbert; Co.: Frank L. Thompson; Op.: Saul Midwall; M: Paul Sawtell, Bert Schefter; S: Ernest Zatorsky; Ass. D: Charles H. Maguire; Cast: Burl Ives (Cottonmouth), Christopher Plummer (Walt Murdock), Chana Eden (Naomi), Gypsy Rose Lee (Sig.ra Bradford), Tony Galento (Beef), Sammy Renick (Loser), Pat Henning (Sawdust), Peter Falk (lo scrittore), Coly Osceola (Billy), Emmet Kelly (Bob), MacKinlay Kantor (il giudice Harris), Totch Brown, George Voskovec (Aaron Nathanson), Curt Conway, Sumner Williams (Windy), Howard Smith (George Leggett); P: Stuart Schulberg per Schulberg Productions; Pri. pro.: 20 agosto 1958 (New York). 35 mm. 93’. Col. English version. From: Cinémathèque Suisse per concessione di Hollywood Classics. German / French subtitles on the print. E-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti. Tuesday, 28 June 2011 at 11.15, Cinema Jolly (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Presenta Bernard Eisenschitz.

Catalogue: "The final cut “reduced the running time from an initially impractical three hours to a little more than half that length. The result, as Ray recognised, is a movie whose narrative continuity is often creaky. None the less, though in later years both director and writer tended to dismiss their collaboration as almost wholly disastrous, the film remains a remarkable achievement, years ahead of its time and, notwithstanding all the various problems in making it, a key work in the stylistic and thematic development of Ray’s oeuvre. For one thing, it brings into the foreground his interest in ethnography and folk-culture (and consequently in ecological and conservation issues), which had already manifested itself to a lesser degree in earlier works such as The Lusty Men, Run for Cover, Hot Blood and The True Story of Jesse James, and which would reach its apogee in The Savage Innocents. For another, it also foreshadows The Savage Innocents, We Can’t Go Home Again and Lightining Over Water in the sense that, into an essentially narrative format, Ray introduces sequences that are resonant less of fiction than of documentary. Indeed, the film is perhaps Ray’s most bizarre hybrid; where several of his earlier movies function partly as generic concoctions (the thriller mixed with the love story, film noir with the social-conscience drama, and so on), Wind Across the Everglades not only mixes traditional Western motifs with costume melodrama and ecological pleading, but contrives to bring together poetry, metaphysics and violent action in a stylistic format that is partly mainstream Hollywood storytelling, partly art-movie and partly semi-documentary historical reconstruction. At the same time, for all that Ray and Schulberg failed to see eye to eye, the film is characteristically ‘Ray’ in terms of its protagonists and their rivalry, and in the way they are related to the environment in which they live. In fact, while its setting is in extreme contrast to the desert of Bitter Victory, the basic situation it depicts is remarkably similar to that in the previous film, and indeed, much of Ray’s earlier work. Since the film’s narrative structure is very like that of a traditional Western – a stranger enters a town on the brink of becoming ‘civilised’, and takes on, almost alone, a murderous band of poachers (rustlers in Westerns) living out in the wilderness – it is easy at first to regard Murdoch as the hero and Cottonmouth as the villain. As the film proceeds, however, Ray blurs the lines that mark their characters so that, as with Leith and Brand [in Bitter Victory], both their differences and their similarities are stressed. Both are outsiders and rebels." Geoff Andrew, Wind Across the Everglades, in The Films of Nicholas Ray. The Poet of Nightfall, BFI, London 2004.

AA: A rare chance to see Wind Across the Everglades in authentic Technicolor, which conveys the raw, juicy sense of Florida wildlife. This screening became also a memorial to Peter Falk (1927-2011) whose first cinema film performance was in Wind Across the Everglades.

Alice Guy: Programme 3: The Social Drama. Issues of Gender, Ethnicity, Race, and Class

Alice Guy: Programma 3: Il dramma sociale. Questioni di genere, etnia, razza ei classe. Tuesday, 28 June 2011 at 10.00, Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian and English. Grand piano: Günter Buchwald. Presenta Kim Tomadjoglou.

Catalogue: "Guy’s Solax films closely followed current events by situating contemporary social issues at the center of dramatic stories. For a growing, diverse immigrant and mixed racial population, issues of gender, class, ethnicity, race, and morality were often presented in order to invoke traditional family values and to educate spectators through the process of assimilation. Often these stories centered on character flaws of male protagonists who ventured off the righteous path by engaging in activities such as drinking, card playing, and gambling, thereby sacrificing family duty and loyalty in return for personal gratification and pleasure. In almost all of these situations, the family unit, and particularly the “right woman”, be it mother, wife, daughter or “girl in the armchair,” serve as the source of salvation."

"A Fool and His Money, the earliest known film with an all African-American cast, features vaudevillian “Cake-Walk King” and minstrel player, James Russell, as negro laborer Sam Jones. Sam is smitten with the fairer-skinned “coquettish ebony beauty” Lindy Williams, of a more prosperous class. Lindy ignores Sam until he finds a lost wallet filled with cash and then transforms himself into a gentleman of material wealth. But Sam’s temporary flirtation with the upper class is short-lived, after he loses all of his money, and ultimately Lindy, gambling at cards."

THE GIRL IN THE ARMCHAIR. US 1912. D: Alice Guy Blaché. Cast: Blanche Cornwall, Darwin Karr, Lee Beggs; P: Solax. 35 mm. 393 m. ca. 12’ a 18 fps. B&w / tinted. English intertitles. From: Academy Film Archive. - AA: Drama. With a woman as the hero. The man is a gambler who is in debt to a loan shark and steals money from his father's safe. Without him noticing there is a girl in the armchair who overhears everything. She covers up the debt. The man confesses. There is a reconciliation, and soon, wedding bells. The print is often fine.

A MAN’S A MAN. US 1912. D: Alice Guy Blaché. Cast: Lee Beggs; PD: Henri Menessier; P: Solax. 35 mm. 218 m. 10’ a 16 fps. B&w. English intertitles. From the collection of George Eastman House. - AA: Tragedy. On anti-semitism. Children harass a Jewish peddler, Mr. Strauss. Among the pranks of the children is that they frame Strauss' little daughter to fall under a car, but the girl really dies. The driver finds shelter at Mr. Strauss without realizing he is the father. "Money cannot bring back my child". "A man is a man, Jew or Gentile". There is a reunion at the girl's grave. [I may have misunderstood some of the plot.]. Print partly ok, partly from a damaged source, opening titles missing.

A FOOL AND HIS MONEY. US 1912. D: Alice Guy Blaché. Cast: James Russell (The Cake-Walk King); P: Solax. 35 mm. 273 m. 10’30'' a 18 fps. B&w / tinted. English intertitles. From: Library of Congress. - AA: A humoristic drama. All-black cast. Having found a lost wallet Sam starts to spend, dresses up like a dandy, buys a car, and rides to conquer Lindy. A new print from the original source.

THE STRIKE. US 1912. D: Alice Guy Blaché. Cast: Darwin Karr, Blanche Cornwall, Lee Beggs; P: Solax. 35 mm. 728 m. Col. ca. 12’ a 16 fps. B&w / tinted. English intertitles. From: BFI National Archive. - AA: A social drama. The story of a violent strike, stoning windows, planning to wreck the factory at midnight. An ok print with toning and tinting effects.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Il conformista (2011 digital restoration L'Immagine Ritrovata, Minerva RaroVideo, Paramount)

IT/FR/DE © 1971 Mars Film Produzioni. D+SC: Bernardo Bertolucci. Based on the novel (1951) by Alberto Moravia; DP: Vittorio Storaro; Op.: Enrico Umetelli; ED: Franco Arcalli; PD: Ferdinando Scarfiotti; Co.: Gitt Magrini; M: Georges Delerue; S: Massimo Dallimonti; Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant (Marcello Clerici), Stefania Sandrelli (Giulia), Gastone Moschin (Manganiello), Dominique Sanda (Anna Quadri), Enzo Tarascio (professor Quadri), Fosco Giachetti (il colonnello), José Quaglio (Italo Montanari), Pierre Clémenti (Pasqualino Semirama detto Lino), Yvonne Sanson (madre di Giulia), Milly (madre di Marcello), Giuseppe Addobbati (padre di Marcello), Christian Alegny (il fiduciario Raul), Benedetto Benedetti (il ministro), Alessandro Haber; P: Maurizio Lodi Fe’ e Giovanni Bertolucci per Mars Film (Roma), Marianne Productions (Parigi), Maran Film GmbH (Monaco); Pri. pro.: 22 ottobre 1971. DCP 2K. 118’. Col. Versione italiana. [English subtitles]. From: Cineteca di Bologna. Restauro digitale de L’Immagine Ritrovata in collaborazione con Minerva RaroVideo e Paramount. Monday, 27 June 2011 at 22.00 Piazza Maggiore (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Introduced by Gian Luca Farinelli. Alla presenza di Bernardo Bertolucci [wheelchair bound].

Catalogue: "[Strategia del ragno and Il conformista] share the theme of betrayal, a past that returns and the weight of the father figure, with the difference that in Il conformista the son, Trintignant, betrays Professor Quadri (the father figure), while in Strategia del ragno Athos the father is the traitor. Both, however, deal with parricide based on a past and a memory. In Il conformista the memory is of French and American film from the ‘30s, while Strategia del ragno was fed by real childhood memories (…)."

"I shot Il conformista leaving it open to the possibility of telling it chronologically, like the novel by Moravia. Right from the start I was fascinated by the possibility of using the car journey as the film’s “present”, a kind of vessel for the story. In other words, the main character travels in his memory as well. For this reason I shot a lot of material for Trintignant’s trip. With a great editor like Kim [Arcalli], bit by bit you can see the structure of the film materialize as it is created. A film’s structure is only outlined by the screenplay. It begins to exist and manifest itself during filming. But it is during the editing phase that it takes shape definitively." Bernardo Bertolucci, in Enzo Ungari, Scene madri di Bernardo Bertolucci, Ubulibri, Milan 1982."

"This is not the place to meticulously analyze how and to what extent young Bertolucci – between a freedom bordering on healthy insolence and trimming that was necessary – changed the figures and facts filling the four hundred pages of Moravia’s novel and reducing it to less than two hours. Suffice it to say that the eighty pages of the prologue (…) are turned into a short sequence, interspersed with hallucinatory, distorted visual effects, one of the dominant stylistic features of the film. (…)."

"Sex and fascism are the two extremes of Il conformista. Or, if one prefers, the pulp and the skin. Conformist Marcello thirsts for normality to cover his unspoken, feared sexual ab&wormality. He becomes a fascist because he sees in fascism a collective myth to which he can sacrifice his own disorder, what makes him different from the others, in a mirage of order. He kills for fascism under the illusion of redeeming a previous crime with a criminal but legalized action. It is evident that Marcello is a fascist by chance, in reality he is a conformist: his conformism is fascist, but it could be another kind in different historical circumstances. It would be easy to reduce the film Il conformista to being a film “about” the fascist, as a costume, neglecting its powerful criticism of a class and of a generation". Morando Morandini, Il conformista, in In viaggio con Bernardo." Il cinema di Bernardo Bertolucci, edited by Roberto Campari and Maurizio Schiaretti, Marsilio, Venice 1994.

AA: There was a warm welcome for Bernardo Bertolucci who came to introduce the restored version of his first big international production. I stayed to sample the beginning of this 2K DCP presentation at close range, from the middle distance, and from afar. I sensed a digital video look in the presentation, but in the Piazza Maggiore open air circumstances I cannot be positive about the quality of the image.

A Hundred Years Ago: Programme 4: 1911 - In the Mood for Moods: The Longer Feature Film

Cento anni fa: Programma 4: 1911 - Donne + sentimento = lungometraggio. Programme by Mariann Lewinsky e Giovanni Lasi. Monday 27 June 2011 at 17.15 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone commentary in Italian and English. Grand piano: Gabriel Thibaudeau. Presentano Mariann Lewinsky and Thomas Christensen.

Catalogue: "With 950 meters Calvario was the first feature length film produced by Pasquali, which advertised it expressly as a “modern passionate drama.” In fact, the film contains many elements of modernity that justify this promotional campaign. The drama of a virtuous woman (Lydia De Roberti) cheated on and abused by her husband (Ubaldo Maria Del Colle) is set in the frenetic, deceptive world of the modern city, implicitly identified as a place of depravity, the perfect stage for veteran gamblers, unrepentant adulterers and unscrupulous lovers. A cynical and depraved setting that the creators of Calvario shaped around the “sensational” films produced in Denmark, which were received enthusiastically by Italian audiences. Lydia De Roberti, with her intense acting sprinkled with melodramatic accents, takes the stage with great personality. The press did not fail to highlight the skill demonstrated by the actress in the film. The dramatization of gestures, the expression of the face, torment, suffering, the agony of the soul: a vocabulary dedicated to De Roberti’s performance that would become the norm a few years later in the reviews of film divas of which Calvario perhaps provides the first sneak preview." Giovanni Lasi

"In his 1911 review of the history of film production and of the «Ciné» since its beginnings around 1898, Victorin Jasset records that the first scènes sentimentales, such as La Loi du pardon (which can be seen in our Albert Capellani section this year) came out around 1906. “They were tremendously successful… they pointed the way.” Jasset goes on to talk about acting, which at that time was not of central importance: “We quickly – as quickly as possible – explained the early stages of the scene and then got on to the significant action. We could not waste time on trifles such as creating a role or conveying nuances.”"

"When we look at the longer films of 1911, they are not all long in the same way. Some have grown outwards and accommodate more action in the longer running time. This is the case in Jasset’s genre, the crime thriller. Others seem to have grown inwards: the net amount of action is no greater than in a short film, but the longer duration allows time for moods and emotions to develop, for glances and body language, for nuanced changes in facial expression, as the protagonists’ innermost feelings are conveyed to the visible surface. Ekspeditricen is a wonderful example of this new dimension of emotional atmospheres: we can see how audiences discovered a new kind of pleasure in the cinema."

"But in those days the reaction to longer entertainment features was mixed. The short film Ein Augenblick im Paradies is a real find, with vaudeville artistes really going for these longer films. In it, Lene Land parodies Nielsen in the 1911 film In dem grossen Augenblick, which had just been released, with an intertitle: «Tonbild: Der Schrei nach dem Kind» (Sound picture Cry for the Child). Another intertitle promises that the film will have a running time of an hour and a half, and in other ways too the intertitles are mocking. Audiences were not very enthusiastic either. Fritz Güttinger has collected the moans about how much better everything had been before into an anthology. When the (short) film dramas were superseded by the (long) features, people said, much of the fun went out of the cinema. It was not the same any more. It was no longer the pot-pourri–style, all-purpose programme that Georg Grosz was still lamenting in 1931. “How wonderful were these hours-long programmes… 20 items, nothing unusual, admission ten or twenty pfennigs… Strangely, I used to go the cinema far more often in the old days.” “The short film should not be the supporting programme but the programme itself… Cinema before the war was much more varied.” (Fritz Güttinger, Der Stummfilm im Zitat der Zeit, 1984, p 63)."

EIN AUGENBLICK IM PARADIES. DE 1911. D: Georg Schubert. Cast: Lene Land (Asta Nielsen), Robert Steidl (Max Linder), Saharet, Little Pich, The Five Lorrisons; P: Protoskop Film. 35 mm. 155 m. 7’ a 18 fps. B&w. Deutsche Zwischentitel. From: Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv. - AA: A comedy. A parody. A meta-film. Pretty coarse stuff about "Asta Nielsen" meeting "Max Linder". A fine print.

CALVARIO. IT 1911. D: Ubaldo Maria Del Colle. DP: Giovanni Vitrotti; Cast: Lydia De Roberti (Enrichetta Dupuis), Ubaldo Maria Del Colle (Conte Valery); P: Pasquali. 35 mm. L. or.: 950 m. 833 m. 40’ a 18 fps. B&w. Nederlandse tussentitels. From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. - AA: A romantic drama. - Fine visual quality in the print, the tinting is successful. The story starts as grand tragedy in an extremist dimension, realized with style and verve. Goodbye to the dream of happiness: Enrichetta has to give up her love and to accept an arranged marriage. In a striking shot, she sees from her window how her husband comes home in a car with another woman. In the peripeteia of the story E. is furious when her daughter finds the photograph of her husband's mistress. She tears the photograph to pieces, and her husband hits her with a whip on her face. E. attempts suicide by drowning, there is a divorce process, and the daughter is ordered to the father. When the father brings his new woman to their home the daughter cries inconsolably. The mother stalks her daughter in agony and desperation. The father is a gambler, exposed for fraud, and he shoots a bullet through his brain. A new happiness begins for the original lovers whom we meet in the epilogue with the first daughter and a new little baby daughter. - There are electrifying moments in Lydia De Roberti's performance. - Mariann Lewinsky asked whether Calvario might be the earliest true Italian diva film.

EKSPEDITRICEN / [{the title of the print:} In the Prime of Life] / [{a literal translation could be:} The Shop Girl]. DK 1911. D: August Blom. SC: Lau Lauritzen Sr.; Cast: Clara Wieth (Ebba [in this version: Sophy]), Carlo Wieth (Edgar), Thorkild Roose (padre di Edgar), Ella la Cour (madre di Edgar), [Zanny Petersen (Lily (in this version: Lilly)]; P: Nordisk. 35 mm. 971 m. 47’ a 18 fps. Col. English intertitles. From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland. - AA: A love tragedy. - A beautiful Lumière Project print from ca 1995 with beautiful toning and colour, a beautiful definition of light. - "The same old story". The love story of a shop girl and a rich man's son. They fall in love, but father says no, and even goes to the lengths of abducting the letters of the girl and his own son, sabotaging their tender love affair. The girl is pregnant, has their baby, abandoned by everyone. Edgar and Lilly receive the baby. - One of the earliest performances of Clara Wieth / Pontoppidan, whose career continued until 1972. - August Blom has a vivid and sober touch in this tender, tragic story.