Sunday, June 26, 2011

Albert Capellani: Programme 1: La Bohème in the Old and the New World: La Bohème (1912), La Vie de Bohème (1916)

Albert Capellani: Programma 1: La Bohème nel vecchio e nel nuovo mondo. Sunday, 26 June 2011 at 11.15. Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema / Mastroianni, Bologna (Il Cinema Ritrovato).

Catalogue: "Before the First World War Albert Capellani made film versions of many 19th-century literary classics. His fame as the “masterdirector of French literary photo-dramatization” (Photoplay, July 1915) accompanied him to the United States. While his American adaptations followed the tradition of his French productions in their phenomenal art direction and mise en scene, one element was very different – the actors."

"As the original version of La Bohème has only come down to us as a negative without intertitles, we reproduce here the plot synopsis in the sales catalogue (the Bulletin Pathé no. 5, 1912). We are grateful to the Cinématheque française for allowing us to project their “work print” based on this negative without intertitles. (See notes for information on this and other such prints at the end of the catalogue section “Alice Guy”.)"

"“Rodolphe leads a happy life in his garret together with his friend the painter Marcel, when he meets beautiful grisette Mimi, graceful as a spring flower. An idyllic relationship is formed and the girl, when evicted from her modest dwelling by the mean landlord, comes to ask her sweetheart for shelter. The rose bush that Rodolphe gives Mimi is to be the symbol of their love, which will last as long as the flowers do not wither! Each of the lovers secretly tends the delicate shrub, but despite their efforts the roses eventually die. One evening fickle Mimi, seduced by the mirage of a life of luxury she is offered, leaves the garret, abandoning the one who loves her. But money does not bring happiness to the grisette. One winter day she returns, shivering, sick, exhausted, ‘the wayward bird coming back to the old nest’. Rodolphe’s bitterness melts away when he sees the poor creature, but despite his loving care the consumption claims her. In the room where they had lived such happy times together, Mimi closes her eyes for ever, clenching her poor, cold, thin hands in a little muff, the last of her fanciful whims and the last offering from her bohemian friends.”"

Capellani and His Stars: Alice Brady

"Largely remembered today as a comedian thanks to The Gay Divorcee and My Man Godfrey, Alice Brady (1892-1939) was acclaimed in the silent era as a dramatic actress, when she starred in fifty-one features between 1914 and 1923. The daughter of theatre impresario-turned-film producer William A. Brady, she defied her father’s wishes and first appeared on stage in 1909; parental permission was soon granted, and she made her Broadway debut in 1911 in the musical The Balkan Princess. She remained a fixture on Broadway even as she launched her screen career in 1914, for her father’s company World Film Corporation. La Vie de Bohème was her ninth feature in 1915 – that year she also appeared on Broadway in four Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and the Owen Davis drama Sinners."

"For the Twenties and Thirties, Brady focused on the stage: she was meant to be in the original Broadway cast of Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude (1928), but illness forced her to withdraw and she was replaced by Lynn Fontanne. In 1931 she created the role of Lavinia Mannon in Mourning Becomes Electra, receiving superlative reviews, and as if to prove her versatility, returned to the screen in 1933 with the first of her flibbertigibbet parts, in Harry Beaumont’s unjustly neglected When Ladies Meet. Though subsequently largely cast in comedic roles, Brady received the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1937 for In Old Chicago, and is justly remembered for her fine work in John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln." Jay Weissberg.

[LA BOHÈME. FR 1912. D: Albert Capellani. Based on the novel Scènes de la vie de Bohème (1849) di Henri Murger; DP: Pierre Trimbach; Cast: Paul Capellani (Rodolphe), Charles Dechamps (Marcel), Paul Gerbault (Colline), Léon Bélières (Schaunard), Suzanne Revonne (Mimi), Juliette Clarens (Musette); P: S.C.A.G.L. (Pathé No. 4896). 35 mm. 680 m. 33’ a 18 fps. B&w. No intertitles. From: La Cinémathèque française.] - AA: I missed this film because of the overlap with the Méliès - L'inferno show at Cinema Jolly. Kristin Thompson singles it out as one of her favourites in her Capellani blog entry from Bologna.

LA VIE DE BOHÈME. US 1916. D: Albert Capellani. Based on the novel Scènes de la vie de Bohème (1849) di Henri Murger; SC: Frances Marion; DP: Lucien Andriot; PD: Ben Carré. Cast: Alice Brady (Mimi), Paul Capellani (Rodolphe), June Elvidge (Madame de Rouvre), Leslie Stowe (Durandin), Chester Barnett (Marcel), Zena Keefe (Musette), Frederick Truesdell (autore), D.J. Flanagan (Schaunard); P: Paragon Films. 35 mm. 1611 m. 70’ a 20 fps. Col. English intertitles. From: George Eastman House. Preservation from a 28 mm print funded by the National Park Service in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities. - AA: I saw only the ending of this film because of an ovelap with the Méliès - L'inferno show at Cinema Jolly. The mise-en-scène seems sober. Kristin Thompson remarks that Capellani's 1912 adaptation is better. The live music avoided Puccini. There was a toned effect in the print preserved from an 28 mm element.

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