Friday, October 11, 2019

Film concert The Return of Draw Egan (preserved by Library of Congress / EYE Filmmuseum) – Ari Fisher score – perf. Conservatorio Tartini di Trieste – cond. Peter Matošević

The Return of "Draw" Egan. Margery Wilson, William S. Hart. Poster from Wikipedia.

The Return of "Draw" Egan. William S. Hart, Louise Glaum. Photo: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – Margaret Herrick Library, Los Angeles

The Return of "Draw" Egan. Photo from Internet Movie Database.

Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Tartini (Trieste). Conductor: Peter Matošević. Foto di: Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 11 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Tartini (Trieste). Conductor: Peter Matošević. Foto di: Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 11 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

La banda del lupo.
US 1916
regia/dir: William S. Hart.
sogg/story, scen: C. Gardner Sullivan.
photog: Joe August.
scg/des: Robert Brunton.
cast: William S. Hart (“Draw” Egan/William Blake), Margery Wilson (Myrtle Buckton), Robert McKim (Arizona Joe), Louise Glaum (Poppy), J. P. Lockney (Mat Buckton).
asst dir: Cliff Smith.
prod: Triangle/Kay-Bee, supv: Thomas H. Ince.
dist: Triangle.
uscita/rel: 15.10.1916.
copia/copy: DCP, 52′ (da/from 16 mm, Library of Congress, + 1 scene, da/from 35 mm, EYE Filmmuseum, 18 fps); did./titles: ENG.
fonte/source: Library of Congress Packard Center for Audio-Visual Conservation, Culpeper, VA.
Preserved by the Library of Congress in cooperation with EYE Filmmuseum / Desmet Collection.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
    William S. Hart.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian by Underlight, 11 Oct 2019.
    Score: Ari Fisher
    Performed by: Conservatorio Tartini di Trieste
    Conductor: Peter Matošević

Richard Abel (GCM): "“Draw” Egan leads a large gang of horsemen pursued by an equally large posse. Holed up in a cabin during a gunfight, the gang escapes through a trapdoor and tunnel, but not before Arizona Joe runs off alone and is captured. Later, as a “stranger,” Egan enters the saloon in Broken Hope and, displaying his fast draw against a bully, impresses Mat Buckton, who offers him the job of sheriff in nearby Yellow Dog. Now named William Blake, he meets Yellow Dog’s Reform League, falls for Buckton’s daughter, Myrtle, and begins to establish “law and order” in the town saloon, rejecting the advances of Poppy, “Queen of the Dance Hall.” Having fled prison, Arizona Joe shows up and teams with Poppy to undermine Blake, and Joe threatens to reveal his “bad man” past. Blake at first refuses to confront Joe, who has taken over the saloon; but when Joe tries to order the Bucktons and half the townspeople to leave, he finally intervenes. Accepting Joe’s revelation of his past, Egan promises Buckton to give himself up, but only after he has it out with Joe at sundown. In the gunfight, Egan loses his hat, but he kills Joe with a sure shot. When Egan tries to fulfill his promise, Buckton asks him to remain as sheriff and friend; when he refuses and tries to leave, Myrtle runs after him and persuades him to stay."

"This print comes from a 1923 Tri-Stone reissue, with new intertitles, whose humor may or may not jibe with the originals. The film introduces Egan in a wanted poster offering a $1,000 reward for him, dead or alive. After a long sequence of large groups of horsemen riding over hills and through canyons, sometimes in high-angle extreme long shots, the gunfight and clever escape follow — in a relatively close shot, one man is shown crawling into the narrow, darkened tunnel toward daylight. Wearing a “peculiar daisy bedecked vest,” according to Motion Picture News and admired by fans from earlier films (actually, the design resembles stylized horseshoes), Blake accepts the sheriff’s job, in medium close-up, with a slight, ironic smile. In a similar medium close-up, he is stunned on first seeing Myrtle approach through a doorway, which moves him to act as a lawman, single-handedly holding off a crowd of rowdy cowboys in the Yellow Dog saloon. In relatively unusual scenes for a Hart film, Blake and Myrtle’s courting is framed by flowers and trees; when they later ride together on horseback, he embraces his pinto before embracing her! August deploys several notable lighting effects, without relying on tinting: a night scene of the cowboys carousing outside the saloon and timely sunset shots to set up the final confrontation. In the studio interiors, artificial light creates the effect of slanting sunlight on Blake’s office table and then on Joe in the saloon. When Joe hides behind large, stacked barrels outside the saloon in the climactic gunfight, Blake spots his position mirrored in a window (repeating a tactic from In the Sage Brush Country) and aims a deadeye shot through a small opening between the barrels."

"Several comments in Motography are worth noting. The owner of a 1,500-seat theater in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was enthusiastic: “one of greatest western shows I have ever seen [.…] capacity business.” A theater manager in Seattle created his own special lighting and sound effects. He turned out the theater lights during the first gunfight and had the organ imitate the gunshots; in the ending street duel, he again darkened the theater and had the orchestra blast out the gunshots. “People left the theater,” he said, “feeling that they had lived through the story.”"

"As a surprise, look for the inserted short scene found in the 35 mm print from the EYE Filmmuseum." Richard Abel (GCM)

AA: Revisited The Return of Draw Egan which I last saw in Bologna's 2006 William S. Hart retrospective. On display then was a digital betacam transfer (2006) from Photoplay from an original tinted Kodascope positive, presented by Kevin Brownlow, with Gabriel Thibaudeau at the grand piano, running 55 minutes.

I thought then: "Egan the bandit arrives into the Round-Up Saloon in the town of Broken Hope, changes his name to William Blake (qf. Jim Jarmusch: Dead Man!) and is appointed sheriff in the neighbouring town of Yellow Dog. He is caught between two women, the kind Myrtle and Poppy the queen of the dance hall. A bandit companion of Egan's, Arizona Joe, teams with Poppy, and they expose Egan. After the showdown he is prepared to quit, but asked to stay as a marshal and a friend. "I reckon I better be goin'". Myrtle: "Even if I ask you to stay?". Egan: "In that case it'll take dynamite to move me"."

Draw Egan is drawn to a wild west woman, Poppy (Louise Glaum), but chooses a woman of civilization, Myrtle (Margery Wilson), to the end insecure whether he is worthy of her.

Poppy now is "Queen dethroned", and hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, to speak with Congreve. When Arizona Joe escapes from prison, this former band member of Egan's joins forces with the woman rejected by him.

The lonely sheriff faces mob rule inflamed by Poppy and Arizona Joe. The decision takes place at a duel at sundown.

Thanks to the William S. Hart – Joseph H. August collaboration there is an approach of visual epic poetry. Extreme long shots put the tale into mythical relief. The mise-en-scène is assured and magnificent. The desperate chase in the beginning is thrilling. Dance hall scenes are full of life. The pastoral ride of Egan and Myrtle is appealingly romantic. The direction and cutting of looks and reflections is sharp in the showdown sequence.

Might the theme of the transference of love from horse to woman been introduced in The Return of Draw Egan? We saw yesterday The Silent Man where the theme also appears, but it was produced later.

This film is rich in psychology. We meet Egan as a desperado, as a man ready to start a new life, and as an awkward man in love. He faces moments of introspection, solitude, despair and bravado. He can be a leader but he is not afraid to defy a posse or a mob. He is a man who is ready to put the past behind him if he is allowed to do so.

The Ari Fisher score performed by Conservatorio Tartini di Trieste and conducted by Peter Matošević brought a big and full-blooded epic Western sound to the presentation. A score and a performance worthy of Dimitri Tiomkin.

The DCP was mostly a blow-up from 16 mm, and there was a low definition or a darkish image during many passages. The colours were beautiful sepia, orange and lila.


AA Facebook capsule:

When a bandit is appointed sheriff he is ready to change his name and his life, but the past comes back to catch him in the person of a former gang member. Most dangerously, Draw Egan rejects a wild west woman (Louise Glaum) and chooses a woman of civilization (Margery Wilson). Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. The sheriff has to face mob rule alone and risks his life, sensing that he has nothing to lose anymore anyway. William S. Hart invests psychological complexity and tragic grandeur into the mythical Western narrative, and Joseph H. August conjures it all with epic visual poetry. Ari Fisher had composed a big Western score, performed by Conservatorio Tartini di Trieste and conducted by Peter Matošević. It was a rousing epic score and performance worthy of Dimitri Tiomkin.

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