Monday, October 07, 2019

The Return of the Nasty Women 1 - Tyranny at Home (curated by Maggie Hennefeld, Laura Horak)

European Slapstick – Prog. 7: The Return of the “Nasty Women”: Tyranny at Home.
Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
Grand piano: Daan van den Hurk.
Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian by Underlight, 7 Oct 2019.


POSE CHEZ L’ARTISTE. VÉNUS (FR) 1’02’’ (90 fotogrammi/frames, 8 fps): attribuito a/attributed to Méliès. Ex-cat.
AA: Indeed, this is a Georges Méliès film starring the wizard himself as an artist and Eleanor Méliès as the nude model who wards off the artist's harassment. An elegant digital transfer from the flipbook.


Maggie Hennefeld, Laura Horak (GCM): "“Empire abroad entails tyranny at home,” argued the 20th-century political philosopher Hannah Arendt. Colonial rivalries among a handful of European nation-states goaded the entire world into catastrophic, senseless war in 1914 and recoiled disastrously on the home front. Nasty Women defied these patriarchal power dynamics, further paving the way for the political resistance that would help subvert fascism’s attempts to inflict colonialist techniques of domination on the domestic population in the 1930s. The films in this program, “Tyranny at Home,” reveal Nasty Women seizing the reins of institutional power and exposing the absurd illogic of the entire system."

"La Grève des bonnes (1906) depicts a female workers’ strike that spills out into the streets, wreaking havoc from the private kitchen to the public sphere. Léontine, enfant terrible (1911) escalates the goal-oriented labor strike to total anti-capitalist anarchy. We still do not know the identity of the remarkable actress who played Léontine/Betty in this popular comic series (which spanned about 21 episodes from 1910-1912). Evicted from her home for being a menace, Léontine enlists her favorite weapon (a piece of string) to unleash chaos among the petite bourgeoisie and local trade workers, climaxing in an explosive finale of fireworks that go off in the plumbing. Next, Zoé (played by Little Chrysia, who we’ll later see as Cunégonde) raises Cain with an enchanted umbrella that she steals from a stage magician. The umbrella can make any object multiply in absurd over-abundance, to invoke Marx and Engels, like a capitalist “sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.” Unlike Zoé, who is hyper-productive, Rosalie lacks her usual gusto because she has “sleeping sickness.” Starring the fabulous Sarah Duhamel who headlined as both Rosalie (1911-1912) and Pétronille (1912-1916), this episode also features a live marching band that fails to stir Rosalie from her lethargic slumber! (Probably she is just tired from exhaustion and overwork.)"

"Alice Guy  – prolific filmmaker and subject of the recent documentary Be Natural – terrorizes the polis with her maternity cravings in Madame a des envies (1907), which include pickled herring, sweet lollipops, and potent absinthe. More than hungry, Madame Plumette is absolutely furious. La Fureur de Mme. Plumette (1912) opens with a sight gag about menstruation but unfolds as a hilarious celebration of unrepressed female anger. Wives continue to play the roles of domestic tyrant in Non! Tu ne sortira pas sans moi! (1911) and Cunégonde femme-crampon (1912). Non! features a male actor in drag as the rebellious housewife. In contrast, Cunégonde flips the script by forbidding her husband to go out alone. Thanks to the brilliant archival sleuthing of Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi, we now know that Cunégonde was played by Little Chrysia, who starred in about 24 episodes of this series from 1911-1913 and also worked as a traveling circus performer in the U.K. and France."

"Crossing the border to Germany, Wem gehört das Kind? (1910) looks at the enemy within, asking whether two Nasty Women can really trust one another? A faithful husband finds a lost child in the woods, triggering a sequence of scandalous misperceptions for his wife (Rosa Porten) and his sister (Henny Porten). We then check in with another migratory child, Léontine, who is being “rewarded” for her high marks at school with a vacation to her aunt and uncle’s retreat in the countryside. In Léontine en vacances (1910), Léontine does what she does best: inflict total chaos and anarchy on everyone around her – levitating the pots and pans to terrorize the cooks and then making a messy feast of some sausage and grapes. The unidentified actress who played Léontine also has a cameo in La Peur des ombres (1911), which parodies a D. W. Griffith race-to-the-rescue film with some innovative shadow play and rather suspicious silhouettes." Maggie Hennefeld, Laura Horak (GCM)

La Grève des bonnes (FR 1906) by Charles-Lucien Lépine. Credits: Restoration CNC.

LA GRÈVE DES BONNES (FR 1906) regia/dir: Charles-Lucien Lépine. scen: André Heuzé. photog, spec. eff: Segundo de Chomón. cast: ?. prod: Pathé. copia/copy: 35 mm, 132 m [orig. 140 m], 7′ (16 fps); did./titles: FRA. fonte/source: CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, Bois d’Arcy.
    AA: A farce of destruction, total anarchy during a strike of the maids. Ok look, digital look.

regia/dir: ?. cast: ? (Léontine). prod: Pathé. copia/copy: DCP, [orig. 125 m], ??’; did./titles: FRA. fonte/source: Gaumont Pathé Archives, Saint-Ouen, Paris.
    AA: Another farce of destruction: this enfant is truly and literally terrible wreaking havoc on package carriers, loving couples, boutiques, horses and pipe-carriers, all ending with a plunge into the river. 2019 restoration, ultra perfect, airbrushed and airless digital look.

regia/dir: ?. cast: Little Chrysia (Zoé). prod: Pathé Comica. copia/copy: DCP, 4’11”  (da/from 35 mm, orig. 115 m); senza did./no titles. fonte/source: EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam.
    AA: A fantasy comedy of hyperbole: whenever a miracle umbrella is opened, there is a rain of whatever is on display: flowers, shoes, hats, brooms, chairs - and water. It ends with a flood of Biblical proportions. Digital transfer from 28 mm.

regia/dir: Roméo Bosetti. cast: Sarah Duhamel (Rosalie). prod: Pathé Comica. copia/copy: DCP, 4’45” (da/from 35 mm, orig. 185 m); did./titles: NLD?. fonte/source: EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam.
    AA: A comedy of hyperbole. Rosalie suffers from sleeping sickness so severe that she falls asleep in the middle of serving dinner. Drastic measures are of no avail. The master and mistress of the house exhaust themselves trying to revive Rosalie. They employ a brass band, throw piles of water, and open a water hose... Digital transfer from 28 mm.

regia/dir: Alice Guy. cast: ?. prod: Pathé. uscita/rel: 27.12.1907. copia/copy: incompl., 35 mm, 276 ft [84 m (orig.130 m)], 4′ (18 fps); senza did./no titles. fonte/source: BFI National Archive, London.
    AA: Alice Guy's hyperbolic comedy about a pregnant woman's appetites: she can drink and eat anything endlessly, starting with "pickled herring, sweet lollipops, and potent absinthe" to quote Maggie Hennefeld and Laura Horak. Visual quality of the viewing copy: duped, high contrast, at times bordering on the unwatchable.

La Fureur de Mme. Plumette (FR 1912) Photo: EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam

LA FUREUR DE MME. PLUMETTE (De sterke mevrouw Plumette) (FR 1912)
regia/dir: ?. cast: Ellen Lowe (cameriera/maid). prod: Eclipse. copia/copy: 35 mm, 112 m, 5’30” (18 fps); did./titles: NLD. fonte/source: EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam (Desmet Collection).
    AA: A brutal and violent Éclair comedy. Having read from Monsieur Plumet's message that he has gone fishing, Mme Plumette builds up an extraordinary rage, battering the maid, hitting the janitor, tearing down a woman dusting a carpet and tearing to pieces a grocer lady's lettuces. These may be instances of class violence by a high society lady. When a gentleman's attentions become a nuisance, Mme Plumette hits him and kicks him literally into a sewer hole: only his shaking shoes remain on view. Meanwhile M. Plumet is blithely fishing on the river and enjoying refreshments, equipped with bottle and glass. The plein air view is beautiful in the Lumière - Perret - Renoir tradition. The rampage of the confrontational Madame continues: she batters a milkman, and when she discovers two burglars at home, she beats them against each another in cartoon superheroine style and throws them clean out of the window. In the kitchen the maid is making love with a gendarme. Madame attacks him like bull, using her head as a battering ram, finally exhausting herself. They tie Madame onto a chair and drag her under a shower, soaking her with cold water. - I failed to register the menstruation gag mentioned by Hennefeld and Horak. - Nice visual quality on this print.

NON! TU NE SORTIRAS PAS SANS MOI! (Toch d’r zin) (FR 1911)
regia/dir: Jean Durand. cast: ?. prod: Gaumont. première: 22.12.1911. uscita/rel: 2.2.1912. copia/copy: 35 mm, 83.5 m [orig. 107 m], 4′ (18 fps); did./titles: NLD. fonte/source: EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam (Desmet Collection).
    AA: The wife is played by a male actor in drag in this demolition farce based on the total destruction principle. When hubby tries to restrain wife, everything is broken, the world is turned upside down. The chase continues on a moving train, at sea in a sailboat, and underwater in scuba gear. - Nice visual quality on the print. 

CUNÉGONDE FEMME-CRAMPON (Cunegonde wil niet dat haar man alleen uitgaat) (FR 1912)
regia/dir: ?. cast: Little Chrysia (Cunégonde). prod: Lux. copia/copy: 35 mm, 170 m [orig. 177 m], 9′ (18 fps); did./titles: NLD. fonte/source: EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam (Desmet Collection).
    AA: Cunégonde is a harridan wife. When her husband Paul wants to go out alone, she lassoes him and drags him back upstairs. Well done, but now Paul decides on divorce and packs his trunk. Cunégonde empties it and enters in it instead. As Paul tries dance steps and feels the bed at Splendid Hotel, Cunégonde emerges from the trunk. In the mayhem there is a mix-up and Cunégonde brings home the bellboy. - An ultra fast comedy. - Ok visual quality, slightly high contrast.

WEM GEHÖRT DAS KIND? [Whose Child Is It?]  (DE 1910)
regia/dir: Gebhard Schätzler-Perasini. photog: Guido Seeber. cast: Rosa Porten, Henny Porten. prod: Deutsche Bioscop GmbH, Berlin. première: 10.12.1910. copia/copy: DCP, 8′ (da/from 35 mm); did./titles: GER. fonte/source: Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin.
    AA: The sisters Rosa and Henny Porten are charming in a comedy of misunderstandings, a delightful mix-up comedy in which a lost child brought to shelter raises suspicions in every plot turn in best French boulevard comedy style. There is heartfelt crying and laughter. A beautiful print of a film elegantly photographed by Guido Seeber. Belle Époque style made in Germany.

Léontine en vacances (FR 1910). Photo: Collection Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé © 1910 – Pathé frères.

regia/dir: Roméo Bosetti. scen: Z. Rollini. cast: ? (Léontine). prod: Pathé. copia/copy: did./titles: FRA. fonte/source: Gaumont Pathé Archives, Saint-Ouen, Paris.
    AA: A demolition farce, a brutal ADHD child comedy which reminds us of O. Henry's The Ransom of the Red Chief, filmed by Howard Hawks for O. Henry's Full House. Sent to a vacation at the uncle's country retreat, Léontine turns the place upside down. They are happy to return her as soon as possible. Restored in 2019 in 4K with a perfect, brilliant, digital, airbrushed and airless approach. The look is supernatural.

La Peur des ombres (FR 1911). The finale. Photo: EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam.

LA PEUR DES OMBRES (De vrees voor schaduwen) (FR 1911)
regia/dir: ?. cast: ?. prod: Pathé Nizza. copia/copy: 35 mm, 80.4 m [orig. 90 m], 4′ (18 fps); did./titles: NLD. fonte/source: EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam (Desmet Collection).
    AA: A comedy thriller with genuine eerie suspense based on shadowplay. This is an early entry in a distinguished cycle, made before An Unseen Enemy and Suspense. There is an especially effective Jan Olsson sequence, a triple split screen telephone scene: in the middle panel we see the police approaching and in the flanking panels the telephoning partners. When the mystery is solved, three couples have a big laugh. Interesting and cinematic. Viewing copy: on the dark side, tending towards high contrast.


AA Facebook capsule:

Nasty women are at it again at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in a series of early film comedies curated by Maggie Hennefeld and Laura Horak. Farces of destruction have never been more brutal, and hyperbolic comedy has never been more outlandish. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned": the world is turned upside down in these sagas of "rip-roaring rampage of revenge" as fearsome as Kill Bill. The best is saved for the last: the sisters Rosa and Henny Porten star in the Belle Époque comedy Whose Child Is It? and the thriller comedy La Peur des ombres impresses with a play of shadows and reflections and an effective triple-panel split screen telephone alarm scene.

No comments: