Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Judex (1963)

Judex - salaperäinen kostaja / Judex - den hemlighetsfulle hämnaren. FR/IT 1963. PC: Comptoir Français du Film (CFFP) / Filmes Cinematografica. P: Robert de Nesle. D: Georges Franju. SC: Jacques Champreux, Francis Lacassin - based on the 1916 screenplay by Arthur Bernède and Louis Feuillade. DP: Marcel Fradetal. AD: Robert Giordani. Cost: Christiane Courcelles. Makeup: Maguy Vernadet. Hair: Loulou Broyard, Louis Bonnemaison. SFX: Jean Fouchet. M: Maurice Jarre. S: Jean Labussière. ED: Gilbert Natot. C: Channing Pollock (Judex alias Vallières), Francine Bergé (Diana Monti alias Marie Verdier), Édith Scob (Jacqueline Favraux), Michel Vitold (the banker Favraux), Jacques Jouanneau (private detective Alfred Cocantin), Sylva Koscina (Daisy), Théo Sarapo (Morales), Benjamin Boda (Réglisse), Philippe Mareuil (Amaury de la Rochefontaine), René Génin (Pierre Kerjean), Jean Degrave (notary), Luigi Cotese (Pierrob), Roger Fradet (Léon), Ketty France (Jeanne-Marie Bontemps), Suzanne Gossen (landlady), André Méliès (doctor). Helsinki premiere 26.7.1966 Boston, distributor: Aito Mäkinen – VET 72563 – K16 – 2680 m / 98 min. A KAVA print deposited by Aito Mäkinen viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (50 Years Ago), 31 July 2013

In one of the finest hommages to the silent cinema Georges Franju does not follow the early cinema mode of Louis Feuillade. Instead of the tableau style of long takes and long shots recorded by an immobile camera he and Marcel Fradetal resort to a mobile camera, and Franju's concept of mise-en-scène is entirely different from Feuillade. But there is a spiritual affinity between Franju and Feuillade: a matter-of-fact approach to an outlandish plot, a profound, subtle sense of humour, and a strong sense of milieu and landscape shot on location. A surrealism of the real.

As always, a sense of the insolite, the uncanny, is dominant. Franju is delighted to invent something strange in every scene: the masked ball where the participants are dressed as bird creatures, the three watchdogs who rescue Jacqueline, the rooftop confrontation between two female antagonists in tights. This movie is driven by haunting images, several of which would deserve to be hanging on the wall.

There is a joy in showcasing vintage cars and conveying information via amusing intertitles. There are delicious details in the images. Franju puts all his love into his images, but there is not an irresistible sense of rhythm and movement from shot to shot, from sequence to sequence. The movie is a series of fantastic images, but the general structure is not particularly dynamic. Judex is oneiric also in the sense of making the viewer feel a bit drowsy...

Maurice Jarre composes new eerie, fascinating waltzes for Franju.

Marcel Fradetal is again the king of the night as the cinematographer.

A real magician was cast as Judex. Franju found good successors to Feuillade's casting coups: Francine  Bergé is impressive in a role that was played by Musidora, and Jacques Jouanneau is not bad in the comical detective role created by Marcel Lévesque. As before, Édith Scob is Franju's unforgettable soulful female protagonist. Édith Scob has been prominent in recent films such as L'Heure d'été and Holy Motors. There is an open Franju hommage in the latter.

The basic story is about a huge financial fraud related to the Panama affair that has ruined or distorted everyone's lives. When Jacqueline learns the truth about the blackmail and fraud upon which her family's fortune is based she disclaims her inheritance to the dismay of her suitor who immediately distances himself from her. Seen today there is a sense of contemporary relevance in the backstory.

We screened this movie in our Fifty Years Ago series. It was a thrill to read the final intertitle of the movie reminding us that the remake was made fifty years after the original, shot in 1914, during the First World War which changed the world. (The original Judex was released in 1916, two years after it had been shot.) In Judex we are still in the world of la  Belle Époque which has become utterly strange for us. That strangeness is of the essence, as an aesthetic experience, and as a challenge for reflection.

We did not think about this when we programmed Judex but it is also a fitting entry into the 75th Anniversary year of the FIAF, la Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film. Georges Franju was the closest partner of Henri Langlois establishing La Cinémathèque française, and he also served as the General Secretary of the FIAF in his time. Judex is a wonderful love letter about film heritage in many ways.

The vintage print has been in full service in active circulation but it is complete and there are just some scratches in the heads and tails of the reels.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer reading

Peter Bogdanovich: Allan Dwan: the Last Pioneer. Movie Paperbacks. London: Studio Vista Limited. Movie Magazine Limited, 1971. A Louis B. Mayer American Oral History Project prepared under the direction of The American Film Institute. - Revisited twice a book I first read as a schoolboy when it was fresh from the printers. It is a story of Hollywood, a Bildungsroman of a master of the mise-en-scène who rose to the top as the inspired director of Douglas Fairbanks and Gloria Swanson, and never stopped although he was no longer an A director after the transition to sound, yet made arguably his best movies during his last decade as a film director in the 1950s. This autobiographical interview book is hugely enjoyable to read, but healthy skepticism is necessary as when reading the interviews of Ford, Walsh, Hawks...

David Phelps and Gina Telaroli (ed.): Allan Dwan (A Dossier). E-book, free access, Lumière (Spain), June 2013, 460 pages. Multi-lingual, each essay in its original language only. - A huge and fascinating e-book anthology of 45 new essays on the long and rich career of the Hollywood master. I have read half of it and look forward to reading more, but essays on films I have not yet seen I may postpone for later. Fully illustrated. http://elumiere.net/especiales/dwan/indexdwan.php

Il Cinema Ritrovato, Catalogue 2013, XXVII edizione, Bologna, 29 giugno - 6 luglio, 2013. Bologna:  Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna, 2013. In Italian and in English. - The Pordenone and Bologna catalogues keep getting better and have been for a long time valuable volumes on film history with accurate facts, new research and inspired interpretations, great reading even for ones who do not visit those festivals. I received the catalogue on arrival at the Bologna hospitality point but managed to read it from cover to cover first post festum, a week after the ending of the festival. I felt even more miserable realizing more acutely what I had missed. (It was possible to see but a fifth of the programme.)

Charles Barr: Vertigo. 2nd Edition. BFI Film Classics. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. A BFI book. Original edition 2002. - Revisited Charles Barr's sober and and intelligent study into cinema's most haunting study of romantic obsession.

Fritz Lang: Erinnerungen an Wien / Memories of Vienna. Vienna: Viennale, 2012. Bilingual: in German and English. Introduction by Bernard Eisenschitz. - An essential document written by Fritz Lang about his early days in Vienna. These memories have been available to the Fritz Lang biographers, and there are no new facts here, but it is a pleasure to read Lang's own humoristic and affectionate text, quoting some of his favourite songs and poems in extenso.

Peter von  Bagh, Markku Koski, Pekka Aarnio: Olavi Virta - legenda jo eläessään [Olavi Virta - a Legend during His Lifetime]. Third Edition. Full discography. The first edition was published in 1977. This edition: Porvoo - Helsinki - Juva: WSOY, 1995. - Olavi Virta was the greatest Finnish tango singer, whom we in Finland rate actually higher than Carlos Gardel. Virta was also a great and versatile popular singer in many musical genres that flourished before the breakthrough of rock'n'roll. Olavi Virta's life was a rise-and-fall story. This book is an engrossing evocation of the life and the times of a great popular artist, written with empathy and insight.

Tuhannen ja yhden yön tarinat 1-6 / Alf laila wa laila / ألف ليلة وليلة / A Thousand and One Nights. Originally from India, Iran, and Egypt, collected during ca 600-1300. This edition based on the Norwegian Waldemar Brøgger edition, Boken om tusen og en natt, 1950, based on the 1839 Calcutta edition. Translated into Finnish by Kaija Rainerla, Laila Järvinen, Seppo Heikinheimo, L. and R. Orispää, poems translated by Kaija Rainerla. Dovre D. Magnus Andersen Copyright Nasjonalforlaget A.S., Oslo 1968. - This belongs to my favourite summer cottage reading, and this time I focused on the final volume, with one of the most amazing tales, "Maaruf the Cobbler and His Wife Fatimah" at the very end. This volume is well edited with fascinating introductions, well translated Arabic poems and positively X rated inserts.

Johanneksen evankeliumi / Gospel of John / τὸ κατὰ Ἰωάννην εὐαγγέλιον. Originally written by the Johannite community in 85-90. In: Pyhä Raamattu / The Holy Bible, the 1938 Finnish translation by A. W. Ingman, Gabriel Geitlin, Juhani Aho, Otto Manninen, A. F. Puukko, Aug. F. Peltonen, and Juho Mannermaa. - My grandmother's Bible is always on my bedside, and I read it regularly, although I do not believe in God and do not belong to the Church. I keep learning new things during each round. Now I had reached the fourth gospel, the strangest of them all in its stark spirituality ("In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."). The Finnish translation is excellent and haunting, still bearing the influence of Agricola, the founder of Finnish literature. Connoisseurs rate the Finnish Bible translation highly, and I am sometimes disappointed when I try to find the King James equivalent to some Biblical expression. The most disturbing aspect of the Gospel of John is its anti-semitism. Written after the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish religious community it is particularly alarming. I interpret this as a sheltering procedure in an era when the atrocities of Nero were still in fresh memory and the persecutions of Domitian were going on. Nero made Christians the scapegoats of the burning of Rome, and in the Gospel of John Jews (instead of Romans) are made the culprits of the persecution of Jesus. This Gospel would have consequences from the Spanish Inquisition till the Holocaust.

Suomen sana 1-24. Kansalliskirjallisuutemme valiolukemisto [The Word of Finland. The Best of Finnish National Literature]. Conceived and edited by Yrjö A. Jäntti, board of editors: Martti Haavio, Yrjö A. Jäntti, Kauko Kare, Th. Warburton, Pekka Saloranta. Porvoo: WSOY, 1963-1967. The mightiest anthology of Finnish literature also belongs to my favourite summer reading. It was a folly of Yrjö A. Jäntti, the CEO of WSOY, Finland's top publishing house. Criticized for its conservative bias, it's not a balanced work, but I enjoy reading it as a magnificent one-sided survey into a lot of otherwise forgotten literature. This summer I discovered Eliel Lagercrantz's account of his fateful ski trek in Lapland in 1920, visiting hostile, even murderous Laestadian old believers in remote villages, and Tatu Valkonen's "My Adventure in Murmansk" about the year 1918 on the Red Russian side of the border, where he meets the actor Aarne Orjatsalo wearing an English officer's uniform magnificently. Both stories could be filmed and would seem incredible if they were not true. - A book about the love of the Word, also in the Biblical sense of the Logos, as in the opening sentence of the Gospel of John.

Rachel L. Carson: Meren ihmeet (The Sea Around Us, 1951). Read in the 1953 Finnish translation by Hilkka & Jussi Koskiluoma, second printing 1954. - A non-fiction masterpiece by the great marine biologist and pioneering conservationist. I have no idea how well the scientific facts hold true today, but the book is still a magnificent testimony about the oceanic experience anno 1951.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

eXistenZ

eXistenZ / eXistenZ. CA / GB © 1999 Screenvision XXIV / Alliance Communications / eXistenZ. Company credits on screen: Dreamset / Alliance Atlantis / Serendipity Point Films / Natural Nylon Entertainment. P: Andras Hamori, Robert Lantos, David Cronenberg. D+SC: David Cronenberg. DP: Peter Suschitzky - camera: Panavision - negative: 35 mm - lab: DeLuxe (Toronto), The Lab (Toronto) - colour - 1,85:1. PD: Carol Spier. AD: Tamara Deverell. Set dec: Elinor Rose Galbraith. Cost: Denise Cronenberg. Makeup and hair for Ms. Leigh: Réjean Goderre, Micheline Trépanier. VFX+SFX: Jim Isaacs. Digital VFX: Toybox. Title sequence: Cuppa Coffee. Creature design: Stephan Dupuis. M: Howard Shore. ED: Ronald Sanders. C: Jennifer Jason Leigh (Allegra Geller), Jude Law (Ted Pikul), Ian Holm (Kiri Vinokur), Don McKellar (Yevgeny Nourish), Callum Keith Rennie (Hugo Carlaw), Sarah Polley (Merle), Christopher Eccleston (Seminar Leader), Willem Dafoe (Gas), Robert A. Silverman (D'Arcy Nader), Oscar Hsu (Chinese Waiter), Kris Lemche (Noel Dichter), Vik Sahay (Male Assistant). Helsinki premiere: 24.9.1999 Bio Rex, released by Columbia TriStar Egmont Film Distributors Oy with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Timo Porri / Janne Staffans – VET 101409 – K16 – 2670 m / 97 min. KAVA print deposited by Columbia viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (David Cronenberg), 18 July 2013
  David Cronenberg tells that the film was inspired by his interview with Salman Rushdie, in hiding due to the Fatwah on his life.
  The title is the name of the virtual reality game being played in the movie.
  The production countries are according to the end credits Canada and Great Britain.
  There is no The End title.

The science fiction adventure eXistenZ belongs to the core of David Cronenberg's œuvre, to the same cyberpunk context as Scanners and Videodrome.

The "dream within a dream" structure can be annoying, but in this movie the Chinese boxes structure is a witty modern interpretation of the "La vida es sueño" theme that has been essential in Western culture since Calderón and the Renaissance.  

The thriller plot is just a framework for a satire on the virtual reality syndrome.

On the eXistenZ level the narrative is about "the game everybody's already playing". Virtual games are played with organic game pods that can be plugged with UmbyCords directly into the spine via a bio-port.

During the eXistenZ game the characters confront clumsily designed characters, find themselves acting according to the game designer's will, losing their own free will, having to revise lines of dialogue in order to proceed, confronting game characters in reality, starting to feel real life unreal, and beginning to feel like game characters, themselves.

There is a mortal combat going on between the "Death to Realism" and "the Victory of Realism" movements.

After several surprise twist endings there is a further one where it is exposed that the entire eXistenZ narrative is in fact a virtual reality game called tranCendenZ by PilgrImage, and all the actors of the preceding story are tranCendenZ game players who have gathered together in their normal dresses in a playroom. tranCendenZ is an electronic computer game in contrast to eXistenZ which is biological, based on mutant manipulation.

The tranCendenZ revelation is not the end, either. "Are we still in the game?" is the final question.

David Cronenberg's approach to this incredible story is straight. It is a top production from Cronenberg's talented crew.

Jennifer Jason Leigh is one of the most daring and interesting actresses of her generation, and her performance brings substance to the role which needs it. We believe in her as "the Game Pod Goddess" who is surprisingly shy and vulnerable, having spent "five of her most passionate years" in solitude, creating "the only original version of eXistenZ". Thanks to her core of gravity we keep caring for her even after we realize that she has herself been a game character during most of the narrative.

Something similar can be said about Jude Law who behind his pretty boy exterior gives a subtle, complex performance.

The "meta flesh" and "the disease theme" aspects of the narrative are connected with Cronenberg's earliest, his most original obsession - body horror and exotic diseases.

eXistenZ belongs also to Cronenberg's tales of paranoia. The Finnish word for "paranoia", "vainoharha", is in direct translation to English, "delusion of persecution". The horror in this movie is that we can never know if the persecution - the fatwa - is real or illusory.

I like the puns, the wordplays, and the wit of eXistenZ. The underlying questions about who we really are, what is free will, and about God the Creator are not superficial.

eXistenZ is not a movie of psychological realism. It is also a game, a game for the mind, for thinking about existence, transcendence, and "pilgrim-images".

The Finnish dialogue by Timo Porri of the witty, inventive dialogue is excellent.

The print is fine, clean, and complete.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sammy Going South


Sammy Going South. Fergus McClelland (Sammy) and Orlando Martins (Abu Lubaba, a pilgrim bound to Mecca). Photo: Notre Cinéma. Please click to enlarge the image.

Yksin halki Afrikan / Vaaroja kohti / Sammy matkalla / Seikkailu Afrikassa / Ensam genom Africa / A Boy Ten Feet Tall.
    GB © 1963 Greatshows, Ltd. A Michael Balcon Production. Originally released by: British Lion / Bryanston – through BLC – Rank – MBP. EX: Michael Balcon. P: Hal Mason. D: Alexander Mackendrick. SC: Denis Cannan – based on the novel (1961) by W. H. Canaway. DP: Erwin Hillier – Eastmancolor – CinemaScope. AD: Edward Tester. M: Tristram Cary – played by The Sinfonia of London. ED: Jack Harris.
    C: Edward G. Robinson (Cocky Wainwright), Fergus McClelland (Sammy), Constance Cummings (Gloria van Imhoff), Harry H. Corbett (Lem), Paul Stassino (Spyros Dracondopolous), Zia Mohyeddin (Syrian), Orlando Martins (Abu Lubaba), John Turner (Heneker), Zena Walker (Aunt Jane), Jack Gwillim (District commissioner), Patricia Donahue (Cathie), Jared Allen (Bob), Guy Deghy (Doctor), Marne Maitland (Hassan), Steven Scott (Egyptian policeman), Frederick Schiller (Head porter), Tajiri, Swaleh, Faith Brown (Members of Cocky's camp).
    Loc: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa. [Mombasa standing in for Port Said, Uganda views standing in for the Nile. Some long shots shot clandestinely by a second unit in Egypt where principal photography was officially not allowed.]
    There was no Helsinki premiere although Suomi-Filmi had the film classified in 1968, and the print has Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Marjatta Kaija / Börje Idman. Telecast 25 July 1988 – VET 76194 – K12. [GB premiere version 128 min is no longer available]. [US premiere version 88 min]. 3270 m / 118 min. A KAVA print deposited by Suomi-Filmi in 1972; cuts totalling 7 minutes (Port Said bombing; the Syrian; the leopard attack on the black hunter) in 1968 for a lower rating; in 2013 Antti Suonio restored the cuts back to the print.
    Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (50 Years Ago), 16 July 2013

The film has four different Finnish titles due to the various home releases and the single telecast, but it appears that the movie had never a Finnish cinema premiere although the distributor subtitled a print and went through the classification procedure twice, the second time with heavy cuts for a lower rating. Our screenings – since our History of the British Cinema in 1991, and now with the integral print – may have been the first and only cinema screenings in Helsinki of this remarkable movie.

In Bologna's Il Cinema Ritrovato two weeks ago Sammy Going South belonged to the "A Journey Through the European Scope" series, and this intelligent spectacle does require to be seen on the big screen. The composition is often stunning, and the main characters sometimes occupy a relatively small space on the magnificent African canvas teeming with life. The characters are perfectly visible on a big screen but perhaps underwhelming on the home monitor.

As critics have pointed out Sammy Going South was a battle of wills between two great men with a long experience in collaboration: Michael Balcon and Alexander Mackendrick. Balcon was Mackendrick's mentor, and Mackendrick was Balcon's best director of Ealing comedies from Whisky Galore! till The Ladykillers, known for his black sense of humour. Even blacker was Mackendrick's American satire The Sweet Smell of Success.

From Sammy Going South Balcon wanted a feelgood family adventure film. Mackendrick strived for a saga of lost illusions. The result is a bit of both.

Port Said, November 1956 – Luxor, December 1956 – The White Nile, January 1957 – The Sudan, February 1957 – Durban, March 1957. These are among the stages of the ten year old Sammy's journey. A bomb kills his parents during the Suez crisis, and Sammy embarks on a long journey to South Africa to his aunt Jane.

Immediately Sammy is under threat, and he learns to be alert at all times. His sole gadget is a compass from which he regularly checks the point to the south. He meets a nomadic Syrian beduin, a rich Philadelphia society woman visiting Luxor, a kindly black Muslim pilgrim on a steamer bound for The Sudan, and a resourceful diamond and jewel smuggler before reaching Aunt Jane's hotel in Durban.

There are many elements of realism in the movie, and for a foreigner from Northern Europe it feels convincing. Be that as it may, fundamentally the movie is a fairy-tale based on the quest format. Sammy faces many dangers during his incredible adventure: the death of the Syrian, the scheming Spyros, malaria and bilharzia, and the attack of a leopard mother.

Not everybody wants to take advantage of Sammy. There is dignity in the black pilgrim Sammy meets on the steam boat on the Nile. For the diamond smuggler Cocky (Edward G. Robinson) Sammy represents the son he never had, and in his last will Cocky bequeaths his immense fortune to Sammy. This is the most prominent fairy-tale or Dickensian aspect of the movie.

Orphanhood is the deepest theme. Sammy has lost his parents, and he is alone in the world. Cocky has left his home at the age of 13 after having given a beating to his violent and alcoholic father. The leopard hunt resonates strongly due to all this. Sammy shoots the leopard mother attacking Cocky, and the leopard cub becomes another orphan.

We screened this movie in our "50 Years Ago" series, and it is a memorable reflection of the end of the colonial era seen through the eyes of a child who must grow up prematurely. Sammy Going South is an original coming of age saga during the last days of colonialism.

The reconstructed vintage print is pretty complete and clean but a bit weird. The opening credits of the scope print do not stay entirely in focus. In the beginning of the movie proper one can appreciate the original fine detail in the spectacular scenery. But the print seems to have been put together from superior and inferior sources, both with some of the expected Eastmancolor fading. The third element, the reinstated cuts, have turned entirely red. With such reservations, this was an impressive cinema experience.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bologna 2013 web links

Last updated 7 Aug 2014

Il Cinema Ritrovato
http://www.cinetecadibologna.it/cinemaritrovato2013en
Il Cinema Ritrovato lectures: most of the lectures behind this link
http://www.cinetecadibologna.it/cinemaritrovato2013/ev/nonsolofilm2013/lezionidicinema_2013
Cinefilia Ritrovata. Cinefilia ritrovata è un progetto coordinato da Roy Menarini, con la cura editoriale di Alessandro Cavazza e la collaborazione di Elena Geri, Matteo Lollini, Andrea Ravagnan. A comprehensive, well illustrated blog coverage with many video recordings of major discussions, 17 June - 7 July, 2013.
http://www.cinefiliaritrovata.it/cinema-ritrovato-in-arrivo/
Kevin Brownlow on Allan Dwan in Bologna
http://vimeo.com/69486753
Dave Kehr
The Dwan Patrol:  http://www.davekehr.com/?p=1677
Afterthoughts included in the Walter Hill chain: Knuckling Down:  http://www.davekehr.com/?p=1686
The Dwan debate goes on for over two weeks, terrific remarks by Frederic Lombardi on July 25, 2013 at 4:05 am, and before
Photogénie (Bart Versteirt, Tom Paulus, Anke Brouwers)
http://www.photogenie.be/blog/
Silent London (Pamela Hutchinson)
http://silentlondon.co.uk/2013/07/06/il-cinema-ritrovato-2013-reporting-back/
Fandor (David Hudson)
http://www.fandor.com/blog/daily-il-cinema-ritrovato-2013
Hollywood Reporter (Clarence Tsui interviews Peter von Bagh)
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/il-cinema-ritrovatos-peter-von-581175
Jonathan Rosenbaum
http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.com/?p=33954
Meredith Brody
1. http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/cinema-ritrovato-alexander-payne-q-a
2. http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/il-cinema-ritrovato-day-two-chaplins-one-am-ophuls-sans-lendemain-and-more
3. http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/il-cinema-ritrovato-xxvii-allen-dwan-more-primitive-than-noble
Simone Starace
http://journeys-italy.blogspot.fi/2013/07/ma-lamor-mio-non-muore-love-everlasting.html
http://journeys-italy.blogspot.fi/2013/07/il-cinema-ritrovato-dvd-awards.html
Sergio M. Germani in il manifesto, 10 July 2013
http://www.ilmanifesto.it/area-abbonati/ricerca/nocache/1/manip2n1/20130710/manip2pg/12/manip2pz/342951/manip2r1/allan%20dwan/
Kristin Thompson, 16 July 2013
http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2013/07/16/il-cinema-ritrovato-number-9-and-counting/
Film Comment (Genevieve Yue), 19 July 2013
http://www.filmcomment.com/entry/festivals-il-cinema-ritrovato-2013
Senses of Cinema (Peter Hourigan), 26 September 2013
http://sensesofcinema.com/2013/festival-reports/a-model-shop-for-retrieved-cinema-the-27th-cinema-ritrovato/
Peter Rist, Off/Screen, Volume 18, issue 3 / March 2014
http://offscreen.com/view/27th-il-cinema-ritrovato

ALLAN DWAN RELATED LINK
David Phelps and Gina Telaroli (ed.): Allan Dwan (A Dossier). Lumière, 2013, 460 pages
http://elumiere.net/especiales/dwan/indexdwan.php

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Most Dangerous Man Alive

[The film was not released in Finland.] US © 1961 Columbia Pictures. D: Allan Dwan. Dal racconto The Steel Monster di Phillip Rock e Michael Pate. SC: James Leicester, Phillip Rock. DP: Carl Carvahal. ED: Carlo Lodato. M: Louis Forbes. C: Ron Randell (Eddie Candell), Debra Paget (Linda Marlow), Elaine Stewart (Carla Angelo), Anthony Caruso (Andy Damon), Gregg Palmer (tenente Fisher), Morris Ankrum (capitano Davis), Tudor Owen (dottor Meeker), Steve Mitchell (Devola), Joel Donte (Franscetti). P: Benedict Bogeaus per Trans-Global Films. 35 mm. 82'. Col. Da: Sony Columbia per concessione di Park Circus. Cinema Jolly (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), e-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti, 6 July 2013

Peter von Bagh: "As only with Dwan, we are in medias res in a couple of minutes. A man called Eddie Candell escapes from a death convoy to San Quentin; he is non-descript in appearance but not without importance, as this self-made man built an economic empire that was robbed while he was in prison - a modern success story topped by a still more modern one in a world run by ever dirtier hands. The successful people, Eddie's followers, are plain crooks whose own ideas wouldn't accomplish a thing - they can only steal, murder and destroy. Official society, starting with the police, completes the grim view; their faces in this lucid film are almost like the personification of the  military-industrial complex that was to be- come Eisenhower's nightmare vision in his farewell speech, in 1961. So Eddie is first framed and will soon have killed a man, almost like an automaton, nicely assisted by those who want to finish him off - which means everybody, from the officials to criminals (if they can be separated). He doesn't choose to become a killer but clearly he is not sympathetic or harmless either; he's armed and dangerous, but of course a small fish compared to those after him. Except in what Eddie becomes materially: he is shellshocked by radiation and becomes invincible: he might be dead already (perhaps there are echoes of the strange Michael Curtiz-Boris Karloff collaboration called The Walking Dead) so weapons don't hurt him; he's just a pathetic guinea-pig in the service of progress. His 48-hour walk toward death takes place in anonymous offices or in the desert, the best in modern film. What would become a set for Antonioni is here burning, concrete, crushing reality - a soulscape. Eddie is the kind of trapped nondescript non-person that Dwan understands so well; he even had a special type of actor, almost non-actors, perform those roles in the final (and arguably greatest) part of his career: John Payne, Ronald Reagan, here a guy called Ron Randell whose name doesn't ring a bell from any other film. His face - as with the heroes of Edgar Ulmer's films - is perfect for a man who seems to have walked among us from the realm of death, presenting a last look at earth and its present inhabitants and encountering a not very consoling view. The vision has an erotic tension also, as it happens in Slightly Scarlet or River's Edge. Eddie stands between two women - a sweet Elaine Stewart and the more threatening gangster moll Debra Paget who promises: "I will make you the same..", answered memorably by the man: "Can you make me flesh and blood again?" The strange finale caps Eddie's  trapped life with an enormous explosion and fire storm where our non-person simply explodes. He survives as dust amid nuclear dust, alienated by and distanced from other people, dangerous to them and himself. His touching post-mortem is also director Allan Dwan's farewell.  This  might be the most amazing postscript to a fabulous film career - a film with no sympathy whatsoever for society, coming from an optimistic man who directed hundreds of films with touching confidence about the integrity of citizens." Peter von Bagh

My cinephile friends were ecstatic at Cinema Jolly after the screening. I cannot share their excitement, but I was impressed by the spirit and the energy shining through what in my opinion is a ruined production.

A science fiction story about an escaped convict. Eddie Candell has been framed by gangsters for a killing he was not guilty of. During his escape he is exposed to a lethal nuclear test, but instead of dying he undergoes a transformation and becomes a hybrid "man of steel" resistant of bullets, and able to hold burning cinder without feeling anything. "Your skin is ice cold". "I'm not the same inside". The treacherous Linda at her last breath confesses that Eddie didn't do it.

Pulp fiction with affinities with contemporary Sam Fuller films such as Underworld U.S.A., also discussing fantasies of omnipotence on a tiny budget.

Pulp fiction with negative overtones, unique in Allan Dwan: "This spot is wired to the negative side". "I'll rip that rotten world apart and throw it to the wind". "I'll tear the world apart" shouts Eddie as he exposed to two flamethrowers. He turns into ashes until there is nothing but dust.

The picture was screened in the Academy ratio, as Pierre Rissient had forwarded to the Festival Allan Dwan's remark that he shot all his films in full frame except for the ones that were shot in scope. There was no problem with the Academy ratio, but it was evident that the film would look better at 1,85:1.

The performances are wooden and absent-minded. Before blaming the actors and the direction of actors it is useful to read Allan Dwan's remarks.

Allan Dwan: "That again was a synthetic thing. In the first place, there was a deception about it. Even I got hooked. Bogeaus said that it was to be a pilot for a television series - in two episodes - and employed everybody on that basis. But when he presented the two parts to the syndicates in Mexico, they said, 'This is a script that's cut in half. It's a continuous story, so it is not a television film but a feature. Therefore you can't make it on TV terms, with a skeleton crew and everything at much lower rates. You must take a full crew and do it at full feature rates.' Well, as a matter of fact, that's what it was. He had just cut the script in half and was making the two parts. Pretty soon the actors got on to that and then the whole roof fell in on him and he didn't get away with his cheater. Which threw the budget completely out of the window - tripled it; to counterbalance that, it had to be done wham - fast. What should have been shot in five weeks was done in one. And everything in interiors - nothing built. The actors didn't want to stay. All they wanted to do was get home. And I was in the awkward position of trying to keep it together with all this schism going on around us. So I gritted my teeth and battled. And that's no fun. Nobody cared a damn. So it was just get it in the box and get home. A misfit from start to end." (Allan Dwan in Peter Bogdanovich's book, p. 167 in the London, 1971, edition). The film was made in 1958 and released first in 1961, the last film produced by Bogeaus. And the last film directed by Allan Dwan.

On the dialogue track there is often an obvious post-synch room sound. The soundtrack does not sound very good.

The print is complete and clean, like never before projected, but the contrast is high. The grading of the light is tuned too dark and somewhat stuffy.

Description d'un combat / Description of a Struggle

תיאור של מאבק . FR 1960. D+SC: Chris Marker. DP: Ghislain Cloquet. ED: Eva Zora. M: Lalan. S: SIMO. C: Jean Vilar (narratore). P: Wim van Leer, SOPHAC. Premiere: 27 aprile 1961. Digibeta. 54'. Col. Da: Israeli Film Archive - Jerusalem Cinémathèque. Cinema Lumière - Sala Scorsese (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), earphone translation in Italian and English, 6 July 2013

André S. Labarthe: "Chris Marker is a modern-day poet. He is about the same age as the rolleiflex he carries around his neck. He has not composed poetry, he is not a collector of moods: he travels. He wanders. He ob­serves. Perhaps he sees the world the way other people read books: with passion and curiosity, sometimes skipping a few pag­es, to go back and read them later. Maybe he is taking notes with his photographs. But you can't be sure. In any case, they neither constitute a captain's log nor a sketch book nor an album of souvenir photos from his pilgrimages, but rather movies (albeit of a very unusual length). This bizarre object, Les Coréennes [pho­tography book by Chris Marker, Seuil, Paris 1959], stretches the boundaries of writing (though not as much as he would have liked) and the definitions of liter­ary genres [...]. In Lettre de Sibérie, in Description d'un combat, images vibrate like voices. And, just as every voice has its own timber, so each of Chris Marker's images (and by that of course I mean the images with their audio accompaniment), emanates with his particular vibration. Each image of Description d'un combat is a condensed, elliptical tale of an expe­rience; a taking possession of reality by that unique spirit and sensitivity that is Chris Marker. [...] All in all, Marker's art resembles that synthesis of images that in painting is known as collage. As Max Ernst ironically said, "If the feathers make the plumage, it is not the glue that makes the collage". Similarly, we can say: it is not the images that make a Chris Marker film. Nor is it the commentary. But it is the ed­iting of the commentary together with the images, for which Bazin coined the phrase horizontal editing. Such a technique is ex­tremely novel, because it is imposed right from the start of the filmmaking process rather than, as is usually the case, as the final step. We need to emphasize that we are not speaking of editing in terms of a strictly technical process (obviously Marker needed to technically edit his films after having filmed and commented on them), but rather as Marker's human response to reality. Editing is much more than just a technical aspect of the film­making process, it is first and foremost a reflection of how the director sees the world, or, if you prefer, how he expresses what he sees to the world." André S. Labarthe, Le Rolleiflex de Chris­tophe Colomb, "Cahiers du cinéma", n. 122, August 1961

A playful documentary essay of Israel at the age of twelve made by the flying Frenchman Chris Marker. When the UN recommended in 1947 the partition plan of Mandatory Palestine and the creation of the two states of Israel and Palestine, the Palestinian leaders and several neighbouring Arab states refused to accept, and as soon as the state of Israel was founded, the armies of Lebanon, Syria, Irak, Jordania, Egypt and Saudi Arabia attacked it. But this is not the combat that Chris Marker's film is about. This is a film of an inner struggle.

This is also a film about signs, all kinds of signs, in the many languages of the area including Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, German, Russian, and tourist languages. About traffic signs, clothes as signs, money as a sign, colours as signs, and signs created by children. And about signs on the oscilloscope.

The documentarist's observing camera roams about - markets with vegetables, images, and clothes - the animals in the zoo: "I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls." (Book of Job, 30:29) - a planetarium compared with a synagogue - the holy emptiness inside the synagogue during a service - happy parties and celebrations - a game of chess by the Dead Sea - la Mer Morte and la terre morte - the last bar before the Red Sea - a crop dusting Piper Cub plane.

Intercut is archival imagery from - the Wailing Wall - the ravages of war in Jerusalem 12 years ago - Oscar Wilde: "I have come here to forget". "To forget what?" "I have forgotten." - key events in 1947: the refugees, the Haganah, the displaced persons hiding, jumping from one ship to a Haganah ship - the memory of the camps. The memory of the persecutions runs from Titus to Hitler. There are memorial bonfires by the beach.

Intercut are also - playful images of myths including Samson and Delilah, and Ali Baba - photomontages including one featuring cats - Hiroshima compared with Sodoma - images of popular culture (Jayne Mansfield, Elvis) and consumption, sensation headlines.

There are also images of pure beauty including the dance sequence with charming images of women's faces.

We witness dimensions of a unique society - an orphan boy taken care of by a cooperative - une petit flamme indestructible - and the kibbutz, "the most original expression of Israel" - not forgetting the Arabs.

Children are of the essence - schoolchildren, swimming children, no longer children of the ghetto. It all ends with the joy of the children, itself like a sign.

Of the poetic commentary I missed most since I can read French but cannot very well follow spoken French, and I decided not to listen to the earphone translation in English.

The experimental score by Lalan is fascinating. It is mostly electronic music, and intercut are songs and dances.

Digibeta look in the presentation.

Quo vadis? (1913) (1969 Milan / Amsterdam restoration)

IT 1913. D: Enrico Guazzoni. Dal romanzo Quo vadis. Powieść z czasów Nerona (1895) di Henryk Sienkiewicz. SC: Enrico Guazzoni. C: Amleto Novelli, Gustavo Serena, Carlo Cattaneo. AD: Enrico Guazzoni. P: Cines. 35 mm. 1944 m. 94' a 18 f/s. Col. English intertitles. Milano print Da: Fondazione Cineteca Italiana e EYE - Film Institute Netherlands per concessione di Ripley's Film. Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, earphone commentary in Italian, grand piano: Donald Sosin, 6 July 2013

Giovanni Lasi: "Quo vadis? revolutionized all former notions of the scope and power of the motion picture", declared George Kleine, the American distributor for Cines Films. Quo vadis? marked a radical turning point in the history of Italian and international cinema. The film by Guazzoni, paving the way for a season of historical-mythological "colossals", affirmed Italy's place in the international world of cinema. Besides reaching epic levels of commercial success, Quo vadis? immediately became the definitive model of the genre: lavish sets, thousands of extras, the management of vast locations, the spectacular nature of the action scenes all became trademarks for successive Italian productions of the "sword-and-sandal" genre, which would have reached its pinnacle the following year with Cabiria." Giovanni Lasi

Giovanni Lasi: "From the late 19th century, as neoclassical currents held sway in art and literature, Greek and Roman history also grew in popularity, but it was viewed through the aesthetic and philosophical lens of mythology and tinged with romanticism. The ancient world was seen as some kind of paradise lost, a golden age, tantalizing but irretrievable: a world we yearn for but which, by its very nature, can be revisited exclusively in the realm of fantasy. It is no wonder, then, that this distant era, remote and legendary, persisted as one of the main subjects of mainstream, popular literature even into the beginning of the 20th century, with tales set in ancient Greece or Rome being published, graced with il­lustrations inspired by the vast production of 19th century neo-classical painting. The same visual and narrative model was soon adopted by the new medium of cinema, where its potential could be further expanded. A filmmaker does more than just reproduce reality on the screen; he also needs to be able to bring history to life, bridging the gap across space and time. Even more: thanks to the medium's ability immerse the spectator fully in the events taking place on the big screen, the members of a cinema audience have the miraculous opportunity to lose themselves, body and soul, in the splendors of antiquity. If it is true that cinema has been, since its inception, nurturing a biding interest in the archeological past, it is equally true that the canons which determined the success of the mythological/historical genre were set in the 1910s: lavish sets and costumes, spectacular action scenes filmed on vast studio lots with thousands of extras. While certainly the entire internation­al film industry caught the Epic Classics bug, Italy surely dominated the scene with such films as Quo vadis?, Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei, Cajus Julius Caesar, Cabiria, all produced between 1913 and 1914, which were destined to become milestones in the history of silent film. The measure of the success of these films is evident in the effect they had on other genres: from the proliferation of dal vero made at archeological sites around the world, to the irreverent comedies set in ancient Greek or Roman times. The road from Quo vadis? to Kri Kri gladiatore is very brief." Giovanni Lasi

Mariann Lewinsky: "Alongside the Italian epics Quo Vadis? and Spartaco, the programme includes a selection of shorter (and in some cases earlier) films. When and how did the ancient world make its first appearance in the cinema? Even before 1900, Pathé was offering risqué scenes, their Greek setting legitimising the nudity, then there were scènes bibliques, ambitious quests for "historical truth, local colour and richness in costumes and sets" (Pathé catalogues of 1900 and 1902) and in 1901 the first film version of Quo Vadis? appeared, a three minutes scène à grand spectacle. The French antiquity films of the following years are all conspicuous for their mag­nificent stencil-colouring. Around 1913 the ideal of antique beauty and sensuality took everyday fashion by storm and this is documented in many films: at home the ladies wear Fortuny pleated negligés, and at soirées creations by Poiret, Doucet and Drécoll, with high-girdled tunics over the finest fabrics draped in plentiful folds, all topped off with coiffures à la grècque." Mariann Lewinsky

AA notes: In her introduction Mariann Lewinsky told about: rightholder and material problems which is why there is no newer restoration than this one, made in collaboration by the Amsterdam and Milan film archives in 1969. The best source was Dutch, with German and French intertitles. A hybrid was created with English intertitles. Lewinsky stated that Quo vadis? is the finest historical novel, and Henryk Sienkiewicz was deservedly awarded with the Nobel Prize of literature in 1905. It has inspired adaptations at the opera, and in the music hall.

"The 1913 film adaptation by Enrico Guazzoni was so spectacularly successful that it was continuously in distribution until the 1925 film adaptation. It always filled the house." AA notes of the Mariann Lewinsky introduction.

- Quo vadis, Domine?
- Romam vado iterum crucifigi.

AA: I had never seen this impressive adaptation before. The story is familiar since I read the Henryk Sienkiewicz novel as a schoolboy, and most recently I have seen the MGM 1951 Quo vadis adaptation directed by Mervyn LeRoy in the "ultimate collector's dvd edition" of 2008, starring Robert Taylor (Vinicius), Deborah Kerr (Lygia), and Peter Ustinov (Nero).

In 1913 D.W. Griffith was already making sophisticated films such as The Mothering Heart, but this Quo vadis? adaptation is still in the early cinema mode with long shots, long takes, and intertitles announcing the action in advance. There are instances of overacting and gestures being telegraphed in an exaggerated way, but as a rule the performances are often rather sober. There are impressive instances of deep focus composition in Quo vadis?

It is interesting to think that Adolf Hitler may have seen this movie with its Roman salutes (copied as Nazi salutes), sadistic persecutions of a religious minority, and delirium over violence and destruction. Nero burns Rome in order to built Neropolis (qf. Hitler's plan to destroy Berlin and replace it with Germania). An epic conflagration is needed to inspire the tyrant to finish his poem. The poem will be composed to render Nero immortal. - On the other hand, the 1951 Quo vadis (shot in Cinecittà) can be seen as an indirect reflection of the Holocaust which was still a topic too overwhelming to be discussed directly in Hollywood (the change came first in 1959 with The Diary of Anne Frank).

Vinicius and Lygia try to survive in the circumstances dominated by the tyrant's whims with banquets, orgies, and atrocities.

In the catacombs Peter spreads the word of Christianity: love and forgiveness. Peter gives his blessing to Vinicius and Lygia.

At Poppea's suggestion Nero tries to put the blame on the burning of Rome on the Christians, and Chilo the traitor helps him track down the Christian martyrs. After the chariot race the Christians are thrown to the lions. Nero asks Petronius what he thinks of the spectacle. "Oh, the show is worthy of you". In the royal gardens Nero watches the final torture of the Christians: the human torches. But Chilo looks at them in horror, detecting among the martyrs Glaucus whose family he had ruined yet who had forgiven him in the name of the Christ. This is a turning-point for Chilo who now exposes Nero. Paul baptizes Chilo.

A creation of Henryk Sienkiewicz, Ursus, who became an Ur-muscleman hero of the cinema, appears impressively in this movie. He is more impressive than Spartacus in the 1913 feature film. Both are predecessors of Maciste who appeared next year in Cabiria (1914). A climax is the arena sequence: after the lions have devoured Christians a bull is released on the arena with Lygia on its back. Ursus defeats the raging bull with his bare hands. The audience shouts to Nero: "Arsonist! Murderer! Clemency!"

Memorable features and scenes: - The actors are introduced in portrait shots in the opening credit sequence. - Lygia flees the declarations of the patrician's love. - St. Peter in the catacombs. - Chilo the traitor elevated and carried around on a pallet. - The Liebestod double suicide of Petronius and his wife, the doctor assisting them by cutting their wrists. - The suicide of Nero: he fails at first but is eagerly assisted.

Peter and Nazarius are leaving Rome and Nero's atrocities, but on Via Appia they meet the spirit of Jesus Christ. - "Where are you going, Lord?" - "If you leave Rome, I'll go there to be crucified again".

An interpretation of the foundation story of Christian Rome, resonating in much of the history of art and cinema, including Roma città aperta (seen here this week in its latest restoration) with its conclusion facing St. Peter's Basilica.

Told in an engaging way by Enrico Guazzoni, leading to a robust, gripping conclusion. It is still quite effective.

One of the memorable finishes to the A Hundred Years Ago project. One of the culminating achievements of early cinema. The title is evocative for world history on the eve of the First World War. And for the cinema on the eve of the reign of the feature film.

The visual quality: this is as a whole a beautiful print and a well-made restoration. The opening has been restored from a battered source, but it gets better. I like the subtle toning and tinting in this version.

A Hundred Years Ago: The Irrestible Fascination of Ancient Rome III

IL FASCINO IRRESISTIBILE DELL'ANTICHITÀ (terza parte). Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Accompagnamento al piano di Donald Sosin. Earphone commentary in Italian and English, 6 July 2013

QUO VADIS? IT 1913. D: Enrico Guazzoni. Dal romanzo di Henryk Sienkiewicz. SC: Enrico Guazzoni. C: Amleto Novelli, Gustavo Serena, Carlo Cattaneo. AD: Enrico Guazzoni. P: Cines. 35 mm. 1944 m. 94' a 18 f/s. Col. English intertitles. Da: Fondazione Cineteca Italiana e EYE - Film Institute Netherlands per concessione di Ripley's Film. Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna - AA: See separate remarks in the next blog entry.

COURSE PROVENÇALE / Een komische Stierengevecht [the title on the print]. FR 1913. P: Gaumont. 35 mm. 101 m. 5' a 18 f/s. B&w. Nederlandse tussentitels. Da: EYE - Film Institute Netherlands (Desmet Collection). - AA: A thrilling bullfight movie with several extremely dangerous stunts: jumping over the bull, and so on. A fair print with occasional sprocket marks.

KRI KRI GLADIATORE / Julius als Gladiator [the title on the print]. IT 1913. C: Raymond Frau. P: Cines. 35 mm. 151 m. 8' a 18 f/s. B&w. Deutsche Zwischentitel [not Czech titles as announced]. Da: Národní filmový archiv. - AA: In the kitchen Kri Kri falls asleep over a shaslik skewer and dreams of gladiator feats. The little but energetic Kri Kri precedes Chaplin in roles such as Don José in Burlesque on Carmen. A slave is in chains, a maid is thrown to the lions, Kri Kri enter the arena, and at the same time in the kitchen a cat attacks Kri Kri's shaslik skewer. Funny. The print is soft and out of focus at times.

Giovanni Lasi: "Quo vadis? revolutionized all former notions of the scope and power of the motion picture", declared George Kleine, the American distributor for Cines Films. Quo vadis? marked a radical turning point in the history of Italian and international cinema. The film by Guazzoni, paving the way for a season of historical-mythological "colossals", affirmed Italy's place in the international world of cinema. Besides reaching epic levels of commercial success, Quo vadis? immediately became the definitive model of the genre: lavish sets, thousands of extras, the management of vast locations, the spectacular nature of the action scenes all became trademarks for successive Italian productions of the "sword-and-sandal" genre, which would have reached its pinnacle the following year with Cabiria." Giovanni Lasi

Giovanni Lasi: "From the late 19th century, as neoclassical currents held sway in art and literature, Greek and Roman history also grew in popularity, but it was viewed through the aesthetic and philosophical lens of mythology and tinged with romanticism. The ancient world was seen as some kind of paradise lost, a golden age, tantalizing but irretrievable: a world we yearn for but which, by its very nature, can be revisited exclusively in the realm of fantasy. It is no wonder, then, that this distant era, remote and legendary, persisted as one of the main subjects of mainstream, popular literature even into the beginning of the 20th century, with tales set in ancient Greece or Rome being published, graced with il­lustrations inspired by the vast production of 19th century neo-classical painting. The same visual and narrative model was soon adopted by the new medium of cinema, where its potential could be further expanded. A filmmaker does more than just reproduce reality on the screen; he also needs to be able to bring history to life, bridging the gap across space and time. Even more: thanks to the medium's ability immerse the spectator fully in the events taking place on the big screen, the members of a cinema audience have the miraculous opportunity to lose themselves, body and soul, in the splendors of antiquity. If it is true that cinema has been, since its inception, nurturing a biding interest in the archeological past, it is equally true that the canons which determined the success of the mythological/historical genre were set in the 1910s: lavish sets and costumes, spectacular action scenes filmed on vast studio lots with thousands of extras. While certainly the entire internation­al film industry caught the Epic Classics bug, Italy surely dominated the scene with such films as Quo vadis?, Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei, Cajus Julius Caesar, Cabiria, all produced between 1913 and 1914, which were destined to become milestones in the history of silent film. The measure of the success of these films is evident in the effect they had on other genres: from the proliferation of dal vero made at archeological sites around the world, to the irreverent comedies set in ancient Greek or Roman times. The road from Quo vadis? to Kri Kri gladiatore is very brief." Giovanni Lasi

Mariann Lewinsky: "Alongside the Italian epics Quo Vadis? and Spartaco, the programme includes a selection of shorter (and in some cases earlier) films. When and how did the ancient world make its first appearance in the cinema? Even before 1900, Pathé was offering risqué scenes, their Greek setting legitimising the nudity, then there were scènes bibliques, ambitious quests for "historical truth, local colour and richness in costumes and sets" (Pathé catalogues of 1900 and 1902) and in 1901 the first film version of Quo Vadis? appeared, a three minutes scène à grand spectacle. The French antiquity films of the following years are all conspicuous for their mag­nificent stencil-colouring. Around 1913 the ideal of antique beauty and sensuality took everyday fashion by storm and this is documented in many films: at home the ladies wear Fortuny pleated negligés, and at soirées creations by Poiret, Doucet and Drécoll, with high-girdled tunics over the finest fabrics draped in plentiful folds, all topped off with coiffures à la grècque." Mariann Lewinsky

Le Suicide de Bébé

[BONUS MOVIE originally belonging to A Hundred Years Ago Programme 4 screened on 2 July 2013.]

Bebe's Ruse. FR 1913. D: Louis Feuillade. C: Clément Mary, Renée Carl, Paul Manson. P: Gaumont. 35 mm. 147 m. 7' a 18 f/s. B&w. English or French intertitles? [French intertitles were announced.]. CNC - Archives Françaises du Film. Sala Mastroianni (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), grand piano: Donald Sosin, earphone translation in Italian, 6 July 2013

Bébé learns about his parents' divorce plans, his mother declaring that she is about to go back to her mother. Bébé finds a revolver and points it to his mouth - head - heart... He writes a suicide letter about "quitter l'existence". After his fake suicide there is a reconciliation of the parents. "Now I can live". The print has been restored from a 28 mm Pathé KOK source.

Il giudizio universale / The Last Judgment + clip from Il processo Clemenceau (1917) + Vittorio De Sica's last tv appearance (1974)

The film was not released in Finland. IT © 1961 Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica, S.p.A. D: Vittorio De Sica. SC: Cesare Zavattini. DP: Gábor Pogány. ED: Marisa Letti, Adriana Novelli. AD: Pasquale Romano. M: Alessandro Cicognini. S: Biagio Fiorelli, Bruno Moreal. C: Fernandel (il vedovo / the widower), Alberto Sordi (il trafficante di bambini / merchant of children), Paolo Stoppa (Giorgio), Anouk Aimée (Irene, Giorgio's wife), Nino Manfredi (il cameriere / waiter), Silvana Mangano (Signora Matteoni), Vittorio Gassman (Cimino), Renato Rascel (Coppola), Melina Mercouri (foreign lady), Vittorio De Sica (l'avvocato difensore / defense lawyer), Jack Palance (Matteoni), Lino Ventura (Giovanna's father), Mike Bongiorno (se stesso / himself), Ernest Borgnine (il ladro / pickpocket), Franco Franchi e Ciccio Ingrassia (disoccupati), Lamberto Maggiorani (poor man), Maria Pia Casilio (waitress), Jimmy Durante (the man with the large nose), Akim Tamiroff (play director). - Nicola Rossi-Lemeni (God's voice). P: Dino De Laurentiis per Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica, Standard Films. Loc: Naples. Premiere: 26 ottobre 1961. 35 mm. 98'. B&w. Da: Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna e CSC - Cineteca Nazionale per concessione di Filmauro. Cinema Jolly (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), e-subtitles in English by Sub-Ti, 6 July 2013

Vittorio De Sica: "Quanto al Giudizio universale (un altro mio film infelice, che non ebbe fortuna ma che io considero fra i più belli che ho fatto), lì non eravamo nella favola ma semmai, come dire?, nella fanta-religione. Se oggi dal cielo sentissimo una voce che dicesse "Preparati, fra mezz'ora c'è il giudizio universale", ognuno di noi correrebbe ai ripari, cioè scaricherebbe le proprie responsabilità per apparire mondo, puro, davanti al Giudizio. E se poi viene il contrordine, come racconto nel film, ognuno si ritufferebbe subito nella sua ipocrisia, nella sua cattiveria. Oggi forse quel film avrebbe successo, e lo avrebbe Umberto D. Non vorrei sembrarle troppo vanitoso, ma credo che quei due film siano usciti troppo presto. Spesso Zavattini e io abbiamo avuto il difetto di pensare certe cose troppo presto." Vittorio De Sica, intervista di Giuliano Ferrieri, De Sica visto da De Sica, "L'Europeo", n. 47, 21 novembre 1974

Vittorio De Sica: "With Il Giudizio universale (another of my unlucky films, not particularly successful but nonetheless one I consider among the best I made), we weren't after making a fairy tale but, how should I put it... we made a 'religious fantasy'. If we were to hear a voice booming from the sky saying "Get ready, because in half an hour Doomsday is coming", we would all be running for cover, abandoning everything we were doing to appear uncorrupted and pure when faced with Judgment Day. And then if the countermand came, as it does in the film, everyone would jump right back to the usual hypocrisy and meanness. Perhaps today this film would have more success, as would Umberto D. I don't intend to sound vain, but I think those two films came out too early. Zavattini and I often made the mistake of coming up with ideas too soon." Vittorio De Sica, interview  by  Giuliano Ferrieri, De Sica visto da De Sica, "L'Europeo", n. 47, November 21, 1974

Callisto Cosulich: "Italian cinema is once again at the crest of a wave. But, looking at its umpteenth rebirth, it hasn't been pointed out that, today, we are reaping what was sown three, four, even ten years ago. There were stories, treatment, at time completely polished scripts that were stashed away in the drawers of their writers [...] Among all of these stories, simmering for years, one of the relics is that which gave rise to Il Giudizio universale, which Vittorio De Sica is shooting now in Naples. Everything else aside, it is the one script among these, which changed the most along  the  way. It could be claimed that it exists thanks to the sacrifice, voluntary or fortuitous, of a series of other projects, one by one shelved or transformed by the writer, Cesare Zavattini, a constant figure in this novel of many chapters. Initially it didn't even begin as a story, rather more as a joke; it wasn't the Judgment, but the Flood; it started at nine in the morning, rather than at six in the afternoon, as the final version has it. It was meant to be the opening of Basta una canzone, which Zavattini was finishing for Blasetti and on which at a certain stage he also involved Flaiano and Maccari, a film completely out of the norm, responding to the mood of the year in which it was conceived: 1945, at the end of the war. It was supposed to be the instrument for expressing the redde rationem (reckoning) after such a dark era, to provoke a kind of mass confession, compel people to take a profound look at the many wrongs every individual had some share in. But the substantial hypocrisy of humanity was not to be vanquished even by the fear of cataclysm, and the brief moment of sincerity is quickly transformed into a breathless grasping for alibis. This theme, of alibis and excuses, is one Zavattini has borne all these years and now explodes today in one of the most derisive scenes in Il Giudizio. It is the exclamation "I have a mother too!" shouted by all the Italians, in solidarity with Antonio Abati, accused of servility to his boss, who makes him come every morning with a bouquet of flowers [...]. De Sica, who was on the verge of making this film on numerous occasions, was always unable to find the resources to cover the budget. Il Giudizio has become itself the fairy tale of  Italian  cinema,  to the point where a kind spirit spread the word that De Sica was waiting to shoot it live [...]. In what form is Il Giudizio in its final version? Ten different stories intertwine with mathematical precision and utter discipline, without ever trying to overwhelm one another, nor overreaching their dimensions so as to hurt the others: each is seen three times before the Judgment, once during and once after, to all come together at the end, in one place, the 'Great Ballroom for the Unemployed', reminiscent of the later films of René Clair." Callisto Cosulich, Sedici anni a bagnomaria, "La fiera del cinema", n. 4, April 4, 1961

AA: Gian Luca Farinelli gave an inspired introduction to this special screening, interpreted into English by Cecilia Cenciarelli.

My notes from the Gian Luca Farinelli introduction: "Vittorio De Sica's career was the most extraordinary in the history of the Italian cinema. He appeared in 157 films, more than anybody else in Italy. After the feature we will see two clips. The first is from his first performance in Il processo Clemenceau (1917), and the other is from his last television performance shortly before his death in 1974 in a very popular programme."

"The films Vittorio De Sica really loved most were the ones that were not commercially successful. Umberto D. and Il giudizio universale were films that were especially dear for Vittorio De Sica. Neither had commercial success, and in De Sica's opinion they were ahead of their time."

"Il giudizio universale was the last Vittorio De Sica-Cesare Zavattini collaboration. They came to the attention of the world with neorealism, and they switched to reinterpreting neorealism through fairy-tales."

"It was a mysterious relationship between a farmer from Padana and a prince from Naples.

"Zavattini created an extraordinary gallery of characters, and De Sica gave them a legendary stature."

"Zavattini said: "I due di noi sono come cappucchino. We do not know which part is which, which is coffee, and which is milk." Their films were founded on a real, human basis of simplicity and clarity." Gian Luca Farinelli (notes by AA)

AA: The booming voice of God is heard from the sky: "The Last Judgment starts at six o'clock". "It must be a commercial", is one of the reactions.

Il giudizio universale is a multi-character study which reveals an often blasé and half-hearted reaction to the prospect of imminent apocalypse. It is a satiric confirmation to the words of the Bible: "The worst are the lukewarm".

The widower Fernandel chases an attractive woman. - Anouk Aimée is caught in a triangle with two men. - Vittorio Gassman is a dandy infinitely proud of his hat; then some scoundrel drops a tomato on it. - Vittorio De Sica is a defense lawyer at the court where there is apparently a corruption case being processed. - Silvana Mangano keeps revealing embarrassing truths about Jack Palance's business affairs based on fraud and corruption. - Television is constantly on, showing brainless quiz shows by Mike Bongiorno. - The children ask what is the last judgment. - Alberto Sordi is a merchant of children who buys children from poor peasants and cheats reluctant kids to believe that he is a father figure. - Ernest Borgnine is a pickpocket who pretends he is an old friend of Fernandel's. - Jimmy Durante is despairing that he must carry this nose for another 20 years. - Melina Mercouri is having a hotel  room affair with an ambassador. Cocaine is available.

God takes over the television, and there is a farcical international montage of interrogations on the eve of the last judgment.

There is a great wind and a torrential rain. More confessions and revelations are made, for instance by Silvana Mangano. In the courtroom the accused confesses "But I'm guilty" to the dismay of the defense attorney.

Suddenly the rain stops, the sun shines, and everybody returns to their old ways. There is a colour sequence at the stage of a theatre where everybody sings and dances.

A movie of high ambition, but the approach is itself lukewarm. The performances are often highly theatrical, and it is a means of expression, but somehow it all does not build the way it should. The dopo di noi il diluvio atmosphere is a bit bland.

Highpoints of the movie: - Silvana Mangano's long monologue exposing Jack Palance. - The montage of the children's faces in the family from which Alberto Soldi is buying a little boy. - The "But I'm guilty" scene. - The boy starting to believe Alberto Sordi as a father figure. - "Maybe we're dead now and only think we're still alive".

The visual quality: a very duped look.

BONUS:

A clip from Il processo Clémenceau. IT 1917. PC: Caesar Film. D: Alfredo De Antoni. C: Francesca Bertini, Gustavo Serena. - In a small role: Vittorio De Sica (Pierre Clémenceau bambino). Format: Computer file. - Moving into the garden, wearing a uniform, in a long shot and in a medium shot, it is impossible to see facial details. Tinted or toned in green.

A clip from [Vittorio De Sica's last television appearance, 1974]. RAI Teche. Format: Computer file. Vittorio De Sica speaks in Italian, and there was no translation. Words I could understand included: - Neapolitan - gira il film - Mastroianni - scena sonora - mille bambini - megafono - silenzio - motore - ciak - azione - silenzio - grazie - tre mille - prego. Whatever it was, it was energetic and rewarded with laughter.

Le Chevalier des Neiges / The Knight of the Snows (Komiya Collection print)

FR 1913. D: Georges Méliès. C: Georges Méliès (il diavolo). 35 mm. 383 m. 19' a 18 f/s. Col. English intertitles. Da: National Film Center - The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (Komiya Collection). Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Accompagnamento al piano di Gabriel Thibaudeau, earphone commentary in Italian, 6 July 2013

A late fairy-tale film from le premier magicien du cinéma.

The evil count, Hugh the Cruel, is furious: Princess Adelina has been promised to the Knight of the Snows. Hugh commands the aid of his magician and agrees to sell his soul to Beelzebub if Adelina is not married to the Knight of the Snows. With the help of a flying dragon Hugh the Cruel abducts Adelina and consigns her to the cellar dungeon of his castle. The Knight of the Snows consults the same magician, who conjures the forces of light to help him. A good fairy gives him a talisman. The forces of virtue head towards the castle on a slow sailboat. The princess is rescued, and Beelzebub claims Hugh's soul.

The fairy-tale is but a framework for scenes full of wonders. During Hugh's rampage in the magician's lair we see a witch, a skull, a snake, and little assistant devils accompanying Beelzebub. The dragon taking Adelina to the castle is of a droll and lethargic kind. In the nocturnal castle there are will-o'-the-wisp lights, and the rocks of the underground tunnel are enchanted.

In his penultimate film Georges Méliès is faithful to his characteristic aesthetics, the early cinema mode of tableaux, long shots, long takes, immobile camera, and montage interdit. As always, the visual effects and the special effects are based on stop motion camera.

The first artist of the cinema ended his career in full command of his craft.

The golden age of the fairy-tale cinema ended with the long 19th century.

The Komiya Collection print is beautiful. The basic colour is sepia toning through most of the picture. There is red tinting in the explosion, and special shots are both tinted and toned with a red and blue twin colouring. The will-o'-the-wisp scene has also red and blue tinting and toning.

A Hundred Years Ago: The Closing Programme: The End of the Long Century

Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, accompagnamento al piano di Gabriel Thibaudeau, earphone commentary in Italian and English, 6 July 2013

PROGRAMMA DI CHIUSURA: LA FINE DEL SECOLO LUNGO

[This film I did not see due to the overlap with the preceding program the start of which was delayed: LA REGINA DI MAKALOLOS - Le avventure straordinarissime di Saturnino Farandola. IT 1913. D: Marcel Fabre. Dal romanzo di Albert Robida. SC: Guido Volante. C: Marcel Fabre (Saturnino Farandola), Nilde Baracchi (Mysora). P: Ambrosio. 35 mm. 400 m. 20' a 18 f/s. Col. Da: Fondazione Cineteca Italiana]

LA VIE COSMOPOLITE AU CAIRE / [Cosmopolitan Life in Cairo]. FR 1913. P: Pathé. 35 mm. 50 m. 3' a 18 f/s. Col. English intertitles. Da: BFI National Archive. - AA: Non-fiction. Travelogue. Charming views of Cairo, sights, animals. Impressive stencil colour throughout the picture.

MIT DER KAMERA IM EWIGEN EIS - TEIL I / [With a Camera on Eternal Ice, Part I]. DE 1913. DP: Sepp Allgeier. P: Express. 35 mm. 220 m (incompleto). 12' a 18 f/s. Col. Da : CNC - Archives Françaises du Film. - AA: Non-fiction. An expedition film. Well shot, impressive composition immediately in Tromsö, at least two cameras were in the equipment, as there is also a shot of Sepp Allgeier, himself, filming the expedition. There is a sequence of the ship being equipped for the dangerous voyage. The dogs seem tough enough. Treibeismassen = drift ice in front of Spitzbergen. The polar wind. Hunting ice bears. Immense masses of ice. Shipwreck in the middle of flexible ice. First there is the hurry to evacuate the ship. Then there is a hurry to move onto solid ice. The cameraman films the Schiffuntergang, the destruction of the ship. A first camp is established on solid ice. [The English earphone commentary had often nothing to do with the intertitles of this print. May there be two quite different versions of intertitles?]

LE CHEVALIER DES NEIGES. FR 1913. D: Georges Méliès. C: Georges Méliès (il diavolo). 35 mm. 383 m. 19' a 18 f/s. Col. English intertitles. Da: National Film Center - The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (Komiya Collection). Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna - AA: See separate remarks in the next post!

Mariann Lewinsky: "It's commonly understood that the 19th century did not come to an end on December 31, 1899, but rather with World War I, bringing the destruction of empires, devastating Europe and setting the stage for World War II. A dreary curtain fell in 1914 over the Belle Epoque, soon but a legend. The war would also change and Italian film industries. Hints of these changes, however, began earlier. In 1913 Georges Méliès, last hero of the nineteenth century féerique-fantastique show, left the cinema that had already left him."

Dimanche à Pekin / Sunday in Peking (2013 Argos / Éclair restoration)

FR 1956. D+SC+DP: Chris Marker - Eastmancolor. ED: Francine Grubert. M: Pierre Barbaud. S: Studios Marignan. Conseil sinologique: Agnès Varda. C: Guilles Quéant (narratore). P: Madeleine Casanova-Rodriguez per Pavox Films, Argos Films. 2K DCP. 18'. Col. Da: Argos Films. Cinema Lumière - Sala Scorsese (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), earphone commentary in Italian and English, 6 July 2013.

Restored by Éclair laboratories from a 16 mm Kodachrome negative and L.E. Diapason (for the sound).

André Bazin: "I think Chris Marker must have taken into consideration the inherent difficulties involved in trying to get a film distributed that only lasts just over twenty minutes. In any case, he certainly knew how to transform a necessity into a style, so much so that our own sorrow gives way to reflection. The subject matter is so vast that a documentary on it could only be either extremely long or extremely short. As it is, Dimanche à Pékin does not leave us dissatisfied, but intrigued. Like Les Statues meurent aussi, a film Chris Marker made together with his friend, Alain Resnais […], Dimanche à Pékin seems to reflect a new concept of documentary filmmaking. The term ‘documentary’ is too banal to describe this kind of film. We use it here for convenience sake to refer to the origin of the images […] The report Chris Marker brings us from China is at once a body of information, an expression of poetry and a critique. What truly distinguishes this film from predecessors produced with the same intent is the means by which it was made. Dimanche à Pékin is without a doubt a montage film, but Chris Marker imbues this generic term with radically new meaning. In a traditional sense, montage is based on what supports the images and the meaning expressed by their sequence. Whatever the function of montage editing, its power comes from the images chosen and the rhythm with which they are shown. It is in a way adding another dimension to the flatness of the screen. If it is further able to evoke feelings and ideas, it is by induction, like electro-magnetically induced current. In Chris Marker’s films, the montage process relies on three elements: the images, the relationship between the images and their relationship to the commentary, conceived as an explanation of the images and as a constitutional element of the film, which could not be defined without reference to these three components. We could also say that Dimanche à Pékin is essentially as much a literary piece of work as it is a cinematic one, although both of these assertions may also be false. We certainly have heard other brilliant, profound and poetic comments […] but none have been so dialectically linked to the images. Displayed frozen in an album, the images offered here are often very beautiful, and other times extremely banal, but the text rubs against them like the steel wheel of a lighter on the flint, producing sparks." André Bazin, ‘Sur les routes de l’URSS’ et ‘Dimanche à Pékin’, “France-Observateur”, June 27, 1957

Chris Marker's true birth as an essayist poet of the cinema. Olympia 52 was a well-made mainstream documentary. Les Statues meurent aussi was a personal masterpiece co-directed by Alain Resnais and Marker. Dimanche à Pekin is Marker's first solo tour-de-force.

Dimanche à Pekin is a colour-driven film. The bright and fabulous colours are usually in the warm register, with a lot of red, of course. "Couleurs partout".

Much of the imagery is not so different from travelogue. The images include - cycling in the fog - morning exercises with a sword - a steamroller - the alleys of Peking - trams - vegetable carts - construction sites everywhere - schoolchildren - une petite fille modèle - acrobatics - dances - rikshas - ancient frescoes - legends of ancient China - the marionette theatre - the dragon - parades - Mao saluting a big parade - goldfish -the zoo - a bear - glimpses of life. Not forgetting cat imagery, appearing already in the opening credits.

In Marker's hands all this does suffer a sea-change into something rich and strange.

The visual quality: the colour is bright and beautiful, but perhaps the mastering has not been conducted in full definition, perhaps dvd quality has been targeted?

Friday, July 05, 2013

Sudden Fear (2012 Cohen Film Collection restoration)

Pelko / So che mi ucciderai. US © 1952 Joseph Kaufmann Productions, Inc. D: David Miller. Dal romanzo omonimo di Edna Sherry. SC: Lenore Coffee, Robert Smith. DP: Charles B. Lang, Jr. ED: Leon Barsha. AD: Boris Leven, Edward G. Boyle. M: Elmer Bernstein. S: T.A. Carman, Howard Wilson. C: Joan Crawford (Myra Hudson), Jack Palance (Lester Blaine), Gloria Grahame (Irene Neves), Bruce Bennett (Steve Kearney), Virginia Huston (Ann Taylor), Touch Conners (Junior Kearney). P: Joseph Kaufmann per Joseph Kaufmann Productions. Premiere: 7 agosto 1952. 2K DCP. 111'. B&w. Da: Cohen Film Collection per concessione di Park Circus. Cinema Arlecchino (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), e-subtitles in Italian, 5 July 2013

Restored in 2012 by Cohen Film Collection at Modern Videofilm from a 35 mm fine grain and sound positive, both struck from a 35 mm negative held at the BFI National Archive.

Introduce Tim Lanza (Cohen Film Collection).

Paola Cristalli: "It was the time when Joan Crawford emerged from the tangled mess of melodrama and noir, at times defeated, at times victorious, but always alone. "Alone with her regret", as the Italian title of Harriet Craig suggests (Vincent Sherman, 1950); alone like a resourceful single mother can be, whose beloved first daughter has an affair with her mother's man, then kills him, in the masterpiece Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945); alone and lost on the roads of Los Angeles, prey to the insanity that is rooted in abandonment, in Curtis Berhardt's Possessed (1947). At time she does not emerge at all, in fact she sinks to the bottom of the ocean, like in the Wagnerian sublime finale to Humoresque. Is there a reason for any of this? Looking at twenty years of American cinema as a moral catalogue, we might think this is what happens when you have been such a dancing daughter, or a wife stealer with painted red nails, like Joan was in Cukor's The Women... However, Sudden Fear treads the same ground without upsetting the standard. Myra Hudson is, however, an interesting character, even one with an unusual premise: a playwright (and if in these years there are various women writers on the screen, very few of them write for the theatre), a woman who is rich from her inheritance but who lives off her talent, self-assured and domineering. However, she has that basic feminine weakness, which the heroines of the Forties woman's films had so bitterly dealt with, she becomes sad because she misses a man. On the long train voyage from New York to San Francisco, she gives in to the flattery of a young mediocre actor who she had previously rejected in an audition. (These are really beautiful sequences and the restoration gives justice to their nostalgic side, the lost urban landscapes and San Francisco in the sun in 1952). The rest is well-known material, he is Jack Palance and he chooses Gloria Grahame over her, he puts together a plan to kill, she discovers everything and gives a show of a self-defense that is like a mousetrap, playing with the lights and shades of the night... but she is really petrified with pain, and the film becomes a study of Joan Crawford's face, eyes open wide and every muscle in spasm, causing the not very kind Bosley Crowther to write that Mrs. Crawford's "theatrical personality has now reached the ossified stage". The director David Miller would return to work with a mature damsel in distress in the best remembered of his films, Midnight Lace, a pleasantly camp Hitchcockian variation. That however was in 1960, the shadow of noir and the guilt of woman's film are behind us, the damsel is Doris Day and she would not even think about doing it herself, nor being on her own; so she is liberated from this charming but rather old wife killer by a handsome architect who is, this time serenely, much younger than her." Paola Cristalli

It was an inspired idea of Il Cinema Ritrovato to present a San Francisco double bill of two restored thrillers, Sudden Fear and Experiment in Terror.

In his introduction to Sudden Fear, Tim Lanza told about Charles S. Cohen's commitment to restoring and remastering the treasures in the Raymond Rohauer collection which he purchased in 2011.

Sudden Fear is a strong Joan Crawford vehicle inspired by Alfred Hitchcock films such as Suspicion. A successful playwright (Joan Crawford) marries a struggling but talented actor (Jack Palance). Soon she realizes that the actor and his girlfriend (Gloria Grahame) are planning to murder her, but she launches an ingenious counter-plot of her own.

An assuredly melodramatic performance by Joan Crawford, seen in the beginning as a woman in full command of her life, then being blinded by love, and finally regaining control. I like her ironic approach in the final third of the movie: "I was just wondering what I've done to deserve you". "It's sweet of you to be disappointed".

Sudden Fear is a story of disillusion. Crawford realizes that Palance's love affair with her has been a great performance of a professional actor. Crawford's life-long ambition is to donate everything she has inherited and live on her royalties as a playwright only. Palance is interested in her money only.

Original features include - The theatre background: Crawford and Palance keep quoting Shakespeare, and Palance impresses Crawford by quoting her own dialogue - Crawford's study with five microphones automatically recording all dialogue - Crawford's precise scenario and schedule in doing away with Palance and Grahame - Yet nothing goes according to plan - The final misconception by Palance based on the the similar mink coats of the ladies who are also here "sisters under the mink" - Sound is exceptionally important in this movie.

Influenced by Hitchcock, Sudden Fear may have inspired him in turn in the use of San Francisco / Bay Area locations such as the sequoia forest and Coit Tower seen here in the romance sequence with memorable extreme close-ups of kissing. We also visit the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, where the portrait of Carlotta Valdez was on display in Vertigo; this time they are playing there "Jesus bleibet meine Freude" by J.S. Bach.

A fine job of restoration, and this was an impressive occasion to compare a DCP based on 4K restoration (Experiment in Terror) and a DCP based on 2K restoration (Sudden Fear). Occasionally there was in Sudden Fear an obvious digital look and even a video look.

Experiment in Terror (2013 Sony Columbia restoration)

Kauhun lunnaat / The Grip of Fear / Operazione terrore. US © 1962 Geoffrey-Kate Productions. D: Blake Edwards. Dal romanzo Operation Terror di Gordon Gordon e Mildred Gordon. SC: The Gordons [= Gordon Gordon, Mildred Gordon]. DP: Philip Lathrop - 1,85:1. ED: Patrick McCormack. AD: Robert Peterson, James M. Crowe. M: Henry Mancini. S: Lambert Day, Charles J. Rice. C: Glenn Ford (John 'Rip' Ripley), Lee Remick (Kelly Sherwood), Stefanie Powers (Tody Sherwood), Roy Poole (Brad), Ned Glass (Popcorn), Anita Loo (Lisa), Patricia Huston (Nancy Ashton), Gilbert Green (agente speciale), Clifton James (capitano Moreno). P: Blake Edwards per Columbia Pictures, Geoffrey-Kate Productions. Premiere: 13 aprile 1962. 2K DCP. 123'. B&w. Da: Sony Columbia per concessione di Park Circus. Cinema Arlecchino (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), 5 July 2013

The original camera negative was scanned at 4K at Cineric in New York. The 4K files were then moved to Colorworks at Sony Pictures for color correction. The 4K files were moved to MTI Film in Los Angeles for digital image restoration and audio restoration was at Chace Audio by Deluxe

Peter von Bagh: "Experiment in Terror is a brilliant example of a 'different' Blake Edwards, and at the same time it almost defines his special talent: it's a key film for understanding everything he did best, from the ironically observed ordinariness of Mister Cory to the wild eccentricities of The Party, via his contemporary movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. Nothing would seem further from the coldness of terror, and yet the theme of looking (or voyeurism) makes Experiment in Terror and Breakfast at Tiffany's strange bedfellows, and particularly frightening in scenes when mannequins are dangling from the ceiling - a grim vision that escalates to horror  when  the  artist  herself is hanging upside down from the ceiling, reduced to another object - a surreal reply to the colorful, fashion-conscious world of Tiffany's. The suburban Experiment in Terror is the first of two black and white movies that rate among Edwards' best. It was followed by Days of Wine and Roses, adapted from a TV play - directed by John Frankenheimer - from the 'golden age' of American television; the original and the film are a fine example of what the two mediums can achieve at their best. Indeed, everything here needed black and white: the milieu, the naked view of the police procedural, the horror of a sadist whose presence is most tangible through his invisibility and his asthmatic breathing. (Always larger than life, the horror he evokes is visible on the face of his victim, Lee Remick.) The murderer and blackmailer has some- times been compared with M, obviously to the advantage of Fritz Lang (what film on earth could surpass M?), and surely there are remarkable connections, especially in the way both films convey the sense that maybe after all the marginal, or 'monster', might be not an exception but rather in some terrible way a paradigm of his society. Here plain ordinariness becomes poignant: the geography of a suburb with a swimming pool, restaurants, a bank, taxis, a baseball field, all of it little by little conveying signs of horror in everyday life. In passing it is interesting to notice that Glenn Ford, the star of two Lang films almost a decade earlier, gives an admirable, almost anonymous interpretation fully in tune with the subtle, subdued methods the police use and the professional side of the investigations. The presence of the police force and its machine of surveillance, in many ways almost unseen and yet everywhere, builds into an ice cold, objective view of the social machine, of power and sexuality, both perverted - a social machine inside a modern electronic space, breathing to the rhythm of the murderer." Peter von Bagh

Blake Edwards at his best in a thriller with bite. There is an assured touch and a joy in visual bravado - in the opening long shots of the freeway - in the extreme close-ups in the scenes of Lee Remick being terrorized by her tormentor - in the majestic view of the bank hall - and in the final Olympian helicopter shot rising above the stadium. As well as in the personal approach to San Francisco views with their steep hill roads, Chinese restaurants, Coit Tower, Fisherman's Wharf, and Candlestick Park. There are affinities with Hitchcock (Psycho), and this thriller may have inspired Bava and Argento with its undercurrents of sexual violence (the gruesome fate of the mannequin maker). There is an original contribution to cinematic modernism in this tale of urban alienation.

Superb cinematography by Philip Lathrop, an electrifying score by Henry Mancini (which may have inspired Morricone), and unusual touches in the screenplay by Gordon Gordon and Mildred Gordon. The psychotic criminal has a tender relationship with a Chinese woman and her little son Joey hospitalized after having been given an artificial hip socket. Providing little Joey with toys such as a toy tiger "Uncle Red" is "like a father to Joey". Glenn Ford gives an interesting, disciplined, low key performance as the FBI detective. Lee Remick was at her best in this period, or in this period she was given many strong roles.

A brilliant 4K Sony Columbia restoration.

Spartaco ovvero il gladiatore della Tracia / [Spartacus, Or, the Gladiator from Thrace] (2013 Bologna restoration)

IL FASCINO IRRESISTIBILE DELL'ANTICHITÀ (seconda parte)

Espártaco, o Rei des Gladiadores Romanos [the title of this version]. IT 1913. D: Giovani Enrico Vidali. Dal romanzo Spartaco di Raffaello Giovagnoli. SC: Renzo Chiosso. AD: Domenico Gaido. C: Mario Guaita-Ausonia (Spartaco), Maria Gandini (Narona). P: Pasquali. /18 fps/ 2K DCP. 90'. Col. Portuguese intertitles. Based on a nitrate print preserved by Cinemateca Brasileira. Da: Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna. Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), accompagnamento al piano di Antonio Coppola, earphone commentary in Italian and English, 5 July 2013

Restored at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in 2013.

Presenta Ivo Blom.

Ivo Blom: "Film history is all about being a Doubting Thomas. For years we believed that Bartolomeo Pagano's Maciste in the epic Cabiria (1914) set the tone for the new genre of the strong men or forzuti films, which florished in Italy in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In Maciste (1915), the first film that exploited him as a separate leading character, we identify with a girl who on a film screen sees the strong man bending an iron grill to liberate himself and his friend. But one year before Cabiria, exactly this scene of the hero bending iron with his bare fists had been a major moment in Spartaco ovvero il gladiatore della Tracia (Enrico Vidali 1913), a Pasquali production starring Mario Guaita aka Ausonia (1881-1956) as the legend­ary Spartacus, who rebels against the spoiled Roman patricians. The Italian film journal "La vita cinematografica" praised Guaita for "the plastic beauty of his appearance, the attraction and at the same time the power and swiftness of his perfect body, his penetrating glance, and his perfect acting". In American publicity he was described as "a celebrated Italian wrestler and fine actor, whose physique and finely chiseled face make him an extraordinary prototype of the ancient gladiator". Actually, in Spartaco the camera is often focusing on Ausonia's naked torso, his muscular arms and his stern look into the camera. Apparently, American distributor George Kleine was so smitten with the film, that he coproduced a second epic with Ausonia in 1914, Salammbo. Over the past years we had to do with a bad dvd of the American version of the film, but luckily now a pristine nitrate print has been restored by the Cineteca di Bologna." Ivo Blom

Giovanni Lasi: "From the late 19th century, as neoclassical currents held sway in art and literature, Greek and Roman history also grew in popularity, but it was viewed through the aesthetic and philosophical lens of mythology and tinged with romanticism. The ancient world was seen as some kind of paradise lost, a golden age, tantalizing but irretrievable: a world we yearn for but which, by its very nature, can be revisited exclusively in the realm of fantasy. It is no wonder, then, that this distant era, remote and legendary, persisted as one of the main subjects of mainstream, popular literature even into the beginning of the 20th century, with tales set in ancient Greece or Rome being published, graced with illustrations inspired by the vast production of 19th century neo-classical painting. The same visual and narrative model was soon adopted by the new medium of cinema, where its potential could be further expanded. A filmmaker does more than just reproduce reality on the screen; he also needs to be able to bring history to life, bridging the gap across space and time. Even more: thanks to the medium's ability immerse the spectator fully in the events taking place on the big screen, the members of a cinema audience have the miraculous opportunity to lose themselves, body and soul, in the splendors of antiquity. If it is true that cinema has been, since its inception, nurturing a biding interest in the archeological past, it is equally true that the canons which determined the success of the mythological/historical genre were set in the 1910s: lavish sets and costumes, spectacular action scenes filmed on vast studio lots with thousands of extras. While certainly the entire international film industry caught the Epic Classics bug, Italy surely dominated the scene with such films as Quo vadis?, Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei, Cajus Julius Caesar, Cabiria, all produced between 1913 and 1914, which were destined to become milestones in the history of silent film. The measure of the success of these films is evident in the effect they had on other genres: from the proliferation of dal vero made at archeological sites around the world, to the irreverent comedies set in ancient Greek or Roman times. The road from Quo vadis? to Kri Kri gladiatore is very brief." Giovanni Lasi

Mariann Lewinsky: "Alongside the Italian epics Quo Vadis? and Spartaco, the programme includes a selection of shorter (and in some cases earlier) films. When and how did the ancient world make its first appearance in the cinema? Even before 1900, Pathé was offering risqué scenes, their Greek setting legitimising the nudity, then there were scènes bibliques, ambitious quests for "historical truth, local colour and richness in costumes and sets" (Pathé catalogues of 1900 and 1902) and in 1901 the first film version of Quo Vadis? appeared, a three minutes scène à grand spectacle. The French antiquity films of the following years are all conspicuous for their magnificent stencil-colouring. Around 1913 the ideal of antique beauty and sensuality took everyday fashion by storm and this is documented in many films: at home the ladies wear Fortuny pleated negligés, and at soirées creations by Poiret, Doucet and Drécoll, with high-girdled tunics over the finest fabrics draped in plentiful folds, all topped off with coiffures à la grècque." Mariann Lewinsky

Mariann Lewinsky told that the 2K DCP we saw had been made yesterday, and the speed of 18 fps was based on just a guess. - The speed was fine.

Ivo Blom told that the version of this film hitherto generally known is the US version which is in bad shape and has a happy ending. This Brazilian version was discovered by Gian Luca Farinelli and Vittorio Martinelli on their trip to Cinemateca Brasileira in São Paulo. The leading role of Mario Guaita-Ausonia was one of the important steps leading from epics to strongman films.

There are endless parades in this epic with a large cast, shot in early cinema style with long shots and long takes. The gladiators are not yet played by musclemen who have been training for months in body-building gyms. Even Spartacus does not overwhelm with muscles. The battle scenes have been directed without talent. Crassus has given Spartacus his freedom. Now, in turn, Spartacus saves the life of Crassus. But there are machinations behind the back of Spartacus. Norico is busy vilifying him.

In 1913, the strongmen Spartacus and Ursus (Quo vadis?) both led the way to Maciste in the next year's Cabiria.

The beginning of the show was so much delayed that I was able to see only an hour of this film.

The visual quality is quite ok. There are blue and yellow tints. The sepia toning is beautiful.