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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
Production I.G recently made a couple of major announcements.
Man, I wanted to like this – I generally enjoy Alex de la Iglesia movies, and I like what he’s doing for genre – but this black comedy about a bunch of idiot criminals who wander into a town full of witches was an unpleasant chore. Rampantly misogynistic in a way that never gets tweaked, full of tedious and unpleasant characters and irredeemable ugliness.
Hugo Silva is an utter dud as the lead – the notion that the lovely Carolina Bang would fall for him is so unsupported as to break the suspension of disbelief. While Santiago Segura is typically entertaining in a supporting role and the opening scene is pretty gripping, this is overall a disappointment, especially coming from the man who gave us Accion Mutante, The Day of the Beast, The Ferpect Crime, and 800 Bullets.
1 1/2 stars out of 4 (Mediocre).
Der dramatische Konflikt vieler Familien-, Heimat- und Gesellschaftsfilme der 50er entsteht mit der Entdeckung einer Verfehlung, einer Sünde oder Erblast. Rechnet man nach, wie lange das schuldbringende Ereignis zurückliegt, landet man meistens in der NS-Zeit und kann spekulieren, ob mit der Schuld auch verklausuliert Politisches verbunden und gemeint sein soll. Gerade das soll nicht sein; die Schuld ist eine persönliche, private und nahezu intime Verfehlung, die ganz zufällig in der NS-Zeit lokalisiert ist, mit der sie ansonsten aber auch rein gar nichts zu tun hat. Schuld soll immer nur persönlich gesehen werden.
Je länger sie zurückliegt, desto mehr relativiert sich die Schuld; ihre konkrete Thematisierung in der Gegenwart kann gefährlich werden, hat destruktives Potential und bedroht das Glück. Lohnt sich also moralische Rigidität oder ist es nicht besser, die Schuld – ist ja schon so lange her – auszuschweigen, zu verdrängen und zu leugnen? „Du mein stilles Tal“ hieß zunächst „Schweigepflicht“ und hat mit diesem Titel auch die Antwort parat; die rechtliche Verpflichtung von Geistlichen, Anwälten und Ärzten weitet der Film aus zu einem moralischen Anspruch an Jedermann. Nicht nur kann es besser sein zu schweigen, es kann sogar Deine Pflicht sein, weil sonst das System – hier die Familie – zusammenbricht. Im Umkehrschluss ist es dann pflichtvergessen und charakterlos, über die Schuld der Vergangenheit zu reden.
Hochzeit auf Gut Breithagen, Tochter Nicky (Ingeborg Schöner) heiratet mit großem Aufgebot– eine Prozession der Hochzeitsgesellschaft aus der Kirche mit Glockengeläut und Top-Shots der Kamera, eine Parade geschmückter Mercedes-Karossen mit Hurrah und Hoje, ein rasanter Aufgalopp des Reitervereins im Park des Gutes und Voltigier-Vorführungen der Jüngsten. Alle sind reich und glücklich, nur die Gutsherrin Elisabeth Breithagen liegt mit dem Schicksal überkreuz. „Es war“, so bekennt sie dem Hausarzt und Regisseur Leonard Steckel, „ein qualvoller innerer Kampf über 20 Jahre.“ Elisabeth („Ich möchte, dass Sie mich verstehen“) erzählt ihrem Arzt auf der Gartenbank ihre Geschichte. Vor 20 Jahren zeigte Rittmeister Breithagen (Curd Jürgens) ihr das Gut, den Hof, den Park, die Stallungen und das Land. Der Rittmeister mit gewienerten Reitstiefeln und Schal im offenem Hemdkragen zeigt und zeigt bis er es nicht mehr aushält und Elisabeth an sich reißt. Sie soll seine Frau werden, aber Elisabeth fremdelt.
Der Pianist Erik Linden (Bernhard Wicki) gibt zur selben Zeit in dem Städtchen ein Konzert; Linden ist sensibel, tiefsinnig, ein Mann von Welt mit einem Blick, dass es einem heiß den Rücken runtergeht. Er sagt: „Jetzt reise ich viel; Rom, Paris, Chicago, New York.“ Und in das Städtchen der Elisabeth, die ihm beim Klavierspiel für eine Nacht verfällt. Am nächsten Tag reist Linden ohne wirklichen Abschied weiter; enttäuscht und ohne Hoffnung gibt Elisabeth dem Rittmeister das Jawort, fällt bei der Hochzeit kurz in Ohnmacht und entdeckt mit dem Hausarzt, dass sie schwanger ist. Nein, der Rittmeister weiß nichts, bis heute nicht.
Auf der Parkbank der Gegenwart dann die bange Frage: „Muss ich schweigen?“ Der Hausarzt steht auf, schaut in die Ferne und liest im Horizont die Antwort: „Ich glaube ja, Sie würden sonst das Lebensglück der beiden Neuvermählten auf furchtbare Weise zerstören.“ Elisabeth erhebt sich tapfer: “Ich muss mit meiner Schuld alleine fertig werden.“
Acht Jahre nach der Hochzeit mit Gert Breithagen trifft sie Linden wieder in Berlin; er fährt ihr nach, will mit ihr, seiner späterkannten großen Liebe, nach Lateinamerika. Elisabeth zögert; sie will ja glücklich werden, aber was sagt denn die Kirche dazu? Hans Leibelt spricht als Pfarrer: „Das Leben Ihres Kindes ist hier auf dem Gut des Rittmeisters und Sie, die Mutter, gehören zu ihrem Kind.“ So gönnt sich Elisabeth nur einen dramatischen nächtlichen Abschiedskuss im Scheinwerferlicht, am Kreuzweg ihres Lebens. Curd Jürgens ahnte schon Betrug, betrank sich und verfiel mit stierem Blick – große Szene – einem Tobsuchtsanfall; seit Emil Jannings ist das im deutschen Film der finale Ausweg betrogener Männer.
Nun aber wieder Gegenwart, mit Hochzeitstrubel und Gästeschar. Unter den Gästen das „fremdartige, dunkle Mädchen“ Rita Borell (Nadja Regin), und auch Elisabeth ahnt Betrug, ist eifersüchtig und macht ihrem Gert ein spätes Liebesgeständnis. Zu spät, mit Bittermiene wird sie zurückgewiesen. „Ich lebte seit 20 Jahren mit einem Eisblock.“ Der Anwalt (Ernst Schröder), zum Schweigen verpflichtet, besorgt für Gert und Rita ein Haus auf Capri. Aber wird Rita Gert in 20 Jahren noch treu sein? Gert kommt blitzschnell zu sich, nein, das wird nichts. Tochter Nicky will mit ihrem Mann in die Flitterwochen, aber, an die Eltern gewandt: „Ich gehe nicht eher, als bis ihr mir sagt, was los ist.“ Das möchten jetzt auch alle Kinobesucher wissen. Curd Jürgens spricht, an Winnie Markus gewandt, die erlösenden Worte: “Nichts auf der Welt wird uns trennen.“ So hat sich die Verschwiegenheit doch gelohnt, zum Glück für alle und zum Extra-Glück für Nicky. Das Haus auf Capri geht jetzt an sie. Hoffen wir, dass sie dort nicht einem Typen so fremdartig und dunkel wie Bernhard Wicki verfällt.
Handlung, Posen und Dialoge könnten direkt Groschenromanserien wie „Die Truhe“ oder „Erika“ entnommen sein. Der Handlungsentwurf sah ursprünglich wohl anders aus. Pfarrer, Rechtsanwalt und Arzt wissen, dass die Tochter unehelich ist, dass das Gut vor dem Konkurs steht und der Gutsherr in die Hände einer Salonschlange gefallen ist. Davon blieben nur Rudimente. Auch die Besetzung ist wie auf dem Reißbrett entworfen. Jürgens hatte es schon in „Man nennt es Liebe“ mit der eher unkonventionellen Ehefrau Winnie Markus zu tun und war in „Gefangene der Liebe“ mit einem unehelichen Kind konfrontiert, dessen Vater wiederum Bernhard Wicki darstellte. Die drei Schauspieler waren in der Wahl ihrer Engagements nicht unbedingt wählerisch. Winnie Markus und Bernhard Wicki spielten 1955/56 jeder in 7 Spielfilmen, Curd Jürgens brachte es auf ein glattes Dutzend. 1955 hatte Jürgens für seine Darstellung in „Des Teufels General“ (R: Helmut Käuntner) in Venedig den Volpi Pokal bekommen; als er hörte, dass der Gloria Verleih den Titel des Films „Schweigepflicht“ in „Du mein stilles Tal“ ändern wollte, verklagte Jürgens die Produktionsfirma CCC auf Beibehaltung des ursprünglichen Titels. Er befürchtete, dass sein Marktwert durch die Mitwirkung an einem Heimatfilm sinken könnte. Offiziell ging es ihm und allen anderen Beteiligten um künstlerische Integrität. Ihre Namen sollten aus dem Vorspann entfernt werden, falls der Film unter dem Titel „Du mein stilles Tal“ laufen würde. Kurzzeitig erwog man den Titel „Erbe der Väter“, der mit dem Film aber noch weniger zu tun hatte als „Du mein stilles Tal“, das im Titellied „Im schönsten Wiesengrunde“ wenigstens angesprochen wird. Der Prozess machte viel Aufsehen, hatte aber so gut wie keinen Effekt. Die Künstler wurden weiterhin im Vorspann genannt, die Parteien (Gloria/CCC und Jürgens) einigten sich im Juli 1958 darauf, den Prozess einzustellen und sich die Prozesskosten zu teilen. „Du mein stilles Tal“ landete in der Liste der bestbesuchten Filme der Saison 1955/ 56 auf Platz 35.
The deadline to submit a project is next Monday, April 24.
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In an era of alternative facts, the Walt Disney Company is generating some of its own.
The post Did ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Win The Best Picture Oscar in 1991? Someone at Disney Thinks So appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
The central question of French cinema’s role in conveying political ideas surely must focus on popular comedies, and in particular on a vein of bigotry that aligns them with far right ideology.
It’s not odd for the industry to protect its financial interests. What is odd, however, is the deference of critics and editors to those interests. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of contributing to several print and online publications’ year-end polls, and they all follow the Academy’s lead in determining eligibility in terms of theatrical release (with separate categories for “unreleased” or “undistributed” films); I confess that, when I put my year-end lists together, I generally follow the same guidelines, in order to maintain a clear basis of comparison with the choices of other critics and the state of the industry at large. But it’s clear that the industry is drastically changing, and that those changes have certain major advantages for some filmmakers.
If the Academy Museum is shaping up as a “Heaven’s Gate”-style fiasco, then the role of Michael Cimino belongs to Piano. The Italian Pritzker-winner is one of the world’s most renowned architects. His hiring in 2012 was seen as a powerful signal of the Academy’s grand ambitions for the project.
Piano’s concept for the museum revolved around the theater — a massive 130-foot sphere that he likened to a “soap bubble” or a “spaceship.” When it was unveiled, it was tagged by critics as looking more akin to the Death Star.
One example I can give you of Lubitsch’s thinking was in Ninotchka, a romantic comedy that Brackett and I wrote for him. Ninotchka was to be a really straight Leninist, a strong and immovable Russian commissar, and we were wondering how we could dramatize that she, without wanting to, was falling in love. How could we do it? Charles Brackett and I wrote twenty pages, thirty pages, forty pages! All very laboriously.
Lubitsch didn’t like what we’d done, didn’t like it at all. So he called us in to have another conference at his house. We talked about it, but of course we were still, well . . . blocked. In any case, Lubitsch excused himself to go to the bathroom, and when he came back into the living room he announced, Boys, I’ve got it.
It’s funny, but we noticed that whenever he came up with an idea, I mean a really great idea, it was after he came out of the can. I started to suspect that he had a little ghostwriter in the bowl of the toilet there.
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Remember the 2002 hand-drawn Dreamworks feature "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" starring the voice of Matt Damon? Well, this new series is not that.
The post TRAILER: ‘Spirit Riding Free’ Takes The Dreamworks Franchise In A New Direction appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
A Romance of the Air (1918).
One of the most persistent conventions in American cinema associates dark images with dangerous doings—crime, mystery, violence, espionage, sexual depredations, visits from beyond the grave. The strategy is most apparent in what critics eventually called film noir. Those 1940s “films of darkness” are sometimes said to derive from German Expressionist cinema, but the look was already a Hollywood tradition. Filmmakers had long treated scenes of mystery and suspense with hard, low-key lighting that yielded rich chiaroscuro.
When does it start? You can find very early examples, but it seems to have crystallized during the 1910s. Kristin has talked about this as a period when filmmakers were collectively struggling to tell somewhat lengthy stories in a clear fashion. Along with clarity, she argues, came efforts to add emotional impact to a scene. Those included dynamic staging, fast cutting, close-up framings, subtle but arresting performance styles, ambitious camera movements, and lighting that enhanced the mood or impact of the action. She points to many European and American films of the years 1912-1916 that flaunt silhouettes and selective lighting.
I found a lot of prototypes of noirish images during my recent trawling through Library of Congress films from 1914-1918. In this era, it seems, filmmakers competed to create striking, even shocking, lighting effects. Later directors and cinematographers would adopt many of them as proven tools for boosting their scenes’ emotional power.
So today’s entry is mostly just some pictures that try to convince you, once more, that the 1910s laid down a great deal of what we take for granted in films ever since. You may want to turn up your display. We’re going dark.
No sunshine here
Start with the shot up top, from the independent production A Romance of the Air (1918). Produced by and starring Bert Hall, flyboy and author of the source book, it traces how German spies posing as French refugees win his confidence and try to steal secrets about troop movements. It was released in the month of the Armistice, and it got what appears to be a welcome reaction from audiences.
A Romance of the Air, nearly amateurish in its opening stretches, gets more competent as it goes along. But there’s only one real uptick from a pictorial viewpoint. Two spies have attempted to gas Edith, Bert’s sweetheart, but fortunately their incompetence leads them to the wrong room. They meet outside the house, and suddenly we get a shot that had me hollering.
As the man lights a cigarette, a low-slung angle shows the flare of the match illuminating his hatbrim and the countess beside him. In the upper left Edith peers down from a window. We might be in Hollywood, 1945, perhaps in the hands of production designer William Cameron Menzies or ace DP John Alton.
It’s interesting that a title pops in here, coaxing the audience to notice the face at the window.
The mistaken placement of “From up above” tells you something of the clumsiness of this whole production. Yet bad grammar is redeemed when we return to the framing as the spies twist around in surprise and the man clutches the countess.
Other filmmakers of the period would have trusted the audience to spot Edith, but nonetheless an undistinguished, forgotten film bequeathes us one bold moment.
We can see a more conventional look emerging when characters get sent to jail. By the end of the 1920s, filmmakers had found a way to crosslight cell bars to make them stand out crisply, as here in von Sternberg’s Thunderbolt (1929).
A jail scene in The Unknown (1915) isn’t so flashy, but the concept of edge-lighting the bars is there. If all you wanted was clarity, the naked cell door suffices, but the sidelight makes the barrier more vivid.
At this point, some directors were willing to leave large patches of the image in darkness, even at the risk of off-balance compositions. This is not only expressive; it saves money on set construction. So trust Maurice Tourneur to go further. In Alias Jimmy Valentine (1915), one of the most accomplished films of the era, we get cons as patient silhouettes.
No need to see their expressions; the outlines of their poses express their resignation.
Speaking of prisoners, consider the plight of Ivanoff, the revolutionary who has been sentenced to Siberia in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Man from Home (1914). He has escaped from the mines and taken refuge in a stable. Filing off his chains, he crouches as guards pass by outside. First, he’s in a glare, but when he hears them….
… he shifts into semi-shadow.
The guards’ approach is measured by a barely noticeable change: the gleaming surface on the far left is briefly darkened.
This is a bold instance of “Lasky lighting,” the brilliant effects which DeMille worked up with Wilfred Buckland, Belasco’s stage designer. Several films in my sample exemplify this style, which became part of Jesse Lasky’s Paramount brand. Examples are comparatively abundant because many Paramount films have survived from the silent era.
In A Romance of the Air, the darkness is motivated as a night scene, and naturally prisons and hiding places are associated with danger. Another option is to stage scenes in darkened rooms, populated by sneaking and skulking characters. Again, the association with criminality is evident. In Alias Jimmy Valentine, hoods hide from cops and are visible thanks to diagonal edge lighting.
More dynamic are two suspense scenes in Madam Who (1918), the story of a plucky Southern belle who goes undercover for the Confederate cause. In the first, disguised as a man, she peers down from a hayloft to watch the meeting of the Sons of the North gang. We get an optical POV shot straight down, and then a close reaction shot, with a fish-hook of light snagging her face as she glances at us.
Reginald Barker, one of the most resourceful directors of the era, didn’t let up in a later scene of Madam Who. Jeanne and the secret agent Henry Morgan get the drop on the Sons’ leader Kennedy. The action plays out in layers of darkness, with her poking a pistol out of the shadow, and it’s capped by a stark close-up.
In the late 1910s, several directors use such darkened interiors for fight scenes. In De Luxe Annie (1918), the heroine’s husband takes a brutal beating from the criminal he’s trapped. The accomplice runs to administer a hypodermic.
Something similar happens in The Family Skeleton (1918), when dissolute Billy (Charles Ray) battles the bully who has tormented him throughout the movie.
Shadow-filled rooms help amp up suspense during fistfights. We can’t be sure who’s winning, and the enveloping darkness can also suggest more savage violence than could be shown in normal light.
At the limit, you can stage a fight or a chase in a darkened area outdoors. The Sign of the Spade (1918) sets its climactic abduction and rescue under a seaside pier, and the silhouettes that result would not have shamed Panic in the Streets (1950).
As with the jail in Jimmy Valentine, we have to read the characters’ emotions–chiefly, the desperation of the fleeing woman–from their body language. And as often happens, the more we have to strain to see the action, the more gripping it becomes.
Billy and two Annies
De Luxe Annie (1918).
Of course what we call film noir includes more than visual style. Like many terms in the arts, film noir picks out a cluster concept. It links together distinctive subjects (urban life, abnormal mental states, misogyny), attitudes (alienation, nihilism, malaise, mistrust of authority and the upper class), themes (official corruption, revenge, male friendship and betrayal), plots (investigation, pursuit, deception), narrational devices (flashbacks, voice-over commentary, dreams and hallucinations), and visual techniques. Because noir is a cluster concept, eager acolytes can choose some noir-ish qualities of Film A and declare it a more or less plausible instance, while with Film B a quite different set of features might help it qualify too.
For example, in visual technique, only a few shots of Laura carry traces of the lighting style we think characteristic of noir. But the film does present a decadent, treacherous milieu harboring a mysterious, perhaps dangerous woman who may be feeding a man’s delusions and obsessions. Laura, I’d suggest, counts as a noir on thematic and narrative grounds more than on stylistic ones.
So do we find non-stylistic features of noir in the 1910s? Sometimes, yes. I’ll save my prime example, an intricate and beautiful thing, for an entry of its own. But here are two nifty cases where the visual pyrotechnics spring from familiar narrative and thematic pressures.
Billy Bates is warned that alcoholism runs in his family, but on getting his inheritance he holds a party and learns that he likes the stuff. Not needing to work, he keeps drinking. He falls in love with chorus girl Poppy Drayton, but when she’s insulted in a saloon he’s too crocked to defend her from the hulking Spider, who beats and shames him. Billy learns that Spider is planning to abduct Poppy and so lays a trap. He waits in Polly’s parlor, resolving to stay sober long enough to defend her. Unfortunately, there’s a decanter of scotch within easy reach….
The Family Skeleton (1918) was touted as a “semi-farcical production” but the semi- parts took alcohol addiction fairly seriously. The popular Ray often played the country-boy underdog, so audiences were probably unprepared to see him as a millionaire twitching from the D.T.’s. The scenes of his drunkenness are truly unnerving, even when the plot is lightened by the revelation that Spider is a detective hired by Poppy to force Billy to man up. Billy does, in the nocturnal fistfight illustrated above. There darkness makes Billy’s ultimate victory more plausible; we can’t really see his winning punches.
In the buildup to the fight, however, we get Billy’s growing anxiety over the scotch across the room. He stares at the decanter.
A cut shows us a condensed mental image: what would happen if he drank the contents. In this hypothetical future, the decanter is empty, and in it we see Spider breaking in and carrying off Polly while drunken Billy lolls helplessly.
As in the hallucinations of The Lost Weekend (1945), the filmmaker has taken us inside the addict’s fantasy.
Other subjective effects, like memories and dreams, were common in silent cinema too, though usually not plunged so deeply in darkness. In De Luxe Annie (1918), Julie Kendall is worried that her husband is acting too dangerously in setting a trap for two dangerous swindlers. He will pose as an innocent mark and then arrest them when they try to con him. Julie’s concern emerges in a virtuoso split-screen dream sequence in which her husband is shot by the crook.
Later in the film, Julie will lose her memory and become the con man’s confederate, the new De Luxe Annie. The screenwriter’s old friend amnesia transforms an upper-class wife into down-at-heel swindler.
What triggers the amnesia? The most remarkable scene in the film. It’s either a brilliant coup or a happy accident, but either way it can stand as proof of the boiling energies of this era.
Worried about her husband, Julie follows him to the site of his trap. She goes in through the basement kitchen and enters almost total blackness. She stands in a tiny pool of light before a big double door, and it opens a crack.
Suddenly, and I mean instantly, the doors are wide open and we get a burst of light.
A jump cut has eliminated the movement of the doors swinging open. (You can see the splice at the bottom of the second frame and the top of the third.) This is a very bold stylistic flourish.
Kristin suggests that it’s something of an accident. The overhead kitchen light is now lit up, and it was common at the time to cut out some frames when a light source is snapped on. That may be what led to this jump cut, though it’s not clear how anyone in the scene could have hit the power switch. In any event, the force of the cut is amplified by the ellipsis; the doors simply pop open.
Another pictorial surprise emerges when Julie moves a bit and it’s revealed that her figure has blocked De Luxe Annie, who’s facing her over the threshold. They start to grapple with one another and move into darkness on the right.
Annie runs off, but Jimmy the con man is fleeing too, and he shows up to wrestle with Julie. A slamming axial cut shows him punching her fiercely in the head. The edge lighting here is remarkable.
Jimmy gets away, leaving Julie to stagger out and into the fog, now overtaken by amnesia. Later she’ll meet Jimmy again and become his new partner in crime.
This scene is even replayed as a brief flashback, when the original Annie recounts to Jennie’s husband the clash that led to Julie’s disappearance.
This is presented in a more unsurprising way, since there’s nothing new to be learned about the fight. The shot shows the full swinging open of the doors and a clearer revelation of Annie’s presence.
All this won’t be news to aficionados of silent film, who are well aware that the 1910s, and then the 1920s, burst with ingenious creativity. But everybody needs reminding, and the rare films I was lucky enough to study are just part of a huge corpus. The official classics by Chaplin and Griffith and others can be restored and reissued again and again, and we’re grateful. But if they’re the peaks of a landscape, there are plenty of luscious valleys that remain unexplored.
Problem is, most of the films from which my scenes come are incomplete, often missing entire reels. So they’ll probably never be screened much, or made available on DVD or streaming services. This is why archives remain indispensable to keeping the entirety of our film heritage, fragments and all, available to researchers. It’s also why I wrote this entry, to share with you my enjoyment of films you may never have a chance to see.
More broadly, scenes like these help us nuance our thinking about those films we do know well. For one thing, they indicate just how rich the creative energies of the 1910s were, and how many options were not embraced by…oh, let’s say for example D. W. Griffith.
For another thing, if these neglected works throw up willy-nilly an alcoholic’s hallucinations, an anxious wife’s dream, a plot based on amnesia, and a strategic replay of a crucial scene, we ought to think twice about claiming that such storytelling strategies are somehow unique to film noir, or the zeitgeist of the 1940s–or our movies today, which continue to use them.
American commercial cinema has drawn on particular themes, plot structures, formal designs, and narrational strategies again and again throughout the decades. My book Reinventing Hollywood floats the claim that silent-cinema narrative devices like flashbacks and subjective sequences went somewhat quiet during the 1930s but were brought back fortissimo in the 1940s, when sound techniques could raise them to a new level of intensity. And I’ve been at pains to argue over the years that we still encounter them.
Again, no surprise once we think about it. This is just history at work: the continuity of a powerful, proven storytelling tradition. Once we’ve learned to love darkness, we can’t give it up.
Again I must give my thanks to the John W. Kluge Center for providing me a long stay at the Library of Congress. The Moving Image Research Center was my host, and so I’m grateful to Mike Mashon, Greg Lukow, Karen Fishman, Dorinda Hartmann, Josie Walters-Johnston, Zoran Sinobad, and Rosemary Hanes. They’re doing their utmost to preserve our film heritage.
For information on the survival of US silent films, download David Pierce’s indispensable study, done for the Library of Congress. The information on Paramount is on p. 41.
Kristin’s article is “The International Exploration of Cinematic Expressivity,” in Film and the First World War, ed. Karel Dibbets and Bert Hogenkamp (Amsterdam University Press, 1995), 65-85. She discusses American lighting practices of the period in The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 (Columbia University Press, 1985), 223-227. In the same volume in discussing film noir I consider the established practice of chiaroscuro for scenes involving crime and mystery (p. 77).
The most in-depth account of Paramount’s lighting styles is Lea Jacobs’ article “Belasco, DeMille and the Development of Lasky Lighting,” Film History 5, 4 (December 1993), 405-418. This is a good place to record my deep debt to Kristin, Lea, and Ben Brewster, for years of tutelage in what makes the 1910s so important.
There are many good books on film noir, but the most comprehensive reflection on the category’s many implications is James Naremore’s More Than Night: Film Noir and Its Contexts, 2d ed (University of California Press, 2008).
Lately, two video distributors have brought out less-known films from the period. There’s DeMille’s The Captive (1915) from Olive, and Irvin Willat’s Behind the Door (1919). The somewhat noirish frame below is from the latter. Flicker Alley, whose commitment to silent cinema from all countries has been extraordinary, deserves our thanks for making the San Francisco Silent Film Society’s restoration of this sensational, and sensationalistic, film available.
Behind the Door (1919).
The Tom & Jerry/Willy Wonka crossover you didn't ask for is coming soon!
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Cartoon Brew speaks to animation companies on the island of Tenerife to learn how it is growing to become a major player in the international animation industry.
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“We Greeks are dying people. We've completed our appointed cycle. Three thousand years among broken stones and statues, and now we are dying.”
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