Archive for November 4th, 2008

Another Bit of Fun

by Allan Fish

You know the rules by now…

Played Ivan Igor, Dr James Mortimer and Dr Otto Von Niemann, saidOne does not easily forget, Herr Baron, an arm torn out by the roots.” and loved, lost and then won back Marlene Dietrich.

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Next up in the series of 25, no 9…

by Allan Fish

(USA 1932 82m) DVD1

It must be marvellous

p/d  Ernst Lubitsch  w  Samson Raphaelson, Grover Jones  play  “The Honest Finder” by Laszlo Aladar  ph  Victor Milner  ed  Merrill White  m  W.Franke Harling  art  Hans Dreier  cos  Travis Banton

Herbert Marshall (Gaston Monescu), Miriam Hopkins (Lily Vautier), Kay Francis (Mariette Colet), Edward Everett Horton (François Filiba), Charles Ruggles (the Major), C.Aubrey Smith (Adolph Giron), Robert Greig (Jacques the butler), Leonid Kinskey (revolutionary), George Humbert, Luis Alberni, Rolfe Sedan,

I hardly know where to begin discussing the innumerable merits of Ernst Lubitsch’s masterpiece.  Truly great film comedies are rare and it’s the director’s own individual style that makes them great.  But without wishing to overlook the merits of such masters as Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, Frank Capra, George Cukor and Mitchell Leisen, none of them ever really got to grips with that rarest of styles; pure unadulterated sophistication.  The sort of the film that is sublime to the nth degree and sublime in its ridiculousness without ever in itself being ridiculous.

            Of course such films as Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story were sophisticated, but brilliant though that film is, its sophistication belongs to a more moral age, an age where Tracy Lord can go for a swim with a fellow and even kiss him, without any sense of any immorality having taken place.  Crooks such as Sydney Kidd are looked upon and viewed as slimeballs not to be trusted as far as you could throw them.  Trouble in Paradise meanwhile belongs to an altogether more risqué period, when sophistication stretched to sexual dalliance and sophisticated badinage exchanged not just to insult and get one up, but as foreplay.  (more…)

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The first in a series of pieces devoted to films set in and around World War I building up to Remembrance Day a week today…

by Allan Fish

(USA 1925 143m) not on DVD

A little ‘skirt duty’

p  King Vidor, Irving G.Thalberg  d  King Vidor  w  Laurence Stallings, Harry Behn, Joseph W.Farnham  ph  John Arnold, Henrik Sartov  ed  Hugh Wynn  m  Carl Davis (orig.William Axt, David Mendoza)  art  Cedric Gibbons, James Basevi

John Gilbert (Jim Apperson), Renée Adorée (Mélisande), Hobart Bosworth (Mr Apperson), Claire McDowell (Mrs Apperson), Karl Dan (Slim), Tom O’Brien (Bull), Claire Adams (Justyn Reed), Rosita Marstini (French mother), Robert Ober (Harry),

King Vidor’s epic silent drama holds a place in cinema history for any one of a number of reasons.  It was the film that propelled John Gilbert from the regular roster of stars into the supernova category where he could justifiably rub shoulders with Garbo and Gish.  It was the film that propelled Vidor to the ‘A’ list of silent directors, alongside Griffith, de Mille, Ingram and Von Stroheim.  Perhaps most importantly it was the most financially profitable silent film of them all, sending the fledging merged studio MGM so far into the black that they could not only take the spiralling costs and financial disaster of Ben Hur in their stride, but give Vidor carte blanche to make The Crowd as a thank you. 

            Jim Apperson is the beloved, spoiled son of a rich industrialist who has long been betrothed to childhood friend Justyn.  Then America is called into the war and Jim signs up on the grand adventure with several friends.  Despite his family’s pleadings, he goes off to war with two friends and, once in France, they befriend a French farm girl.  He falls in love with her, but keeps faithful to his fiancée back home.  However, back home, Justyn has fallen in love herself. (more…)

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