Friday, June 30, 2017

Kafka geht ins Kino / Kafka va au cinéma / Kafka Goes to the Movies (an illustrated performance by Hanns Zischler and Stefan Drössler)


The image on the dvd cover: from Den hvide slavehandels sidste offer (The White Slave Girl).

Text: from the writings of Franz Kafka.
A live reading performance by Hanns Zischler and Stefan Drössler in English.
PowerPoint.
Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
Sala Auditorium, 30 June 2017.

Hanns Zischler: About Franz Kafka and the Cinema (Edition Filmmuseum 2017):

"A great many of Kafka's scattered notes on cinema(going) represent a deep imprint, an echo of things he had seen or experienced. They are comparable to residual fragments of dreams in their elliptical brevity. The only more extensive and contextual contemplation a word that formed the title of his first volume of prose was dedicated primarily to the 'Kaiserpanorama' rather than to cinema itself. Kafka was fond of stereoscopic photography, which had by then already gone out of fashion, because the images seemed to him "more vivid than in the cinematograph", whereas the latter was defined by the "restlessness of motion". He ultimately dreamed much like Peter Rosegger before him, and, for purely commercial reasons, the inventor of the Kaiserpanorama himself of a "union of cinema and the stereoscope" as an intensified immersionin noctambulous adventures."

"Kafka was acutely aware of the paradoxical power of cinema. Notwithstanding its undeniable trivial realism and the obvious transparency of its production process Kafka once spoke of "old film inventions" cinema manages, by means of larger-than-life projection in an artificially darkened room, a hitherto unimaginable sensory onslaught; indeed so strong is this onslaught that, as Kafka writes, it transfixes the spectator. This similarity to dream visions seems self-evident, yet it is at the same time misleading: self-evident because the oneiric moment, the daydream, is similarly difficult to summarize and 'apprehend' as the film, but misleading because the daydream is an extremely individualized inner experience which, in contrast to film, can never be shared with others. Like a suddenly occurring natural event, cinema has the power to move us, to confuse us and to overwhelm us. One of the first demonstrations of this power to overwhelm took place in Prague, when Rabbi Löw sent Emperor Rudolf II and his court into a state of fear and awe with a projection using the laterna magica."

"To counter these fleeting images which, like daily newspapers, were short-lived goods, Kafka employed the style of the telegram, a form of rhetoric that was familiar to the consummate letter-writers of the last century and which had indeed become something of a second language to them. With stenographic economy and with an unerring sense for the punchline Streets full of water. Please advise, wrote Robert Benchley in a telegram on his first visit to Venice the fleeting, fleeing image and its direct emotional effect is "captured": Went to the cinema. Cried. Lolotte. The good pastor. The little bicycle. The parents' reconciliation. Boundless entertainment. The rollercoaster of emotions continues immediately: First a sad film, Accident at the Docks, afterwards, a funny one, Alone at last.
" Hanns Zischler (Edition Filmmuseum, 2017)

KAFKA GEHT INS KINO
30 JUNE 2017
NINE CHAPTERS:

1. Jízda Prahou otevřenou tramvají (A Tram Ride through Prague) - Czech 1908 - Directed, written, photographed and produced by: Jan Kříenecký - Restored by: Národní Filmový Archiv, Prague
    AA: A phantom ride.

2. Primo Circuito Aereo Internazionale di Aeroplane in Brescia (First International Competition for Airplanes in Brescia) - Italy 1909 - Produced by: Manifatture Cinematografiche Adolfo Croce, Milano - Restored by: Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna.
    AA: The fascination of modern technology.

3. Kaiserpanorama slides 
    AA: Kafka was an avid panorama goer.

4. Nick Winter et le vol de la Joconde (Nick Winter and the Theft of the Mona Lisa) - France 1911 - Directed by: Paul Garbagni - Cast: Georges Vinter - Produced by: Pathé Frères, Paris -Restored by: Gaumont Pathé archives, Paris
    AA: Mona Lisa had actually been stolen at the time.
+ Prazdnovanie 300-letija Doma Romanovych (Celebrating 300 Years of the Romanov Dynasty) - Russia 1913 - Produced by: Pathé Frères, Moscow - Restored by: Russian States Archives for film and photo documents, Krasnogorsk

5. Den hvide slavehandels sidste offer (The White Slave Girl / Die weisse Sklavin) - Denmark 1911 - Directed by: August Blom - Written by: Peter Christensen - Cinematography by: Axel Graatkjær - Cast: Clara Wieth, Lauritz Olsen, Thora Meincke, Otto Lagoni, Frederik Jacobsen, Peter Nielsen - Produced by: Nordisk Film, Kopenhagen - Restored by: Det Danske Filminstut, Kopenhagen / Filmmuseum München
    AA: The Jan Olsson scene: the three-way split screen telephone conversation (see image above).

6. Theodor Körner - Germany 1912 - Directed and written by: Gerhard Dammann, Franz Porten - Photographed by: Werner Brandes - Cast: Friedrich Feher, Hermann Seldeneck, Thea Sandten - Produced by: Deutsche Mutoskop- and Biograph GmbH, Berlin - Restored by: Filmmuseum München
    AA: The biopic on the German poet and fighter against Napoleon. Music: Körner's "Lützows wilde, verwegene Jagd".

7. Der Andere (The Other) - Germany 1912 - Directed by: Max Mack - Written by: Paul Lindau - Kamera: Hermann Böttger - Cast: Albert Bassermann, Emmerich Hanus, Nelly Ridou, Hanni Weisse, Léon Resemann, Otto Collot - Produced by: Vitascope GmbH, Berlin - Restored by: Filmmuseum München
    AA: The first German Autorenfilm, written by the highly regarded author Paul Lindau. Kafka's film enthusiasm peaked before the German intelligentsia widely embraced the cinema.

8. Daddy-Long-Legs / Táta Dlouhán - USA 1919 - Directed by: Marshall A. Neilan - Written by: Agnes Johnson, based on the novel by Jean Webster - Kamera: Charles Rosher - Cast: Mary Pickford, Milla Davenport, Percy Haswell, Fay Lemport, Mahlon Hamilton, Lillian Langdon, Marshall Neilan - Produced by: Mary Pickford Company, Los Angeles - Restored by: The Library of Congress, Culpepper / Filmmuseum München
    AA: When cinema became respectable Kafka stopped mentioning films, but he loved Mary Pickford's Daddy-Long-Legs. She was advertized as "the American Henny Porten".

9. Shiwat Zion / שִׁיבָת צִיּוֹן / (Return to Zion) - Palestine 1921 - Directed, written, photographed and produced by: Ya'acov Ben-Dov - Restored by: Národní Filmový Archiv, Prague.
    AA: Kafka gave serious thought on participating in the building of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

AA: The third of my three greatest highlights in this year's Il Cinema Ritrovato.

A wonderful reading illuminating Franz Kafka's passion for the cinema from many sides, illustrated with film clips and other visual materials. Hanns Zischler's voice brought resonance to Kafka's words.

A very good and profound Kafka experience, documenting an encounter of a great artist with a new art form still in its infancy. This presentation sheds new light on Kafka in many ways.

BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: DVD INFO BY EDITION FILMMUSEUM:

Das Glas Wasser (1960) / A Glass of Water


Das Glas Wasser (1960). Liselotte Pulver (Queen Anne), Horst Janson (Arthur Masham).

Lasi vettä / Ett glas vatten.
    Director: Helmut Käutner. Year: 1960. Country: Germania.
    Section: Watchful Dreamer: The Subversive Melancholia of Helmut Käutner.
    Sog.: dalla pièce Le Verre d’eau [1842] di Eugène Scribe. Scen.: Katja Fleischer, Helmut Käutner. F.: Günther Anders. M.: Klaus Dudenhöfer. Scgf.: Herbert Kirchhoff, Albrecht Becker. Mus.: Bernhard Eichhorn, Roland Sonder-Mahnken.
    Int.: Gustaf Gründgens (Sir Henry St. John), Liselotte Pulver (regina Anna), Hilde Krahl (duchessa di Marlborough), Sabine Sinjen (Abigail), Horst Janson (Arthur Masham), Rudolf Forster (marchese di Torcy), Hans Leibelt (il maggiordomo Thompson).
    Prod.: Georg Richter per Deutsche Film Hansa GmbH & Co. 35mm. D.: 84’. Col.
    Print with Swedish subtitles by Albert Wemmerlöw from Svenska Filminstitutet / Filmarkivet.
    Introduce: Olaf Möller.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
    Sala Scorsese, with e-subtitles in Italian and English by Sub-Ti, 30 June 2017.

Olaf Möller: "The world-wide success of Des Teufels General got Käutner a contract with Universal resulting in two Ross Hunter productions: The Restless Years (1958) and Stranger In My Arms (1959), both quite excellent and decidedly more personal than critics back then claimed. And yet, he was not happy in Hollywood. Legend has it that Käutner cancelled his contract when Hunter asked him to direct a western, which he considered a demotion. But what was the first project he tackled once back home? A Hunsrück Horse Operetta called Der Schinderhannes (Duel in the Forest, 1958)."

"All in all, Käutner spent only a year abroad – but that, in hindsight, was probably the most important year in post-war FRG film history. A changing of the guard took place in 1957-58, a young generation of critics as well as filmmakers with a different idea about what cinema should look, sound and feel like made their presence finally felt for real, not to mention that television by then had started to take away cinema’s erstwhile core audience."


"A lustrum on, the film culture Käutner knew would be gone. During those twilight years, he made some of his greatest works, of which Das Glas Wasser is formally the most dazzling, perplexing, eye-popping – let’s go out on a limb here and say that its radical sense of stylization combined with a bold use of colour make it look as if Minnelli and Suzuki had joined forces to do a ’90s Resnais film."

"In that it’s interesting to consider Das Glas Wasser in tandem with another 1960 FRG production, Peter Gorski’s Faust, not only because both feature Gustaf Gründgens in his only post-war screen appearances but also because they fuse film and theatre in a remarkably similar way – at a point in time when Tv was defined by a sparse, almost Spartan aesthetic close to the modern stage. Das Glas Wasser and Faust, with their stunning colour concepts and modernist set designs, seem to say that cinema can do this kind of stuff as well, but in a far more challenging, seductive fashion."
Olaf Möller

AA: Helmut Käutner was a man of the theatre, deeply reflective of the medium, and his film adaptation Das Glas Wasser is theatrical in a blatantly stylized way, flaunting its theatrical nature. Drawing on his experience in the revue format Käutner turned the play into a musical comedy and wrote witty lyrics to its numerous songs.

Eugène Scribe was a playwright who developed the pièce bien faite into an industry, producing hundreds of plays and libretti from a conveyor belt, engaging a trusted stable of talented co-authors, some of whom devised plots while others provided dialogue and jokes. Besides his libretti for Auber, Meyerbeer, Halévy, Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and Verdi, and the plays A Masked Ball, Fra Diavolo, and Adrienne Lecouvreur, A Glass of Water is one of his most famous works.

Scribe's was the kind of conventional theatre against which geniuses such as Strindberg and Chekhov fought, while others, including Ibsen and Miller, perhaps learned a lesson from him in drama construction.

Käutner's interpretation of the Baroque story, set during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1715), is razor sharp. The main intriguer, Duchess of Marlborough (Hilde Krahl) is outwitted by the mastermind Bolingbroke (Gustaf Gründgens) while the young lovers, Queen Anne (Liselotte Pulver), Abigail (Sabine Sinjen), and Arthur Masham (Horst Janson) remain puppets in their game. The game is only about power.

The code expression "a glass of water", used in an unexpected way, provides an explosive turning-point in the comedy.

The Bologna audience in the packed cinema reacted to the brilliant repartee with immediate delight. Personally I was not in the right mood and felt an aversion to what seemed to me an over-polished quicksilver mentality. I was hoping for a moment to breathe in the relentlessly mercurial dialogue.

A complete vintage print with a good and full colour world.

1897. Cinema anno due [11]: Alexandre Promio en Turquie / 1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [11]: Alexandre Promio in Turkey (the 1960s Paul Génard compilation printed by Boyer, restored in 1995 by CNC)


Panorama des rives du Bosphore. Lumière Vue N° 417. Panorama de différents bateaux qui défilent le long de la rive européenne. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Europe, Constantinople (aujourd'hui Turquie, Istanbul), le Bosphore. Projections: Programmée le 1er août 1897 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Panorama des rives du Bosphore (Lyon républicain, 1er août 1897). Technique: Travelling latéral de gauche à droite. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Turquie. Ville: Constantinople. Lieu: cours d’eau. Genre: villes et paysages. Objet: bateau. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

1897. Cinema anno due [11]: Alexandre Promio: Les Films Lumière inconnus: Palestine en 1896
1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [11]: Alexandre Promio: Les Films Lumière inconnus: Palestine en 1896.

Each film: FR 1897. PC: Lumière. Operator: Alexandre Promio. 1 min.
    35 mm prints edited in the 1960s by Paul Génard, printed in the laboratory of Jean-Paul Boyer.
    According to the catalogue the compilation was edited to be screened at 24 fps.
    From: CNC.
    Courtesy of Institut Lumière, Lyon.
    Restored in 1995 by CNC.
    Introduce Dominique Moustacchi (CNC).
    Grand piano: Neil Brand
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
    Sala Mastroianni, 30 June 2017.

Mariann Lewinsky (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "For all the other sections of this festival, putting together a program basically means making a selection of works to be screened. For this section, which presents films from 1897, things are very different. The main question here was how to organize a large number of films – about 140 titles – of an average length of less than a minute into programmes with different ways of connecting to a very remote production."

"Production companies provide the underlying structure for ten out of twelve programmes, with three monographic programmes dedicated to Star Film (Méliès), Joly-Normandin and The American and British Mutoscope Company. In the case of Joly-Normandin, we have the great fortune of seeing something truly rare, an original programme as screened in 1897."

"Films produced by the Lumière brothers make up seven programmes. Four of them are geographical – Italy because Bologna is in Italy, Japan because Constant Girel spent the year in Japan, Egypt and Palestine because Alexandre Promio travelled from Egypt to Constantinople. In the 1960s, Paul Génard, a collector crucial to the transmission of a part of the Lumière patrimony, edited the Promio travelogues into two coherent sets, producing a full immersion effect. At one of our lectures, Promio’s Egypt travelogues will be reviewed as an example of ciné-orientalism, and film history will be revisited with Africa as a point of departure in the programme Menimals: Filming ‘Ashantis’ in Lyon."

"Promio was without a doubt the most important filmmaker of the year 1897; he made countless films in a great variety of genres: travelogues, actualités (he also worked for the Champagne producer Mercier, and this seems to have given him privileged access to royal families), tableaux vivants, military exercises and panoramas, that is, films taken from a moving train or boat. Panoramas are at the core of two programs that simply allow films to be pure visual events in the present and not documents of history. The Diamond Jubilee was an event in the past thought to be so historical that everybody went to film it, turning it into a media event. The section ends with a thick description of a single vue (incidentally from 1896)." Mariann Lewinsky (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

Dominique Moustacchi (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "In the Spring of 1897 one of the Société A. Lumière et ses fils’ first cameramen, Alexandre Promio, set off to film Egypt and what at the time was known as the Turkey of the East. He returned from that journey with about sixty views. The two programmes presented here, which come from the CNC collection, constitute a significant portion of these views. Their interest lies above all in the editing by Paul Génard and the printing carried out in Jean-Paul Boyer’s laboratory in the 1960s. Paul Génard, a doctor by trade, had put together an exceptional collection of over four hundred pre-cinema items. It is thanks to him that documents and unique objects belonging to the Lumière family, including Louis’ first Cinématographe, were recovered and conserved. We do not know exactly how Génard came up with the idea for this montage, but it is important to note that this is not a simple collage of animated views, but rather a true artistic composition. It mixes views from the catalogue with others ‘out of catalogue’ to successfully convey both the cameraman’s keen eye and the aesthetic and poetic dimension of his images, which comes through clearly thanks to the beautiful printing carried out by the Boyer laboratory. Boyer had also undertaken the printing of Lumière negatives for Henri Langlois and the Cinémathèque française. These are widely considered to be of great quality, thanks to a technique particularly suited to that type of film: the positive copy is printed through direct contact with the original negative in order to avoid the possible distortions from the original image which would have resulted from any optical system." Dominique Moustacchi (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

Panorama des rives du Bosphore / [Panorama of the Bosphorus Coast]. Loc: Constantinopoli, Turchia d'Europa [Istanbul, Turchia]. n. 417.
    AA: From Europe to Asia. A lateral tracking shot from left to right from the Bosphorus Strait along the European shore of Istanbul. A beautiful deep focus composition with several fields of depth.

Panorama de la Corne d’Or. Lumière Vue N° 416. Panorama des habitations de la rive européenne et des navires du port. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Europe, Constantinople (aujourd'hui Turquie, Istanbul), Corne d'Or, le Bosphore. Projections: Programmée le 29 août 1897 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Constantinople : panorama de la Corne d'or (Lyon républicain, 29 août 1897). Technique: Travelling latéral de gauche à droite. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière - 1 copie Edison. Pays: Turquie. Ville: Constantinople. Lieu: cours d’eau. Genre: villes et paysages. Objet: bateau. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

Panorama de la Corne d’Or / [Panorama of the Golden Horn]. Loc: Constantinopoli, Turchia d'Europa [Istanbul, Turchia]. n. 416.
    AA: In continuation to the previous view a lateral tracking shot from left to right of the legendary estuary of ancient Istanbul spanned by five bridges where two big European rivers flow into the Bosphorus.

Souk-Abou-el-Nassahr. Lumière Vue N° 411. Circulation dans un marché. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Beyrouth (aujourd'hui Liban), Souk-Abou-el-Nassahr. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 2 copies Lumière. Pays: Liban. Ville: Beyrouth. Lieu: marché, place, rue, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

Souk-Abou-el-Nassahr. Loc: Beirut. Turchia d'Asia [Libano]. n. 411.
    AA: Lively bustle on a market in Beirut. A rich sense of life. Low contrast.

Souk-el-Fakhra. Lumière Vue N° 413. Circulation de passants et portefaix devant les boutiques d’un bazar. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Damas (aujourd'hui Syrie), Souk-el-Fakhra. Projections: Programmée le 29 août 1897 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Damas: Souk el Fakhra (Lyon républicain, 29 août 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Syrie. Ville: Damas. Lieu: marché, place, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Sujet: ouvrier. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

Souk-el-Fakhra. Damasco. Turchia d'Asia [Siria]. n. 413.
    AA: Pedestrians and porters pass the shops of a bazar in Damascus. There is a street construction site. Lowish contrast.

Une place. Lumière Vue N° 412. Circulation de piétons sur la place. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Damas (aujourd'hui Syrie). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 2 copies Lumière. Pays: Syrie. Ville: Damas. Lieu: place, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

Une place / [A Square in Damascus]. Damascus, Turchia d'Asia [aujourd'hui Syrie]. 412.
    AA: A vivid look at pedestrian traffic on a square in Damascus. Fine visual quality again.

Marché, I. Lumière Vue N° 395. Animation du marché: hommes et enfants déambulent dans la rue. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jaffa (aujourd'hui Israël, Tel-Aviv-Jaffa), Palestine. Projections: Programmation de Jaffa : le marché le 11 juillet 1897 à Lyon (France) (Lyon républicain, 11 juillet 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jaffa. Lieu: marché, rue, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897).

Marché, I / [A Market in Jaffa I]. Jaffa, Turchia d'Asia [Tel Aviv-Giaffa, Israele, Palestina]. n. 395.
    AA: Lively bustle in the market of Jaffa, people coming towards us and away from us.

Marché, II. Lumière Vue N° 396. Au milieu de l’animation du marché, un homme procède au chargement d’un dromadaire. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jaffa (aujourd'hui Israël, Tel-Aviv-Jaffa), Palestine. Projections: Programmation de Jaffa : le marché le 11 juillet 1897 à Lyon (France) (Lyon républicain, 11 juillet 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jaffa. Lieu: marché, rue, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897).

Marché, II / [A Market in Jaffa II]. Jaffa, Turchia d'Asia [Tel Aviv-Giaffa, Israele, Palestina]. n. 396.
    AA: More lively action in the market of Jaffa, with a man loading a dromedary, a tower in the background.

Marché, III. Lumière Vue N° 397. Circulation de piétons et dromadaires dans le marché. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jaffa (aujourd'hui Israël, Tel-Aviv-Jaffa), Palestine. Projections: Programmation de Jaffa : le Marché le 11 juillet 1897 à Lyon (France) (Lyon républicain, 11 juillet 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jaffa. Lieu: marché, rue, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897)./td>

Marché, III / [A Market in Jaffa III]. Jaffa, Turchia d'Asia [Tel Aviv-Giaffa, Israele, Palestina]. n. 397.
    AA: Further vivid market life in Jaffa, with pedestrians and dromedaries, a boy looking at us.

Arrivée d’un train. Lumière Vue N° 394. Le train entre en gare, puis la foule envahit le quai et les voyageurs commencent à descendre du train. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jaffa (aujourd'hui Israël, Tel-Aviv-Jaffa), Palestine. Projections: Programmée le 11 juillet 1897 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Jaffa : arrivée d'un train (Lyon républicain, 11 juillet 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jaffa. Lieu: gare. Genre: villes et paysages. Objet: train. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897).

Arrivée d’un train / [Arrival of a Train in Jaffa]. Jaffa, Turchia d'Asia [Tel Aviv-Giaffa, Israele, Palestina]. n. 394.
    AA: A train arrives at the station in Jaffa. A crowd enters the platform and passengers start to disembark. They are looking at us curiously.

Panorama en chemin de fer. Lumière Vue N° 399. Panorama d’un paysage sec et rocailleux; le train passe rapidement devant une gare. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jaffa - Jérusalem (aujourd'hui Israël, Tel-Aviv-Jaffa - Jérusalem), Palestine. Projections: Programmée le 3 janvier 1898 à Barcelone (Espagne) sous le titre De Jafa a Jerusalén (Diario de Barcelona de avisos y noticias, 3 janvier 1898). Programmation de Ligne de chemin de fer de Jaffa à Jérusalem le 14 juillet 1901 à Lyon (France) (Le Progrès, 14 juillet 1901). Technique: Travelling latéral de droite à gauche. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Tel-Aviv-Jaffa - Jérusalem. Lieu: campagne. Genre: villes et paysages. Objet: train. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), Panorama en chemin de fer.

Panorama en chemin de fer / [Panorama from a Train from Jaffa to Jerusalem]. Gerusalemme, Turchia d'Asia [Tel Aviv-Giaffa Gerusalemme, Israele, Palestina]. n. 399.
    AA: A lateral tracking shot from right to left from a train displaying a dry and rocky landscape, quickly passing by a station. A phantom ride on a mountainous passage.

Porte de Jaffa: côté est. Lumière Vue N° 401. Circulation de piétons dans une rue. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jérusalem (aujourd'hui Israël), porte de Jaffa, Palestine. Projections: Programmation de Jérusalem : porte de Jaffa le 21 novembre 1897 à Lyon (France) (Lyon républicain, 21 novembre 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 2 copies Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jérusalem. Lieu: rue, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125, La porte de Jaffa.

Porte de Jaffa: côté est / [The Gate of Jaffa: East Side]. Gerusalemme, Turchia d'Asia [Israele, Palestina]. n. 401.
    AA: Pedestrian traffic and transport in front of the east side of the Jaffa Gate, with merchants' stands.

Porte de Jaffa: côté ouest. Lumière Vue N° 402. Circulation de piétons dans une rue. La vue n'est pas prise du côté ouest mais du côté est, à l'identique de la vue n° 1413. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jérusalem (aujourd'hui Israël), porte de Jaffa, Palestine. Projections: Programmation de Jérusalem : porte de Jaffa le 21 novembre 1897 à Lyon (France) (Lyon Républicain, 21 novembre 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 2 copies Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jérusalem. Lieu: rue, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125, La porte de Jaffa.

Porte de Jaffa: côté ouest / [The Gate of Jaffa: West Side]. Gerusalemme, Turchia d'Asia [Israele, Palestina]. 402.
    AA: Pedestrian traffic and transport in front of the Jaffa Gate, according to the online Catalogue Lumière actually the east side.

La Voie douloureuse et entrée du Saint-Sépulcre. Lumière Vue N° 405. Circulation des gens qui entrent et sortent par la petite porte du Saint-Sépulcre. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jérusalem (aujourd'hui Israël), Saint-Sépulcre, Palestine. Projections: Programmée le 2 mai 1897 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Jérusalem : voie douloureuse et entrée du Saint-Sépulcre (Lyon républicain, 2 mai 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jérusalem. Lieu: édifice religieux, rue, ville. Genre: religion, villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

La Voie douloureuse et entrée du Saint-Sépulcre / [Via Dolorosa and the Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre]. Gerusalemme, Turchia d'Asia [Israele, Palestina]. 405.
    AA: People enter and exit through a small entrance in the wall of the Holy Sepulchre Church on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.

La Voie douloureuse. Lumière Vue N° 404. Circulation intense de passants dans une rue. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jérusalem (aujourd'hui Israël), Voie douloureuse, Palestine. Projections: Programmation de Jerusalén, calle del dolor et de Jerusalén, Vía dolorosa le 15 août 1897 à Barcelone (Espagne) (Diario de Barcelona de avisos y noticias, 15 août 1897).Programmée le 3 avril 1898 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Jérusalem : la voie douloureuse (Lyon républicain, 3 avril 1898). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jérusalem. Lieu: rue, ville. Genre: religion, villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

La Voie douloureuse / [Via Dolorosa]. Gerusalemme, Turchia d'Asia [Israele, Palestina]. 404.
    AA: Heavy pedestrian traffic on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. They are looking at us. Low contrast.

Le Saint-Sépulcre. Lumière Vue N° 403. Circulation de passants et pèlerins qui entrent et sortent du Saint-Sépulcre. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jérusalem (aujourd'hui Israël), Saint-Sépulcre, Palestine. Projections: Programmée le 8 août 1897 à Barcelone (Espagne) sous le titre Santo Sepulcro (Diario de Barcelona de avisos y noticias, 8 août 1897).Programmée le 3 avril 1898 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Jérusalem: le Saint-Sépulcre (Lyon républicain, 3 avril 1898). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière - 1 copie Edison. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jérusalem. Lieu: édifice religieux, place, ville. Genre: religion, villes et paysages. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

Le Saint-Sépulcre / [The Church of the Holy Sepulchre]. Gerusalemme, Turchia d'Asia [Israele, Palestina]. 403.
    AA: Pilgrims and passers-by enter and exit the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem. Artisans in front of the church.

Une place. Lumière Vue N° 409. Un groupe d’enfants se précipite pour ramasser des piécettes qu’un homme lance sur le sol. Le bâtiment à l'arrière-plan est l'Église de la Nativité. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Bethléem (aujourd'hui Cisjordanie), place de la Crèche, Palestine. Personnes: Au fond, l'église de la Nativité. Projections: Programmée le 8 août 1897 à Barcelone (Espagne) sous le titre Belén [Bethléem] (Diario de Barcelona de avisos y noticias, 8 août 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Cisjordanie. Ville: ville-28. Lieu: édifice religieux, place, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Sujet: enfant. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

Une place / [The Manger Square in Bethlehem]. Betlemme, Turchia d'Asia [Cisgiordania, Palestina]. n. 409.
    AA: Children rush to collect coins thrown on Manger Square in Bethlehem while the Church of the Nativity looms in the background. Good visual quality.

Départ de Jérusalem en chemin de fer (panorama). Lumière Vue N° 408. Panorama de la foule massée sur le quai salue. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 3 avril 1897 - [25 avril 1897]. Lieu: Turquie d'Asie, Jérusalem (aujourd'hui Israël), Palestine. Projections: Programmée le 9 mai 1897 à Barcelone (Espagne) sous le titre Salida de Jerusalén en camino de hierro [Sortie de Jérusalem en chemin de fer] (Diario de Barcelona de avisos y noticias, 9 mai 1897).Programmée le 22 octobre 1898 à Paris (France) sous le titre Départ de Jérusalem (programme du 22 au 29 octobre 1898 au Grand Café (Paris), Bibliothèque Historique de la ville de Paris). Technique: Travelling arrière. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 contretype Lumière - 2 copies Lumière. Pays: Turquie d'Asie (Israël). Ville: Jérusalem. Lieu: gare. Genre: villes et paysages. Objet: train. Séries: Alexandre Promio en Turquie (1897), info-five-125.

Départ de Jérusalem en chemin de fer (panorama) / [Departure from Jerusalem on a Train (Panorama)]. Gerusalemme, Turchia d'Asia [Israele, Palestina]. 408.
    AA: A tracking shot from the back of a moving train (travelling arrière) on the Jerusalem railway station showing us a crowd of people taking their leave of the passengers as the train picks up speed.

AA: The Lumière series Alexandre Promio en Turquie is an invaluable documentation on the Ottoman Empire in its last stage, anno 1897, when it had already lost Egypt to Britain. The Ottoman Empire (the Turkish Empire) (1299-1923) ended with the First World War. The Middle East was divided into zones of French, British and Russian influence and control in the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916. The Republic of Turkey was established in 1923, as was the French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon. The British Mandate for Palestine was established in 1922.

A voyage to the Holy Land and sites legendary since the classics of antiquity and beyond: Istanbul, Beirut, Damascus, Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem. Damascus, now the capital of Syria, the world's oldest city which has been continuously habited. Beirut, now the capital of Lebanon. Jerusalem, the holy city of three world religions. The countries of today did not exist when Promio filmed there. The almost mythical names of the cities now evoke heartbreak.

The Ottoman Empire perished in the First World War, and the colonialist divisions of 1916-1923 laid the background to the unrest of today.

The visual quality is generally beautiful in the 1995 CNC restoration of the 1960 Paul Génard compilation printed then by the Boyer laboratory.

Destination Unknown


Destination Unknown. Pat O'Brien (Matt Brennan), Betty Compson (Ruby Smith). Betty Compson got started in Al Christie comedies, had her breakthrough in George Loane Tucker's ("he taught me everything I know") legendary The Miracle Man starring Lon Chaney (one of the films believed lost that I would most like to see; the fragment I have seen is electrifying), appeared in England in films by Graham Cutts,  including in Woman to Woman and The White Shadow (with Alfred Hitchcock as an assistant), and married James Cruze. Her most famous film today is Josef von Sternberg's The Docks of New York.

Director: Tay Garnett. Year: 1933. Country: USA.
    Section: Universal Pictures: the Laemmle Junior Years (Part Two)
    Scen.: Tom Buckingham. F.: Edward Snyder. M.: Milton Carruth. Mus.: W. Franke Harling.
    Int.: Pat O’Brien (Matt Brennan), Ralph Bellamy (il clandestino), Betty Compson (Ruby Smith), Alan Hale (Lundstrom), Willard Robertson (Joe Shane), Tom Brown (Johnny), Russell Hopton (Georgie), Stanley Fields (Gattallo),
    Prod.: Carl Laemmle Jr. per Universal Pictures Corp. 35mm. D.: 66’. Bn
    The hymn: "In the Sweet By and By" (Sanford F. Bennett, 1868).
    [Not released in Finland].
    From: Universal. A Comcast Company.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
    Screened with e-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti at Cinema Jolly, 30 June 2017.

Dave Kehr (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "The early years of the Great Depression saw a number of films – such as Gabriel over the White House and Outward Bound – that imagined divine intervention as an answer to social ills, but perhaps none so explicit as Tay Garnett’s Destination Unknown."

"At one sordid and stylish, in the patented Garnett manner (Her Man, The Postman Always Rings Twice), this wild allegory concocted by Garnett and his frequent writing partner Tom Buckingham imagines the nation as a ship adrift in a dead calm, its hold full of illegal liquor intended for thirsty Americans in these last years of Prohibition. The chief of the smugglers – a gruff, unshaven Pat O’Brien – has control of the only supply of fresh water left on the ship, which gives him dictatorial power over the crew (led by Alan Hale, whose Swedish accent marks him as the sort of Northern European immigrant who can be trusted). Stowing away in the dead captain’s quarters is O’Brien’s vengeful ex-mistress (Betty Compson). The stand-off is complete until a mysterious stranger (Ralph Bellamy, burnished with a back-lighted nimbus) emerges from deep in the hold, to announce that the barrels of contraband wine have now become water."

"Garnett staged Destination Unknown almost entirely on a genuine three-masted schooner, suspended by cables against a black velvet background on Universal’s largest soundstage, his camera mounted on the giant crane that Universal had built for the 1929 Broadway. In a late interview, Bellamy claimed that the cast and crew systematically stayed drunk throughout the shoot – and in the process protected themselves against a flu epidemic that had brought all other production on the Universal lot to a halt." (Dave Kehr, Il Cinema Ritrovato)

AA: Divine intervention failed to convert the incredulous audience of Il Cinema Ritrovato anno 2017.

The account of the desperate journey in the first half of the movie is thrilling. The ship's journey has stopped because there is no wind, and now there is hardly any drinking water left.

Destination Unknown is an apocalyptic film, all allegorical implications intentional.

It has also sociological and philosophical relevance as a dramatization of the prisoner's dilemma, a classic case in game theory, all too topical in geopolitics and the ecocatastrophe of today. Perhaps we can project a certain carrot top president on the Pat O'Brien figure here.

There is no water, but the ship is full of smuggled liquor, and everybody gets drunk on rum as the ship is sinking.

The survivors join for the last supper, "the twelve of us". The hymn "In the Sweet By and By" is sung.

Then a stowaway (Ralph Bellamy) who has been hiding below emerges and reveals that there is water instead of wine in the barrels. He has known Ruby Smith (Betty Compson) since they were kids. The ship is no longer sinking because the seams may have swollen shut, as he knows because he used to be a carpenter once. He knows how to navigate by the stars, helped by the doctor whose paralyzed hands are healed.

Destination Unknown is a Christian mystery play, a miracle play. I was reminded of Frank Borzage's Strange Cargo (1940) with Ian Hunter as the Christ figure.

The non-believer may watch Destination Unknown as a symbolic tale about the better angels of our nature. The force of good exists in all of us, and in a desperate situation it is our only salvation.

There is a darker intepretation to the story. The key is the hymn "In the Sweet By and By", about longing for the beyond. The "sweet by and by" when "we shall meet on that beautiful shore" is the transition from the here to the beyond. In this interpretation Destination Unknown is a death trip and the second part of the story a death dream.

A brilliant print.

BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: SYNOPSIS FROM THE AFI CATALOG:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Becoming Cary Grant (introduced by the director Mark Kidel)



Director: Mark Kidel. Year: 2017. Country: Francia. English version with French subtitles.
    Section: Documents and Documentaries.
    Scen.: Mark Kidel, Nick Ware. F.: Jean-Marie Delorme. M.: Cyril Leuthy. Mus.: Adrian Utley, The Insects. Int.: Jonathan Pryce (voce narrante), Judy Balaban, Mark Glancy, Barbara Jaynes, David Thomson. Prod.: Christian J. Popp per Yuzu Productions. DCP. D.: 85’. Bn e Col.
    From: Yuzu Productions.
    Introduce: il regista Mark Kidel.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
    Sala Auditorium, 29 June 2017.

Paola Cristalli (Il Cinema Ritrovato): “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant”. As Mark Kidel’s biofilm confirms, at least for the Office of Vital Records Archie Leach from Bristol became Cary Grant in 1942, when he gave up his British citizenship and his new passport bore just the name that would earn him the unconditional admiration of the whole world.

However, as Kidel argues in his evident psychological take, Grant couldn’t free himself of Archie Leach with just an eraser. So poor Archie with his suffering, the trauma of being abandoned by his mother and his problems with women continued to percolate under the unrivalled elegance, the sartorial suits, the cosmopolitan ease and the smile of the man who “carries the holiday in his eye” (Stanley Cavell) and who made us believe life could be the most exquisite exercise in style; and so to finally come to terms with Archie Leach, Cary Grant underwent therapy with LSD, which he took during weekly sessions for three years under medical supervision and without breaking the law (in the mid-1950s it was an experimental treatment authorized by the government and quite appreciated by the Malibu community).

The film focuses on the psychotropic rebirth of a depressed and divided Cary Grant. The issue has been well documented by biographies of the actor, starting with Graham McCann’s classic A Class Apart (1996); Grant himself spoke about it extensively, sharing his enthusiasm for the experiment’s results with “Ladies’ Home Journal” in a long interview-confession in 1963, which later was incorporated in a long but never published autobiography.

The first person voice over draws principally from this source, whereas the images alternate the melted colours of home movies from the 1930s, used as an entryway in to Cary’s mental trips (vacations, boats, female bodies and faces), with the shining sharpness of film sequences, with a preference for ones with a darker emotional and photographic tone (from Notorious to the supernatural comedy Topper to the dysphoric None but the Lonely Heart); movies with characters bordering on or consumed by an anxiety which echoes Kydel’s vision and in which Cary Grant is more clearly, to use the words of Franco La Polla, “a comedian who cannot respond to the drama of reality with comedy” (by the way, had the immersions in lysergic acid made us forget it, critic David Thomson reminds us that we’re talking about “the best and most important actor in film history”).

Speaking of shininess: judging by the sequences in the documentary, Cary Grant’s filmography looks in excellent shape, but Bringing Up Baby cries out for a new restoration."
Paola Cristalli (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

AA: Introduced by the director Mark Kidel himself.

Based on Cary Grant's personal papers, including his unpublished autobiography, letters and home movies, in collaboration with his daughter Jennifer Grant and his widow Barbara Jaynes (Barbara Harris), Becoming Cary Grant is as close to an authorized film biography as can get. Which does not prevent it from being candid and deeply moving.

The screening was the most highly emotional of the ones I attended at Il Cinema Ritrovato. Audience members were crying out loud after the show.

I was surprised to agree so completely with Mark Kidel's view about Grant's film career. At first Grant was just a boy toy to the formidable Marlene Dietrich and Mae West. His real quality, the gentleman / cockney dialectics, was discovered by George Cukor in Sylvia Scarlett, and his comic genius was unleashed by Leo McCarey in The Awful Truth. Howard Hawks was the one who first understood his full complex and mysterious range from drama to comedy. Alfred Hitchcock went even darker and deeper. A wonderful selection of clips illustrates this. In addition are key glimpses from Penny Serenade (George Stevens), None But the Lonely Heart (Clifford Odets), and Father Goose (Ralph Nelson; "that's who I am").

New to me was the personal story. In the 1950s Grant experienced an existential crisis. "All my life I've been searching for a peace of mind". He visited LSD therapy for ten years, virtually a day every week, and confronted the "void in my life", the "sadness that never left me". His father had abandoned his family when Cary was 11, having confined his mother to a mental hospital, claiming that she had escaped. First 20 years later Cary learned the truth and released his mother from the Bristol lunatic asylum.

Real affection and a sense of belonging Cary found at the Pender acrobatic troupe which he joined at the age of 14, and for 14 years he was performing on stage, including on Broadway, until screen tests for Paramount led to a movie contract.

"In life there is no end in getting well", says Cary Grant. Thank you Mark Kidel, Jennifer Grant, and Barbara Jaynes, for sharing these intimate confessions.

The film balances the public and the private successfully. The result is a precious documentary about Archie Leach the Bristol lad, Cary Grant the film star, and the retired actor who became a devoted father to his daughter.

Excellent visual quality in the clips.

Himmel ohne Sterne / Sky Without Stars


Himmel ohne Sterne. Eva Kotthaus (Anna Kaminski) and Rainer Stangl (her son Jochen).

Taivas ilman tähtiä / Himmel utan stjärnor / Cielo senza stelle. Director: Helmut Käutner. Year: 1955. Country: Germania.
    Section: Watchful Dreamer: The Subversive Melancholia of Helmut Käutner.
    Scen.: Helmut Käutner. F.: Kurt Hasse. M.: Anneliese Schönnenbeck. Scgf.: Hans Berthel, Robert Stratil. Mus.: Bernhard Eichhorn.
    Int.: Erik Schumann (Carl Altmann), Eva Kotthaus (Anna Kaminski), Georg Thomalla (Willi Becker), Horst Buchholz (Mischa Bjelkin), Gustav Knuth (Otto Friese), Camilla Spira (Elsbeth Friese), Erich Ponto (Vater Kaminski), Lucie Höflich (la madre di Anna).
    Prod.: Harald Braun per Neue Deutsche Filmgesellschaft. 35mm. D.: 108’. Bn.
    From: Goethe Institut.
    Introduce Adriano Aprà.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
    A 35 mm print with English subtitles. E-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti. Sala Scorsese, 29 June 2017

Olaf Möller (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Käutner’s mid-50s (inter)national critical successes all belong to the dreaded category of Big Subject Pictures: Die letzte Brücke (The Last Bridge, 1954), Des Teufels General (1955), Der Hauptmann von Köpenick (The Captain from Köpenick, 1956), and Ein Mädchen aus Flandern (The Girl from Flanders, 1956) all castigate war and militarism and celebrate individual acts of resistance against these evils while stressing their futility in the greater scheme of things.

Only in Der Hauptmann von Köpenick, the lone comedy of this bunch, do things end well for the protagonist – albeit not the nation that less than a decade after the events narrated here would be lost to WWI. In these works, Käutner comes ideologically uncomfortably close to the official cinema of the period which was so invested in the few good Germans and the lessons one could draw from their seemingly exemplary lives.

Befitting their fundamentally conservative attitude, the films are also among his least interesting formally – yes, they’re elegantly and intelligently directed, but for all their beauty also a bit bland, sans aura or secrets…

In between these, Käutner made one of his most outstanding works, Himmel ohne Sterne – another film with a political subject, but a contemporary and extremely painful one: relations between the two post-war-born German states as experienced by a border guard from the FRG and a seamstress from the GDR.

Käutner spiritually invested a lot in this project – which turned into a work many felt uneasy about: the East castigated it on the pages of its main daily, “Neues Deutschland”, while the West lauded its noble intentions but refused to truly embrace it. To make matters worse, it fell victim to a diplomatic skirmish resulting in its cancellation from the 1956 Cannes competition. And yet, good things did happen at the Croisette, albeit two years later when Käutner shared jury duties there with Sergej Jutkevič who then invited him to the USSR, where he showed among others Himmel ohne Sterne to great acclaim, he remembered."
Olaf Möller (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

AA: Himmel ohne Sterne has been highly regarded in Finland since its release, and in Helmut Käutner's obituaries in our country it was mentioned among the handful (or even among the three) of his best films. Thanks to the Goethe-Institut it has also been screened on two occasions in Finland during the last ten years (in the Helmut Käutner Centenary series in 2008 and the German Post-War series soon after) so I have no excuse but the fact is that I saw this masterpiece first now.

After James Whale's The Road Back, Himmel ohne Sterne is for me the second highlight of Il Cinema Ritrovato this year. Incidentally, both are exceptional films about ordeals in the German history in the 20th century.

Himmel ohne Sterne is the best film I have seen about the division of Germany after the Second World War. It is also one of the best films I have seen about borders.

The year is 1952. Germany has been divided into occupation zones since the end of the war, but the border between the Soviet and the Western occupation zones is not yet insurmountable, not yet completely closed.

This is a story of a family divided between the Eastern and the Western zones in Bavaria. The mother Anna Kaminski (Eva Kotthaus) has remained in the East. The father has died on the front after a three week romance. The son has been taken care of by the father's parents in the West. Anna's parents have stayed in the East. "You can't transplant old trees".

Having commuted for years between East and West Anna finally, before the closing of the border, takes her son with her to the East, helped by a kindly Western policeman, Carl Altmann (Erik Schumann), who risks his career therefore, and is predictably fired. Their romance continues on no-man's-land until a bitter end.

The story is inflammatory and engrossing, but Käutner tells it with tact, without over-emphasis. Himmel ohne Sterne is a great, compelling drama. It is clear on whose side Käutner is, but he abstains from demonizing conditions in the East, including Soviet occupation forces. The Soviet protagonist, the soldier Mischa Belkin (Horst Buchholz in one of his first roles) is a decent guy who refuses to abuse his position and is rather less fanatic than East German politruks. Neither does Käutner idealize the West, instead exposing its commercial and selfish biases.

There are no bit parts in this movie. The truck driver commuting between West and East is earthy and memorable. The strongest performances are perhaps those of the grandparents. Anna's mother has been in Dresden and experienced there both the 1945 firebombing and apparently a fate worse than death in the hands of the Soviet invaders. Since Dresden she has been delusional. But she immediately connects with her grandchild. Käutner elicits a wonderful performance from Rainer Stangl as the little Jochen who is bullied in the East at first because of his cowboy costume.

Until now I have loved Käutner's 1940s masterpieces best. Now Himmel ohne Sterne is my favourite Helmut Käutner movie.

A reason for the fact that Himmel ohne Sterne has always been highly regarded in Finland might be our own experience with the divided Karelia. Almost half a million people were evacuated from East Karelia in 1944, and family tragedies were inevitable. It is easy for us to relate to Himmel ohne Sterne. (Incidentally, Karelia is mentioned in the movie. An East German politruk has fought there and learned to know Carl's brother who fell on the front).

The visual quality of the print is not good. It is in low contrast, with a visibly duped look.

BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: INHALT VOM FILMPORTAL:

1897. Cinema anno due [10]: Il Diamond Jubilee della Regina Vittoria (22 giugno 1897) e i progetti dei nuovi grandi formati / 1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [10]: Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee (June 22nd 1897) and New Large Format Projects


Queen Victoria arrives at St Paul's Cathedral for her Diamond Jubilee celebrations. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images). www.history.com

1897. Cinema anno due [10]: Il Diamond Jubilee della Regina Vittoria (22 giugno 1897) e i progetti dei nuovi grandi formati
1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [10]: Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee (June 22nd 1897) and New Large Format Projects


From: BFI National Archive.
Screening format: PowerPoint.
Introduce: Bryony Dixon (BFI).
Grand piano: Neil Brand.
No intertitles.
Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
Sala Mastroianni, 29 June 2017.

Bryony Dixon (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "It was the first great gathering of filmmakers in the world and forty cameramen from many different companies competed for viewpoints from which to take moving pictures of a great international spectacle; the procession of Queen Victoria on the occasion of her diamond jubilee after sixty years on the throne.

Bringing pictures of this era-defining event to an audience was money in the bank for nascent (and some hastily formed) companies.

Three million people descended on the capital to join the celebrations in the streets of London and they, and many more in Britain and across the world would pay to see the films as part of a range of souvenir products of the Jubilee.

The event was designed specifically to focus on Britain’s imperial status; where the Golden Jubilee had invited the ‘crowned heads’ of Europe, the Diamond Jubilee was formed of heads of state and a parade of representative troops from all nations of the British Empire.

This spectacle, was designed to look impressive, so that a message of cohesion could be carried far and wide. Beautifully uniformed troops from the four nations, Africa, Asia and many island territories dazzled the cheering crowds, a sea of red, white and blue rosettes and flags. Not all those members of the crowd were signed up to the imperial project but accounts of the occasion show that reactions were as nuanced then, as they are today, to great national events and everyone showed up.

At any event the filmmakers were there to faithfully record the carefully choreographed parade and here are the surviving fragments from the BFI – National Archive."

"The bonus track presents a sneak preview of highlights and discoveries made as we progress the ongoing BFI project to restore all of our Victorian large format films and uncopied nitrate prints."
Bryony Dixon (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – Apsley House. Director: Gustave Colley. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. DCP. Prod.: John Le Couteur per Gaumont. Taken at the start of the parade near Hyde Park.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – British Cinématographe. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. DCP. Filmed at the corner of Piccadilly and St James‘s Street using a Joly-Normandin camera.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – St Paul’s North. Director: Henry Hunt. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. DCP. Prod: R. W. Paul.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – St Paul’s South. Director: R. W. Paul. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. DCP. Filmed at the cathedral.

Unidentified Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – Queen In Carriage. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. DCP. Unknown company. Filmed in King Williams Street near the Bank of England.

La Reine arrivant de Windsor. Lumière: Vue N° 488. La reine Victoria arrive dans un défilé de voitures escortées par des cavaliers, au milieu d’une foule exubérante. Opérateur: Alexandre Promio. Date: 21 juin 1897. Lieu: Grande-Bretagne, Londres. Personnes: Dans la voiture, sous une ombrelle, la reine Victoria. Projections: Programmée le 27 juin 1897 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Le Jubilé de la reine d'Angleterre: la reine Victoria revenant de Windsor (Lyon républicain du 27 juin 1897). Technique: Plongée. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 2 copies Lumière. Pays: Grande-Bretagne. Ville: Londres. Lieu: parc. Personnes identifiées: la reine Victoria. Genre: événement officiel. Sujet: personnalité. Objet: voiture hippomobile. Séries: info-five-80, Second séjour d'Alexandre Promio (1897). – Probably not from the film viewed.

Fêtes du Jubilé de la Reine d'Angleterre – Lumière. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. DCP. Filmed along the route south of the river in Borough.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – Paul York Road. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. DCP. Prod.: R. W. Paul. One of several Films showing the front of the procession.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee – Prestwich. Director: E. P. Prestwich. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. DCP. Filmed near the end of the procession in Westminster.

H. M. The Queen‘s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace (1897). Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. DCP. The Queen’s duties kept her busy before and after the Jubilee day itself. She was filmed at this garden party in her pony trap. by the Velograph Syndicate on June 28th.

AA: Bryony Dixon gave us a wonderful edited and commented presentation based on a virtual map of London where we could observe the stations of the world's top cinematographers covering Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and saw the films station by station.

Bryony's magnificent bonus was six appetizing samples of BFI's Victorian 68 mm prints that are being copied directly from 68 mm nitrate to 8K digital:

1. Me and My Dog Friends.

2. Launching of a Rescue Boat.

3. Warships at Sunset.

4. The Boer War.

5. W. K.-L. Dickson in Venice.

6. Pompey. Women dancing the tarantella.

These appetizers did possess the authentic 68 mm frisson - especially the stunning Boer War footage in deep focus showing us war action on several fields of depth, including very far in the distance.

1897. Cinema anno due [9]: American e British Mutoscope Biograph Company / 1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [9]: American and British Mutoscope Biograph Company


Jumbo, Horseless Fire Engine. W. K.-L. Dickson, 1897. Shot on 68 mm.

1897. Cinema anno due [9]: American e British Mutoscope Biograph Company
1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [9]: American and British Mutoscope Biograph Company

35 mm reductions from 68 mm.
From: EYE Film Instituut Nederland (and BFI National Archive).
Introduce: Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi (EYE).
Grand piano: Neil Brand.
No intertitles.
Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
Sala Mastroianni, 29 June 2017.

Mariann Lewinsky (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Even in the reduction to 35 mm, the grandeur of the original 68 mm format is still there. Like the photographic portraits taken by Nadar, the images of American and British Mutoscope and Biograph films are of a primordial eloquence, gripping our attention. We marvel at seeing a train approaching, machines in motion, ships gliding by, or being on a train and following its winding tracks. We experience cinematography in its purest state."

Pennsylvania Keystone Express. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 12 m.
    AA: A long shot. A train passes by majestetically.

Camp of Zingari Gypsies. Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. 13 m.
    AA: A magnificent big dancing scene.

The Crookedest Railroad Yard. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 32 m.
    AA: A forward tracking shot filmed from a train engine. Arriving at the railway yard.

Passage des portiques école de gymnastique de Joinville. Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate, Gran Bretagna. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. 17 m.
    AA: Artistic gymnastics on an apparatus. Highly skilled drill exercises.

Changing Guard (Berlin). Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. 14 m.
    AA: A parade on a Berlin square, an elaborate deep focus composition on five layers of depth.

The Albany Day Boats. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 15 m.
    AA: New York: a paddle steamer sails by.

Threshing Machine at Work. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 12 m.
    AA: Agriculture: a thresher in action, threshing grain.

Jumbo, Horseless Fire Engine. Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 12 m.
    AA: The fire brigade speeds towards us.
 
Harvesting Corn. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 29 m.
    AA: Harvesting corn into a huge hill.

Pillow Fight. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 13 m.
    AA: An early instance of a spectacle most famously known from Jean Vigo's Zéro de conduite.

Haverstraw Tunnel. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 27 m.
    AA: A phantom ride, a tracking shot forward: the engine speeds to a tunnel. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Place de la Concorde. Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. 14 m.
    AA: The much filmed square now recorded by W. K.-L. Dickson.

Fort Hill Fire Station. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 14 m.
    AA: Again the fire brigade is speeding towards us.

Military Review at Aldershot. Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate. Year: 1897. Country: Gran Bretagna. 14 m.
    AA: The cavalry charges towards us.

Battleships Maine and Iowa. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA. 32 m.
    AA: A lateral tracking shot from left to right, displaying battleships at the harbour.

Les Parisiennes. Director: American Mutoscope Company. Year: 1897. Country: USA.10 m.
    AA: From a charming hand-coloured source print, showing four dancing girls.

AA: A magnificent collection of views from superior 68 mm sources. It is interesting to observe that certain effects are similar to the ones emphasized in early 3D movies.

The speed was reportedly 24 fps. It could have been faster as was obvious in the dancing views and in Fort Hill Fire Station for instance.

Although these prints are highly impressive, I am not sure that I registered the 68 mm effect as fully as in reproductions of other 68 mm films that I have seen.

Sensation Seekers (2017 digital restoration by Universal from a PHI 16 mm print)



Rakkauden suuri arvoitus
Director: Lois Weber. Year: 1927. Country: USA. Silent.
Section: Universal Pictures: the Laemmle Junior Years (Part Two)
    Sog.: dal racconto Egypt di Ernest Pascal. Scen.: Lois Weber. F.: Ben Kline. M.: Maurice Pivar, Thomas Pratt. Scgf.: Charles D. Hall.
    Int.: Billie Dove (Luena ‘Egypt’ Hagen), Huntley Gordon (Ray Sturgis), Raymond Bloomer (reverendo Lodge), Peggy Montgomery (Margaret Todd), Will Gregory (colonnello Todd), Helen Gilmore (signora Todd), Edith Yorke (signora Hagen), Phillips Smalley (signor Hagen).
    Prod.: Carl Laemmle per Universal Pictures Corp. DCP. D.: 70’. Bn
    From: Universal, a Comcast company.
    Restored in 2017 by Universal from a 16 mm print.
    Restored in 2K from a Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) 16 mm print via UCLA at the NBC Universal studios post-production center. "From a really poor print with scratches" (Janice Simpson).
    Introduce: Janice Simpson (NBC Universal).
    Digital keyboards: Donald Sosin.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
    Cinema Jolly, 29 June 2017

Dave Kehr (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "From 1912 to 1919, Universal produced some 170 films directed by women, many of them for the studio’s female-oriented Bluebird label – and the great majority of them now lost. Universal’s roster of female directors included Cleo Madison, Ruth Stonehouse, Ruth Ann Baldwin, Elsie Jane Wilson and Ida May Park, though the most celebrated of them was Lois Weber, a former Christian evangelist, concert pianist and stage actor, who entered films in 1908."

"Working with her husband, Phillips Smalley, Weber directed, wrote or starred in over 100 one-reel films between 1911 and 1917 for Universal’s Rex subsidiary, including the innovative 1913 Suspense, with its sophisticated use of a screen split into three separate images. After directing their first features for Universal (including the recently restored 1916 The Dumb Girl of Portici, starring Anna Pavlova), Weber and Smalley created their own company, Lois Weber Productions. But Weber’s taste for moralizing, Christian-themed films fell out of favor in the rapidly evolving America of the 1920s, and eventually, on her own after her divorce from the womanizing Smalley, she returned to Universal as a studio employee for her last few films."

"Released March 20, 1927, Sensation Seekers seems in many ways Weber’s response to the changing times. Based on the short story Egypt by Ernest Pascal, the film is a moralistic melodrama in the popular DeMille style, centered on a Long Island socialite (Billie Dove) with a Jazz Age enthusiasm for drinking, smoking and shimmying – which she has apparently acquired from her dissolute father, played in a pointed cameo by Weber’s ex-husband Smalley. Egypt – so called because she is the “most pagan of her set” finds herself drawn to the strenuously modern, emphatically masculine minister of the local Protestant church (Raymond Bloomer). Although the minister briefly considers throwing over his vocation to run away with the scandalous Egypt, the heavens intervene in the patented DeMille manner, as a storm of Biblical proportions arrives in the last reel to sort out the characters’ fates." Dave Kehr (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

AA: Luena Hagen (Billie Dove) is partying like there's no tomorrow. She is the daughter of the pillar of the society (Phillips Smalley) – himself enthusiastically joining the same parties with female companions not older than his daughter. At the same time mother (Edith Yorke) is joining a church service as a member of a dwindling congregation.

Reverend Lodge (Raymond Bloomer) rescues Luena from jail where she has landed after a police razzia. It is the age of the prohibition, after all. In the beginning of the film Luena has admired an athletic swimmer at the Long Island beach: reverend Lodge who strives for bodily as well as spiritual perfection. There is a happy ending, but not before thrilling ordeals.

Billie Dove was a daring Ziegfeld Girl who appeared in over 50 films, most of them made within a span of ten years, including swashbucklers (The Black Pirate) and comedies (Kid Boots). She gives a fine performance here as "the richest girl and the wildest Egypt", "the life of the party" who has character. She refuses to give a false name to the police. "I'm not a liar". She has the courage of her lifestyle.

Lois Weber steers the narrative with a focus on sin and redemption. Weber admires the life force of Luena at her wildest while aware of the emptiness of hedonism.

For a non-American the "Egypt" concept in this context is intriguing. My first acquaintance with it was via the hit song "Little Egypt" by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, immortalized by The Coasters and Elvis Presley. "Little Egypt" appears also in the earliest cinema, in Anno Due films produced by Edison and The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. There were three incredible belly dancers by that name in the 1890s who stunned audiences at World's Fairs and got immortalized by film producers.

Here Luena Hagen is called Egypt, being "the most pagan of the set". A further association is "far out". And perhaps another association is to Cleopatra, the last Pharaoh.

And because Sensation Seekers is a film with Christian relevance, Egypt may also refer to paganism literally. Egypt was what was left behind before the revelation of the Ten Commandments and the trek towards the Promised Land. The remnants of paganism were discarded after the dance around the Golden Calf. But forever that dance is being revived. Lois Weber builds a montage sequence juxtaposing a wild party with the church service.

Donald Sosin was the perfect musician to create an inspired jazz age score to the film, quick to switch to reverential organ tunes for church scenes at his digital keyboards.

I only managed to catch 19 minutes of this film due to an overlap with Anno Due screenings.

The visual quality of what I saw looked amazingly good considering the scratched 16 mm source of the digital restoration.

BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: SYNOPSIS FROM THE AFI CATALOG:

Don't Bet on Women (2015 restoration MoMA)


Don't Bet on Women. Edmund Lowe (Roger Fallon), Jeanette MacDonald (Jeanne Drake).

Director: William K. Howard. Year: 1931. Country: USA
Section: William K. Howard: Rediscovering a Master Stylist
    T. alt.: More Than a Kiss. Sog.: William Anthony McGuire. Scen.: Leon Gordon, Lynn Starling. F.: Lucien N. Andriot. M.: Harold D. Schuster. Scgf.: Sophie Wachner.
    Int.: Edmund Lowe (Roger Fallon), Jeanette MacDonald (Jeanne Drake), Roland Young (Herbert Drake), J. M. Kerrigan (Chipley Duff), Una Merkel (Tallulah Hope), Helene Millard (Doris Brent), Henry Kolker (Butterfield).
    Prod.: William Fox per Fox Film Corp.  35mm. D.: 71’. Bn.
    [Not released in Finland].
    From: MoMA The Museum of Modern Art.
    Per concessione di 20th Century Fox e Park Circus. Restored in 2015 by MoMA. Restoration with funding partially provided by Turner Classic Movies

Dave Kehr (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Apparently eager to get into production on Transatlantic, Howard shot this enjoyable but unambitious romantic comedy in seventeen days, bringing it in four days ahead of schedule. Working from a forgotten Broadway play from 1919, Howard and his writers, Leon Gordon and Lynn Starling, craft a breezy sex farce from a slender premise – a playboy (Lowe) bets his lawyer (Roland Young) $10,000 that he can seduce the next woman who walks in the room, who of course turns out to be the lawyer’s wife (Jeanette MacDonald)."

"MacDonald, just off her famous series of Ernst Lubitsch musicals at Paramount, surprisingly does not sing a note in this film, though she later enlisted Howard to direct the first of her many musicals at MGM, The Cat and the Fiddle (1934).
"

Mordaunt Hall quoted by Dave Kehr: "An intelligent bundle of fun with a capital cast, was the feature last week at the Roxy. It is to be hoped that this breezy sketch, an adaptation of a story by William Anthony McGuire, will pave the way for similar productions, for its lines are peculiarly well written and there is not the slightest suggestion of catering to the box office by stereotyped ideas.
 Don’t Bet on Women virtually means that mere males cannot ever be certain what the fair sex is going to do."

"This comedy has quite a French flair in some of its incidents, but it chances that the young performer who affords the greatest amount of amusement is Una Merkel, who plays Tallulah Hope of Covington, Kentucky. Miss Merkel, who hails from the other side of the Mason and Dixon line, furnishes one of those rather rare occurrences of a player suiting the role to a T. If one were to take the actual lines that Tallulah speaks they might not sound especially humorous, but they, like Tallulah, are part of a story and there is a load of laughter every time this naïve girl opens her mouth."
Mordaunt Hall, “The New York Times”, March 15, 1931 (quoted by Dave Kehr, Il Cinema Ritrovato)

AA: Don't Bet on Women is a light frothy comedy in the tradition of the bedroom farce and what Frenchmen call vaudeville comedy in the Georges Feydeau sense.

As the female leading role is played by Jeanette MacDonald, associations inevitably stray to Ernst Lubitsch (who was in the middle of a beautiful collaboration with MacDonald) and Rouben Mamoulian who was almost to outdo Lubitsch in Love Me Tonight.

Such films are the most difficult to pull off perfectly, and William K. Howard has talent even in this genre.

The story starts in an openly cynical register. The divorced Roger Fallon (Edmund Lowe) is deeply disappointed with women, his verdict being "all women are bad". His divorce lawyer Herbert Drake (Roland Young) is smugly confident that his control on his wife is absolute and that at least his wife is good.

There is a $10,000 bet that if Roger kisses the first woman who enters the veranda he will be able to seduce her within 48 hours. But when the woman who enters is the lawyer's wife Jeanne (Jeannette MacDonald) Roger calls the whole thing off.

There is a complex comical interchange whether the bet is on or off, with a range of interpretations. I offer some of mine. For Roger the bet is off because he loves Jeanne and refuses to approach her in this way. For Herbert the bet is on because he is blind. For Jeanne "the bet is very much on" because "I'm going to learn something about myself". Besides, she says to the men, "I wouldn't do so much betting".

From a cynical beginning the film grows, together with Roger, towards a romantic and unresolved finale. Jeanne kisses Roger goodbye. "Only curious if I missed anything". The mystery remains.

There are witty dialogues, but in the beginning the film is straining to be funny.

The visual quality of the print is generally brilliant, with some soft passages.

BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: SYNOPSIS FROM THE AFI CATALOG:

Young Desire


Young Desire (1930). Mary Nolan as Helen Herbert and Mae Busch as May Roberts. Mae Busch "the versatile vamp" had an interesting career. She was one of the "Princesses" at Riviera in Erich von Stroheim's Foolish Wives. She was a great comedienne at the Hal Roach Studio, often with Laurel & Hardy.

Dödssprånget / La mongolfiera della morte
Director: Lewis B. Collins. Year: 1930. Country: USA
Section: Universal Pictures: the Laemmle Junior Years (Part Two)
    Sog.: dalla pièce Carnival di William R. Doyle. Scen.: Winifred Reeve, Matt Taylor. F.: Roy Overbaugh. M.: Charles Craft. Mus.: Sam Perry.
    Int.: Mary Nolan (Helen Herbert), William Janney (Bobby Spencer), Ralf Harolde (Blackie), Mae Busch (May Roberts), George Irving (signor Spencer), Claire McDowell (signora Spencer). Prod.: Carl Laemmle Jr. per Universal Pictures Corp. 35mm. D.: 68’. Bn.
    [Not released in Finland].
    From: Universal, a Comcast Company.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
    Screened with e-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti at Cinema Jolly, 27 July 2017

Dave Kehr (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Another of Hollywood’s tragic blondes, the hauntingly beautiful Mary Nolan first found fame as a Ziegfeld Girl under the name Imogen ‘Bubbles’ Wilson. But when her married lover, Ziegfeld comedian Frank Tinney, beat her so badly that she landed in the hospital, the subsequent scandal forced her to leave the country. It is said that the gambler Arnold Rothstein financed her trip to Germany, where she changed her name to ‘Imogene Robertson’ and appeared in seventeen films. Returning to the US in 1928 as Mary Nolan, she found work at Universal, then went to MGM where she appeared as Lon Chaney’s brutalized daughter in Tod Browning’s West of Zanzibar and began another abusive relationship with the studio’s notorious fixer, Eddie Mannix. A beating from Mannix led to six months in the hospital and the beginnings of a morphine addition that eventually ended her working life."

"In 1930, Nolan returned with Browning to Universal where, now a star, she toplined Outside the Law and a handful of other films, including this memorably sordid melodrama in which she appears as a carnival hoochie coochie dancer who dreams of quitting the trade and marrying a naive young man (William Janney) from a wealthy provincial family. The director, Lewis B. Collins, does not have Browning’s flair for degradation, but the carnival milieu – a constant in so many films of the early Depression – is well observed, and Nolan has a disturbingly distant, resigned quality, as if she were drifting through a story – of hope inevitably disappointed – that she had encountered many times before."

"The film’s startling conclusion, alas, anticipates Nolan’s own unhappy fate. After a battle with director Ernst Laemmle on the set of What Men Want, Universal bought out Nolan’s contract and the rest of her career became a sad progression of Poverty Row films, lawsuits, arrests for petty crimes and hospitalizations. An overdose of Seconal ended her life in 1948. She was forty-five years old." Dave Kehr (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

AA: Helen the carnival girl wants to step out of the cheap grind and gets a ride from a nice young guy, Bobby, who is decent and innocent and eager to help her without strings attached. But they do fall in love. Bobby is the heir of the rich family of Spencer of Spencerville. His father laughs at Bobby's romance, and mother (played by the D. W. Griffith veteran Claire McDowell) does all she can to separate the young. All to the effect of alienating Bobby to the point that he is not going back to college. He will marry Helen and provide with his own work.

But Bobby's parents manage to scare Helen away, and she returns to the carnival. First when Bobby leaves home and follows Helen do the parents realize how deep their love is, and father changes his mind about Helen. Helen with no experience in aerial acrobatics rises to the sky in a hot air balloon and jumps without a parachute.

Directed by Lew Collins from a screenplay by Winifred Reeve and Matt Taylor based on a story by William R. Doyle there is bite in the approach to this tragic story of love across the tracks. The daily grind of the carnival feels believable.

The presence of Mary Nolan is extraordinary. Helen is introduced in a state of profound disillusion. Her sincere romance with Bobby revives her from desperation. The shock is the greater when she resigns from Bobby after a meeting with his mother, who appears at her place like a dark angel. Helen returns to the carnival with her head down, with a stooping posture, like a bird whose wings have been broken. The vision of the deep sorrow she projects is haunting.

A brilliant print.

BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: SYNOPSIS FROM THE AFI CATALOG: