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Young and Innocent

champagne french grande

The BFI’s package of nine newly restored silent films by Alfred Hitchcock began its US tour at the recent San Francisco Silent Film Festival, and will shown at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinematek from July 29 through July 3, before moving on to other venues and, eventually, home video. For the most part, these are movies that have been seen, if at all, in variously compromised public domain editions in the US, but the BFI, backed by a massive, public fund-raising campaign linked to the 2012 London Olympics, has greatly improved on the standard versions by collating the best material from collections around the world.

Hitchcock’s first completed feature, “The Pleasure Garden” (1925), seems much more accomplished now that 20 minutes of footage has been added to the old Rohauer print; “The Manxman” (1929) looks stunning in this new version taken from the original nitrate negative (the only camera negative that appears to survive on any of Hitchcock’s silents). Color tints have been restored to “The Lodger” (1926), and a discreet digital touch-up has been applied to everything else. The only film that still looks dodgy is “Easy Virtue” (1927), which seems to survive only in 16-millimeter “show-at-home” prints.

I have an overview of the series here, in the New York Times. I suspect that a lot of casual film buffs who attend the series expecting to see his trademark thrillers are going to be disappointed by everything apart from “The Lodger” and “Blackmail” (1929), but the interest for the hardcore Hitchcockian the interest of these films lies precisely in how the demonstrate the range of material that Hitchcock explored, before he settled on the thriller as the best vehicle for the themes he wanted to explore and the manner in which he wanted to explore them. The genres covered here range from schoolboy misadventures (the 1927 “Downhill,” which seemed to me immeasurably richer than I remembered it from my last viewing several decades ago) to tony stage dramas (“Easy Virtue” is based on a West End hit by Noel Coward). Stylistically, the films reflect the well-documented influence of Murnau and Lang (“The Lodger”), but suggest that Hitchcock, an early and dedicated member of the seminal London Film Society, was also playing close attention to the Soviet montage boys (“The Lodger” opens with a city symphony sequence that seems to anticipate “Man with a Movie Camera”) and even the French Impressionists (the poetic realism of “The Manxman” would seem to owe something to Jean Epstein’s 1923 “Coeur Fidele”).

And yet, for all their variations, the films of the “Hitchcock 9” are firmly centered on the director’s characteristic themes and personal imagery. “The Pleasure Garden,” for example, opens with a swirl of Hitchcock motifs — spirals and staircases, showgirls and spyglasses — while “Champagne” (1928, and the subject of the French poster reproduced above) offers, on an entirely differently level, the popular British comedienne Betty Balfour as an early draft of Tippi Hedren’s destructively headstrong heiress in “The Birds.” Thrillers or not, these films are the foundations of Hitchcock’s art — one of the richest bodies of work of the 20th century.

Plus, at no extra charge, a look at Ernst Lubtisch’s “The Merry Widow.”

45 comments to Young and Innocent

  • Shawn Stone

    Great review of THE MERRY WIDOW. It is indeed amazing how Lubitsch manages to make Maxim’s quite obviously a high-class whorehouse–and have reservations about it. And THE OYSTER PRINCESS isn’t the only German silent echoed in the film. The opening entrance of Chevalier, with doting village maidens and errant livestock, echoes Paul Heidemann’s exit at the beginning of DIE BERGKATZ.

  • I look forward to The Hitchcock 9 screening in Bologna next week and in Helsinki two months later. The first restoration I have seen is the restored BLACKMAIL last week in Sodankylä with a live performance of Neil Brand’s wonderful score. It should be included in the soundtrack of the restoration. Whether Hitchcock was working with Waxman, Tiomkin, Rozsa, Webb, Newman, or Herrmann, there was a recognizable Hitchcock sound of suspense, to which Neil Brand makes a thrilling new contribution.

    The best-looking Hitchcock silent even before the restorations has been THE MANXMAN (starring the first true Hitchcock blonde, Anny Ondra, as does BLACKMAIL), a case of Hitchcock’s “roads not followed”, yet with affinities with certain aspects of I CONFESS and THE WRONG MAN, already discovered by Rohmer and Chabrol in their pioneering Hitchcock study. The sense of existential solitude and desolation in certain sequences brings to mind much later works by Bresson and Antonioni. I think Hitchcock, himself, was influenced mostly by Victor Sjöström who had recently filmed another bestselling novel by Hall Caine, NAME THE MAN, only fragments of which survive. Also Jean Epstein had been influenced by the Swedish masters Sjöström and Stiller. The concept of landscape as soulscape was invented for the cinema by pre-WWI Frenchmen such as Léonce Perret and American masters such as Griffith and Hart (the entire Western genre heavily depends on that concept), but the Swedes brought a new depth to the soulscape approach in films like TERJE VIGEN, and THE MANXMAN clearly belongs to that trend. During his career Hitchcock usually favoured the controlled circumstances of the studio but never lost his sense of the landscape-soulscape, either (VERTIGO).

  • Johan Andreasson

    I saw a good print of THE MANXMAN in the 80s. The Victor Sjöström influence didn’t occur to me then, but it’s interesting to think about it now.

    Poster girl Batty Balfour from Hitchcock’s CHAMPAGNE actually has a Swedish credit in her career. In 1926 she was the star of FLICKORNA GYURKOVICS (The Gyurkovics Girls) a Swedish-German co-production directed by Ragnar Hyltén-Cavallius (he had written scripts for Stiller, but this was his first film as director) and co-starring Willy Fritsch (so there’s also a Lubitsch connection).

    The story relies heavily on mistaken identities and is sometimes a bit hard to follow, but thanks to the high-spirited Balfour it’s very funny. Plus it’s shot by the great Carl Hoffman of FAUST fame.

  • Barry Putterman

    In some respects, the most remarkable aspect of the Hitchcock 9 is that it represents ninety per cent of a major director’s silent film work which remains available to us in relatively excellent viewing shape. I certainly can’t think of any American director about whom that could be said and I wonder if many others from any other country either. Eisenstein I suppose. Anyone else?

    In any event, it gets me to wondering what else the BFI could offer us if there was anything like the popular interest driving the presentation of these Hitchcock films. For one thing, we might be able to see other British silent films which could conceivably re-kindle the kind of interest that post World war II British cinema is generating in some quarters. For another, there could be unseen works from other national cinemas which could affect our understanding of silent film history in general and some individual careers in particular.

    In other words, I’m thrilled to have these Hitchcock films, but I’m a greedy little bugger. So, what else have you got?

    In unrelated news, I took another look at WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED at the MoMA Dwan series today and it is really quite a remarkable film. A film which is literally, relentlessly and quite profoundly about divided loyalties. But possibly the most astonishing aspect to me is that it was made at Republic a year prior to JOHNNY GUITAR, and despite some stunning similarities, I can’t recall anybody ever discussing the two films in relation to each other.

  • Foster Grimm

    I was at the WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED screening and I too, Barry, thought of JOHNNY GUITAR.
    Ben Cooper is in both films, playing a variation of the same character, and is lynched in JOHNNY GUITAR.
    And WOMAN is remarkable. The whole Dwan series has been an eye opener.

  • In the recent past, I watched the silent Hitchcock films in chronological order, only some of these re-viewings, and the immediate sense of an already accomplished filmmaker, plus the anticipation of later themes, was thrilling. I would like to see also all the earlier films that he only worked on, for further clues, anticipations, and commercial influences.

  • Barry Lane

    Is there a chance of Allan Dwan’s Soldiers Of Fortune (1919) being available in any format?

  • Steve elworth

    Barry, I thought we had a discussion about the similarities of JOHNNY GUITAR and WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED after seeing it at the Thalia. It is more than Ben Cooper. WOMAN is still my favorite title of a film including the fact that it is an alleged spoiler.

  • Foster Grimm

    Of course similarities between WOMAN and JOHNNY are more than Ben Cooper. Ben is the most visible.
    The Thalia? What year was that showing?

  • Gregg Rickman

    Barry, you say the Hitchcock 9 “represents ninety per cent of a major director’s silent film work which remains available to us in relatively excellent viewing shape. I certainly can’t think of any American director about whom that could be said and I wonder if many others from any other country either. Eisenstein I suppose. Anyone else?”

    Chaplin (all but complete. Is one of the Keystones missing? Plus we have many reels of outtakes).

    Keaton (missing about five minutes from DAY DREAMS, a few minutes from THE CAMERAMAN, a few shots, evidently, from a couple of the others).

    The catalogue of missing silents is of course heartbreaking, but given silent cinema’s history we are lucky to have as much as we do.

  • Barry Putterman

    Foster, the Thalia screening of WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYCHED was some time in the late 70s or very early 80s. And Steve, we may well have had a discusiion of the film vis a vis JOHNNY GUITAR, but, unlike Chaplin and Keaton films, it wasn’t preserved for posterity.

    Recollecting a few marbles, it should also be noted that De Mille kept a collection of his own films and the vast majority of his silent work (although probably not 90%) still exits, There was a huge series at Astoria culled from that collection about a decade after the Thalia Dwan screening. Would that the rest of silent cinema and the Republic studio catalog was as well taken care of. Which is why I would much like to know what else the BFI could offer us in this regard.

    And now, in this season of mini rediscovery for Dwan, I would also hope that a good deal of major critical attention is directed towards WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED.

  • On the opposite end of preservation/survival — directors like Sadao Yamanaka — only 3 films left out of 30 or so (according to JMDB).

    I wonder — are there any directors whose films were considered great (or at least very good) in their own day who are not known to have ANY surviving films?

  • Gregg Rickman

    Scott Eyman’s DeMille biography “Empire of Dreams” (2010) notes DeMille systematically began preserving his work in the silent era. Twelve were missing as of 1940; dedicated searching found three of these by 1952 (for the list, see page 372). His heirs kept the nitrates in good shape and then turned them over to Eastman House for preservaton. So, nine are missing of what IMDB says are 80 credits.

    Re Michael Kerplan’s question, here’s someone who doesn’t qualify as “considered great — no surviving films” but may come close. An action director named Bernard Durning (who died at 30, in 1923) was evidently a legend in his time, influencing his A.D., William Wellman, and perhaps Keaton as well (who lived with him for a time — long story). He might had the career of a Walsh, Wellman or Dwan (and he was at Fox the same time as Jack Ford). One of his films, WHEN BEARCAT WENT DRY (1919) does however survive in an archive, as well as a reel of a second film. Moreover, he’s scarcely mentioned in the trades I’ve combed over for the period, so as one film survives and he wasn’t thought “great” by the press (as opposed to his colleagues), he falls short of your criteria. I’m sure there are Japanese or Chinese directors who do qualify.

  • Robert Garrick

    We have most of silent Hawks (6 of 7), which is pretty good considering that only a few of the films were hits, and it took a while for Hawks’s reputation to grow to “major” status. But I am a greedy little bugger too, and we are living through one of the most dangerous times in history for film preservation. I don’t sense a lot of urgency, either.

    Back when I was working on Wall Street, thirty-plus years ago, I used to disappear for hours at a time to see things at the Thalia, way uptown. Andrew Sarris once called the Thalia “the shabbiest art house in the western world.” I loved it too, and I probably saw quite a few things there that are now unavailable in 35mm.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Argentinean animation pioneer Quirino Cristiani might fit the bill. He made the first animated feature film EL APOSTÒL (”The Apostle”, 1917) and later the first animated feature with synchronized sound PELUDÒPOLIS (1931) – both now lost. Here’s an article on his career:

    There’s also a good documentary about him, and you can see him in Disney’s live action footage from the Latin American trip in the 1940s.

  • And then there is the remarkable case of Edwardian England’s Mitchell & Kenyon, whose reputation seemed to pass through a mirror universe where paucity became quantity, crudity quality, and fiction documentary. Previously known (if known at all) for a handful of Boer War propaganda shorts, after 80 years they were discovered to have been the directors of 800 reels of detailed, wide-ranging actuality footage.

  • Dave — I went looking for Merry Widow on the Warner Archive website — and wound up ordering not only Lubitsch’s version but the earlier (silent) Stroheim one. Luckily, they were having a sale last night, so I got a discount by buying both.

  • Nice going, Michael! Warners also has, I’m told, good material on “La Veuve joyueuse,” the French language version that Lubitsch shot simultaneously with the English one, with Chevalier indulging the full range of his Parisian French, MacDonald going quite well with her music conservatory language skills, and Marcel Valle stepping in for Edward Everett Horton and the irrepressible Fifi D’Orsay (who was Canadian, but never mind) in Minna Gombell’s role as the senior Maxim’s girl. The nature of Maxim’s is even more sordidly evident in the French version, as I recall from a single viewing many years ago. Maybe if we ask nicely George Feltenstein will put this out along with Paul Fejos’s French version of “The Big House” (with Charles Boyer) and Claude Autant-Lara’s interpretation of “Parlor Bedroom and Bath,” with Buster Keaton speaking phonetic French and Francoise Rosay in support.

  • Regarding Lubitsch and Paris — Why on earth is “So This Is Paris” still unrepresented on DVD (or Blu Ray)? This (_very_ loose) adaptation of Die Fledermaus is possibly Lubitsch’s funniest film (in any event, the humor works better for ME than the early German comedies).

    Too bad Criterion didn’t come up with a deal for a “Merry Widow” (Blu-Ray) set with both the English and French versions.

  • Barry Putterman

    Warners Archive seems to be expanding in many different directions. This week’s releases are dominated by a group of Paramount films. One was Haskin’s THE NAKED JUNGLE and one was a Jerry Lewis film (THE FAMILY JEWELS I think). The others did not exactly fire my imagination, but possibly there are better things to come.

    Ordinarily, this kind of gradual monopoly development would be worrisome. But when it is the most reliable folks in the business taking the reins from a group of indifferent slugs, one can only hope that there is nothing but more and better along these lines in the future.

  • If only the Warner Archive made-on-demand DVDs still function in 10 years….

  • Daniel F.

    I don’t honestly know what is currently available, but I’d certainly welcome more Dovzhenko material in circulation. I do believe there is a British, “War Trilogy” set; other than that, and the occasional mini-retrospective, I personally haven’t seen much other than EARTH, ARSENAL, and possibly IVAN. I wasn’t under the impression that too much is permanently lost. Hopefully somebody here has better info.

  • Robert Garrick

    We should note the death of Richard Matheson, who provided many blissful Saturday afternoons and weekday evenings for the likes of me, Joe Dante, X, and probably most of the others on this board. He wrote dozens of memorable screenplays and stories, including scripts for Jacques Tourneur (“Comedy of Terrors”), Steven Spielberg (“Duel”), and Jack Arnold (“The Incredible Shrinking Man”). He wrote several of Roger Corman’s Poe films, including an ingenious transformation of Robb White’s script for “House on Haunted Hill” (1959) into “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1961) for Corman. His story “I am Legend” was filmed twice, first with Vincent Price as “The Last Man on Earth” (1964) and second with Charlton Heston as “The Omega Man” (1971). There were many stories for Rod Serling’s TV show “The Twilight Zone,” including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” (1963), which has William Shatner seeing something that looks like Yeti on an airplane wing. Later, in “Twilight Zone: The Movie” (1983), George Miller directed Jon Lithgow in the same story, with better special effects.

    There was much more. There’s even a slight connection to Hitchcock. Matheson’s short stories were regularly anthologized in those Alfred Hitchcock paperbacks, which had titles like “Alfred Hitchcock’s Stories Not for the Nervous.” I wonder if Hitchcock ever read any of them.

    Ray Bradbury said that Matheson was “one of the most important writers of the 20th century.” When I was young and just starting to notice the names in the credits of TV shows and movies, Matheson’s was one that always got my blood pumping.

  • Robert,

    That is a very good tribute to Richard Matheson.

    As WORLD WAR Z spreads the zombie apocalypse, one remembers this all started with Matheson’s novel I AM LEGEND. Although Matheson wrote about vampires, not zombies.

    Matheson was important in genres other than science fiction, too. His CHEYENNE episode HOME IS THE BRAVE (1960) is one of the most trenchant looks at Civil Rights and racial equality in the Western genre. As DOMA falls and gay marriage equality surges, it is important to remember what people of Matheson’s generation did for human brotherhood.

  • There are seeds in Easy Virtue that flowered in later Hitchcock works.

    The opening courtroom scenes anticipate other films about a woman on trial, The Paradine Case and, to a lesser degree, Dial M For Murder.

    The artist incident will soon be echoed in Blackmail.

    And the jury deliberation will return far more elaborately in Murder.

    The Riviera settings will recur in To Catch a Thief.

    The eavesdropping telephone operator perhaps recalls James Stewart’s prying photographer in Rear Window.

    The tennis game in Easy Virtue anticipates Strangers on a Train. The hero here is in tennis whites when he meets the heroine. His character is somewhat like Farley Granger’s tennis pro in the latter film: glamorous, refined, very attractive to women, but spineless, weak-willed and very easily manipulated by others. Both men suffer from being utterly socially conventional, perhaps epitomized by their upper class looking tennis whites. The men are both appealing and annoying, in their mix of sexual irresistibleness and conventionality and lack of backbone.

  • “His story “I am Legend” was filmed twice, first with Vincent Price as “The Last Man on Earth” (1964) and second with Charlton Heston as “The Omega Man” (1971).”

    There was one more version, the 2007 version with Will Smith under the original title. Slavoj Ziziek has an interesting comparison of the three versions in “Living in the End Times.” He likes the first version best (I do too.) At least he had the satisfaction of seeing one of his works re-made twice. How many other authors can claim that?

    Matheson was one of the best genre writers around; he wrote classics in horror, science fiction and mystery and his prose style was fluid and supple. As Mike noted his TV scripts brought to yet other genres where he wrote equally well.

  • Blake Lucas

    On the other hand, I for one hope that “The Incredible Shrinking Man” will never be remade.

    This is hands down my favorite science-fiction film of all time and always has been and I’ve said so in print (somehow I’ve come back to this movie in three separate pieces). Director Jack Arnold’s realization has a lot to do with my affection for the film, but the story began with Richard Matheson and so the movie wouldn’t even exist without him. It was not only a brilliant premise, but this was the rare film in the genre–even in what were arguably sci-fi’s best years–that had the courage of its convictions in the way it resolved, which startled yet also deeply moved me when I saw it on first release. I’ve only come to treasure more through the years that the story retained the integrity of Matheson’s conception on screen and so ended up being a truly spiritual work gracefully delivered to the matinee audiences of the time as well as those who have kept it close to their hearts ever since.

  • Joe Dante

    I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I got to work so early in my career with one of my idols, Richard Matheson, on TZ-The Movie. I’d been reading him since my teens and ranked him with Bradbury, Sheckley, Beaumont et al –and here I was making my first studio movie and trading ideas with the guy who wrote The Shrinking Man! Richard was as terrific a person as he was a writer, and luckily for the rest of us he was very prolific. So I think I’ll go and revisit his Dell paperback collection SHOCK, which features a number of his greatest short stories.

  • “I for one hope that “The Incredible Shrinking Man” will never be remade.”

    I agree Blake. There’s nothing to be gained by remaking Arnold’s beautifully realized version.

    Joe, I also have the “Shock” collection as well as “Shock II” and “Shock Waves.” In the 1980s Scream Press published his collected short stories in a single volume.

  • Robert Garrick

    Well, Blake, we did have Lily Tomlin’s “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” (1986), with Matheson’s novel credited as the source, but that wasn’t exactly a remake.

    Matheson was brilliant at taking a genre premise and tweaking it a little bit. The ’50s were full of increasingly tedious movies about giant insects and animals, but by shrinking his protagonist Matheson turned the focus inward. Instead of a single monstrous creature to destroy, we instead see the “normal” world, and everything about it is giant and terrifying. “The Fly” (1958) was a reworking of the same idea.

    And, with “I Am Legend,” Matheson created the modern zombie film, as Mike Grost suggests above. As an extra to the 2008 DVD of “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), George Romero discussed the film’s origins and said “I had written a short story, which I basically had ripped off from a Richard Matheson novel called ‘I Am Legend.'”

  • Vivian

    There was yet another version of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” a Saturday Night Live skit, from sometime in the early 80’s I think, featuring Ed Grimley and Jesse Jackson.

    Richard Matheson had much to answer for. (And, truly, to be thanked for…)

  • Rick K.

    I think for most of us who live outside of film meccas like New York where there are venues that will actually book a package like Hitchcock 9, that we’ll have to wait (eagerly) for the eventual blu-rays to surface (alas, my feeling is that if the Hitchcock 9 were to play theatrically in my neck of the woods, there would only be a sum total of 9 in the audience to appreciate them!). Most of the titles were previously released in decent dvd versions via Studio Canal, but I’ll definitely be in line for these restorations, hopefully with music scores which will do the films full justice (a recent U.K. blu-ray release of THE LODGER was unfortunately compromised by a rather misguided score).

    Hitchcock’s silent work in England was indeed a beacon, but towards the end of that period, he may have been slightly eclipsed by the Asquith 3. I just had a chance to see UNDERGROUND (1929), which was just released on blu-ray by the BFI last week (its a U.K. Region B locked blu-ray), the second of Anthony Asquith’s three silent films following his co-directing debut on SHOOTING STARS (1928). Each of the three films is genuinely remarkable in its own way (A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR was third), and the BFI’s restoration of UNDERGROUND is a hugely important contribution to our appreciation of British cinema during that period. And perhaps surprising too in retrospect in that each of the three Asquith films taps a little into some Hitchcockian thematics we know and love, while in a filmic sense, they are often more polished and certainly as resourcefully cinematic as the Master’s initial flurry of silent gems. What’s odd is that Asquith’s visual creativity didn’t really evolve significantly like Hitchcock’s into the sound era, with Asquith earning most of his career accolades via his very fine stage adaptations, and only on a few occasions utilizing a strong stylized visual approach on such “wayward” films as THE YOUNG LOVERS (1954, aka CHANCE MEETING), a superb little film which seems to have been sadly neglected by time (at least on this side of the Atlantic).

    The BFI is indeed touting UNDERGROUND as an important rediscovery, derived from a print recently discovered in Brussels with French titles. The restoration is a magnificent one, and I was inclined to believe that it had nearly been a lost film, UNTIL I dashed over to the William K. Everson website, and found that he was actually showing it to his film society audiences back in 1969, via a print with French titles. Everson’s analysis in his astute program notes is also quite certainly the best reading on this particular film that you’ll probably find, although there’s a paragraph or two in the Asquith bio which make a good followup to an UNDERGROUND screening, which I’d strongly recommend for anyone equipped to play “Region B” discs, a definite contender for blu-ray of the year thus far.

    I also wish to add that my eyes widened considerably when I read Dave Kerr’s mention above that MGM may indeed be holding foreign language prints on MERRY WIDOW and BIG HOUSE, not to mention a missing Keaton in the French-language PARLOR BEDROOM AND BATH. Rather than merely asking MGM for a dvd release, I feel more inclined to devise a Hitchcockian method of persuasion on Mr. George Feltenstein, tho haven’t decided whether a crop duster or a flock of crows would be the best plan.

  • “I think for most of us who live outside of film meccas like New York where there are venues that will actually book a package like Hitchcock 9, that we’ll have to wait (eagerly) for the eventual blu-rays to surface”

    I understand that the touring Hitchcock 9 program will be digital projections, even at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Bing Theater.

    Even so, it will be interesting to see them with an audience.

  • Gregg Rickman

    Yep, X, they restored the 9 on digital, and that’s how we’ll have to watch ’em. Restored digitals in theaters are how many classics are being screened today, even when restored 35/70mm prints were subjects of much publicity on the revival circuits just a few years ago (eg, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, VERTIGO). And where are those prints now?

    I like SHOOTING STARS and A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR very much and have always been curious as to if Asquith ever tried to create something else of “pure cinema” again in his sound period (as did Hitchcock). Therefore, curious about THE YOUNG LOVERS. (Is the BFI’s restoration of UNDERGROUND digital? I’ll bet that it is.)

  • The Hitchcock 9 restorations are also available on 35 mm. That’s how they’ll screen in Bologna, and that’s how BLACKMAIL was shown in Midnight Sun Film Festival two weeks ago.

  • Gregg Rickman

    Lucky you! They must have struck some 35mm prints for your benighted European backwaters. Here in the Bay Area, we had digital restorations at the series premiere in San Francisco, and will have digital restorations at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley in August (where I plan to see ’em). Digital glistens; film has a patina. It’s a real Maria of the catacombs/false Maria “doing a hooch dance” (as the Variety reviewer of METROPOLIS put it) situation so far as I’m concerned.

  • Barry Putterman

    Indeed, both UNDERGROUND and A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR are remarkably creative films which also indicate that Asquith was paying close and admiring attention to Hitchcock. It has never been satisfactorially explained to me why his career took the path it did in the sound era. Possibly somebody here who has superior knowledge of British film history could offer an explanation.

    Sadly, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” was involved in a recent incident which left much to be answered for (but not by Matheson) and did not involve the always delightful Ed Grimley, I must say. A few months back The New York Times printed what it claimed was an obit for the actress Christine White. What it actually was was an impressionistic rapture of that “Twlight Zone” episode with a bare minimum of facts regarding Ms. White’s life and career intersperced at various points to give the piece it’s “poetic” structure. Ordinarily, I don’t get worked up over badly written obits. The memory of people and their deeds live on and the obits wrap the next day’s fish. But when a publication with the prestige of The New York Times stoops to publishing such an adolescent, self-involved piece such as that, which I would have thrown into the trash can at the high school newspaper I edited, we have come to a pretty pass.

  • jbryant

    THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN blew my adolescent mind when I first saw it on TV in the late 60s. It may actually have been the first time I realized a movie could be profound, even if I couldn’t have defined that word.

    Many years later, one of my first paid writing gigs was for an episode of a Disney Channel series produced by Matheson’s daughter, Ali. We only met briefly once or twice, and I never found an appropriate moment to rave about her dad, but I enjoy having that small degree of separation from him.

  • On a sidenote, Entertainment Weekly just published its 100 best everythings issue, and Citizen Kane is the number one movie. Hah, S&S! In Hitchcock news, EW’s list also has the following films:

    Psycho is No. 5

    Notorious is No. 29

    North by Northwest is No. 23.

    Vertigo No. 38.

    I haven’t done an accounting but I think Hitchcock has more films than other directors.

  • Rick K.

    Gregg, I remember thinking that YOUNG LOVERS found Asquith in a filmic mode akin to his silent roots, with several lengthy silent/non-dialogue passages … I’d read that he apparently aspired to use film as music in this movie, and there is a naturalistic quality which is often missing from Hitchcock, and sets it apart. Even during the brief “experimental” period during the silents, Asquith seemed to be doing things that Hitchcock was not … though interestingly, if you get to see UNDERGROUND, there’s a “chase” climax which almost seems to anticipate the one at the end of BLACKMAIL (which I believe was shot afterward, while Asquith was preparing A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR). Both directors were obviously thoroughly absorbed by the possibilities of film and intuitively observant of technique around them, with that particular drive to take those ideas further and create their own vision.

    The UNDERGROUND blu-ray (its actually a dvd/blu-ray combo) has a really nice restoration supplement, about 10 min., which shows how both film AND digital restoration techniques were used.

    And I just noticed that has a dvd of YOUNG LOVERS … I didn’t realize it was even available, haven’t seen it in years, so I hope to get a copy soon. Looks like a lot of “obscure” British catalog titles are surfacing over there lately … check out the new Ealing Rarities Collections … Vol. 2 is quite a coup (Edmund Greville’s BRIEF ECSTASY is a real treat, but is that Ealing?). I assume they are “real” dvd discs and not made-on-demand.

  • As I go through the article page by iPad page, Spielberg may tie or come a close second with Raiders, Jaws, Schindler, and ET so far.

  • And they weren’t able to squeeze Nat Hiken into the TV list! Seinfeld wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Bilko and Car 54.

    Movie No. 100 is Sweet Smell. The foreign films are the usual suspects: 400 Blows, Breathless ….

  • Four Kubricks, and three Scorseses (or four if you include Woodstock). Several Wilders, too. Surprises include Dazed. And Confused, Road Warrior, and Night of the Living Dead. OK, I’m done. Please return to the previously scheduled Hitchcock 9 and Lubtisch.

  • Steve elworth

    the Hitchcock 9 shown on New York at BAM will be video. I guess one has to go across the pond to rate 35. Damn

  • The New Yorker blog features Richard Brody reviewing the new book on Welles. It consists of transcripts of conversations recorded by Henry Jaglom. Editor Peter Biskind maintains that Welles knew that Jaglom was making the recordings, but I remember reading years ago that Jaglom supposedly did it secretly.

    Here’s an earlier summary of the book from The Vulture, with numerous quotes: