The Sunday Intertitle: Vertigo

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Must write about LE VERTIGE (1926), and soon! Marcel L’Herbier’s little-seen, highly flash melodrama is a ripsnorting exultation of crazy sets and flaring nostrils. The intertitles, surprisingly, eschew overt design-fetishism, being plain sans serif affairs, but the movie does kick of with a dynamic logo and an unusual (for the period) superimposed title setting up the initial action in revolutionary Russia, before the film decamps to a deco dream of the Cote D’Azur…

We can see L’Herbier experimenting with camera movement, mainly to show off his elaborate settings (in the Italian manner — L’Herbier would remake THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII in 1950, suggesting an affinity with the Italian historical spectacles of the teens and twenties), and gearing up for the extremes of L’ARGENT…

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14 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Vertigo”

  1. Which film (or films) is that from? Great stuff!

  2. I’m not at all sure.

  3. And the person posting doesn’t say… I guess I better ask them!

  4. Must see this one! Is the lovely Jacque Catelain in it?

  5. As required by law!

    I’m assuming JC was L’Herbier’s partner (shared with his legal wife) but of course there’s no solid evidence.

    We should have an evening of it, I need translation help with this one.

  6. Count me in! Translating silents is always a doddle…as there’s no need to deal with impenetrable patois.

  7. The films are the solid evidence.

  8. One would think that, although we have camp heterosexuals like Fellini and Ken Russell to confuse the issue.

  9. Some film makers are camp without being gay (Federico Fellini and Ken Russell) while others are gay without being camp (Terence Davies and Pier Paolo Pasolini). A select few are indisputably both…among then Franco Zeffirelli, Mitchell Leisen and yes, Marcel L’Herbier!

  10. Robert Keser Says:

    That’s the blond Ivan Mozzhukhin starring in L’Herbier’s FEU MATHIAS PASCAL in 1925 (English title THE LIVING DEAD MAN) from the Pirandello play. I’d love to see the whole film. The star is a real headache to research as his name is spelled numerous different ways, including Mosjoukine.

  11. Thanks! I’ve actually got that one, possibly even with subtitles, but have disgracefully never watched it.

    Mozzhukhin was a fascinating figure, occasional writer and director as well as actor. I’ve been meaning to write something on his amazing Le Brazier Ardent.

  12. Robert Keser Says:

    What I found interesting, toward the end of this clip, is a spate of cross cutting among characters in three different locations, each one being “identified” by a particular color of tinting (blue, green, sepia). This sounds like an indigestible blur of colors, but the rapid-fire changes actually work surprisingly well to clarify the actions. This is reminiscent of L’Herbier’s earlier color experiments in ELDORADO.

    Apparently there is a color restoration somewhere of Mozzhukhin’s 1929 CASANOVA but I’ve never run across more than a brief clip of it.

  13. There’s a ’27 one and a ’34 one, but no 1929 one I know of. I can access the colour version, but only in a rather fuzzy off-air recording.

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