Vicious Roomers

My new article for the Auteurs’ Notebook is up…

Found this movie particularly exciting. Here’s a snippet:

Forgot to say — please leave your comments over at the Auteurs’.

7 Responses to “Vicious Roomers”

  1. Has any actor made better entrances than Conrad Veidt, even when they’re not as carefully framed as this one? And love how the landlady’s frail facade of gentility barely survives the offer of rent in advance.

    Besides the mighty presence of Veidt, my THING for whom is by now well-attested, there are so many interesting aspects of this movie that your article gets to. Like: Berthold Viertel. I love Prater Violet (better than the Berlin Stories) and was going to ask you whether Little Friend has survived — apparently it has. (As a side note, apparently Viertel liked the portrait of himself in Prater Violet, with the qualm that the Viennese operetta that “Bergmann” is working on in the novella was the kind of material that Viertel would never have touched.) I imagine there are other roman-a-cleffy characters in Prater Violet, but I don’t know enough about the British film world of the time to recognize them.

    Also: Beatrix Lehmann, whom I don’t recall seeing in anything else. It looks like she was working into the 70s, but mostly on British TV.

  2. Yes, BL had a long career, but I never saw her either.

    Little Friend might almost be BETTER than Passing — I’ll endeavor to write about it soon. The other real person who might be in Prater Violet is that film’s star, Nova Pilbeam. She’s really little Miss Roman-a-clef, since PG Wodehouse also has a character, Cora Pirbright, who’s undoubtably based on her. While Wodehouse’s character is wilful but adorable, Isherwood takes a more abrasive view of his starlet.

    Nova still seems to be shining today, aged 90.

  3. I want to see these things, how do I do that?

  4. moviesunlimited.com has Passing on both DVD and VHS, but these are probably Region 1 only.

  5. Simon’s in NYC, so that’s workable. Alternatively, I can send discs, but then the Pal-NTSC thing comes in. When are you next in UK, Si?

  6. Here’s a nice clip from Herbert Brenon’s silent Laugh, Clown, Laugh. He had already directed an earlier version of The Passing of the Third Floor Back in 1918:

  7. This was Lon Chaney’s favourite of his own films (although I prefer his other clown role, in He Who Gets Slapped, my all-time favourite title and movie) and a very early role for Loretta Young.

    Brenon, who worked from 1912 to 1940, is someone I should look into — few others weathered such seismic changes in film-making.

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