Intertitle of the Week: Genuinely Nuts
“The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness.”
It can now be confirmed: Robert Wiene’s GEUINE is completely insane. Although, in the truncated form available at present, at least some of its apeshit incoherence may be down to the unwitting juxtapositions wrought by wanton pruning. So much footage has been stripped out that it’s often hard to figure out which intertitle belongs to which character.
Given the violence meted out to Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS, which was not only shortened, with entire plot-lines cast to the winds, but moronically rewritten (to make Rotwang’s robot a “worker of the future” rather than a replacement for his dead wife, for instance), there’s simply no knowing what GENUINE must be like in its genuine form — until I see a longer edit, that is. It may prove to be slow, rational and pedantic. If so, the butchers who hacked it about may have done it a favour, because the expressionist design certainly compliments the narrative frenzy.
Genuine is some kind of high priestess of a barbaric tribe somewhere or other who gets sold into slavery and brought to somewhere or other by an old Mr Burns type gentleman wearing high heels who keeps her in a glass pyramid in his house —
Then hairdressing comes into it. Hairdressing seems to be quite important in this picture. And everybody has mad, expressionist hair, which makes sense. Oh, except the old gent, who’s bald. He’s the one who has a hairdresser visit him every week. Makes sense.
Genuine escapes from her greenhouse and molests the young relative of the hairdresser. Some other stuff happens. Oh, and it’s all a dream that Peter the Painter is having. Or is it?
The script is by Carl Mayer, maybe the most interesting of all the writers in Germany at this time (CALIGARI, THE LAST LAUGH, SUNRISE). I love the extracts from German silent scripts that Lotte Eisner reproduces in her books. They’re all like,
The staircase. Dusk.
Now a shadow falls.
Terrific stuff. Check out his IMDb bio for a sad story. I blame the British.
The mutilation of GENUINE is presumably the work of Raymond Rohauer, from whose collection the copy comes. And this week’s Hitchcock, JAMAICA INN, has also passed through RR’s sweaty hands, acquiring some bogus titles at the start — it was Rohauer’s habit to alter films in order to obtain copyright control over them. A slightly dubious character (he also collected images of bloody auto wrecks, for masturbatory purposes, I fear), he nevertheless can be credited with preserving many films that might otherwise have been lost altogether, including the entire directorial output of Buster Keaton.