The Sunday Intertitle: Douglas Fairbanks Hearts Miklos Jancso

Doug, the wonder boy of the silent screen, likes to unwind by meditating upon the long tracking shots of a ’60s Hungarian arthouse epic.

WILD AND WOOLLY (1917), directed by John Emerson and written by Anita Loos, is in many ways a companion piece to the previous year’s MANHATTAN MADNESS (Allan Dwan) — both are posited on east-west contrasts of Wild West buckaroo hi-jinks versus New York metropolitan shenangans, and both involve Doug being caught up in elaborate charades staged for his benefit, making each a prototype of David Fincher’s THE GAME.

In W&W, Doug is a cowboy enthusiast and businessman sent way out west, where the townsfolk try to impress him by putting on bar-room brawls, gunfights, a train robbery and an Indian uprising. This stuff has the delirious, cliche-wallowing strangeness of WESTWORLD. Things get out of hand when the Indians revolt for real, having figured out that an entire town firing blanks to impress a visitor will be a pushover. Now it’s up to the soft Easterner to save the day. Lots of clambering over rooftops, jumping on horses, etc, and a nice moment where Doug gains access to the ammo in his upstairs hotel room by climbing onto a ceiling beam in the downstairs bar and kicking his way through the floor of his room.

14 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Douglas Fairbanks Hearts Miklos Jancso”

  1. Fairbanks is years ahead of most cinephiles…literally!

  2. “I was into this guy before anybody.”

  3. In recent years Jansco has taken to making soft and sometimes harcore porn.

  4. That element was always kind of there, wasn’t it? The spectacle of lots of naked, attractive young people, often being humiliated, wasn’t observed in an entirely pure way. And although he creates a lot of distance by his shooting style, it’s not as extreme a denial of audience pleasure as Pasolini’s in Salo.

    He described his later films, on his visit to Edinburgh last year, as “frank films about young people today,” a phrase which covers a multitude of sins…

  5. In RED PSALM the nudity is celebratory, liberation of peasant girls from capitalist patriarchal society.

  6. Yes, that one’s quite jolly. Strange how he uses similar imagery for both oppression and liberation.

  7. “He described his later films, on his visit to Edinburgh last year, as “frank films about young people today,” a phrase which covers a multitude of sins…”

    Very Roman Polanski.

  8. Well, hopefully he doesn’t take his work home with him.

    The new Polanski looks interesting.

    Advance word: Tuesday’s edition of the Edinburgh Dialogues here is going to be a scorcher.

  9. Matt Lloyd Says:


  10. Precisely. He’s pretty critical of a lot of people, including some people I know and like, but his point of view is potentially a useful one, and he doesn’t hold back.

  11. Matt Lloyd Says:

    This should be good.

  12. Yes, I just hope it has a beneficial effect and not a negative one. It’s so hard to predict what the effects of an incendiary bomb will be…

  13. I’ve been reading Everson’s AMERICAN SILENT FILM recently, and he argues that Fairbanks’ Easterner-Goes-West films were a (playful) riposte to the William S. Hart films where Hart went East and showed those big city types how to knock heads.

  14. That makes sense. Manhattan Madness uses exactly that formula, though. Still, it does so parodcally.

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