The Sunday Intertitle: Missing In Action

Louis Delluc’s FIEVRE has no intertitles — not, as with Kirsanoff’s majestic MENILMONTANT, because it was designed that way, but because they’ve all been lost. Maybe during the film’s travels around the world, when it was common to cut out the French  titles and splice in new ones in the language of wherever the film was playing.

A number of movies which suffered this fate have since had their titles restored, using the censor’s records. The censors, you see, ARE good for something. A famous example is Feuillade’s serials, admired by the surrealists for their freeform irrationality. They were slightly less irrational when they had titles (as they once more do) — but only slightly.

Delluc got off lightly, for his film has such a slight plot, and wallows so exquisitely in the emotions produced by said plot, that it’s easy to imagine text adding an unwelcome literal quality. Who knows?

What’s left is certainly a delirious evocation of emotional turmoil augmented by drink… note all the ads for Dewars, a nice Scottish element. Note also the reassuring presence of Gaston Modot, France’s most psychotronic actor. Modot seemed to move casually from modest roles in mainstream fair like LA MERVEILLEUSE VIE DE JEANNE D’ARC to leading roles in the likes of L’AGE D’OR (if that film can be said to have a “like”). Seeing this familiar supporting player gaze passionately at a statue’s toes or kicking a blind man must have had a strange and blasphemous feeling for contemporaneous audiences. To get the same effect, we’d have to mentally sub in Greg Kinnear or something.

7 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Missing In Action”

  1. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#0f043e; background-repeat : no-repeat; } dcairns.wordpress.com – Today, 2:43 […]

  2. Reagan always thought he’d been basically conned into The Killers. “They say, ‘You’ve never played a heavy, you should try it…'” He’d have preferred a clean slate of best friend characters! It’s one of his two memorable turns, the other being King’s Row.

  3. In The Killers he was simply playing himself.

  4. Yeah, I think that was what came to worry him. At any rate, he saw a role like that as a liability for a politician — though whether it did him as much damage as Bedtime for Bonzo is debatable.

  5. Interestingly The Killers was a made-for-TV movie. But NBC rejected it for being “too violent,” and it opened theatrically.

  6. D Cairns Says:

    There’s some super-cheap low-horizon studio exteriors that look straight out of Star Trek. But Marvin and Gulagher are SO good…

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