Archive for May 12, 2012

Paris in the Spring

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on May 12, 2012 by dcairns

So, early April saw me back in Paris, on top-secret Shadowplay business… except I’m about to reveal what that business is…

Regular Shadowplayer Paul Duane proposed to me the idea of a documentary about that shadowy and exotic figure of film history, Bernard Natan — producer in France in the late twenties and early thirties, head of Pathe, and eventually convicted of fraud, slandered as a pornographer, sentenced to jail and finally handed over to the Nazis.

I thought this was a swell idea, but wondered who would back such a film — then Paul found a fund specializing in films that couldn’t get funded any other way. We pitched the project, and they agreed it met that criterion. So now we’re making a documentary feature about a Romanian-French film producer, despite neither of us being Romanian or French or even speaking either language adequately. You can’t blame our contacts in France for looking puzzled.

The reason I’m telling you this is — well, I have to tell you sooner or later. And there’s no reason to remain secretive, I don’t think. And I’m curious if anybody out there has any expert knowledge on the period and personalities we’re dealing with. Apart from Natan himself there are his regular directors, who include Raymond Bernard, Maurice Tourneur, Henri Diamant-Berger, Leonce Perret, Fedor Ozep, Anatole Litvak and Michel Colombier. Then there are the people Natan gave a start to: Jean Gabin, Jacques Tourneur…

Research is already proceeding apace, but I’m very interested in suggestions…

I’m also interested in getting good copies of the Pathe-Natan films. Ultimately, Pathe themselves will supply their finest archive material, but for viewing and consideration, good copy DVDs, especially with subtitles, would be most welcome. Of particular interest: Ozep’s MIRAGES DE PARIS, Pierre Colombier’s CES MAITRES DE LA SANT, Litvak’s L’EQUIPAGE, Tourneur Snr’s DANS LA NOM DE LA LOI, Gremillon’s LA PETITE LISE, and pretty much any others.