The Monday Intertitle: Um
Just finished writing about THE SQUAW MAN, America’s first feature film and the first movie adaptation of a Broadway play (or is it? No it isn’t: see Comments section). The article will appear elsewhere, it is hoped, and I will tell you about it later.
Which means I have nothing to say here except to laugh and point at the funny intertitle.
Oh, OK. Let’s compare DeMille’s original (available only in its 1918 re-release form, I believe) with his talkie (VERY talkie) remake.
The first film manages to get its hero, an English toff, Out West in about fifteen minutes, despite pausing for a blaze at sea and some tricky business in New York. The remake takes half an hour to accomplish the same task, and doesn’t even manage the oceanic inferno or the Big Apple stopover.
The first film stars Red Wing, a full-blooded Winnebago (a tribe with what you might call cinematic implications), whereas the talking picture stars Lupe Velez. Lupe Velez was famous for not being an Indian.
The second film gets by with intertitles, although admittedly they have that Edisonian quality of sometimes telling you what you’re about to see — a film with its own spoilers — but the remake has as much verbiage as it has prairie, going on for miles in all directions. Everyone has been instructed to talk slow for the nice microphone, so that Warner Baxter (as an English nobleman, pwahahaha) sounds as much like an Indian as Lupe.
In spite of all this, I do find the remake, ponderous though it is (crude by 1931 standards) slightly more fun, if only because it contains this image —
In fact, Eleanor Boardman, in her penultimate film, seems to inhabit better compositions than the entire rest of the cast. I must see more of her, starting with Borzage’s THE CIRCLE, recently supplied by a thoughtful Shadowplayer…