The Sunday Intertitle: A Month of Sundays

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I like this spiritually uplifting intertitle from HELL’S HINGES — the art looks like a Terry Gilliam cartoon.

On a more sombre note, Gerhardt Lamprecht’s CHILDREN OF NO IMPORTANCE begins with some PEOPLE ON SUNDAY-style leisure activities, but he’s making the point of class inequality — while one child, a pampered ectomorph in a sailor suit, rides a goat-drawn carriage around his spacious estate, two waifs watch through the bars, then one gets a ride on a carousel free, but only because her big brother is spinning the whole thing by hand.

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“It was Sunday… and the weather was hot…”

Mixed reaction to this one among my fellow Bo’ness punters. I quite liked it — the kids’ acting is brilliant, and despite the often depressing scenes of squalor, brutality and child exploitation, as with Oliver Twist it all turns out alright in the end, without obviating the call for social reform. Dickens had neater plotting, though.

Lamprecht was clearly a good egg, though — he wanted to make his audience aware, make them think, and to some extent make them suffer, but he didn’t want to leave them feeling miserable at the end. There’s light and shade. Also, unlike most social realist films, it seemed reasonably realistic to me, though maybe the historical distance is helping Lamprecht get away with a few dramatic contrivances I would question in a modern film.

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Also viewed Saturday — THE NAVIGATOR (Keaton); PICCADILLY (Dupont); SALT FOR SVANETIA (Kalatazov). I did the programme notes for the last-named. I’m going to try to add something about all of these, but especially SYNTHETIC SIN, viewed on Friday. A hilarious Colleen Moore vehicle — an audience full of flappers. Great fun.

This year’s Hippodrome Festival of Silent Film — which ends today with Lillian Gish as ANNIE LAURIE — has been a real treat.

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5 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: A Month of Sundays”

  1. Lamprecht is having his moment. Last year the SF Silent Film Festival showed one of his, “Under the Lantern.” I left halfway through because my butt was hurting after a solid day of viewing. So I didn’t leave because I thought it was bad, but on the other hand it wasn’t good enough, despite some lively cabaret scenes, to make me forget that my butt was hurting. I left just as bad omens were starting to mount up; friends who stayed confirmed that every bad thing that could happen to the heroine did.

  2. Pordenone ran a retrospective but I only saw one, with the rather awkwardly translated title “People Among Themselves” or “People Among Each Other” or something. It was quite good — but apparently I’d missed the best one.

    San Francisco interest: I have a program note in the catalogue for the upcoming San Francisco Film festival…

  3. Check out his version of Emil and the Detectives (partially scripted by Billy Wilder) or the post WW2 rubble film Irgendwo in Berlin.

  4. Emil I know and admire hugely, and somehow I forgot it was him! It’s stylistically bananas in a way that the silents only hint at.

    Much of his Lamprecht’s vast film collection, including his own negatives, was destroyed in WWII, so that rubble would have had special significance. Although I’m being dense: if your home city is reduced to rubble with probably some of your acquaintances under it, even for a filmmaker the lost films would probably be the least of it.

  5. Irgendwo’s a worthy sucessor to Emil, but a lot lesss known because it came from the East German studios Defa. Here’s a nice article (and a fascinating blog) http://eastgermancinema.com/2011/09/24/somewhere-in-berlin/ amd the whole film is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoK_fvxBBfM

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