The Spice of Life


Accompanied by Stephen Horne (piano and various) and Frank Bockius (percussion), E.A. Dupont’s VARIETE was a triumph at the Bo’ness Hippodrome. Deliberately rather cold, the movie depends on visual strength to put across its impact, so the restored picture makes a BIG difference. My programme notes, adapted from an original Shadowplay post, have now been adapted into a Chiseler essay, available here.

One thing I never mentioned — excellent use of Emil Jannings’ bulging back. He’s introduced in prison from the rear, and during the long flashback which comprises the story, Dupont again focusses on the rear view each time the character takes an additional step on his journey to potential damnation. Very effective!

5 Responses to “The Spice of Life”

  1. The bulging back is just about the only thing I remember from my bootleggy-VHS viewing fifteen years ago. Excited the new restoration is coming to San Francisco in June. Wish it were Horne/Bockius performing the score…

  2. Do you know who is scoring it?

    The percussion in particular gave it a great Cabaret quality, which seemed wholly apt.

  3. It’s students from the Berklee Acadmey of Music, who were brought out to last year’s SF Silent Film Festival to present their score for The Last Laugh. Unfortunately I had to miss it, but I’m hoping to go this time. Maybe it’ll be as great as a Horne accompaniment? (I’m skeptical).

  4. I’l be at the SF screening, with silent bells on.

  5. Enjoy! “It’s a cold film,” remarked Briony Dixon, but the better the picture quality, the more that seems like not a bad thing. Dupont deliberately sacrifices audience sympathy for every single character… but perhaps not entirely.

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