A Stahl is Born

“Retrospective screenings at Bologna and Pordenone have done much to build enthusiasm for Stahl’s work, which this book is intended to build on. It’s a towering piece of research, uncovering as much as can be known about the filmmaker’s somewhat mysterious life: Stahl left no archive, and his early life is a virtual blank, though with exciting rumours of criminal activity. If the biography is unavoidably skeletal, the filmography emerges fully fleshed-out at last: for the first time, Stahl’s silent films, those that survive, have all been screened and reviewed with intrepid reporters Pamela Hutchinson, Lea Jacobs and Imogen Sara Smith covering archival holdings , and co-editor Bruce Babington assembling as full a portrait as is possible of the many lost films.”

That’s me, writing in the new Sight & Sound, about The Call of the Heart, a marvelous new book about the cinema of John M. Stahl (buy it here). My first book review, really. I like book reviewing, I think. I not only get a free book, I get an incentive to read it, instead of merely adding it to the teetering pile disfiguring the accommodation with its crooked shadow.

Anyway, the book is a must for Stahlgazers, and features writing by a number of hands previously admired in this organ. Hopefully it will raise the underrated auteur’s profile and hopefully we’ll get more opportunities to see his films screened.

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