The Sunday Intertitle(s): Dates and Places

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Finding intertitles in early thirties talkies is always a pleasure.

Raoul Walsh’s THE MAN WHO CAME BACK, which I wrote about for Forgotten by Fox on Thursday, is such a goddamn stage play, the intertitles are really just the equivalent of act descriptions in a program. But they’re weirdly confusing.

I assumed the next shot following this one was going to be set on a train, and the oddly windowless party scene appeared to bear me out. There was even a kind of steward figure. But the train was just mean to suggest that the lead character was going to San Francisco and we’re now joining him there three months later. We’re in a building. A stationary building.

The next act is introduced thus ~

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“Did it really take four months to sail to Shanghai in those days?” we all wondered. (This was at one of Marvelous Mary’s steak-pie-and-movie parties. A fine tradition you should take up at once, with dietary adjustments according to taste and lifestyle.)

Were we all just drunk? Or is this 1931 movie committing confusing violations of spacetime by showing us a journey while telling us about a destination and a later time? I can’t think of another movie that attempts to clarify its story points in such a confusing way.

6 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle(s): Dates and Places”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

    “Hiroshima Mon Amour”

  2. ehrenstein47 Says:

    “La Jetee”

  3. Resnais doesn’t clarify things confusingly, I think, more like he confuses things clearly. I’m always quite clear about how confused I should be.

  4. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Are you familiar with “Je t’aime Je T’Aime”? Its hero is lost in his own past.

  5. Not as lost as we were in The Man Who Came Back.

    Yes, I like that one. The mouse!

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