Archive for February 24, 2023

Tourneur tournage

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2023 by dcairns

Wow, A GIRL’S FOLLY is more contemptuous of silent filmmaking than BABYLON, which is going some.

Director Maurice Tourneur and screenwriter Frances Marion have the excuse that they’re demystifying a current situation and so the sneering is a corrective to the lies of the fan mags. But I have an unpleasant suspicion we’re meant to be appalled to learn that the stars’ autographs are forged by a Black studio employee. At least the joke is on the unseen fans, not the onscreen actor.

We get to see a horse opera being filmed, with Robert Warwick as cowboy hero, and title cards give us samples of the direction being offered by the ebullient auteur:

The IMDb says that Tourneur himself plays the role of film director and Josef Von Sternberg appears as cameraman — but I think they’re just doing extra work as A director and A cameraman, rather than these featured roles — the director is too old and too bald and nothing much about the cameraman suggests the flamboyant aesthete of the 1920s. Though it’d be amusing if this scruff were little Jo before he got artistic. The perpetually sullen expression seems like the only trace of resemblance though.

Damien Chazelle please note that this is Fort Lee in 1917 and they’re already filming indoors in a big studio with sets that rotate to follow the sun. BABYLON’s idea of 1926 filmmaking is already ridiculously passé at this point. No doubt somebody was still shooting on exterior sets in 1926, but not in Hollywood.