Archive for Children of No Importance

The Sunday Intertitle: A Month of Sundays

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on March 22, 2015 by dcairns

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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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I Was Hippodrome’s First Victim

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2015 by dcairns

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I got an early heads-up on the programme for this year’s Hippodrome Festival of Silent Film, unspooling in scenic Bo’ness in March (18th-22nd), and it’s exciting stuff. I think the choices have been getting bolder each year as the films play to packed houses. It’s one thing to run Chaplin films with live music, it’s another to add Ozu to the mix. This year we have forgotten movie stars and filmmakers known to silent buffs but unfamiliar to the general public, but the loyal audiences of Bo’ness can be trusted to trust the Fest in turn and show up, knowing it’ll be worthwhile, even as a devoted crowd of silent movie buffs descends on the sleepy town for whing-ding, I believe it’s called.

Very excited about William S. Hart’s HELL’S HINGES, to be accompanied by Neil Brand and the Dodge Brothers. They performed along to BEGGARS OF LIFE last year and it was unbelievably entertaining. There’s still a lot of love for westerns among the older generation in Scotland so I think this chance to discover one of the earliest important cowboy stars will only create an appetite for more. This could be addressed further down the line with Tom Mix, Borzage’s early self-starring oaters, or THE COVERED WAGON and THE IRON HORSE.

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The screening of ANNIE LAURIE pleases me greatly because it was something I suggested a couple of years ago — I have no idea if my hint found its way to the right ears, or if it’s just a coincidence. The Scottish connection makes it a natural choice, and Lillian Gish is overdue for an appearance. It’ll be great to finally see a good print, especially with the Technicolor sequence.

Also Scottish-themed, in a way, is Oscar-winner Kevin MacDonald’s documentary CHAPLIN’S GOLIATH, telling the story Eric Campbell (he of the eyebrows), who liked to claim he was from Dunoon (due west of Bo’ness on the opposite coast). Fresh information, as they call it, has since come to light, but I’m glad MacDonald got his Scottish-funded doc made before research cut the legs from under it… It’ll also be great to see the man-mountain E.C. on the big screen, menacing Charlie as usual.

Surprise choices CHILDREN OF NO IMPORTANCE and SALT FOR SVANETIA continue to broaden the fest’s scope in bold new directions. I’m excited about the rarely-seen SYNTHETIC SIN with Colleen Moore, and favourites PICCADILLY, THE NAVIGATOR and the Barrymore DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE all make appearances with exciting new music.

A shame there’s no Jane Gardner this year, but addicts can check out her trio at The Wash House, Portobello this weekend, with screenings of THE BLACK PIRATE on Friday and SEVEN CHANCES (with ONE WEEK) on Saturday. Yay!