Archive for George Fitzmaurice

The Sunday Intertitle: The Last Intertitle of Rudolph Valentino

Posted in FILM with tags , , on December 9, 2018 by dcairns

The last intertitle to emerge from Rudy Valentino’s lips ~

The film is Valentino’s SON OF THE SHEIK, directed by George Fitzmaurice. Which climaxes with an exciting chase and then a chaste kiss ~

 

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I Want to be a Clone

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , , , , on August 8, 2017 by dcairns

If I keep watching MGM films from the thirties, will I become infected? While Warners films of the period have a salutary cynicism, the main ethos of Mayer & Thalberg’s studio is patriarchal snobbery (deep down it may be just as cynical, but it would take a Sigmund Freud armed with excavation equipment to dig the true beliefs out of Louis B. Mayer’s cerebellum). But they did make some good movies, and some interesting movies, even when that’s at the root. And sometimes they broke free from it altogether.

There’s a bit of class panic in AS YOU DESIRE ME, I guess, which is a Tichbourne Claimant/Martin Guerre identity crisis melodrama that’s part screwball (the first part), and where part of the anxiety rests on the possibility that Garbo may not be the long-lost amnesiac lady of the great house, but a long-lost amnesiac housemaid. Gasp! Since this is adapted from Pirandello, some trace of doubt is actually allowed to remain, and we’re left to assume that identity may not be wholly fixed and may not matter as much as we think. maybe it’s an act of faith — we have to believe we are who we are, and other people have to confirm it for us.

What an odd film this is! It’s another of the million films which seem to anticipate VERTIGO, with a doubled woman trying to impersonate her portrait at the behest of a bereaved, unbalanced man. But the best stuff is at the start, with Garbo rocking an electric-white hairdo while flailing around drunkenly and humiliating a wagonload of willing suitors. Then Erich Von Stroheim turns up as an author not in search of these particular six characters.

This movie should be remembered as the one where Erich is lighter, quicker and more charming than Melvyn Douglas, who is just starting out and way out of his comfort zone. Maybe he’s also picking up some of Garbo’s hambone tendencies, since she seems determined here to combine Norma Shearer’s phony attitude-striking with her own brand of loose-limbed semaphore, resulting in melodramatic staggers interrupted by bouts of vogueing. It’s somewhat enjoyable but surely a bad influence on impressionable minds like Melvyn’s.

Director George Fitzmaurice seems happy to let everyone do just as they please. Even Stroheim, the most fun character, has an odd moment where he gets so passionate his ears literally flap like Dumbo’s (above).

The thing kicks off with a splendid crane shot exploring a music hall’s audience while Garbo sings off-camera, and her regular DoP William Daniels has fun making her blonde locks glow like a magnesium flare.

Thanks to the various readers and Facebook friends who suggested this one!

The Sunday Intertitle: Flyboys

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by dcairns

And shagged you. Gary Cooper berates Colleen Moore, having just kicked her up the arse, in LILAC TIME.

The movie, directed by George Fitzmaurice (with uncredited assist from Frank Lloyd) is clearly designed to cash in on Coop’s star-making turn in William Wellman’s WINGS. Although the Montana mule had been bumming around Hollywood for a few years, and even taken leading man roles, his single scene as a laconic flier in the Oscar-winning aviation/war epic gave him the Big Push needed to ascend to star status. So repeating the trick with Cooper as an airman opposite Colleen Moore was a cinch for box office success.

Moore, implausibly, is a French farmgirl, and Cooper, even more crazily, is some kind of English lord, a double feat of casting madness possible only in silent movies, where it works effortlessly. Moore seems to have really worked at it, producing a trickbag of amusing Gallic mannerisms.

While WINGS had pretensions to delivering an anti-war message, LT merely remarks upon the sadness of our boys getting shot down, while celebrating the identical occurrence when it happens to the other side. Moore is recipient of a bunch of trophies captured from defeated German pilots, which adds an unintended morbid side to her characterisation. It’s all very elegantly made and the leads are appealing and the aeroplane stunts appropriately hair-raising, but Moore is too childlike to provoke the sexiness Coop was capable of, and it lacks equally the homoerotic edge that WINGS had, despite Clara Bow’s best efforts to heteronormatize the prettyboy leads.

Wait, what?