Archive for Gregory La Cava

Madame foX

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on February 27, 2020 by dcairns

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A new Forgotten by Fox column over at The Notebook brings us into the pre-code era — GALLANT LADY is helmed by La Cava and stars Ann Harding and Clive Brook, both in excellent form, liberated by their director’s pixillated improv approach. Also, did Brook always have to play drunk to be fun?

Here, with clip to prove all I say.

Happy mistakes

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2017 by dcairns

A mismanaged day. but it resulted in some good things ~

The morning was easy — to Cinema Jolly for Dave Kehr’s retrospectives on Universal, the Laemmle years, and William K. Howard. LADIES MUST LOVE, an uncharacteristically zippy E.A. Dupont pre-code and the Sturges-scripted THE POWER AND THE GLORY. More on those another time.

In the afternoon I couldn’t make up my mind. I’d seen the silent THE INFORMER in Bo’ness. I opted for WRITTEN ON THE WIND — a Technicolor print from the camera negative, as it turned out. Scratchy in places, but breathtaking.

I had totally planned to see WISE BLOOD, introduced by producer Michael Fitzgerald and Queen of Continuity Angela Allen, but found myself switching to Iranian melodrama ZARBAT instead. It wasn’t as crazy as billed, so I bailed on it, only to learn that I left just as it was about to go nuts.

That brought me out into a thunderstorm so I sought shelter at Rupert Julian’s THE SAVAGE, which had Colleen Moore but was still a Rupert Julian film from 1917, and incomplete to boot. But where else am I going to see that? And then a Gregory La Cava cartoon, and then I skipped out during a documentary figuring to return for Mae West in SHE DONE HIM WRONG, only to find a massive queue for that and a further thunderstorm.

Enjoyed a big chat with David Bordwell and Dave Kehr and Jonathan Rosenbaum though, so that was fine. Had massive dinner. Assumed the open-air screening of King Vidor’s THE PATSY was off, so set my heart on ERASERHEAD. In fact, the rain had stopped, the forecasts were clear and THE PATSY went ahead.

ERASERHEAD was great, though. Spotted a picture of a mushroom cloud on Henry’s wall.

The Trinity Sunday Intertitle: Rheumatiz

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on June 11, 2017 by dcairns

From Alpha Video — a company whose products frequently start out in bins and end up in bins — a rare treat, the early Gregory La Cava feature THE NEW SCHOOLTEACHER, starring “Chic” Sale before he started pretending to be old. Being young doesn’t seem to suit him either. Sickly looking fellow. One pupil refers to him as “Readin’, Ritin’ and Rheumatiz” and one feels he has made a sound point.

Typical Alpha picture quality — soft, and utterly lacking in contrast. It’s NOT the fault of the source print, it’s the “transfer” (AKA filming it off the kitchen door in a well-lit room, by the looks of things). But it would otherwise be an impossible film to see (not too easy to see here, either) so I suppose we should be grateful. This is the earliest La Cava feature I’ve seen, and might even be his first, or the earliest surviving one — the same year’s RESTLESS WIVES, also featuring Doris Kenyon, is thought not to have survived. Before that seems to be all shorts, including one with Sale, and before that, cartoons. The following year’s WOMANHANDLED is pretty enjoyable, and available on the National Film Preservation Foundation’s collection, Treasures 5: The West.

The film — well, the intertitle-writer is getting a little carried away, trying to shoehorn in a pun or quip with ever card, and the material, like the star, is kind of wan. But Sale does have some comic chops, and it’s interesting to see him playing a different kind of character from the truculent old-timers he later specialised in. Sadly, he died before he could embark on a third stage to his career, which would have seen him playing old while being old, or else, if he felt up to it, playing young while being old.