Archive for Il Cinema Ritrovato

The Sunday Intertitle: Za & Za

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on April 19, 2020 by dcairns


“Za la Mort and Za la Vie with old aunt Camilla live happily in the countryside.”

And they have a really nice kitchen, actually.


This domesticity is a surprising element, since Za la Mort is a kind of super-criminal. But he only uses his powers for good.

The Italians were quick to copy Feuillade’s supervillain capers like FANTOMAS, but, while the Frenchman is clearly at least somewhat enamoured of his invincible bad guy, the Italians, as we’d see even more clearly later in DANGER: DIABOLIK, basically had more sympathy for crooks than cops.

This is I TOPI GRIGI (1918), which I missed last year at Bologna but am catching up with now.

Za la Mort may be a criminal, but he’s up against much worse criminals, one of those secret societies you hear about. To be continued…


The faces are extraordinary. Za la Mort (left) has just saved this young chap, and his little dog too, from a street gang.


The Sunday Intertitle: Cunegonde

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on January 26, 2020 by dcairns

I was going to talk about CUNEGONDE HAS VISITORS, another Girls Gone Wild video from Il Cinema Ritrovato’s collection A Hundred Years Ago – Comic Actresses and Suffragettes, but that one’s not on VousTube. It’s another housewrecking short, in which relatives from the country help the vigorous Cunegonde clean house, in the process absolutely trashing the place (because they’re yokels and can’t do anything right).


Putting ducks in the bath is the least of it.

Though the film’s premise is dubious, seeing stuff destroyed is usually an agreeable cinematic experience, so it’s diverting.


Cunegonde, sometimes credited as Arabella, is listed as Little Chrysia on the IMDb, suggesting we don’t actually know who she really was. According to this tantalizing piece, the mystery has just been solved by Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi, but seems to be still a closely-guarded secret or something.

Here’s another Cunegonde. CUNEGONDE FEMME COCHERE. She drives a coach! Badly! And horsewhips a stage “Chinaman” and then pays the prices via sub-Melies jump-cut substitutions…

Since I can’t read Dutch, I don’t know what the original premise of the film is — we see the text of a letter but I dunno what it says. But we get to see her beat up a Keystone gendarme, embraced by a giant fox, and there’s an early trucking shot taken from a car (rare in comedies of the period, I think) and a single close-up at the end. Maybe TOO close?

She’s like the silent Kathy Burke — I think you’ll enjoy her.

The Sunday Intertitle: Positively the Same Monkey

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , , , on July 14, 2019 by dcairns

Home from Bologna and once more among my DVD collection, I can frame-grab Frank Borzage’s sublime STREET ANGEL and prove that, though I maybe have monkeys om my mind as many allege, Janet Gaynor’s simian sidekick is indeed Josephine, also featured in THE CIRCUS and THE CAMERAMAN, an Il Cinema Ritrovato hat-trick for the little capuchin.

A great intertitle: it applie s to Janet’s character, but Josephine illustrates it to perfection. Her Harlequin costume make of her face-markings a mask, which cannot be removed because it’s part of her. Just like the invisible mask Charles Farrell detects on Janet.