Archive for Maud Nelissen

A Miss

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2017 by dcairns

Unable to see everything showing at the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival — adding up the price of tickets and the price of transport, I decided to skip last night’s show of TOGETHER, Lorenza Mazzetti’s 1956 film, described by Lindsay Anderson as an early example of Free Cinema, and tonight’s showing of King Vidor’s THE PATSY, starring Marion Davies. This decision was something of a wrench! Maud Nelissen is doing the music for the latter, along with Filmorchestra The Sprockets, and she was behind the greatest musical/cinematic spectacle of my life, Von Stroheim’s THE MERRY WIDOW in Bologna.

But I have to save money somewhere, and schlepping to Bo’ness for one movie would not be economical. Plus I have seen THE PATSY on the big screen before (though I’ve totally forgotten WHERE — I think it must have been Edinburgh Film Fest and it must have been over a decade ago. I know I saw THE SCARLET LETTER).

THE PATSY is a charmer. Maybe less ambitious than SHOW PEOPLE but funnier. Marion gets to freak out wicked stepmother Marie Dressler by pretending to be crazy, and she also performs (on the slenderest excuse) drop-dead accurate parodies of rival movie stars ~

Gloria Swanson. Mae Murray.

Lillian Gish.

Pola Negri.

This was almost a standard bit at the time — doesn’t Colleen Moore do more of less the same thing in ELLA CINDERS? Or maybe Beatrice Lillie in EXIT SMILING? I wonder how those parodied took it?

One of the supreme cinematic experiences of my life

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2014 by dcairns


THE MERRY WIDOW, “personally directed” — personally! — by Erich Von Stroheim, in the Piazza Maggiore, under the stars, with an audience of thousands, and music by the Orchestra del Teatro Communale di Bologna, conducted by Stefanos Tsialis, the Franz Lehar themes recomposed by Maud Nelissen.

I don’t really have to explain the title of this piece, do I? But look — I’ve never really seen Stroheim’s work. I tried to watch the “restored” GREED years back, and found it heavy going — all those still photographs — but I never doubted his importance. My picture of him was formed by the TV series Hollywood, whose co-creator I met yesterday, and by that groovy doc THE MAN YOU LOVED TO HATE, and by his acting performances. So I knew the legend. Seeing the work, and in such staggering circumstances, is something else again. I will try to write more when I’ve processed it.

At the end of the evening, Michel Ciment breezed past, and Ehsan Khoshbakht only realized it when Jonathan Rosenbaum told him. And Ehsan declared that Ciment’s book on Francesco Rosi, translated into Farsi, was one of the first important film books in his life. “Go after him,” I suggested. I’d seen Ciment at Edinburgh years ago and formed the impression that he’s a decent gent. So Ehsan said hello to The Great Man. And I’m not the most thoughtful man in the world — ask my wife — I did, after all, steal David Robinson’s seat at the closing gala of his own film festival — but I proposed taking a quick photo of the two generations of cinephile. And Ciment is indeed a gent.


And look at Ehsan — that’s a happy man! And after THE MERRY WIDOW, in which John Gilbert stares soulfully, Roy D’Arcy grins evilly, Mae Murray makes googly eyes and Tully Marshall ogles girls’ feet, so was I. Along with REAR WINDOW at the Dominion and PLAYTIME at the Lumiere (both Edinburgh) and CRY FOR BOBO in Milan, this was one of the landmarks. I may be coming down with a cold — so I very nearly didn’t go. I would have missed something really unique.