Archive for Monte Cristo

Sunday without Intertitles

Posted in FILM, literature, Painting with tags , , , , on April 26, 2015 by dcairns

No intertitles here, in the only surviving fragment (that we know of) from THE PORTRAIT (1915), a Gogol adaptation attributed to the great Ladislas Starewicz (though the IMDb knows nothing of this). Echoes of Cocteau and RINGU.

It’s proper terrifying. The projector whirr it comes fitted with is annoying though, so I suggest muting this video, setting it to full screen, but in another window playing Aaron Copland’s Grohg, which is here. Watch it alone after dark, and stuff will happen to you.


It’s interesting to see a Starewicz film (if that’s what this is), or part of one anyway, that’s deliberately scary. Most of his children’s animations are creepy without seeming to intend it. Even his other Gogol adaptation is more humorously grotesque than sincerely spooky, to my mind.

Lenny Borger informs me that Starewicz’s producer was Louis Nalpas, who went bankrupt with his 1929 MONTE CRISTO. As his finances failed and he traded the film industry for the yoghurt industry (People Will Always Need Yoghurt), Nalpas gifted Starewicz’s films back to him, a kindly gesture which seems to have resulted in nearly all of them surviving (although who knows how many fell through the cracks of film history like this one?).

The Count of San Francisco

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on April 1, 2015 by dcairns


Follow the link to read my little intro to a very special screening at the next San Francisco Film Festival, in honour of film journalist, film historian, film translator and film detective Lenny Borger, one of our expert witnesses in NATAN and an all-round hero of the cinema. The film they’ve chosen to honour Lenny was already written about by me here, but I’ve thrown together a new intro for the website and a longer piece for the full catalogue. If you happen to be in the area, you shouldn’t miss this.

And one good reason THIS film has been chosen to celebrate THIS man — it was Lenny who put together a complete print of the 1929 super-epic!

Monte Cristo’s Revenge

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on December 18, 2014 by dcairns


One of the talking heads in NATAN, the film Paul Duane and I made together, belongs to Lenny Borger, translator/subtitler, scholar and film detective. It was great catching up with him (and many other people) on my recent visit to Paris, and he mentioned a movie he thought I should see. Henri Fescourt’s stunning MONTE CRISTO is thus the subject of this fortnight’s edition of The Forgotten, here, and it’s a film I hope I can help popularise — it deserves to be seen.

Lenny has a kind of personal interest, since his role in rediscovering the long-lost film and restoring it to its full running time in a very nearly pristine form was a crucial one. But his connection to the project hasn’t caused him to overrate the movie’s quality. As the RKO publicity department would say, It’s Terrific!