Archive for Pamela Hutchinson

The Shadowcast #10: Welcome to the Hippodrome

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , on May 2, 2019 by dcairns

A crazy and baffling still from THE PARSON’S WIDOW — no such scene appears in the movie — just one of the movies discussed in the first ever location-recorded edition of The Shadowcast, coming to you direct, with a slight time delay, from the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival in Bo’ness. Along with the atmospheric qualities of being on location, you get to enjoy a lot of background chatter and noise, making earbuds probably a necessity for this installment. But if you close your eyes it’s a lot like being there.

I talk to the cousins of James Finlayson, the BFI’s head of silent film, the festival director, Silent London herself, and a bunch of (extra)ordinary punters, about films such as MOULIN ROUGE, AU BONHEUR DES DAMES, THE RED HEROINE and HINDLE WAKES. Let me know what you think of the experiment.

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A Stahl is Born

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on December 23, 2018 by dcairns

“Retrospective screenings at Bologna and Pordenone have done much to build enthusiasm for Stahl’s work, which this book is intended to build on. It’s a towering piece of research, uncovering as much as can be known about the filmmaker’s somewhat mysterious life: Stahl left no archive, and his early life is a virtual blank, though with exciting rumours of criminal activity. If the biography is unavoidably skeletal, the filmography emerges fully fleshed-out at last: for the first time, Stahl’s silent films, those that survive, have all been screened and reviewed with intrepid reporters Pamela Hutchinson, Lea Jacobs and Imogen Sara Smith covering archival holdings , and co-editor Bruce Babington assembling as full a portrait as is possible of the many lost films.”

That’s me, writing in the new Sight & Sound, about The Call of the Heart, a marvelous new book about the cinema of John M. Stahl (buy it here). My first book review, really. I like book reviewing, I think. I not only get a free book, I get an incentive to read it, instead of merely adding it to the teetering pile disfiguring the accommodation with its crooked shadow.

Anyway, the book is a must for Stahlgazers, and features writing by a number of hands previously admired in this organ. Hopefully it will raise the underrated auteur’s profile and hopefully we’ll get more opportunities to see his films screened.

The Father’s Day Intertitle: Fire!

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , on June 17, 2018 by dcairns

To the Filmhouse for PANDORA’S BOX! A film I hadn’t seen all the way through in so long, maybe I’d never seen it all the way through! And never is a very long time.

I couldn’t get on with the music — recorded, rather than live. The Weill/cabaret style was appropriate, I just disagreed viscerally with the composer about which scenes were meant to have a grotesque comic edge, and which were “straight” (surely SOME of them). As music, it was fine, I just didn’t like it for this film.

So it took me a very long time to get into the movie, even though it was all unfolding as if new, and looked incredible. By the time of the wedding I was into it, and by the time of the gambling ship — where it becomes clear that this story is going to hell and nothing can stop it and total disaster can be expected for every character — I was riveted.

Louise Brooks is the kind of natural almost unique to silent cinema. Surrounded by expressionists, she just exists.

I really shouldn’t use this movie for father’s Day, though — Lulu’s dad, Schigolch, is pretty much the cause of everything that goes wrong in this movie. He’s awful! And he gets the only happy ending, though it’s but a fleeting moment.

From Pamela Hutchinson’s BFI Film Classics study of the movie: “Brooks identified Schigolch as the ‘hero of the story … he knows what he is, what he wants, and he perseveres in getting it,’ but he is really its greatest villain.” Villains ARE often the most ambitious and certain characters in stories, aren’t they? And in life.

Of course, PANDORA’S BOX is really a Christmas movie, perhaps the bleakest ever.

STOP PRESS: this movie is playing next Sunday at the Bo’ness Hippodrome with live accompaniment by Jane Gardner and Roddy Long. Unfortunately I can’t be there as I’ll be in Bologna. But maybe YOU can…?