Archive for Pathe-Natan

Bought my tickets…

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2013 by dcairns

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… which means I am indeed going to Pordenone, Italy for Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, the 32nd Pordenone Silent Film Festival, who are showing NATAN, the film Paul Duane & I made. NATAN is a talking picture, a documentary about a filmmaker mainly associated with talking pictures, but it does deal with Natan’s production LA MERVEILLEUSE VIE DE JEAN D’ARC, and it features Lenny Borger and Serge Bromberg, two experts on silent cinema who are Pordenone regulars, so they’re stretching a point and including us.

It’s also nice because the festival director, critic and Chaplin biographer David Robinson, used to program Edinburgh International Film Festival, so maybe I can interview him and resume my series The Edinburgh Dialogues.

And of course the movies are an exciting lot — Louise Brooks in William Wellman’s BEGGARS OF LIFE, Harold Lloyd in THE FRESHMAN with musical accompaniment by Carl Davis, seasons on Anny Ondra, Swedish movies, silent animation, and very excitingly indeed, the premiere of Orson Welles’ TOO MUCH JOHNSON.

I leave Tuesday.

lyon_2013

The following week on Wednesday, the day after I get back, I’m off to Lyon for NATAN’s first French date, at the Lumiere Film Festival in Lyon. Lyon actually appears in the film, in a newsreel where we see Natan preparing the opening of a new cinema. Lyon have homages to Hal Ashby, Studio Ghibli, film noir (with special guest Peggy Cummins), and they have a programme dedicated to experimental filmmaker Germaine Dulac who briefly ran Pathe-Natan’s newsreel department, and they’re showing LE BONHEUR, a spectacular Pathe-Natan production from Marcel L’Herbier starring Charles Boyer. The film’s co-director Paul Duane and producer Paul Duane is also attending, as is one of Natan’s granddaughters, the wonderful Lenick Philippot. Should be pretty special.

It’s going to be a busy and exciting fortnight and I fully expect blog postings to be on the light side… but you never know!

Sniff

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on March 11, 2013 by dcairns

amokperfume

I got nuthin’! Well, not quite nuthin’. I got a cold. Which tends to make me nostalgic for my sense of smell, so is that why I’m featuring a vintage perfume ad?

Not quite. I was googling the keywords “amok” and “1933”, just to see what the poster for Fedor Ozep’s Pathe-Natan release AMOK looked like, and I came across this ad for a fragrance by Bourjois. A movie tie-in, or just a cash-in? I suspect the former, the perfumier being a bit too high-class for unauthorized bandwagon-jumping. But the movie’s orientalist aesthetic, plus the coincidence or name, place and year, certainly convince me there’s a deliberate connection.

Amok_1934

BLACK NARCISSUS springs to mind, but that’s a movie based on a book named after a perfume. For the opposite route, one really needs to consider Alain Delon’s personal scent, Samourai

Or there’s always THIS —

Flames of Passion

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on January 1, 2013 by dcairns

Happy New Year!

Your Pathe-Natan film of the week. Raymond Bernard, who made the truly great PN films WOODEN CROSSES and LES MISERABLES, started his career at the company with FAUBOURG-MONTMARTRE, which somewhat defeated my benshi translator David Wingrove since the copy I’d obtained had pretty cruddy sound. Add to that the vagaries of early thirties recording and early thirties French slang, and you have a film that’s pretty hard to understand — and it might be hard to understand even if you had perfect audio and spoke 1930s French like a native.

The romantic plot inexplicably yields sway to a riotous fire festival in a small town, in which the lovers are burned in effigy by no less a figure than Antonin Artaud — if you’re going to have a burning at the stake in your movie, qua THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, Artaud will turn up, it seems. I suspect his toothsome shade mingled among the crowds attending Edward Woodward’s immolation in THE WICKER MAN, perhaps pausing to pinch Britt Ekland’s bum.

Bernard flings himself into the festivities, concocting an expressionistic frenzy that ends with an anthropomorphic building like something from a Fleischer brothers cartoon. Then the film goes back to normal, the villagers say they didn’t mean any harm, and shortly afterwards the film just kind of stops. Was the director wrong to build this sequence up so much that it ruptures the surrounding movie? Perhaps not, since the surrounding movie is kind of dull by comparison, and this sequence is AMAZING.