Warnung vor einer heiligen Nutte deserves a better still.
Vince Vaughn should be added to the cast of Thumbsucker
Illeana Douglas should be added to the cast of Ghost World .
Better still for Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
you can use one of these pictures for ALI HATAMI
Missing still for All Night
Missing still for An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
Meh, I don’t know why but these duplicates keep happening!
Lillian Gish (correct)Lillian Gish wrong one.
And La Boheme should be added to the first entry.
No Such Thing has two pages
Alexandra Maria Lara should be combined with this Alexandra Maria Lara .
Aleksei German (V)
Info for Alexander Korda
Quote: “The art of filmmaking is to come to the brink of bankruptcy and stare it in the face.”
The first motion picture producer ever to receive a knighthood from the British Crown, Alexander Korda was a guiding force behind the British film industry throughout the 1930s as a studio chief, producer, and sometime director, and continued as a major film producer until his death in early 1956. Indeed, he was the single most important movie producer ever to work in England following the advent of sound, and the closest that the British film industry ever got to having a Hollywood-style mogul in its midst. Ironically, although he became synonymous to the world with British films, Korda was Hungarian-born, and had made movies in Budapest, Vienna, Berlin, and Hollywood without finding any sustained success before setting up shop in London in 1932. He was a crafty businessman as well as a flamboyant personality; he favored bold, ambitious, opulent productions that challenged not only the financial resources of his studio at any given moment, but also the technical and creative abilities of the people working for him — Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger modeled Boris Lermontov, the egotistical ballet impresario of The Red Shoes, partly on Alexander Korda. And toward that end, by 1933 Korda had founded a major studio in London Films, and managed to pull off a seemingly impossible feat by directing and producing The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). The film succeeded as no British picture since the advent of the talkies had, becoming a major hit in America, as well as earning an Oscar nomination as Best Picture and turning its lead, Charles Laughton (who won the Best Actor Oscar), into an international star.
Alexander Korda was born Sándor Laszlo Kellner in Pusztatúrpásztó, Austria-Hungary (now Túrkeve, Hungary), in 1893, the oldest of three sons of a Jewish Hungarian family. The death of Korda’s father left the family impoverished when Alex was scarcely into his teens. While his mother and his two younger brothers — Zoltan (born 1895) and Vincent (born 1897) — went to live with their paternal grandfather, a cruel and ignorant man, Alex was sent to Budapest to study, and by age 15 he was making the beginnings of a living as a journalist, surviving by his wits as he helped to support his mother and brothers. Alex soon established himself as a writer using the last name Korda, which later became the official family name. He also became interested in movies, and then in filmmaking, in his mid-teens, and began writing for film journals and studying moviemaking technique.
By age 20, Korda was writing screenplays, and in his early twenties he started directing movies in Budapest. Because of damage to his sight in one eye, caused by an improperly treated infection during childhood, Korda was exempt from military service in the First World War, which left him free to pursue his interests and career as he wished. By the end of the teens, he had established himself as a serious young filmmaker in Budapest, and there seemed to be a bright future ahead of him when the Hungarian government collapsed, amid the turmoil surrounding the end of the First World War. A coalition government was established, and Korda was chosen as one of the leaders of the new democratic government’s cultural arm. This flash of official recognition later had near-disastrous consequences as he got caught up in the struggle between the Communist and anti-Communist forces vying for power in post-WWI Hungary, and was jailed by the anti-Communist regime that eventually assumed power. It was only through the efforts of Korda’s wife, a popular young actress working under the name María Corda, that he was freed and allowed to leave the country.
Korda’s next stop was Vienna — he arrived a Hungarian expatriate without a penny to his name but with a contract to direct movies at Sascha Film, the studio established by the Austrian film mogul Count Sascha Kolowrat. This new beginning also put Korda into collaboration for the first time with Lajos Biró, the Hungarian playwright and author who had also been left high and dry by the counter-revolution. Biró was, like Korda, a writer with a deep interest in film, but he was also older by several years and had seen more than a decade’s worth of success in various writing venues. Their first film together was an adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, in 1921. Korda’s relationship with Kolowrat soon soured, however, and by 1923 Korda was without a contract again. He then established his first independent production company in Vienna, in preparation for shooting a movie called Samson and Delilah. A silent epic — and one that was far more daring and inventive than its plot would lead one to expect — worthy of D.W. Griffith or Cecil B. DeMille, and starring María, it cost a fortune to make, and it was a complete and utter failure. Korda was forced to leave Vienna in a state of near-bankruptcy and, with María, went to Berlin, where he spent the next few years marking time, contributing to lackluster movies.
In 1927, he and María went to Hollywood. They arrived just in time for the last major wave of silent productions, and it was there that he found belated success with a film entitled The Private Life of Helen of Troy. An account of Helen as a historical figure, it took a lively and slightly irreverent, even racy, tone in telling of her exploits and the court intrigue surrounding her, and it was a major critical and commercial success. But its arrival coincided with the changeover from the silent to the sound era in Hollywood, in the course of which Korda found it difficult to repeat his success, and María — with her Hungarian accent — saw her career onscreen come to a halt. Their marriage ended soon after, as did his stay in Hollywood.
Korda next headed to Paris, where he was able to mount a new production that started him on the path to success once again. He directed Marius (1931), based on the work of author Marcel Pagnol, which became a major hit for Paramount’s French division, and this, in turn, paved the way for Korda to head to London, first for Paramount’s British division, and then to establish his own studio. It was christened London Films, although, along with Korda, the chief creative hand was another Hungarian, his now good friend Biró, who became head of the story department and even sat on the company’s board of directors in the early days. And after a couple of dry runs with low-budget productions — some of them, such as Counsel’s Opinion and Cash (both 1933) notable in their own right — the company burst on the scene in early 1933 with The Private Life of Henry VIII. That picture not only earned American-level grosses in England, but did it in America as well, and rescued the British film industry from the financial and creative doldrums into which it had sunk after the coming of sound.
From that first great flash of success, London Films went on to occupy a unique niche in the firmament of the British cinematic world. Indeed, the studio was a study in brilliance and contradictions. For starters, there was its name — it may have been “London” Films, but it was built on Alex Korda’s production genius, and also the work of his brothers, Zoltan Korda (who became a great director in his own right) and Vincent Korda (a world-renowned art director), along with Biró and their assembled staffs of writers, artists, costumers, etc., almost all of them expatriate Hungarians. Despite the national origins of its founder and most of its employees, however, the studio seemed bent on “selling” the British Empire all over the world, a fact not lost on the British bankers who financed the film industry or government officials whose financial and regulatory policies had profound impact on the motion-picture business.
And that was just what the public saw. As we now know, there was a whole hidden side to Korda’s activities in the 1930s and ‘40s where business was concerned, which transcended business but had a profound effect on his studio. Alex Korda was, at heart, an adventurer; he was in practice a storyteller, which is how he came to be a filmmaker, but going back to childhood, his heart lay with great adventure stories, by authors such as Mark Twain and Jules Verne, amongst others. Korda’s poor vision prevented him from living the life of a man of action in any respect except as a storyteller — but in England in the 1930s he found a way of taking a hand in the great struggles around him. Documents declassified in the 1990s revealed that starting in the early to mid-‘30s, Korda had cultivated a friendship with one Robert Vansitart, a career member of the British government’s foreign office, who — as we now know — had organized his own secret intelligence unit outside of the official government intelligence service (which had been penetrated by Germany after Hitler’s rise to power). Vansitart, who later did some writing for Korda’s studio (most notably the lyrics to some of the songs in The Thief of Bagdad 1940), used Korda as an agent from 1933 onward. He still had many social and business contacts in Hungary and, even more importantly, Austria and Germany, and he used his periodic trips to Europe for purposes of intelligence gathering, as much as dealmaking. In return, Vansitart was able to use his secret network of agents to secure the loans — most notably from Prudential — that provided the seed money for London Films and, later, a vital refinancing in 1936, when the movie business suffered a critical downturn. Korda’s work as a secret agent of sorts had long been rumored, especially after he received his knighthood in the early ’40s, but it was only in the 1990s that the extent of his activities on behalf of the British government began to become clear. In particular, when the Second World War started in 1939, and for that critical 27-month period when England was in the war and the United States was neutral, his frequent trips across the Atlantic played a vital role in covering the activities of the British secret service in their counterespionage work against the Germans.
Korda saw success with a handful of subsequent movies, including The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), The Ghost Goes West (1935), and The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936), but in point of fact, most of the movies produced by Korda after The Private Life of Henry VIII failed financially, or did little better than break even, at least on their initial releases. Some of these were critical successes at the time, and others were glorious failures — brilliantly, boldly executed movies that simply had no audience in their own time — and all of those have gone on to “classic” status today. Rembrandt (1936), starring Laughton, is still considered by many to be the best drama ever made on the life of a painter (not a surprise, since Korda himself was a devoted art lover, and loved painting more than he loved movies); Things to Come (1936) is a multi-generational science fiction epic that expanded the boundaries of cinematic storytelling and also of special-effects sequences to a range that neither had exhibited since the heyday of the silents; and Knight Without Armor (1937), with Robert Donat and Marlene Dietrich, is one of the finest action-adventure movies of the period. Fire Over England (1937) is an account of Elizabeth I and England’s successful defense against the Spanish Armada, which was not only a fine historical drama but also the storyboard for Warner Bros.’ subsequent production of The Sea Hawk; Clouds over Europe (1939), starring Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson with Valerie Hobson, is an espionage comedy that anticipated the 1960s series The Avengers (as well as the plot of one James Bond movie) in spirit and content; and The Four Feathers (1939) is the finest action-adventure film of the 1930s, and one of the greatest films ever shot in Technicolor. The Spy in Black (1939), starring Valerie Hobson and Conrad Veidt, is one of the most adult and romantic espionage thrillers ever made (and the movie that introduced the future filmmaking partners of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger to each other); and The Thief of Bagdad (1940), starring Sabu and Conrad Veidt, remains one of the finest fantasy films ever made.
By the end of 1939, Korda was in the midst of the extended production of The Thief of Bagdad, but had literally run out of money and credit in England. The outbreak of the Second World War in September of that year was the tipping point, forcing Korda to move his operations to America in the spring of the following year. He was able to finish the film in Hollywood, in the process bringing over his two brothers as well as composer Miklos Rozsa, all of the film’s stars, and a brace of other production notables who would make their careers in America, some for the duration of the war and some permanently. The Thief of Bagdad was successful enough to wipe out most of his debts and allow the producer to set up Alexander Korda Productions — using the same Big Ben logo that had opened all of the London Films releases — in Hollywood.
The most important production to come out of Korda’s Hollywood period was That Hamilton Woman (1941, aka Lady Hamilton), an account of the illicit romance between British naval hero Lord Nelson (Laurence Olivier) and Lady Emma Hamilton (Vivien Leigh) at the turn of the 18th century into the 19th century. It was the only movie that Olivier and Leigh did as husband and wife, and proved so compelling as veiled anti-German propaganda that it led to Korda being investigated by the isolationist-minded United States Congress. He made several enjoyable though less distinguished movies as well, including Lydia (1941), a handsome dramatic vehicle for leading lady Merle Oberon (who was also Korda’s wife by then), and The Jungle Book (1942), with Sabu. Korda also played a key role in the production of Ernst Lubitsch’s topical comedy To Be or Not to Be (1942). Additionally, it was during this period that Korda received his knighthood, an honor accorded him by the crown at the behest of the government of Winston Churchill.
Korda resumed production in England after World War II, reactivating London Films in the process. His initial postwar activities, however, were conducted somewhat in the shadow of J. Arthur Rank, a rival British film mogul whose vast network of theaters, coupled with his acquisition of various studios and their facilities, had turned him into the reigning giant of the British movie industry in Korda’s absence. But the departure from Rank’s company of such talented filmmakers as Powell and Pressburger, Olivier, David Lean, and Carol Reed in the second half of the 1940s gave London Films new opportunities. Among its successes were The Small Back Room (1949), The Fallen Idol (1948), The Third Man (1949), The Tales of Hoffmann (1951), The Sound Barrier (1952), Summertime (1955), and Richard III (1955).
The financial underpinnings of Korda’s studio were as shaky as ever, and with his death in early 1956, London Films was closed down. Ironically, it was just as the studio ceased to exist that its worldwide profile rose to a level it hadn’t enjoyed since the 1930s, thanks to the fact that Korda had sold his library to television in the mid-‘50s, long before any American studios had made their films available for broadcast. His movies were among the best that could be seen on television for most of the second half of the 1950s and right into the ’60s, by which time the company and its Big Ben logo were associated once again in the minds of film fans with movies of the highest quality. That logo remains among the most familiar in motion pictures; and among Korda’s productions, The Thief of Bagdad has proved the most enduring across the decades. Even in the 21st century, with the movie long since available on VHS tape and DVD, it still fills theaters in periodic theatrical revivals. Known for moviemaking on a grand scale, Korda was probably the most articulate producer/showman in the history of motion pictures.
Sorry for the insanely long biog.
Info for Fred Zinnemann
Quote: “I will always think of myself as a Hollywood director, not only because I grew up in the American film industry, but also because I believe in making films that will please a mass audience, and not just in making films that express my own personality or ideas. I have always tried to offer an audience something positive in a film and to entertain them as well.”
Vienna-born Fred Zinnemann had childhood dreams of becoming a musician, and later planned on a law career, before his viewing of the movies of Erich Von Stroheim drew him into the movie business, initially as a cameraman. He came to the United States in 1929, and later found work as an editor, and subsequently as an assistant to documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty, and then as an assistant to choreographer Busby Berkeley. He joined MGM in the late ‘30s as a director of comedy shorts, and won an Academy award for his 1938 short subject That Mothers Might Live. Zinnemann moved up to full-length features in 1941, but found little opportunity to work on anything but B-pictures until 1948, with The Search, a drama set in post-World War II Europe. He didn’t really become a major recognized box-office name as a director, however, until 1952 when his Western drama High Noon, starring Gary Cooper, which had been perceived by most observers as headed for commercial disaster, became a monster box-office hit and a multi-Academy award nominee. Zinnemann’s handling of From Here to Eternity solidified his reputation as one of Hollywood’s most reliable hands at dealing with difficult screen material. Comfortable in most genres, Zinnemann subsequently excelled in musicals (Oklahoma!), adaptations of stage work (A Man for All Seasons, for which he won another Oscar), and thrillers (Day of the Jackal). Along with Billy Wilder, Zinnemann represented the most successful of expatriate European directors in Hollywood.
Info for Anthony Asquith
Quote: “I will only say that every work of art, even where more than one mind had gone into it’s shaping, ultimately bears the imprint of a single personality.”
For two decades, Anthony Asquith was — along with Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, and Carol Reed — one of the most internationally successful filmmakers to come out of England. So much of his career was spent adapting plays to the screen, however, that his critical recognition was somewhat limited in his own lifetime and for many years after, and it was only in the 21st century that his movies began getting the respect they deserved. Born in 1902, Asquith was the youngest child of Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928), who served as British prime minister from 1908 to 1916. Anthony Asquith was known to friends by the nickname “Puffin,” given him by his mother. He had an avid interest in music as a boy, but conceded a severe lack of talent as a musician; in its place, he discovered the emerging new art of cinema, which fascinated him. As a young man, Asquith, in turn, played a pivotal but indirect role in the development of motion picture arts in England by co-founding the London Film Society, along with such luminaries as George Bernard Shaw. Their purpose was to help push the British movie industry to look seriously at adapting the bolder, more inventive cinematic influences of Germany, Sweden, and America. Asquith formally joined the British film industry in the mid-‘20s as a crew member, and advanced initially by virtue of his family name and the opportunities that it afforded for travel. He easily could have become one of England’s idle rich — even in his twenties, he was one of those people who, thanks to his family connections, was often written about for his travels and sightings in the gossip columns — but instead he decided he wanted a career in film, and made it his business to visit Hollywood at the end of the silent era. There he made the acquaintance of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and spent his time watching various filmmakers at work. He returned to England, and, with that experience under his belt and some promise already shown, Asquith was moved behind the camera, making his debut with Shooting Stars (1927). That film and his 1928 feature A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) were among the most highly regarded releases of the late silent era in England, and Asquith was suddenly thrust into the forefront of the film industry.
He made the transition to talkies with Tell England (1931), which dealt with the World War I Battle of Gallipoli. The movie is now considered hopelessly jingoistic and dated, but it was massively popular among middle-class audiences in its own time, and seemed to portend great things for Asquith. The early ‘30s caught him adrift, however, trapped working on projects with which he had little sympathy and showed no inventiveness, including the early Laurence Olivier vehicle I Stand Condemned (aka Moscow Nights). His career was languishing by the mid-1930’s, and it seemed as though all of that early promise had dissipated. In 1937, that all changed when Asquith was chosen as the director of the screen adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. The resulting film was perhaps the finest comedy ever to come out of England, as well as the first (and some would say the best) successful screen adaptation of Shaw. The movie was a hit in England and also in the United States and most of the rest of the world, and easily ranked among the most successful British comedies ever released. Its success was due in no small part to Asquith’s ability to persuade Shaw to rewrite the ending of the play, something that the author had steadfastly refused to do or permit in earlier attempts to film his plays. In the wake of Pygmalion, major opportunities started coming Asquith’s way; he was, along with his slightly older contemporary Alfred Hitchcock (who was about to leave for America), the most celebrated and prominent filmmaker in England.
Asquith’s first notable project after the Shaw film was the screen version of Terence Rattigan’s play French Without Tears, which had been a huge success in London and the work that established Rattigan as a major playwright. Asquith made a good film, despite the insistence by Paramount Pictures, the American partner in the co-production, that the movie use a pair of less-than-ideal performers in its leading roles. The film was a hit and Asquith was on his way once more. According to Asquith biographer R. J. Minney, author of The Films of Anthony Asquith, it was at this point, as England made the transition from peacetime to wartime, that Asquith rendered what might have been his greatest service to the British film industry, by saving it.
In the final weeks of 1939 and the early months of 1940, the British film industry was in turmoil, along with the rest of the country. No one knew what, if any provision was being made by the government to keep the movie business functioning — and as it turned out, there was none. Quite the contrary, according to Minney, at the time, the Ministry of Information’s film division under Sir Joseph Ball actually planned on shutting down the entire film industry in England, with the closing of all film theaters for the duration of the war. Director Thorold Dickinson, on hearing this from Ball, enlisted the aid of Asquith and his mother, Margot — as members of the late prime minister’s family, they still had many social and personal connections with the government, right up to the cabinet level. Asquith and his mother mounted a successful effort to challenge the decision, calling meetings and gathering heads of ministries to persuade them of the necessity of keeping the movie industry alive as a wartime priority. They succeeded in having the new policy reversed before it was ever put in place, and saw Ball replaced with the much more sympathetic and imaginative Sir Kenneth Clark, who helped to put the British film industry in service to the war.
Asquith’s wartime directorial efforts, if not always massively popular, were among the more interesting and unusual movies to come out of England during World War II. The Demi-Paradise (1943), starring Laurence Olivier as an official Soviet visitor to England, is an astonishing social and political document as well as a delightful film, and The Way to the Stars (1945), telling of RAF airmen and their families, is one of the most fondly remembered dramas of the period. Asquith’s string of major postwar cinematic successes encompassed The Winslow Boy (1949) and The Browning Version (1951, which contained what was arguably Michael Redgrave’s greatest screen performance), both based on hit plays by Rattigan, and culminated with The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). The latter, amid its sparkling, piercing wit (capturing the work of Dame Edith Evans in a defining role of her stage career, as well as Redgrave in his best comedic work), held a special historical irony: Asquith was the son of the man who, as Home Secretary, had signed the arrest order on playwright Oscar Wilde, leading to the latter’s trial and imprisonment (and personal destruction) for his “indecent” relations with other men.
Asquith’s career slowed in the mid- to late ‘50s. This was due, in part, to his declining health, but also to the misplaced assessment, on the part of some critics and producers, that he was a better translator of plays to the screen than he was a filmmaker. Credit for his successes seemed to reside with the plays he’d adapted, rather than with him. He was never noted as a great stylist, but had an ability to get the best out of his actors, who found him one of the most cooperative directors with whom to work — in dealing with figures as different as a young Wendy Hiller or a veteran performer such as Dame Edith Evans, he knew best how to get the actors to shape their performances using their best instincts, and many players, including Sir Michael Redgrave (who didn’t regard himself as much of a film actor), enjoyed working on Asquith-directed projects more than any others. It was Asquith’s long association with Rattigan (and producer Anatole de Grunwald) that rescued him and carried him through this rough patch of the late 1950s, so that by the early ‘60s he was — along with Carol Reed — one of the few members of his generation of British filmmakers who was still working on major projects. His screen adaptations of Rattigan’s The V.I.P.s (1963) and The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964) were major international productions, with big-name casts, and were considered highly successful in their time. Asquith was supposed to direct the movie adaptation of Morris L. West’s The Shoes of the Fisherman, another all-star international production, but his health took a turn for the worse in 1967 while he was scouting locations for the film, and he was replaced by Michael Anderson.
Asquith passed away in early 1968, at a point when his reputation was somewhat in limbo. His recent films, though competent, had shown little of the cleverness of his work of the 1940s and early ’50s, which the public and many critics had yet to rediscover. In more recent decades, Pygmalion, The Way to the Stars, The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version, and The Importance of Being Earnest have achieved enduring recognition. And, in memory of the filmmaker and his original first creative love, the British Academy Award for Best Music Score has been named the Anthony Asquith Award. The actress Helena Bonham Carter is his grandniece.
Info for Abel Gance
Quote: “What is the cinema? A sixth art form!”
Abel Gance was the major figure among directors in 1920s French film, and among the most ambitious visionaries of the silent cinema. Fueled by literary ambitions from childhood, Gance began working as an actor at the age of 19, with the ambition of breaking into playwriting. In 1909, Gance managed to get a job writing movie scenarios for Gaumont and, by 1911, was directing them. None of Gance’s earliest films survive, but his first viewable effort demonstrates that he was already pioneering the use of unusual visual effects. In the short La Folie du Docteur Tube (1915), Gance uses an anamorphic lens to illustrate the story of a mad doctor who uses a ray to twist everyday objects and people out of shape. Gance gained his first good notices from critics with Mater Dolorosa (1917), a genuine tragedy without a “happy ending,” relatively rare in French cinema of the day. With this film, Gance began to use editing and camerawork to project the interior thoughts of his characters.
The success of Mater Dolorosa precipitated a string of hits for Gance, including Barberousse (Red Beard, 1917), La Zone de la Mort (1917), and La Dixième Symphonie (The Tenth Symphony, 1918). In the midst of all this, Gance was mobilized to the front lines of the First World War, gassed, and nearly killed. On August 25, 1918, Gance returned to the front with a camera crew and began shooting his first major epic, an antiwar film entitled J’accuse! (1919). Gance takes a conventional love triangle and expands it into a grand tapestry that encompasses the evil horror of the “Great War,” utilizing the actual battlefront itself as a stage. J’accuse! was a huge success worldwide and made Gance’s reputation.
Between 1919 and 1921, Gance shot millions of meters of film, all on location, on his next project, La Roue. This was a highly convoluted mixture of the Oedipus and Sisyphus myths, centering on a love triangle between an aging railroad engineer, his young son, and the secretly adopted daughter/sister who grew up within their family. Just as Gance got started cutting La Roue, his own young wife died of tuberculosis. Much to the shock of Gance’s silent partner, producer Charles Pathé, Gance promptly got up and walked away from the film, leaving it behind in a rough cut some eight hours in length. Gance then traveled to America, basking in the attention surrounding J’accuse!, paying a visit to his idol, D.W. Griffith, and briefly entertaining the idea of working at United Artists. After four months, Gance returned to France to his furious producer.
Reports vary as to how long La Roue finally ran upon its appearance in 1922, but the “restored” 1980 version of 303 minutes seems close to the mark; it is most commonly seen today in the 1924 general-release version of 130 minutes. This version contains most of the essentials of this historically important film — Gance’s radical overlaying of moving images such as railroad tracks, rapid cutting, and mental/visual associations. In one scene in the instant before a character falls to his death from a cliff, his life flashes before his eyes (and the viewer’s) in single frames. Gance had discovered “Russian editing” before the Russians did. The immediate impact and immense popularity of La Roue was unprecedented for a film made in France. Nonetheless, it was a very expensive production; its long screen time and delayed production made it hard for La Roue to turn a profit. Gance’s backers began to wonder, even at this early stage, how much his artistic independence was going to cost them.
With his next film, all those concerns were temporarily delayed. Au secours! (Help!, 1923) was a low budget two-reel haunted-house comedy starring Max Linder. This film was a huge smash and played in French cinemas for years, and it would prove a last hurrah for the ill-fated Linder, who shortly thereafter died by his own hand. In 1924, Gance began to map out the production that would ultimately define his career, Napoléon vu par Abel Gance. This was a grand historical epic covering Napoléon’s career from childhood to the brink of the Italian campaign. While in historical terms Gance’s Napoléon would be presented with little depth or complexity, the result would be rich in visual effects never seen before, and in some cases not since. The screen would be divided into many parts during action scenes, and into “tryptichs” presaging wide-screen formats, called “Polyvision” by Gance. Cameras were mounted on horses, swings, sent plunging into crowds or seen taking in huge panoramic vistas. Gance’s editing was as razor-tight as ever, and the action onscreen constantly kept in motion. Napoléon was completed in 1927 and shown in the capitals of Europe to unanimous acclaim. It was also one of the longest films on record; early screenings are rumored to have run some six hours, although the 435-minute “restored” 1981 cut overseen by Kevin Brownlow is believed to be within a minute or two of the original length. By 1928, it was already reduced to 180 minutes. Despite its technical mastery and the sheer amount of audacious genius that went into making Napoléon, the long screen time worked against its profitability, as it could only be showed once a day. Very few theaters wanted to commit to showing a film of this length. Over time, increasingly more of Napoléon was whittled away, and in the end it was completely pulled apart for the benefit of stock-shot libraries. In its original form, it never turned a profit.
Gance was convinced that his wide-screen “Polyvision” process represented the future of filmmaking. After making a short demonstrating the Polyvision principle, Gance embarked on another full-length Polyvision film, Le fin du monde (The End of the World, 1931). This was to have been a silent science-fiction film in which a comet would have been shown hurtling across three screens, slamming into the earth. With costs running out of control, producers L’Ecran d’Art pulled the plug on the film, added poorly dubbed sound, cut it from 93 to 55 minutes, and eliminated the Polyvision sequences. In 1933, Gance made, at his own expense, a synchronized sound version of Napoléon that made use of an audio technology he had patented with André Debrie called “Sound Perspective.” This was a multi-channel sound system that was capable of sending specific sounds into specific speakers within a movie theater, far more advanced than the three-channel stereophonic system Disney developed for Fantasia (“Fantasound”) six years later. But this sound version of Napoléon proved an expensive failure.
It is often said about Gance that he “never made the transition to sound film,” a curious statement about a director who continued to work on soundstages until 1963. Dialogue did tend to slow the pacing of his films down, sometimes to a veritable crawl, and his handling of talky scenes hearkens back to his early grounding in stage traditions. But Gance’s output after 1927 is dramatically different from what went before, being much more generally uneven in terms of quality. What changed was not so much the added technology of sound, but Gance’s relationship with his producers. They made it clear to Gance that they were not going to continue to make an exception for him in terms of budgets, and that he was expected to keep within his parameters whether or not it impacted the artistic outcome of the film. While Gance’s younger contemporaries, such as Jean Renoir and Jean Vigo, flourished under tight budgets and short shooting schedules, Gance viewed it as a personal assault on his integrity as an artist. Unlike Erich Von Stroheim, who reached the same crossroads with Queen Kelly (1928) and proceeded to wear out his welcome with the failed Walking Down Broadway (1932), Gance decided to give his producers what he thought they wanted, and curtail his talent to fit their requirements.
Throughout the 1930s, Gance accepted a number of mediocre projects that really weren’t worthy of his time. There were a few exceptions; Lucrezia Borgia (1935) would easily earn an R-rating today through its frank depictions of sexuality, violence, and torture. Gance also remade several of his hit films from the silent period. The sound version of J’accuse! (1937) has a conclusion which is so effective that your hair will stand on end, that is, if you can make it through the grindingly slow first hour of exposition. Some other Gance efforts of the 1930s, however, are barely watchable — Un Grand Amour de Beethoven (1936) never gets off the ground, hampered by its leaden pacing, the overtly melodramatic acting of Harry Baur, and Gance’s own heavy-handed use of the “fate motive” of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at literally every dramatic turn of the story.
By 1943, Gance was forced to flee France in order to avoid the German occupation and its deadly Vichy government. This kept Gance out of the film industry altogether for more than a decade. When he returned, the situation was entirely different — the Cahiers du Cinéma group, with its notions of the “Nouvelle Vague,” were swiftly becoming a force to reckoned with in French Cinema. They viewed Gance’s deliberately pretentious historical dramas as a sort of right-wing fascism that was beneath contempt. Gance’s final historical epic, The Battle of Austerlitz (1960), came under particular fire from the Cahiers cinéastes, who practically accused Gance of making films that were Nazi-sympathetic. Under such circumstances, Gance decided to keep a low profile, working infrequently in films until he achieved his final edit of Napoléon, entitled Bonaparte et la Revolution (1971). Even this is a bit of a curiosity, given its added scenes, benign narration, and running time of less than a quarter of the original Napoléon’s screen time.
Behind the scenes, English film enthusiast Kevin Brownlow had begun by 1954 to assemble a collection of shots from Napoléon from a variety of sources ranging from Pathé Ciné-baby 9.5 mm prints to partial 35 mm Polyvision segments. Brownlow’s intention was to return Napoléon to its 1927 running time, and the results of his first efforts toward this end were shown at the New York Film Festival of 1964. The underground New York filmmakers realized that Gance’s single-frame cutting and other radical visual effects were right in line with their own work, and Gance’s reputation as an avant-gardist was gradually reaffirmed to him in English-speaking lands. In 1979, Francis Ford Coppola engaged Brownlow to spearhead a major 70 mm format reconstruction of the complete Napoléon for general release, an unprecedented step in the recovery of silent era films. This was an immediate success, and a delight to Gance himself, who lived just long enough to witness the news of Napoléon’s revival and renewed worldwide acclaim.
In 2001, Kevin Brownlow introduced an “improved” reconstruction of Napoléon, and one by one Gance’s other films were being revived. In some cases it’s an uphill battle; Gance is about as bad as “bad” gets. Nonetheless, if Napoléon was the only film Abel Gance had ever made, he would still be regarded as one of the major French filmmakers of all time, and thus there is reason to believe that his other films may yield visual treasures yet unknown. After seeing J’accuse! and Gance’s treatment of the war, a subject that has perhaps suffered from clumsy interpretation more than any event, one instinctively knows there is something in this young French producer that is not ordinary. He thinks on a plane not usual in the best of motion picture circles, and he understands the spiritual power of the cinema. His idea is to portray on the screen what the eye cannot see — to put it more simply, to give people something to think about and not to have their mental labors performed for them.
Info for René Clair
Quote: “With very few exceptions, the best original scenarios have been written either by writers who knew the cinema particularly well, or by professional film workers. Although it may seem at first sight that anybody should be able to write a film scenario, experience shows that good scenarios are very rare.”
In 1920 René-Lucien Chomette began acting in films under the name René Clair. He performed in Louis Feuillade’s 1921 serials L’Orpheline and Parisette, but in 1924 he began writing and directing his own films with the comic fantasy Paris Qui Dort (The Crazy Ray). Through the ‘20s Clair would make some of the most original and admired works of early French cinema, including the avant-garde short Entr’acte, the landmark early musicals Sous Les Toits De Paris and Le Million, and the classic satire A Nous La Liberté. Working in England and the United States during the 1930s and ’40s, his films were dominated (sometimes overly so) by fantasy and whimsy, but he managed to inject some healthy venom into the Agatha Christie mystery And Then There Were None. He returned to Europe for his films of the 1950s and ’60s, most notably La Beauté Du Diable (Beauty And The Devil) and Les Belles De Nuit (Beauties Of The Night).
Edward Everett Horton is posted twice:1 & 2
Missing still for Algiers
This Hollywood remake of the French Pepe le Moko adheres so slavishly to its source that it utilizes stock footage from the original film, and even picked its actors on the basis of their resemblance to the French cast. Contrary to legend, star Charles Boyer never says “Come wizz me to zee Casbah”; as master criminal Pepe le Moko, he’s already in the Casbah, a crook-controlled safe harbor which protects Pepe from the French authorities. Pepe’s friendly enemy, police inspector Joseph Calleia, treats his pursuit of Pepe like a chess game, patiently waiting for his opponent to make that one wrong move. The ever-careful Pepe has the misfortune to fall hopelessly in love with tourist Hedy Lamarr (in her first American film). A combination of events, including the betrayal of Pepe by his castaway lover Sigrid Gurie and Hedy’s tearful return to her ship when she is misinformed that Pepe is killed, lures the hero/villain into the open. Arrested by Calleia, Pepe begs for one last glance at his departing sweetheart. At this point in the French version, Pepe cheated the hangman by killing himself; this would never do in Production Code-dominated Hollywood, so Algiers contrives to have Pepe shot while trying to escape. Algiers was remade in 1948 as a musical, Casbah, starring Tony Martin.
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Please add Vera Farmiga to Breaking and Entering
Cast member listed twice:Zoë LundZoë Lund
Profile info for Zoë Lund:
The only thing a person has to remember is that film is a wide-reaching medium…not every film will make it fun for the viewer. A conscious attempt was made to make it as difficult as possible for the viewer to escape.
Zoe Lund was born as Zoe Tamerlis to a Swedish mother and Romanian father on February 9, 1962 in New York City. Zoe was an accomplished composer/musician and devout political activist at an early age. Lund gave a stunning performance as Thana, a mousy mute garment worker who violently strikes back against male oppression and exploitation of women in Abel Ferrara’s outstanding distaff vigilante cult classic “Ms. 45.” Zoe was likewise excellent and impressive in a demanding dual role as both a murdered aspiring actress and the lookalike woman who’s used to replace her in Larry Cohen’s nifty thriller “Special Effects.” From 1980 to 1985 Lund lived and worked with critic and filmmaker Edouard (Yves) De Laurot. Zoe did a guest spot on an episode of “Miami Vice” and appeared as herself in the racy documentary “Heavy Petting.” Lund co-wrote the script for and has a supporting part as a junkie in Ferrara’s powerful “Bad Lieutenant.” Lund was a staunch advocate of heroin drug use. In addition, Zoe was a professional model in her 20s and a writer who penned various essays, short stories, novels and film scripts (one of these unfinished screenplays was about supermodel Gia Carangi; Lund appears as an interview subject in the documentary “The Self-Destruction of Gia,” in which she candidly discusses her heroin use). In 1993 Lund wrote, directed and starred in the one and a half minute short feature “Hot Ticket.” Zoe Lund was working on a short story anthology when she died of drug-related heart failure at the tragically young age of 37 in Paris, France on April 16, 1999. —IMDb
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Francisco Rabal HAS to be included in the cast of The Holy Innocents