Friday, January 22, 2010

Things Cinematic

I've just finished booking the tickets for our annual - I guess three years in a row makes it annual - trip up to Salzburg for the Whitsun Festival. It is an outing I always look forward to because of the town, the surroundings, the wonderful people at the Hotel Bristol, the food and of course the music.

Under Riccardo Muti the theme of Napoli, City of Dreams continues for the fourth year with works that sprang from the rich musical heritage that is that wonderful city. An added twist this year is the late night showing of a classic Italian movie from 1927 - Napoli e una canzone (Naples is a Song) with one of the divas of Italian cinema Leda Gys.

1927???? but that would mean its a silent movie? Well yes it is but for this performance it will be accompanied by a group of live musicians providing the scoring. I happen to love silent movies and I don't just mean the comedies (never really understood the fascination with Chaplin always preferred Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton myself) I mean the dramatic stuff with the Gish Girls fluttering (Orphans of the Storm), Alla Nazimova vamping, John Barrymore tearing a passion (nothing has ever beat his transformation scene without make-up in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) or the great epics like D. W. Griffith's Intolerance and Able Gance's Napoléon. I have a wonderful DVD of the first version of Peter Pan ever made which despite its California bathing beauty mermaids captures the very essence and darkness of Barrie's tale.

In trying to find out more about Leda Gys and Napoli e una canzone I located one still shot from the film and a fun poster of the great lady herself.
Leda Gys (right) as the music loving Napolitana with Grethel Stein as her American friend Mary obviously lifted out of her depression by the music of Napoli.

Stylized but still seductive the lady Leda herself!

While searching I came across some wonderful European posters for various Hollywood exports from the silent and sound eras. Most of the posters appear to have been made, if not exclusively for the Italian market then certainly for Europe. They are so radically different from what we think of as movie posters in North America. And even though the bulk of them are "B" movies I would have gone to see most of them based on the posters alone.
Though this possibly from the 1950s it was created for Cecil B. DeMille's silent version of The Kings of Kings. I recall seeing it on television years ago and it is DeMille's normal mix of sex and piety - two things that sell! And I think this is one powerful piece of poster art.
Top: The Magic Carpet - 1951 USA - Directed by Lew Landers with Lucille Ball, John Agar, Patricia Medina.
Bottom: The Good Humor Man - 1950 USA - Directed by Lloyd Bacon with Jack Carson, Lola Albright, Jean Wallace.
Top: The Shadow on the Window - 1957 USA - Directed by William Asher with Philip Carey, John Drew Barrymore, Betty Garrett, Corey Allen, Gerard Sarracini, Jerry Mathers.
Bottom: Drums of Tahiti - 1954 USA. Directed by William Castle with Dennis O'Keefe, Patricia Medina, Francis L. Sullivan.

Top: Assignment Paris - 1952 USA. Directed by Robert Parrish with George Sanders, Dana Andrews, Marta Toren.
Bottom: Joe Macbeth - 1955 Great Britan. Directed by Ken Hughes with Ruth Roman, Paul Douglas.

This next one completely threw me - I had the damnedest time figuring out what movie it could possibly be advertising.

Any guesses? The first person who can figure it out will receive a movie poster fridge magnet - either Roman Holiday or A Fistfull of Dollars - your choice. Let me know what you think in the comment field.

Note: It appears this was posted earlier without a comments section - dumb blogspot... dumber blogger. I've reposted and it seems to be working now. Even though my friend Cathy e-mailed me the right answer to my little quiz I will still take suggestions with the next correct answer getting one of those fabulous fridge magnets!
23 gennaio - Sant'Emerenziana
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Anonymous said...

I love your blog: sometimes you make me feel ignorant; sometimes you make me feel young; and sometimes you make me feel ignorant and young!!!!

Willym said...

Walter: caro - you are young and the one thing I have never thought is that you are ignorant! baci! said...

I loved the piece on Assignment Paris. I'm writing a biography of Dana Andrews for University Press of Mississippi.