Pordenone, from afar

9th October 2016

I wish, I wish I had been in Pordenone for the 35th edition of that northern Italian town’s Silent Film Festival. I have been on several occasions in the past, and the event’s intense week of screenings combined with Italian food and wine is simply glorious. But I had the RSC cinema broadcasts of Cymbeline and King Lear to look after, and so I could only follow it from afar. Which is something that Pordenone facilitates by publishing online not only its daily schedule but also its excellent, scholarly catalogue (from the cover of which the detail above of a production still from The Mysterious Lady is taken).

Easily the best daily commentary comes from Pamela Hutchinson’s essential Silent London blog, and I’m delighted to link to each of her posts from the past week as well as some video clips from the festival and elsewhere.

Pordenone post no 1: on The Mysterious Lady, 1928, with Garbo and a new score by Carl Davis, in conversation just below; the Polish People with No Tomorrow, 1919; the first of the German chromolithographic loops; and Pabst’s Secrets of a Soul, 1926.

Pordenone post no 2: on Janko the Musician, 1930, apparently lovely albeit without its original Vitaphone discs; The Silent Shame!, 1916; one- and two-reel comedies with Al Christie (I’ve embedded below Know Thy Wife, 1917, which wasn’t among the selections in Pordenone); and the first films in a series devoted to Edison director John H Collins.

Pordenone post no 3: on Anna Q Nilsson in Beyond Recall, 1916; a programme of short films from the Desmet collection on the theme of filthy cash; the first in a strand of City Symphony films; and William Cameron Menzies’ Tempest, 1928, with John Barrymore and Camilla Horn.

Pordenone post no 4: on John H Collins’ The Cossack Whip, 1916; two adaptations of Nana, by Jean Renoir, 1926 (a fragment is embedded below), and a recently discovered 1917 Italian version with Tilde Kassay, directed by Camillo De Riso.

Pordenone post no 5: on Henri Fescourt’s lavish four-hour Monte-Cristo, 1929, with a new score by Donald Sosin, who is interviewed below; more Al Christie comedies; early American political films programmed by Charles Musser (and see also his excellent interview at the end); and the Polish Pan Tadeusz, 1928.

Pordenone post no 6: on further City Symphony films; early films by R.W. Paul; Behind the Door, 1919, directed by Irvin V Willat; and two films with actor Ivan Mosjoukine, Der Adjutant des Zaren and Kean ou Désordre et Génie.

Pordenone post no 7: on Lumière shorts of Venice (a 1896 shot is embedded below); Max Reinhardt’s Eine Venezianische Nacht, 1913; Blue Jeans, 1917, with Viola Dana directed by John H Collins; and Mauritz Stiller’s comic Erotikon.

Pordenone post no 8: on Ozu’s I was Born, But …, 1932; John H Collins’ Riders of the Night, 1918, or at least the surviving 44-minutes of it; William Cameron Menzies’ The Woman Disputed, 1928; and finally The Thief of Bagdad, 1924, directed by Raoul Walsh, starring Douglas Fairbanks.

… and here’s the interview with Charles Musser about early US political films:

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