Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fancy Running into You Here, Leonard Maltin

Yesterday I caught two films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival -- The Wild Rose (1932) and and Underworld (1927).

The Wild Rose is supposedly one of China's most popular films of all time, and it was not surprisingly very nationalistic but surprisingly filled with a lot of giddy slapstick. It also broke from the norm by having a female lead who was a strong-willed country girl who was anything bu fragile but cute and a male lead who was pretty, artsy and cultured. There were some great art deco sets in plush homes of 1930s Shanghai.
Underworld by contrast featured very manly man leads whose names were Buck and Bull. The fourth feature of Josef von Sternberg, it had plenty of characteristic excess and was an example of why blonde women did not come into vogue until the advent of sound. Is there something about peroxide that simply didn't mix with melodramatic gestures and inter-titles.

Von Sternberg has always been one of my favorite examples of glorious pretense and self invention. Sometimes I think about following his lead and renaming the blog Dieb von Trödels.

As always it was a well presented slate of films, and there were several I wished afterwards that I'd seen. This year, I passed perennial speaker and viewer Leonard Maltin several times. There's something odd about seeing such a familiar face standing in line with the masses to wait for his turn in the men's room.



At 9:20 PM, Blogger femminismo said...

My gosh this films look wonderful. I wish our big city wasn't so far away, drive-wise. "Duck Soup" is being featured this week. Would be fun to see on the bigger screen. (Found you through artsparktheatre - Jeanne in Oregon

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Jeanne - The festival usually has the best of the best from the silent era. Thanks for dropping by.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

Your analysis of why no blondes in silents is spot on.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger The Blue Elephant said...

As most people will never see WILD ROSE, I hope someone will include in some documentary the sequence where country girl, the Wild Rose, has to put on shoes and city clothes to meet city folks -- such an hilarious and sweet sequence -- and the atmosphere of the film was sweetness itself. Glad I saw it with you and Don.


Post a Comment

<< Home