Judging Rex Ingram

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 5262
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

Judging Rex Ingram

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 10:27 am

Well, it's a quiet day so I thought I'd repost an essay from a few years ago (now with photos!) and see if anyone takes it and runs with it.

Image

Judging Rex Ingram

Years ago, when one of my standard film books (useful because it's so unsentimental) was David Thomson's Biographical Dictionary of Film, Rex Ingram's place in film history was established-- as one of the blank spots on the map.  He was the movie equivalent of the elephant's graveyard, riches likely to exist there-- if anyone could find it. None of Ingram's films was in the standard repertory of silents distributed in 16mm by the likes of Killiam or MOMA (I think Films Inc. had only The Magician).  Yet we knew his reputation in his own time was extremely high, validated by the likes of Stroheim and Michael Powell (and by his own walking away from the movies to go paint rather than be an MGM errand boy).  So we had to assume that he was a talent of the first rank, if only we could see the films to prove it.

Slowly that situation has changed, and by now I've seen at least five Ingram titles (or more, depending on how seriously you want to take the idea that he, more than the young Raoul Walsh, was the real hand behind Regeneration, or that anything significant of his survives in Ben-Hur).  In any case, I've seen The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Prisoner of Zenda, Scaramouche, Mare Nostrum and The Magician, five works from his mature period whose characteristics are consistent enough to make it possible for me to judge Ingram's real place and how he relates to the other talents of his time.

Usually Ingram is talked about in terms of visuals-- which gives the wrong idea about his work, I think.  A typical silent director of the time who is noted for visuals, for instance, is Maurice Tourneur-- his work dotted with chiaroscuro shots, painterly images of silhouetted characters, and occasional moments of quite remarkable formal innovation such as the robbery scene in Alias Jimmy Valentine which is shot as if it were a diagram of the robbery, from overhead with the roof removed showing several rooms at once.

Ingram isn't like that at all-- if there's one virtue I would grant him above any others, it's that he is, at this early date, a "visual" director who seems to owe very little to painting, who doesn't just make nice stills but instead makes active, visually interesting scenes.  Partly an Ingram film is distinguished by an unusually high quality of set design-- they look sumptuous, lavish not in a money-thrown-around way, like one of DeMille's tales of the absurdly rich, but by just looking harmoniously designed and sturdily built, believably real in a way few movie sets are.  Lavishness in and of itself is not one of the cardinal cinema virtues, it's the province of a Jean Negulesco rather than a Jean Renoir, but it must be admitted that there's something very satisfying about the realness, the depth of Ingram's settings, as you watch one of his movies.

Image

But that's not Ingram's main visual distinction as a director-- it's the way he handles movement within the frame.  There's a moment in Scaramouche where Ramon Novarro swaggers back into the Assembly, having just one-upped the bad guys.  Ingram instinctively senses that if Novarro is filmed entering the room from a stationary setup, he will be a distant, diminished figure.  Instead, he tracks with him as he enters the room, so that Novarro dominates the frame and our sense of the room's reaction comes from his swagger.  Obvious enough if the year is 1990 and you're making Goodfellas; Scorsese films in particular are full of this kind of projection of the character's psyche onto the camerawork.  But it's rare, to the point of near-uniqueness, in 1923, I believe.  If there aren't many other moments exactly like that, you can at least say that throughout the movie's crowd and action scenes, there is visual dynamism in the acting and direction that makes them more alive and intense than is typical of comparable spectacles throughout film history.

Balanced against these directorial virtues, however, are the flaws that I think keep Ingram's work out of the class of Stroheim, Murnau, Sjostrom and the other most significant figures of the time.  There is, in the end, an essential exterior-ness in Ingram's telling that keeps us too often from fully identifying with his characters.  The exception to this might be Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an intense drama with a powerful dramatic climax, which also indisputably launched a great star.  Otherwise, however, you do not remember Ingram's films for deeply felt characters, powerfully portrayed.  His heroes are the unquestionably debonair but less than fully involving Ramon Novarro and Antonio Moreno; worse yet is the persistent use as heroine/love interest of Ingram's wife, Alice Terry, whose bland, immobile features make you miss the quicksilver play of emotion on Carol Dempster's face.

Part of the reason his films seem to stay outside of their characters' emotions is his reliance on pulpish material which simply doesn't afford the opportunities for greater depth in storytelling or acting. Nothing against Scaramouche or Prisoner of Zenda as ripping yarns (though the sound Zenda rips a good deal swifter than the stately silent, it should be noted), but they aren't exactly McTeague, either, as literature, and Ingram takes them at face value, so that Scaramouche, revolutionary associate of Marat and Danton, thinks nothing of rescuing aristocrats (and the movie thinks nothing about him thinking nothing of it). Sabatini fails to grasp what could be quite a moment of dramatic and historic irony, and so Ingram does too; it's that simple.

The ambitious Mare Nostrum ends up a stock hate-the-Hun piece, and The Magician, for all its Gothic atmosphere (which James Whale plundered wholesale), is the most willfully rational horror movie ever made, going out of its way to assure us that there's nothing supernatural happening, that the mad doctor is simply mad, that there's nothing happening here which could possibly tempt the virginal Ms. Terry, allegedly a Parisian artist, away from her ideal of settling down to the most bourgeois marriage imaginable.  Admittedly, it's awfully early in the history of the horror movie, it's not surprising that Ingram doesn't quite get that the genre is primarily about the blurring of the line between the human and the monstrous and that its drama usually comes from the sexual tension between the two, but it's hard to think of a horror movie which goes further in throwing cold water on the idea at every possible opportunity, which has less sense of or interest in the uncanny.  Dr. Haddo might as well be sacrificing virgins for a new brioche recipe, the horror content is so peripheral to the basic mechanics of damsel-in-distress.  (It doesn't help that the portly and decidedly aging Paul Wegener looks like the love child of Strom Thurmond and Klaus Nomi in the role.)  I suppose the one exception to all this might be The Conquering Power, a rare example of an Ingram film based on a genuinely first-rate novel, Eugenie Grandet. Then again, given that it's been retitled The Conquering Power, which suggests a rather sticky message about love has been plastered over Balzac, maybe not.

In the end, what seems Ingram's main limitation is that he takes all this material at face value, time and again, and there is nothing beneath the surface in these stories; they are simply impressively mounted, well-paced versions of less than first-rate material.  When you think of how, say, John Ford handles stories of heroism, there's always something else going on beneath the surface-- a sense of time passing and age catching up, or a suspicion that it's all hooey, and yet men do it anyway and God bless them for it.  There's no subtext like that in Ingram's work; given especially powerful material in Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he made an especially powerful film, but given lesser material on other occasions, he met the material at its own level, for good or ill.

Image
Alice Terry burns with vibrant passion for Rudolph Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

P.S., in hunting up photos I found this nice interview with our own Rudyfan.
Last edited by Mike Gebert on Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
“One of the wonders of the internet is that it's a totally open forum. The world's greatest expert—or greatest idiot—is free to post.” —David Shepard, quoted by Richard Bann
Offline
User avatar

rudyfan

  • Posts: 1733
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:48 am
  • Location: San Fwancisco

Re: Judging Rex Ingram

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 12:00 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:Image
Alice Terry burns with vibrant passion for Rudolph Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

P.S., in hunting up photos I found this nice interview with our own Rudyfan.


The irony of your caption cracks me up, totally.

Thanks for the plug Mike, but, more importantly, thanks for a terrific read on Ingram. I'm going to have to cogitate on it and hopefully come up woth something meaningful in response.
Offline
User avatar

silentfilm

Moderator

  • Posts: 8832
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:31 pm
  • Location: Dallas, TX USA

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 12:29 pm

I have not seen any of Ingram's films (yet). :oops:

Is the BFI book by Liam O'Leary on Ingram any good?
http://www.amazon.com/Rex-Ingram-Master-Silent-Cinema/dp/0851704433/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208284059&sr=8-2
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 4752
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 1:00 pm

silentfilm wrote:I have not seen any of Ingram's films (yet). :oops:

Is the BFI book by Liam O'Leary on Ingram any good?
http://www.amazon.com/Rex-Ingram-Master-Silent-Cinema/dp/0851704433/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208284059&sr=8-2


If you haven't seen any Ingram films yet, then you're in for a treat; nice to have something so tasty to look forward to!

I read the Ingram bio several years ago, I remember thinking it was solidly crafted if a little thin on material. I don't know if that anemia reflects the sparsity of materials aailable or limited research time. It is, however, the only book out on Ingram, so as of right now it's the standard text.

Fred
Offline
User avatar

Harlett O'Dowd

  • Posts: 2028
  • Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2008 8:57 am

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 1:12 pm

silentfilm wrote:I have not seen any of Ingram's films (yet). :oops:



That's right, Bruce - hang your head in shame!

Mike, I think you've pretty much hit the nail on the head. I see Ingram the cinematic equivalent of a good *traditional* opera director/designer.

It looks great, you get your money's worth and you have a great time. But you won't walk away with any amazing insights to chew over and keep with you over time. And he treats his plots, even the most stupid, honestly and without an iota of irony.

In essence, I think Ingram is the epitome of the commercial director. And that's a good thing. But good doesn't make great.

And you're right a lot of the problem is Ms. Terry. Perhaps Ingram shied away from delving too deeply beneath the surface simply because his wife and muse was incapable of delving too far beneath the surface. How many of his films that do not star Ms. Terry survive?

But I will also add that to really get the effect of Ingram's strengths, you really need to see his mature films on a big screen.
Offline
User avatar

greta de groat

  • Posts: 1898
  • Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:06 am
  • Location: California

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 1:24 pm

Perhaps Alice Terry's cool persona fitted how he wanted his heroines to come across? I know some folks who find respond to her relative lack of histrionics and find her very modern.

For me, sometimes i like her, sometimes i think she looks bored, particularly when she has an unchallenging part like Princess Flavia.

I thought The Magician was hilarious! Expressionist German actor walks into a Rex Ingram movie! The clash between Wegener's acting style and Terry's came across as just plain weird, particularly when she was at her most menaced (i can't remember what she was being menaced about). I suppose you could make some kind of claim of outsider status for Wegener's character that's exemplified in him acting in a different style than everyone else (that works in some movies). But it didn't look intentional to me.

greta
Greta de Groat
Unsung Divas of the Silent Screen
http://www.stanford.edu/~gdegroat
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 5262
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 1:36 pm

In essence, I think Ingram is the epitome of the commercial director. And that's a good thing. But good doesn't make great.


Yet his contemporaries clearly thought he was great. He seems to have been personally magnetic (Michael Powell shows that in his memoirs) but they also had real respect for his work, Stroheim wanting him to be the one who reedited Greed, for instance. Yet-- except maybe for Four Horsemen-- we just don't see it now. I agree, he seems the epitome of the skillful, tasteful director who gets everything out of the material, but doesn't seem to have his own style or set of preoccupations, or to dig deeply into human beings. I guess he was sort of the David Lean of his time, greatly admired for his eye and taste and skill, but sometimes seeming to be lacking in personal commitment to his material; they responded to the plush, all-encompassing world created in a Scaramouche, as 60s audiences did to Doctor Zhivago, and didn't worry that there wasn't a deeper point of view beyond solid intelligence at work there. (I think Lean's best work is better than that, but there are certainly examples of that kind of detachment in his filmography.)
“One of the wonders of the internet is that it's a totally open forum. The world's greatest expert—or greatest idiot—is free to post.” —David Shepard, quoted by Richard Bann
Offline

gjohnson

  • Posts: 653
  • Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 4:56 pm

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 3:32 pm

There may be only one full blown book devoted to him up to now but if you read any of the standard film histories from the last 50 years there is generally a chapter devoted to Ingram and his films (right after 3 chapters devoted exclusively to Griffith). He was obviously very much admired by most film historians.

Gary J.
Offline
User avatar

Harlett O'Dowd

  • Posts: 2028
  • Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2008 8:57 am

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 3:42 pm

greta de groat wrote:Perhaps Alice Terry's cool persona fitted how he wanted his heroines to come across? I know some folks who find respond to her relative lack of histrionics and find her very modern.

greta


That's why I was wondering what, if any, of Rex's pre-Hearts are Trumps titles survive and are available for study. If his pre-Terry films are similar in temperature to the Terry star vehicles, then you can say that's Ingram's style/shortcoming. If not, then he may well have adapted his style to service Ms. Terry (in much the same way that Tim Burton adapted Sweeney Todd around the talents and limitations of his main squeeze and the rest of his cast.)

Which again is not to damn him for it if the latter is the case. Perhaps he was trying to, in his way, do a pre-Pabst&Brooks.
Offline

WaverBoy

  • Posts: 1537
  • Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:50 am
  • Location: Seattle, WA

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 9:52 pm

I haven't seen any Ingram films either... :oops:

Where might be a good place to lay my hands on some? Are there any decent DVDs/DVD-Rs of his stuff floating about? I read about THE MAGICIAN in Everson's Classics Of The Horror Film book when I was a wee lad, but that's as far as I've gotten.
Offline
User avatar

Danny Burk

Moderator

  • Posts: 1497
  • Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 7:11 pm
  • Location: South Bend, IN

PostTue Apr 15, 2008 11:05 pm

WaverBoy wrote:I haven't seen any Ingram films either... :oops:

Where might be a good place to lay my hands on some? Are there any decent DVDs/DVD-Rs of his stuff floating about? I read about THE MAGICIAN in Everson's Classics Of The Horror Film book when I was a wee lad, but that's as far as I've gotten.


Your best bet is TCM. They've run all of those that Mike has seen except THE MAGICIAN, as well as CONQUERING POWER on occasion. The one I'm really anxious to see is GARDEN OF ALLAH; Warners has a beautiful print, but I believe there are rights problems due to the '36 remake, so it's never shown. There was formerly also a problem with MARE NOSTRUM due to rights on the underlying novel, but that finally got sorted out and it's now shown fairly often.

The only other Ingram title I've seen is the French version of his sole talkie, BAROUD (1933); the English version is lost. Also lost, sad to say, are TRIFLING WOMEN, WHERE THE PAVEMENT ENDS, and THE THREE PASSIONS. THE ARAB exists in a foreign archive (Czech, I think), and most of the pre-1921 titles are also lost.
Offline
User avatar

rudyfan

  • Posts: 1733
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:48 am
  • Location: San Fwancisco

PostWed Apr 16, 2008 8:24 am

Danny Burk wrote:The one I'm really anxious to see is GARDEN OF ALLAH; Warners has a beautiful print, but I believe there are rights problems due to the '36 remake, so it's never shown. There was formerly also a problem with MARE NOSTRUM due to rights on the underlying novel, but that finally got sorted out and it's now shown fairly often.

The only other Ingram title I've seen is the French version of his sole talkie, BAROUD (1933); the English version is lost. Also lost, sad to say, are TRIFLING WOMEN, WHERE THE PAVEMENT ENDS, and THE THREE PASSIONS. THE ARAB exists in a foreign archive (Czech, I think), and most of the pre-1921 titles are also lost.


Oooh, I'd love to see The Garden of Allah. In this film I think Alice Terry's persona might work. She was very pretty, but oh so placid.

She's even more of a bore in Conquering Power. I think it is my least favorite of Valentino's films. A fair chunk of his part was cut prior to release. Shows the break with Ingram had an ill effect on his last Metro film. From this point forward, neither Ingram nor Terry had anything good to say about Valentino. Alice Terry was still bitter in the 1950's, but I suspect this probably had more to do with the fact that was likely the only question she was ever asked, i.e., can you tell us about Valentino. She probably was pretty sick of it.

The scene with Ralph Graves and the greedy money goblin, however, is great. Classic Mathis/Ingram!
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 5262
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostWed Apr 16, 2008 8:33 am

Four Horsemen was on laserdisc, which makes me suspect that finding a decent DVD-R is probably not very hard in the right places. For me, it's by far the best of Ingram's films (and Valentino's, for that matter, on a dramatic if not a glamorous-star-vehicle level). The Magician is also out there in so-so dupes, no doubt from the old Films Inc. 16mms, and it's watchable if very, very odd.

Scaramouche and Mare Nostrum are both entertaining and well worth seeing, if solid three-Maltin-stars movies, not great silent classics. Zenda is too, but as noted, like Fairbanks' Robin Hood to Errol Flynn's, it seems a bit stately next to the streamlined 30s version. (Also, I often find it hard to judge the quality of the sixth or seventh version of the same story I've seen...) Still, interesting to see certain aspects of the staging that were clearly originated on stage and carried through faithfully through the silent to the '37 and '52 talkies.
“One of the wonders of the internet is that it's a totally open forum. The world's greatest expert—or greatest idiot—is free to post.” —David Shepard, quoted by Richard Bann
Offline

rollot24

  • Posts: 806
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:16 pm
  • Location: Bellevue WA

PostWed Apr 16, 2008 1:39 pm

I've only seen Four Horseman, many years ago, in the BFI restoration on a big screen.

Maybe Donna can answer this, am I right in thinking that Rudy and Rex didn't see eye to eye? Or am I misremembering something?
Offline
User avatar

rudyfan

  • Posts: 1733
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:48 am
  • Location: San Fwancisco

PostWed Apr 16, 2008 2:08 pm

rollot24 wrote:I've only seen Four Horseman, many years ago, in the BFI restoration on a big screen.

Maybe Donna can answer this, am I right in thinking that Rudy and Rex didn't see eye to eye? Or am I misremembering something?


I need to refresh my memory for the details, but in a nutshell, during Conquering Power they had disagreements. In any case, whatever really happened, they were no longer chummy after the film finished. I think it also had to do with Valentino getting a bit of an attitude post-4 horsemen. He was getting much good press (well deserved IMO) and I think Ingram and Terry were annoyed about this. I'm sure Valentino was testy during this time as Metro refused his request for a raise in salary. This, of course, prompted his departure and his signing with Lasky for the 1 picture deal of The Sheik. The rest is, as they say, is history.

That said, I've seen some wonderful candid shots on the set with Ingram, Terry and Valentino clowning. So it could not all have been bitter apples.
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 4752
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

PostWed Apr 16, 2008 2:09 pm

rudyfan wrote:Oooh, I'd love to see The Garden of Allah. In this film I think Alice Terry's persona might work. She was very pretty, but oh so placid.


"Placid." Very diplomatic.

Fred
Offline
User avatar

rudyfan

  • Posts: 1733
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:48 am
  • Location: San Fwancisco

PostWed Apr 16, 2008 2:21 pm

Frederica wrote:
rudyfan wrote:Oooh, I'd love to see The Garden of Allah. In this film I think Alice Terry's persona might work. She was very pretty, but oh so placid.


"Placid." Very diplomatic.

Fred


Would this be better?

Alice Terry is so dull she's practically transparent on the screen. Had they not invented panchromatic film, she would have been invisible for all the effort she put into her performances?

(I got that right, I hope, panchromatic is the good film, not ortho, right? Or did I get it backwards>)
Offline
User avatar

Frederica

  • Posts: 4752
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 1:00 pm
  • Location: Kowea Town, Los Angeles

PostWed Apr 16, 2008 2:25 pm

rudyfan wrote:
Frederica wrote:
rudyfan wrote:Oooh, I'd love to see The Garden of Allah. In this film I think Alice Terry's persona might work. She was very pretty, but oh so placid.


"Placid." Very diplomatic.

Fred


Would this be better?

Alice Terry is so dull she's practically transparent on the screen. Had they not invented panchromatic film, she would have been invisible for all the effort she put into her performances?

(I got that right, I hope, panchromatic is the good film, not ortho, right? Or did I get it backwards>)


Less diplomatic, more true. I believe we could effectively sum it up with "moooooooooo!!!"

Fred
Offline
User avatar

rudyfan

  • Posts: 1733
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:48 am
  • Location: San Fwancisco

PostWed Apr 16, 2008 2:31 pm

Frederica wrote:Less diplomatic, more true. I believe we could effectively sum it up with "moooooooooo!!!"

Fred


No, I disagree. Brown Eyes in Go West gave a very mooooving performance.
Online
User avatar

radiotelefonia

  • Posts: 1858
  • Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 11:00 pm

PostWed Apr 16, 2008 4:46 pm

The big defect of THE FOUR HORSEMAN OF THE APOCALYPSE is the description of Argentina...

A title indicates that we are in the famour neighbohood of "La Boca", but they can't show us exteriors...

And in the famous tango scene... where is the bandoneon????? And everybody seems to be ready for a carnival parade with anachronics ornaments. (At least Carl Davis' terrific score is appropriately phony)

When they move to Paris the film improves. In the end, I always feel that the Blasco Ibáñez story (not the film) is about idiots and a bohemian that prefer to gamble the fortune they have in Argentina to pursue a pseudo aristocratic future that, as usually happens, ends in total disaster.

There are several tangos written about the issue.

For a film dealing with the same period of the time, I prefer a film called ASI ES LA VIDA (1939), a much better movie in which, at the outbreak of WWI, the family decide to remain in Buenos Aires and their fortune increase.
Offline
User avatar

rudyfan

  • Posts: 1733
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:48 am
  • Location: San Fwancisco

PostFri Apr 18, 2008 8:45 am

radiotelefonia wrote:The big defect of THE FOUR HORSEMAN OF THE APOCALYPSE is the description of Argentina...

A title indicates that we are in the famour neighbohood of "La Boca", but they can't show us exteriors...

And in the famous tango scene... where is the bandoneon????? And everybody seems to be ready for a carnival parade with anachronics ornaments. (At least Carl Davis' terrific score is appropriately phony)

When they move to Paris the film improves. In the end, I always feel that the Blasco Ibáñez story (not the film) is about idiots and a bohemian that prefer to gamble the fortune they have in Argentina to pursue a pseudo aristocratic future that, as usually happens, ends in total disaster.

There are several tangos written about the issue.

For a film dealing with the same period of the time, I prefer a film called ASI ES LA VIDA (1939), a much better movie in which, at the outbreak of WWI, the family decide to remain in Buenos Aires and their fortune increase.


Well, I can understand your dissapointment, but seriously, this IS a Hollywood film, when can you ever expect 100% accuracy. Let's look at The Sheik for another Valentino example. It's not his fault, but really, much more damaging to Arabs than the innocent depiction of Argentina and Gauchos would be thanks to The Four Horsemen. I suspect, as in many a Hollywood produced film, the mood is what was being created, not history.
Online
User avatar

radiotelefonia

  • Posts: 1858
  • Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 11:00 pm

PostFri Apr 18, 2008 4:54 pm

Well, I can understand your dissapointment, but seriously, this IS a Hollywood film, when can you ever expect 100% accuracy. Let's look at The Sheik for another Valentino example. It's not his fault, but really, much more damaging to Arabs than the innocent depiction of Argentina and Gauchos would be thanks to The Four Horsemen. I suspect, as in many a Hollywood produced film, the mood is what was being created, not history.


There was a Universal 1940 production called "Argentine Nights", directed by Albert S. Rogell. The film was such a colossal disaster that the audience almost destroyed the movie theater where it was exhibited... and national authorities even attempted, to no avail, to have the original negative destroyed.

Back in the silent era, when Paramount produced a film called "My American Wife" (1922) they got the LA consul, called Santos Goñi, as an adviser. Although there are still that shows him giving indications to director Sam Wood and with stars Gloria Swanson and Antonio Moreno his advice was not really heard. He was brought to the film by another adviser, Hary D'Arrast (an Argentine himself, before becoming a filmmaker). When the consul try to formally complain to Paramount, D'Arrast told him to forget about it, that it is just a film and it the way Hollywood operated.

(Santos Goñi, or his son, wrote a lengthy article about his experience with Hollywood in the 20s that was published by the Argentine magazine "Todo es Historia" a bit more than twenty years ago. Unfortunately, I lost that magazine in Buenos Aires and I was never able to recover it, although it should not be impossible to do it).

THE FOUR HORSEMAN OF THE APOCALYPSE, however, was probably a big success in Argentina too. Unfortunately, when I was still in Buenos Aires I tried my best to find anything about its premiere and original impact. The only thing I did find was an ad for its release. The film was distributed and exhibited by Max Glücksmann and I can provide that image if somebody wants it.

Usually, Hollywood depictions of Argentina have always being received well, if the films are at least respectful. Diego Curubeto, wrote a weak book called "Babilonia Gaucha" and later a second part, dealing with all of the foreign films dealing with Argentina.

The books are not really well written (there is a lot of unnecessary and irrelevant information) but it is a fascinating panorama that starts in 1915 with a production called "Captain Alvarez" continuing to the present.

If somebody is interested to watch authentic gauchos I invite you to see a 1919 film called JUAN SIN ROPA, co directed by Héctor Quiroga and cinematographer Georges Benoit, from a script by José González Castillo. It is about farmers that are forced to migrate to Buenos Aires due to economic problems who are exploited, and repress, by their employers.

Unfortunately, the only known print is incomplete and, except for only one, the intertitles are lost. The music track of this print is also something to regret:

http://es.arcoiris.tv/modules.php?name=Unique&id=442
Offline

James Bazen

  • Posts: 262
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:41 pm
  • Location: Canton, Ohio

PostSat Apr 19, 2008 1:43 pm

rudyfan wrote:
Frederica wrote:Less diplomatic, more true. I believe we could effectively sum it up with "moooooooooo!!!"

Fred


No, I disagree. Brown Eyes in Go West gave a very mooooving performance.


Wow, I actually think Alice Terry is quite a good and effective actress, although she was certainly wasted in a lot of parts. I would love to see what she could have done in roles with more meat to them.
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 5262
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostSat Apr 19, 2008 5:48 pm

So what have you seen her in that you liked her in?
“One of the wonders of the internet is that it's a totally open forum. The world's greatest expert—or greatest idiot—is free to post.” —David Shepard, quoted by Richard Bann
Offline
User avatar

FrankFay

  • Posts: 3086
  • Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:48 am
  • Location: Albany NY

PostSun Apr 20, 2008 10:27 am

The only memorable Alice Terry sequence I can recall is the execution sequence. Terry hits the mark as she smiles at the firing squad (So many men.......all looking at me) and that last look of shock at the end, when she finally realizes she's going to die. Even Paul Rotha, who hated the movie, admired the scene.

Still, one great scene does not make a great actress. She'd have made a sensational dress extra though.
Eric Stott
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 5262
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostSun Apr 20, 2008 10:36 am

What movie is that, Garden of Allah?
“One of the wonders of the internet is that it's a totally open forum. The world's greatest expert—or greatest idiot—is free to post.” —David Shepard, quoted by Richard Bann
Offline
User avatar

greta de groat

  • Posts: 1898
  • Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:06 am
  • Location: California

PostSun Apr 20, 2008 11:46 am

Strange, i replied to this last night but it doesn't seem to have shown up. Anyway, i thought she was fine in Four Horsemen, and i thought her coolness well suited her role as a spy in Mare Nostrum. I liked her better than Antonio Moreno in that film. He always seems to me more like a banker than a hero. That should have been a Milton Sills film!

greta
Greta de Groat
Unsung Divas of the Silent Screen
http://www.stanford.edu/~gdegroat
Offline
User avatar

FrankFay

  • Posts: 3086
  • Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:48 am
  • Location: Albany NY

PostSun Apr 20, 2008 1:22 pm

Sorry- the execution sequence is is Mare Nostrum. She dresses for the shooting in her satins and feathers: "I will die like a soldier- in my uniform".
Eric Stott
Offline
User avatar

Mike Gebert

Site Admin

  • Posts: 5262
  • Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:23 pm
  • Location: Chicago

PostSun Apr 20, 2008 1:42 pm

Oops, shows how much I remember of Mare Nostrum. All I remember is the submarine going glub glub glub...
“One of the wonders of the internet is that it's a totally open forum. The world's greatest expert—or greatest idiot—is free to post.” —David Shepard, quoted by Richard Bann
Offline

James Bazen

  • Posts: 262
  • Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:41 pm
  • Location: Canton, Ohio

PostSun Apr 20, 2008 1:57 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:So what have you seen her in that you liked her in?


I think Alice Terry is fine in The Four Horsemen, and I liked her in The Conquering Power although Ralph Lewis steals it. And I thinks she gives a very good performance in Mare Nostrum. It's interesting that her most frequent leading men were dark, Latin types. I think her cool, blonde beauty is the perfect contrast to the dark, exotic looks of a Valentino or Novarro. Most of her other roles don't amount to much., so I would love to see what she could have done in more challenging material. I have a tape here of The Magician which I haven't watched yet.

James
Next

Return to Talking About Silents

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 5 guests