PORDENONE – According to Hitchcock, silent films are the purest form of cinema. He says it in the famous book-interview with Francois Truffaut. In the same text, when it comes to THE MANXMAN, the last silent film he directed, the director dismisses it in two words, almost annoyed.
In his extraordinary career there are two films that he does not recognize as entirely his: one is Rebecca, the other is The Manxman (The island of sin, 1929) scheduled as the closing event of the Days of Silent Cinema in Pordenone in the evening. on Saturday 8 October at 9.00 pm at the Verdi Theater (with a repeat the following day, Sunday 9 October at 4.30 pm always at the Verdi Theater in Pordenone).
If in Rebecca’s case Hitchcock’s judgment was immediately denied by an extraordinary success, Rebecca won two Oscars, for best film and for photography, only in recent years has a greater critical attention developed around The Manxman.
The fact that Hitchcock did not fully recognize them as his films was due to the external conditioning he had had in the film adaptation of Rebecca and The Manxman: both were based on novels by successful authors, respectively Daphne Du Maurier and Sir Hall Caine. who did not like too many variations to the plots of their books and therefore there was, on their part or on the part of the producers, too much interference on the stylistic and script choices made by the director.
As in all of Hitchcock’s films, at the center of The Manxman there is a female figure, one of the most moving of all his work, which gives life to the actress of Czech origin, Anny Ondra, who the director will also want for the next film, Blackmail, his first soundtrack. Ondra is also the first of the many blondes who make up the gallery of Hitchcockian performers.
Re-evaluating The Manxman also means paying homage to screenwriter Eliot Stannard alongside Hitchcock throughout the silent period, who died forgotten and in poverty. The Manxman will have the musical accompaniment of the San Marco Orchestra of Pordenone, conducted by Ben Palmer, on the new score composed by Stephen Horne.
The Ruritania retrospective takes its leave, giving an appointment to 2023 for the second part, with Rupert Of Hee Haw (1924) by Percy Pembroke. It is a brilliant parody of the works of Anthony Hope, author of the novel The Prisoner of Zenda, with an unleashed Stan Laurel who makes fun of the romance that often pervades this genre of films. Rupert Of Hee Haw precedes the presentation of Hitchcock’s film in the program and it can be said that this combination represents an excellent culmination of a week dedicated to silent cinema.
There is also a lot of laughter in the afternoon, at 5.00 pm, with Leo McCarey’s short film Long Fliv The King (1926) with a formidable comic trio composed of Charley Chase, Max Davidson and Oliver Hardy; while Anthony Asquith’s The Runaway Princess (1929), an Anglo-German co-production inspired by the novel by Elizabeth von Armin, represents a perfect synthesis of Ruritan themes and characters animated by a spirit of comedy.
For the tribute to Venice 90, at 2.00 pm Tikhi Don (the placid Don, 1931) is presented, the first film adaptation of the novel of the same name, one of the most famous in Russian literature, whose author, Mikhail Sholokhov, was awarded the Nobel in the 60s. For the first time in Soviet cinema the landscape becomes an active character; the two directors Olga Preobrazhenskaya and Ivan Pravov make their debut with many talented actors that we will find in the classics of Soviet cinema, and they get the enthusiastic collaboration, both as interpreters and as local consultants, of the peasants of the Cossack farm that was the scene of the shooting. The Association of Workers of Revolutionary Cinematography judged the film’s ideology to be petty-bourgeois and expelled its authors from the association itself. Only with Solochov’s intervention was it possible to circulate the film after a six-month ban.
One last mention for the Italian film Profanazione (1924-1926) by Eugenio Perego, active with the Lombardo film and with the main star of the Neapolitan company, Leda Gys, mother of Goffredo Lombardo founder and head of Titanus for many decades.
Both Perego’s and Leda Gys’s careers took place within the silent period. The copy was digitized by the Cineteca del Friuli in Gemona and the screening is scheduled for Saturday 8 October at 10.30 in Cinemazero because the Verdi Theater, where all the festival screenings are held, is busy with the rehearsals of the San Marco orchestra for The Manxman.
The online program, on MYmovies, proposes at 17.00 [Japan I Fest] and The Lady; at 9pm Up In Mabel’s Room.
The complete program on www.giornatedelcinemamuto.it.
The Silent Film Days are realized thanks to the support of the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the Ministry of Culture – Directorate General for Cinema, the Municipality of Pordenone, the Pordenone-Udine Chamber of Commerce and the Friuli Foundation.