1920s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists project Vol. 3)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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lubitsch
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1920s List Discussion and Suggestions (Lists project Vol. 3)

#1 Post by lubitsch » Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:17 pm

Your ballots for the 1920s list are due at Sunday 16th January 2011. PM them to me.

THE RULES

1) Each individual list is to comprise exactly 50 films, ranked in your order of preference, no ties are allowed. If you haven't seen 50 films from the years 1920-1929 among them a representative selection of the famous films by the major countries, directors and stars, don't bother voting.
2) Any feature, documentary or short film, released between 1920 and 1929 is eligible. This is a decade list NOT a silent film list, early sound films also count.
3) The date given on imdb is the relevant date for determining eligibility, even when it's clearly wrong.
4) Multi-part films released separately count as one single film since the imdb handles them in an inconsistent way for no discernible reason. According to this principle Dr. Mabuse and Die Nibelungen are considered being one long feature.

VIEWING GUIDE

The following guide is intended to be a help for your exploration of the era and a check list when you compile your final list, so that we don't have the usual problem of people forgetting to vote for certain films. Please read it therefore at least when you are giving your final vote. Since silents are so easy to subtitle and among the few sound films almost all are from the USA, for almost each and every film here there are English subtitles on the net, may the source of the film be a foreign language DVD with no subs or a TV tranmission or archival tape. Films that are completely unavailable anywhere are marked in red, they seemed important enough to mention them if anyone runs across them in a screening or an archive, films marked blue have no English subtitles on DVD or the Internet as far as I know.

The biggest first and that’s as usual the USA. Most people associate this era with comedies and you will have no trouble to find the films of the great comedians. Chaplin with his legendary output including films like The Kid, Gold Rush and Circus or his serious film Woman of Paris is easily available, so is Harold Lloyd via the big Lloyd box though unlike the European versions the US edition leaves out Welcome Danger, his first sound film. Buster Keaton’s shorts are available via MoC, the features were partly released in a new edition with The General or Steamboat Bill jr and Sherlock jr got a new release as well, for other films like Our Hospitality or The Navigator the Kino releases remain the only choice. Don’t forget that his MGM silents with The Cameraman also count. Kino and AllDay rescued the fourth comedian Harry Langdon with a complete release of his films like The Strong Man and even a forgotten figure like Charley Bowers got his set though his most famous film, There it is, is to be found in the second Treasures box. Raymond Griffith‘ Hands Up is at least available from Grapevine and finally Charley Chase got a set devoted to him. Finally don’t forget that Laurel & Hardy began in the silent era, many of their best shorts like Big Business or Liberty are eligible, too.
As for the serious films this era sees a great deal of standardization which limits the scope of the films regarding their topics and attitudes. Often in film histories maverick directors are singled out against an rigid studio system, very often these men have a European background. We have
Erich von Stroheim with Greed being available on itunes and Foolish Wives, Merry-go-round and Queen Kelly coming from Kino. Unfortunately The Merry Widow is buried with Warner and The Wedding March with Paramount, try to find the tapes or TV recordings.
Josef von Sternberg is rescued by Criterion for our list with his three famous Paramounts Underworld, The Last Command and The Docks of New York coming on DVD. His first talkie Thunderbolt and his independent debut The Salvation Hunters also float around, but are commercially inaccessible.
D.W. Griffith is a figure of declining importance in this decade though he started with a bang with Way Down East. Two Orphans in the Storm, America, Sally of the Sawdust and Battle of the Sexes are all available on DVD, but worth looking for is especially Isn’t life Wonderful which until now only appeared on tape.
Rex Ingram was considered one of the prime directors of the era, but he‘s treated badly on home video, not even The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is available in a good DVD edition, not to speak of The Conquering Power, Scaramouche, The Magician or Mare Nostrum.
Victor Sjöström’s US films were badly preserved and Warner hasn’t yet released them, but anyone should get to see The Wind and try for The Scarlet Letter where you see the director‘s distinctive presence. Mauritz Stiller was far less lucky with only Hotel Imperial (Grapevine) as a single US credit.
Maurice Tourneur quit the Hollywood system in the 20s though he started at the top with The Last of the Mohicans and is also represented by Lorna Doone on DVD. He later made in Germany Das Schiff der verlorenen Menschen with Marlene Dietrich.
King Vidor found a way of alternating personal films and those made for the studio, but again Warner lets us down at the moment so we can neither buy The Big Parade nor The Crowd and other films like Wild Oranges, Wine of Youth, The Jack-Knife Man, La Boheme and The Patsy are also only floating around in TV recordings. The lost Bardelys the Magnificent is the only silent on legitimate pressed DVD at the moment while his first sound film the all black cast Hallelujah is the first legitimate DVD release from Warner.
Ernst Lubitsch found a place as being the embodiement of an sophisticated artist first at Warner than at Paramount, but his big MGM film The Student Prince of Heidelberg lacks a DVD release, while the lesser Eternal Love is available. His Warner silents are partly hard to access except for The Marriage Circle on an Image DVD and Lady Windermere‘s Fan on the second Treasures box. Forbidden Paradise and So this Paris float around as does Rosita, his film for Mary Pickford, but Three Women is nowhere available. And here the first sound film Love Parade is also eligible and available in the Eclipse set.
Frank Borzage became the consummate romantic of the decade, you can get him easily via the huge Fox box or via the two BFI DVDs and will see 7th Heaven, Lucky Star and Street Angel and the fragment of The River should also be strongly considered. The Fox box offers you also the important Lazybones, while The Circle or his early success Humoresque are also floating around.
Cecil B. DeMille is still a strong figure and Why change your Wife, The Affairs of Anatol, Manslaughter, The Ten Commandments (as bonus on the 56 epic) found their way on DVD as did The Godless Girl in the third Treasures box or The King of Kings as Criterion and finally the Passport box presents The Volga Boatmen and The Road to Yesterday. Unavailable commercially, but floating around is Dynamite, his first sound film. Arguably William de Mille‘s film Miss Lulu Bett will prove more interesting than all those by his brother.
Paul Leni died early but had a profound influence on Universal and Kino released The Cat and the Canary as well as The Man who laughs.
John Ford has a huge box dedicated from Fox, but also a smaller silent set, so you’ll find it easy to see the early Just Pals, The Iron Horse, 3 Bad Men, Four Sons and Hangman’s House. Some of his other silents float around in lesser copies.
Henry King‘s Tolable David is most easily available and his most famous silent, Grapevine and Sunrisesilents have also released a bit of his later films like White Sister, Romola and Stella Dallas. The Winning of Barbara Worth is a bit hidden in a Gary Cooper collection.
William Wellman is mostly known for Wings (Asian DVD) but also his Beggars of Life with Louise Brooks is interesting.
Beyond being Garbo‘s director Clarence Brown made some fine films like The Goose Woman or Smouldering Fires which are worth seking out.
Benjamin Christensen made films like The Devil’s Circus and the bizarre Seven Footprints to Satan which all await a decent release, but thankfully his single European film of the decade Häxan is easily available.
Paul Fejös had a small, but impressive output and though his films are commercially unavailable one should at least seek out Lonesome and maybe Broadway.
There were a few documentary filmmakers, Robert Flaherty and his Nanook we all know, his Moana is far more difficult to find. Don’t forget the duo Schoedsack/Cooper who directed Grass and the semi-documentary Chang.
Other directors have receded into the background like Herbert Brenon whose Peter Pan however can easily be seen and Dancing Mothers is available from Grapevine. A second fairytale film A Kiss for Cinderella is floating around as does his adventure classic Beau Geste. Raoul Walsh has many films on the lost side, but Kino has at least put Sadie Thompson back into circulation and Fox did the same for In Old Arizona. James Cruze‘s The Covered Wagon was released on Laserdisc and Old Ironsides on tape, Beggar on a Horseback is even more difficult to find, his talkie The Great Gabbo is out from Kino. W.S. van Dyke should be remebered for his exotic films like The Pagan and White Shadows in the South Seas. Frank Capra is more associated with sound films but his Matinee Idol is available on legitimate DVD and some other films from other firms are floating around. Oscar Micheaux as a black pioneer sees Within our Gates in the OOP Origins set and Body and Soul in the Robeson set relased. Howard Hawks isn’t a major director yet in the silent period, A Girl in every Port may be known and there are other films like Fig Leaves. Lewis Milestone's early films were planned for DVD release but this never happened and so Two Arabian Knights is only floating around. William Wyler‘s start with The Love Trap on DVD is also worth a look.
The other way to write the Hollywood story of this era is via the stars that ruled it and here two stars of the 10s remained leading lights of the 20s.
Douglas Fairbanks‘ 20s output is available on Kino DVDs with films like The Mark of Zorro (the 10s box from Flicker Alley has an improved transfer and two of its films like The Mollycoddle belong into the 20s), Robin Hood, The Thief of Bagdad, The Black Pirate, The Gaucho and The Iron Mask.
His leading lady in real life, Mary Pickford starts with a important film, Suds, but Love Light, Through the Back Door, Little Lord Fauntleroy and Tess of the Storm Country are also availaible, then there’s a break before she once again has success with the gloomy Sparrows and the witty My Best Girl.
Lon Chaney is popular at least in the USA, many of his films are available, starting with The Penalty, Outside the Law, Oliver Twist, Shadows, the two epics Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera. Unfortunately he‘s also hit by Warner’s no release policy though at least Laugh Clown Laugh and The Unknown were released in a set. Films like He who gets slapped, The Unholy Three, The Blackbird or West of Zanzibar must be searched via TV recordings.
Rudolph Valentino’s star has fallen deep in all these years, but one may easily familiarize himself with The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle and Son of the Sheik as well as a set from Flicker Alley. William S. Hart has at least Toll Gate and Tumbleweeds out.
John Barrymore was a respected leading man of the decade, you can easily obtain Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde as well as The Beloved Rogue and Tempest. Other films with him worth seeking out might be Don Juan, When a Man loves or Beau Brummel.
Greta Garbo was represented by Warner with a silent set including The Temptress, Flash and the Devil and Mysterious Lady. Other films of her include Wild Orchids, Torrent or Woman of Affairs and have a regular TV presence.
Clara Bow is best remebered for It, but others of her films like Mantrap were released by the usual suspects though not in high quality editions. Stars like Norma Talmadge with Kiki fare even worse though Kino devoted a disc to each of the Talmadge sisters. Colleen Moore’s films like Ella Cinders or Lilac Time also await decent releases.
This aside there are lots of oddities, one shots and films out of the mainstream which shall be treated here without any sort of ranking order. There are the first sound films like the creaky Broadway Melody and many other early musicals, but also sound’s first great film, Applause by Rouben Mamoulian. Other early sound films are Alibi, Bulldog Drummond and The Cocoanuts from the Marx Brothers. Alla Nazimova used her star appeal for the stylish Salome and Camille. Lois Weber’s career ended with The Blot and Too wise Wives. Blanche Sweet starred in Anna Christe before Garbo did and there’s an earlier The Sea Hawk though only the title sound like the Flynn classic. The Lost World is a special effects classic and The Red Kimona deals with the daring topic of prostitution. The Vanishing American, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (both Kino) and Redskin (third Treasures box) dive into the topics of the oppression of Blacks and Indians, The Chehahcos takes place in Alaska. White Gold belongs to the line of films like City Girl and The Wind about the US country life as does Poor Mrs. Jones (also in the third Treasures box). We have Evangeline on DVD, there‘s also the early western The Virginian floating around. And as final studio film the hugest of them all: Ben Hur.
Last but not least is the US avantgarde for which you need the Kino Avantgarde boxes (especially the first) and the Unseen Cinema set. There are H2O by Ralph Steiner, Life and Death of a Hollywood Extra, Skyscraper Symphony and Love of Zero by Robert Florey, Manhatta by Strand/Sheeler, Fall of the House of Usher by Watson/Webber, Telltale Heart by Charles F. Klein, The Bridge by Charles Vidor as well as Danse macabre and Soul of the Cypress by Dudley Murphy.
Animation still hasn't the impact it had in later decades, but the first Walt Disney shorts crowned by the famous Steamboat Willie and The Skeleton Dance are a must. The Out of the Inkwell films by the Fleischer brothers also once made their way to DVD and Winsor McCay also has a few films in the 20s.

If 20s Hollywood becomes too stifling there are three powerful European cinematographies which allowed the directors more room to breathe and which formed distinctive styles during their intial phases. The fine thing with silents is that it isn’t hard to make subs for them, so almost all of the films mentioned now have subtitled versions floating around.

First is the German film industry led by the mighty Ufa. Familiarize yourself with the four core directors of the era.
Fritz Lang‘s output is easily accessible from Destiny, to Dr. Mabuse, the huge Nibelungen and Metropolis epics down to Spies and Woman in the Moon.
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's major films are also out on DVD, Nosferatu, Der letzte Mann, Faust and his single US film of the era Sunrise. Some minor films like Finanzen des Großherzogs, Tartuff or Phantom also made it to DVD, the rest like Der brennende Acker is floating around.
Ernst Lubitsch made some films in Germany in the 20s led by the lively Mountain Cat and the epic Anna Boleyn and Sumurun. Other 20s films include the hard to obtain Weib des Pharao.
G.W. Pabst finally is also well represented on DVD by now. Die freudlose Gasse (Edition Filmmuseum), Secrets of a Soul, Love of Jeanne Ney, naturally the two Louise Brooks films, most films are readily available, try to find however the TV recording of Abwege which is scheduled for Edition Filmmuseum, but probably won‘t happen in time for us. Der Schatz is available on a German unsubbed disc.
This core is surrounded by many films which can most usefully be grouped according to trends. We have the expressionist films (or what is labeled as such) like the big classics Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Der Golem, Schatten, Das Wachsfigurenkabinett , Hands of Orlac and the single purely expressionist film Von Morgens bis Mitternacht from Edition Filmmuseum which are all out on DVD. Other films in this style will remain more elusive though one can and should track down Robert Wiene‘s Genuine and Raskolnikow, the sci-fi Algol, Torgus, Der steinerne Reiter or the moody history films by Arthur von Gerlach, Vanina and Zur Chronik von Grieshuus. Henrik Galeen made two late fantasy films with a remake of Student von Prag and Alraune.
Also noticeable are the chamber dramas of which Hintertreppe is available in a very fine copy from Grapevine, a good TV recording of Lupu Pick's Scherben is floating around, a lesser copy of his Sylvester too.
There are some prestige literary adaptations like Othello, Friedrich Schiller or Nathan der Weise which are out on DVD. Others like Der Rosenkavalier, the epic Helena and Die Hose aren’t. Paul Czinner adapted Fräulein Else and made the sensitive Nju, Ludwig Berger made with Ein Walzertraum a silent operetta.
E.A. Dupont is unlucky regarding DVDs of his German films, the famous Variete is only available through Grapevine, Geierwally and Das alte Gesetz not commercially. Arnold Fanck started with his mountain films of which Der heilige Berg and The White Hell of Piz Palu are easily available.
The late silent era sees some proletarian films which however got no distribution on DVD/tape yet and often no subs either. Neither Die Verrufenen nor Dirnentragödie with Asta Nielsen nor Die Weber nor Mutter Krausens Fahrt ins Glück by Piel Jutzi nor Werner Hochbaum's Brüder made it beyond the underground channels which is a great pity because these realist films have a pretty strong tradition and obviously much influence on later periods of cinema. Jenseits der Straße belongs with its rapid cutting also in this group and is as well floating around in backchannels.
The same goes also for some prestigious high end productions like the sumptuous Die wunderbare Lüge der Nina Petrowna by Hanns Schwarz who also made Ungarische Rhapsodie and Melodie des Herzens, the early Hamlet with Asta Nielsen will be released in January 2011 by Edition Filmmuseum, there's the moody Heimkehr by Joe May or the surprisingly interesting Die Frau nach der man sich sehnt by Kurt Bernhardt with Marlene Dietrich. At least the controversial Geschlecht in Fesseln by Wilhelm Dieterle is out as is the stunning Asphalt by Joe May. There‘s hope for the gloomy Der lebende Leichnam by Fedor Otsep from Edition Filmmuseum, but it‘s floating around and a fine film. Schlagende Wetter by Karl Grune ran in a new restoration on arte though the director's most famous film is Die Straße founding the genre of street films.
Finally a German specialty is the Kulturfilm, instructive features for the wide audience, the sci-fi Wunder der Schöpfung was released by Edition Filmmuseum while Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit is floating around. The most famous docu is naturally Berlin Symphonie einer Großstadt on a disc from Filmmuseum which features Walter Ruttmann’s 20s output including Melodie der Welt, the first German sound feature, and his experimental Opus films. The films of Oskar Fischinger have been released on tape and DVD (only a selection of 10 films), Hans Richter 's films are partly on the BFI Dreams that Money can buy DVD with Vormittagsspuk, Everyday and Rhythmus 21, there's more on tape. Ernö Metzner's Überfall and Vikking Eggeling's Diagonal Symphony can also be found in this set.
And finally there’s the animation pioneer Lotte Reiniger with her lovely silhouette shorts and the first animated feature Adventures of Prince Achmed.

The second most powerful European film country was France which excelled with a strong semi commercial, semi-experimantal film scene with directors shifting between these areas. The DVD situation is mixed with most directors having however one or two films released.
Everyone knows Abel Gance’s Napoleon (as well as the different versions and the juristic problems) and La Roue thankfully isn’t unknown anymore due to Flicker Alley.
Marcel L’Herbier was DVD terra incognita before L’Argent was put back in circulation, other films had at least good TV transmissions like Homme du large, Eldorado and L’Inhumaine while Feu Mathias Pascal will be shown late December on arte.
Germaine Dulac's films were released on a fine German DVD set with the easily accessible Coquille and the Clergyman but also the remarkable Souriante madame Boudet and Invitation au Voyage, no English subs but they are hardly necessary anyway.
Jean Epstein‘s Fall of House of Usher and La Glace a trois Faces (on the first Kino Avant garde set) are easily accessible, Coeur Fidele on a fine French DVD with no subs. Finis Terrae had a recent TV transmission, Mauprat looks fine, others like Belle Nivernaise, Lion des Mogols or Auberge Rouge float around in lesser prints.
The director badly treated is Louis Delluc with no commercial releases available, Fievre is floating around, La Femme de nulle Part remains elusive.
Rene Clair moved from his early films Entracte and Paris qui dort (on the Criterions of his sound features) to comedies like The Italian Straw Hat (FlickerAlley) or Les deux Timides and his more fantastic films like Phantom du Moulin Rouge and Voyage Imaginaire float around in back channels.
Jacques Feyder is well represented thanks to a set including Atlantide, Crainquebille and especially Visages d’enfants. His Carmen was shown on TV in a good copy.
Jean Renoir is like Hawks a minor silent director, but his Fille de l'eau, Nana, Sur un air de Charleston and Le Petite marchande d'allumettes are all out on DVD.
Andre Antoine’s La Terre is out on DVD, but the lovely Hirondelle et la Mesange is also worth seeking out.
Raymond Bernard’s Chess Player is available on a fine DVD while Verdun by Manuel Poirier can be obtained in Germany (not English friendly) from Absolut Medien. From the same publisher Julien Duvivier sees at least his Poil de carotte on DVD, his La Mystere de la Tour Eiffel is also around. The Count of Monte Cristo by Henri Fescourt had a TV transmission as had Dans la nuit by Charles Vanel. And Capitaine Fracasse by Alberto Cavalcanti is another example for commercial cinema of the era on DVD. You can even find another version of the Jeanne d’Arc story from the same year floating around.
Ivan Mossjoukin starred in a lot of French films for Albatros films, like Kean though it‘s again a struggle for good copies, Le brasier ardent looks good. Casanova by Alexandre Volkov had also a fine transmission.
The worst luck has the elusive Jean Gremillon though the daring Maldone is at least floating around, one can’t say the same for Croisiere de l’Atalante or Gardiens de phare.
Everybody‘s avantgarde favourite is Dimitri Kirsanoff‘s Menilmontant on the Kino Avantgarde set and with Brumes d’automne you can see another of his 20s film there. The most famous one is naturally Luis Bunuel's Un Chien andalou, while Cavalcanti‘s Rien que les Heures was released in the second avantgarde set. The first set also fills in all Man Ray films as well as Ballet mecanique by Fernand Leger and Anemic Cinema by Marcel Duchamp. Other experimental films are Nuits electriques, Montparnasse and La Marche de machines by Deslaw, Jeux des reflets et de la vitesse by Chomette and a trio by Germaine Dulac: Disque 957, Arabesques, Themes & Variations.
And like Germany, France has its animation talent, Wladyslaw Starewicz made films of which two are on the DVD devoted to him while the others like Horloge magique and Le Rat de ville et le rat des champs are also around.

The smallest and latest arrival on the scene of the big three European industries was the Soviet cinematography with its great montage directors.
We all know Sergei Eisenstein with Battleship Potemkin available in an excellent restoration, Strike, October and The General Line are also easily accessible though as with many of these productions no thorough restorations have been done and the films often look less than optimal.
This also goes for Vsevolod Pudovkin‘s trilogy. While Storm over Asia looks fine, End of St. Petersburg could use a fresh soundtrack and Mother is out of print and played far too fast on the Image DVD.
Aleksander Dovzhenko‘s Arsenal looks fine, but for Zvenigora and his two earlier films you should try to find the big Dovzhenko set that was released unofficially by the Ukrainian ministery of arts and is floating around in back channels with beautiful prints and subs.
Dsiga Vertov's Man with a Camera is floating around in millions of DVDs with different scores, Kino-Eye is available from Kino, while Edition Filmmuseum fills another gap with Sixth of the World and The Eleventh Year.
Trauberg/Kosintzev‘s New Babylon was released in Germany (with English subs), but also S.V.D., Shinel and Devil's Wheel are worth seeking out despite their commercial unavailability all these films float around with subs, the related Ilya Trauberg made Goluboi Express. Protazanov, a more conventional filmmaker is known for the Sci-fi Aelita on DVD, but a good selection of his films of his like The Forty First float around subbed in back channels.
Lev Kuleshov has bad luck on the DVD scene, Adventures of Mr. West didn't make it yet from the tape stage yet while By the Law will appear in February 2011, the films are around however as is his Death Ray. Boris Barnet‘s Girl with a Hat Box is already available but will hopefully somewhen be joined by the superior House on Trubnaya from Edition Filmmuseum. Abram Room is identified with one great film and Bed and Sofa thankfully is easily available as is his The Ghost that never returns on a French DVD (English subs are on the Internet).
Women had also a bit of creative input, there’s Esfir Schub‘s groundbreaking compilation film Fall of the Romanov Dynasty as well as Olga Preobrashenskaya's fine Women of Ryazan on a French DVD. There are other less known directors who have nevertheless some interesting credits like Sergei Yutkevich‘s Kruzheva or Fridrikh Ermler‘s Oblomok imperii which have some reputation in film histories, there's The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom as well as A Kiss from Mary Pickford and The Doll with Millions by Komarov. Miss Mend, a serial by Fedor Otsep from Flicker Alley also widens the perception of the era, his Land in Captivity might be also worth a look. Also noticeable is the encouragment of regional film production resulting in films like the Armenian Namus or the Georgian My Grandmother by Kotaberidze and Eliso by Eldar Shengelaya. And the documentary Turksib really packs a wallop.

And now for the rest of the world. The big four pretty much dominate the 20s and few countries could cope with that, many films didn’t survive the time and so only very few films represent these countries.
Great Britain is the biggest of them with two great directors. Alfred Hitchcock you all know and can easily obtain in fine, restored prints, starting with the famous Lodger and Blackmail (notice the silent version too) but also films like The Ring or Manxman. Anthony Asquith‘ most famous films were Underground which hopefully will be released by BFI this year and Shooting Stars which only floats under the surface, so amusingly the until now completely unjustly forgotten Cottage to Dartmoor is the single film on DVD. If you take a look at the DVDs of Hindle Wakes by Maurice Elvey, The Open Road by Claude Friese-Greene and Piccadilly by E.A. Dupont as well as his Moulin Rouge, search around for copies of The Rat by Graham Cutts, you may find the British silent cinema not too bad a viewing pleasure. There’s even a first documentary with Grifters by John Grierson and Tusalava a remarkable experimental short by Len Lye.
Sweden’s film industry falls down with the exodus of its two great directors. Make sure to see The Phantom Chariot by Victor Sjöström and Erotikon and Gösta Berling by Mauritz Stiller. Please notice also Stiller’s Johan available from Absolut Medien in Germany even though it has no English subs. Unfortunately it’s more difficult to find Monastery of Sendomir from a tape or Gunnar Hedes Saga though they are at least floating around, that‘s however not the case for Mästerman, a fine film by Sjöström but very much unavailable as is his Vem dömer.
Other European countries made minor contributions, Czechoslovakia had Gustav Machaty whose Erotikon is worth an order (english friendly disc) and his Kreutzer Sonata is floating around, but there are also Batalion by Prazsky and The Organist at St. Vitus' Cathedral by Martin Fric. Austria tried its luck with historical epics, you can buy Sodom and Gomorra by Michael Curtiz (unsubbed DVD from Austrian Film archive) and search for his Die Sklavenkönigin, he continued with Noah's Ark in the USA. Cafe Electric by Ucicky might be worth a look, too. Switzerland had La Vocation de Andre Charel. Italy mostly contributed Rotaie by Mario Camerini (available in the back channels) and a popular Maciste in Hell as well as the hand colored Cyrano de Bergerac. Spain had El Sexto sentido, Norway contributed Bridal Procession in Hardanger by Breistein (subbed DVD available from Norway) and Markens grode, some 20s silents from Denmark like The Clown are available from DFI. However Carl Theodor Dreyer, the most important Danish filmmaker, made his films all over Europe, The Parson’s Widow, Leaves from Satan‘s Book, Der var engang, Michael, Master of the House and naturally La Passion de Jeanne d‘Arc are out on DVD. Belgium played an interesting role in the avantgarde movement with Charles Dekeukeleire’s radical films Impatience and Histoire d’un Detective and Henri Storck‘s Images d’Ostende and Pour vos beaux yeux, English friendly DVD is available. The Netherlands and Joris Ivens contribute Rain and The Bridge in the big Ivens box.
South and Middle America still play a very minor role, noticeable is however the appearance of Humberto Mauro in the late 20s, you can Brasa Dormida subbed in the back channels.
Asia also doesn’t yet play a major role. The Chinese film industry is small and primitive, you can get Romance of a Western Chamber as a first taste on DVD. India’s best known 20s films were made by the German Franz Osten, you can get Throw of Dice from the BFI and Prem Sanyas was shown on TV. The biggest Asian film industry is naturally Japan’s, but its output has been lamentably bad preserved. The by far most famous director is Teinosuke Kinugasa whose Kurutta Ippeji you have to try to see even if the available copies look crappy, there’s also his Jujiro floating around subbed and good looking. From Yasujiro Ozu his only complete surviving eligible feature is Days of Youth at least on DVD, while Kenji Mizoguchi‘s Song of Home is floating around. A Japanese talking silents series made with benshi recordings offers us at least the famous Orochi by Futagawa and Jirokichi the Rat by Daisuke Ito on legitimate DVDs. Souls of the Road is also a famous film and like Undying Pearl by Hiroshi Shimizu floating around, but generally it‘s a pity that this rich heritage was reduced to the current state.
Last edited by lubitsch on Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:56 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#2 Post by knives » Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:50 pm

Don't forget that Stiller's Erotikon and The Saga of Gosta Berling which are both worth at least a watch.
I'll point out a few favorites later, but I do wonder if we're doing Swapsies this round?

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Tommaso
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#3 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:16 pm

Excellent introductory post, Lubitsch! I didn't think we're starting the 20s list discussion so immediately after the pre-20s one. I will certainly read this thread and comment on those films I already know, but otherwise, I think I need a little break at the moment. I want to reduce my kevyip of old German talkies.... ;)

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reno dakota
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 11:30 am

Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#4 Post by reno dakota » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:31 pm

lubitsch wrote: King Vidor found a way of alternating personal films and those made for the studio, but again Warner lets us down at the moment so we can neither buy The Big Parade nor The Crowd and other films like Wild Oranges, Wine of Youth, The Jack-Knife Man, La Boheme and The Patsy are also only floating around in TV recordings. The lost Bardelys the Magnificent is the only silent on legitimate pressed DVD at the moment while his first sound film the all black cast Hallelujah is the first legitimate DVD release from Warner.
I think it's worth mentioning that Wild Oranges, La Boheme and The Patsy are available through Warner Archive (and, for those in the US, they can be rented from ClassicFlix), while The Crowd is available on an R0 disc from Bo Ying. If anyone would like help finding The Crowd, send me a PM.

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swo17
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#5 Post by swo17 » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:40 pm

These films show up every so often on TCM as well. The Big Parade is scheduled to air on Aug 24, and I have recent airings of The Crowd and La Bohème stored on my DVR.

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reno dakota
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#6 Post by reno dakota » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:54 pm

And Lubitsch's great The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg is coming up Aug. 12 on TCM.

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zedz
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#7 Post by zedz » Thu Jun 03, 2010 4:30 pm

The 1920s are a completely different beast than the Early Cinema period, simply because there’s so much more out there and there’s likely to be much less overlap with our viewing. I also expect that my own list is going to be much less volatile, simply because there’s already so much in there to be dislodged.

So I thought I’d identify a few films that might be easily overlooked or hard to get and some which, as far as I know, are not available at all (like, you know, legally). Inevitably, there’s going to be some overlap with lubitsch’s compendious first post. All of these will be on my list, unless they aren’t.

UNDER A BUSHEL

Coeur fidele (Jean Epstein) – Epstein’s films are all scarce as hen’s teeth, with even the highly esteemed Fall of the House of Usher now OOP I believe, but he’s one of the great unknown filmmakers of the 20s and 30s. This invigorating gem is available on a fine DVD from France. No subs, as I recall, but easy enough to follow, and at least intertitles allow you to pause and translate.

Days of Youth (Ozu) – His earliest surviving feature, a great, stylistically energetic comedy in the Harold Lloyd vein. Not yet announced for any of the BFI double features, but almost certainly in the pipeline. In the meantime, it’s available cheap, subbed and not too bad from Panorama (Hong Kong).

Walking from Munich to Berlin (Fischinger) – Stunning one-of-a-kind condensed record of the titular journey. It’s like nothing else he – or anybody else, really – ever made. Other shards of wonder from one of the greatest filmmaking geniuses ever are available on the same disc, available from CVM.

The Chess Player (Bernard) – Considering how Wooden Crosses seems to be the major revelation of Criterion’s entire Eclipse venture, this already-available Bernard is a must-see.

There It Is (Bowers) – Pure dada comedy, unbelievably bizarre. Yet another reason not to miss the Treasures from American Archives sets – but you’ve already got them, right?

The Chechahcos (Moomaw) – And here’s another reason. An early frontier epic with no big names attached but plenty to recommend it, not least what seems to me to be a loving, supportive gay relationship in all but name at its centre (Ruth does indeed have two daddies).

Tusalava (Lye) – Along with Fischinger, probably the most visionary animation of the decade. Rather crappy version here, but it’s better than nothing.


OFF THE MAP

As in every era, there are any number of films just as moving, accomplished and innovative as the acknowledged classics but which have been, for the moment, screwed over by posterity.

Exhibit A: Maldone (Gremillon) – And this may just be the tip of the iceberg with silent Gremillon. It was a great relief to see those silent Renoirs come out from Lionsgate a few years ago but this film, in a similar vein, is an even bigger deal, and serves also as an anticipation of Vigo.

Exhibit B: Lonesome (Fejos) – Sunrise is a shoo-in, of course, but this film, practically an astral twin, will probably have to struggle to make the list. In some lights, on some days, I even prefer it to the Murnau. It’s certainly one of the greatest last-gasp silent American films.

In both cases, considerations of quality don’t come into it: it’s availability, pure and simple, that’s marginalised these films. Some more:

Finis Terrae (Epstein) – Another Epstein masterpiece with lots of raw, lyrical open air / open sea footage.

A Page of Madness (Kinugasa) – One of the wildest experimental features of the decade. It’s so innovative and just plain weird I can’t figure out why nobody has bothered to get it out on DVD yet.

He Who Gets Slapped (Sjostrom) – For my money, this Chaney vehicle is even better than Sjostrom’s The Wind, an uncommonly dark film for Hollywood in any era.

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movielocke
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#8 Post by movielocke » Thu Jun 03, 2010 4:39 pm

My Best Girl is one of the most surprising films of this decade I've seen. I didn't expect much more than an average Pickford vehicle, but this was a beautifully filmed story and easily her best film. It's witty and charming with lovely cinematography and great performances.

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antnield
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#9 Post by antnield » Thu Jun 03, 2010 4:50 pm

Some additions to the main list, all of which are available on UK discs (someone else will have to confirm as to whether they appear on US/other editions) excluding the last couple...

- Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) can be found on the four-disc edition of the '59 version of Ben Hur.
- Renoir's Sur un air de Charleston (1927) and Le Petite marchande d'allumettes (1928) - the latter being astonishing to my mind - can both be found on Optimum's special edition of La Grande illusion.
- Grierson's Drifters (1929) is available in a fine edition from Panamint, taken from the BFI's print.
- The Skeleton Dance (1929) can be found on Disney's Silly Symphonies collection.
- Adrian Brunel's British comedy short Cut It Out (1925) features on the BFI's Silent Britain disc.
- Die Elf Teufel (1927) and Der Konig der Mittelsturmer (1927) are available from Edition Filmmuseum.
- The Edition Filmmuseum release of Borzage's The River also includes three of his 1920s Western shorts in which the director also stars.

...and I don't recall seeing mention of Un Chien Andalou in that list, though maybe I just missed it.

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Gregory
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#10 Post by Gregory » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:12 pm

Don't forget the Becoming Charley Chase set, which I think was left out last round as well.
I didn't see any mention of Criterion's Painlevé set, which includes some '20s films.
Finally, Pabst's Der Schatz was released by Arthaus.

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myrnaloyisdope
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#11 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:17 pm

I can't praise Lonesome enough, it almost manages to out-crowd The Crowd as portrait of everyday life. A marvelous film.

Applause is the first great talking picture and the Kino DVD is among the best they've every put out. It's a film that shatters every myth about the staticness of talkies. A remarkable film.

My Best Girl is Pickford's best film, and features the beautiful photography of Charles Rosher (who also did Sunrise).

Track down all the Vidor's if you can, they are all interesting and often veer into greatness. I will be very pleasantly surprised if anything tops The Crowd on my list. So see that one, but make sure you see The Big Parade, and Show People at the very least.

Marion Davies work is worth tracking down, as she had a really nice run of comedies in the second half of the 20's, The Red Mill and The Patsy are both superb, and on the Warner's Archive. I'll throw in a good word for The Fair Co-Ed, which features Davies doing a better Willian Haines than Haines does, as a spoiled star basketball player who learns humility in the end.

If you watch Wings be sure to watch it with the Carl Davis score it makes all the difference turning it from meh to masterful.

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lubitsch
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#12 Post by lubitsch » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:43 pm

antnield wrote:- Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) can be found on the four-disc edition of the '59 version of Ben Hur.
](*,) ](*,) ](*,)
I spent many, many hours for this list and I have a year by year film list of features I made for my private use and unfortunately didn't wait until I have tomorrow access to my film archive list again which includes all kind of shorts like avantgarde and animation, so I forgot some shorts like Disney or Tusalava or Chien andalou, but one has also to forget at least one biggie feature when trying to sort the films in groups, why not Ben Hur :oops: :oops: :oops: ? I will correct the list in the next few days, I know the Warner archive titles aren't listed yet, but I will not list every film available, there are too many commercial run of the mill films available especially from the USA.

Folks try to balance your viewings and explore as much as you can. If you remember certain films really well, better don't revisit them. Even if you have more than 180 days, you'll never make even half the list, don't waste time. I've seen 521 silent features not counting anything shorter than 40 minutes, so better start going, Tommaso watch your 30s features for the next list [-X or I'll keep Der Feuerteufel for myself.

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Tommaso
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#13 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:14 pm

As ever the hard taskmaster. But I'll do my very best to watch the 30s features for the next one, and I'll make it through the German kevyip until the end of the year for sure. But then I will need someone who will assist me in clamouring for those largely unknown Hochbaums, Wysbars, and Schünzels (for example). ;) I must reactivate Serdar for this at the very least, but that's all far away in the future.

I'm only happy that not too many of the European 20s films you list are unseen by me, though I have to acknowledge some sore gaps especially if it comes to my watching of American films.

If you're going to amend your initial post anyway, you might add Hamo Beknasaryan's "Na mus" (1928), one of the very few comparatively easily available Armenian silents (it was shown on arte a while ago), and a pretty impressive one it is.

And then there's Roberto Roberti's beautiful "Napoli che canta" (1926), about which I posted a long time ago here. I'll probably sing its praises again later in this thread.

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knives
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#14 Post by knives » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:17 pm

Are there any Asian or Japanese films avaliable. That's easily my biggest blindspot in this whole mess. I'm going try to see at four a week for this thing even if that isn't enough. Officially starting tomorrow with the new Metropolis resto (how have I never seen this)
myrnaloyisdope wrote: Track down all the Vidor's if you can, they are all interesting and often veer into greatness. I will be very pleasantly surprised if anything tops The Crowd on my list. So see that one, but make sure you see The Big Parade, and Show People at the very least.
Admittedly I've only seen The Big Parade and The Patsy with Vidor, but i don't see what the hubbub is all about. Outside the prolouge there's enough good to great things in parade for me to see why someone would be attracted to that, though I find it's '30s knockoffs to be better. The Patsy though I could explain my displeasure with easily though. Not only is it unfunny to me, a very subjective thing I realize, but the jokes hinge on the dumbest pop culture references. Worse than all of that though is how loathsome the lead is. She nearly gets a man arrested for rape just so another man will sleep with her. I don't care if it's in the name of humour that's despicable.
If I am airing my dirty laundry like this I suppose I should bring up The Last Laugh, which is the only Murnau I haven't liked. It's not really because of him I dislike it, the looming buildings after he steals the uniform for example is perfect, but rather because of the lead character. I have a serious problem with being told to pity a character, especially when they don't deserve it. The genius of Umberto D. for example is that we are only asked to understand why the character is rather than being told that we must cry tears for him. It's not even like the door man has it so bad. We're never told that his pay is being reduced and it is shown quite clearly that he isn't as strong as the job asks for anymore. So unless he pay got a reduction, which I don't believe, it seems terrible of the director to tell us is needs pity. I'd leave that up to personal taste though if it weren't for the ending which is so horrendous and defeating of the movie's purpose that the film all but admits that.
God I needed to get that off my chest, I promise that after the inevitable backlash I'll compliment a few films.

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myrnaloyisdope
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#15 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:34 pm

I have a serious problem with being told to pity a character, especially when they don't deserve it.

How does Murnau tell you to pity the character? He sure doesn't do it with the intertitles. I think it's important to empathize with Jannings' portrayal rather than simply pity him. His self worth is not built out of money, nor his humiliation derived from a lack of it. He's an immensely proud man whose entire sense of self is built out of his position and symbolically his uniform. Without the uniform he is nothing, so his life is shattered by the loss of position, and when his neighbors find out well it's more humiliation than he can take.

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knives
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#16 Post by knives » Thu Jun 03, 2010 8:19 pm

When I say being told I mean the camera's own empathy and how it frames the door man throughout. The visuals, I think there are only one or two Intertitles in the whole film, do the talking for the director. I simply can't feel pity or even empathy for something who goes on a suicidal mission over a pathetic loss of pride. There are worst things out there than scrubbing toilets/ being the towel man such as unemployment. He's not starving and if he can't handle insults from a few idiots I can't emphasize.

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Dr Amicus
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#17 Post by Dr Amicus » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:09 am

Just to add that this wonderful site, so helpful last round, has a handful of relevant films this time - including 3 features. I haven't watched any myself yet, but they're free so that's a big help.

And don't forget the 1925 Wizard of Oz, on the old 3 disc DVD and the recent Blu-Ray.

Also - can we have guidance from people as to the best / most useful editions of certain films out there? For example - as a starter. what's the best version of Man With A Movie Camera?

I've already reserved my No. 50 slot for Gus Visser and His Singing Duck, 90 seconds of genius that can be found on the second Treasures set. I think just about everybody who has been round to my house has this inflicted on shown to them - and their reactions are (if you've seen the film) as you might expect.

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antnield
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#18 Post by antnield » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:21 am

For example - as a starter. what's the best version of Man With A Movie Camera?
The BFI's 2008 re-issue of the Michael Nyman-scored edition certainly looks the best of the various discs I've seen, but unfortunately misses the alternate scores and Yuri Tsivian commentary found on their original disc from 2000 or 2001. I'm not entirely sure if the commentary track can be found on any other discs, but it's one of the best academic tracks I've heard (see also his video commentary for the BFI edition of the three Bauer shorts, 'Mad Love'.)

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swo17
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#19 Post by swo17 » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:30 am

Dr Amicus wrote:Also - can we have guidance from people as to the best / most useful editions of certain films out there? For example - as a starter. what's the best version of Man With A Movie Camera?
The Alloy Orchestra score, while occasionally annoying, fits the rhythm of the film very well, and was apparently based on Vertov's notes. You can find it on the US Image release or the original BFI release (which doesn't have great PQ, unfortunately). There is also a Kino release and a newer BFI release with a score by Michael Nyman. Can anyone recommend this? (I love Nyman!)

Also, for Dr. Caligari, I definitely prefer the US Image release, with less extreme tinting and an excellent score by Timothy Brock, even though the Kino has better picture quality in some respects.

Now, what is the best version of Napoleon? I've only seen the Coppola-ized VHS version.
Last edited by swo17 on Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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myrnaloyisdope
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#20 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:35 am

Now, what is the best version of Napoleon? I've only seen the Coppola-ized VHS version.
There is a 6 hour version that compiled by Kevin Brownlow featuring Carl Davis' score. It's the most complete version that exists, although give Brownlow another 20 years and he can probably dig up even more. So be sure to watch that one, it's floating around out there.

There is a 4 hour version that is available on DVD in Spain and Australia that features a Carl Davis score, but with the 6 hour version it is obsolete unless you are a stickler for having an official DVD.

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Dr Amicus
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#21 Post by Dr Amicus » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:37 am

swo17 wrote:There is also a Kino release and a newer BFI release with a score by Michael Nyman. Can anyone recommend this? (I love Nyman!)
Sky Arts in the UK has shown this edition - and I seem to remember the score was pretty goodm, if perhaps not outstanding. I saw the film at the Duke of Yorks in Brighton about 10 years back - and that had a live score by (I think) In The Nursery, which was a revelation. It turned the film around for me from a set text I'd always fallen asleep to into a genuinely remarkable piece of work. Also, I was 10 years older and in a decent cinema...

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swo17
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#22 Post by swo17 » Fri Jun 04, 2010 12:00 pm

Hmmm... And I loved In the Nursery's work for the Mitchell & Kenyon films. Is there any DVD release that includes the In the Nursery score besides the original BFI release?

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Tommaso
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#23 Post by Tommaso » Fri Jun 04, 2010 1:23 pm

Yes, the German release from arte edition (NOT the French one!) has the ITN score, plus Michael Nyman and another one. And I fully support Dr. Amicus here: the film becomes a totally different beast with that music and morphes into an almost transcendent experience. But "Man with a camera" is such a fascinating film that every new score reveals new aspects of it, still I think you cannot live without ITN in this case.

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Dr Amicus
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#24 Post by Dr Amicus » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:34 pm

Just to clarify - I can't swear it was ITN I saw back in 1999/ 2000, but I've just checked their website and it ties in with the dates so it was probably them.

So if anyone can verify if it was ITN at the Duke of Yorks at that time, that would be good.

So then - Arte disc it is...

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Tommaso
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Re: 1920s List Discussion and Suggestions

#25 Post by Tommaso » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:38 pm

Yep. And if you can understand German, you can even enjoy a great 90 min.-documentary on Vertov as a bonus.

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