Monday, May 7, 2018

Il Cinema Ritrovato XXXII: The Cinema of John M Stahl


IMMORTAL IMITATIONS: THE CINEMA OF JOHN M STAHL
Programme curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht

Concealed identities, troubled yet enduring love affairs, tragic destinies assuaged by altruism and sacrifice... The films of John M Stahl treat familiar subjects and themes with a striking sense of fluency and directness. Favouring a certain bareness and modernity in both feeling and style, Stahl's work has proved to have a lasting emotional power despite earlier critical neglect.

In collaboration with The Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Il Cinema Ritrovato revisits the work of this master of melodrama, and one of American cinema's unsung auteurs. The silent The Woman Under Oath (1919) will be screened in Bologna as a warm-up to a larger retrospective in Pordenone, which will include the majority of Stahl's surviving silents (1917-27). Our overview of Stahl's career during the sound years, noted for its 'audacity' by critic Andrew Sarris, covers both his features made for Universal Pictures, as well as lesser known but equally captivating films made for 20th Century Fox. In both cases one discovers many shades in the work of a single artist, from bright and comic to dark and fatalistic.



The films in the programme, starting from the morning of June 24, are:


  • The Woman Under Oath (1919) 35mm [June 25, introduced by Pamela Hutchinson]
  • Seed (1931) 35mm  [June 26, introduced by Imogen Sara Smith]
  • Imitation of Life (1934) 35mm [restored] [June 24 & 25, introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht]
  • When Tomorrow Comes (1939) 35mm  [June 27 & 28]
  • Immortal Sergeant (1943) 35mm  [June 28]
  • Holy Matrimony (1943) 35mm  [June 29 in the evening and the morning of June 30]
  • Leave Her to Heaven (1945) 35mm/DCP [June 29 & 30, the latter at night] [Please note that only the first screening of the film is from a vintage 35mm copy and the 2nd screening will be from a restored DCP. Do catch the first one!]


Programme notes by: Jeremy Arnold, Charles Barr, Pamela Hutchinson, Ehsan Khoshbakht, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Imogen Sara Smith.

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