Monday, May 7, 2018

Il Cinema Ritrovato XXXII: 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 [date TBC, possibly June 25]
  • Seed (1931) 35mm  [date TBC, possibly June 26]
  • Imitation of Life (1934) 35mm [restored] [date TBC, possibly June 24]
  • When Tomorrow Comes (1939) 35mm  [date TBC, possibly June 27]
  • Immortal Sergeant (1943) 35mm  [date TBC, possibly June 28]
  • Holy Matrimony (1943) 35mm  [date TBC, possibly June 30]
  • Leave Her to Heaven (1945) DCP [restored]  [date TBC, possibly June 29]

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

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