Wednesday 18 August 2021

The Lady of the Harem (Raoul Walsh, 1926)

Hollywood Orientalism involving Iran#1: The Lady of the Harem

A lost silent from 1926, produced by Paramount, directed by Raoul Walsh.

"Jesse L. Lasky announced that The Lady of the Harem has been selected as the title for the Paramount picture which, under the working title of "The Golden Journey," Raoul Walsh has just made from James Elroy Flecker's play Hassan. The new title is considered exceptionally appropriate, as the story deals largely with the lavish harem of the Caliph of Khorasan, Persia, during the twelfth century. 

"Featuring Ernest Torrence, Greta Nissen, William Collier, Jr., and Louise Fazenda," said Mr. Laskey, "The Lady of the Harem will be one of the most colorful and sensational pictures ever produced by this company. Mr. Walsh, who directed The Wanderer and The Thief of Bagdad has filled  this new spectacle with all the colorful atmosphere of the East and I am confident that this production will receive an even  greater reception than was accorded The Wanderer." [From Moving Pictures, 1926]

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Il Cinema Ritrovato 2021: Favourites & Discoveries

Il Cinema Ritrovato 2021 ended last week, on an uplifting note. More than 400 films and other projectionable audiovisual curiosities were shown and seen. While still in the post-festival haze, I sought the insight of some of the festival attendees on what they thought to be the essential — what was liked and cherished most, what was discovered and became a revelation.

I posed two questions on colleagues and friends who attended the festival in person: What was your absolute favourite film this year and which film turned out to be a major discovery or rediscovery at the festival. They were gracious enough to send me their picks which you can read here in alphabetical order. (Please feel free to add your favourites in the comment section of this post.) 

Some contributors have sent along some notes which I wanted to share with you. They come at the bottom of the post, marked by * (star)

You can also view this list on Letterboxd where it has been nicely compiled and illustrated by Jon M.

Monday 2 August 2021

Il Cinema Ritrovato 2021 Opening Speech (July 20)

A Place in the Sun at Arlecchino on July 25. (C) Lorenzo Burlando

Short speech made at the launch of the festival at Cinema Jolly, July 20. — EK

We are back but some of our friends are not here.

During the weeks and months that have interrupted lives, movements and careers, I found myself filming the entrances of cinemas. Those that I wasn't able to shoot myself, I asked the people who worked there to shoot for me. These images of the factory, captured at a time when no workers were to be seen leaving, was intense. 

This longest of intermissions that any of us can recall when it comes to cinema might be unique in its universality, but interruption as a cruel reality is hardly new. In fact, it's old enough to have been used many times before as an intellectual and artistic tool of reinforcement.

Through the films we are presenting this year, you'll see a history of the many possible forms of interruption which filmmakers and viewers have experienced – particularly those living and working in the 20th century. At the same time they offer a mirror to what we have felt and experienced in the recent past.