Tag Archives: Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Thinking Aloud About Film: Stella Dallas (Henry King, USA, 1925)

In the accompanying podcast, we discuss the latest in the series of magnificent Film Foundation Screenings, the 1925 version of STELLA DALLAS directed by Henry King and restored by MOMA. It’s a glorious experience to see a film now almost 100 years old, looking brand new, probably seeing it in a better condition than most audiences would have seen it upon first release, particularly if they didn’t live in major metropolitan centres. The quality of the image, the toning, the tinting: it’s a sensuous joy. We also praise the film itself. It’s a work that continues to move. We compare it to two later versions: King Vidor’s 1937 film with Barbara Stanwyck and John Erman’s 1990 version with Bette Midler. We discuss the treatment of class in all three films. José argues for the superiority of the 1937 version and praises Stanwyck and the extraordinary last shot of that film. That aside, we also discuss why we love this marvellous silent film, praised as a masterpiece when it first came out and then sidelined as a mere ‘woman’s film’ for many generations.

An experience greatly enhanced by Stephen Horne’s wonderful score, orchestrated by Ben Palmer.

The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT

and on itunes here: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/first-impressions-thinking-aloud-about-film/id1548559546

Support materials for the film screening, including an introduction by Gina Telaroli, interviews with film critics such as David Kehr etc, may be accessed here here: https://delphiquest.com/film-foundation/restoration-screening-room/stella-dallas?fbclid=IwAR2CdlBDagS0zPCFNiUI0S7SHkN0Cqaxb4RzUT8Ms944SPHrt4QG-Sq0gN8

The ending of the 1937 version of Stella Dallas:




José Arroyo

Hollywood Home Movies From The Academy Film Archive (USA, 1931-1970)

Hollywood Home Movies From The Academy Film Archive (USA, 1931-1970)

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Il Cinema Ritrovato showcased a program of home movies donated to The Academy Film Archive and, in this instance, narrated live by Michael Pogorzelski, who told us where these movies came from (Fred McMurray, Douglas Fairbanks Jr’s estate, etc.) and who was in them (the audience sometimes seemed to know more than Pogorzelski). The collection of short home movies was exciting to see because these people figure in our pasts, sometimes in an intimate way, so this was a way of making part of their private life intersect with part of ours.

It was wonderful to see Randolph Scott gently stroke Cary Grant’s shoulder in a the way familiar to anyone who’s ever been in a couple, as a gesture, tender but proprietary, that only established couples do to let the other know they’re there, besides them, and that they are thinking of them, with love. And perhaps to let others know to buzz off – that person’s taken, mine. That gesture did more to convince me of something between those two, than all the gossip I’ve heard and photos I’ve seen thus far.

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I loved seeing: Marlene Dietrich and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. pretending to be Tyrolean peasants in their huge mansion-size ‘little cottage’ whilst changing into dozens of outfits; Cary Grant, more handsome than I’ve ever seen with practically no upper lip and a lower lip three times the size of anyone I know, on the set of Gunga Din; some rare colour footage of Carole Lombard, always the liveliest and most beautiful person in any film she graces, including these home movies; Fred McMurray’s home movies, in three-strip technicolor, and showing him as the athletic and handsome leading man he was but that can be so difficult to detect in some of his films, particularly the later ones, or for that generation of people who grew up with him as a Disney star or as the father in My Three Sons. Also who knew he was a blond?

I adored also the footage of one of Hearst’s 1930s parties, all of the stars on their best behaviour, like at the boss’ house, and pretending to enjoy the prank of a shaft of air being wooshed up lady’s dresses from below. Marilyn was to be shown enjoying a heightened and eroticised version of this two decades later in The Seven Year Itch. But practically every ‘30s star you care to mention is shown here in that very human contradiction of being extremely annoyed and trying to have the good manners not to show it, particularly to someone who’s got power over one’s job. It felt a privilege to have been able to see these films.

José Arroyo