Ritrovato returns, in situ, live….and it was great to be back. Bologna itself, the food, the weather…all were heaven. But the reason we go to Bologna at this time of of the year is the films, the quality of the prints, the restorations, the way they are programmed and projected, and the conversations that take place around the screenings. In this episode, offered as vodcast and podcast, we discuss the new booking system and the different strands of the programme: 100 Years Ago, Peter Lorre, Sophia Loren, Hugo Fregonese, Weimar Musicals , some of the restorations (El, Ludwig, La Maman et la Putain, Shoeshine, Nosferatu etc) and — in less detail — Yugoslavian Cinema and Cinema Libero. We couldn’t do it all. We wish we could have. The wonderful Pamela Hutchinson heroically resurfaced from her COVID sickbed to lend us her intelligence, knowledge and good humour and to helps us make sense of a cinephile experience that can easily overwhelm. This is the first of four podcast on Ritrovato. We will return with more extended discussions on Hugo Fregonese, Sophia Loren, Peter Lorre and an extended discussion of Erich von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives.
I have spent all day experimenting with titles and dissolves and I thought it might be a good idea to focus them on star entrances, that delightful trope where stars are given a moment in film, like a little bow, a bit of sparkle to delight the audience who has paid money to see them. Star entrances usually fulfil a double function: the delight of recognition as spectacle but also the moment of introducing the star as the character they will play in the film. This type of entrance was a staple of the classic period and became a trope of 1970s all-star films such as The Cassandra Crossing or Murder on The Orient Express or The Towering Inferno or the like.
I’ve put up the initial credit sequence above so you can see a kind of homology between the actors who are top-billed, in this case Richard Harris and Sophia Loren, but whose entrance gets delayed to the end of the sequence, and how the film in fact presents the star entrances. There are those who receive special billing at the end that nonetheless underlines their significance — in this instance Burt Lancaster — but who makes the first star entrance and is given a similar amount of time to Sophia, who is top billed, is given more time than anybody but is presented last.
The ordering of these I’m sure have been as carefully weighed as a vaudeville program of yesteryear. Ava Gardner is magnificently displayed on her own; Ingrid Thulin is rendered significant by the close-ups and the authority of the character she plays but appears into a group. Of the others, John Phillip Law, Martin Sheen merely appear and are barely noticed; others still are given more space than their names and careers would normally have warranted (Ray Lovelock, Anne Turkel), whilst the significance of others still (Lee Strasberg, O.J. Simpson) will be well known to those who grew up in the seventies but might bewilder younger viewers. I hope that seeing the credit sequence above in relation to the star entrances below — presented in order of appearance — will be delightful and instructive, ie maybe have fun and get some idea.