Tuesday, March 31, 2009

lillian Hall-Davis: UK Silent Screen Muse

When most people are asked to bring up 10's & 20's silent screen actresses, names such as Brooks, Pickford and Gish are the first names that come to mind. Because of the thousands of films made during the silent era, it is easy to forget the not as famous actors because of lack of film availability, interest and knowledge.

Lillian Hall-Davis is one such actress. I had the pleasure to be introduced to her work through two Alfred Hitchcock British International Picture films The Ring (1927) and The Farmers Wife (1928). Something about Lillian's presence in both films that make two rather standard 20's films into something enjoyable. Like Setsuka Hara in The Idiot and No Regrets for Our Youth, lillian's very being and presence in The Ring and The Farmer's Wife speaks more volumes than any screenwriter could write into a script and elevates both films to another level.

There is something very real about how she connects and projects to the viewer. Lillian's beauty is honest and was not lost behind lighting and costumes, a Alfred Hitchcock trademark even in 1920's.

Born London , England in 1898 Lillian first film was in 1917 in a feature called La P'tite du Sixieme and her last role 1931's Many Waters. Two years later on October 25th 1933 at the age of 35, Lillian killed herself.

I rarely collect actors filmography but I would like to see more of Lillian's films, as I have a feeling I'm going to find some forgotten gems of this great actress. I hope in time we can hold her name and films in higher esteem to even the most casual film fan.

Friday, March 27, 2009

www.Maopost.com: Serve the people with all my heart.

How can you not love Chinese posters from the 50's through 80's? www.maopost.com has 1600 examples listed on their website with one I have pictured above (from 1966). With mottos like "I serve everyone, and everyone serves me." and "Conduct propaganda in the field." how can you not feel motivated! All kidding aside these posters feature some of the finest oil paintings I've ever seen but sadly many of these artist will never be known. Maopost even has original posters for sale that I believe are very reasonable prices considering how rare they must be outside of China. If you are and artist or appreciate art, take some time out and visit their site, they are good people!

Not Made in the USA!

I am always trying to collect and watch the entire filmographies of my favorite directors. Sometimes this is an easy feat but it is amazing to see what films have not been released on DVD in our beloved region 1. Here is a short list of films I am waiting to be released on Region 1 to complete my filmography collection:

Alfred Hitchcock:

I love B.I.P Hitchcock and quite a few are still not available:

1925 The Pleasure Garden:
The UK has a DVD release but Hitchcock's first film is still unavailable stateside

1927 Downhill
1929 Blackmail Silent
1929 Blackmail Sound
Typical of the era some films made in both sound and silent. While the sound version of Blackmail is a mainstay of various budget collections the silent version, that some critics say is better, is unavailable.

1930 Murder!
1930 Mary –(German Version of Murder)
Using a different set of actors, Hitchcock directed a German version of Murder that is not available in the USA.

1930 Elstree Calling (Unavailable in the US / co-directed revue)
1934 Waltzes from Vienna (unavailable in US)

Francis Ford Coppola

1966 You're a Big Boy Now
1969 The Rain People
The film Coppola made before The Godfather has not had a DVD release yet.
1989 New York Story- Wide screen please!

Frank Capra

A bulk of Capra's late 20's early 30's films have not been released on DVD. I'm not sure how many of these are shorts or lost films as 1928 alone has 10 entries. The Donovan Affair sounds great! I would love to see it....

1928 So This Is Love? (unavailable)
1928 The Way of the Strong (unavailable)
1928 Say It with Sables (Unavailable)
1928 Submarine (unavailable)
1928 The Power of the Press (Unavailable)
1928 The Way of the Strong (Unavailable)
1928 The Burgler (unavailble)
1929 The Younger Generation (unavailable)
1929 The Donovan Affair (unavailable)
1929 Flight (unavailable)
1930 Ladies of Leisure (unavailable)
1930 Rain or Shine (unavailable)
1931 Dirigible (unavailable)
1931 The Miracle Woman (unavailable)
1932 Forbidden (unavailable)
1932 The Bitter Tea of General Yen (unavailable)

Fritz Lang:

1919 Harakiri aka Madame Butterfly

While a bulk of Lang's German films are available, his second film hasn't been released. I'm not sure if it's because it's lost or not.

Jean-Luc Godard

Focusing on his pre 1968 films only four are not available, I'm sure it's a matter of time that somebody like Criterion releases the rest although some of these have been released but are now out of print. His 70's and 80's films is another story...


(Update 4-23-09: Criterion will be releasing the following in June:
1966 MADE IN U.S.A. (Criterion)

More on this later!

Michelangelo Antonioni

Red Desert please!

1952 I vinti (The Vanquished, 1952) No US
1953 La signora senza camelie (The Lady Without Camelias No US
1964 Il deserto rosso (The Red Desert Unavailable in the US
1972 Chung Kuo (China, 1972) No US
1981 Il mistero di Oberwald (The Mystery of Oberwald, 1981) NoUS
1982 Identificazione di una donna (Identification of a Woman) NoUS
1995 Beyond the Clouds Unavailable in the USA

Ralph Balkshi

1975 Coonskin-
1982 Hey Good Lookin'
1992 Cool World-although Just taken out of print, many are still available.