VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

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VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby feaito » Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:53 pm

Once in the glorious days of the TCM Boards, I created a thread concerning this topic (which fascinates and intrigues me) and I want to re-create it here, especially since we have people from Europe like Christine and Movieman, who may have some information regarding this subject.

Has anyone had the opportunity of watching alternate versions of early thirties (1930-1935) American movies in other languages?

Garbo's first talkie "Anna Christie" (1930) was filmed simultaneously in German (and I have read that in Swedish too) and luckily the German version was released on DVD (for all to see) jointly with the original version in English. Some find the film in German superior to the original. What do you think? I liked it very much and I recall that it has an Expressionistic look and atmosphere than differentiates it from the movie in English.

I've also seen the 1931 Spanish languague version of the classic "Dracula", which Universal included in the DVD edition of Lugosi's Classic and that is quite remarkable and different from the original. For example, the female vampires are dressed in a much sexier way than their American counterparts.

Lubitsch's Chevalier-MacDonald operettas "One Hour With You" (1932) (Paramount) and "The Merry Widow"(1934) (MGM), were simultaneously filmed with French supporting casts as "Une Heure Prés de Toi" and "La Veuve Joyeuse", respectively. I'd love to see them. Maybe Christine can give us light on the existence of these treasures.

Other Paramount-Chevalier films which have French versions (simultaneously filmed) are: "Playboy of Paris" (1930), in which he starred opposite Frances Dee, filmed as "Le Petit Café" with his wife Yvonne Vallée; "The Big Pond" (1930) and "The Smiling Lieutenant" (1931), in both of which he starred opposite Claudette Colbert, were filmed with the same leading lady as "Le Grande Mer" and "Le Lieutenant Souriant"; "The Way To Love" (1933), in which he starred opposite Ann Dvorak, was filmed as "L'Amour Guide" with Jacqueline Francelle.

Also, Chevalier's 1935 20th Century/United Artists film "Folies Bergére de Paris", in which he acted opposite Merle Oberon and Ann Sothern, was filmed as "L'Homme des Folies Bergére" with Natalie Paley and Sim Viva.

Even Paramount's "Slightly Scarlet" (1930), starring Evelyn Brent and Clive Brook was filmed in French as "L'Enigmatique Mr. Parkes", starring Claudette Colbert and Adolphe Menjou, and in Spanish as "Amor Audaz" with Menjou and Rosita Moreno.

I have some written information about the subject, even a couple of books, but sadly, I haven't seen any of these early-simultaneously-filmed-versions, except for the two films I mentioned in the beginning, and I don't know if they are still extant.

"The Doctor's Secret" (1929)(Paramount), starring Ruth Chatterton, H.B. Warner and John Loder, had simultaneous Spanish, French, Italian, Swedish and Czech versions, all with different casts!!!!. Even, John Gilbert's great failure, "His Glorious Night" (1930) (MGM) had simultaneous French, Spanish and German versions.

By the way, Paramount had a Studio in Joinville (in France) were many of these versions (in French, Polish, German et al) were made.

MGM's 1930 hit "The Big House", which was discussed in another thread, had Spanish, German, Italian and French alternate versions and in the French version, titled "Révolte dans la Prison", Chester Morris' role was played by then unknown Charles Boyer.

Norma Shearer's "Let Us Be Gay" (1930) was filmed a "Soyons Gais" with Lili Damita in the role.

Laurel & Hardy's following MGM shorts were filmed in other languages, in which they spoke those languages phonetically:

-1930- "Night Owls" was filmed as "Ladrones" (Spanish) and "I Ladroni" (Italian)
-1930- "Blotto"was filmed as "La Vida Nocturna" (Spanish) and "Une Nuite Extravagante" (French)
-1930- "Below Zero" was filmed as "Tiembla y Titubea" (Spanish)
-1930- "Hog Wild" was filmed as "Radiomanía" (Spanish) and "Pêle-Mêle" (French)
-1930- "The Laurel & Hardy Murder Case" was filmed as "Noche de Duendes" or "Deudos y Duendes" (Spanish), "Feu Mon Oncle" (French) and "Der Spuk Um Mitternacht" (German)
-1931- "Pardon Us" was filmed as "De Bote en Bote" (Spanish), "Sous les Verrous" (French), "Hinter Schloss und Riegel" (German) and "Muraglie" (Italian)
-1930- "Be Big" (1930) and "Laughing Gravy" (1930) were filmed as "Los Calaveras" (Spanish) and "Les Carottiers" (French)
-1931- "Chickens Come Home" was filmed as "Politiquerías" (Spanish)

Even Fox Studios had some of their films filmed in other languages and in Germany, UFA Studios filmed Lilian Harvey's musicals in German, English and French.

Has anyone seen any of these or other simultaneously filmed versions of Hollywood films? Do you think some of them could still exist in the European countries in which they released?

I know that most of the titles in Spanish were released in many Latin-American Spanish speaking countries, but except for some Laurel & Hardy titles, which I know still exist at least in Argentina, I don't know what happened to the rest of them.
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby Ann Harding » Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:28 am

feaito wrote:Lubitsch's Chevalier-MacDonald operettas "One Hour With You" (1932) (Paramount) and "The Merry Widow"(1934) (MGM), were simultaneously filmed with French supporting casts as "Une Heure Prés de Toi" and "La Veuve Joyeuse", respectively. I'd love to see them. Maybe Christine can give us light on the existence of these treasures.


La Veuve Joyeuse was shown on French TV some years ago. Both Chevalier & MacDonald played in French. I remember that MacDonald's accent was rather queer.... As for One Hour With You, I do not know if the French version has been kept. :?: I have only seen the English one.

Regarding His Glorious Night, the French version sounds far more interesting: Si l'Empereur savais ça. Françoise Rosay describes the shooting in her memoirs. The screenwriter & director modified the original script to make a comedy. Though I have no idea if the film still exists.... :?

Garbo herself always said she prefered the German version of Anna Christie. It was directed by Jacques Feyder, whom she liked a lot as a director. The R1 DVD of Anna Christie contains both versions. The German version is 'grittier' and the language is more frank: Anna says plainly she was a hooker. Her clothes are also quite different, less 'glossy'.

I know also that Paramount had French studios outside Paris in the early thirties where they sometimes produced French remakes of American features. For example, The Criminal Code (1931) by Howards Hawks with Walter Huston was remade as Criminel (1932) by Jack Forrester with Harry Baur.

When I have more time, I'll have a look through a book I have which gives a lot of info on 'foreign versions'. It's a huge volume called Trans-Europe Hollywood by Dominique Lebrun and describes the career of all Europeans who emigrated to Hollywood from the beginning of cinema until nowadays.
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Postby feaito » Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:39 pm

How fantastic! :D So then, at least "La Veuve Joyeuse" still exists in France. It would be terrific if Warners released the uncensored version of "The Merry Widow" (not the cut version they put on VHS years ago), plus its French alternate version.

And Christine, it will be great to read what more can you find in that book of yours on this particular subject.

Mrs. Feyder aka Francoise Rosay also co-starred in the French versions of Norma Shearer's "The Trial of Mary Dugan" (which starred Huguette Duflos) and "Let Us Be Gay".
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Postby Ann Harding » Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:11 am

I read through my book and I found this amusing picture:
Image
All the actors of Men of the North (1930) by Hal Roach. Gilbert Roland played the Spanish & English version and André Luguet the French one.

Françoise Rosay went to Hollywood at first to accompany her husband, director Jacques Feyder. But, in the end, that Hollywood stay relaunched her career in movies. She was fluent in English and German making her perfect 'material' for the multilingual versions. She even made a picture with Buster Keaton: Buster se marie! They shot together the German version as well. She says that Buster didn't know a word of German so they placed boards with the text in phonetics for him to read! :lol: Rosay realised quickly the so-called translated text was rather slangy and a bit naughty.... He taught her all the acrobatics she was supposed to perform with him.
Image

I found a picture of Le Petit Café with Rosay (extreme right) and Chevalier:
Image

As for the Lubitsch, Une Heure Près de Toi, Lily Damita played the Tobin part:
Image

It's quite difficult to know if any of these foreign versions survives....
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Postby feaito » Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:30 pm

Thanks for posting those wonderful pictures Christine.

Lili Damita looks very modern & pretty in the last still; so different from the look she had in the previous year "Friends and Lovers".

I haven't seen very much of Francoise Rosay, but what I've seen of her I've liked a lot: "Saraband for Dead Lovers " (1948) and "September Affair" (1950). She was also cast in the French version of John Gilbert's "His Glorious Night", which was apparently better than the original.
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby feaito » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:17 am

I have just watched "La Veuve Joyeuse" (1934), sadly a very poor print. The film is very similar to the English version, but maybe even sexier; especially the scenes at Maxim's. The print runs 92 minutes aprox, which is shorter than the English version, so I bet that the one I got is not complete. In this version there's no King and Queen, they are General Achmed and his wife. General Achmed rules the country in name of the King who is a baby. I felt that the actress (Danièle Parola) who played Madame General wasn't supposed to be as dumb as Una Merkel's character was, although I'm not really sure, because my command of French is very basic and rather poor I'd say, so I did not understand much of the dialogue. It would be fantastic if a decent print of this film would be released with subs along with the original version in English.
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby feaito » Sat Jul 03, 2010 4:44 pm

Well, I had wanted to do this for some months and I finally did it yesterday: Since thanks to Christine I got a copy of the French version of Maurice Chevalier's 1935 musical "Folies Bergère de Paris" (1935) which is titled "L'Homme des Folies Bergère" (1935-36), I wanted to watch both back-to-back.

I believe that this was Chevalier's last Hollywood film from the first stage of his career and the last one that was filmed simultaneously in English and French versions (they did the same with most of his Paramount films in between 1929-1933 and with his MGM film "The Merry Widow" which I saw last WE).

I had seen Folies last year, but it was a new experience to watch it back to back with its French Version. Well it couldn't have been otherwise because I'm not fluent in French so I wouldn't have understood well the French version if I hadn't seen the English version immediately before.

The Cast is completely changed for the French Version save for Chevalier, Ferdinand Gottschalk and Barbara Leonard. Natalie Paley plays Merle Oberon's role and Sim Viva, Ann Sothern's.

First of all, the ensemble musical numbers are the same, save for the close-ups in which Ann Sothern is replaced by Sim Viva. Paley and Viva used the same gowns than Oberon and Sothern, and since Paley and Viva are thinner than the former, they don't look as well in them and it seems they weren't properly fitted for their figures.

IMO Oberon and Sothern are more beautiful than their French counterparts, but Viva has a better voice than Sothern and is as talented as her. On the other hand Paley's performance is better than Oberon's. Oberon is sexier and more exotic, but Paley has a certain regal bearing -more adequate to a Baroness- (after all she was a member of the Russian Imperial family) and gives a melancholic air to her portrayal that conveys better her frustrations over her husband’s flirtations. Oberon seems more artificial here. Ann Sothern is superb and in comedic terms surpasses Viva, who nevertheless is very talented, and as I said has a beautiful voice. Maybe Sothern has more pizzazz.

I wondered why both actresses (Paley and Viva) made so few films during their careers.

I had seen Natalie Paley in a small uncredited role as Brian Aherne’s love interest in Cukor’s “Sylvia Scarlett” (1935) and I liked her very much in it.

What is definitely different between the 2 versions is that in the French version it is implied that Baron Cassini (Chevalier), pretending to be chansonnier Eugene Charlier impersonating him (it’s a comedy of mistaken identity and errors), definitely spends the night with Baroness Cassini (Paley) ensuing a series of misunderstandings, whereas in the English version he only kisses her twice and that’s it (Production Code restrictions for the USA version? The French didn’t have that issue).

In all a most pleasant experience; the English version is still my favorite.

The film was remade twice by Fox as “That Night in Rio” (1941) and “On the Riviera”
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby Sweeney Todd » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:30 am

I have many of these alternate versions, not only of Hollywood films, but of European films as well. The practice continued sporadically much later, for instance Julien Duvivier shot two versions of "Marianne de ma jeunesse" [Marianne of My Youth], in French and German. Marianne Hold and Isabelle Pia are in both, but the two male heros are played in French by Pierre Vaneck and Gil Vidal, in German by Horst Buchholz and Udo Vioff.
Christian-Jaque also made French & German versions of his "Barbe-Bleue" [Bluebeard]. In French it was Pierre Brasseur, in German Hans Albers. Cécile Aubry and Reggie Nalder played in both.
The same director also made "Singoalla" in no less than three versions: French, Swedish, English. Viveca Lindfors was in all three, with Alf Kjellin playing the hero in Swedish & English, and Michel Auclair in French.
Bourvil and Joan Greenwood were in French (Garou-Garou, le passe-muraille) and English (Mr. Peek-a-Boo) versions of a movie directed by Jean Boyer.
The same Jean Boyer also directed "Nous irons à Monte-Carlo" in French & English; Audrey Hepburn was in both.
Edmond T. Gréville shot two versions of "Les mains d'Orlac", from the novel by Maurice Renard. The English one, "Hands of Orlac" has strictly the same cast, but is totally different.
Same thing with "Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht" by Werner Herzog. It was simultaneously shot in German and English. Curiously, especially as it was a French copro, partially played by French actors, no French version was shot. The French release was just a dubbing of the German one.
Many French-language versions were shot in England. Among them, "Le juif polonais" with Harry Baur, alternate version of "The Bells"; "La symphonie des brigands", with Françoise Rosay, alternate of "The Robber's Symphony"; "Le jugement de minuit", with Fernandel in the cast, alternate of "The Ringer", also made in German as "Der Hexer"...
Of course a lot of them were made in Germany as well. I even saw two films now considered as lost, Karl Hartl's "L'or" and "IF1 ne répond plus", respectively alternates of "Gold" and "FP1 antwortet nicht", the later also made in English as "FP1 Doesn't Answer"... I saw both in 1962, complete on 9.5mm prints. "L'opéra de quat'sous" was the alternate of "Die Dreigroschenoper", both directed by GW Pabst; "Les dieux s'amusent" was the alternate of "Aus den Wolken kommt das Glück" (aka "Amphitryon"). Jacques Feyder made German versions of both "La kermesse héroïque" and "Les gens du voyage" - respectively, "Die klugen Frauen" and "Fahrendes Volk" - Françoise Rosay was in each version. You could make an entire book on the subject, in fact.
Among the American films I have also in alternate versions are "Caravan" (the French version, "Caravane", also with Charles Boyer); "Big House", the French version of "The Big House"; and a lot of others.
Last edited by Sweeney Todd on Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby charliechaplinfan » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:05 pm

I've seen the French version of Caravane and although my French is non existent I enojyed the atomosphere far more, Boyer seemed more comfortable in his native language and Annabella seemed more at home in the part.

I'm a huge Boyer fan, Sweeney Todd, there isn't a film of his I don't like. I'm a big fan of French cinema too, as are quite a few of us as I'm sure you'll find out. Do you have a favourite time period for French cinema? I know we're a little off topic on the thread but it happens often with some of us.
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby Sweeney Todd » Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:44 pm

My favourite time period for French cinema is from the early talkies to the beginning of the Sixties, with some exceptions of course. I was born in 1940 and started to watch movies in Paris in the mid-Fifties, most of the time I was alone. I mean, with some friends of my age, I was going to local movie theaters (by local, I mean located in my suburb, Aubervilliers, and the next one, Pantin. In these popular theaters the foreign movies were presented in French-dubbed versions. But, as I was attired by fantasy, horror and SF films, most of them were only visible in Paris, so I begun to take the Métro (underground) and most of them were only released in one or two theaters, like the now defunct "Midi-Minuit". And most of them were presented in their original versions, with French subs. I was generally alone for these "expeditions"... So, very quickly, at 15/16 I started to frequent the Cinémathèque and saw a lot of old, and even very old movies. I also saw a lot of French films, carefully reading the credits, and watched all the marvelous movies made by Julien Duvivier, Marcel Carné, Jacques Feyder, Pierre Chenal, Raymond Bernard, Jean Renoir, etc. I shared the same admiration for these French movies now considered as classics than for the Golden Years of Horror of Universal, for instance. In the same day I could see a movie like "The Mummy's Hand", the afternoon "Drôle de drame", and in the evening "Nosferatu" at the Cinémathèque. So, I always discovered these films on the big screen. My mother was a widow and we never had a TV set. In fact, I got my first TV when I was 42, and I continued to watch movies in theaters. I discovered all the Hammer gothics then they were just released.
About French cinéma, I love movie like "La fin du jour", "L'étrange désir de Monsieur Bard" with Michel Simon, "Le jour se lève", "La bandera", "Pépé le Moko", "Les enfants du paradis", "La kermesse héroïque", etc. But also "popular" movies, as they were, after all, played by the same actors I admired in the "classics". A movie like "Circonstances atténuantes" for instance, with Michel Simon and Arletty, all the movies with Fernandel, etc. Raimu, Harry Baur, Louis Jouvet, were my heroes, but also these wonderful "second roles" like Pierre Larquey, Saturnin Fabre, Jean Tissier, Louis Salou, Robert Le Vigan, Julien Carette, Marguerite Moréno, Marguerite Pierry, Pauline Carton, Jeanne Fusier-Gir, etc etc - the list would be endless.

And I never liked the "Nouvelle Vague"... sorry.
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby charliechaplinfan » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:28 pm

I think a few of us would agree with you about the Nouvelle Vague, I like some movies from the Nouvelle Vague but from a British perspective, if I want to learn about French movies there is a concentration on the Nouvelle Vague movement and nothing much about the wealth of films made beforehand.

I'm still very much a beginner when it comes to French movies, I've been lucky to know Ann Harding who has helped me in my education. Apart from Charles Boyer there are lots of other French actors I love Jean Gabin, Michele Simon, Louis Jouvet, Maria Casares, Pierre Fresnay, Raimu, Pierre Blanchar, Francoise Rosay, Jeanne Moreau, Caterine Deneuve. Directors Vigo, Duvivier, Carne, Renior, Clouzot, I'm bound to have missed plenty names. There are Nouvelle Vague films I like and some of the actors but the most fun and biggest discoveries I've had are with films from an earlier period.
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby Sweeney Todd » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:54 pm

In fact I liked a handful of movies made by directors from the Nouvelle Vague, but all of them were, in fact, shot like classic movies, and with real actors, like Truffaut's "Le dernier métro", and a lot of Claude Chabrol movies ("Le boucher", etc.). But generally I prefer the older movies.
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby Robert Regan » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:47 pm

Sweeney Todd, it is a pleasure, as well as illuminating, to read your memories and reflections on movie-going, especially from someone about the same age as I. No Cinemateque in the US, but New York City's Museum of Modern Art had some surprises when we could get there. Lots of television for me from 1948. Thank you for your contributions. Bob
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby feaito » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:05 am

Sweeney, how interesting. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I also love Classic French cinema and dislike the overrated Nouvelle Vague.
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Re: VERSIONS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES OF EARLY TALKIES

Postby charliechaplinfan » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:20 pm

The Nouvelle Vague movies you mention Sweeney are the same kind of Nouvelle Vague films I like.
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