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WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » June 26th, 2011, 1:40 pm

An interesting clip, I like the atomosphere it creates.

I watched June Night the third film in the Ingrid Bergman collection, directed by Per Lindberg, it's Ingrid's last film before she went to Hollywood before returning in 1978 to star in Autumn Sonata for Ingmar Bergman. In this film Ingrid plays the victim of a attempted murder, shot by her lover, the bullet grazes her heart. The newspapers pick up on the story and sensationalise it, the court scene is unusual to my eyes, used to the British or American court scenes in the Swedish court the defendant and witnesses stand at the bench and tell the judge their version. Ingrid is sensational as the girl on trial and later when she moves to Stockholm to try to escape her noteriety, she joins with a group of four women, she's now very much the young girl instead of the jaded lover of the previous segment. She's been persecuted, she's scared, protective of her identity but eager for her new friendships. She's also struck by a young doctor who is fiance to the young nurse and he in turn is struck by her. Events take a turn when the spurned lover turns up in pursuit of Ingrid. Ingrid has a chance to act all kinds of emotion, the film has two parts but at no point feels disjointed.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » June 28th, 2011, 7:02 am

Yesterday I watched a French picture, Louise (1938, Abel Gance) with Grace Moore, Georges Thill and André Pernet. This film is an adaptation of a French opera of the same name by composer Gustave Charpentier. The 3-hour opera is reduced to a 80 min film with real opera singers in the main parts. I was rather pleasantly surprised by the film. Gustave Charpentier was an immensely popular composer in the first part of the XXth Century and his works were often performed. Nowadays, it's not quite the same. Many music critics consider the opera dated. I don't agree with them. Charpentier's music is in the same vain as Jules Massenet (who was his teacher). It's melodic and knows how to create characters. I was precisely pleasantly surprised because I felt Gance's film managed to capture the spirit of the opera. The story (a bit similar to La Bohème) takes place in Montmartre, a then poor district of Paris where workers and bohemian artists lived. Louise is a dressmaker's apprentice. Her parents are very stern with her because she is in love with Julien, a poet (composer in the film). They consider him a good-for-nothing unable to earn a living. One day, fed up with the constant reprimands, she leaves her parents to live with Julien (out of wedlocks). They live happily until one day her mother begs her to come back: her father is very sick. She accepts on the premices she will leave when he is well. But they were lying. She has to stay. One day, Louise finds the courage to tell them she wants her freedom and leaves for good. Her father curses the evil Paris who took her away. This very simple story has a main character: the city of Paris itself. I liked the way the story has been tighten to fit the film. It was shot entirely in studios recreating an imaginary Paris of the late XIXth Century. The extremely mobile camera avoided any static feeling. The singers were singing in play-back, but it was well done. For an opera lover like me, it was a huge pleasure to see in the flesh two great opera singers of the early XXth century: tenor Georges Thill and baritone André Pernet. They had this clear resonant French voices which have become rare. The French technique at the time required a crystal-clear pronunciation, so that you could follow every word. The American Grace Moore (who made some films in Hollywood as well) had studied in Paris and it showed. Her voice is far better than the shrill and tiny voice of Jeannette McDonald. She was a real opera singer. Overall, all singers perform their parts with ease and the cinematography provided them with the right atmosphere. A really pleasant surprise in a par with Ophüls' Die Verkauft Braut (The Bartered Bride, 1932) which also adapts cleverly Smetana's opera.
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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby Professional Tourist » June 30th, 2011, 6:52 pm

I don't think I had seen The Red Balloon (1956) since I was a kid in the sixties. I loved it, and the book too, which I still have. :) I got to thinking about it today, and found it upon searching YouTube on its original name, Le ballon rouge. Was great to see it again, but the ending put me in mind of my particular fear of heights and how I may have acquired it. :o Anyway, this is one film where lack of subtitles should not be an issue. Most of the time when Pascal speaks to the balloon, he's telling it to come here, wait for me, etc. :D

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby MikeBSG » July 1st, 2011, 10:10 am

I loved "The Red Balloon" when I was a kid (the Sixties). It seemed like every library in the Cleveland suburbs showed that film at least once, and I saw it a few times.

I bought it on VHS for my children in the Nineties. The movie still worked for me, but it left my children cold.

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » July 1st, 2011, 10:33 am

Yesterday I saw the rare German talkie Ariane (1931, Paul Czinner) with Elisabeth Bergner. It is the first film version of Claude Anet's novel later remade by Billy Wilder under the title Love in the Afternoon (1957). The original is darker and not really a comedy. The Ariane of this version is the wonderful Elisabeth Bergner; she is a Russian student in Berlin. One evening, during a performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Berlin Opera, she meets Konstantin Michael (Rudolf Forster), a man older than her. She ends up becoming his mistress and behaves as if she was already world-wise. He behaves as if she was just a conquest in passing. To capture him, she'll tell lies until he picks her up from the train platform. It's difficult to compare the two films. But the original is not shying away from difficult issues such as virginity. I was very impressed by Bergner's performance. She makes a totally believable teenager. She is thin and androgynous looking. Her acting is very natural. The film is an early talkie and we don't get the fluid camera movements that Czinner used so brilliantly in Fraülein Else (1929). But, the music selection highlights cleverly the characters. The seducer meets Ariane at the Opera during Leporello's aria in Don Giovanni. We know immediately the man is a Don Juan. Later, Cherubino's aria from Nozze di Figaro is also used to show the teenage's emotions of Ariane followed by the lovely Freundliche Vision, a Richard Strauss Lied, completely in situation. Czinner was an opera lover; he filmed some great documents in Austria later on (especially Don Giovanni from Salzburg 1954 with a sterling cast under Wilhelm Furtwängler's baton). It's quite obvious Wilder saw the film and was inspired by the last scene at the station. Overall, it's a very interesting film.

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby MikeBSG » July 2nd, 2011, 8:53 am

"Ariane" sounds very interesting. I had forgotten that Wilder had based "Love in the Afternoon" on an earlier film.

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » July 5th, 2011, 10:20 am

During the past few days, I watched the three Swedish films with Ingrid Bergman released by Kino.

Intermezzo (1936, Gustaf Molander) proved rather disappointing. This story of adultery in the world of classical music had potential, but Molander's languid direction made it really banal. Ingrid as the young pianist in love with an older man, a violinist, was fresh and nice to look at at. But, it was difficult to get involved in a story that felt extremely commonplace and often told. There was very little surprises to expect, up to the very moralizing final scene where the repentant father comes back home.

En kvinnas ansikte (A Woman's Face, 1938) is another Gustaf Molander with a high-melodrama script. It's actually an adaptation of a French play by Francis de Croisset. This kind of overblown melodrama requires a flamboyant style that was sadly lacking from Molander's direction. The characters felt rather artificial and it was hard to swallow the supermarket psychology given for an explanation. Anna Holm (I. Bergman) has been disfigured in childhood and as a result became a greedy and vicious young woman heading a gang of of blackmailers. Once her face is restored to its beauty, her psyche changes completely and she becomes the devoted governess of a young child. Originally, she had planned to kill the child to help a relative gain his inheritance. But, as she is now pure as gold, she will do everything to protect him. The sudden change in attitude was like a U-turn. With such a story, we need an atmospheric staging that was sadly lacking. So far, I have seen 3 Molander pictures (including one silent) and they were all rather disappointing. It's rather strange to find him so commonplace while during the silent era he wrote so many masterpieces for Stiller and Sjöström.

Juninatten (June Night, 1940) directed by Per Lindberg was my favourite film of the lot. The script and direction were far better, in my opinion. The story follows the fate of Kerstin (I. Bergman) a young girl raised by foster parents. She becomes the mistress of a sailor. When she decides to leave him, he shoots her in despair. During the prosecution, her case makes front headline. According to the morals of the time, her behaviour was extremely unusual: you don't sleep with a man out of wedlock. She changes her identity and goes to live in Stockholm. There, she shares accommodation with some other girls. They are all faced with the same dilemma with their boyfriends: they are all asking for sexual favours, but the ring is not necessarily attached. I found the treatment of the story really well done as it gave us an idea of life in those days in Sweden. We see the working environment of the girls: a newspaper for one and the hospital for the other. There was even a touch of welcome humour. Ingrid played an innocent girl whose attitude remains ambiguous. All men are attracted by her. At first, she went to that sailor looking for an affection she was lacking at home. I thought the pacing of the film was far better than the sluggish pace of the Molander pictures. Overall, an interesting picture.

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby MikeBSG » July 5th, 2011, 11:12 am

Thanks for talking about Swedish film of the Thirties. I haven't seen any of these. Basically, my knowledge of Swedish film leaps from "The Phantom Carriage" to "The Road to Heaven" (1942). I like "Road to Heaven" a lot and I consider myself lucky to have seen it because it is pretty unavailable in the US.

I think Sjostrom is terrific. "Terge Vigen," "The Outlaw and his Wife" and "Phantom Carriage" all impressed me deeply. He was pretty funny in the two Thomas Graal films I saw. (Graal is the character Sjostrom played.) (And I like "He Who Gets Slapped" and "The Wind" as well.) Stiller's films, on the other hand, didn't do much for me.

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » July 5th, 2011, 12:39 pm

I think June Night was the best film of the Kino collection, I was quite taken with the leading man in Intermezzo, Gosta Ekman, the leading man from the silent Faust, he dominated the scenes he was in, which is hard when Ingrid is on the screen. A Woman's Face completely captured me, I preferred it to Cukor's version, you might prefer that version Christine although the story isn't much different it does have Cukor's gloss.

After watching these I'd love to see Ingrid's other Swedish films, she had a quick rise to fame in the Swedish industry. Talking to Synnove who hails from Sweden there aren't many thirties Swedish films available, these seem to have survived due to Ingrid's fame. A pity, I'd love to have seen some more of Gosta Ekman's movies.

I too love Sjostrom's movies, I like Stiller's too, especilly Sir Arne's Treasure but Sjostrom's have the edge for me.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby kingrat » July 5th, 2011, 6:52 pm

This Fourth of July I watched a natural double feature: Yankee Doodle Dandy and Made in U.S.A. OK, maybe not such a natural double feature. If anyone is an auteur, making exactly the films he wants to make, it's Godard, but does that mean you therefore have to like all of his films?

Made in U.S.A. hadn't been shown commercially in this country until 2009 because Godard didn't obtain the rights to a novel by Donald Westlake. Seriously, how could Westlake tell the film was based on his novel? Narrative and continuity are what Godard doesn't want. Godard said Made in U.S.A. was like The Big Sleep, with Anna Karina in the Bogart role, and that's a good starting point for the experience of the movie. Expect, not a plot, but a series of riffs on motifs from films noirs and gangster films. Throw in puns and in-jokes (this group will get the references to film directors, actors, and characters). Throw in a bunch of stuff about language. Throw in some stuff about politics, which in this film is leftist in tone, but also bitter about French Communists. For instance, at the end of the film Karina is rescued by a man who says, as he drives her somewhere in his car, that Left and Right are the same. This is counterpointed by the shot, shown twice, of "Left, Year Zero," which refers to the Rossellini film Germany Year Zero and also represents the director's sentimental dream of a new beginning. We also have Godard doing stuff which filmmakers don't usually do, like eliminate the sound in a couple of scenes or use airplane noise to blot out the last name of Karina's missing, presumably murdered, lover. Godard also moves the camera during tight shots of Karina, which is unusual. In fact, just as we don't get continuity of plot, we don't get much continuity of place, either. Don't expect an establishing shot of the hotel room because you'll only see the parts that Karina moves through.

This isn't my kind of film, so why did I keep watching and not record over it? First of all, the cinematography by Raoul Coutard. There's much blue and red, appropriate in view of the title, and many shots in the film would look great as stills or as posters. The images are always more interesting than any meaning which could be assigned to them. If you like Anna Karina, you'll appreciate Godard's obsession with photographing her. Her clothes and hair have a mid-60s style without being time-capsule funny; they're very becoming to her. Godard's obsession with Karina, with American films, with moviemaking techniques, and with collage are passionate and real. To me, it's an open question whether the stuff about language and politics is equally genuine, though that's not a criterion Godard would accept. Of the six or eight Godard films I've seen, Contempt is the most interesting, especially the first half hour, but Made in U.S.A. is probably next in line.

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » July 6th, 2011, 4:08 am

MikeBSG wrote:Thanks for talking about Swedish film of the Thirties. I haven't seen any of these. Basically, my knowledge of Swedish film leaps from "The Phantom Carriage" to "The Road to Heaven" (1942). I like "Road to Heaven" a lot and I consider myself lucky to have seen it because it is pretty unavailable in the US.
I think Sjostrom is terrific. "Terge Vigen," "The Outlaw and his Wife" and "Phantom Carriage" all impressed me deeply. He was pretty funny in the two Thomas Graal films I saw. (Graal is the character Sjostrom played.) (And I like "He Who Gets Slapped" and "The Wind" as well.) Stiller's films, on the other hand, didn't do much for me.

The two Thomas Graal comedies were directed by Mauritz Stiller and the script is by Gustaf Molander. If you enjoyed these, then you must like Stiller. I love Stiller as much as I do Sjöström. Sir Arne's Treasure and Gunnar Hedes Saga are incredible masterpieces. On the other hand, Molander as a director strikes me as lacking in visual sense.

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » July 6th, 2011, 4:39 am

Yesterday I revisited a French film I have seen very often on TV, En Cas de Malheur (In Case of Adversity, 1958) directed by Claude Autant-Lara. The film follows the story of Yvette Maudet (Brigitte Bardot), a thief who goes to find a lawyer (Jean Gabin) to help her as she is expecting to be indicted for a robbery in a jewellery. She plans to pay his fee with her 'own body', so to speak. But, the middle-aged lawyer falls for her and she becomes his mistress. He even risks his own career to stay with the girl. His wife (Edwige Feuillère), at first, seems to accept this affair, knowing it won't last. Later, she realises he is totally infatuated with the 22-year old. As for Yvette, she has a young lover (Franco Interleghi) as well as being kept by her sugar daddy. This lover will in the end kill her in a jealous rage. The film contains the usual dynamite you can expect from screenwriters Aurenche and Bost. The middle-age lawyer played by Gabin suddenly puts his career and life at risk because of a girl who could be his daughter. A typical 'mid-life crisis' for an ageing man. Autant-Lara calls a spade a spade and includes a scene that shocked people at the time (it was censored). Bardot lifts her skirt in Gabin's office (off-screen). The film is not as polished as earlier Autant-Lara pictures such as Le Diable au Corps (1947). But, it works rather well even after many viewings. Jean Gabin was prone to a slight overacting in those days, nevertheless, he carries the film with ease. Bardot -who was no actress- manages to give a reasonable performance as the slightly dumb Yvette. The film is enjoyable entertainment.

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » July 6th, 2011, 2:03 pm

I've been watching Martin Roumagnac with Jean Gabin and Marlene Dietrich, I don't follow French too well and this movie was with no subtitles however the opportunity to watch this pair together was worth the struggle with the language. this was filmed very soon after the Second World War yet Marlene plays it dressed to the hilt, their acting styles seem very different, one wonders why in the film she would pick the every man Gabin, well he's a successful business man. It's a curiosity factor for me, which has now been satisfied. They must have had much more chemistry off screen.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby charliechaplinfan » July 7th, 2011, 12:52 pm

Ann Harding wrote:During the past week, I saw various Italian pictures.

La Signora di Tutti (Everybody's Lady, 1934) by Max Ophüls is an amazing melodrama shot in Italy with Isa Miranda playing the title role. This early Ophüls contains all the features of future Hollywood melodramas: the paralytic wife falling in a staircase, the guilt of the heroine and a flamboyant score signed by Daniele Amfitheatrof. Isa Miranda is a successful movie star, but her private life is a disaster. She attempts suicide and while in hospital, her past life flashes back. She was an innocent young girl when one of her teachers killed himself because he loved her madly. This is a reoccuring motif in the film: the innocent femme fatale who creates havoc around her, unwittingly. The only drawback in this beautifully directed film is Miranda's performance. She is really beautiful and looks like Dietrich. But her acting is not quite at the same level. I never felt any empathy for her, unlike with Edwige Feuillère or Danielle Darrieux in other Ophüls pictures. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. Masters of Cinema has released in the UK, a beautiful DVD with English subs. I can recommend it to anybody interested in melodrama or Ophüls.


I watched this movie today, I'm a big fan of Ophuls, this movie deserves to be seen by any fan. I was amazed by how he makes the sets come to life, the dance, the star's home, the villa, the cinema, they have such style and beauty that they become a big part of the pleasure of watching an Ophuls movie. I was taken with Isa Miranda's looks, she's like Marlene Dietrich's gentler, younger sister, her face is a lot like Dietrich's but softer and the movie itself seems to inhabit a time period of it's own, the Masters of Cinema restoration is crisp and looks more recent, it was a surprise for me to find out how early (1934) the movie actually is. I understand what you mean about Miranda's performance, she's distant but perhaps she's meant to be, I did feel empathy for her, although she causes her own distruction, she doesn't knowingly cause it unlike Danielle Darrieux in Madame De. I will have to compare one of her other performances as she intrigued me somewhat.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: WHAT FOREIGN FILMS HAVE YOU WATCHED LATELY?

Postby Ann Harding » July 8th, 2011, 10:26 am

Watching Isa Miranda in Malombra (1943, Mario Soldati) was a revelation. She had bags of charisma as the mad countess. I mentioned it a few pages back. I also saw her in Pierre Chenal's L'Homme de nulle part (1936) where she was rather bland. I guess she needed a certain kind of role to shine or either, it took her a few years to blossom as an actress.


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