08 July 2019

15 films we loved at Il Cinema Ritrovato

Looking back at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2019, we can definitively say the 33rd edition was one of the best editions yet - and one of the warmest. The Fox programme offered some unforgettable masterpieces, just like the 1919 programme did. A surprise for me were the films by Egyptian director Youssef Chahine. And I was very happy to see the last film by Agnès Varda, presented by her daughter Rosalie, and to experience Chaplin's The Circus with a huge orchestra and thousands of other laughing people at Bologna's Piazza Maggiore. 

Here are my 15 favourite films of this year's festival. Ivo Blom also did a post on Il Cinema Ritrovato at his personal blog. Check it out.

Cinema Ritrovato
Piazza Maggiore, Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Italia.

15. Becky Sharp (Rouben Mamoulian, 1935)

Miriam Hopkins in Becky Sharp (1935)
French postcard by Editions EC, Paris, no. 504. Photo: RKO. Miriam Hopkins in Becky Sharp (Rouben Mamoulian, 1935).

14. En cas de malheur (Claude Autant-Lara, 1958)

Brigitte Bardot in En cas de malheur (1958)
German postcard, no. 1. Photo: Unifrance-Film. Brigitte Bardot in En cas de malheur/Love is my profession (Claude Autant-Lara, 1958).

13. I Clowns (Federico Fellini, 1970)

Paolo Fratellini
Paolo Fratellini. French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 151.

François Fratellini
François Fratellini. French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 152. Photo: Studio V. Henry. One of the highlights in Fellini's mockumentary I Clowns (1970) is a scene in which the maestro recreates a performance of the famous Fratellini brothers in a mental asylum. The wit, charm, and superb acting techniques of the three clowns were widely admired. By 1923, the Fratellini brothers had become the darlings of the Parisian intellectuals. They were lauded in print and worshipped by adoring fans who would show up at the circus just in time for the Fratellini entree, which sometimes ran as long as forty-five minutes.

12. Ride Lonesome (Budd Boetticher, 1959)

Randolph Scott
Randolph Scott. British postcard, no. 60. Photo: Warner Bros. Entertaining Western with an impressive Scott and Pernell Roberts, better known as Adam Cartwright from the classic TV series Bonanza.

11. Moulin Rouge (John Huston, 1952)

José Ferrer and Zsa Zsa Gabor in Moulin Rouge (1952)
German postcard. Photo: Deutsche London Film. José Ferrer and Colette Marchand in Moulin Rouge (John Huston, 1952). Beautiful ode to 19th Century Montmarte and its music halls and artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Huston opens the film with a colourful 20 minute Can-Can sequence which brilliantly captures the atmosphere, and sets the tone for the drama to follow.

10. Siraa Fil-Wadi/The Blazing Sun (Youssef Chahine, 1954)

Omar Sharif
Omar Sharif. Egyptian collectors card, no. 7. Siraa Fil-Wadi was Omar Sharif's film debut. Director Youssef Chahine discovered the handsome young Michel Chahoub on the streets in Cairo and invited him for a screentest. Re-named Omar El Cherif, he starred opposite the renowned Egyptian actress Faten Hamamah whom he married in 1955.

9. Film ohne Titel (Rudolf Jugert, 1948)

Fritz Wagner and Käte Pontow in Film ohne Titel (1948)
German postcard by Degro Phot., Berlin, no. C 187. Photo: Herzog Filmverleih / Camera Film / Kurt Julius. Fritz Wagner and Käte Pontow in Film ohne Titel/Film Without Title (Rudolf Jugert, 1948). A pleasant surprise was this funny and unconventional comedy about making a film in Germany after the war.

8. College (James W. Horne, Buster Keaton, 1927)

Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton. Russian postcard, no. 1725, 1927.

7. Dr. No (Terence Young, 1962)

Sean Connery in Dr. No (1962)
Spanish postcard by Eurocromo S.L., no. R 001. Photo: Sean Connery in Dr. No (Terence Young, 1962). Although the copy we saw was not superb, the first Bond is still a joy to watch. Connery is excellent, as are the sets by Ken Adam, John Barry's Bond theme and the title design by Maurice Binder. The only disappointment is the so-called classic scene with Ursula Andress rising from the sea in a white bikini. It sounds good, but it's rather tame and Andress acts wooden. Halle Berry redid that scene in a later Bond adventure and then the screen really sizzled.

6. Varda par Agnès (Agnès Varda, 2019)

Agnès Varda
Wall Art Cineteca di Bologna, Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Italia. Adieu, madame Varda!

5. The Winning of Barbara Worth (Henry King, 1926)

Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky in The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926)
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1795/1, 1927-1928. Photo: United Artists. Ronald Colman and Vilma Banky in The Winning of Barbara Worth (Henry King, 1926). A wonderful silent Western full of great stunts, and three intriguing stars, also including the young and delicious Gary Cooper.

4. Street Angel (Frank Borzage, 1928)

Street Angel
Publicity still of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell in Street Angel (Frank Borzage, 1928). Collection: The Island of Cinema @ Flickr. My favourite romantic couple from silent Hollywood in their first part-sound film.

3. Sången om den eldröda blomman/Song of the Scarlet Flower (Mauritz Stiller, 1919)

Lars Hanson in Sången om den eldröda blomman (1919)
Swedish postcard by Forlag Nordisk Konst, Stockholm, no. 993. Photo: Svenska Biografteatern, Stockholm. Lars Hanson in Sången om den eldröda blomman/Song of the Scarlet Flower (Mauritz Stiller, 1919). This was another suprise, an excellent and technically perfect Mauritz Stiller production of 1919. 'Large Handsome' plays the merry and carefree Olof who wins the heart of Edith Erastoff by daringly steering logs through the rapids on a wild river. An incredible stunt.

2. The Circus (Charles Chaplin, 1928)

Charlie Chaplin in The Circus (1928)
Italian postcard by G.B. Falci, Milano, no. 290. Photo: United Artists. Charlie Chaplin in The Circus (Charles Chaplin, 1928). Highlight is of course the scene in which Charlie is doing a tight rope wire act and tries to balance himself while loose monkeys crawl all over him, thus disrupting his act. His gags brought forth as many laughs at the Piazza Maggiore during Cinema Ritrovato as it did in 1928. Great fun.

1. 3 Bad Men (John Ford, 1926)

George O' Brien
George O'Brien. French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 313. Photo: Fox Film. Collection: Didier Hanson. John Ford's classic silent Western 3 Bad Men (John Ford, 1926) was our favourite film this year. A sweeping, entertaining adventure which includes an impressive church burning scene and the Oklahoma Land Rush scene with an abandoned infant. The cast includes the excellent Olive Borden, Tom Santschi and Dutch actor Lou Tellegen as the evil Sheriff. Although my postcard choice perhaps suggests otherwise, George O'Brien is the romantic hero of the film and not one of the three title characters.

Cinema Ritrovato
Musidora, Sala Mastroianni, Cineteca di Bologna, Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Italia.

Later this week we will do two posts on new acquisitions we found at the Il Cinema Ritrovato Book Fair.

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