King Vidor

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Scharphedin2
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King Vidor

#1 Post by Scharphedin2 » Tue Apr 03, 2007 4:59 pm

King Vidor (1894-1982)

Image

A director must have some familiarity with every
art and craft that goes into the making of a film.
He must be to some extent an actor, a writer, a
scene designer, a photographer, a musician, an
editor, a technician, and a painter. He must never
be in the position of being completely dependent
on some other fellow's decision or judgment.
There must be, for best results, one conception
of the entire film. A basic explanation of many
poor films is that the project, though usually
started with the best of intentions and integrity,
simply gets diluted along the way.
* * * * *
I had always felt the impulse to use the motion-
picture screen as an expression of hope and
faith, to make films presenting positive ideas and
ideals rather than negative themes. When I have
occasionally strayed from this early resolve, I
have accomplished nothing but regret.
~ King Vidor



Filmography

Hurricane in Galveston (short, 1913)

The Grand Military Parade (short, 1913)

The Lost Lie (short, 1918)

Bud's Recruit (short, 1918)

The Chocolate of the Gang (short, 1918)

Tad's Swimming Hole (short, 1918)

The Accusing Toe (short, 1918)

I'm a Man (short, 1918)

The Turn in the Road (1919)

Better Times (1919)

The Other Half (1919)

Poor Relations (1919)

The Family Honor (1920)

The Jack-Knife Man (1920)

The Sky Pilot (1921)

Love Never Dies (1921)

Real Adventure (1922)

Dusk to Dawn (1922)

Conquering the Woman (1922)

Peg o'My Heart (1922)

The Woman of Bronze (1923)

Three Wise Fools (1923)

Wild Oranges (1924)

Happiness (1924)

Wine of Youth (1924)

His Hour (1924)

The Wife of the Centaur (1924)

Proud Flesh (1925)

The Big Parade (1925) Culture Publishers (R2 JP)

La Boheme (1926)

Bardelys the Magnificent (1926)

The Crowd (1928)

The Patsy (1928)

Show People (1928)

Hallelujah! (1929) Warner Brothers (R1)

Not So Dumb (1930)

Billy the Kid (1930)

Street Scene (1931) Image Entertainment (R1) / Alpha (R1)

The Champ (1931) Warner Brothers (R1)

Bird of Paradise (1932) VCI (R1) -- as double feature w. The Most Dangerous Game / Alpha (R1) / Roan Group (R1) -- as part of Pre-Code Hollywood, Vol. 2

Cynara (1932)

The Stranger's Return (1933)

Our Daily Bread (1934) Image Entertainment (R1) / Alpha (R1)

The Wedding Night (1935) MGM (R1)

So Red the Rose (1935)

The Texas Rangers (1936) Universal (R1) -- as part of Classic Western Round-Up, Vol. 1

Stella Dallas (1937) MGM (R1)

The Citadel (1938)

Northwest Passage (1940)

Comrade X (1940)

H.M. Pulham, Esq (1941)

An American Romance (1944)

Duel in the Sun (1946) MGM (R1) / Anchor Bay (R1) / Prism Leisure (R2 UK)

On Our Merry Way (co-directed with Leslie Fenton and John Huston and George Stevens, 1948) Kino (R1)

The Fountainhead (1949) Warner Brothers (R1) -- also included as part of Gary Cooper Signature Collection

Beyond the Forest (1949)

Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)

Japanese War Bride (1952)

Ruby Gentry (1952) MGM (R1)

Light's Diamond Jubilee (TV, 1954)

Man Without a Star (1955) Gaumont (R2 FR) / Universal (R2 ES)

War and Peace (1955) Paramount (R1)

Solomon and Sheba (1959) MGM (R2 UK) / SPO Entertainment (R2 JP)

Truth and Illusion: An Introduction to Metaphysics (short, 1964) Cinéma 012 (R2 FR)

The Metaphor (short, 1980) Cinéma 012 (R2 FR)


Recommended Web Resources

Cinetudes -- French overview of Vidor's career

Film Reference

Senses of Cinema

King Vidor Collection -- Index of University of Texas' holdings of Vidor's personal files 1924-1941.

DVD

The Crowd (Vidor, 1928)

Books/Articles

A Tree is a Tree: An Autobiography by King Vidor (Samuel French Trade, 1989)
Last edited by Scharphedin2 on Sun Sep 14, 2008 4:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

Suzukifan
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#2 Post by Suzukifan » Tue May 08, 2007 12:54 pm

I noticed that The Fountainhead was released on DVD recently and I wondered how Vidor was able to cope with having Ayn Rand in control of the script but it is one very entertaining and well directed film. You might expect the dialogue to be a little wooden and it is but Vidor has a visual style and pacing that compensates and maintains a dramatic edge.

He did melodrama pretty well. Stella Dallas, Duel in the Sun, but I wish I could see some of his earlier work abut other than an absolutely miserable transfer of Our Daily Bread put out by Alpha Video his best early films are neglected.

It's too bad because I would think he'd have a fairly broad appeal from The Crowd to the great Johnny Mack Brown in Billy the Kid. If decent prints are out there it would seem to be a natural to revive a very fine director.

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Scharphedin2
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#3 Post by Scharphedin2 » Tue May 08, 2007 1:44 pm

Suzukifan wrote:I noticed that The Fountainhead was released on DVD recently and I wondered how Vidor was able to cope with having Ayn Rand in control of the script but it is one very entertaining and well directed film. You might expect the dialogue to be a little wooden and it is but Vidor has a visual style and pacing that compensates and maintains a dramatic edge.

He did melodrama pretty well. Stella Dallas, Duel in the Sun, but I wish I could see some of his earlier work abut other than an absolutely miserable transfer of Our Daily Bread put out by Alpha Video his best early films are neglected.

It's too bad because I would think he'd have a fairly broad appeal from The Crowd to the great Johnny Mack Brown in Billy the Kid. If decent prints are out there it would seem to be a natural to revive a very fine director.
Yes, indeed a wonderful director, who has not been served all that well on DVD... yet, although a few titles have trickled out.

Ruby Gentry is a later film, released on DVD by MGM -- an interesting film, if not one of his greatest, and somewhat similar in style to The Fountainhead.

From Warner Brothers you have Hallelujah!, which is a key work, and The Champ.

Bird of Paradise is fairly atrocious in Alpha's release, but looks better on the Acme/VCI Joel Mcrea double-feature - cheap as dirt, and you get The Most Dangerous Game thrown into the bargain.

The Texas Rangers is being released this month as part of Universal's Western Round-Up, Vol. 1. Beaver says the image quality is good, and you get three other good to excellent westers thrown in at bargain dollar -- one of them being Tourneur's much applauded Canyon Passage.

Our Daily Bread looks good to my eyes on the Image release that couples it with 5 other films from the New Deal era.

The Crowd is indeed amazing. I own the old laserdisc, but it should be coming on DVD sometime soon. The same goes for the seminal The Big Parade -- and, if you are in a real hurry, you can get in Japan.

War and Peace is out. And, so are his two last essay films through a French magazine publication (the title escapes me, but you can find it referenced in the Filmmakers Resource thread).

Happy viewing, and if you want a really good (and insightful) read on Vidor's career and early Hollywood, I heartily recommend his autobiography "A Tree Is a Tree."

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tryavna
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#4 Post by tryavna » Tue May 08, 2007 2:17 pm

Later this month, MGM will also release The Wedding Night, which is probably my choice as Vidor's weakest film.

And Kino has releaed the anthology film On Our Merry Way, of which Vidor directed one episode.

You can also occasionally find Image's now-OOP Street Scene, though it appears on TCM every so often. (In fact, TCM probably averages one or two Vidor films per month.)

Vidor was a great American master and arguably the greatest American-born film director working between 1924 and 1934. In my opinion, he lost a little of his fire after he made Our Daily Bread and became a director-for-hire, but all of his films are worth watching at least once. He certainly deserves to be ranked alongside Ford, Walsh, Hawks, etc.

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#5 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:27 am

I am hoping Warners comes out with his stuff on DVD. I am falling in love with the man's work.

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domino harvey
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#6 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:52 am

I watched some AMC special last month about writers in Hollywood and Carrie Fisher was all "You can't have a six minute monologue in a movie" and now thought I never had any interest in watching the Fountainhead, I feel I must out of spite.

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tryavna
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#7 Post by tryavna » Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:26 pm

Since this thread has been revived, I feel obligated to point out that Vidor's earliest surviving film (Bud's Recruit) has been released on disc 4 of the Treasures III set. It's an amusing little two- (three-?) reeler that shows just how self-assured Vidor was with a camera as early as 1918! Plus, it demonstrates that Vidor's desire to treat minority actors/characters with dignity was in full force from the very beginning. (The final shot is a nice moment of expressed sympathy on the part of a black butler toward the main character.)

For a Vidor fan, the inclusion of this film alone justifies purchasing the set -- which is absolutely wonderful in many other ways, too.

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tryavna
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#8 Post by tryavna » Fri Sep 12, 2008 8:08 pm

As a follow-up to the two Frank Borzage-Kay Francis movies that Via_Chicago and I have recently been discussing in the Borzage thread, I wanted to draw attention to the Vidor-Francis film Cynara, which came as a really unexpected and pleasant surprise when I caught it for the first time on TCM last night. Although I don't think the story holds up -- it is very much of its time in terms of its handling of marital infidelity as a social issue -- it's still one of more adult and intelligent pre-Codes I've seen in recent months. Briefly, Ronald Colman is drawn into an affair with a shop-girl when his wife (Kay Francis) leaves town with her sister to get the sister out of her own romantic entanglement. The strongest point in the film, in my opinion, is Colman's performance, which may actually be his very best. He really captures the inner torment of a man who still loves his wife but is drawn to another woman partly out of a sense of abandonment and partly due to being led astray by an older friend (a role that George Sanders would own in the following decade but is here played by Henry Stephenson). In that sense, it has a very European sensibility -- not really condemning Colman because the film understands that a person can be in love with two different people simultaneously.

Finally, of course, it's also a fine display of Vidor's technique, and there are some wonderful moments: the long take of Colman and Francis talking on their bed just before Francis leaves, several long tracking shots as when Colman judges a bathing-beauty contest, a moment of communal transcendence in a movie theater (and focused largely on the audience itself), and a couple of really stimulating associative edits (when Colman tears up the shop-girls address only to have the scraps of paper dissolve into the pigeons of Venice). This title always seems to get dismissed in overviews of Vidor's career, but I highly recommend it. It also makes me that much more eager to see The Stranger's Return; why does that one seem so difficult to track down?

Tolmides
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#9 Post by Tolmides » Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:38 am

It's a sad day when you can scroll through a director's filmography and ~90% of it is not on DVD, especially some of the films which are meant to be among the best of the silent era. I say meant to be because I haven't had an opportunity to see any Vidor films yet, no DVD releases + living in Australia doesn't lend itself to discovering his work.

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HerrSchreck
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#10 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:09 am

Blame Warner Bros, and their shitty handling of their whole silent catalog. According to their promises made-- which reset the date based on an earlier promised release date-- in the HVForum chats, the Vidors, 'Seastrom' Sjostroms, Greed, plus Chaney vol II, should have been out for a year now. Late 07 was the street date on them.

What the story is now, I have no idea.

There are Vidor DVDs available (including the excellent Our Daily Bread, a genuine landmark film and his follow-up to the sublime The Crowd)... and if I were you and I had a vhs player I'd grab the MGM vhs of The Crowd, which is actually quite good pq-wise, and it includes tha famous tracking shot up the side of the office building, and over the sea of desks to finally pick out the main character at work. One of the greatest visual sequences in the cinema, for sure! I have the vhs and can vouch for it, and until something better comes along, it's worth its weight in gold. I saw The Crowd on a double bill w Sunrise at NYC Film Forum, and the print they showed was missing that famous tracking shot, believe it or not. This is why I'll never dispose of this vhs, at least until I view the dvd, if it ever fucking materializes.

If WB are afraid they're not going to make money with this stuff, they should license it out to someone with cojones. God knows CC would put some of that material out (I'm sure they'd do The Crowd, The Wind, and Greed) and whatever they shied away from Kino would no doubt put out the rest.

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#11 Post by Tolmides » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:59 am

What makes it even more puzzling is that WB has generally done an excellent job of releasing sound classics. It's a shame that they aren't doing justice to their silent back catalogue.

I do still have a VHS player, and if WB keeps dragging their feet for too much longer I may go down that route, although truth be told, I've already spent far too much on DVDs this month already. :oops:

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Scharphedin2
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#12 Post by Scharphedin2 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:15 pm

I am a kid in the sandbox next to Schreck, when it comes to silent cinema, but I do own the laserdisc of The Crowd, and the particular scene that Schreck describes is one that I used to watch again and again. Utterly breathtaking, and unbelievable that a print would be shown without it.

It is not listed in the filmography above, but there is a Chinese release of the film. The film is great enough to spend the $5 and trouble to order, until Warner Brothers comes along with a DVD release.

But, really, Vidor directed many, many wonderful pictures, both silent and sound, and there is a fair little selection out there to begin with. In addition to those already mentioned by Schreck, you should give The Fountainhead a shot for an emblematic example of his later films, and although it is not everyone's taste, Duel In the Sun is another film that I think is wonderful, and probably a film every fan of the medium should see at least once -- if you like westerns, I do not think you can go wrong.

Schreck, with the Image Street Scene disc out of print, do you have any idea how the Alpha release looks?

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HerrSchreck
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#13 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:26 pm

Dang. Someone had put the whole film on youtube in two parts, and I created a link for them in my Street Scene thread, but the vids were removed due to rights violation. O well.

Never seen the alphas, though.

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#14 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:30 pm

Scharphedin2 wrote:I am a kid in the sandbox next to Schreck, when it comes to silent cinema, but I do own the laserdisc of The Crowd, and the particular scene that Schreck describes is one that I used to watch again and again. Utterly breathtaking, and unbelievable that a print would be shown without it.
Not that it at all substitutes for the entire film itself being available of course but that particular scene does get shown and celebrated during Martin Scorsese's Personal Journey Through American Cinema film, on DVD from the BFI.

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#15 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:24 pm

I have the chinese release of The Crowd, and it's perfectly ok, I am guessing it's a port of the VHS copy.

Even without many official DVD releases, a surprisingly high percentage of his silent films are available if you know where to look. TCM airs The Crowd, Show People, and The Patsy fairly regularly, and quite a few more of his silents are floating around either as torrents or through independent dealers.

I'd kill to see the recent restoration of The Big Parade though, TCM has yet to show it, despite it being completed almost 4 years ago. It's an incredible film.

I'm impressed with Vidor's versatility, going through a bunch of different genres, and generally having success with all of them. I also find it fascinating that he was successful both at making popular studio fare and more personal and daring projects.

Just look at 1928 when he released The Crowd which to me is about as daring as it gets in terms of character and story. Here's Vidor, possibly MGM's leading director with several hits and the smash of The Big Parade, making a movie about an exceedingly average guy, who doesn't do a whole lot, and who doesn't really end up any better of than he started, and then casting a complete unknown in James Murray as the lead. Directors at the time just didn't do that kind of thing, and it's remarkable that it got made as it did.

He then follows it up with the frivolous but very funny Marion Davies vehicle The Patsy, showing an ease with comedy and really letting Davies shine. There's not much else going on besides Davies' comedic skills, but Vidor makes it all thoroughly enjoyable.

Then comes Show People which is about as loving an homage to Hollywood that I've seen. It's also kind of a farewell tribute to the silent film, as Vidor showcases Davies as a small-town girl who comes to Hollywood to be a star, and ends up finding success at a Mack Sennett-esque studio, before trying to make it big as a serious "actor". Again the story is fairly predictable, but it's a fascinating film due to Davies' abilities, and for the depiction of Hollywood in the silent era. From the multiple cameos by Chaplin and others, to the priceless footage of the MGM lots, to the scene at a preview screening in which Vidor's long-lost(but now found) Bardelys The Magnificent can be seen, it's an absolutely fascinating historical document, as well as a great film, and further proof of Vidor's mastery.

Then he follows up this thoroughly accessible and well crafted silent, with his first talkie, Hallelujah!. But rather than be conventional and film within the confines of the studio, he decides to do a musical and set it out of doors. Oh and he made it with all black(!) actors. I mean how did he get away with taking such enormous risks, both technically with the problems associated with sound, musicals and filming outdoors and also through casting unknown black actors? Incredible.

As an aside I should note something I found interesting, I have a few old movie magazines from the late 20's and early 30's, and within them they have a lot of old movie ads, and reviews. Generally the focus of the ads and the reviews is entirely on the actors and the story, without any mention of the director, but for Vidor's films he is almost always referenced by name which is interesting in that it suggests he had a reputation very early on as a great director, during a time in which no one generally cared about directors.

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tryavna
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#16 Post by tryavna » Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:47 pm

myrnaloyisdope wrote:As an aside I should note something I found interesting, I have a few old movie magazines from the late 20's and early 30's, and within them they have a lot of old movie ads, and reviews. Generally the focus of the ads and the reviews is entirely on the actors and the story, without any mention of the director, but for Vidor's films he is almost always referenced by name which is interesting in that it suggests he had a reputation very early on as a great director, during a time in which no one generally cared about directors.
Interesting point, but it doesn't surprise me. He was one of the few directors of the 1930s to earn the "A King Vidor Picture" credit before or just after the title. That certainly puts him in rarefied air, along with Borzage and Hawks.

But to Tolmides: You're getting some very good advice about Vidor here. Of the officially released DVDs, you should definitely check out Hallelujah! and Our Daily Bread -- both are extremely engaging and intelligent masterpieces. The major silents (virtually everything between 1925 and 1928) may represent Vidor's best work, but they are hard to track down if you don't have access to TCM. I'm not as much of a fan of his later work. For me, there's a distinct falling-off after H.M. Pulham, Esq., his last masterpiece in my opinion. But there are plenty of fans who would disagree with me.

The really amazing thing about Vidor, for me, is how sure-footed and instictive his direction was from the very beginning. The 1918 short Bud's Recruit is apparently his earliest surviving film, and it appears in the great Treasures III boxset. And it's a totally winning little film, with nicely understated acting, cleanly choreographed action and comedy, and as sympathetic a treatment of a black man as you're likely to come across in a film of that decade. Vidor really was a major artist, and no less a figure than F. Scott Fitzgerald recognized this fact. I believe that Vidor was the only director Fitzgerald explicitly praised as an artist, and Fitzgerald had even worked with Borzage on Three Comrades.

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#17 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:30 am

Agreed on Hallelujah! and Our Daily Bread, both early talkie classics. What impressed me about Our Daily Bread was the sequence where they dig they irrigation canal, I swear it's an homage to Dovzhenko. Absolutely wonderful to watch.

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#18 Post by Via_Chicago » Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:34 am

tryavna wrote:Finally, of course, it's also a fine display of Vidor's technique, and there are some wonderful moments: the long take of Colman and Francis talking on their bed just before Francis leaves, several long tracking shots as when Colman judges a bathing-beauty contest, a moment of communal transcendence in a movie theater (and focused largely on the audience itself), and a couple of really stimulating associative edits (when Colman tears up the shop-girls address only to have the scraps of paper dissolve into the pigeons of Venice). This title always seems to get dismissed in overviews of Vidor's career, but I highly recommend it. It also makes me that much more eager to see The Stranger's Return; why does that one seem so difficult to track down?
The most interesting and unique stylistic aspect of this film was the way that Vidor uses staircases (perhaps reminiscent of their function in The Crowd?) as signifiers and expressions of inner tranquility or torment. There are two cases where Vidor shoots the same character using the same staircase, but in each shot, the psychological portent changes dramatically. In the first of these examples, we see Colman ascend the same staircase in two very different sets of circumstances. The first time he does so, he is returning home to his adoring wife, fully expecting to surprise her with a pre-anniversary gift. The second time, he has returned home only to discover his wife's early arrival from her trip. Now, Vidor only slightly alters the scene - the lighting has changed, if ever so slightly, the camera pans more slowly across the staircase, and Colman himself walks with an expressive heaviness, as if the entire weight of the world has fallen upon his shoulders.

We see Vidor use this same trick again only a short time later. This time, we have just watched Phyllis Barry (Colman's mistress), looking visibly distressed, storm out of her apartment. Vidor shoots her descending the stairs much as he shot she and Colman ascending the stairs earlier in the film: an extreme high-angle shot from which we can view all three stories of her apartment building. This time though, as in the Colman shot, the lighting at least appears to have changed from the earlier shot, and just like Colman had in the previous scene, Barry walks with heightened expressivity - her gait is slow and deliberate.

What impressed me most about the film though, and these scenes are certainly a part of this, is that Vidor approaches the affair with an almost humanist detachment from the proceedings. His camera is often at some remove from the characters - as if to suggest that we ought not judge Colman, Barry, or his wife. The most striking example of this comes late in the film. There, after the court had rendered its symbolic verdict, heaping judgment on Colman, we perhaps expect a close shot of Colman or Francis. Instead, Vidor's camera quickly tracks away from the judge, from Colman, from Francis, and from the courtroom itself. For too long we have tread on the private thoughts and feelings of Colman's character (told in flashback), and Vidor finally pulls us completely away in this most personal of moments.

I do tend to agree with you tryavna that this is a good film. While it's no masterpiece, Vidor's work here is extremely assured, even if it doesn't exactly compare to his late silent work, or his work from his Fountainhead period (which I greatly admire). To the folks on the board, Cynara is definitely worth watching if you get the chance (then again, you could probably say that about most films from Hollywood in 1932...).

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tryavna
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#19 Post by tryavna » Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:53 pm

The staircase scenes had completely slipped my mind, but you're absolutely right! I remember consciouslyt noting the two different "versions" of Colman's ascent up his own home's staircase and should have mentioned it in my earlier post. The other doubling made more of an unconscious impression -- I remember it exactly now that you've described it, but I wasn't as conscious of it.

Like you, I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but it's more proof in my own mind of just how phenomenal Vidor's output was between 1925 and 1934. He seemed incapable of doing wrong (except perhaps for Bird of Paradise, which is his only film from this period I remember not liking immediately).

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Bardelys the Magnificent (King Vidor, 1926)

#20 Post by myrnaloyisdope » Tue Oct 21, 2008 4:13 pm

I shall soon be getting a copy of Cynara, and have heard nothing but good things. I dig both Colman and Francis, so I expect it would like it regardless of Vidor's involvement, but that just seals it.

I'm hoping to get a copy of The Stranger's Return too(can anyone help me out?), I mean Miriam Hopkins and King Vidor has to be a sure-win right?

I'm actually pretty unfamiliar with Vidor's pre-code work save for Hallelujah! and Our Daily Bread, so I'm looking forward to filling in that gap.

I had the pleasure to watch Bardelys the Magnificent last night, I must say it was surprisingly good. I had read that Vidor didn't think much of the picture, thinking it to be basically hokey studio fare. To be fair it pretty much is, but it's still a lot of fun, and there are a couple of wonderful sequences.

First a little bit about the print. the copy I watched was the one that was shown on French TV on October 12th. The quality is very good, and the restoration work done on the film has left it looking as good as a lot of the MGM silents of the period. One of the reels from about the 20 minute mark to the 30 minute mark is mostly incomplete, and stills are used instead. Basically the sequence involves a chase, and a death scene (of the traitor Lesperon, whom Gilbert ends up impersonation), and Gilbert's first meeting with Boardman. It's unfortunate that it's missing, but it's handled as well as it could be I suppose. The piano score was done by Antonio Coppola and is really very good. One of the better scores I've heard, although my understanding is that the DVD release will have a different score.

John Gilbert stars as his usual lovable rogue, Bardelys, who makes a bet with an evil count (Roy d'Arcy) that he can seduce and marry the virtuous Roxalanne (Eleanor Boardman). Mayhem ensues with chase scenes, impersonations, mistaken identities, sword fights, treason, arrests, prison, execution, et al. It's your standard swashbuckler, but Vidor handles it quite well. The film is nicely paced, he gets good work out of Gilbert and Boardman, and it's basically a fun romp. That being said Vidor does manage to make a couple scenes very memorable.

Firstly there is a beautifully shot scene of Boardman and Gilbert riding in a boat along a river with overhanging vines that are low enough to touch the occupants. A clip from the scene is shown in 1928's Show People. Anyway the shot is beautifully lit, with Boardman seemingly glowing, as the camera cuts back and forth between Gilbert and Boardman who are opposite each other. What really stood out in the sequence was how the overhanging vines obscured the camera lens, so when you would see Boardman she would be mostly blocked by the vines, and when the camera would cut back to Gilbert you would see him frantically trying to move the vines out of the way to see his beloved. The sequence goes on for about 5 minutes, and somehow the way it's shot, and the actors reactions, combined with the effective score really stood out.

The other great sequence in the film is Gilbert's execution during which he tries to escape through a mob of people, using pretty much every thing around him to his advantage. One great shot is of him jumping off of a bunch of spears that have all been tangled up. Vidor shoots it from above, and it stands out. Gilbert then proceeds to use several spears to climb out the castle walls, eventually leading to another great shot, where Gilbert swings from one side of the castle to the other using a large curtain. These shot is also from above, so you see Gilbert's face in complete desperation hanging on for dear life as the crowd below goes whizzing by. Vidor uses this shot a couple more times, but it works so well, kind of breaking up the predictable sequence of long shots. Actually the whole sequence is very Fairbanks-esque, but Vidor handles it with style, and Gilbert holds up his end.

The film certainly isn't one of Vidor's major works, but it does serve as further proof of Vidor's wonderful ability to craft entertaining studio fare, even when there is limited artistic potential. The restoration is excellent, and I can only hope that more works get a similar treatment, as well as more lost films being discovered. As a fan of Vidor, I feel truly blessed that I got to see the film.

poparena
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Re: King Vidor

#21 Post by poparena » Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:15 pm

Hope it's ok to toot my own horn here, thought this might interest you.

It's my take on King Vidor's "The Crowd" with ten bejillion more screengrabs then you'll find anywhere else.

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

Re: King Vidor

#22 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Dec 30, 2008 3:06 pm

What did you take your caps from? It looks--especially w the haloing-- like the MGM VHS (still the best substitute for the nonexistent dvd).

poparena
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:24 pm

Re: King Vidor

#23 Post by poparena » Tue Dec 30, 2008 3:36 pm

Yeah, it's the MGM VHS.

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Ann Harding
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:26 am
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Re: King Vidor

#24 Post by Ann Harding » Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:59 am

I am a huge Vidor fan and I have seen so far about 25 of his films. His silent work is absolutely top-notch.
I have a particular fondness for his early talkies like Cynara, The Stranger's Return and The Wedding Night, all dealing with marital infidelity with a very modern outlook. In Cynara, Ronald Colman is unfaithful to his wife during her absence with disastrous consequences but in the end, his wife decides to stay with him. The wonderful The Stranger's Return shows a mutual attraction between Miriam Hopkins the town girl and the University educated farmer Franchot Tone. The film is a cross between City Girl and Ben Johnson's Volpone shot on locations in Chino, CA, quite unlike any other MGM prod of the time. And The Wedding Night follows an alcoholic writer (with shades of Fitzgerald) retiring in Connecticut where he meets a Polish peasant girl. All of them are superbly handled in terms of acting and worth investigating.

Another volume worth aquiring is:
King Vidor -Interviewed by Nancy Dowd & David Shepard (The director's Guild of America/Scrarecrow Press, 1988)
Vidor talks at length about all his films with a fresh eye after watching them again.

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Fesapo
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 3:39 pm
Location: Shimane, Japan

Re: King Vidor

#25 Post by Fesapo » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:14 pm

Regarding "The Crowd," I live in Japan and have just stumbled upon a Region 2 discount classics series release of it on DVD (specifically, on the Golden Age Entertainment Classic Movies Collection label) for 420-yen, or what amounts to about $4.20 USD. If anyone among you would like to PM me, I'd be happy to help find another copy on anyone's behalf.

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