Saturday, February 23, 2013

City Girl (1930)

WHO: F.W. Murnau directed this, his final of three films he shot in the United States of America.

WHAT: Originally intended by Murnau to be entitled Our Daily Bread, this film was substantially altered by the Fox Studio without the director's involvement, and released as City Girl, in both part-talkie and silent versions. Only the silent version remains extant, and although it's certainly the Murnau film that feels the most like other Hollywood films (it fits snugly into a tradition of films involving women uprooted by marriage and placed into a more traditional, rural setting, also including MantrapThe Canadian, The Wind, and A House Divided, just to name a few from the late twenties or early thirties that I've seen or written about in the past several months) it retains quite a bit of the director's inherent poetry. It's not that strange that a certain minority Murnau fans even prefer it to his canonized masterpiece Sunrise, which it invites comparisons to as it reverses the latter's scenario in a few crucial ways.

WHERE/WHEN: Program starts 7:30 PM tonight only at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont.

WHY: If you were among the several hundred people who watched the San Francisco Silent Film Festival presentation of Faust a week ago, your reaction to Murnau's final film shot in his homeland of Germany, may have been something along the lines of "More! Now!" (Yes, that's basically how the director's name is pronounced). If so, you didn't have to wait too long. 

HOW: With a pair of short comedies, the animated Big Chief Koko and the live-action Isn't Life Terrible, all on 16mm prints, with live music by Jon Mirsalis (a great podcast interview with Mirsalis is found here by the way).

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