Friday, June 3, 2016

That Night's Wife (1930)

Screen shot from Eclipse DVD
WHO: The great Yasujiro Ozu directed this. It's my personal favorite of his pre-1932 work, or should I say, the half of his output from this period that still survives in full or in part. So much of Japanese cinema history of this era is lost to us.

WHAT: When I last saw this on the big screen (at the Pacific Film Archive) I found it so compelling it made my list of best repertory screenings of 2011. But I'll all the more excited to revisit the film after reading Imogen Sara Smith's marvelous essay on the film in the newly-published San Francisco Silent Film Festival program guide. Here's a brief excerpt:
There has been a long-running debate about whether Ozu was essentially a formalist, an experimental filmmaker, as Bordwell argues, or whether, as Donald Richie contends, he was primarily interested in a singular narrative theme, the dissolution of the family. That Night's Wife shows how these two impulses were integrated as one: to tell a story through purely cinematic means. 
WHERE/WHEN: Screens 3PM today only at the Castro, as part of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

WHY: Thanks to David Hudson for including me in his essential Keyframe Daily round-up of articles about this year's SFSFF. Read all the articles linked there, and listen to Andrea Chase's excellent podcast interview with Anita Monga, and you'll get a pretty complete picture of this festival weekend.

Today is perhaps the day I'm most excited about overall, with the Amazing Tales From the Archives program, two Bay Area-shot features (A Woman of the World was shot in Pleasanton and Mothers of Men was made in Santa Cruz, Berkeley and Sacramento- thanks to Michael Hawley for alerting me to this website highlighting the locations where it was films), and the newly-restored submarine thriller Behind the Door, starring Wallace Beery, who stole the show from Louise Brooks last night in Beggars of Life. I've never seen any of these before. I have seen E. A. Dupont's Variety but only via a very poor VHS transfer, and am excited to watch it on the Castro screen with a 14-piece orchestral accompaniment.

HOW: Carl Martin of the Film on Film Foundation has published a detailed report on all the 35mm presentations at this year's SFSFF, and That Night's Wife is among these. It will screen with live piano accompaniment by Maud Nelissen, who is making her SFSFF debut with this presentation. She is actually the first woman to perform a SFSFF musical accompaniment on her own, unless you count Judith Roseberg's performances for Champagne and Easy Virtue at the festival-produced Hitchcock 9 program three years ago. 

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