This year was my fourth visit to Bologna and as with previous trips, I found it a combination of great discoveries and satisfactions, good company and good dinners, but a fair share of frustrations. These are largely the result of so many films in conflicting strands and at overlapping times. In some cases disappointing print quality is another issue. However, I'll move on to the strands I pursued this year, and their highlights.
|Carl Laemmle Jr|
The biggest discovery were the five Mexican films (out of 8), giving me a better idea of the range of achievement in this Cinema (much the same happened last year with the Argentinian films), and I would single out Two Monks (Juan Bustillo Oro,1934) for its gothic expressionism anticipating the Mexican horror 'wave' to come, Soledad's Shawl (Roberto Gavaldon, 1952), a powerful rural melodrama with a star cast of Arturo de Cordova, Stella Inda, and Pedro Armendariz, and Maclovia (Emilio Fernandez, 1948) with its lyrically filmed Indian fishing village setting.
|Humanity and Paper Balloons|
There were plenty of impressive restorations and top of my list would be this year's major Buster Keaton restoration of Steamboat Bill Junior viewed in the Piazza with a brilliant live orchestra whipping up the storm in fine style. Then, there were other beautifully restored silents to behold like Volkoff's Casanova with Mosjukine in top form, Borzage's 1924 showcase for Norma Talmadge, Secrets, and the all stops out Prologue to Gance's La Roue.
In the very fine selection of Robert Mitchum films I at last caught up with Fleischer's Bandido in widescreen and colour, and found it a visual delight in this restoration, and a great adventure vehicle for Mitchum and Gilbert Roland; far more chemistry here than with leading lady Ursula Thiess.
|Sunday in August|
Finally, fitting in 1917 was the challenge and though I was disappointed to miss the Stiller, Sjostrom, and Borzage screenings, I did see Pola Negri's only surviving Polish film, Bestia, Protozanov's revolutionary tale Stop Shedding Blood (Russia, 1917), and an early Rober Wiene with Conrad Veidt, Fear (Germany, 1917).
So, enough pleasures to keep me anticipating future trips.