An american tragedy

Josef von Sternberg

It.: Una Tragedia Americana; Sog.: Dal Racconto Omonimo Ditheodore Dreiser (1925); Scen.: Samuel Hoffenstein; F.: Lee Garmes; Op.: Paul Ivano; Su.: Harry D. Mills; Int.: Phillips Holmes (Clyde Griffiths), Sylvia Sidney (Roberta [Bert] Alden), Frances Dee (Sondra Finchley), Irving Pichel (Procuratore Distrettuale Orville Mason), Frederick Burton (Samuel Griffiths), Claire Mcdowell (Sig.Ra Samuel Griffiths), Wallace Middleton (Gilbert Griffiths), Emmett Corrigan (Belknap, Avvocato Diclyde), Charles B. Middleton (Jephson, Avvocato Diclyde), Lucille Laverne (Sig.Ra Asa Griffiths), Albert Hart (Titus Alden), Fanny Midgley (Sig.Ra Alden), Arnold Korff (Il Giudice), Russell Powell (Il Coroner Fred Heit), Vivian Winston (Myra Griffiths), Arline Judge (Bella Griffiths), Evelyn Pierce (Bertine Cranston), Elizabeth Forrester (Jill Trumbull), Imboden Parrish (Earl Newcomb), Richard Cramer (Vice Sceriffo Kraut); Prod.: Joseph Von Sternberg Per Paramount-Publix Corp.; Distr.: Paramount-Publix Corp.; Pri. Pro.: New York, 5 Agosto 1931 35mm. D.: 95′ A 24 F/S (Western Electric Noiseless Recording). Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Paramount commissioned Eisenstein, then in Hollywood, to write a script based on theodore dreiser’s 1925 novel. It was rejected, as eisenstein expected. The project then went to Sternberg, who streamlined and rearranged the elements of literary naturalism, centering his film on the erotic lure of class rise and the irresolute cowardice of its hero (Phillips Holmes) and his victim’s need to trust in love (a devastatingly vulnerable Sylvia Sydney). Both actors seem truly desperate with uncertainty. Dreiser sued paramount for falsifying the “adaptation” and lost. Sternberg’s stunning cinematography and brilliant use of ellipsis lead to one of the strangest trial scenes in the cinema. A vastly underrated, rarely-screened film, it becomes more modern with repeated viewings, the understated opposite of George Stevens’ later version, A place in the sun, with Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters

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