Noah’s Ark

Michael Curtiz

T. It.: L’arca Di Noè; Sog.: Darryl F. Zanuck; Scen.: Anthony Coldeway, B. Leon Anthony, Michael Curtiz (Non Accr.); F.: Hal Mohr, Barney Mcgill; Mo.: Harold Mccord; Scgf.: Anton Grot; Mu.: Alois Reiser, Louis Silvers; Int.: Dolores Costello (Miriam/Marlene), George O’brien (Japheth/Travis), Noah Beery (King Nephilim/Nickoloff), Guinn Williams (Shem/Al), Paul Mcallister (Noè/Il Cappellano), Louise Fazenda (Hilda), William V. Mong (L’albergatore/La Guardia), Anders Randolph (Comandante Dei Soldati Tedeschi), Armand Kaliz (Un Fran- Cese/Il Capo Delle Guardie Del Re), Nigel De Brulier (Il Gran Sacerdote), Malcom Waite (Il Balcanico/Shem), Myrna Loy (Una Danzatrice/Una Schiava); Prod.: Warner Bros. E The Vitaphone Corporation; Pri. Pro.: Marzo 1929 O 15 Giugno 1929; 35mm. L.: 2881 M. D.: 105′ A 24 F/S.

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

When the Warner Bros. studio hired Hungarian director Michael Curtiz in 1926, they were continuing a program (begun three years earlier with the acquisition of Ernst Lubitsch) through which imported European art film directors would add a continental touch to Warner’s generally mundane release schedule. The competition was severe, as nearly all other Hollywood studios had come to this same conclusion at roughly the same time. After a few smaller-scale projects which validated their faith in the new director, Warners set him to work on Noah’s Ark, an epic adventure which paralleled Biblical debaucheries with the decay of modern society. Before the era of computer graph­ics there were few effective technical short-cuts with which to dramatize the destruction of civilization. Cameraman Hal Mohr, who would later refer to Curtiz as “a sadist”, quit the picture in protest of Curtiz’s plan to avoid trick effects by actually washing away the extras in thousands of gallons of Los Angeles Riv­er water (eventually some opticals were utilized, but not before many of those same extras were seriously roughed up in Curtiz’s deluge). By the time this epic was nearing completion, Warners found their Vitaphone process so successful in the marketplace that it was necessary to add a series of dialogue sequences to the originally silent film. Unfortunately, the addition of sound seemed to hurt the film more than it helped. “[The actors] are called upon to recite lines so absurd that they almost certainly shatter any illusion the accompanying photoplay may achieve”, one critic wrote. Noah’s Ark premiered at around 135 minutes, but half an hour was cut for the film’s general release, including, apparently, several of the talking sequences. A severely edited 1957 re-issue by Robert Youngson replaced all the original sound and further reduced the film to around seven reels. The current restoration, assembled from various sources, approximates the 1929 general release version.

Richard Koszarski

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