Harry Lachman

F.: Gaetano Ventimiglia, Marcel Lucien. Int.: Michael Powell, Madeleine Guitty, John Tudor, Gerald Fielding, Georges Térof, Hentiette Terof, Marie Anie, Francis Mylio. Prod.: Harry Lachman Production. DCP. D.: no. 10: 9’. 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

“His father owns a hotel at Cap-Ferrat and he’s a film fan. Rex says he can stick around, give him something to do.” “He” was young Michael Powell, “Rex” was Rex Ingram, the Hollywood director, and the writer of the note was artist-turned-filmmaker Harry Lachman, the company’s stills photographer. It was the height of the 1920s Riviera scene and Powell was in. While they worked on MGM’s The Garden of Allah, Lachman, looking to teach himself directing and foster connections in London, made a series of comic travelogues to be distributed by Ideal Films, showing the attractions of the Riviera in a dramatised journey, from Cannes to Menton, by a motley group of tourists in a charabanc. It featured actors from Ingram’s company playing a rich middle-aged widow, a (fake) Sheik after her money, two lovers, a little person, a vicar and 22-year old Michael as Cicero Simp “naturalist and nuisance”, an accident-prone Brit in a pith helmet and sporting a butterfly net. Powell did his own stunts and even got to direct some scenes, which demonstrated early signs of talent.
In Cold Feats, the first of these two Travelaughs, the young Powell is the dynamic centre as the tourists visit the medieval hilltop village of Tourette and the peak of Peïra-Cava in the Alpes Maritimes. There’s some cleverly done comic business, with Powell a very game participant as his Cicero Simp gets buried in snow. The second, Fauny Business, sees our party visiting St Paul de Vence and La Colombe d’Or, an auberge famed for its artistic clientele; Francis Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda and Isadora Duncan stayed there that season, just before she died in a freak accident in Nice. Perhaps her free-flowing Grecian dance style inspired the dream sequence in which Powell’s Cicero dreams he is a Faun with (Margaret Morris-trained) nymphs dancing in an Arcadian wood? These well-produced little two-reelers, odd as they are, gained entry to the British film industry for Lachman, and Powell with him. The rest, as they say, is history.

Bryony Dixon

Copy From

Remastered in 4K in 2023 by BFI National Archive at Dragon Digital laboratory, from a 35mm positive nitrate