James Cruze

S.: dal romanzo omonimo di Denman Thompson. Sc.: Julian Josephson. Adatt.: Perley Poore Sheehan, Frank E. Woods. F.: Karl Brown. In.: Theodore Roberts (Zio Joshua Whitcomb), George Fawcett (Eph Holbrook), T. Roy Barnes (Happy Jack), Fritzi Ridgeway (Ann), Harrison Ford (Reuben Whitcomb), James Mason (Lem Holbrook), Kathleen O’Connor (Rose Blaine), Ethel Wales (Zia Matilda), Edwin J. Brady (Ike Goodsell), Frank Hayes (Si Prime), Z. Wall Covington (Seth Perkins), Charles Williams (Gabe Waters). P.: Famous Players-Lasky. 35mm. L.: 2000m. D.: 100’ a 18 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

Cruze clearly belongs to the host of directors who enjoyed great fame during the silent era, but were unable to adapt to sound (in his case a “refusal to adapt” would be a more correct way of saying it). During the silent era, he was always cited among the greatest, and his prestige was not limited to film enthusiasts. He was also one of the best paid directors in Hollywood. Louise Brooks, who is often particularly bitter in regard to California cinema, is not shy with her praise for him, and doesn’t hesitate to compare him to Pabst

Kevin Bronlow, The Parade’s Gone By

Today he survives in our memories only for having made The Covered Wagon as well as The Great Gabbo, a somewhat incoherent film (with sound) starring Erich von Stroheim. Not enough to justify his past glory or even guess what it was based on. The problem is that it’s almost impossible to see anything else of his work. Denman Thompson was a music hall artist. In 1875, an attack of rheumatism required him to stay in bed. For fun, he wrote Joshua Whitcomb, a sketch that would be developed ten years later into a play in three acts. Renamed The Old Homestead, it was staged in Boston in 1886. Thompson played the part of Uncle Josh for thirty-two years. The film was shot on the Lasky ranch where a forty-house village was built. Almost all of the houses would be destroyed in the final storm. Before valuing The Old Homestead for its specific qualities, it is useful to remember that it was filmed in 1922, meaning prior to A Woman of Paris and The Iron Horse, and prior to Lubitsch’s arrival in the States. The film was made at the same time as Foolish Wives. The surprising thing is that we find the legendary American past, that the studios would continue to exploit until the Fifties, already shaped.

Jean-Marie Buchet

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