The Red Dance

Raoul Walsh

T. it.: La danzatrice rossa. Sog.: Eleanor Browne, dal romanzo The Red Dancer of Moscow di Henry Leyford Gates. Scen.: James Ashmore Creelman. F.: Charles G. Clarke, John Marta. Mo.: Louis Loeffler. Mu.: Erno Rapee, S.L. Rothafel. Int.: Dolores Del Rio (Tasia), Charles Farrell (Granduca Eugen), Ivan Linow (Ivan Petroff), Boris Charsky (un agitatore), Dorothy Revier (Principessa Varvara), Andrés de Segurola (Generale Tanaroff), Demetrius Alexis (Rasputin). Prod.: Fox Film Corporation. Pri. pro.: 25 giugno 1928 35mm. D.: 102’ a 23 f/s. 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

The Red Dance was overshadowed at its 1928 New York premiere by a Movietone short in which, as the “New York Times” critic breathlessly reported, “the voice of George Bernard Shaw was heard […] for the first time publicly in this country”. The handwriting was on the wall for silent film – Walsh would make only one more silent fea­ture, Me, Gangster, released a few months later – and the “Times” reviewer goes on to suggest that this “somewhat wild piece of work” has “evidently been cut before being screened”, perhaps to accommodate the large program of talking shorts that accom­panied it. Yet, despite some abrupt transi­tions, The Red Dance remains a satisfyingly epic tale of social and romantic upheaval during and after the Russian Revolution, in which the wheels of history grind to bring forth an unlikely romance between a po­litically conscious peasant girl (Dolores Del Rio, in the third and final of her films with Walsh) and an open-minded grand duke (Charles Farrell) who thinks the people might have a point. The most Walshian figure in the cast, however, is the peasant leader played by Ivan Linow, a “clumsy, playful bear of the Baltic, with a snout for vodka and a paw for girls”, who happily rides the chaos around him and ends up a general in the Red Army. The revolution it­self is represented by a magnificently filmed sequence – identified in an intertitle as “the Red Dance” – in which peasants storm a prison and a palace, with Cossacks at their heels – that brings to mind the battle se­quences in The Birth of a Nation with its emphatic cutting and dynamically opposed lines of force. A second ‘red dance’, later in the film, is performed by Del Rio, now a star attraction in a Moscow theater, as an inebri­ating swirl – energy without advancement, destructively feeding on itself.
(Dave Kehr)

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