Clarence Brown


Scen: James O. Spearing, dal romanzo di Wadsworth Camp; F.: Ben Reynolds; Set Decorator: Kay Knudsen (non accr.); Ass. R.: Charles Dorian; Secondo Ass.: Robert Wyler (non accr.); Int.: Virginia Valli (Sally Tolliver), Rockliffe Fellowes (Dave Tolliver), Frankie Darro (Sonny Tolliver), Wallace Beery (Joe Standish), James O. Barrows (Old Bill), J. Farrell MacDonald (Pete), Dot Farley (Gertie), Clarence Brown (scambista, non accr.), Charles Dorian (non accr.), Jitney (il cane, non accr.); Prod.: Jewel Productions, Universal Pictures Corporation; Betacam SP. D.: 82’.

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

Instead of concocting sets in the studio, Clarence Brown took his company on location – not only as a result of seeing Greed – he uses von Stroheim’s cameraman – but as a result of his own experiences shooting Last of the Mohicans in 1920. “We took over a railroad in northern California,’ recalled Brown, ‘and worked among the big trees for six weeks. We used to get up at five am and shoot the locomotive climbing the gradient, with the sun coming up and the smoke mingling with the trees … it was just beautiful. We made almost everything on location, even the interiors of the signal tower, which I had built at a switch track. When it was too bright, we fitted amber glass in the windows to balance the exposure. The whole railroad was ours. They had one train a day. Once we let that through it was our set”. Clarence Brown was one of the best editors in the business, having cut for Maurice Tourneur. He also continued Tourneur’s style of elaborate tinting. This print, produced with its original tints and tones for the Universal Show-at-Home Library in the late 1920s, demonstrates how effective it was. Robert Wyler, the second assistant director, was the brother of William Wyler. He became a director, briefly, in England and France in the 1930s. Frankie Darro, who plays the small boy, had only been in one picture before this. He was the son of circus trapeze artists. Brown used him again in Kiki (1926) and in Flesh and the Devil (1926). He is best remembered for his work with William Wellman in Public Enemy (1931) and Wild Boys of the Road (1933).

Kevin Brownlow

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