The Yellow Ticket

Raoul Walsh

T. it.: Il passaporto giallo. Sog.: dall’omonima opera teatrale di Michael Morton. Scen.: Guy Bolton, Jules Furthman. F.: James Wong Howe. Mo.: Jack Murray. Scgf.: William S. Darling. Mu.: Carli Elinor. Su.: Donald Flick. Int.: Elissa Landi (Marya Kalish), Lionel Barrymore (barone Igor Andreeff), Laurence Olivier (Julian Rolfe), Walter Byron (conte Nikolai), Arnold Korff (nonno di Marya), Mischa Auer (Melchior), Edwin Maxwell (agente Boligoff), Boris Karloff (attendente), Rita La Roy (Fania Rubinstein), Henry Kolker (funzionario passaporti). Prod.: Fox Film Corporation. Pri. pro.: 30 ottobre 1931 35mm. D.: 88’. 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

Energized after the stylistic breakthrough of The Big Trail, Walsh continued his radi­cal reconsideration of screen space with this very different piece of material, an often filmed 1914 stage drama about a Jewish woman (Elissa Landi) forced to ac­cept a passport identifying her as a pros­titute in order to travel within Imperial Russia. Working with the great cinema­tographer James Wong Howe, Walsh as­sembles shots of astounding spatial com­plexity, prevented only by the relatively slow lenses of the time from achieving the extreme depth of field effects that Gregg Toland would perfect in the 40s. The mar­riage of camera movement to point of view in such sequences as Landi’s attack on the Czarist official (Lionel Barrymore) is highly inventive (and thrilling to watch), although Walsh would later eschew such techniques as too showy. Of all of Walsh’s Fox films, The Yellow Ticket most strongly reflects the influence of Murnau, but if the lighting is Germanic, the tempo is pure Walsh, with Landi assuming the heed­less, headlong rush of the mature Walsh hero once she decides that the old regime must be brought down. A young Laurence Olivier here makes his American film de­but, as a last minute replacement for the forgotten Edward Crandall, though Olivier would later prefer to date his Hollywood career from his breakthrough performance in Wuthering Heights (1939).
(Dave Kehr)

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