Monta Bell

Sog. e Scen.: Lorna Moon; F.: Gaetano (Tony) Gaudio; Mo.: Frank Sullivan; Scgf.: Cedric Gibbons, a. Arnold Gillespie; Co.: André-ani, Kathleen Kay, Maude Marsh; Int.: Norma Shearer (Dolly Haven), Oscar Shaw (Johnny Storm), Tenen Holtz (Sam Davis), Gwen Lee (Dixie Mason), Dorothy Phillips (Miss Weaver), J. Frank Glendon (Mr. Weston), Ward Crane (Wallace King), Charles Meakin (Stage Manager); Prod.: Mgm 35mm. L.: 1799 m. D.: 72′ a 22 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

Sparkling in a virtually flawless print, this is one of the most atmospheric backstage pictures MGM ever produced. Monta Bell knew the milieu intimately and with scenarist Lorna Moon has worked it all in – the effortless first success, the unexpected flop, the bad notices, the tank towns, the emotional crisis, with the audience not giving a damn and discussing recipes. All shot in lustrous black and white with many marvellous touches and superb performances, especially from Norma Shearer. As accurate about the theatre as Show People was about the movies, it was clearly a source for Vidor’s masterpiece. Bell’s anti-sentimental approach leads to a dramatic ending with one of the biggest shocks I’ve experienced in a silent film.

Kevin Brownlow

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