The morning kicked off with Gordon Douglas 1964 western RIO CONCHOS. Considering the year the film was made I was surprised how violent it was for a studio picture (20th Century Fox); it opens with a shootout and mass killing at an Indian funeral, later we see people burned alive in a locked saloon and we even witness the death of a baby! I guess this could be a response to the Spaghetti Western genre that was just starting with A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS made the same year. The film was presented in a new restoration from the 35mm colour negative (Cinemascope) at the Sony DADC, Modern VideoFilm and Audio Mechanics laboratories.
Next was another western, this time screened from a “vintage” print from the BFI of Jacques Tourneur’s GREAT DAY IN THE MORNING (1956). The print was heavily scratched and jumped in the sprockets causing dropped dialogue. The film was introduced by a close friend of Peter von Bagh’s, Miguel Marias former director of the Spanish Film Archive. The film stars Virginia Mayo, Robert Stack and Raymond Burr. It’s a fine western and up there with Tourneur’s best work.
We followed the Tourneur with a sparkling new restoration of Preminger’s BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING (1965). A great mystery film starring Laurence Olivier, Carol Lynley and Keir Dullea. The film features a wonderfully inventive title sequence from Saul Bass and a fine comic cameo from Noel Coward. Pop group of the time, The Zombies, feature heavily throughout too! The film was restored in 4K by Sony Pictures from the original camera negative and fine grain master.
One of my personal favourite directors, and quite underrated, Julien Duvivier was up next with his 1936 film LA BELLE EQUIPE. It features an all star cast lead by Jean Gabin and tells the tale of a group of down-on-their luck guys who wind up winning the lottery and pooling their money to buy and restore a “guinguette” by a river. The film was presented in a new 2015 restoration by Pathe in 4K at L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna.
Final film of the day was THE WIZARD OF OZ in 3D. Not sure I can really say anything very positive about this screening. The film was of course never originally filmed in 3D so at no point were any of the effects benefitting from this process. The colours did not look as vibrant through the 3D glasses either. I can only assume the Studio’s idea to release the film in 3D was in the vain hope that it may open it up to a new young audience.
First film of the day today was another by Leo McCarey, LOVE AFFAIR (1939). The film tells the romantic story of the relationship between Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. It’s interesting to note that the film’s screenplay was written by Delmer Daves and the film was edited by Edward Dmytryk. The film was later remade by McCarey in 1957 as AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr but for my money this is the better version of the story.
A brief break from the movies was then taken as we visited the DVD and book fair at the Cineteca where we also bumped into Kim Hendrickson from Criterion for a chat. After some lunch with Aussie Peter Hourigan.
The afternoon started with Peter von Bagh’s VIIMEINEN KESA 1944. A documentary Peter made in 1992 recalling the last summer of World War 2 in Finland and its dramatic effects on its inhabitants. Sadly the subtitles failed on several occasions throughout the screening but it did not otherwise ruin a fine historical document and example of Peter’s fine work.
We then headed up the road to the Cinema Arlecchino for a rare screening of Manoel de Oliveira’s previously unseen 1982 film VISITA OU MEMORIAS E CONFISSOES. This proved to be another highlight of the festival so far for me. Oliveira’s gave strict instructions that the film was not be screened until after his death, which is why it’s remained unseen since he made it in 1982. It is not hard to see why he gave these instructions as the film is a poetic self-portrait of the director himself with its lyrical text recited in two voices. It stands as one of the most personal, touching and beautiful films I’ve seen in a long time.
As we left the screening we were greeted by Alexander Payne with a large bear hug! I first invited Alexander to the festival in Bologna in 2013 as a thank you for his inviting me to Telluride in 2012. He’s been coming to Bologna each year since. He’s been a good close friend now for more than 10 years.
Our final film of the day was to be The Marx Brothers classic DUCK SOUP (1933), directed by Leo McCarey. The film was preceded by a McCarey short SITTIN PRETTY from 1924 which features the same two-way mirror gag he would later use in DUCK SOUP. There really is nothing quite like watching a movie like this in a packed cinema with everybody laughing out loud. The true magic and joy of cinema.