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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Salome (1923)

The stepdaughter/niece (Alla Nazimova) of the Judean governor (Mitchell Lewis) lusts after the prophet (Nigel De Brulier) imprisoned by her stepfather. When he refuses her advances, she exacts a terrible revenge. Based on the Oscar Wilde play, this is one of the most visually dazzling film of the silent era. The production design and especially the costumes by Natacha Rambova (Mrs. Rudolph Valentino) are startling still. That plus the avant garde staging give the film an eerie timelessness. Indeed, one can imagine the production intact done at some off-off Broadway theater. The Wilde source material is a bit outre to be taken seriously today perhaps but it provides a mesmerizing film experience. It's not a good film in the sense that it never quite coalesces the memorable imagery to an organic narrative or in plain English, (to turn a phrase around) the sum of its parts is greater than the whole. The transfer I saw had an atonal score by Marc Olivier Dupin which works quite nicely. Directed by Charles Bryant. With Rose Dione and Earl Schenck.

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