MISS MEND: An Adventure Serial in Three Parts
MISS MEND, an action-packed adventure serial in three feature-length episodes, was produced in Russia with the goal of rivaling, and possibly even surpassing, the most entertaining American movies of the 1920s. Instead of the avant-garde works of Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov, Russian audiences were enchanted by fast-moving American films starring serial queens like Pearl White, swashbuckling heroes like Douglas Fairbanks, and comedians from the Keystone Cops to Lloyd, Keaton and Chaplin.
MISS MEND meets them all head-on and hardly stops for breath. It features beautiful location photography, impressive stunt scenes; horse, car and boat chases, radio towers, jazz bands and even a spectacular train wreck, interspersed with visual references to German film classics like NOSFERATU, CALIGARI and DR. MABUSE. The film’s heroine, Vivian Mend, is an elegant urban professional who earns her own living and raises a child without the help of any man. But the film, partially set in an imagined America where everything is new and progressive (from technology to social relations and lifestyles) also includes a few more-than-pointed comments on labor relations, racism, excessive wealth, gratuitous violence and even rape.
Based upon a 1923 pulp novel allegedly written by an American, “Jim Dollar” (actually the nom-de-plume of a Russian woman, Marietta Shaginian), the film adaptation is directed by Fedor Ozep and Boris Barnet, each at the start of long and distinguished filmmaking careers. Although it responded to an official call for a new art that could win over mass audiences, MISS MEND was condemned by the Soviet press of the time as ideologically lightweight and a prime example of shameless "Western-style" entertainment. It was nonetheless a huge popular success and after more than eighty years, it remains as exhilarating as it is fascinating.
Mastered in high definition from superb 35mm film elements, this English-titled edition of MISS MEND is accompanied by a newly-recorded large-orchestra score by Robert Israel. Soviet culture specialists Ana Olenina and Maxim Pozdorovkin wrote the new English titles as well as an included booklet, “Miss Mend and Soviet Americanism” and made a bonus 22-minute documentary, MISS MEND: A WHIRLWIND VISION OF AN IMAGINED AMERICA. THE MUSIC BEHIND MISS MEND: THE INVISIBLE ORCHESTRA is a behind-the-scenes look at one of Robert Israel's recording sessions in the Czech Republic. This edition was produced by David Shepard and Jeffery Masino, with digital restoration and editing carried out by Eric Lange of Lobster Films, Paris.
Format: DVD-NTSC / Region 0
(No Regional Code)
Director: Fedor Ozep and Boris Barnet (as assistant)
Screenplay: Fedor Ozep, Boris Barnet and V. Sakhnovsky, based on the novel Miss Mend, or Yankees in Petrograd (1924) by Marietta Shaginian (writing as ‘Jim Dollar’)
Cinematographer: Yevgeni Alekseyev
Art Direction: Vladimir Yegorov
Cast: Natalia Glan, Igor Ilyinsky, Vladimir Fogel, Boris Barnet, Sergei Komarov, Ivan-Koval-Samborsky, Natalia Rozenel & Mikhail Rozen-Sanin
• 250 minutes
• B&W, Tinted
MISS MEND: A WHIRLWIND VISION OF AN IMAGINED AMERICA
Writer & Editor: Maxim Pozdorovkin & Ana Olenina
• 22 minutes
THE MUSIC BEHIND MISS MEND: THE INVISIBLE ORCHESTRA
Narrator: Robert Israel
• 13 minutes
Total Running Time: 04:44:03 (2 Discs)
Language: English intertitles
Musical Score: Robert Israel
Booklet Text: Ana Olenina & Maxim Pozdorovkin
Published By: Flicker Alley
Institutional Price: $300 (plus shipping)
To order call: 212.280.8654 or click here for information on ordering by fax, e-mail or post.