"The superb dedication of such entities as the Criterion Collection, Milestone Films, and Gartenberg Media Enterprises, to name key players, are making possible access to a wealth of cinematic history, ephemera, and value-added materials."
- B. Ruby Rich, Film Quarterly Winter 2013
GME is pleased to present for the fall academic semester an ever-expanding roster of DVD and Blu-ray editions of moving image works from the entire breadth and depth of moving image history. These works encompass trick films by George Méliès from the 1890s through to contemporary experimental filmmakers working in both France and the United States.
In order to further the presence of female stars in our distribution catalogue, we are offering (for the first time on DVD) classic silent films starring “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford (FANCHON THE CRICKET billed as an “adult fairy tale” and LITTLE ANNIE ROONEY, a “tomboy of the tenements”); she stands in stature alongside such internationally renowned performers as Alla Nazimova and Asta Nielsen. As well, we introduce comedy shorts featuring Charley Bowers (an actor long overdue for rediscovery) alongside our previous release of films by Charlie Chaplin and Mack Sennett.
The end of the silent era saw an apotheosis of the art and craft of the motion picture. L’ARGENT (1928), Marcel L’Herbier’s silent film swan song — a super-production of epic proportions —combines dizzying camerawork with Soviet-era montage techniques. We are proud to release two classics dramas by Paul Leni, who successfully exported to Hollywood the qualities of German expressionism in his last two films (THE MAN WHO LAUGHS, 1928 and THE LAST WARNING, 1929); during the same period, his counterpart Richard Oswald in Germany wrote and directed DER HUND VON BASEKERVILLE (1929), which is an equally expressionistic interpretation of the Sherlock Holmes story. Also from 1929, we present FRAGMENTS OF AN EMPIRE by Fridrikh Ermler, a lesser-known but still significant filmmaker of the Soviet era, alongside other LANDMARKS OF EARLY SOVIET FILM.
We have also reclassified a number of the films from our catalogue into a new category – World Cinema Selects -- in order to feature both significant and overlooked international directors of the sound film era. These filmmakers include Austrian emigré Leopold Lindtberg who made films in Switzerland during the World War II period. Works from various directors of New Wave movements across the globe – Germany from the 1960s and 1970s, Taiwan from the 1980s, and Hong Kong from the new millennium are also featured, together with our current offering of French filmmaker Marcel Hanoun’s UNE SIMPLE HISTOIRE (1959), a movie which was profusely praised at the time by Jean Luc Godard.
In addition to offering titles across the breadth of film history, we also now offer works of selected filmmakers in great depth. Philippe Garrel began his career as part of the Zanzibar movement in France in the mid 1960s, and continues to make films in the present day. L’ENFANT SECRET (1979) -- a spare, elemental and devastating film about two damaged souls, starring two actors from Bresson’s films, is our fifth DVD offering from this filmmaker’s oeuvre. MELIES: FAIRY TALES IN COLOR is GME’s fourth release of films by this pioneer of the fantasy film genre working at the dawn of cinema.
Jeff Scher is a modern-day cousin of the aforementioned prestidigitator of early cinema, who works in the vein of film animation. In this experimental realm, we also feature avant-garde documentary portraits of Jean Seberg and Rock Hudson by Mark Rappaport, and short experimental moving image works by Jacques Perconte and Robert Todd. Both of these latter filmmakers are master artisans of the landscape film. Todd shot and edited his movies exclusively in the 16mm film format, creating abstraction through the play of light and shadow, whereas Perconte works in a digital environment where he manipulates pixels to create abstract effects. These two DVD releases thus serve as companion works for study and appreciation by the academic community.
Marcel L’Herbier (France)
L’ARGENT is L’Herbier’s silent-era swan song. Known for his ability to translate artistic and innovative sensibilities into commercial fare, L’Herbier designed the film to compete with the super-productions coming out of France, United States, and Germany at the time. It is thus bursting with state-of-the-art techniques, a big-name international cast, 1500 extras, and was shot by France’s highest paid cameraman at the time, Jules Krüger.
Jacques Perconte (France)
"Technology is no stranger to Jacques Perconte; he uses its defects as inspiration, pushing it to its limits and incorporating its margin of error into his creative practice. For Perconte, information technology is capable of providing an accurate representation of the world — not because of its capacity to capture and process the appearance of reality, but because of the chromatic vibrations that it emits, which are not merely mimetic vibrations, but can be compared to the vibrations of reality itself."
- Nicole Brenez
Philippe Garrel (France)
"A man and a woman with biblical names (Elie and Jean-Baptiste) played by two Bressonian actors (Anne Wiazemsky and Thierry de Maublanc). Shock treatment meets overdose under the rooftops of Paris. And between them, Swan, the child, a badly kept secret. The Swan, a sign of life and mutual survival: the child of children, a fragment of trembling celluloid."
- Serge Daney
Charles Bowers (France)
Beginning as an animator in 1915, Bowers soon turned to mixing live-action with puppet animation, producing a score of mini-masterpieces, often featuring himself (billed in France as Bricolo). Forgotten for decades, a few of these films were miraculously rediscovered in the late 1960s by archivist Raymond Borde of the Toulouse Cinémathèque in France.
James Kirkwood (US)
FANCHON THE CRICKET based on an “adult fairy tale” by George Sand, stars Mary Pickford as the title character, a strong-willed waif ostracized by “acceptable society” until she shows them the power of love and understanding. A natural, sensual and uninhibited Pickford breaks through today’s stereotype of her as “the girl with the curls.” It is also the only surviving film in which both Jack and Lottie Pickford appear with their sister.
Fridrikh Ermler (USSR)
“If influence is the criterion for determining the significance of a film director,” writes Russian film scholar Denise J. Youngblood, “then Fridrikh Ermler is perhaps the most important director in Soviet film history.” Why he does not join the ranks of Eisenstein, Kuleshov, and Vertov as one of the great masters of Soviet filmmaking is unknown. Yet his legacy as an intricate craftsman of deceptively simple stories layered with psychological depth and technical proficiency lives on in his work.
Mark Rappaport (US)
This deconstruction of the life and career of this Midwestern girl, Hollywood star at 19, New Wave icon at 21, and suicide at 40, is undertaken by Seberg herself, as embodied by Mary Beth Hurt. The spirit and inventiveness of Rappaport's script, combined with the endless flow of disillusioned observations and carefully chosen and nervously edited film extracts, make this film a remarkably stimulating piece.
Richard Oswald (Germany)
Long considered lost, DER HUND VON BASKERVILLE (1929), was the last silent Sherlock Holmes film ever made, produced when German studios were the envy of the world. Seen here in two versions, one with English titles and one entirely in German with titles based on the original German censor records, Hund lives again accompanied by a new ensemble score from the incomparable Guenter Buchwald.
Paul Leni (US)
THE LAST WARNING was Paul Leni's final film before his untimely death, and a prime showcase for Universal's 1920s leading lady, Laura La Plante. A visual artist at the peak of his career, Leni’s camera never stops shifting, offering cutaways and trick shots involving nervous could-be culprits, a highly suspicious sleuth, and cast members who suddenly disappear in the darkened theater.
William Beaudine (US)
Mary Pickford plays a “tomboy of the tenements” in this comedy drama, which she also wrote. Co-starring William Haines and a wide-ranging, multi-ethnic cast, Little Annie Rooney met with huge critical and commercial success upon its original release, proving fans and critics alike wanted the then-33-year-old Mary to stay a child forever.
Paul Leni (US)
Masterfully directed by Paul Leni, THE MAN WHO LAUGHSmarks Leni’s penultimate work. Having grown up in Germany during the era of Expressionism, Leni embraces haunting characters, twisted sets, harsh angles, and deep shadows. Heralded as one of the best American silents emulating German Expressionism, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS presents Leni at his creative directorial peak.
Georges Méliès (France)
Beginning with the earlier releases of the award-winning Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema featuring the extraordinary work of Georges Méliès has been available from GME in various Blu-ray, DVD, and digital editions. Focusing on a selection of hand-colored films, and designed to feature Méliès’ love of storytelling, this collection showcases Méliès’ talent for bringing imagination and fantasy to his films.
Jeff Scher (US)
"A lot of these films were genuine experiments — starting with a simple “I wonder what would happen if...” The ideas come from everywhere — friends’ pets, objects picked up from the street, the walk of an overweight man in shoes too tight or the way two different watercolors bleed together to make a hundred new colors. Some of these films started from the love of film and the greedy desire to fill every frame with as much color and shape as possible.”
- Jeff Scher
Robert Todd (US)
"Todd records the world with a sympathetic eye. Feathers and fields, stones and skin are rendered with sculptural accuracy, emerging from darkness into light, from focus to blur, refreshing and refining our own sense of vision. From prisons to playgrounds, streetscapes to landscapes, interiors to underbrush, there seems to be no place or object that resists transformation through the deft manipulations of Robert Todd’s lens."
- LIFT, Toronto
Mark Rappaport (US)
“Impudently insightful in its wisdom... This film is a subversive delight, refracting a revisionist cast on the relationship between illusion and reality as embodied by perhaps the greatest myth-maker of the 20th century - the Hollywood movie machine.”
-Duane Byrge, ‘The Hollywood Reporter’
Marcel Hanoun (France)
"UNE SIMPLE HISTOIRE comes across as a document, as a clinical statement on reality. And I insist on the word "clinical". Marcel Hanoun presents a film where the suspense does not come from the social aspect of the heroine's mIsadventures, but rather from their pathological aspect. Marcel Hanoun's originality is to have been able to not only describe a dramatic situation, but also to elaborate a woman's character. That's why I like this film."
- Jean-Luc Godard