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Thursday, 28 June 2018

Bologna Diary (4) - Marcello Pagliero, the retrieval of Edgar G Ulmer's DETOUR from PD hell and the newly invigorated DVD Awards

Marcello Pagliero
Who knew about Marcello Pagliero before this week? Not many I suspect, but the crowds in the (air-conditioned!) Jolly Cinema have been impressive. A bit of canny programming, some good program notes by Jean A Gili and lo and behold a director from the 50s, previously sunk into obscurity is back....a bit...Not on Blu-ray or DVD or subtitled... but back. 

Pagliero (dubbed the Italian from St Germain des Pres in the catalogue) is a dogged inheritor of the neo-realist tradition, an Italian who also made a handful of films in France which seem to be mostly finely shot features about the lives of working people right at the bottom of the pile and their travails with tough, indeed always exploitative, bosses. 

There’s a smattering of sexual tension to move the plots along as well as a couple of wild contrivances (the water in the petrol tank!). 

Les Amants de Brasmort  is about the lives of the barge owners and workers on the Seine inevitably produced a reference in the catalogue notes to Jean Vigo but we’re miles away. Miles away even from the poetic realism of Carné and Prevert. Doggedness rules here. 

An interesting byway of film history and all credit to Bologna for tracking it all down and especially to the Cinémathèque francaise for producing high quality 35mm prints.

Edgar G Ulmer
...and amazing credit to the American Motion Picture Academy Archive for the years it spent getting Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour back out of the public domain bondage to which it had been condemned for decades. The intro by Michael Pogorzelski, the head of the Academy Archive made the droll point that the work that had gone into the resto was greater than the original budget of the film. But it paid off with a superb black and white, sharp as a tack copy that demands we see the film anew. Over lunch a friend said you cant see Detour too often. With this copy, on digital and hopefully available widely including on Blu-ray eventually, the opportunity for that desire to be fulfilled is there at last. 

Finally, I can report that the former Papacy of the DVD Award  jury is no longer. The bunch of old white (and white-haired) guys whose membership changed only on the death of an occupant,  and one of whom once distinguished proceedings by sleeping through the entire show in full view on stage, are no longer, swept away by the new management regime and replaced by...well you can see for yourself in this photo supplied by Neil McGlone. Bravo....



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