Sunday 28 June 2020

On YouTube - Barrie Pattison unearths EMERGENCY CALL (Edward L Cahn, USA, 1933)

Well, through most of a life of compulsive film going I rated Edward L. Cahn (left) among the most jeer worthy of Hollywood directors - just above Edgar Ulmer in fact.

Roger Corman mentioned him as someone who had talent but found himself in a situation where he couldn't bring anything to the films. Corman had made a study of the area. He played cards with Maury Dexter. The only one who remained mysterious to him was Fred F. Sears.

However, I discovered that Cahn's uncredited work on the cutting of All Quiet on the Western Front had projected him into a thirties directing career which had him filming John Huston scripts and turning out work admired among the informed. His  Law and Order of 1932 fields Walter Huston as Wyatt Earp and Harry Carey as Doc Holliday. You’d have to work pretty hard to screw up with that combination and scenes like Huston’s bedside undertakings to Carey do ring. There’s another 1932 one called Afraid to Talk with Sidney Fox which has been suggested as notable but I have yet to find that in Cinémathèque land.

After these Cahn was back to shorts and B movie oblivion. So when Cahn’s 1933 Emergency Call popped onto my YouTube screen in a just about watchable copy, I couldn’t resist.

Fresh from a heavy dose of pre-Code Warners viewing I had to notice the skimpy production values RKO had provided - particularly minimally dressed sets, absence of exteriors and sparse scoring. This said Eddy Cahn gives it a good try with camera tracking in the studio built hospital corridors, flats and warehouse and brisk editing. William Boyd no less manages to suggest a leading man of some authority shortly before he took the easy way out and immortalized himself as Hopalong Cassidy. He and next billed star Wynne Gibson turn out to not be the love interest. Hoppy’s squeeze is one Betty Furness who is barely seen.

The piece is about medical rackets with new doctor Boyd’s supervisor and  father-in-law to be making Bill’s path easy by putting him on ambulance call, to the derision of the drivers. This comes to a halt when he and William Gargan have to down a knife wielding maniac who has run amok on the apartment block top floor - it’s always the top floor.

Turns out that gangster Edwin Maxwell (of course) has sidewalk flopper George E. Stone in his pay and takes a dim view of Bill turning him out of the hospital in his pajamas for faking injury. By this time Gargan and Gibson have become an item so it’s even more concerning when Ed is wheeled in injured after a quite well staged fight in a freight elevator and it looks like he’s going to be treated with the lethal WW1 ether that the army has rejected and Maxwell has sold to the hospital.

You can’t really say they shafted Ed Cahn. Costume designer Walter Punkett and music supervisor Max Steiner went on to do Gone With the Wind and one time explorer producer Merian C. Cooper would partner with John Ford in Argosy Films. Joe Mankiewicz gets a writer credit. We can only hope he’d baled before they got to the feeble ending. 

All up I’ve seen worse and this one casts some light on a significant period in Hollywood film making. I’m still looking for Afraid to Talk.

Saturday 27 June 2020

Streaming on Netflix - Peter Hourigan notes one additional title by Egyptian master Youssef Chahine THE OTHER (Egypt, 1999)

It seems that Netflix is on a winner with its batch of Chahine films. My recent post  on this site with some comments about most of the films now available has had a surprisingly but gratifyingly high number of hits. There have been other posts on other sites responding to this new treasure trove, along with more extensive responses, such as this from JoséArroyo and Richard Layne discussing the first film, The Blazing Sun  (Struggle in the Valley) (click here to go to the page)  They plan to continue these discussions through all the films available in chronological order, and already have done the next two (Dark Waters, Cairo Station.)
The key word there is “available”. Not all films are available in all territories. USA has 12 titles, Australia has eleven.  The other film not available in Australia is …um…The Other. From 1999, this is one of his last films. It was released on DVD in USA. My memories of it need refreshing before I make definitive comments. But the blurb on the DVD case below indicates a film with confidence in its director’s filmmaking, prepared to be extravagant but with still with a strong social conviction.  
      The Other is a delirious love story between Adam, the son of a corrupt, domineering female industrialist, and Hanane, a beautiful but impoverished newspaper reporter.  … Among the passionate embraces, extravagant musical numbers and a stirring vision of a harmonious, multi-cultural Middle East, Chahine unravels the connection s among naked greed, corrupt power, Western ‘globalization’ and religious fanaticism. 

Friday 26 June 2020

On ABC Free to Air TV - John Snadden highly recommends THE SQUARE (Nash Edgerton, Australia, 2008)

I was flicking through this week's Green Guide (which doesn't take long these days), and spotted tucked away late on Sunday night probably the best film of this week, the Australian crime drama, The Square  (2008). 
It was actor Nash Edgerton's debut as director and what a film! The Square  is a near perfect blend of Scorsese and Chabrol - with sunshine. 
It's a well told tale of jealousy and greed which spirals out of control as the two main characters try desperately to cover up an illicit affair and murder, plus an unconnected story-line about a bag containing stolen money. 
The film stars David Roberts and Claire Van Der Boom in a cynical and violent drama set in South Sydney's suburban sprawl along the Georges River. Watch for a cleverly written scene where an amorous canine becomes a victim of its own urges - and sign posts beautifully where this pic is heading. 
ABC-TV programmers have wedged this movie between two very ordinary Oz titles. 

The Square  screens Sunday 28 June at 10.50 pm on Channel 2 and in HD on Channel 20 in an Oz triple bill that follows the new drama series Operation Buffalo. Preceded by Bran Nue Dae (Rachel Perkins, 2009)  and followed by Paradise Road (Bruce Beresford, 1997).
The Square is also available on Stan.

Thursday 25 June 2020

The Alliance Française French Film Festival Returns - N.B. LES MISERABLES (Ladj Ly, France, 2019) a masterwork!

Editor's Note: Those who previously won passes to a film at the festival may now use them!!!

Célébrations à deux…
2020 Alliance Française French Film Festival
To Relaunch On Bastille Day!

Following its premature closure due to the COVID-19 health crisis, we’re delighted to confirm that the Alliance Française French Film Festival will be resuming its 31stseason on Bastille Day, from 14 July to 4 August, at Palace Cinemas and associated venues.

Returning to 7 cities throughout Australia, this beloved cultural event has to date confirmed a standout selection of 28 features from the original March line-up, and is proudly presented by the Alliance Française in association with the Embassy of France in Australia, Unifrance Films and screening partner, Palace Cinemas. 

And with the safety and well-being of our patrons uppermost, we confirm that all participating cinemas will be adhering to strict social distancing and hygiene standards throughout the Festival in line with COVID-19 safety protocols.

Two outstanding films, which embody the spirit of optimism and reinvention, have been selected to bookend our July re-launch. For this incarnation of the Festival, first night audiences will be treated to the much fêted La Belle Époque, starring acting great Daniel Auteuil as Victor, a disillusioned man who is given the opportunity to recreate the great love-affair of his youth in the hope that it can restore his future, whilst The Bare Necessity (Perdrix),a whimsical tale of a family forced to re-evaluate their stagnant ways and finally live life to the fullest, will bid adieu to the 2020 season.

Festival films currently confirmed are as follows:

Director:  Daniel Cohen                                                         Cast:  François Damiens, Vincent Cassel, Bérénice Bejo
In this delicious tale of tested loyalties, the close friendship of two long-time couples is put at risk when one of the two wives unexpectedly becomes a best-selling author, upsetting the intricate balance of this formerly close-knit quartet.

ALICE AND THE MAYOR (Alice et le maire)
Director:  Nicolas Pariser                                                                                Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Anaïs Demoustier
In this simultaneously hilarious and poignant drama, a mayor whose passion for his role has deserted him is reinvigorated when a brilliant young philosopher enters his inner circle.

AZNAVOUR BY CHARLES (Le regard de Charles)
A Film by Charles Aznavour, Directed by Marc di Domenico                                                                   Narrator: Romain Duris
Crooner, Charles Aznavour, beguiled his legions of fans with a dream of romance.  But his life beyond music was even more extraordinary, as this enthralling documentary, with never-before-seen archival footage, reveals.
Director:  Erwan le Duc                                                                                     Cast: Swann Arlaud, Maude Wyler, Fanny Ardant
A close-knit family entrenched in a comfortable routine within their small village, find their lives turned upside down when an enigmatic stranger, forces them to revaluate their lives

Director: Alexis Michalik                   Cast: Thomas Solivérès, Olivier Gourmet, Mathilde Seigner, Dominique Pinon
Paris, 1897.  When given three weeks to write a play for a mercurial star of the stage, all author Edmond Rostand has is the title - Cyrano de Bergerac.  Can he accomplish the impossible?

Directors:  Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano                                                           Cast: Vincent Cassel, Reda Kateb
An informal shelter in Paris for autistic youth, abandoned by a system unable to care for them, is put at risk when authorities target it for investigation.

Director: André Téchiné                                                                            Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Kacey Mottet Klein
Muriel, a respected member of an idyllic local community, is horrified to discover that her visiting grandson, has been radicalised by Islamist extremists, exposing this ordinary woman to a moral dilemma of heart-breaking proportions.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY (Fête de famille)
Director:  Cédric Kahn                                                    Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Bercot, Vincent Macaigne
Matriarch Andrea has summoned her children and grandchildren home to celebrate her 70th birthday.  But her warring children threaten to transform what should be a happy occasion into one to remember for all the wrong reasons.

HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE (La bonne épouse)
Director: Martin Provost                             Cast: Juliette Binoche, Yolande Moreau, Noémie Lvovsky, Edouard Baer
In 1968 the head of a housekeeping school for teenage girls, has her pristine life implode when she encounters her long-lost first love whilst simultaneously learning that her business is on the brink of financial ruin.

IN THE NAME OF THE LAND (Au nom de la terre)
Director:  Edouard Bergeon                                                     Cast: Guillaume Canet, Veerle Baetens, Anthony Bajon
Returning to France in the late 70s, Pierre marries his sweetheart and takes over his father’s farm.  But 20 years on, mounting debt and the accompanying pressures start to take their toll on him and his family.

Director: Nicolas Bedos                                                                   Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Guillaume Canet, Doria Tillier
A man is given a second chance to revisit the love of his youth when he encounters a company offering a unique theatrical service that enables customers to revisit memories through carefully orchestrated re-enactments

Director:  Ladj Ly                                                                         Cast:  Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djebril Didier Zonga
Set in the troubled Parisian district of Montfermeil, this searing tale follows cop Stéphane who works on the fringes of both the city and society. 

MY DAYS OF GLORY (Mes jours de gloire)
Director:  Antoine de Bary                                               Cast: Vincent Lacoste, Emmanuelle Devos, Christophe Lambert
When a former child-star is given the chance of a lead role in a big-budget biopic, he must decide whether it’s worth casting aside the comforting familiarity of failure in order to finally stand on his own two feet.

THE MYSTERY OF HENRI PICK (Le mystère Henri Pick)
Director: Rémi Bezançon                                                               Cast:  Fabrice Luchini, Camille Cottin, Alice Isaaz
A deceased Breton pizza maker is celebrated as a brilliant author when a lost manuscript, attributed to him, becomes an overnight literary success. But one outspoken intellectual thinks the whole thing is a sham and vows to uncover the truth.

Director:  Valérie Donzelli                                                                       Cast:  Valérie Donzelli, Pierre Deladonchamps
Maud, a struggling architect, wins a competition to redesign the Notre Dame esplanade. However, what should be a career-defining opportunity only brings more drama, heightened by romantic complications, when a media scandal arises.

Director:  Julien Rappeneau                                         Cast: François Damiens, Maleaume Paquin, André Dussollier
Not wishing to impose yet another disappointment on his father, a young boy articulates a well-meaning fiction by telling his dad that he’s been selected for a top soccer club... but the lie soon overtakes his life and that of those around him.

OH MERCY!  (Roubaix, une lumière)
Director:  Arnaud Desplechin                                                                 Cast: Roschdy Zem, Léa Seydoux, Sara Forestier
The infallible Commissaire Daoud holds reign in the busy police station of a once prosperous town. Some cases are easy to solve, whereas others, pose searing questions about presumptions of guilt and innocence.

ONLY THE ANIMALS (Seules les bêtes)
Director: Dominik Moll                                                             Cast: Denis Ménochet, Laure Calamy, Damien Bonnard
Set in an isolated town in the lush, wintery mountains of southern France, the film opens with the departure of Evelyne, a local woman whose disappearance during a snowstorm soon reveals itself as murder. 

Director: Alice Winocour                                                               Cast: Eva Green, Zélie Boulant-Lemesle, Matt Dillon
As the only woman in the European Space Agency astronaut-training program, single mother Sarah is forced to choose between her work and her child when she’s invited upon a year-long space mission – Proxima.

ROOM 212 (Chambre 212)
Director: Christophe Honoré                                           Cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Benjamin Biolay, Vincent Lacoste
During one “magical night”, time collapses upon itself, revealing to a dissatisfied wife, a window into the past where young passions are revisited and the very concept of love, questioned.

Director: Mélanie Auffret                                                                                         Cast:  Guillaume de Tonquédec, Léa Drucker
When Brittany’s chicken farms face financial ruin, a Breton poultry farm, in an effort to raise funds, takes to broadcasting his rendition of Cyrano de Bergerac via YouTube, with his favourite hen, and star-in-the-making, Roxane.

SCHOOL LIFE (La vie scolaire)
Directors: Mehdi Idir, Grand Corps Malade                         Cast:  Zita Hanrot, Liam Pierron, Soufiane Guerrab
Despite being thrown in the deep-end when transferred to her new job in Paris’ troubled northern suburbs, a young teacher enthusiastically supports her students in the hope of showing them a brighter future. 

SPREAD YOUR WINGS (Donne-moi des ailes)
Director: Nicolas Vanier                                                          Cast: Jean-Paul Rouve, Mélanie Doutey, Louis Vazquez
A disparate father and son – the former, a visionary scientist who studies wild birds, and the latter, a teen obsessed with video games, bond over a daring project to save an endangered species, which takes them on an incredible journey.

THE SWALLOWS OF KABUL (Les hirondelles de Kaboul)
Directors: Zabou Breitman, Éléa Gobbé-Mévellec                     Voices: Simon Abkarian, Zita Hanrot, Swann Arlaud
This critically acclaimed, animated drama follows two couples living in the Afghan capital during the 90s and the impact Taliban rule has on each relationship. 

THE TRANSLATORS (Les traducteurs)
Director: Régis Roinsard                                                 Cast: Lambert Wilson, Olga Kurylenko, Riccardo Scamarcio
When the first 10 pages of a top-secret manuscript appear online, the publisher suspects foul play from one of the 9 language experts hired to translate the book in isolation...and will go to any length to unmask the culprit.

TWO OF US (Deux)
Director: Filippo Meneghetti                                                    Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Martine Chevallier, Léa Drucker
Pensioners Nina and Madeleine have hidden their deep and passionate love for many decades, but their bond is tested when circumstances trigger a series of events, preventing them from moving freely between each other's apartments.

WE’LL END UP TOGETHER (Nous finirons ensemble)
Director: Guillaume Canet                          Cast: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte
The long-awaited sequel to 2010’s star-studded comedy LITTLE WHITE LIES that revisits the complex lives of restaurateur Max and his friends.

Director:  Bertrand Bonello                                                 Cast:  Louise Labèque, Wislanda Louimat, Katiana Milfort
Haiti, 1962…A man is resurrected from the dead and trapped in a nightmare of slavery. Modern-day Paris…Haitian teen Mélissa, the new girl at an elite school, is invited to join a secret ‘literary sorority’.  But the incendiary family secret she harbours becomes a source of fascination to others, who exploit her heritage with shocking results.

The 2020 Alliance Française French Film Festival will screen from 14 July to 4 Augustat the following locations:
SYDNEY:                  Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel   Cinema, Palace Central & Hayden Orpheum Cremorne
MELBOURNE:         Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth & Kino Cinemas 
BRISBANE:             Palace Barracks & Palace James Street
PERTH:                     Palace Raine Square, Luna on SX, Windsor Cinema 
ADELAIDE:         Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas & Palace Nova Prospect Cinema
CANBERRA:           Palace Electric Cinemas
BYRON BAY:           Palace Byron Bay

Follow the Festival on social media to keep up-to-date with the latest news and events:
Official website:
Instagram:               @

Hash Tag                #af_fff_aus

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Investigating the glory of Cinemascope - Marshall Deutelbaum uncovers a Design Pair in THE RAINS OF RANCHIPUR (Jean Negulesco, Twentieth Century-Fox, USA, 1955)

Jean Negulesco
While much has been written about the technology of CinemaScope, apart from Charles Barr’s preliminary discussion of the format and David Bordwell’s exemplary writings regarding the staging of actors in ‘Scope films, CinemaScope aesthetics remain largely unexamined. Set design, for example, has elicited little comment, as has the relationship fo camera placement to it. Yet the films themselves offer remarkable insights. All it takes to see them are asking the right questions.

By accident or by design? 
The interior of  Lady Edwina Esketh’s train compartment in The Rains of Ranchipur (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1955) lines up perfectly with the exterior of the train as she alights with her husband at the station in Ranchipur. 
The oddness of the compartment’s design is explained by the train’s exterior: door lines up with door, unusually shaped section of the wall next to the compartment door lines up with the vertical shape to the right of the train’s doorway, and the verticals between them are equally thick. The rectangular panel behind Lady Esketh’s head is repeated by the bands on either side of the train’s windows. 
A further clue indicating that the compartment’s was meant to mimic the train’s exterior is the way that the walls of the compartment read as flat even though they must be at right angle to one another.

It is only a step from this pair of images to recognize that their basic outline, their graphic configuration, exists elsewhere in the sets of The Rains of Ranchipur. The background of the Maharini’s palace echoes their basic form, once one recognizes the paired doors at its center. Furthermore, the symmetry of the background’s design makes it easy to see that the set—thanks to the position of the camera-- divides the frame into thirds. The same division of the frame into thirds, defined by the sets, continues throughout the film. In this way, the sets add continuing order and stability to the wide frame.

Monday 22 June 2020

Celebrating Felini's 100th Anniversary - An eight film season in Sydney at the Randwick Ritz and in Melbourne at the Elsternwick Classic

Fellini Centenary Retrospective at Classic and Ritz Cinemas

Classic and Ritz Cinemas are celebrating what would have been the larger-than-life Italian maestro filmmaker Federico Fellini's 100th birthday this year with a retrospective of eight of his most incredible films. 
The Fellini Centenary Retrospective takes place every Monday night at 7pm at Classic Cinemas in Elsternwick, Melbourne, and Ritz Cinemas in Randwick, Sydney, from Monday 6 July to Monday 24 August.

Fellini won the Palme d'Or for La Dolce Vita, was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, and won four in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, the most for any director in the history of the Academy. He received an honorary award for Lifetime Achievement at the 65th Academy Awards in 1993. His filmmaking style is extravagant and fanciful, and his films are filled with a rich combination of dreams, memories, fantasies and real life.
The retrospective is presented in association with the Italian Cultural Institute in Melbourne and the Italian Cultural Institute in Sydney. For the retrospective at Ritz, the Sydney institute has enlisted the help of film academic Christian Pazzaglia to introduce the film and conduct a Q&A afterwards at six of the eight sessions (every film except Roma and Amarcord).

Monday 6 July, 7pm - The White Sheik (1952)
Monday 13 July, 7pm - La Strada (1954)
Monday 20 July, 7pm - La Docle Vita (1960) – 60th anniversary
Monday 27 July, 7pm -  (1963)
Monday 3 August, 7pm - Satyricon (1969)
Monday 10 August, 7pm - Roma (1972)
Monday 17 August, 7pm - Amarcord (1973)
Monday 24 August, 7pm - Casanova (1976)

Melbourne Venue: Classic Cinemas, 9 Gordon Street, Elsternwick, VIC 3185.
Sydney Venue: Ritz Cinemas, 45 St Pauls Street, Randwick, NSW 2031.
Classic tickets and info available here. // Ritz tickets and info available here.

Saturday 20 June 2020

Streaming on Netflix - Peter Hourigan alerts cinephiles to the availability of twelve titles by the Egyptian master Youssef Chahine

Youssef Chahine
The word is spreading.  Netflix has loaded an absolute pharaohs treasure trove of films by Youssef Chahine.

Over a long career Chahine (1926-2008) developed a filmography of 45 titles and became the first Egyptian director to gain a reputation outside the world of Arabic cinema. His films were screened in many of the prestige festivals with wins including Berlin and Cannes. Over the years I have grabbed any chance to see any of his films – an odd retrospective, once or twice on SBS, and last year at Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna – though ludicrous cross-programming meant I could not see all I wanted to. 
     So you can organize your own rich Covid-19 lockdown retrospective courtesy of Netflix. These are the films available, in chronological order with a few comments. It should be clear where they are my own comments from having seen the film.  I have asterisked * those films that I would recommend as good starters. I have given priority to the name used by Netflix where they are variations in title translations.
The young Omar Sharif, Struggle in the Valley
BLAZING SUN  (aka Struggle in the Valley 1954, 116 min) An example of his early work, when he was trapped in commercial Egyptian film production. This is a hoary melodrama – but enormously entertaining, and with brilliant b & w photography. There is also an absolutely ravishingly beautiful young man called Michel Chelhoub in the lead.  Later, he was to find fame in the west as Omar Shariff. 
DARK WATERS (1956 104mins.) Shariff again, in another romantic melodrama – but the social awareness is also very present. And more stunning photography.
*CAIRO STATION  (1958 73 min) Breaking away from Egyptian melodrama into full-blown Italian neo-realism, Chahine is laying his first claims to being a genuine auteur. A simple story set around the main station in Cairo, it is vividly peopled with a rich cast of characters.
THE LAND (1970, 129 mins) A powerful story, and Chahine highlights his social values in this account of conflict between a small village and the dominant ruthless local landowner. Political oppression and class division are very much to the fore. 
Return of the Prodigal Son
RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON (1976 124 min) I’m looking forward to seeing this.  From one review: In this Andre Gide adaptation, an activist is released after many years in prison and returns home, shaking up established relationships among his family members… Demonstrating Chahine’s eclecticism, this is an elegant melodrama, exuberant musical, layered allegory, and profound portrait  of personal and political disillusionment.
*THE ALEXANDRIA TRILOGY.  Commences in 1979 with ALEXANDRIA WHY? (133 min)  Chahine moved into autobiographical film making. In this first film the hero is a young man growing up in Alexandria during WWII but dreaming of Hollywood.  In the second film AN EGYPTIAN STORY (1982, 115 min) an Egyptian filmmaker remembers his life while undergoing heart-surgery. “We are drawn into his life in relation with the Egyptian revolution, his constant need for success, and the effect the American Dream has on him.” (IMDB) In the third film, ALEXANDRIA NOW AND FOREVER (1989  100 min) Chahine now appears as himself, a director embroiled in industrial turmoil in the local film industry, as well as his own obsession with his leading man and an actress he wants to work with.  What an opportunity to see all three films together!
*THE EMIGRANT(1994 130 min) Taking advantage of his international reputation, Chahine tells the well-known Old Testament story of how Joseph is sold by his brothers to an Egyptian and his subsequent rise to influence and prominence.  It’s fascinating seeing this story from an Egyptian perspective. 
*DESTINY (1997 135)  Set in 12thCentury Andalusia, the story of famous philosopher Averroes this is a rich story, fascinating in its picture of Moorish Spain from “the other side”, exploring important issues of freedom of speech and learning.  It is universal in its ideas and relevance.
      If you’ve tried searching Netflix you know it’s not easy. Publicity about this release of Chahine films on Netflix also listed SALADIN (1963, 183 min) but I have so far not been able to locate it on Netflix Australia. This would make eleven films while some reports have said 12. Let me know by email if you find a twelfth. Saladinwas a move into the historical, big-budget spectacular, with a cast of thousands (not CGI) and a bloated budget. It’s fascinating seeing the Crusades from the point of view where the Christian Crusaders are so clearly the baddies. But it is hard to engage with the film with characters too shallow, and overwritten dialogue preaching its nationalist points without any subtlety. 

Friday 19 June 2020

On Blu-ray - David Hare exalts a new edition of Buster Keaton's THE CAMERAMAN (USA, 1929

Screens of Buster Keaton from the superb new restoration (Warner/MPI/Ritrovato Bologna) and Criterion Blu-ray of his last of two final silent features at MGM under that poisonous old bastard Louis B Mayer. 

It’s The Cameraman from 1929. Included amongst the screens his co-star in mayhem Josephine, (actual name was "Chicago") the Capucin monkey (below) who also graces movies from Harold Lloyd (The Kid Brother), Chaplin (The Circus) and another Buster Keaton picture, Steamboat Bill Jnr.

Keaton’s persona is the closest thing any actor came to expressing existence in a possible Paradise, even while his face is always cautioning reserve for anything so impossibly hoped for. And thus it is he never imagines "getting the girl". 

She is, as it turns out, attracted to him from early on, but thanks to the conflations and twists and turns of movie making every single effort Keaton makes to save her neck is done while she's unconscious, so the hunky "hero", Harold Goodwin who is the original "real" cameraman takes credit for Buster's work, until he finally gets credit for all this in the last act, thanks largely to the help of his guardian angel, Josephine the Monkey who had earlier become his assistant on the award winning Tong Wars newsreel footage. 

Only the opening in two color Technicolor of Seven Chances from 1927 comes close to such a glorious epiphany, in which static picture postcard-like tableaux declare on the title cards how much he loves his girl, as the images of that picket fence opening shift across the seasons and the years, as the two strip colors gently mutate from season to season, and her puppy grows into a huge, superb dog, while Buster and his beloved are still stranded in singlehood. I cannot think of a more beautiful opening to any movie in the history of cinema.