No time tonight to write a long posting, but I just wanted to say that I’ve seen yet another Wellman pre-Code. This one, Chinatown Nights, a romantic gangster melodrama starring Wallace Beery, Florence Vidor and Warner Oland, isn’t a great film – though I saw it on an extremely grainy unofficial DVD, and I’m sure it would look much better in a restored print on the big screen. I know it has been shown at one or two festivals so presumably there must be a better print available. The cinematography, by Henry Gerrard, who also worked on Wellman’s classic Beggars of Life, was clearly stunning, with haunting scenes full of dramatic shadows – even though a lot of this has been lost in the print I saw.
Although I’ve been posting on a few different topics recently, I’m still very interested in William A Wellman’s silents and pre-Codes. So I was excited to read that one of his rare silent films is being screened at a festival, even though it is on the wrong side of the Atlantic for me! His film You Never Know Women, made in 1926, is being shown at Capitolfest at the Capitol Theatre in Rome, New York, at 4.50pm on August 15. This is a movie which was thought to be lost for many years until a print was found in the Library of Congress in 2001, and I believe it has been screened at a few festivals since then. Comments on the imdb from a handful of people who have seen it are very enthusiastic.
Here are the details from the Capitolfest website:
You Never Know Women (Universal, 1926) Florence Vidor, Clive Brook, Lowell Sherman, El Brendel, and Roy Stewart; directed by William Wellman. (70 min.) SILENT
Florence Vidor and Clive Brook are two members of a Russian troupe of acrobats on tour in the U.S. whose love for one another is threatened by manipulative playboy Lowell Sherman. Along the way there is a spectacular theater fire and the comic antics of El Brendel (and his goose). Reportedly Paramount was so pleased with director William Wellman’s work that rewarded him with a $25-per-week raise and the big-budgeted Wings (1927). “In addition to being one of the nicest program pictures in many weeks, it is flawlessly acted, brilliantly directed and filled with novel situations.” -Sisk, Variety
This description sounds intriguing – I’m very interested to see that there’s a circus theme here, as this crops up in Wellman’s pre-Code Lilly Turner and so many of his early films are full of wanderers. If anybody visiting my blog gets a chance to see this film, either at this festival or another, please let me know what you thought of it! I suppose there is even a chance it may show up at the BFI in London in the future.