a silent film as a musical ?

February 15, 2007 § Leave a comment

Music, costumes, scenery, dancing, all meshed into a gloriously dreamy whole: this was already a possibility back in 1922.

Another of those pleasing Music Films is at the Rialto, also. It is called “Arabian Duet,” and was produced under the direction of J. F. Leventhal, with a setting by Claude Millard and choreography by Ted Shawn. The dancing, done by Martha Graham and Charles Millard, does not seem as graceful as that of Lillian Powell and Miss Graham in the “Bubble” and “Egyptian” pictures, but the setting is effective and the colors, reproduced by the Prizma process, are clear and bright without being harsh. So the eye is satisfied.
There Music Films are, indeed, something more than a novelty on the screen. As compositions of movement, color, mass and line, they are cinematographic creations, entertaining in themselves and significant of the beauty and expressiveness which may be achieved through the medium of kinetic photography. An additional value possessed by them is that they may be shown accompanied by music played in time to the dancing, wherever a screen and one or more instruments can be brought together, because the arms of a director beating time are shown in the foreground of each picture and, according to Mr. Leventhal, all the musicians have to do is follow the lead of this figure on the screen. If this is the case, however, the films have not been exhibited to the best advantage at the Rivoli and Rialto, for, instead of sitting down and letting the orchestras follow the leader in the pictures, the real leaders at these houses have remained on their platforms and directed as usual. As a result, spectators have been disconcerted by seeing simultaneously the unsynchronized movements of two leaders.
(“The Screen”, New York Times, 15 may 1922, p. 24)


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