New stage play about Alla Nazimova

Post news stories and home video release announcements here.
  • Author
  • Message
Offline

Wm. Charles Morrow

  • Posts: 1101
  • Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:10 pm
  • Location: Westchester County, NY

New stage play about Alla Nazimova

PostSat Jul 29, 2017 10:01 pm

Saw an interesting play last night, one that might be of interest to people here: Places, which is based on the life of Alla Nazimova. It’s a one-person show, written by Romy Nordlinger, who also plays Nazimova. I hadn’t heard of Ms. Nordlinger before, and it must be admitted she doesn’t resemble her subject, but she did manage to convey a sense of the lady’s charisma. It’s also something of a multi-media show, with slides and film clips projected on the upstage wall.

The best thing about the show is that it accomplishes what the playwright set out to do, i.e. to keep Nazimova’s name and legend alive, and before the public. (That is, before non-NitrateVille type members of the public who’d never heard of her.) As long as the play sticks to the facts of her life, it works pretty well.

What doesn’t work, as far as I’m concerned, is the attempt to turn Nazimova into a feminist icon. I can’t say I know a lot about her, but from what I gather she seems to have been focused primarily on her career and her social life, not on anything that might be construed as a larger political or public stance on feminist issues. (No more so than, say, Gloria Swanson or Mae Murray.) The fact that Nazimova led such an unconventional private life, and made no effort to conceal it, is worthy of respect, and we can admire and enjoy her flamboyance, but beyond that, well, based on the details mentioned in the play there’s no evidence she stood for anything greater than giving the customers their money’s worth in her stage and screen productions, while having herself one helluva good time along the way. Nor was she a victim of censorship, or prudery, aimed at either her work or her personal affairs, despite advertisements for the play that suggest Nazimova was condemned as a “deviant.” No, the loss of her fortune was due to several factors, including bad investments, some very costly flops, and an ill-advised relationship with a person who took advantage of access to her bank account; her “deviance” had little or nothing to do with her downfall.

At any rate, I gather Places is still a work in progress, and I look forward to seeing what comes of it as it’s developed further. One more quibble, however: I think it needs a better title. Any play about Alla Nazimova demands a more catchy, descriptive and colorful name.
-- Charlie Morrow
Offline
User avatar

Harlett O'Dowd

  • Posts: 2052
  • Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2008 8:57 am

Re: New stage play about Alla Nazimova

PostThu Aug 03, 2017 10:08 am

Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:
At any rate, I gather Places is still a work in progress, and I look forward to seeing what comes of it as it’s developed further. One more quibble, however: I think it needs a better title. Any play about Alla Nazimova demands a more catchy, descriptive and colorful name.


And interpretive dancing. Anything dealing with Nazimova *must* include interpretive dancing.
Offline

Wm. Charles Morrow

  • Posts: 1101
  • Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:10 pm
  • Location: Westchester County, NY

Re: New stage play about Alla Nazimova

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 9:48 am

By the way, does anyone here know for certain how Nazimova’s name is pronounced? All these years when I've seen it in print I assumed it was “Naz-i-MOV-a,” with the accent on the third syllable. In the play, however, Ms. Nordlinger pronounced it “Naz-i-mov-a,” with the accent on the second syllable. It has more of a Russian-sounding lilt that way, and I assume the playwright knows what she’s talking about, but I’m curious whether anyone here has heard otherwise.

P.S. This question comes from someone who for decades mispronounced the name of Frank Borzage.
-- Charlie Morrow
Offline
User avatar

Brooksie

  • Posts: 2616
  • Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:41 pm
  • Location: Portland, Oregon via Sydney, Australia

Re: New stage play about Alla Nazimova

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 6:35 pm

Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:By the way, does anyone here know for certain how Nazimova’s name is pronounced? All these years when I've seen it in print I assumed it was “Naz-i-MOV-a,” with the accent on the third syllable. In the play, however, Ms. Nordlinger pronounced it “Naz-i-mov-a,” with the accent on the second syllable. It has more of a Russian-sounding lilt that way, and I assume the playwright knows what she’s talking about, but I’m curious whether anyone here has heard otherwise.

P.S. This question comes from someone who for decades mispronounced the name of Frank Borzage.


Photoplay suggests that the pronunciation in the play is correct.
Offline

Wm. Charles Morrow

  • Posts: 1101
  • Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:10 pm
  • Location: Westchester County, NY

Re: New stage play about Alla Nazimova

PostSat Aug 05, 2017 8:19 pm

Brooksie wrote:
Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:By the way, does anyone here know for certain how Nazimova’s name is pronounced? All these years when I've seen it in print I assumed it was “Naz-i-MOV-a,” with the accent on the third syllable. In the play, however, Ms. Nordlinger pronounced it “Naz-i-mov-a,” with the accent on the second syllable. It has more of a Russian-sounding lilt that way, and I assume the playwright knows what she’s talking about, but I’m curious whether anyone here has heard otherwise.

P.S. This question comes from someone who for decades mispronounced the name of Frank Borzage.


Photoplay suggests that the pronunciation in the play is correct.


Thanks, Brooksie! Interesting to find that very same question in Photoplay, back in the lady's heyday. And now I can proudly say I've been mispronouncing the names of two of Filmland's greats for decades, if only in my head.
-- Charlie Morrow
Offline
User avatar

Rodney

  • Posts: 2279
  • Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:09 am
  • Location: Louisville, Colorado

Re: New stage play about Alla Nazimova

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 7:38 am

When we named one of our guinea pigs "Nazimova," we also misprounounced it. I learned the correct "Na-ZIM-o-vah" from some expert scholars at the Kansas Silent Film Festival one year.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"
Offline

Wm. Charles Morrow

  • Posts: 1101
  • Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:10 pm
  • Location: Westchester County, NY

Re: New stage play about Alla Nazimova

PostMon Sep 11, 2017 4:34 pm

Since attending the play several weeks ago I’ve managed to catch up with two Nazimova films I hadn’t seen before (courtesy of TCM), one silent and one talkie.

Labor Day weekend they showed the 1921 Camille, with Nazimova in the title role and Rudolph Valentino as Armand. I’ve encountered some negative feedback about this one over the years, but went in with an open mind and found it fairly enjoyable. At least it gives one a sense of the leading lady’s charisma (once you get past her startling Afro wig, anyway; my wife said she found “the hair” distracting). Sure, she’s a little over the top, but she certainly knew how to draw the viewer’s attention and hang on to it. And I have to add, in those early scenes when shows off her bare arms it’s plain she was quite toned, more so than was generally the fashion for women at the time. (Whatever Nazimova’s personal habits, she looked like a gal who hit the gym regularly!)

Rudy is so understated in the early scenes he practically disappears; I wondered after a while if this was a strategy on his part, that is, if he was underplaying to provide a contrast with his leading lady’s histrionics. He cuts loose later on in the “denunciation” scene, but for much of the time he seemed to hold his fire. However, when I think back on this Camille in the future the main thing I’ll remember is the scenic design, plainly inspired by Aubrey Beardsley—although not so extreme as in the follow-up, Salome.

Last night I saw the 1941 remake of Blood and Sand, starring Tyrone Power in Rudy’s old role, plus Rita Hayworth, Linda Darnell, Laird Cregar, etc., and Nazimova as Power’s mother. She’s good, although her screen time is limited. Earnest and intense, she reminded me a little of Maria Ouspenskaya. Interesting to hear her voice, and to see her in Technicolor. Can’t say I enjoyed the movie over all, despite the cast, because bullfighting sickens me. (I read that Tyrone Power found it sickening as well, which speaks well of him in my eyes.) But as a film buff I enjoyed seeing these people do their thing in Technicolor. Oh, and Monty Banks is in it! Bonus points to see Monty in color, and speaking too.
-- Charlie Morrow

Return to Silent News

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests