NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed and Lo

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NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed and Lo

PostWed May 23, 2018 6:46 am

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/23/movies/rosita-ernst-lubitsch-film-restored.html

Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed and Looking Great

Mary Pickford, second from right, and Holbrook Blinn, standing, in “Rosita,” a 1923 film directed by Ernst Lubitsch. CreditThe Museum of Modern Art

By J. Hoberman

May 23, 2018

There are films that are lost or so deteriorated that they take on the quality of a holy grail. “Rosita” (1923), the first American movie by the German director Ernst Lubitsch, is one.

A complete print of this self-described “Spanish romance” from the silent era, produced by its star, Mary Pickford, vanished from circulation long ago. Digitally restored by the Museum of Modern Art using material from numerous archives, this new “Rosita” has its American premiere on May 25 at the Museum of Modern Art. The film has reconstructed titles and will be accompanied by a live performance of its original score, also reconstructed.

Lubitsch may be best remembered for his urbane Hollywood comedies, including “Trouble in Paradise” (1932) and “Ninotchka” (1939), and his celebrated “Lubitsch touch.” But largely on the strength of his early, silent films, lavish period pieces like “Sumurun” (1920) and “The Loves of Pharaoh” (1922), many starring the saucy Pola Negri, Lubitsch was regarded as the pre-eminent director in Germany, if not all Europe. Pickford, America’s first female movie star, was enormously popular. She was also a Hollywood powerhouse, having founded the studio United Artists with D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks.

Lubitsch (1892-1947) cast Pickford as the street performer Rosita, beloved by the people of Seville for her spry dancing and protest ballads — an act that attracts the unwelcome attentions of Spain’s lascivious king (Holbrook Blinn). Rosita’s destitute family persuades her to string along her royal admirer even though she is in love with a dashing young count (George Walsh) whom the jealous monarch sentences to death.

Pickford, known as “America’s Sweetheart,” portrayed girls and even children, well into her 20s. “Rosita” allowed her a more adult role: She is mainly a rowdy coquette, but she can also come across as a sensuous woman, a tragic figure and a seeker of vengeance. Contemporary accounts suggest that Pickford and Lubitsch got on well (he praised her as a “genius”), and “Rosita” was a hit with audiences as well as critics.

Lubitsch “proves once more that he is a masterful director, for in every scene there is a touch of originality,” an enthusiastic review in The New York Times said. Still, Pickford would later turn on “Rosita” (and Lubitsch), refusing to preserve her personal print. Interviewed by the film historian Kevin Brownlow in the 1960s, Pickford, who died in 1979, gave a scathing account of Lubitsch’s “terrible” direction. Describing her experience as “an ordeal,” she said she detested the picture and disliked Lubitsch “as much as he disliked me.”

Seen in its glorious restoration, it’s difficult to fathom her objections. Irene Rich, who plays the worldly queen, gives a markedly more sophisticated performance than Pickford (and was subsequently cast by Lubitsch in his 1925 adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan”), but she’s clearly a secondary character. Did Pickford feel upstaged by the movie’s magnificent sets, designed by Svend Gade and William Cameron Menzies? The craze for Spanish revival architecture was at its height when Lubitsch arrived in Los Angeles. It’s not difficult to see “Rosita” as a comment on Hollywood opulence, particularly as Seville is condemned — like the movie business — for its “satanic” revelry.

“Rosita” may not be a masterpiece, but it is a gorgeous valentine, if not to the star then to the industry she personified.

Rosita

Museum of Modern Art, Manhattan; 212-708-9400, www.moma.org.
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostThu May 24, 2018 12:47 am

:) Exciting news, but what about DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL? Has that restoration been completed?
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostThu May 24, 2018 11:36 am

Sounds wonderful!

Any other showings scheduled?
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostThu May 24, 2018 2:32 pm

One thing in that article that gives me pause: she claims Mary and Lubitsch got along well together during the filming, and that it was only in retrospect that Mary claimed it was an awful experience.

I seem to recall that Lubitsch also said it had been an awful experience and he never wanted to work with her again. And he said it before Mary "changed her mind", so to speak. If that's how they both remembered it, I'll take their word for it against this Jilly-Come-Lately reporter.

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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostThu May 24, 2018 2:40 pm

Agnes wrote:Sounds wonderful!

Any other showings scheduled?


If you're among those lucky enough to attend, it's being screened next Friday (6/1) at 4:15 in the Castro Theatre as part of this year's SFSFF. The screening will feature live musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostThu May 24, 2018 3:40 pm

Gagman 66 wrote::) Exciting news, but what about DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL? Has that restoration been completed?


The foundation's website has a full lineup of restorations completed, in production and in the planning stages. Slightly out of date, since clearly ROSITA is completed.

https://marypickford.org/preservation-work/

Here's some information on the Foundation:

https://marypickford.org/mary-pickford-foundation/about-the-foundation/

With about $15 million in assets, the foundation doesn't have an unlimited budget and can only realistically disburse a certain percentage of their assets for preservation projects in addition to all their other charitable projects. I'm not sure how the foundation judges how the projects are ordered, but I do know they take quite a bit of time. These organizations do not have limitless resources.
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostThu May 24, 2018 3:42 pm

Jim Roots wrote:One thing in that article that gives me pause: she claims Mary and Lubitsch got along well together during the filming, and that it was only in retrospect that Mary claimed it was an awful experience.

I seem to recall that Lubitsch also said it had been an awful experience and he never wanted to work with her again. And he said it before Mary "changed her mind", so to speak. If that's how they both remembered it, I'll take their word for it against this Jilly-Come-Lately reporter.

Jim


My favorite bit in the article was that "Lubitsch cast Pickford..." Did he? I recall she was HIS boss. So there!
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostThu May 24, 2018 9:15 pm

Jim Roots wrote:One thing in that article that gives me pause: she claims Mary and Lubitsch got along well together during the filming, and that it was only in retrospect that Mary claimed it was an awful experience.


I distinctly remember a passage in Scott Eyman's biography of Pickford where she takes a dislike to him almost immediately, because he ate fried food and left greasy fingerprints on the wallpaper of her dressing room.

Pulling that volume off the shelf and leafing through that section, it seems that both were strong personalities, and whilst respecting the others' talents, had trouble meeting one another half way. I don't doubt that Mary amplified their animosity in retrospect, but to say they 'got along well' would be stretching things.

(Actually, the thing I didn't remember is that Lubitsch was initially offered Dorothy Vernon and refused, suggesting Goethe's Faust in its place - which Pickford apparently regretted not agreeing to. Taking a small step away from the Little Mary persona would have been one thing, but ... :shock: )
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostFri May 25, 2018 5:10 am

Brooksie wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:One thing in that article that gives me pause: she claims Mary and Lubitsch got along well together during the filming, and that it was only in retrospect that Mary claimed it was an awful experience.


I distinctly remember a passage in Scott Eyman's biography of Pickford where she takes a dislike to him almost immediately, because he ate fried food and left greasy fingerprints on the wallpaper of her dressing room.

Pulling that volume off the shelf and leafing through that section, it seems that both were strong personalities, and whilst respecting the others' talents, had trouble meeting one another half way. I don't doubt that Mary amplified their animosity in retrospect, but to say they 'got along well' would be stretching things.

(Actually, the thing I didn't remember is that Lubitsch was initially offered Dorothy Vernon and refused, suggesting Goethe's Faust in its place - which Pickford apparently regretted not agreeing to. Taking a small step away from the Little Mary persona would have been one thing, but ... :shock: )


Yes, I recall the same story about Lubitsch being offered Dorothy Vernon and turning up his nose at the script. I think Rosita was his own suggestion.

Jim
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostFri May 25, 2018 6:58 am

Gagman 66 wrote::) Exciting news, but what about DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL? Has that restoration been completed?


I'm pretty sure it has. A few years ago, I went out to Long Island to see a screening of DOROTHY VERNON- it was around the same time Christel Schmidt came out with her Mary Pickford book, as she was there to give a talk before the screening.
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostFri May 25, 2018 11:34 am

Brooksie wrote:(Actually, the thing I didn't remember is that Lubitsch was initially offered Dorothy Vernon and refused, suggesting Goethe's Faust in its place - which Pickford apparently regretted not agreeing to. Taking a small step away from the Little Mary persona would have been one thing, but ... :shock: )


The STORY would have been a big shift - but the saintly, virginal character of Margarite/Gretchen, no.

(As I recall, Gish almost did Murnau's?)

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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostSat May 26, 2018 6:59 am

Here's my colleague Dave Kehr's introduction to ROSITA and MoMA's recent restoration, which had its US premiere last night.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ2iZ9Sofl4

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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostTue May 29, 2018 9:28 pm

This restoration is truly a special one that just makes me so overwhelmed with joy. I hope ROSITA has a distributor soon.
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostWed May 30, 2018 6:56 am

Jess McGrath wrote:
Gagman 66 wrote::) Exciting news, but what about DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL? Has that restoration been completed?


I'm pretty sure it has. A few years ago, I went out to Long Island to see a screening of DOROTHY VERNON- it was around the same time Christel Schmidt came out with her Mary Pickford book, as she was there to give a talk before the screening.


If this was at Cinema Arts Centre, yes — it was a 35mm of the restoration that we booked for this show. I can’t remember if the print came from LoC or the foreign archive that did the restoration, and that there was a period of time when the print was in the US.

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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostWed May 30, 2018 8:44 am

BenModel wrote:
Jess McGrath wrote:
Gagman 66 wrote::) Exciting news, but what about DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL? Has that restoration been completed?


I'm pretty sure it has. A few years ago, I went out to Long Island to see a screening of DOROTHY VERNON- it was around the same time Christel Schmidt came out with her Mary Pickford book, as she was there to give a talk before the screening.


If this was at Cinema Arts Centre, yes — it was a 35mm of the restoration that we booked for this show. I can’t remember if the print came from LoC or the foreign archive that did the restoration, and that there was a period of time when the print was in the US.

Ben


Yup, that was the show.

Speaking of Cinema Arts Centre... any chance we could see a screening of ROSITA there in the near future? (I missed the MOMA showing....)
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostWed May 30, 2018 10:38 am

Those clips from Dave Kehr look amazing, especially the night scenes with the fiery spot colour. Also looks like one of Pickford's better "adult" roles, but that makes sense with Lubitsch behind the camera. They may not have gotten along, but it seems like he got some results.
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostSun Jun 03, 2018 8:21 am

The digital restoration did a good job, considering how duped the russian bootleg print looked :

Take a look in the scenes from the russian bootleg print :

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/moma-museu ... on-rosita/" target="_blank" target="_blank

Compare with the restoration :



Nice job from Dave Kehr

I found on web that the Rosita survived only in the russian dupe print, and also a reel of a original print (reel number four). The scene when Rosita eat the fruits looks so good, so clear, that I wonder if this scene is from that reel 4. Is it ?

He are also restoring The Iron Mask (1929) from original camera negatives and original sound disks (found not long ago).
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostSun Jun 03, 2018 10:23 pm

The film looked great, it just screened at the SFSFF with Mont Alto accompanying. A beautiful tint, and reproduction of hand schiegel color in the night time fireworks. Acting very good all way round, as Dave Kehr was saying, Pickford did great in her first adult role and if she had stayed on this route, her career could have lasted a long time, but instead she turned back to the child roles.
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostSun Jun 03, 2018 11:57 pm

My memories are of seeing a really crummy 16mm print with Russian titles (read translations live) in the CineGrill. It left a pretty poor impression on me.

The screening the other day was, to say the least, a revelation. Who knew a print could look this fabulous? The restoration work was positively gorgeous.

The film worked for me, lots of Lubitsch touches. I thought Mary was terrific as the spunky street singer. While I agree with Mary Pickford that her best and truest Pickford "moment" was the fruit eating sequence, I thought she did well. The film was gorgeous, the costumes and settings gorgeous. George Walsh, for me, was a big lump of nothing. Granted, he had little to do, but even that seemed a stretch. Guess it was a good thing he was fired from Ben Hur.

Major props to Mont Alto Orchestra for playing the heck out of the commissioned score. It was fabulous to see and hear.
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostMon Jun 04, 2018 7:10 am

I presume it probably was more than be afraid of lost his image as child characters for the films. She probably had some personal thing against it, since she didn't even cared for preser ve as she did with the other films.

missdupont wrote:The film looked great, it just screened at the SFSFF with Mont Alto accompanying. A beautiful tint, and reproduction of hand schiegel color in the night time fireworks. Acting very good all way round, as Dave Kehr was saying, Pickford did great in her first adult role and if she had stayed on this route, her career could have lasted a long time, but instead she turned back to the child roles.
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostMon Jun 04, 2018 7:33 am

I was talking about the Lubitsch-Pickford relationship with Joe Yranski at Cinevent. He has read the correspondence and studio files from the time and he notes that only was Pickford complimentary of Lubitsch's work at the time, but he was kept on retainer by the studio for some years after— and as he observes, if Mary spent money on something, she meant it!

He thinks she was embarrassed by her silent career at some later point because it was uncool in the 30s or 40s, and for some reason Rosita came in for more ire than most. But her actions at the time suggest that she was happy with the film and its director at the time. One possibility is that Lubitsch pushed her to leave the child characterization behind with the film, and she couldn't quite do it-- and so later, when it embarrassed her, she especially resented this film because she could have gone in a new direction as Lubitsch suggested, and didn't.
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostMon Jun 04, 2018 9:27 am

I was wondering about Jerry Lewis... He have a dislike for a film he made, portraing a clown, and for decades gave orders to not release or show it, and in last years there is a resolution to keep the film out ot public view until some extra years after his dead.

How is the law or how was the law ? Had actors/directors (if copyright holders) the right to keep a film out of public reach without , without need to destroy all copies and negatives ?

What about today ? Could Lewis let the film be preserved but never show to anyone even decades after his dead or almost forever?
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Re: NYT: Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘Rosita’ Is Back, Reconstructed an

PostMon Jun 04, 2018 2:09 pm

All Darc wrote:I was wondering about Jerry Lewis... He have a dislike for a film he made, portraing a clown, and for decades gave orders to not release or show it, and in last years there is a resolution to keep the film out ot public view until some extra years after his dead.

How is the law or how was the law ? Had actors/directors (if copyright holders) the right to keep a film out of public reach without , without need to destroy all copies and negatives ?

What about today ? Could Lewis let the film be preserved but never show to anyone even decades after his dead or almost forever?


See the thread on The Day the Clown Cried.

Jim

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