Some Rare Triangle Productions

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Ann Harding

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Some Rare Triangle Productions

PostTue Jun 26, 2012 4:56 am

Yesterday I went to see some digitized films at the French Cinémathèque. They have a few Triangle pictures which are the only extant prints of these films.

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The Desert Man (1917, William S. Hart) with Wm S. Hart, Margery Wilson, Henry Belmar & Milton Ross

Jim Alton (Wm S. Hart) is a prospector lost in the desert. He runs into a dying woman who fled her nasty husband, the town's barber. Jim arrives in town and expels the nasty barber. He becomes foster father of the man's little boy...

This Bill Hart film is slightly incomplete (missing reel 4). But the missing action was explained in one card. The surviving print has French title-cards that lacked the sparkling humour of the original. But the print quality was really good. For once, I could appreciate the chiaroscuro and the backlit sequences by the masterful Joe August. The story written by Lambert Hillyer had elements of romance when Jim Alton falls in love with the pretty Jennie (Margery Wilson) who runs away with a doctor. Alas, he turns out to be a cad (already married). Poor Jenny becomes a dance hall girl. The film mixed comedy and melodrama with skill. When Jim looks for a doctor for Jenny's dying grandfather, he has to run after the man and catches him with a lasso. The nasty barber is also treated as he deserves after bullying the whole city (and beating his wife and child) for years. He is made to sit in the barber's chair and gets a shave in front of the whole (laughing) city. The final is full of suspense with Jim having to fight a whole bunch of nasties to rescue his foster child. Overall a very worthy Hart. Short excerpt on the CF website.

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The Despoiler (1915, Reginald Barker) with Frank Keenan, Enid Markey & Charles K. French

On the Turkish-Armenian border, Colonel von Werfel (C.K. French) uses Kurds to attack cities. Khan Ouâdaliah (F. Keenan) heads the Kurds while keeping an eye on the colonel's daughter Beatrice(E. Markey). During the siege of the city, the Khan threatens to unleash his soldiers on the town's women unless Beatrice gives herself to him...

This T.H. Ince production directed by Reginald Barker has a complex history. The film originally released in the US in 1915 was a powerful (and disturbing) plea for peace, but when it came out in 1917 in France, the film had been edited and the title cards completely changed. In the original, the film takes place in 'war-torn' Europe and the colonel's name (Damien) sounds distinctly French. Also the terrifying ending turns out to be just a colonel's nightmare. In the new cut, the film becomes anti-German with a level of violence that must have made the spectators of the time cringe in horror. Frank Keenan plays a beastly Kurd (in turban and blackface) who rapes wit relish poor Enid Markey. As for the girl, she takes her revenge by killing her tormentor while he is asleep and drunk. The scene has kept its disturbing power for a modern spectator. And on top, the rape takes place inside a convent and the rapist is a Muslim. The print quality varies enormously. The first reels are from a dupe and the last reels are from the original negative. But there is no doubt that this Barker picture is a fascinating and disturbing picture. There are a few excerpts on the CF website.

The Cold Deck (1917, Wm S. Hart) another brilliant Bill Hart is also available (the only extant print) so is The Good Bad Man (1916, A. Dwan) in a rather darkish print.

I just wished there was a quality DVD box of William S. Hart's best westerns. For the moment we have to make do with evil looking Alpha-Video or mediocre Grapevine. Now that we have a great Fairbanks collection, Flicker Alley could do a brilliant Hart box. Please, Mr Shepard!
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R Michael Pyle

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Re: Some Rare Triangle Productions

PostTue Jun 26, 2012 5:51 am

Ann Harding wrote:I just wished there was a quality DVD box of William S. Hart's best westerns. For the moment we have to make do with evil looking Alpha-Video or mediocre Grapevine. Now that we have a great Fairbanks collection, Flicker Alley could do a brilliant Hart box. Please, Mr Shepard!


I've begged for a decent Hart Box. Nobody seems to care. The fact that you were able to see three Hart's that barely anyone else has seen since their original release is fabulous! I'm jealous. Except for "Tumbleweeds", "Hell's Hinges", and "The Toll Gate", I don't think there have been any legitimate releases of his films. Although, too, the copyright ruling only goes back to 1922, so all those beforehand can - I think - be released by others. I have prints of all the ones still extant except for the three you mentioned and - again, I think - two others.
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Ann Harding

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Re: Some Rare Triangle Productions

PostTue Jun 26, 2012 7:57 am

Well, if ever you come to Paris one day, you can watch The Desert Man and The Cold Deck on a video screen at the médiathèque of the Cinémathèque.
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telical

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Re: Some Rare Triangle Productions

PostTue Jun 26, 2012 10:37 am

If these Cinémathèque films are digitized, what is stopping them
from licensing them to any decent company that can reproduce
and market them?
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Ann Harding

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Re: Some Rare Triangle Productions

PostWed Jun 27, 2012 1:11 am

That would be great, I agree. But, so far, the Cinémathèque has only licensed one silent to a DVD company, a very minor title from the Albatros company, Cagliostro (which survives only in a very reduced version...)

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