ROSITA needs your help!

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Dave_Kehr

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ROSITA needs your help!

PostTue Nov 04, 2014 2:21 pm

The Museum of Modern Art is embarking on a major restoration of ROSITA, the 1923 film starring Mary Pickford that was Ernst Lubitsch's first Hollywood movie. We are working from the only known nitrate material -- a dupe positive obtained from Gosfilmofond in the 1970s. So far, we have been unable to trace the original English intertitles, though we have quite a selection of other languages -- the Russian titles on the film, plus censorship scripts from Sweden and Germany, as well as an early continuity script from the Academy library and a copy of the score from the Library of Congress, which contains partial titles as cues. If there's anyone with access to the original English text, please let me know at [email protected]" target="_blank as soon as possible. Our partners on this venture are the Film Foundation, the Mayer Foundation, and the Mary Pickford Foundation. The results will not be immaculate (the material is extremely well worn) but they will represent a huge improvement over what has previously been available on this key title. Any help from the community would be much appreciated.

Dave Kehr
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Brooksie

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Re: ROSITA needs your help!

PostThu Nov 06, 2014 3:35 pm

I'm sure you've already come across this fact in your research, but several Australian reviews I've read made a virtue of the way the film had less subtitles than the average film. I'm not sure if this is borne out in those foreign copies, or that extra titles were considered necessary to clarify the story for overseas audiences.

For example:

FITZGERALD'S PICTURES.

An appreciative feature in 'Rosita,' Mary Pickford's latest United Artists attraction, coming to Fitzgerald's Pictures this Saturday, is the fewness of titles in this production. An average of less than ten per reel is the maximum number of sub titles throughout this special feature photoplay. Only titles of necessity are embodied in the story. The swiftly moving action combined with the dramatic portrayal of the competent cast of principles, under the capable direction of Ernst Lubitsch, tells this romantic tale of old Spain so clearly and thoroughly, hence the scarcity of annoying and unnecessary sub-titles.


I've also come across a few reviews that apparently reproduce intertitles directly from the film (a happy habit Australian newspapers seemed to have in the silent era. The tendency of smaller newspapers to include comprehensive spoilers probably drove viewers of the time crazy, but they're a boon for researching lost films).

From Table Talk, Thursday 24 May 1924:

Rosita, a street singer in Toledo, lampoons the King of Spain in song:—

"I know a Queen so staunch and true;
Young maidens, if she only knew!
Take care, my King! Be not [care?] free.
Some eyes look blind that still can see.
I know a King, so bold and gay!
Young maidens, look the other way!

The King, mingling masked in the crowd, is delighted and seeks to make the girl his own, but the Prime Minister has Rosita arrested.


From The Adelaide Advertiser, Friday 2 May 1924:

In this garden the king, learning from his religious adviser that "Satan will hold sway in Seville for carnival week," immediately announces his own noble resolve to go to Seville and "un-seat his sable majesty."
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Dave_Kehr

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Re: ROSITA needs your help!

PostMon Dec 15, 2014 3:58 pm

Many thanks for this helpful information, Brooksie! Very much appreciated.

Dave Kehr
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Arndt

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Re: ROSITA needs your help!

PostSat Feb 11, 2017 10:30 am

I could not wait any longer for the restoration to come out and have finally watched my pretty poor copy of ROSITA. I am eternally grateful to whoever went to the trouble of translating the Russian titles into rather quaint English.

This is a superb film. It has all the best elements of Lubitsch's German comedies and costume dramas. It has huge attractive sets and oodles of extras. It brings a story of royal passion and betrayal down to a human level in a very idiosyncratic Lubitsch way. And then on top of that it has a Mary Pickford in great form. Here we have one and a half hours of fun and suspense with a great cast of actors. What more can you want? Okay, maybe decent image quality...

But even like this the film is a pure joy. The fact that Pickford did not like it cannot have anything to do with the quality of the movie. Apparently she and Lubitsch did not get along. Still the product of their brief liaison is exquisit. I am really looking forward to the restoration now.
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