We all head towards the 11:30 screening of Kenji Mizoguchi’s first part-talkie, “Fujiwara Yoshie No Furasato” (1930), which also turns into an exercise, for me, anyway, of searching for bits of Mizoguchi’s style shoved up the crevasses. When I find myself closely examining the art deco costumes and jewelry of some of the cast and thinking back to a couple of recent Berkeley Art Museum and Japanese Society exhibits of Japanese art deco, I realize I’m not fully engaged with the story of a popular singer who vacilates between the love of a good (but tedious) woman and the support of a wealthy (but annoying) heiress. It’s the kind of movie I’m happy to have seen, but will never want to see again: an exceedingly minor film by a major director.
Unbelievably, seven of us squeeze in a hurried but delightful meal afterwards, in under an hour, at a local legend, Da Bertino il Re del Tortellino (dal 1957!), an old-fashioned place that only serves lunch, via del Lame 55. It’s conveniently located right next to the theater where most of us are going to see “Wild Girl,” a 1932 film by Walsh, unseen for decades, in a print that the Museum of Modern Art has just struck expressly at the request of Mr. Kehr. Lasagna Bolognese! Escalope Milanese! Tortellini en brodo! Wine for the brave and/or foolhardy (I would be asleep in minutes, so do not take a chance).
Steve and Jackie head off to see Grémillon’s “L’Etrange Mr. Victor,” showing at the same time, where I thought I was going, also, but “You can see it again tomorrow!,” says J. Rosenbaum, and I guess I’m feeling highly suggestible. “Wild Girl,” based on an oft-filmed story and play by Bret Harte, is something of a delight, featuring the delicious young Joan Bennett (still a blonde à la Constance, before she became a brunette à la Hedy Lamarr), sturdy, boyish Charles Farrell, Ralph Bellamy in a slightly-better-than-usual Ralph Bellamy part, and a raft of character actors, including the sturdy Eugene Pallette and the earthy Mina Gombell. Gorgeously shot on location in California’s Sequoia National Park, Walsh’s deep-focus and the clear light made the film look almost 3-D. Nifty screen wipes that looked like scenes were turning the page elicited moans from at least one cinephile sitting behind me. A good time was had by all.
Afterwards, some headed to Frank Borzage’s “A Man’s Castle,” some to the first part of Raymond Bernard’s “Les Miserables,” some to Agnes Varda’s “Documenteur.” I went to a Scorsese/World Cinema Foundation restoration of a 1948 oddity, “Kalpana,” a 2 hour 35 minute film directed by Uday Shankar, the dancer brother of Ravi Shankar. The movie was brought to Scorsese’s attention during his work on “George Harrison: Living in the Material World.” I watch about an hour of it, loving the dance numbers, guiltily wishing it was in color (despite its gleaming black-and-white), not quite connecting with the story wrapped around the dance. Since “Kalpana” just premiered at Cannes, I think I may some day have another opportunity to see it.