Pordenone 2001
feature by Sean Axmaker, 7 December 2001

Odds And Ends

Sometimes it’s the little things that get into your blood. Last year I was enchanted by the bizarre little oddities discovered and played in the “Goodnight Silents” program, the final showing of the night (usually sometime after midnight). This year I couldn’t keep that punishing schedule of both early and late screenings so I opted out of most of the later shows. I was, however, treated to some marvelous discoveries peppered through the daytime screenings, like Hands Up! (1918), which was actually a sales film created for exhibitors, full of promotional materials, hard-sell slogans, and especially crazy highlights from a wild-western serial what somehow encompasses a bloodthirsty cult with dark underground temples (where else to sacrifice maidens?) and lots of last-minute rescues. West of Hot Dog(1924) features Stan Laurel solo (three years before teaming up with Oliver Hardy) as a meek tenderfoot from the East who runs afoul of a gunslinger. Along with the wild stunt comedy and Laurel’s crack timing are some sly intertitles. The Buster Keaton Video program (featuring highlights from an upcoming European DVD release by Lobster Films) gave me my first glimpse of the until-now-lost ending of Hard Luck (1921). The “Fuori Quadro/Out of Frame” program included stunning documentary footage of two natural disasters (the eruption of Etna in 1909 and the aftermath of the 1905 earthquake in Italy) and an unidentified dramatic experiment from 1928 using the “Triptych” process (three images side by side) to illustrate a poem. The frames were optically printed onto a single piece of film. Later that week we would see a much more spectacular use of the process in Abel Gance’s Napoleon.




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