A cowardly young man, a bitter young woman and a helpless child live on the docks, spend their days full of ennui watching a dredge dig the same hole day in and day out, chased around by ...
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Joan and Magdalen are the daughters of a fisherman. Magdalen leaves her fiancé, Peter, to run off to the big city. Joan and Peter marry. Magdalen's return years later causes trouble for the... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Charles K. French
A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Moran, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl. ... See full summary »
In late 19th century Vienna, Lena Smith, a naive peasant girl from Hungary, has a child by a corrupt young cavalry officer, and goes to work his house as a servant, hiding the truth from ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Gustav von Seyffertitz
A cowardly young man, a bitter young woman and a helpless child live on the docks, spend their days full of ennui watching a dredge dig the same hole day in and day out, chased around by the dredge workers. One day they up and decide to leave for the city together, after seeing a black cat.Written by
Ulf Kjell Gür
Although it cost only $5000 to make, half coming from a silent partner, von Sternberg bought out his partner, giving him 100% profit on his 50% investment and sold 50% of the rights of "The Salvation Hunters" to Joseph M. Schenck of United Artists for $20,000. See more »
scrap the intertitling and this is a charming film
There are many, many silent films where one wishes one had a fuller and/or better copy by which to judge the film. There are however a handful where one wishes one had a less "perfect" copy.
The Informer (1929 version) was for instance made both as a silent film and as part talkie and for a long time the part-talkie version was thought to the lost. Now it has been rediscovered and the silent version seems to have disappeared. It is interesting (historically) to have the part-talkie, but the dubbing of the voices is so atrocious that it completely spoils the films. What one really wants to watch is the silent version.
The same is true for rather different reasons of Sternberg's The Salvation Hunters. If only one had this without the pretentious foreword or any of the intertitles, this would be a very charming little film if not really a masterpiece. But the intertitles (not a single word of which is necessary) are just awful, needlessly underlining the symbolism (and making it therefore seem more irritating than interesting) and written in a style that is absolutely nauseating. So here it would be much better to have an imperfect version which simply retained the images.
In this case one could, with a it of an effort, re-edit oneself but alas it is not possible with The Informer just to turn off the sound because one needs the intertitles that were present in the silent version.
If silent films survived to be re-released during the "sound" era, they were often sadly marred by the addition of sound, colour and unnecessary titling (on the theory presumably that audiences used to sound would lack the necessary concentration required for visual understanding). Some of the worst examples of this are the films of haplin, who seemed incapable of leaving well alone and would add his own overly-sentimental musical compositions and unnecessary (and unfunny) titles (he had absolutely no talent in this regard. It is again a case where the last thing one wants is the director's "final cut".
Sternberg was in many ways a pretentious man (certainly a highly conceited one) but he was not normally pretentious in this manner. He is in fact on record as saying that the use of language was the worst means of communicating and in his best films was an adept of the "unspoken" (Morocco is for me the finest example in that particular respect).
The verbosity in this film is therefore very uncharacteristic and reminds far more of Chaplin (the Chaplin for instance of Limelight). I would not be at all surprised if some day it is discovered that it was Chaplin who advised Sternberg to include so much tiresome verbiage, advice that Sternberg would have had at the time compelling reasons to accept.
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