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Lonesome
BLU-RAY disk
Sep 4, 2012 By: Mathew Plale
Lonesome order
Director:
Paul Fejos

Actors:
Glenn Tryon
Barbara Kent
Fay Holderness

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two New Yorkers (Tryon, Kent) develop a romance at Coney Island over Fourth of July weekend.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The most difficult thing is to live alone.

And yet it is very possible, even in the bustle of New York City. There is Jim (Glenn Tryon) and Mary (Barbara Kent), getting ready for the day separately, though clever editing ties them together. Soon they will be. At work, factory worker Jim and switchboard operator Mary are locked together, slaves to time as they are framed in a superimposed clock face. The work day eventually ends and its suddenly Fourth of July weekend.

Many, Jim and Mary included, head to Coney Island, where the bulk of the story is set. They hop on rides, partake in food, sit with a fortune teller. Theyre able to be alone together in the crowds, at least for a time. Jim and Mary are so full of energy that the film cant be anything but completely charming.

Paul Fejos most famous work, 1928s Lonesome, is rightfully renowned for its inventive approaches to an array of aspects. The aforementioned crosscutting and superimposition are key to developing Jim and Marys romance, and the color tinting (brilliant blues, pinks and yellows)--limited, appropriately to only the Coney Island scenes--adds a touch of dazzle. One technique used but greatly unnecessary is the addition of dialogue, lopped in random spurts to fit in with talkies. Though seldom, whats spoken is cringe-worthy:

Hello. Nice day, isnt it? Its perfect just like you.

Well, Mary, youve found your little lamb. Now Im gonna follow you wherever you go.

(Note: This was obviously a very awkward period in Hollywood, and even the best from the era have easily detectable cornball dialogue and delivery.)

Lonesome took a long time for both its current form and its audience to develop. Nearly four decades after it debuted, the George Eastman House began the first preservation attempt on the film. Three decades after that, the first major restoration was completed and the film got a wider audience at the 1994 Telluride Film Festival. In 2008, yet another restoration took place. Now, 84 years after its premiere, Lonesome has made its home video debut and can be seen and cherished by everyone. Its no longer misplaced, no longer forgotten.
THE EXTRAS
Audio commentary featuring film historian Richard Koszarski: Koszarski, who teaches English and film studies at Rutgers University, delivers a superb track, covering the history, technical details and more of Lonesome. Although very academic in approach, the commentary hosts a the wealth of information that makes it worthwhile.

Fejos Memorial (19:35): This video essay, produced with the help of Paul Fejos widow, Lita Binns Fejos, features excerpts from Fejos 1963 audio autobiography to offer a glimpse into the life and career of the director.

The Last Performance (59:32): Fejos 1929 feature stars Conrad Veidt (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) tells of a vengeful magician smitten with his stage assistant. This Danish version features a new score by composer Donald Sosin.

Broadway (1:44:27): Also from 1929, Broadway was initially released in both silent and sound versions. According to Criterions notes: Although the last reel of the sound film has been lost, we have reconstructed that version by incorporating the final reel of the silent version with a soundtrack element discovered in a private collection.

Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 32-page booklet featuring three pieces: an essay titled Great City, Great Solitude by critic Phillip Lopate, an essay titled The Travels of Paul Fejos by film historian Graham Petrie and a 1962 interview with Fejos.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
More than 40 years of restoration and preservation on 1928s Lonesome culminates in this Criterion Collection Blu-ray. With much hype and pressure, Criterion has given Paul Fejos mostly silent romance an absolutely stellar release. Although cleaned up and quite nice in high-definition, the video is certainly not in peak condition (but thats expected for a film now 84 years old). Also included are two of Fejos post-Lonesome features, which fans of this era of Hollywood will adore.
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