Daily Archives: September 3, 1993

El Cid

Not surprisingly, this 1961 epic about the Spanish national hero, the Castilian warrior Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, is often static as drama (with Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren used mainly as icons) and pretty dubious as history. But thanks to Anthony Mann’s splendid eye for landscape, composition, and spectacle–in particular his striking use of the edges of the ‘Scope frame, a facet (among others) that is totally lost on TV and video–this is a rousing and often stirring show. Scripted by Frederic M. Frank and Philip Yordan, scored by Miklos Rozsa, and costarring Raf Vallone, Genevieve Page, and Herbert Lom, the film has been rereleased under the auspices of Martin Scorsese. It runs about three hours, and there is an intermission two-thirds of the way through. Fine Arts. Read more

Anna Christie

A subtitled print of the fascinating German-language version of Greta Garbo’s first talkie (1930), shot at the same time and on the same MGM sets as the more familiar English version of the Eugene O’Neill play–a procedure carried out with several other pictures during this period, before dubbing was invented. The German version has a different director (Jacques Feyder instead of Clarence Brown) and a different supporting cast (Hans Junkermann, Theo Ball, and Salka Viertel instead of Charles Bickford, George F. Marion, and Marie Dressler). The film is something of a relic in both versions–with periodic cuts from long shots in sharp focus to close-ups of Garbo in soft focus, and O’Neill’s lifelong obsession with alcoholic male carousers and their suffering, neglected women getting full play. But Garbo is electrifying, and, if memory serves, she may actually be a little tougher and more soulful in the German version. See both versions back-to-back (as you can on Wednesday) and decide for yourself. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, September 3 through 9. Read more