If you’re like me, and you often find yourself wondering just what all the fuss over Pola Negri was about, I mean, wasn’t she just the poor man’s Theda Bara, and what’s up with that Stewie Griffin-shaped head of hers? – well, this is your lucky day. It turns out that one of her early Polish movies Mania: Portrait of a Cigarette Factory Worker wasn’t lost after all; a copy turned up in a Czech film collection last year. The Polish Film Archive has now repaired and digitally restored it, and is presenting it as a “re-premiere” across Europe, with music composed just for the occasion by maestro Jerzy Maksymiuk, and performed by the Wrocław Leopoldinum orchestra. The 1918 masterpiece, made in the legendary Ufa studios in Berlin by director Eugen Illés, is currently touring Paris, London, Berlin, Kiev, and Madrid. And, oh, to see it here in the states! Can somebody get on that? Can we start a petition or something? I’m a FIEND for silent movies. And Mania – which is nothing to do with madness but the heroine’s name – looks like it might reestablish Pola’s legacy once and for all.
From The Guardian: “Mania is a gem, a tightly plotted melodrama of the kind they really don’t make any more, but the real value of the film lies in its leading lady – Pola Negri, the first of many silent stars to be plucked from the European film industry and transplanted to Hollywood. Negri’s Paramount years are Hollywood legend: marketed as a diva, ‘all slink and mink,’ she was said to walk her pet tiger up and down Sunset Boulevard when she wasn’t feuding with the studio’s other queen bee, Gloria Swanson. And then there were the romances with Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino – marvelous gossip-column fodder, but when she was said to have flung herself, swooning, on the coffin at Valentino’s funeral, it was clear she was too highly strung ever to be America’s sweetheart.”
“ALL SLINK AND MINK,” omg, I LOVE THAT. I also love that when you first look at the trailer you think it’s a period piece, then you realize that NO, they weren’t referencing the Edwardian era, THEY WERE LIVING IT, it was MODERN then, and that those are actual contemporary outfits for the time! Boggles my mind. BOGGLES MY FREAKIN’ MIND.