The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Selling the Silents #6


From the Paramount release book, 1927

"Mauritz Stiller's tremendous production of the play by Lajos Biro with James Hall and George Siegmann. Pola Negri the beautiful storm center of riotous emotions and enthralling adventure stirred up by the havoc of war. A super special! Supervised by Eric Pommer."

I've actually seen this one, and it's a charming mix of romance and intrigue, with Negri working in a frontier town hotel that's caught in a tug of war between Russian and Austrian soldiers who keep advancing and retreating. Yes, it's stagey, the action never leaves the hotel, but Negri gives a luminous performance as the maid trying to protect an Austrian soldier trapped behind enemy lines from the Russian officers who make the hotel their headquarters. Comedy relief from Max Davidson doesn't hurt either, but this was my first experience seeing Negri on the big screen (if you don't count her swan song, The Moon Spinners) and her star power was immediately apparent. The film has been remade a number of times, there was even supposed to be a version with Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer (with Lionel Stander taking the Davidson part) in 1936, but La Dietrich clashed with director Henry Hathaway--I can't imagine someone doing that--and it would sit on the shelf for three years before a version with Fred MacMurray and Italian sensation Isa Miranda directed by Robert Florey eventually surfaced.

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