Archive for September 20th, 2011
As the Guardian reports, “Made in the legendary Ufa studios in Berlin by director Eugen Illés in 1918, it has never been seen since its release. Mania – which is nothing to do with madness but the heroine’s name – wasn’t lost after all; a copy turned up in a Czech film collection. The Polish Film Archive has now repaired and digitally restored it, and presented it as a ‘re-premiere’ in Warsaw on Sunday night, accompanied by the Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra.”
The film – produced in Germany, directed by a Hungarian, and starring a Pole – tells a story of Mania, a cigarette factory worker, and her love for a talented composer named Hans – a love which springs from the girl’s fascination with music; it is a love strong enough to make her capable of the greatest of sacrifices. Mania’s beauty and enthralling dance incite passion in an art patron named Morelli, who wants to make her his mistress. In return, he promises to put Hans’ new opera on stage. Faced with a difficult choice, Mania decides to help her love make his dream come true, a choice that leads to a tragic finale.
As the Guardian also reports, “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 – marvellous 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.”
So how did Negri catch Hollywood’s eye ? The films that got her noticed were those she made at Ufa in her late teens and early 20s – including Mania.