I love old movies. However talking with friends about old movies I find myself in discussions on the Ferrari in Risky Business or the DeLorean in Back to the Future. Come on people, I’m talking about old movies, not yesterday’s fare. It’s lonely sometimes, sniff. Who for example has heard of LE CHAPEAU DE PAILLE D’ITALIE aka THE HORSE ATE THE HAT or THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT? Not many. To be perfectly honest, until a few weeks ago I knew of the film and I knew that it was a rather famous movie in its time made by an “important” director Rene Clair, but I had never actually seen it.
I guess that’s the reason why it took some time to realize that the rather interesting little pile of old stills I found from the same source of an earlier were all from the same movie. Ed Pelster struck again! (check out the PASSION post for this story) I could not find a copy quickly enough, so I decided to watch the version on youtube you can see at the bottom of this post. THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT is a wonderful movie with great timing with a few but great surreal scenes that enhances the simple but beautiful narrative. I love the scene where the hero ALBERT PREJEAN recounts his woes to the cuckolded husband in the form of a stageplay in the film. Now don’t take my word for it, here’s a review from cinemalane that is pretty near the mark and here’s another one from early&silentfilm. One word of warning, of course you can watch the version on Youtube, but that is not one of great quality and only runs 88 minutes or so. Leave the DVD as well and go straight to the 110 minute blu-ray that is reviewed HERE. It’s well worth it.
Now to the stills. They are on sturdy stock and measure approximately 12×9 inches. THE ITALIAN STRAW HAT was released January 13th 1928 in France. The film was released a year later (January 18th 1929) in The Netherlands through the newly established CENTRAAL BUREAU VOOR LIGAFILMS, yet another Ed Pelster company. CinemaContext -that invaluable tool- registers six showings, the last February 1st 1929. Then the run apparently stopped. I am happy to report that this movie got an 18 Years or older certificate from the censor due to “marital infidelity shown” December 10th 1929. Though I haven’t found more evidence for that assumption the run of the movie was probably cut short through moral complaints and/or lack of public attendance. It appears the film was then later brought to the censor for showings in early 1930 notably in De Uitkijk, the residence of the FILMLIGA. The movie fitted well in the believes and preferences of that group as it was produced by FILMS ALBATROS a company of huge importance for the wave of French impressionism with its talent mix of Russian refugees and young French avant-gardists. All stills have the FILMS ALBATROS logo in the bottom right corner and the censor stamp in the right top corner, so at least they were used for the 1930 release. They are approximately 12×9 inches on sturdy paper. They are in pretty good shape with only a few pinholes in the corners, obviously not used much due to the short runs of the movie and the fact that Ed Pelster kept a pretty close watch on his wares. You never know if you can use them again… If anything, he had a meticulous sense of thrift. Good for him and good for me! They are gorgeous.