Saturday, May 31, 2014

The missing picture

Film theorist David Bordwell yesterday posted an article on his blog about movies referencing other movies, and how allusionism is not a prerogative of contemporary cinema. He discusses the allusions present in a scene of Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons, where many movie posters dating to 1912 can be seen in the background of a lengthy tracking shot. He concludes the article with some guesses about a poster he wasn't able to identify (the photo below is taken from his website). I confess that I haven't been able to think about anything else for a few hours.

Let's try to give a small contribution to the investigation. As Bordwell observes, the first letters of the title seem to form the word "Car", while the spot on the left could likely be a determinate article. However, there seems to exist no movie of the epoch titled "The Car...". The first option occurring to me is "The Conductor", which seems confirmed by the fact that the man in the foreground apparently wears the uniform of a train conductor. Does he expect the native guy below to pay the fine? However, the only movie title I found which seems consistent with this hypothesis is Conductor 786 (1912), but the plot apparently doesn't fit with the poster. Another possibility, but maybe it's my Italian background speaking, is "The Carabiniere" or "The Carbineer", which again would explain the uniform. There does exist a 1913 Italian film titled Il Carabiniere, but it doesn't feature American Indians, as one would expect.

And what if the first letter was a capital "H" instead? The search goes on...

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