Sunday, 26 August 2012

Love's Crucifixion 1928

Love's Crucifixion (Pawns of Passion in USA or Liebeshölle in Germany) was a 1928 film directed by Wiktor Bieganski, and Carmine Gallone, produced by Erda-Film GmbH (I), starring Harry Frank, Henri Baudin, Oreste Bilancia, Hans Stüwe, and Olga Tschechowa. The film was released in USA May 26, 1929, Germany August 8, 1928, Singapore 13 November 1928, Japan April 18, 1929 and in England in May 1929.

Lowry refers to the film in his novel Ultramarine when Dana, Norman and Popplereuter enter a cinema in Tsjang Tsjang (Dairen); "'Hullo,' I said, 'that's next week. Look what we've got today, for Christ's sake. Olga Tschechowa in Love's Crucifixion. What do you make of that, Watson?' 'Olga Tschechowa in Love's Crucifixion,' spelt out Popplereuter..." (Pg. 96). However, the 3 seamen only appear to see a "short" before the projector breaks and they leave the cinema before the main feature. Later, a drunken Dana meets Olga Solugub, the White Russian prostitute, she shows him her card; " 'Olga Sologub.' Olga Sologub. No relation to Olga Tschechowa? No? Not Olga Sologub - Love's Crucifixion?". (Pg. 106). Later, Lowry refers to the film again when Dana recalls him and Janet walking around Egremont; "Later, however, avoiding Egremont Ferry as they ascend a street of houses built on an incline to Brighton Road, which runs parallel to the promenade, as they waver at the King's picture-house, with its peeling stucco, where they are showing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Love's Crucifixion, with Olga Tschechowa....." (Pg. 131).

Lowry has transposed the film from 1929 back to 1927, the time setting for Ultramarine. Lowry may have done this for several reasons: the linking of the name Olga; the fictional Olga is a White Russian as was Olga Tschechowa both escaping Russia after the revolution; the title of the film ties into Lowry's use of crucifixion and love; the film provides a tension between Dana's drunken meeting with a real "Olga" and him and Janet seeing the celluloid Olga together at the Kings Cinema; the use of images from the film - the escape across the snows of Poland link into Dana's fantasy of rescuing Olga Sologub:

Olga's shadow ran before her along the snow. I saw her stir the samovar and sweep the kitchen and break the ice to get more water. I saw how in the deep dark cold winter her mother put more wood in the central stove and threw her wolfskin coat on her daughter's bunk to keep her warm. I heard her brother's merry shout, as he chopped wood, and saw him blow his hands. I heard the tinkle of sleigh bells, and saw snow, light as wool, falling from the eaves. (Pg. 118)

Checkova In Tearful Film
Film Guild Cinema Shows Dull Movie in Pawn's of Passion

Pawns of Passion with Olga Chekova, Sidney Suberly, Henry Baudin, Hans Stever, Lola Josane, directed by carmine Gallone, story by the Director.

A dull piece of cinematography is "Pawns of Passion", a film which is helped little by its title and less by its cast, of which Olga Chekova is the leading player.......

The story is one of mother love. But such a mother as has not been seen hereabouts since Belle Bennett brought in the lachrymose gushers with "Stella Dallas". Miss Chekova, as Anna, is separated from her young son in the Russian revolution. The boy is picked up, curiously enough, by the spurned lover. Anna wanders all over Europe looking for her son.

Why she should leave Russia, where they were separated, to seek him in Germany, Poland and France, is reason enough, for another scenario. On a false scent she tries to find him in Paris, and failing this, she attempts suicide in the Seine, but is saved by an artist. The painter takes her to his atelier, helps her find her son  and marries her which is the path of all motion pictures tread, ot trod, some years ago.

Miss Chekova is a passive performer. She seems inhibited by a set of rules prescribing soul-searing dramatic tactics. Why the painter casts aside the witty and decorative model for the adipose Anna is another baffler that only the casting agent can answer.

The film is nicely photographed and some exciting scenes of armies clashing on a field of snow, of horses falling through thin ice, of bleak peasant villages. New York Times 27/5/1929

Lowry must have seen the film in the England in the summer of 1929 possibly in Seacombe or Liscard. It is not impossible that he was still seeing Tess Evans in 1929 though there is no documentary evidence. The film was shown at the Marina Cinema from 13/5/1929 to 15/5/29 and the Liscard Palace from 27/5/1929 to 29/5/1929. Liscard Palace is only 200m from Tess's former home at 26 Thirlmere Street, Liscard. Therefore, the reference to Dana and Janet maybe based on a real event.

Marina Seacombe: The story features Olga Tschechova who takes the part of a dancer in the Imperial Russian Ballet. She finds herself at cross purposes with captain of the Imperial Guards through having declined his advances. He joins the "Reds" in the revolution, and betrays the man whom Anna, the dancer, has married. From that point the picture becomes a succession of rapid thrills with scenes of Polish cavalry charging, and a sleigh chase across the snowy wastes of Poland. Wallasey and Wirral Chronicle 11/5/1929

Marina Seacombe: Love's Crucifixion on Monday next, transfers the attention from gay Paris to the snowy wastes of Poland. Wallasey News 11/5/1929

Liscard Palace: This is a human story telling of a Russian mother, widowed as the result of the "Red" revolution, who has also the misfortune to lose her little son. Her efforts to trace him provide scope for scenes so far different as the wastes of Poland and the gaiety of Montmartre. Star: Olga Tschechova. Wallasey and Wirral Chronicle 25/5/1929

Liscard Palace: Russia is once again in perspective in 'Love's Crucifixion'', a gripping melodrama. Starring Olga Tschechova and Hans Stuwe, booked for the beggining of next week. Wallasey News 25/5/1929

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