A ROUBEN MAMOULIAN DOCU-ETTE?

Here’s a five minute snippet of a longer, quite interesting looking documentary about the great film and theater director Rouben Mamoulian. There are so many things to praise YouTube for but not requiring people to include basic information about the obscure things that they’re posting is hugely unacceptable. The only thing one can glean from watching this is that Mamoulian was photographed in 1986 a year before his death, that he had a white cat and that we see some nice shots of Tbilisi, Georgia, where he was born and raised. There’s an un-subtitled French guy talking and a shot of a very tall room with somebody writing something. What the hell is going on here? The opportunity to see the not-often-interviewed-on-camera director and listen to his charming old-world accent is a mighty one but I’m alternately thankful and annoyed by the sloppiness with which this has been posted. The whole thing ends with some current day shots of Rochester New York (which is where Mamoulian first worked after coming to America) leaving us hungry for more…or at least to get the hell out of Rochester New York. I’ve been on something of a Mamoulian kick for the past few weeks, having watched ‘Applause’ (his first film) and ‘Becky Sharp’ (the first Technicolor feature ever made), the latter beautifully restored by UCLA just a few years ago. I even sprung for a DVD of his MGM musical ‘Summer Holiday’ which has long been out of circulation for mysterious reasons and which, though I searched in vain, nobody has seen fit to make available for free online. I’ve purchased a children’s book he wrote in 1965 called ‘Abigayil–The Cat In the Manger’ and read a not terribly rewarding biography called ‘Reinventing Reality’. A fine b&w print of his Marlene Dietrich movie ‘Song Of Songs’ awaits me on (guess where) Youtube and Brendan Gill’s coffee table book of Los Angeles houses, ‘The Dream Come True’, contains three photos of Mamoulian’s Beverly Hills digs, one of which shows a room with a portrait of the director painted by his wife Azadia Newman who was the portrait artist who painted the original portrait of Gene Tierney used in the film ‘Laura’ which was almost directed by Mamoulian before he was fired by producer Otto Preminger who later took over the movie version of ‘Porgy And Bess’ (which Mamoulian directed the original Broadway production of) from Mamoulian when he was fired by Sam Goldwyn and….and…(here I collapsed).

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