The Art Directors Guild (ADG) Film Society and American Cinematheque present Douglas Fairbanks’ remarkable swashbuckling adventure fantasy THE GAUCHO (1927), spotlighting the Production Design by Carl Oscar Borg on Sunday, August 24, at 5:30 PM at the Egyptian Theatre. This rarely seen film will be presented in 35mm on the Cinematheque's newly installed screen with live accompaniment by pianist Cliff Retallick. This will be the season's final program of the "Production Design's Forgotten Treasures" Film Series 2014, sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter.
A special panel discussion featuring Fairbanks expert, Professor John Tibbetts of the University of Kansas and special guest Patricia Ward Kelly, widow and biographer of Gene Kelly, will explore the relationship of film design to dance and stunt choreography, as well as Douglas Fairbanks and Gene Kelly as filmmakers, and their influence on the evolution of American film. The panel will be moderated by Production Designer John Muto, Film Society Founder and Co-Director.
“THE GAUCHO is unique among Fairbanks' swashbuckler films in both tone and look - it is a darker fantasy, tragic yet somehow more rugged and realistic,” said Muto. “Much of the film takes place in a magnificent white city, set high in the Andes. The enormous set, built from scratch was totally the creation of supervising art director Carl Oscar Borg. The enormous, blocks long, multi-story city was designed specifically for Fairbanks to confound an entire army with his vigorous stunt work.”
Other wonderful sets include a rustic cafe where Fairbanks dances an erotic tango with Lupe Velez, the Mountain Girl, who lives in a very well-appointed cave below. Elsewhere in the film, Borg convincingly creates the illusion of enormous mountain vistas and vast plains on the back lot, through the use of glass shots and perspective miniatures.
Fairbanks, the producer of his own epics, was well aware that the sets of his highly physical adventures had to not only be beautiful, it also had to be designed and built specifically to accommodate the action that was his trademark. Another great American performer who often paid tribute to Fairbanks' work was actor, dancer and director Gene Kelly. Kelly acknowledged THE GAUCHO as an inspiration for certain elements of The Pirate (1948). A special clip reel featuring excerpts from Fairbanks' swashbucklers, as well as Kelly's work in The Pirate, The Three Musketeers (1954), and Singing In The Rain (1952), will explore this relationship. Douglas Fairbanks also had a special connection to the Egyptian Theatre as his film Robin Hood opened the theatre on October 18, 1922.
“The 2014 ADG Film Society/American Cinematheque Screening Series has been extremely well-received with the screenings of The Prisoner, Monsieur Verdoux, Dante’s Inferno and The Devils,” states Muto. “We look forward to continuing to screen unique films for anyone who loves great filmmaking in general and is fascinated by great film design in particular.”
Representing the ADG are Film Society Co-Chairs John Muto and Thomas A. Walsh, and Debbie Patton, ADG Manager, Awards and Events. Working with them are the American Cinematheque’s Gwen Deglise, Margot Gerber, and Grant Moninger.