A few words about…™ Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache – DVD

4 Stars

I may be among the few who has actually heard of Alice Guy-Blache. Even if I’d never seen one of her films, known their titles, or her extraordinary history in the annals of motion pictures, from the earliest flickers, through serious filmmaking.

Even, in my opinion, the finest book published on the silent cinema, Kevin Brownlow’s The Parade’s Gone By (if you don’t have a copy find one) relegates her to footnotes.

Whether by poor or incomplete research by some of the most notable authors dedicated to the era, or attempts to re-write the history of film, and possibly make it more male-oriented, Ms Guy-Blache had been relegated to the veritable dust bin of history.

Fortunately, Kino Lorber is releasing a documentary, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache, that I feel is one of the finest ever created on motion picture history.

It’s an impassioned, incredibly researched document of feature length, in which director Pamela B. Green makes an epic attempt to put the situation right.

And succeeds.

In spades!

As narrated by Jodie Foster, the film is packed with documents, films, and video and audio commentaries, and interviews.

It’s a majestic, sometimes etherial, showpiece obviously comes from love, respect, and a great deal of archival research and documentation.

Interestingly, for a film that rides the waves between silent cinema and our digital era, Be Natural is a film that makes use of every technological asset and tool available to tell its story.

I would urge everyone with an interest in film, to grab a copy – a bargain at $20 street.

Image – n/a

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

20 Comments

  1. Robert Harris

    Certainly. And while you’re at it, come up with a print of Tourneur’s Cupid and the Little Sister.

    I'd welcome anything by the great Maurice Tourneur. Bill Everson passed his admiration for him to me.

  2. bujaki

    I'd welcome anything by the great Maurice Tourneur. Bill Everson passed his admiration for him to me.

    Jose, are you aware there's a region-free Blu-Ray with English subs from Pathe of JUSTIN DE MARSEILLE? I have it and it looks great. Available from Amazon.fr. No, it's not LAST OF THE MOHICANS which was one of Bill's faves, but hopefully someday soon that will turn up as well.

  3. lark144

    Jose, are you aware there's a region-free Blu-Ray with English subs from Pathe of JUSTIN DE MARSEILLE? I have it and it looks great. Available from Amazon.fr. No, it's not LAST OF THE MOHICANS which was one of Bill's faves, but hopefully someday soon that will turn up as well.

    Thanks. Will check that.
    EDIT: Ordered using a promotion Buy 2, Get 1 free. Got Tartarin de Tarascon directed by Raymond Bernard, and Une Histoire simple directed by Sautet.

  4. I seem to recall that when Bill Everson, in declining health, was given the opportunity to choose a film to screen at a Cinecon convention which he probably knew would be his last to attend, decided on the little Paramount B-comedy "Mind Your Own Business" (1936), starring Charlie Ruggles and Alice Brady. Might have seemed liked a mystifying choice to many, but it's actually a nice little comedy which I'm quite fond of.

  5. Bert Greene

    I seem to recall that when Bill Everson, in declining health, was given the opportunity to choose a film to screen at a Cinecon convention which he probably knew would be his last to attend, decided on the little Paramount B-comedy "Mind Your Own Business" (1936), starring Charlie Ruggles and Alice Brady. Might have seemed liked a mystifying choice to many, but it's actually a nice little comedy which I'm quite fond of.

    Not to derail the thread, but Bill Everson liked Paramount B's from the 1930's & 40's, and screened many in his classes. I remember him showing a beautiful print of DR. BROADWAY, one of Anthony Mann's first films, though Bill Everson always said, at least in his classes, that his favorite film was THE KENNEL MURDER CASE..

  6. lark144

    Not to derail the thread, but Bill Everson liked Paramount B's from the 1930's & 40's, and screened many in his classes. I remember him showing a beautiful print of DR. BROADWAY, one of Anthony Mann's first films, though Bill Everson always said, at least in his classes, that his favorite film was THE KENNEL MURDER CASE..

    Yeah, not to derail the thread either, but there are indeed a lot of unheralded gems hiding amongst the Paramount B's of the 30s/40s, before the Pine-Thomas unit took over. "Persons in Hiding" (1939), "Hollywood Boulevard" (1936), and just dozens and dozens of others. Often way more entertaining that most other studios' A-level product. Yet, they've been all but absent from view for decades now, since the old 16mm MCA syndicated tv-packages were retired long ago. It's positively maddening how much these things have seemingly faded into the woodwork and been forgotten by even the most supposedly devoted film buffs.

  7. Robert Harris

    Certainly. And while you’re at it, come up with a print of Tourneur’s Cupid and the Little Sister.

    I'm not positive what you're getting at, but it sounds like you're saying it's impossible to see her films. While a lot of Alice Guy-Blaché's output no longer exists, I have some films directed by her on DVD. On The Movies Begin (Image/Film Preservation Associates), volume 5, there's one of her more important films, Making an American Citizen (1912), and Gaumont Treasures Disc 1 from Kino offers sixty of her films made from 1897-1907. It does her a grave disservice to suggest that nothing of her work is extant. If I'm misunderstanding, my apologies, but it's worth making the point that some of her films are readily available (the Kino box is still in print).

  8. Mark Zimmer

    I'm not positive what you're getting at, but it sounds like you're saying it's impossible to see her films. While a lot of Alice Guy-Blaché's output no longer exists, I have some films directed by her on DVD. On The Movies Begin (Image/Film Preservation Associates), volume 5, there's one of her more important films, Making an American Citizen (1912), and Gaumont Treasures Disc 1 from Kino offers sixty of her films made from 1897-1907. It does her a grave disservice to suggest that nothing of her work is extant. If I'm misunderstanding, my apologies, but it's worth making the point that some of her films are readily available (the Kino box is still in print).

    You are misunderstanding. Her films were not generally preserve, and many are credited to other filmmakers. The search continues.

  9. Any documentary that's mentioned within the same review of "The Parade's Gone By…" will be a blind-buy that clearly won't leave me in the dark.
    The education continues…
    Looking forward to this one.:thumbs-up-smiley:

  10. I had the good fortune of seeing this theatrically a couple months ago. Of course, I had never heard of Guy-Blache before and didn't really know what I was in for when I went in. I mainly went because the screening was free (my art house comps its members for one screening every month.) But I came out astounded. It's ridiculous that she is not more well-known and appreciated.

    The next few months are really crowded with new titles that I want, and I'm not sure I would play this enough to make it a first choice. However, I will probably pick up a copy sooner or later, a little bit down the line.

    Are there bonus features on the disc? If so, what are they?

  11. Saw the documentary thanks to my local library. I liked it a lot with a nice blend of interviews, photos, and her films. I hope more folks will know about her place in film history. There is a book Fort Lee: The Film Town and a dvd The Champion both by Richard Koszarski which talks about Fort Lee NJ and the early film studios and Alice Guy Blache did have her studio there.

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