Item #273

A collection of rare survivals of the time - small fragile brochures with ‘film librettos’, actors’ biographies, and articles.
The 1920s was the decade of the New Economic Policy in the USSR, when a relaxation of state control of some industries gave people a taste of mini-capitalism within the Communist economy. Privately owned movie theaters prospered, and with them, the entire Soviet film industry. But Russians were more attracted to American movies than Soviet productions like the classic ‘Battleship Potemkin’. They idolized Hollywood stars, particularly the glamorous couple Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, known respectively as ‘Everybody’s Hero’ and ‘America’s Sweetheart’. The swashbuckling Fairbanks was a sex symbol, and Pickford helped popularize the modern star system.
It reflects the ambivalent Soviet attitude toward Hollywood—a mixture of admiration and repugnance. When Joseph Stalin became dictator, the relative freedom the Soviet film industry enjoyed was taken away. From that point forward, only films that satisfied «the basic demands of the proletarian collective farm mass viewer» would be made. Propaganda, not frivolities like slapstick, was the order of the day.

1) Spartak. Svezhii veter [i.e. Spartacus. A Fresh Wind]. Moscow: Teakinopechat’, [1928]. [8] pp.: ill. 13,5x8,5 cm. Without wrappers as issued. Near fine. Vertical crease.

The film ‘Spartak’ was not preserved. It was a silent Soviet drama film based on the historical novel by Raffaello Giovagnoli. Directed by Turkish director Muhsin Ertuğrul. The script was written by the Ukrainian futurist poet Geo Shkurupii. The music score was written by the famous Aram Khachaturyan (later he used it while creating his masterpiece ballet ‘Spartacus’ (1954)). The film was made in 1926 at the Odessa Film Factory (in 1927 it was named the best film studio in the USSR) of the All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration which was a cinematographic state monopoly that united the entire film industry in Ukraine (1922–1930). The film was first shown in 1926 in Kiev and in 1928 in Moscow.
More than 3000 citizens of Odessa was participating in its production. Ilya Il’f mentioned its shooting calling the film «something very ancient Roman». The scandalous story of the production of the ‘Spartak’ was included in the original version of the novel «The Little Golden Calf» by Il’f and Petrov.
‘A Fresh Wind’ was a social drama about a victory of fishermen over rich extortionists, and a debut for all its creators: screenwriters M. Zats and S. Reznikov, Ukrainian director Georgy Stabovoi, Soviet cinematographer Daniil Demutsky (1893-1954) who later became one of the greatest Soviet cinematographers, and almost all actors.
No copies in USA according to Worldcat.

2) Spid. Papashin synok [i.e. Speed. The Prince of Pep]. [Moscow: Kinopechat’, 1928]. 8 pp.: ill. 13,5x9 cm. Issued without wrappers. Near fine. Small tear of p.1 and few spots.

A small brochure on two American movies.
‘Speed’ is a 1922 American action film serial directed by George B. Seitz. The story is a typically convoluted serial plot.
‘The Prince of Pep’ is a 1925 silent film western directed by Jack Nelson and starring Richard Talmadge.
No copies in USA according to Worldcat.

3) Korolevich, V. Nata Vachnadze. 2nd edition. Moscow: Kinopechat’, 1926. 16 pp.: ill., port. 14,5x11,5 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Loss of the small corner of 3 leaves including rear wrapper, some rubbings. Otherwise very good.

Very rare. A short brochure about Natalia «Nato» Vachnadze (1904-1953) who was a Georgian film actress. She started her career in the silent film era, usually playing the screen character of an Ingénue, an innocent and passionate young woman. She continued to work as an actress during the sound era until her death in a plane crash in 1953. One of the first film stars of the Soviet Union she received numerous honors. Vachnadze was - together with her male colleague Igor Ilyinsky - one of the first film stars of the young Soviet Union, and was sometimes called the Soviet Vera Kholodnaya, after the first film star of the Russian empire, Vera Kholodnaya.
Worldcat locates 2 copies in USA (Stanford and Harvard University).

4) Korolevich, V.V. Malinovskaya. Moscow: Kinopechat’, 1927. 16 pp.: ill. 15x11,5 cm. In original wrappers. The rear wrapper is lost, faded owner’s ink stamp on p.9. Otherwise near fine.

Very rare. A short brochure about Soviet actress Vera Malinovskaya (1900-1988). She debuted in 1924 in a film «To Everyone’s Joy» where she had a small part. But already next year she was casted in a successful ‘The Stationmaster’ based on Pushkin’s novel. It made her famous. In 1927, after her return from Soviet Russia, Mary Pickford gave a lengthy interview in which she had such a passage: «In Russia, I met a charming young Russian «star» - a tall girl with long blond hair - she was the heroine of the best picture I’ve seen there, «The Stationmaster». It is possible that she will come to America with my and Douglas’ assistance. Needless to say how much she wants it.» And then talking about her journey to Moscow the great American once again recalls Malinovskaya: «Five or six actors came to meet us in Minsk, including the «star» that I just mentioned in a simple chiffon dress. It looked as if it was not less than four years old but it was cleaned and repaired.»
Worldcat locates 4 copies in USA (Harvard, MOMA, Stanford and University of North Carolina).

5) Meri Pikford i Duglas Ferbenks v SSSR [i.e. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks in USSR]. Moscow: Kinopechat’, 1926. 31 pp.: ill., port. 16,5x13 cm. In original photomontage wrappers by K. Vialov. Some rubbing and restoration of wrappers, Soviet bookshop’s stamp on the back wrapper, the side margin of p.15 is cut off (no damage to the text).

This are the notes by N.M Yakovlev made by him when Hollywood couple Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were in USSR. It is known that they were in USSR but it is less known that they appeared in a 1927 film made and set in Stalin-era USSR. Pickford never knew they were in the film until many years later. Her final scene, in which she embraces and kisses the Soviet leading man, actually lends the movie its title: A Kiss From Mary Pickford.
Fairbanks and Pickford, who both admired Battleship Potemkin, toured the Soviet Union in 1926 while on vacation. A director named Sergei Komarov appeared with a newsreel crew and followed the couple around, recording the trip on film. Fans mobbed the superstars wherever they went. At Mezhrapom Film Studios, Pickford embraced and planted a kiss on actor Igor Ilyinski as part of a photo op. Komarov captured it all on camera. And then he decided to build a full-length feature around this shot. Komarov actually intended A Kiss From Mary Pickford as a critique of Soviet moviegoers’ hysterical adulation of Hollywood stars. It was called ‘Americanitis’ by Komarov’s mentor, Lev Kuleshov, who ironically was an admirer of director D.W. Griffiths and Charlie Chaplin. Potselui Meri Pikford was itself influenced by the racy pace of American slapstick comedies. With the presence of Fairbanks and Pickford, it inadvertently glorified ‘Americanitis’ even more. Douglas Fairbanks died without ever knowing he starred in a Soviet movie. Mary Pickford was reportedly informed about it in the late 1940s.
Worldcat locates copies at Yale University Library, Amherst College Library, University of North Carolina.

6) Gekht, S.G. Bester Kiton [i.e. Buster Keaton]. Moscow: Kinopechat’, 1926. 14, [2] pp.: port. 15x11,5 cm. In original photomontage wrappers by K. Vyalov but from the different edition (Abramov, A.N. Duglas Ferbenks [i.e. Douglas Fairbanks]. Moscow: Kinopechat’, 1926). The title page from Fairbanks’ edition is attached instead of p.3-4, a square piece of p.7 (Keaton’s photo, 4,5x3,5 cm) is cut out, light restoration around a staple (p.8).
A short brochure on American actor Buster Keaton who was admired by general public and critics in USSR like everything else from Hollywood in 1920s.
Wrappers designed by Piotr Galadzhiev (1900-1971), Soviet actor, set designer and artist who besides participating in theatre productions was also an illustrator for a few film magazines.
Worldcat locates copy at Yale University Library.

Price: $3,500.00

See all items in Avant-garde, Constructivism, Film