Au Bonheur Des Dames - 2nd performance (w/audio)

May 16 (Sat) – Had two great shows of "Museum Trip" in Brooklyn with Parallel Exit, and then got a second crack at Duvivier's "Au Bonheur de Dames" at MoMA. Made some improvements in the Duvivier score second time around in terms of underscoring choices, wanting to make it play better this time and having had a chance to digest the film.

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After a run-through and two performances of The Museum Trip in Red Hook, Brooklyn, I hopped on a B61 bus and thence to an A train to MoMA; fortunately, the scrambled weekend rerouting of the subways caused the A to run part of the trip on the F line, and since the F trains were running on the E line for part of their Manhattan sojourn, my train went to 53rd and 5th, across from MoMA.

I had a 5pm show of Au Bonheur de Dames, a repeat of the film I'd played for on Weds. Having seen the film and not only had my own reaction to the film's seemingly disjointed scenario, and had that seconded by audience members I spoke with after the first performance (see previous blog posting) I was paying even closer attention to the film for foreshadowing this time. Most of the story elements that either seemed to come out of nowhere were actually planted early in the film, but just not very specifically. I was able to underscore these moments in a different way this time to help give the audience clues.

The daughter who is taken very ill at the end of the story is seen coughing a bit in early scenes, but is not given a close-up or title card to point this out. The father's going postal at the end of the film is a result of a building frustration with the competing department story and its contruction work, but this again is not shown in a pointed manner, and could easily be missed. The boss at work whom the main character seems to fall in love with despite his being a creep, can actually be seen as a mroe sympathetic character, but to American eyes perhaps, this middle aged man with a moustache looks more like a sexual threat to the young woman. Playing him with more sympathetic underscoring takes some of the lecherous edge off him (although he is already married).

Also, on a second pass after having not only played for the film but also have a few days to digest it, made the film's theme – bonheur vs. progress – clearer. After the show one of the senior regulars at the show shared with me that she'd been to the department store shown in the film – it is a real place, and not a set –and that seeing the ornate dome in real life was breathtaking.

Here's the first 7 mins of the score, starting from just after the main titles:
(music copyright © 2009 by Ben Model all rights reserved)

Tomorrow, Steve Massa and I will be on WFMU plugging Cruel and Unusual Comedy, and will be on Leonard Lopate on Tuesday doing the same. I'll post/embed these broadcasts.

See you at the silents!

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