Hearts of Age
Directors: James Sibley Watson, Jr.,
& Alec Wilder

Directors: William Vance
& Orson Welles

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Cinema Avant Garde A totally pokerfaced one-reel comedy, Tomato is Another Day (1930/1933) shows a married woman & her lover behaving as automata. They speak in monotones, explaining every move they make.

He leaves & she plays solitare, explaining every move to herself. Her husband comes home whistling.

It can be difficult to figure out what the point of this film is, until one knows. It was a satire against talkies for overstating everything, from the point of view of silent film directors who could not embrace the fact that talkies were going to put an end to silent cinema.

It's pretty dull & even J. S. Watson didn't think it worked. But it's an intriguing oddity as perhaps the only sound film made from the perspective of shortsighted directors who honestly believed, if only for a couple years, that talkies were a passing fad & silent cinema would return.

It's included in Cinema Avant Garde Volume 8 (2001), together with: Sara Kathryn Arledge's Introspection (1941/1946), Rodney Sauer's Tree Trunk to Head (1937/1938), Jerome Hill's La Cartomancienne: Fortune Teller (1932), Russel Collins et al's Pie in the Sky (1934/1935), Theodore Huff's Little Geezer, His Rise & Fall (1932), David Bradley's Sredni Vashtar (1941/43-1959/83), & Francis Lee's 1941 (1941).

It's included with a different & larger array of films on Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant Garde Film Volume 2: Devil's Playthings (2005). Among the many other short films is a better known item by James Sibley Watson, Jr., The Fall of the House of Usher (1926-28), & the Orson Welle's very first film The Hearts of Ages (1938).

Hearts of Age Welles' made The Hearts of Ages with his high school chum William Vance, when they were nineteen years old. It's only eight minutes long & co-starred his wife.

It's an experimental piece with shots of bells & shadows & crooked crosses, then an old woman is shown rocking on a bell in in a belltower, her servant (in blackface) ringing the bell by pulling a long rope.

Orson Welles in old age make-up to match that of his wife appears & bows. Deaths ensue.

A trivial, goofy family project never intended for the public, The Heart of Ages is truly awful. Welles said it was filmed in two hours & was intended as a joke poking fun at Jean Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet (1930). He thought it truly insignificant, & it was William Vance's fault that it even survived.

Yet because it's Welles one cannot help but note the expressionist make-up, its images of bells to lend sound to the imagination for a silent film, & in general as a viewer just trying to make more of it all as a surrealist's satire on death.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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