(Number: VDR0036)
Language(s): English
79 min. Black and White

"From out of the chaos of an American film industry struggling to reinvent itself at the dawn of sound comes Rouben Mamoulian's Applause, one of the most audacious and assured directorial debuts this side of Welles' Kane. Plucked from Broadway by nervous Paramount execs, theater director Mamoulian shattered the oppressive technical limitations imposed by early sound recording and shocked his bosses by transforming a backstage melodrama into a stunning cinematic masterpiece. Film historian William K. Everson declared Applause ""an oasis of filmic sophistication in a desert of stage-bound early talkies."" Fearing for both her waning career and for the reputation of her young daughter April, good-hearted Kitty Darling (Helen Morgan), aging dime store doyenne of New York's gritty burlesque netherworld, sends April away to a convent school free of the hard knocks that showbiz life guarantees. When, years later, Kitty is reunited with the grown April (Joan Peers), motherhood and career clash in the fading limelight. Loyal to a mother she's never known and both repulsed and fascinated by a beckoning world of sleaze and sawdust, April fends off Kitty's predatory lover while slyly fanning the fires of first love. ""I insisted on a fluid camera,"" Mamoulian recalled years after his landmark film debut. His all-seeing camera eye prowls through and beyond a shadowy backstage underworld to capture the tempos and textures of New York City itself. In lyrical scenes shot on location atop skyscrapers, within the old Penn Station, and upon the Brooklyn Bridge, Applause offers, as one period review enthused, ""pictures of New York as the city has never been photographed before."" Extras on DVD •Excerpt from the Paramount musical Glorifying the American Girl (1929), featuring Helen Morgan •Newsreel excerpt of Helen Morgan singing ""What Wouldn't I do for that Man"" •Filmed interview with Rouben Mamoulian •Gallery of rare photographs •Gallery of promotional materials •Booklet essay by Miles Kreuger, president of the Institute of the American Musical, Inc. •Biographical and background essays by Helen Morgan biographer Christopher Connelly •""The Camera's the Thing,"" a 1929 text interview with director Rouben Mamoulian •Excerpt of Beth Brown's original novel •Gallery of photos and promotional material

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