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Bracknell Film Society Selection
JUNE 2016

Special Live Music Event

'SHOOTING STARS'

To book a ticket for this and forthcoming BFS screenings please contact the SHP Box Office on 01344 484123 or click the logo below to book via the SHP website.
Tickets £8.60, SHP members £7.00.
BFS members (BFS shows only) £6.60. You may have to show a BFS membership card. Concessions £7.60. SHP make an additional £0.70 charge when paying by credit card. Reserving a ticket by phone, expect to pay by cash at the box office 30 minutes prior to show time.

Tuesday 14th June. 7.45pm

Certificate

Directors: AV Bramble/Anthony Asquith, UK, 1928, 103 minutes, silent with intertitles.
Cast: Annette Benson, Brian Aherne, Donald Calthrop, Wally Patch.

A British movie studio in the 1920s; a western and a slapstick comedy are being filmed back to back.
Not only a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse at movie-making but also a searing
comment on the shallowness of the star system. And there's a killer ending too!

Plus four one-minute shorts from the Archives

Motorists Make Merry (1929); motorcycle fun in Egham
Henley Finals Witnessed by Enormous Crowds (1914); the Henley Regatta
Nearing the Goal (1929); football in Reading
So This is Staines (1926); flooding along the Thames

Bracknell Film Society is delighted
an improvised piano
to welcome Jillian Jenkins who will play
accompaniment to tonight's films

 

ARTICLE
(Contains some plot info)

"SHOOTING STARS"

A temperamental film star hatches a plan to kill her husband in order to elope to Hollywood with her lover.

Respectfully acknowledged in academic studies, Shooting Stars has nevertheless suffered for being book-ended by Hitchcock classics and ignored during the resurrection of other treasures from the 'golden age' of late British silent cinema, belying its importance in terms of both technical and thematic innovation. It marked the fiction feature debut of British Instructional Films, whose change in direction fostered a remarkable sense of freedom. Now also recognised as Anthony Asquith's directorial debut, the film was credited to supervising veteran A.V. Bramble, though Asquith was given an authorial credit beneath the title for his script, a spiky satire of the domestic film industry.

In a virtuoso opening sequence, star couple Mae Feather and Julian Gordon enact a romantic scene for their latest 'epic,' but as the camera pans back the artifice of moviemaking is exposed, as is the fragile state of the couple's marriage, establishing the film's key theme of 'real life' versus 'the movies'. As Mae flounces off set, the sequence grows in ambition, demonstrating Asquith's technically intrepid style, with a camera high in the rafters tracking her through the cavernous studio.

Performance style is another distinctive feature: Mae's unhappiness and her love for comedy star Andy Wilks are conveyed through subtle body language, and Asquith's controlled direction of the three leads is further demonstrated in the scene in which Julian catches Mae and Andy kissing, the significance of the situation dawning on each of them in turn. Similar discipline is exhibited in the use of visual prompts in place of superfluous intertitles.

The art direction and photography lend a melancholic air to the studio scenes, not least in the poignant epilogue, in which a humbled Mae is faced with the consequences of her selfishness. Shooting Stars begins as a witty and affectionate look at the smoke-and-mirrors world of filmmaking, with many a wink to its audience, but as the paranoia associated with adultery takes its toll, the mood becomes somewhat darker.

Julian initially wishes that life were "more like the movies" and takes refuge in the cinema to watch himself and Mae perform a fantasy of virtue and heroism (the innovatory 'film-within-a-film' motif is inescapable). Yet Asquith's vision is far from idealistic, and the tawdry pretence of Mae and Julian's action-romances and Andy's sub-Chaplin slapstick routines serve as a reminder that real life contains far greater drama and pathos than anything churned out in a film studio.

Simon McCallum

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