The great Armenian-American director Rouben Mamoulian (1897-1987) remains a favourite among film-makers, his films combining great technical originality with a uniquely poetic visual style. Mamoulian's technical innovations are evident from his first film, Applause (1923), in which he incorporated two separate soundtracks into one printing, thus overcoming the difficulty of sound levels which had frustrated the pioneer directors of 'talkies', and in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931), in which he used synthetic sound painted directly onto the soundtrack. Such inventive solutions to film-making challenges were linked to Mamoulian's abiding sense of the magic of the cinema. Heused colour as a dramatic ingredient in the first three-strip Technicolour film, Becky Sharp (1935), and his musicals Summer Holiday (1948) and Silk Stockings (1957) were remarkable in their time for the way in which the dance was used to enhance the drama and to illuminate character. And for Garbo, in Queen Christina (1933) he created the framework for her greatest role.
Tom Milne's classic study, first published in 1969, provides a film-by-film analysis of Mamoulian's career and challenges widespread critical assumptions about the director's oeuvre. In his foreword to this new edition, Geoff Andrew recognises Milne's careful and insightful analysis of Mamoulian's expressive and imaginative style and asks whether this unique director ought to be considered as an auteur. Andrew also pays tribute to Milne's elegant, witty and eclectic critical style and hails him as one the most important and influential British writers on film.
TOM MILNE (1926-2005) was a leading British film critic, contributing to Sight & Sound, the Monthly Film Bulletin, The Observer, The Financial Times and The Times during his career. During the 1960s he worked at the British Film Institute as Associate Editor of Sight & Sound and Editor of The Monthly Film Bulletin. His other publications include a monograph on Joseph Losey (1967), a short study on the Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer (1971) and an anthology of interviews and writings on Jean-Luc Godard (1972) that he edited and translated.
Foreword by GEOFF ANDREW, Head of Film Programme at BFI Southbank, UK, and the author of several books including Nicholas Ray: Poet of Nightfall (BFI, 2004) and, in the BFI Film Classics series, volumes on Kieslowski's Three Colours Trilogy and Kiarostami's 10.