Lonesome (1928)

Film Review

LONESOME

Release Date: 20 June, 1928

Studio: Universal

Director: Paul Fejös

Starring: Barbara Kent, Glenn Tryon

Special Notes: Great American Films, 1921-1930

This film has been selected to our list of Great American Films, 1921-1930, which focuses on obscure and under-appreciated American film masterpieces.

Special Notes: TCM Classic Film Festival, 2012

Lonesome was shown as part of the Discoveries (signifying little-known or forgotten films worth rediscovering) theme at the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival. Jared Case, Head of Collection Information at Eastman House, was featured as a guest speaker.

Synopsis

A boy and girl live alone in New York City. Neither of them has anybody. They meet on the way to Coney Island and enjoy a day together there. Chance events separate them and each goes home in despair. It turns out that they live next door in the same apartment building and a song on the record player (Irving Berlin's "Always") brings them back together.

Discussion

This film is definitely a discovery. Director Paul Fejos had an extraordinary career, which included documentary filmmaking and archaeology. He made only four commercial movies in Hollywood. Lonesome premiered at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. As with many late silent films, it had a soundtrack with music and effects, as well as tacked-on 'talkie' scenes. Fejos did not direct these dialogue sequences, which were added to the film in the wake of The Jazz Singer (1927).

Jared Case talked about the restoration of Lonesome. Henri Langlois of the Cinematheque Francaise had an original print in French titled Solitude, which was repatriated to America. The first restoration, done in the 1970s, was an untinted black-and-white version without a soundtrack. In 1994 hand-tinted color and English intertitles were added; this version premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. In 2010 the soundtrack was restored. The film is now available on DVD as part of the Criterion Collection.