Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024358, Tue, 25 Jun 2013 06:47:29 -0400

THOUGHTS: SM, ADA, and silent movie actor Mozzhukin
D. Barton Johnson writes:

On p. 147 of Speak, Memory, VN mentions his chance encounter during his
Crimean exile with Ivan Mozzhukin rehearsing a movie role featuring the
famed silent actor of Russian (and later) German cinema. I notice
that TV channel TCM is showing a 1924 film staring Mozhukin at 9pm. Not,
to be sure, the Mozzhukin film mentioned by VN, but a chance to see the
actor he encountered in the Crimea in 1919. Below is an excerpt
from an old article of mine mentioning VN & Mozzhukin..

Ada ’s “Last Tango” in Dance, Song and Film

D. Barton Johnson<http://www.researchgate.net/researcher/18753911_D_Barton_Johnson/>
http://revel.unice.fr/cycnos/document.html?id=1045 DOI:1045
Source: OAI <http://revel.unice.fr/cycnos/document.html?id=1045>

*ABSTRACT* Van’s brief stage career as a maniambulist concludes with a
London performance in which he dances a tango with a female partner from
the Crimea. The unnamed song to which they dance, mostly widely known as
“The Last Tango” is one that was very popular in Europe in the period
before and after WWI. The Russian version, “Poslednee Tango,” supplied the
plot for a 1918 Russian film adaptation starring Vera Xolodnaya whose work
was well known to both VN and his “Tamara” from their furtive afternoon
trysts in wintry Saint-Petersburg cinemas. Circumstantial evidence suggests
that Nabokov heard the song in his Crimean stay (if not before), and likely
saw the film. Nor was this VN’s only filmic experience in the Crimea. In
Drugie berega, he describes a bizarre encounter with the leading movie star
of the day—Ivan Mozzhukhin—in what is described as a rehearsal scene for a
movie loosely based on Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad, later released under the
title Der Weiss Teufel . The paper examines the role of these musical and
cinematic elements as they are interwoven into Ada and Speak Memory . The
talk is accompanied by a recording of “The Last Tango” and fragments of the
eponymous film, as well as the Mozzhukin feature.

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney
Co-Editor, NABOKV-L

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