Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0024364, Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:40:14 -0700

Re: THOUGHTS: SM, ADA, and silent movie actor Mozzhukin
Mozzhukhin as Giacomo Casanova
Dear Don, 

What a good looking man -- at least when he wasn't looking like this in "Night before Christmas" - Gogol, I suppose:     For those of us who don't get TCM there are any number of his films available from Amazon, including "The White Devil" (Tolstoy) and several based on Pushkin, such as "Queen of Spades". I tried to find the song "Last Tango" on itunes but there are too many and none seem to come from the right era. Oh, well.  But there is an album entitled "History of the Tango" that will give you some idea of what the old tango was like."Por una Cabeza" may be familiar to some -- it took me a while to realize I know it from one of Shwarzenegger's old films, "True Lies". It's tremendously romantic.       Carolyn

  From: "NABOKV-L, English" <nabokv-l@HOLYCROSS.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 3:47 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] 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://revel.unice.fr/cycnos/document.html?id=1045 DOI:1045
Source: OAI
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
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