THE FAUST FANTASY (1935)

film (about half an hour) on DVD recently and have posted some stills of it to the photos in the group. I quite enjoyed it but generally critics (both contemporary and present-day) were not kind.

I received extracts of this film (about half an hour) on DVD recently and have posted some stills of it to the photos in the group. I quite enjoyed it but generally critics (both contemporary and present-day) were not kind.

December 1934 – Shooting of the film, Faust Fantasy. Anne (Marguerite) and Webster (Faust) began filming the Faust Fantasy. Webster had been married to Paddy Prior for just over two years, but his meeting with Anne spelt the end of this marriage almost before it had begun. He had taken several joint engagements with Paddy and these continued for some time after he met Anne. As late as 28 May 1936 he and Paddy attended Vi Stevens and Bryan Courage’s wedding. As soon as he met Anne he recommended her to the BBC, and less than a month later she sang in the broadcast of Kenneth Leslie-Smith’s Love Needs a Waltz. (extract from my book, A Scattered Garland: Gleanings of the Lives of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler)

Mephistopheles and Faust.

14 March 1935 – The Times. Faust Fantasy. A further experiment in the use of colour on the screen was demonstrated yesterday.

Faust Fantasy is almost a full length film – it lasts for over three-quarters of an hour – and while it cannot claim that it has solved the problem of flesh-tints and such reds as are in the glow of torches, and the leaping flames of a fire still undergo a curious metamorphosis once they are photographed, it is an interesting and by no means unsuccessful experiment. It has in its favour its circumspection in avoiding those colours which up to now have consistently repulsed the advances of the camera with the result that some of the “shots” have not only the composition necessary for a well-painted picture but some of the tone and colouring as well. Progress in turning the black-and-white of the screen into colour has been slow, however, and it still remains the medium for fantasy and not for realism. Mr Webster Booth, Mr Dennis Hoey, and Miss Ann Zeigler (sic) play Faust, Mephistopheles and Marguerite, and the hint of strain and hardness in their singing is probably due to the fact that it comes to us second-hand.

Extract from the book OPERA ON FILM by Richard Fawkes

One of Britain’s contributions to filmed opera at this time was an hour-long version of Gounod’s Faust. This was shot at Bushey Studios on the outskirts of London and was produced and directed by Albert Hopkins. It was one of the earliest colour films made in Britain (using the Spectracolour system), but not even that distinction could save it from being dire. Faust has gone down as being the worst operatic film ever made. The singing is quite acceptable. Webster Booth, a former member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, is a smooth-voiced Faust and Anne Ziegler, whom he met on the set and was later to become his third wife, is an attractive Marguerite, but Dennis Hoey plays Mephistopheles as a pantomime villain, the production is cheap and looks it, and the direction is non-existent. The camera is often high to disguise the fact that there is virtually no set. Most scenes are shot against a wall, although there is a risible duel scene filmed in a wood. The final scene when Faust and Mephistopheles visit Marguerite in her cell (she has killed her baby) is a gem of dreadful acting and unimaginative film making.

The Faust Fantasy

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