Saturday, October 17, 2020

Fred Murnau's iconic film hits U.S.

Here's an interesting find from the newspaper archives. It's how F.W. Murnau's 1922 German film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror was described and reviewed when it was finally released in the United States in June 1929, seven years after its German premiere. (But still two years before Bela Lugosi played Dracula on the silver screen for Universal, changing the course of U.S. horror movie history.)

The article is from the June 3, 1929, edition of the Daily News of New York City.

Amusingly, it refers to Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau as "Fred Murnau." And the film for this American release was called Nosferatu, the Vampire. 

The article makes clear that the movie, which (barely) survived an attempt by Bram Stoker's estate to have all copies destroyed, was presented to the audience in a less than perfect state. It "has been preyed upon by the cutters. It is unreeled at the 8th st. movie house in choppy, ever-shifting scenes."

Nosferatu also gets backhanded praise in the newspaper review for its "extreme weirdness and unusual photography." Those are reasons, of course, it's still much-discussed and revered today.

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