Short subjects never get enough credit. (We’re the only venue in Chicago that shows them regularly.) We like this week’s feature, Of Human Bondage, quite a bit, but “She Was an Acrobat’s Daughter,” the short that will be accompanying it, is even better. – Ed.
It’s common enough to hear a fiction feature acclaimed for its so-called documentary qualities—ragged streets or bumpy camerawork, grubby, unshaven performers and the like. In other words, unpolished and unprofessional, but for solid, condescendingly proletarian reasons. (See, among other things, Call Northside 777, Panic in the Streets, and the rash of dreary semi-documentary procedurals popular in the late forties and early fifties.)
There’s certainly a documentary value in many narrative films of the past, but rarely for conscious reasons. It comes across in the storefronts and backrooms—details judged too unimportant to retouch and smooth out. Some aspects of everyday life simply rated too unconscious to fictionalize, too second-nature to fake.