4 Devils

4 Devils

Regular price $125.00 Sale

F. W. Murnau (director); Herman Bang (original story); Guy Fowler (novelization). 4 Devils. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, [1928]. First photoplay edition. Octavo (7.375 x 5 inches; 186 x 125 mm.). ix, [1, blank], 236, [10, ads] pages. Frontispiece and six double-sided plates inserted throughout, each photographically illustrated with an image from the film. Publisher's red cloth, spine and front board lettered in black; all edges of the text block trimmed; plain endpapers. In the original dust jacket, with art from the program for the New York premier at the Gaiety Theatre on the front panel, an ad for the film on the rear panel and a list of the publisher's available titles printed in grayish-green on the verso. Spine gently leaning, with a shallow ridge through the center of the backstrip; spine ends very softly pushed; extremities with a touch of wear. Top edge of the text block very lightly dust-soiled; text block faintly tanned, as expected; endpapers somewhat discolored with offsetting from binding glue, small bruise at the upper corner of the front free endpaper. Dust jacket edges a little worn, with a shallow chip across the crown (not affecting any text), a short (about one inch) closed tear at the bottom of the front flap fold, with a soft diagonal crease extending from the top to the center of the bottom edge of the front panel, a few other minor nicks or closed tears; light bruising along the folds and across the bottom of the spine panel, obscuring the publisher's name; general lightly rubbing. A near fine copy in a very good dust jacket.

"[May] be the single most important and frustrating 'lost' film..." (William K. Everson, American Silent Film, New York: 1998. p. 328).

F. W. Murnau's follow up to Sunrise (Fox, 1927), one of the most formally accomplished films (silent or otherwise). 4 Devils was produced as a silent feature as audiences were almost exclusively interested in talkies and released in several forms as Murnau's relationship with Fox was dissolving during the production of Our Daily Bread (City Girl, Fox, 1930). The first release, screened for preview audiences in San Jose showed Janet Gaynor's Marion and Charles Morton's Charles characters (originally named Aimee and Fritz), dying during the film's climax. A revised ending showing Charles, drunk and distracted by Mary Duncan's vamp character, falling from the trapeze but surviving, and in another Marion misses a grab before plummeting to the ground. The final ending premiered at New York's Gaiety Theatre in October 1928, as a silent film. Before the film was released at Fox's Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles in the summer of 1929, it underwent numerous reshoots with a new crew to add extensive dialog while Murnau was in Tahiti at work on Tabu. The substance of the ending was the largely the same that the New York audiences saw, and that sequence of events is depicted in the photoplay, making it the most complete narrative reference for the most lamentable gap in film history.

Janet Bergstrom, Murnau's 4 Devils: Traces of a Lost Film (Los Angeles: 2003), film. Deutsche Kinemathek's Lost Film database, ID 41. (#10016).