This is an occasional series on the films I love which have vanished. ‘Good Morning, Babylon’ is flawed but rather wonderful – and I’d rather enjoy a ambitious flawed film than one that aims low and succeeds.
It was directed by the Taviani brothers. Like their wonderful “Night of the Shooting Stars,” it’s a very cinematic tale, a deeply romantic parable of the kind once popular in Italian cinema. Two brothers head for Hollywood, find love and happiness, then fall out and return to Tuscany. But the background for the story is unusual.
In the early 1900s, an Italian family of architectural restorers (a dominating father and his seven sons) goes bankrupt after restoring a spectacular church. The two most talented brothers emigrate to America – the sequence in which they just manage to catch the train is joyous. In Hollywood, they hook up with wannabe starlets Edna (Greta Scacchi) and Mabel (Desiree Becker) and start working for D.W. Griffith (Charles Dance). When he discovers the brothers’ talents, he uses them to create the plaster elephants for the epic set of Intolerance’.
It’s shamelessly sentimental and golden-hued, but given that it’s set at the birth of Hollywood, why not? Sadly, the 1987 film has totally disappeared.