Showing posts with label Harvard Film Archive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harvard Film Archive. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer of Classic Films in Boston ~ August 2011

Why would I ever leave this great city of mine? Look at the amazing selection of classic films being shown in Boston this month!


Tickets are $9, $7 for Students and Senior Citizens. Some screenings are $12 or even free (check the website)! Cash only folks. Don't bring the credit card. And you can NOT buy in advance so show up early.

Ride in the Whirlwind (1965)
August 5th (Friday) - 9:00 pm

Back Door to Hell (1964) 
August 7th (Sunday) - 5:00 pm

The Shooting (1968) 
August 7th (Sunday) - 7:00 pm
Special Event price of $12.00
Director Monte Hellman in attendance

Flight to Fury (1964)
August 15th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
August 19th (Friday) 7:00 pm
August 21st (Sunday) - 5:00 pm

Dragonwyck (1946)
August 19th (Friday) - 9:15 pm

Cleopatra (1963)
August 20th (Saturday) - 7:00 pm

5 Fingers (1952) 
August 21st (Sunday) - 7:00 pm

House of Strangers (1949) 
August 22nd (Monday) - 7:00 pm

A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
August 26th (Friday) - 7:00 pm
August 28th (Sunday) - 5:00 pm

The Quiet American (1958)
August 26th (Friday) - 9:00 pm

Julius Caesar (1953) 
August 29th (Monday) - 7:00 pm


Brattle Theater - Cambridge

Tickets are $9.75, Matinees before 5 pm are $7.75. Students $7.75 with ID. Seniors $6.75. Children under 12 $6.75. You can also purchase one of many different membership packages.

Double Feature!
North by Northwest (1959)
August 2nd (Tuesday) - 2:30pm and 7:30pm
Vertigo (1958)
August 2nd (Tuesday) - 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm

These Amazing Shadows (2011) Documentary
See my review of it here and more about my experience here.
August 5th (Friday) - 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm
August 6th (Saturday) - Noon and 5:00 pm
August 7th (Sunday) - 7:30 pm

Double Feature!
It's a Gift (1934)
August 7th (Sunday) - 12:30 pm and 4:00 pm
Baby Face (1933)
August 7th (Sunday) - 2:15 pm and 5:45 pm

Double Feature! With Robert Mitchum!
On Dangerous Ground (1952)
August 8th (Monday) - 3:30pm
August 9th (Tuesday) - 5:30 pm and 9:30 pm
Cape Fear (1962) (new 35mm print)
August 8th (Monday) - 5:30pm

August 9th (Tuesday) - 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm

3:10 to Yuma (1957)
August 13th (Saturday) and 14th (Sunday) - 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm, 7:30 pm
August 15th (Monday) - 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm

Double Feature!
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
August 15th (Monday) - 3:00 pm
August 16th (Tuesday) - 3:00 pm and 7:15pm 
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
August 15th (Monday) - 5:15pm
August 16th (Tuesday) - 5:00 pm and 9:15 pm

Double Feature!
Romeo and Juliet (1968)
August 18th (Thursday) - 3:15 pm and 8:30 pm
The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
August 18th (Thursday) - 6:00 pm

Double Feature!
Amarcord (1973)
August 25th (Thursday) - 2:30 pm and 7:00 pm
The Clowns (1970)
August 25th (Thursday) - 5:00 pm and 9:30 pm

Double Feature! (tentative)
Citizen Kane (1941)
August 29th (Monday) - 2:15 pm
August 30th (Tuesday) - 2:15 pm and 7:00 pm
The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
August 29th (Monday) - 4:45 pm
August 30th (Tuesday) - 4:45 pm and 9:30 pm


Somerville Theater - Somerville

Weekday matinees (before 5pm and not including Holidays) are $5. Saturday, Sunday and  Holiday matinees (before 6pm) are $7.00. All other times are $8.00. There are discounts for Senior Citizens and children under 12.

Jeff Rapsis - Silent Film Accompanist presents Buster Keaton with Live Music!
The High Sign (1921)
Cops (1922)
Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)
August 7th (Sunday) - 7:00 pm
Special event pricing is $12 and $8 for students and seniors


Tickets are $9.75 for Adults and Matinees before 4 pm are $7.75. Children, Seniors (62+) and T.A.P. Card holders pay $6.75 Monday through Thursday and $7.75 Friday through Sunday. Membership is available and members pay $6.75 for all shows. $0.75 of each admission goes to the Capital Campaign Renovation fund.

August 8th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

August 15th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

August 29th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer of Classic Films in Boston - July 2011

Lots of great films for July!

Brattle Theater - Cambridge

Tickets are $9.75, Matinees before 5 pm are $7.75. Students $7.75 with ID. Seniors $6.75. Children under 12 $6.75. You can also purchase one of many different membership packages.

The Leopard (1963) 
July 8th - 10th (Friday - Sunday) - 4pm and 7:30 pm

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
July 11th  (Monday) - 2:30 pm and 5:00 pm
July 12th  (Tuesday) - 2:30 pm and 5:30 pm

Double Feature! Two for the price of one!
The Birds (1963) & Psycho (1960)
July 18th (Monday) - 2:30 pm (Birds) 5:00 pm (Psycho)
July 19th (Tuesday) - 2:45 pm and 7:00 pm (Birds) 5:15 pm and 9:30 pm (Psycho)

Battleship Potemkin (1925)
July 22nd (Friday) - 8:00 pm
July 23rd (Saturday) - 12:30 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:45 pm, 7:30 pm
July 24th (Sunday) - 12:30 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:45 pm, 7:30 pm

Somerville Theater - Somerville

Weekday matinees (before 5pm and not including Holidays) are $5. Saturday, Sunday and  Holiday matinees (before 6pm) are $7.00. All other times are $8.00. There are discounts for Senior Citizens and children under 12.

The African Queen (1951)
July 3rd (Sunday) - 11:00 am
July 4th (Monday) - 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Singin' in the Rain (1952)
July 10th (Sunday) - 11:00 am
July 11th (Monday) - 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
July 17th (Sunday) - 11:00 am
July 18th (Monday) - 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Dr. Strangelove (1964)
July 24th (Sunday) - 11:00 am
July 25th  (Monday) - 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Ninotchka (1939)
July 31st (Sunday) - 11:00 am

Silent Film Series - Buster Keaton
Special event price $12.00, $8 for Seniors and Students
July 10th (Sunday) - 7pm
Seven Chances (1925) plus Keaton shorts Neighbors (1920) and The Goat (1921)
with live musical accompaniment

Tickets are $9, $7 for Students and Senior Citizens. Some screenings are $12 or even free (check the website)! Cash only folks. Don't bring the credit card. And you can NOT buy in advance so show up early.

July 22nd (Friday) - 7:00 pm
July 24th (Sunday) - 4:30 pm

Somewhere in the Night (1946)
July 22nd (Friday) - 9:30 pm

All About Eve (Two-Disc Special Edition)All About Eve (1950)
July 23rd (Saturday) - 7:30 pm

The Late George Apley (1947)
July 23rd (Saturday) - 9:30 pm

Guys and Dolls (1955)
July 24th (Sunday) - 7:00 pm

People Will Talk (1951)
July 25th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

Suddenly, Last Summer
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
July 29th (Friday) - 7:00 pm
July 31st (Sunday) - 4:30 pm

The Honey Pot (1967)
July 29th (Friday) - 9:15 pm

Escape (1948)
July 30th (Saturday) - 9:30 pm

No Way Out (Fox Film Noir)
No Way Out (1950)
July 31st (Sunday) - 9:30 pm

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer of Classic Films in Boston - June 2011

Boston, Massachusetts is a haven for classic film lovers. We have so many wonderful repertory theatres that showcase classic films on the big screens. Summer is usually when it gets hopping, with lots of films to chose from. So even if you are not a local, the Summer is a great time to come visit Boston! I decided to highlight some of the classic film goings-on in the Boston area month by month this summer. Let's start with June which is already jam-packed with wonderful offerings.

Update: Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings posted some LA classic film screening highlights on her blog. Here is the list.


Paramount Theater - Boston

The Paramount Theater, a gorgeous Art Deco theater in the heart of Boston's theatre district, opened in 1932 but closed in 1976. My graduate alma mater, Emerson College, renovated the building (while I was attending) and the theater had a grand reopening in 2010. They are showcasing a Noir Nights festival with screenings of rare Noirs (some unavailable on DVD) in their Bright Family Screening Room. It's not the theater proper but it is a good excuse to get out to the city to watch some rare Noirs!

Tickets are $10, $7.50 for Members and Seniors and $5 for Students. You can also get a festival pass for $30 which gets you in for 4 of the films. There is a membership package for Arts at Emerson which is $60 and gets you 8 free tickets to lots of shows, plus discounted tickets, discounted parking, etc. Sweet deals all around.

The Dark Mirror (1946)
June 9th (Thursday) - 6pm
June 12th (Sunday) - 7:15 pm

Cry of the City (1948)
June 9th (Thursday) - 7:45 pm

So Evil My Love (1948)
June 10th (Friday) - 7:00 pm

Alias Nick Beal (1949)
June 10th (Friday) - 9:00 pm

Tight Spot (1955)
June 11th (Saturday) - 7:00 pm

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)
June 11th (Saturday) - 9:00 pm
June 12th (Sunday) - 5:30 pm


Brattle Theater - Cambridge

Tickets are $9.75, Matinees before 5 pm are $7.75. Students $7.75 with ID. Seniors $6.75. Children under 12 $6.75. You can also purchase one of many different membership packages.

Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948)
June 18th (Saturday) - 12:30 pm
June 19th (Sunday) - 12:30 pm

DOUBLE FEATURE! Two movies for the price of one.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
June 19th (Sunday) 3:00 pm

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
June 19th (Sunday) - 5:00 pm

Restored Print!
The African Queen (1951)
June 24 (Friday) - 5 pm, 7:15 pm
June 25th (Saturday) - 12:30 pm, 2:45 pm, 5 pm, 7:15 pm
June 26th (Sunday) - 12:30 pm, 2:45 pm, 5 pm, 7:15 pm
June 27th (Monday) through June 30th (Thursday) - 5 pm, 7:15 pm each day


Harvard Film Archive - Cambridge

Tickets are $9, $7 for Students and Senior Citizens. Some screenings are $12 or even free (check the website)! Cash only folks. Don't bring the credit card. And you can buy in advance so show up early.

(this is only a sampling)

Luis Buñuel Series

Viridiana (1961)
June 18th (Saturday) - 7pm

Land Without Bread (Las Hurdes: Tierra SIn Pan) (1933)
June 19th (Saturday) - 7pm

Belle de Jour (1967)
June 25th (Saturday) - 7pm


Coolidge Corner Theater - Brookline

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
June 20th (Monday) - 7 pm


 Somerville Theater - Somerville

The Somerville Theater is hosting a Classic Film Series from June through August. Here are the June selections!

Captains Courageous (1937)
June 19th (Sunday) 11 am
June 20th (Monday) 5pm and 8pm

Double Indemnity (1944)
June 26th (Sunday) 11 am
June 27th (Monday) 5pm and 8pm

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stanley Donen @ the HFA ~ Two for the Road (1967)

I went back for more...

This time the Stanley Donen film being featured was Two for the Road (1967). It stars Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn as a married couple on the verge of breaking up. The film takes an unconventional look at marriage, in a both humorous and saddening way. The story focuses on the biography of the marriage, from courtship and through the happy moments and the hardships and is told through their adventures on the road in Europe. The films dances back and forth through time and we see how the relationship evolves over time. The sequences are marvelously placed together oftentimes with vehicles serving as a fadeout into the next scene. It's easy to tell which timeframe your in simply by watching Audrey Hepburn. She goes through about 4 or 5 different hairstyles, with her hair getting shorter and shorter as she gets older. Also, they fitted Audrey Hepburn with what seemed to be hundreds of the most unusual and interesting 1960's fashions. Visually, it's a stunning film which just adds to the great script.

The audience seemed to enjoy the film a lot as there were a lot of laughs at the appropriate parts of the movie. This time the theater was packed with not even one seat left open. In fact, I think some patrons had to be turned away!

There was a Q&A segment much like on Friday night but this time with many more questions but fewer interesting insights into Donen. Donen said that he doesn't watch any of his films anymore because they don't give him as much pleasure as they used to. Also, during the filming of Two for the Road, Donen, Hepburn and Finney were all having marital problems in their personal lives so being on set with each other was a nice escape. They found comraderie with each other. However, Finney and Donen did not see eye-to-eye on Finney's character Mark Wallace. Donen wanted Mark to be charming and Finney thought that being charming wasn't really acting, so in the end the character didn't come out quite how Donen wanted it. However, he was pleased in the end.

Donen and Hepburn got along fabulously and this was the third and final film they did together. Donen said that when he first shot Hepburn it was for Funny Face (1957) and he had to do a shot of her overlooking Paris while on a plane. He said that he was so taken aback by Hepburn's beauty and presence that he couldn't stop staring at her even when it came time to call "cut". In fact, someone had to shake Donen out of his daze in order to keep working! I thought this was particularly interesting because Hepburn is such an icon and I often wonder why her. I think it was a combination of her beauty, her dazzling face, her charm, her voice, her grace and her elegance that makes so many of us enraptured with her. I'm sure Donen agrees.

Overall, I think both nights turned out well. They were amazing experiences both getting to see the director up close and to hear him speak but also to watch a couple of his films on the big screen.

Stanley Donen introducing the film

Stanley Donen on his filming style

Stanley Donen on the difficulty of shooting Two for the Road (1967)

A special thank you to Carlos for letting me know about Donen coming to the HFA and for taking me to the first night.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Arrangement (1969) @ the Harvard Film Archive

Ever since I've known Kevin, I've been bugging him to watch Elia Kazan's The Arrangement (1969). We both missed watching the film before Kevin's Kazan lecture in November of '07, but finally I pulled the DVD out of the Netflix sleeve and sat down to watch this strange and alluring film a month later. Fast forward to August of 2009 and Kevin still hadn't seen it. I had to make right that severe wrong.

As part of the Harvard Film Archive's salute to Elia Kazan, they showed The Arrangement (1969) on Monday evening. I dragged Kevin (he was willing) to go see it. The print was in poor quality, very grainy and scratchy. However, it was still a treat to watch this film on the big screen.

I have written about this film in the past and I highly recommend you read my original post. I was quite impressed with myself when I read the post recently. Here is a quote I pulled from it:

"Based on his own novel, The Arrangement (1969) is a lesser-known Elia Kazan classic. Its a film that contemporary film afficianados might enjoy because of its chaotic, psychadelic, A.D.D. type of cinematography. Shots come at all sorts of strange and interesting angles and any remotely chronological timeline is thrown askew by patches of memory flashbacks. Watching this film felt new, fresh and invigorating in a way older films don't usually.."

In watching the film a second time, I find that those 4 really trippy scenes that I pointed out in my original post are still my favorites. During the movie, I kept poking Kevin in the arm to make sure he was alert to them.

1) Kirk Douglas hallucinating, holding grapes over the pool.
2) Kirk Douglas hallucinating while flying an airplane.
3) Beach sequence camera trick, with torn photographs.
4) Kirk Douglas hallucinating, his naked manic self in bed with his past self fully-clothed.

Visually this movie is quite delicious and I found many things to savor. The film is also really quite a head-trip and parts of it can leave you feeling confused. What's amazing is that it really delves into the main character's mania by showing you his hallucinations as he experiences them and also by the use of experimental cinematography. Finding yourself in the midst of the character's mental anguish makes you really sympathize with him.

In the end, I had a ball and Kevin seemed to enjoy the film. I was happy we got to share it together.

Here are a couple pictures of Kevin and I at the HFA. Until next time...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wild River (1960) @ the Harvard Film Archive and the Walking Ethnic Stereotype

Lee Remick as Carol: You're getting awful human, Chuck.
Montgomery Clift as Chuck: I've always been human.

The Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, MA is featuring Elia Kazan films this month. Knowing that I was a big Kazan fan (and classic film buff in general), Carlos gave me a clipped article from the Boston Globe about the series and suggested that we go see the film Wild River (1960) in particular. Wild River has yet to be released on home video (in the US) and it's distribution is very limited. The HFA just received a new print of the film and was showing the print to the public for the first time. It was an exclusive chance to see a lesser-known Kazan film and I was excited to partake in the experience.

The 15-minute lecture that preceded the movie was very informative and I learned a lot about the movie. Kazan wrote the screenplay for this film and considered it one of his favorites of all the films he directed. He was meticulous, writing 6 versions of the script and insisting that the film be shot on location in Tennessee. At first he had intended Marlon Brando to star as Chuck Glover, but Brando was otherwise occupied and reluctant to do the film. From what I understood from Kevin's lecture, Brando wasn't terribly fond of Kazan. The lead role went to Montgomery Clift, who was in his post-accident, alcohol-infused phase. He stayed sober throughout most of the movie, which I guess was a good thing. Kazan had a soft spot for Lee Remick, to whom he gave her first screen role in A Face in the Crowd (1957), and he gave her the role of Carol. Of the cast, the highlight for sure is Jo Van Fleet. The 46-year old actress played the 80-something matriarch Ella Garth.

Wild River is about the tumultous Tenessee River which floods in the Fall, taking down houses, flooding land and killing the townsfolk. Ella Garth, owns an island situated in the middle of the River. With Autumn approaching, the floods threaten to take over her land but she is determined to stay put. The goverment wants her off that lands so they can harvest the flood for the dam. The Tennessee Valley Authority sends Chuck Glover (Montgomery Clift) over to Garth's island to convince her to leave. It's not quite so easy a job but he's determined. Glover falls in love with Carol (Lee Remick) a sad widow who lives on the island with her grandmother. Glover helps Carol find hope again. The film touches upon a lot of subjects and has a lot of interesting themes. The Great Depression and FDR's New Deal goverment are at the backdrop of the story. The creation of dams and how they affect Americans and the American landscape was an interesting theme. There is the racial divide between the white and black townsfolk as well as the divide between authority and the lay people. For what is a pretty quiet film, it has a lot to say.

I very much enjoyed Fleet's performance as Ella Garth. She had some great monologues and dialogue in general and delivered all her words with great conviction. Remick was great as widow Carol. You see her character transform during the movie. I also think there is a realness that is quite unique to Remick and she really fits into this movie quite well. Montgomery Clift however was not the best actor for this film. In the post-accident phase of his career, his performances seem quite emotionless as his face was always so frozen. I know this wasn't his fault, but it's difficult to watch an actor or actress who can't emote.


I was really excited for this film and on a whim decided to dress up for the occassion. I hadn't worn my new 1960's style blue wiggle dress out yet so I decided to wear it to the movie. I wore my hair curly; half-tied up and half-loose. I put on my gold-colored sandals, my big gold, red and white earrings and my white Mod-style sunglasses. I was feeling very stylish and confident until I got to the theater. The HFA is a very stuffy, collegiate theater and I looked terribly out of place. Also, being Hispanic, I can't really carry the vintage look very well. While I tried to go 1960's, I ended up looking like a walking Hispanic stereotype. Here I was, curly haired with my Spanish bangs showing, a tight dress, and humongoid earrings. All I needed was to smack some gum and ask "Why you so stupid, stupid?" and the look would have been complete. I felt so out of place and I wondered if anyone thought that maybe I had gotten lost and ended up at the wrong theater. I was just waiting for someone to ask me what the hell I was doing there, so I could declare "Wait! I do belong here and I have the blog to prove it!" The community of classic film enthusiasts is predominantly white, so sometimes I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. But it could also just me being terribly self-conscious as I am wont to be. This didn't really sour my experience but it did get me thinking. And next time I go to the HFA, I'll try to dress a bit more casually.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Metropolis (1927)

There can be no understanding between the hand and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.

My friends Kevin, Haze and Lisa accompanied me last night to the Harvard Film Archive to watch a free screening of the great silent epic Metropolis (1927) (some sites list it as 1926). It was quite a treat to see this monumental film up on the big screen. However, that was dampened by my disappointment in the audience reaction to the viewing. I believe that if most of the people in that audience had voted on my poll which asks "What do you think of Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927)?" they would have chosen "Weird! Hello? Have you seen it?" as an option. I noticed that a couple people left in the middle of the movie while others stayed to gripe and moan about the over-the-top elements of the movie. I for one was tremendously irked by the negative reaction. Sure it's over-the-top. It's a silent film people!

I find solace in the fact that most of the people in the audience were probably required to be there and they obviously did not understand the background, history and impact of the film in order to enjoy it fully. I didn't enjoy Citizen Kane (1941) until I studied it in a film class as an undergrad and I hated The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) until I read Tolkien's books and got what the hell was going on. And if I didn't appreciate Metropolis' impact on history and culture and didn't enjoy futuristic art deco style, allegory, social commentary and biblical references, I probably would have bolted from the theater as soon as "The End" appeared on screen, as so many did yesterday evening. Knowledge is indeed power. Even if it only extends into the power of enjoyment.

On a more positive note, watching Metropolis last night reinvigorating my strong interest in this movie. I highly recommend that you read the Wikipedia entry on this film. Usually entries on this site are bare-bones, but this one contains a lot of interesting content as well as links to other sources. And Metropolis fans, like myself, can look forward to the complete film being released after an original print was discovered a couple of months ago in Argentina. One website claims, a new release on DVD and Blu-Ray may be on the market as soon as next year! Huzzah!

In the meantime, please vote on my poll to let me know what you think of Metropolis. Also, please feel free to share your thoughts in the form of comment entries on this blog (I love reading those!).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Unseen Noir

The Harvard Film Archive had an Unseen Noir series over the long holiday weekend, showcasing numerous noir films that were not available through regular channels. This was a great opportunity for me and my friend Kevin to watch some unique film noirs!

On Friday night, Kevin and my new friend Bob and I watched a double feature of He Ran All the Way and The Sound of Fury. On Sunday night, Vivienne and Nate joined us for a screening of Pitfall. The place was packed on both nights, which gave me all sorts of warm proud feelings inside. To see so many people come out to watch these movies when they could be spending their money on some brainless blockbuster. Below are my thoughts and reactions or interesting information on each of the films.

He Ran All the Way (1951) - John Garfield plays Nick, who is running away from the police after accidentally killing a cop. Is he genuinely evil or is he a good guy gone bad due to circumstances? He romances Shelley Winters, as Peg, only to sequester her and her family in their apartment as he grows ever anxious of being caught. Peg is caught between her growing affection for Nick and her love and devotion for her family. And time is running out.

~ Why isn't this on DVD? Garfield + Winters + Noir = $$$
~ John Garfield's last film.
~ classic gutter scene. Every film noir should have one.
~ great camera angles and shots. Lots of focus on Garfield's face.
~ One scene, Garfield's face is half in shadow, showing how he's split between good and bad.
~ low-budget, short, so the focus is on the story and the rising tension.
~ Suspense was well-done. As the plot progresses, Garfield's character becomes less patient and more suspicious.
~ My favorite line was a suggestion made to Winters character about how a little lipstick, a hairdo and a nice dress can make a man do anything you want!

The Sound of Fury (1951) ~ Based on a true story, this is an interesting study in journalistic sensationalism and the violence that can erupt from mob mentality. Frank Lovejoy plays a family man, desperate for cash for his wife, kid and baby on the way, who gets entangled in a kidnapping gone wrong with the charismatic Llyod Bridges. The media and community are hungry for blood.

~ Why isn't this on DVD? Bridges + Mob Mentality + Noir = $$$
~ Uncomfortable to watch because it was so poignant. Left me somewhat depressed.
~ Wow. Llyod Bridges. Wow. Double wow.
~ Reminded me of the equally uncomortable They Won't Forget (1937).
~ Didn't help that they kept talking about how people won't forget.
~ Several funny moments helped us feel the intensity of the tragedies to come.
~ Kathleen Ryan reminded me of Melanie Lynskey.
~ Mob riot/jail scene was breathtaking!

Pitfall (1948) ~ Dick Powell is a jaded insurance man who is bored with his job + wife + kid = safe life scenario. He meets Lizabeth Scott who's boyfriend is in jail for stealing insured jewelry. Biggest mistake, sending a detective, played by Raymond Burr, over to Scott. Sadistic Burr wants Scott but so does Powell and the love triangle gets ugly.

~ Why isn't this on DVD? Powell + Young Raymond Burr + Noir = $$$
~ Raymond Burr gave me the chills. Burrrr...
~ Lizabeth Scott is like a combination of Lauren Bacall and Susan Peters!
~ One of a few great movies based on insurance companies. The Apartment, Double Indemnity.
~ My first Jane Wyatt film.
~ Any film with a fashion scene is a-okay with me.
~ Some of the story, especially dialogue, seemed to much like filler. Could have been more tension build up.
~ Dick Powell can do it all, in my honest opinion. He was superb in this.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Breaking the Code: Sunday Night Double Feature

On Sunday evening, my friend Kevin and I headed over to the Harvard Film Archive to watch a Pre-Codes double feauture. They were having a Pre-Codes marathon weekend (those words together are like music to my ears). For those of you who aren't familiar with Pre-Codes, they are a group of films made from the 1930-1934 before the Hays Code really clamped down on censoring. So filmmakers during this time period got a way with a lot more than they could in the late '30s up until the '50s. Pre-Codes are little gems and I'm always excited to watch ones I hadn't seen before.

Kongo (1932) - This was the first film we saw. It stars Walter Huston (of the royal Huston line) as a wheelchair bound man in Zanzibar lusting after revenge against the man who he blames for leaving him paralyzed, stealing his wife and getting said wife pregnant. He uses illusions, magic tricks and sugar cubes to wield power over the natives in the jungle. He lives with two outcasts, both of whom obey his every command, and as well as his highly-sexed Portuguese girlfriend, played by Lupe Velez. Everything changes when a drug-addicted doctor, Conrad Nagel, arrives at his hut at the same time the daughter, Virginia Bruce, of the man he despises is being sent from a convent into the middle of the unforgiving jungle.

The film was very interesting if you get past all the racism as well as the vast amounts of baby oil the actors had to rub on their bodies to give off the appearance of being in a constant state of sweat. What I liked best is that the actors, except for Lupe Velez, all looked the antithesis of glamour. They were dirty and grungy and Walter Huston especially was not pleasant to look at. But what else would you expect from living in the middle of a sweltering jungle? I liked that sense of realism that got lost during the reign of the Code until film noirs started making a presence. And Virginia Bruce is outstanding in this film. And I hold to the fact that I think she looks shockingly like contemporary actress Alexandra Holden.

The Sign of the Cross (1932) - Worth every penny and every second! This is exactly what I envision a film about the end of Rome and the rise of Christianity to be. Kudos to Cecil B. DeMille for this wonderful and grand epic. It's pro-Christian and anti-Roman Empire as you would expect, but it doesn't feel force fed. The Christiniaty in this movie is new and not fully formed. The Christians themselves don't have a full understanding of what it is to be a Christian but they hold on to the knowledge they have of the life of Christ and the power of the sign of the cross and that's what keeps them going. In that its very realistic. And the Romans are of course hedonistic and brutal but there is a humanity that is brought to them through the main protagonist, Marcus, a high-ranking official under the rule of Emperor Nero, who falls in love with a Christian girl. I can't really go on without ruining the story for you, but the realism in the film keeps it from being overly sentimental.

There a few things that stand out of this film to me that I would like to mention. The first being DeMille's very cruel use of a little Christian girl. She's strategically placed in key scenes to wrench out the tears of the even hardest of hearts. It's DeMille's special sadistic touch. Then there is Frederic March who is absolutely amazing as Marcus. I didn't even recognize him as I'm sure he had to buff up to play this role. And he wears very form-fitting and revealing clothes and he's very charismatic overall, and my heart fluttered a little every time he graced the screen. The last thing I must mention is the infamous scene (no not the orgy) with a nude Claudette Colbert bathing in a huge tub filled with donkey's milk. That's right folks, milk straight from donkeys. And you watch as the servants are milking sad donkeys and pouring buckets into a big well which connects to the bath inside. Bleh! The scene itself is very provacative and its said that DeMille took a week to shoot that as he was trying to get a glimpse of Colbert's naked body every time she stepped out of the bath. But a quick-thinking assistant was ready with a towel and DeMille never got his lustful glance.

Kongo is not on DVD but Sign of the Cross is. So if anything, try to watch at least one of these amazing Pre-Codes!

Popular Posts

 Twitter   Instagram   Facebook