Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July revivals for the rest of the month

Hey all, Mike with a revival list for the rest of the month. Once you see the list as a whole, you'll see why I had to split up the second half of July. Partially me being overwhelmed by the amount of write-ups needed. Partially the number of options that might get lost next to some bigger and better films. Here we go:

THE THIRD MAN (1948/50)- now thru (at least) Thurs July 30th at 7:10 and 9:20-with Neil LaBute introducing the 7:20 screening on Monday July 27th- Film Forum- I brought this up on the last list so I won't repeat what I wrote before. The 4k digital restoration of The Third Man has proven to be so popular, that the Forum has extended its run. The website doesn't give an end date, the postcards inside the Forum itself states Thurs July 23rd. Translation: The Third Man's last day could be July 23, but if business keeps up, the Forum seems amenable to extending the run further. If I were you, I would plan on it staying thru the 23rd and no further, but we'll see. 

Yeah that's what I wrote last time, and hey lookit that, it's been extended again. At least thru Thursday, July 30th, but that's a guess on my part. Looking at he Forum's extended calendar, it seems they are having their repertory works start on Wednesdays and tentatively end on Tuesdays, just like with most of their new films. So I'm guessing July 30th, but it could be July 28th, maybe first Tuesday-Thursday in August. Who knows, but good for the Forum to have a box office draw in a 65-plus year old film that they have screened multiple times this century alone.

Of note, writer-director Neil LaBute will introduce the 7:10 screening on the 27th. He recently wrote an article writing about it for He must love it, the first sentence of the essay is "The first thing you notice is that damn zither.". The link to the full essay is below the Forum's link to the the film. Because of this, if you're interested in going to Third Man on the 27th, I expect planing will have to be done to deal with any possible sellout, and that the 9:20 screening will probably start 2-10 minutes late.
This film conflicts with almost every other film on the list, especially on the 24th, but the lengthy scheduled run should allow for few if any conflicts. I can't make everyday of its run, but its easier for me to frame it as such. Third Man also plays in the afternoon as well, but I'm only posting the evening screenings I might be able to do:

THE BOSTON STRANGLER (1968) and/or 10 RILLINGTON PLACE (1971)- Fri July 24 at 3(Boston), 5:15 (Place), 7:25 (Boston) and 9:40 (Place)- Film Forum- A DCP double feature from the Forum's True Crime retrospective. Can be done separately or together. Not sure what works best on my end so I'll just post together as if I can do both. 

First, The Boston Strangler from 1968. Partially shot in a You Are There/ True Crime style, at least the first half. Concentrating on the police investigation of the two waves of attacks, from 1962-1964, where thirteen women were in almost all cases sexually assaulted, and all were killed. The first half uses split screen effects at times, popular here and in The Thomas Crown Affair, and never popular again until the series 24. We mainly follow police detectives Henry Fonda and George Kennedy as they investigate, run into dead ends, false leads, etc. The second half of the film starts with us following Tony Curtis as Albert DeSalvo, as he goes through his day, finds another victim and is captured. The last quarter or so of the film is where it gets the most surreal, as we go into DeSalvo's mind as the police, in the form of Fonda's character, try to elicit a confession.
Again, like with The Right Stuff, facts are changed to give a clearer narrative. A huge hit in its day, and still interesting to watch today. Years of Law and Order makes the first half comfortable for the viewer, as does the ever-steady presence of Fonda. Then the film slowly becomes more surreal, once Curtis comes into the picture. A major change of pace from the light romantic comedies he usually made, Curtis was never better, projecting the everyman working exterior, and slowly unpeeling the nasty interior. And director Richard Fleischer keeps everything spinning and ablely handles the different styles here. From someone who directed the likes of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Fantastic Voyage, he keeps the pulp to a minimum in the dark film he would ever make. At least until the underrated British true crime drama 10 Rellington Place. Ok, maybe not as dark as say, Fleischer's Soylent Green, but psychologically darker for sure.

Next, hey, speak of the Devil, is 10 Rillington Place. A Digital Restoration of the 1971 British film, based on the true story of serial killer John Christie. Stars Richard Attenborough and John Hurt. Sorry to say I must be lazy again, and copy and paste from the Forum's website. Hate to do this, but since I want to see it and want others to catch it as well, I do what I must:

An ultra low-key — but all the more menacing — account of the notorious Christie serial murder case; in 1948, Welsh blue collar worker Timothy Evans (John Hurt) and wife Judy Geeson, lodgers upstairs from mousily mild-mannered John Reginald Christie (Attenborough) and wife, already have trouble making ends meet when Geeson discovers she’s in the family way — but ever helpful Attenborough offers a homemade do-it-yourself abortion. The chilling results not only confirmed Christie’s morbid reputation, but ultimately altered the U.K.’s stance on the death penalty. Filmed in the actual Rillington Place (but at #6, at that time renamed Ruston Close because of the notoriety, and since demolished), Fleischer worked with legendary executioner Albert Pierrepoint as technical adviser. (Because of the Official Secrets Act, no details of the execution were formally known; this would be the first time U.K. audiences would ever have seen a British execution on screen.) 

If you watch stuff like TV's Call The Midwife, or Mike Leigh films like Vera Drake, the era and landscape will seem very familar, only now appearing ripe for killing on a wide scale. But the film also succeeds with its lead performers. Attenborough succeeds as the milquetoast killer, but John Hurt stood out more as the rather stupid husband framed for his wife's murder. Incredibly difficult to play someone with a 70something I.Q. without going into overacting, but Hurt walks that line and gives an acting lesson to all in the process:  

BADLANDS (1973)- Sat July 25 at 7:20 and 9:30- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's True Crime series. A 4k DCP restoration of Terrence Malick's film, his most accessible whether you see it on the big screen or TV. The restoration was supervised by Emmanuel Lubezki, who shot Malick's The New World, The Tree of Life, To The Wonder, as well as Children of Men. It's also playing for free at Bryant Park on Monday July 20th, but if you don't the film or haven't seen it in a long time, I can't imagine trying to get to know out in the park. Especially if you're watching it from the Great Lawn and there's heavy traffic.

Malick's feature length directorial debut from 1973. In 1959, a 25 year old drifter (Martin Sheen) who idolizes James Dean, runs off with his 15 year old girlfriend (Sissy Spacek). This might sound romantic, but once you know going in that Badlands is a dramatized version of the infamous Starkweather homicides of 1958, you know you're in violence-with-consequences territory. The couple move around, love each other and interact with each other and the open road in an almost dreamlike state. But Spacek's off-screen narration tells us that at least one half of the couple knows they have a dark future ahead.

Kind of a response for those who felt the main characters in Bonnie and Clyde were too romanticized, and a clear inspiration for the ultra-heightened Natural Born Killers. With some of the best acting work Sheen and Spacek have ever done. Among debut films for directors, I would argue that only Welles' Citizen Kane and John Huston's The Maltese Falcon are better films than Badlands. Boy do I hope I'm not misquoted or taken out of context with that sentence . . .  Most Malick screenings tend to sell out at night, or at least get to 2/3 capacities quickly, so mucho planning may need to be done in advance.:

Next is your choice of Midnight screenings at IFC Center:

SUPERMAN 2 (1980/81)- Sat July 25 at 12:15AM- IFC Center- Part of IFC Center's Superheroes pre-Marvel retrospective. Superman 2, from 1980, though not released in the U.S. until June 1981. A Hi-Def digital projection. Not the best sequel to a superhero film, but it's on the short list., where Superman must not only deal with Lex Luthor and three Kryptonian super criminals, but also his burgeoning feelings for Lois Lane. Most super hero sequels have taken heat when they have more than two super villains of some sort to deal with; the complaint being that they're throwing stuff into the story and onto the screen and lose control of the narrative and the audience's interest in the process. While the likes of Batman and Robin, Spider Man 3, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tend to live up to that complaint, Superman 2 is the exception. Maybe because the romantic plot gives the emotional lift to overcome such difficulties. Hell, it might be the most interesting sections of the film, and that's saying something, what with the viable threats of Luthor and the Kryptonians, including a charismatic turn by Terence Stamp as General "Kneel before" Zod. Gene Siskel essentially said as much on the Siskel/Ebert show Sneak Previews, feeling that Christopher Reeves' vulnerability as the Man of Steel was Oscar-nomination worthy. A little ahead of your time there Gene, just a bit.

Not quite the epic of the first Superman film for me, but if you feel this is one of the few sequels better than the original, I won't fight you. I will call it one of those examples of a summer blockbuster done right, and it would have been the biggest film of the summer of 1981 too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids who made Raiders of the Lost Ark:  

THE THING (1982)- Sat July 25th at 12:20 AM- IFC Center- For the third weekend, John Carpenter's horror classic gets another go-around of Midnight screenings. I think it's played in as many consecutive here, as it did in most of its original theatrical screenings 33 summers ago. What can I say, not revered except by Time Magazine and hated by some back then, a classic of the genre for decades now:

OCEAN'S 11 (1960)- Sun July 26 at 9:15- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's weekend long retrospective of Frank Sinatra films. The Library of the Performing Arts has a wonderful, and at times interactive, display of his recordings, clips and his personal stuff, now thru the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. All in honor of Frank's Centennial Birthday. Now if they chose to show recordings of his concerts and TV specials, which they have the technical means to do, then this retrospective would run a week.  But since they're sticking with his films, and ignoring flicks like The First Deadly Sin and Cannonball Run 2 ( good), plus Von Ryan's Express, Robin and the Seven Hoods and On The Town (aw shucks), it will only last a weekend. And since I've done The Manchurian Candidate too recently and don't have the time for From Here To Eternity, this film, the last screening of the retrospective is the only picture I have time to catch.

Ocean's 11, the original from 1960. Not the best heist film ever made, but possibly one of the better improvised movies ever made. Not the best Rat Pack film ever made. For me, that would be Robin and the Seven Hoods. But Robin was a musical that needed time, rehearsal and heavy commitment from the on-screen talent. Whereas with Ocean's, you got the ideal (and idealized) Rat Pack film; shot in between shows and drinking, heavy on camaraderie and the occasional song. Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr sing on-screen, Frank sings off-screen. The heist, to steal from multiple banks on New Years Eve, appears marginally complicated compared to both the amount of drinking we presume the characters do, as well as compared to the effort shown in Steven Soderburgh's remake. But it's cool, it's glossy, it's not overly complicated, and Cesar Romero steals whole chunks of the film as a criminal-type who catches wind of  something going on . . . . Stylish, Mad Men-era fun: 

FOOTLOOSE (1984) for free- Mon July 27 at sundown (9:10 or so)- Bryant Park- Pure cheese. I remembering the music a lot more than the film. But enjoy the 80s songs and let the Velveeta flow, as Kevin Bacon rebels against preacher John Lithgow's rules against dancing and rock music. Bacon's dance double was terrific. Enjoy the supporting role appearances by future Oscar winner Dianne Weist, a young Chris Penn and a younger looking Sarah Jessica Parker. 2 Oscar nominations. Don't worry, it was for the songs; Kenny Loggins' title track, and "Let's Hear It For The Boy". Here's a film where if you're not anywhere near one of the speakers at Bryant Park, there is no point to catching this

SUGARLAND EXPRESS (1974) and THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987)- Wed July 29 at 3 (Sugarland), 5:15 (Untouchables), 7:30 (Sugarland), and 9:40 (Untouchables)- Film Forum- Two films from the Forum's True Crime series, both are DCP screenings. First, Sugarland Express. Steven Spielberg's first theatrical release and one of his more underrated. Ok, Duel did play in theaters, but it was/is a TV movie first and foremost. Based on a true story back in May 1969, of 2 not very bright people. Lou-Jean (Goldie Hawn) tells her husband (William Atherton) who is imprisoned, to escape just days before his release. They plan to kidnap their own child, who was placed with foster parents. The escape is partly successful, but they take a hostage, who is a policeman and are pursued through to Texas. 

What happens from there, see the film. Yes, it changed some aspects of the story, the biggest changes occurring with the family aspects and a lot of the dynamics of Hawn's character. But we get a solidly believable slice of Texas life circa late 60s, and interesting marathon-like chase scenes (familiar in tactics to the O.J. White Bronco chase). The most pessimistic of all Spielberg projects, more than A.I. With Hawn's and Atherton's best film work, at least their best 70s film work.

Next, The Untouchables. David Mamet reinvented the 50s TV hit as a morality tale, with naive and saintly Elliot Ness having to go into grey areas in order to stop evil, in the form of Robert De Niro's Al Capone. But aided by Ennio Morricone's terrific, Oscar-nominated score, this is more Brian De Palma's triumph. High opera, directed to near perfection. The train station sequence is a classic, the bridge by the Canadian border and the rooftop sequences, are very close. Amazing this almost didn't happen, based on Mamet's far talkier early drafts. According to producer Art Linson, it was De Niro who gently forced Mamet to make massive re-writes, for which Linson and De Palma are eternally grateful.

Part of the one-two punch in the summer of 87 that elevated Kevin Costner, as Ness, to A list status. Introduced us to both Andy Garcia and Patricia Clarkson. But putting Sean Connery back to A list status in the U.S. might be what's best remembered here. His scene in the church with Costner and his death scene (sorry for the spoiler, but if you don't know the film by now . . . . ), probably won him his Oscar. 

CASINO (1995)- Thurs July 30 at 7- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's True Crime series. A DCP screening. The only screening I can do; since the early afternoon one isn't doable for me, and Badlands and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer takes up the rest of the allotted space on one of the Forum's screen that day. The former film, Badlands, is something I want to do this coming weekend. The later film, Henry, is separate admission. So if I can only choose one film to attempt on July 30th at the Forum, it's either The Third Man or Casino. And since I've already brought up Third Man, on to Casino.

From 1995, another collaboration of writer Nicholas Pileggi and director Martin Scorsese. Based on the true story of mob frontman Frank Rosenthal,played by Robert de Niro, and how he made money gambling in Las Vegas, and then running the Stardust casino. Names were changed since some people depicted were still alive. Or to be more precise,  some of the people ere still alive, and some of the dead had families that might sue, or had "Families" that would, er, React. We don't see the rise of mob-influenced Las Vegas, that wasn't during Rosenthal's era and you can go to something like Bugsy for that. We see mob-influenced Vegas at its peak and its slow fall.  Falling either because of  interpersonal issues (a slowly developing war of wills between Rosenthal and the Mob thug played by Joe Pesci, Rosenthal falling in love with a prostitute played by Sharon Stone, who does NOT have a heart of gold), greed (Rosenthal enjoys the lifestyle and wants things done his way right down to his own TV show, Pesci's character barrels thru with violence), and even because of political gamesmanship (native Las Vegas government officials will tolerate outsiders as long as they play ball, but the mob will be shown who's boss if push comes to shove).     

When it came out on Thanksgiving weekend 1995, there was much anticipation from Goodfellas fans and critics. The stature of the 1990 flim grew quickly, thanks to home video, on demand, cable, and the growing belief that it was robbed of many Oscars by Dances With Wolves. So there was a feeling of letdown when the film finally came out. "It wasn't Goodfellas" was the biggest sin Casino seemed to make. Yes it had a higher glitz factor with Vegas when compared to the Queens neighborhoods of Goodfellas, as well as the drab Kansas City locales locales of Casino, but that didn't make it better. Yes, we better accustomed to shifts from humor to violence, but the humor may not have been funnier to some, and the violence more brutal than in Goodfellas. Yes there are great extended sequences, showing us how the mob gets to skim off the top and how security works on the game floor, but I guess it didn't match the romantic surface aspects of the extended Copacabana shot. 

Yes the acting was uniformly good to great, even if they were ostensibly playing types. But each of the leads had to play roles with multiple subtle shades. De Niro's character (with 52 different suits to match the real life man) fell in love with the town and the glamour, blindly falling for someone who essentially up front I'm only in this for the money, and basically forgetting he's there to do a job and let nothing interfere with that. Pesci's character is not some mindless thug, but he will act out with his fists and more, once he feels a friendship damaged and he can't get everything he wants. And Stone's character is a hustler who's only into her marriage for the money. But with a heart open to the highest bidder and a growing drug addiction, things can only go downhill. Downhill in a town that would become more interest serving corporate and tourist interests than in (obvious) mob interests. 

So with 3 leads more vain and less charming than those in Goodfellas, a longer running time that occasionally takes its time to depict the downfall, a framing device involving a car explosion that either interest or annoys the viewer, yet without the kind half-hearted Karma if not justice is served ending that Goodfellas had, disappointment was abound upon Casino's release. An ending more akin to The Wolf of Wall Street, fat lotta good it did Casino 18 years earlier. Business was about the same as Goodfellas. Not great news for Universal what with its 52 million budget, though decent International box office did mitigate some of that. As for critics, reviews were generally positive, but not at Goodfellas levels. Some gave it the equivalent 2 and a half star reviews or the sideways thumbs, complaining about pace and completely unsavory characters. Gene Siskel essentially went as far as to say Casino was good but not on the level of Goodfellas so therefore thumbs down (What the Fuck?!?!?). Casino didn't exactly jump onto many critics Best of Lists, not when they choose from the likes of Braveheart, Apollo 13, The Usual Suspects, Heat, Leaving Las Vegas, Toy Story, and Get Shorty. And at Oscar time, only Stone would get acknowledged, with a nomination for Best Actress.

But with the passage of a few decades, multiple screenings on HBO, Showtime, Starz, Encore and AMC, and the coming of shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad that balance the dark humor and the threat of violence, Casino holds up better and out of Goodfellas's shadow. A classic? Not necessarily, but a good mob story:

DISNEY TECHNICOLOR CARTOONS PROGRAM 1 (1932-37) and/or SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937) for free (first come/ first served)- both introduced by Theo Gluck- Fri July 31 at 4:30 (Cartoons) and 6:30 (Snow White)- MOMA- A free potential double feature, on a first come first served basis. Tickets become available for both programs at 3:30 that day. Part of MOMA's Best of Technicolor retrospective, with a sub-retrospective of Technicolor work done by, or supervised by, Walt Disney himself. At 4:30, there will be a 62 minute compilation of his color cartoons from 1932-37:

Mickey Mouse on Parade- where Mickey, Minnie and friends lead some Oscar nominees from 1932 on parade (including  Fredric March, Helen Hayes and Lunt-Fontatine on parade. With a grey-colored Pluto barking away.

Flowers and Trees- not the first of Disney's Silly Symphonies, but first made in 3 strip Technicolor. Successful enough that all other Disney Silly Symphonies were made only in Technicolor. Competitors like Max Fleischer (Superman) were forced to use inferior 2 color methods to compete, since they lacked Disney's exclusive deal with Technicolor.

Lullaby Land- another Silly Symphonies cartoon, where a baby is lovingly transported to sleep. A partial future inspiration for the Storybook  Land section of Disneyland.

The Goddess of Spring- another Silly Symphonies cartoon, depicting Persephone, Hades, and the creation of Seasons. Made in part to see if humans can be realistically animated, in case Walt felt he could make Snow White.  

The Band Concert- Mickey tries to lead his friends in the band, including Goofy and Clarabelle Cow, in the performance of the William Tell Overture. But during the Overture, Donald Duck shows up with his vendor cart, and chaos ensues. Possibly the best cartoon Disney ever made of any length. It's continued to inspire other Disney projects, including shorts, video games, and at the Disney California Adventure Park. 

The Country Cousin- Another Silly Symphonies, a musical version of the Aesop Fable, The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse. Won an Oscar in 1937 for Best Animated Short. 

Music Land- Another Silly Symphonies, where the Princess Violin from the Land of Symphony gets some, er, unwanted advances  from an alto sax from the Isle of Jazz.

The Old Mill- Another Silly Symphonies, a somewhat more serious short, using Strauss' One Day When We Were Young, from The Gypsy Baron. Animals living in an abandoned windmill try to survive when a storm almost damages their makeshift habitat. Also an Oscar winner for Best Animated Short, but possibly the most important of all the Technicolor Disney shorts. Never mind popular at Disney California Adventure, Disneyland Paris and Disneyland U.S. (until it was replaced in Anaheim by stuff from Frozen), spoofed in season 17 of The Simpsons, and a major influence on animator Hayao Miyazaka's work (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, The Wind Rises). But most important, the success with Disney's Multiplane Camera process (having the background and foreground move in opposite directions), the capturing of realistic animal and weather patterns and the timing of detailed emotional expression, all told Walt one thing: I can make Snow White exactly the way I want to. And so he did, changing film forever.

Next is HEY LOOKIT THAT, just what I was talking, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, from 1937. We know the story; Snow White is threatened with death by an evil stepmother of a Queen, but finds some protection and safety deep in the forest by seven dwarfs and Prince Charming who is Somewhere Out There (whoops, wrong animated film). Look, we know the story, and we probably know at least one of the famous songs. Whether it's Heigh-Ho, Some Day My Prince Will Come, or Whistle While You Work, you probably heard it. As an adult, you might be more aware of either a dark reboot that Disney might not be involved with (Snow White and The Huntsman and TV's Once Upon A Tale the most recent versions). You might know something that lightly plays with spoofing it, whether it was that one animated scene in Annie Hall, or any version of Into The Woods.

But how many of you are familiar with it as an adult? Unless you have a child under 12, not recently. If on a big screen, not recently either. The first film to find success through multiple re-releases, you would have to be at least 28 years old to remember it as a kid, and at least 45 if you saw it as an adult. If you're a list-intensive film buff, you probably wondered why it was on the first AFI Top 100, and relieved when it was dropped from the second list. But again, you had these feelings with probably no recent viewing of Snow White. Now you can change that for free, if you can get yourself early to MOMA:

Let me know if there's interest, later all.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July revivals for the next week (or so)

Hey all, Mike here. I've been trying to cough up a list for the second half of July. To play a bit with metaphors, if some lists feel like I'm coughing up a fur ball, then this list feels like I'm coughing up a fur coat, buttons and all. Too many interesting titles, too much time its taking me to do a write-up. So I'll just films from the middle of July, and post films screening from Tuesday July 21st on at a later time. Some of these films conflict with each other, but I refuse to choose between them. I'll let others do it for me. Here we go:

THIEF (1981) with post film discussion with Takashi Murakami- Tues July 14 at 7- IFC Center- Part of IFC Center's Movie Nights series, where a guest discusses a favorite film, whether its a classic or a forgotten picture. Thief, an underrated gem, qualifies. Not only to me, but to director Takashi Murakami, who has a film, Jellyfish, playing at IFC starting July 15th. Murakami will defend his liking of Thief in a post film discussion.

Now onto Thief. Michael Mann's first time directing a theatrical film might be considered as an example of style over substance, but oh what glorious style. One of United Artists' last flops, from 1981, it tells a familiar story. James Caan is a top safe cracker with a code of honor, who agrees to do one last job for a crime boss who'll let him retire afterwards. Or will he? He wants to make (or steal) enough money so he can retire and raise a family. All the obsession he brings to his profession, he transfers to pursing his dream of starting a family, ignoring his own instincts. He'll pay for that.

If this had come out 3-5 years later, when Michael Mann's style was firmly established in the hit series Miami Vice, it might have been more successful. The energized cinematography, slick editing, electric rock score (from Tangerine Dream), it's all there. Plus, a strong centerpiece performance from Caan as the tough as nails thief; anxious to have something resembling a normal life, and unsure if he can get it, or keep it. Not the best film on this list, but look at as a Mann template coming into place, as it tells a familiar story in an interesting way. Caan's great lead performance ably supported by the rest of the cast (Robert Prosky, Weld, Willie Nelson, Jim Belushi, William Petersen, Dennis Farina). It's only available in an out of print DVD, with little to no extras, so this is your best chance to see this rarely screened film:

THE THIRD MAN (1948/50)- now thru (at least) Thurs July 23rd at 7:10 and 9:20- Film Forum- I brought this up on the last list so I won't repeat what I wrote before. The 4k digital restoration of The Third Man has proven to be so popular, that the Forum has extended its run. The website doesn't give an end date, the postcards inside the Forum itself states Thurs July 23rd. Translation: The Third Man's last day could be July 23, but if business keeps up, the Forum seems amenable to extending the run further. If I were you, I would plan on it staying thru the 23rd and no further, but we'll see. 

This film conflicts with almost every other film on the list, but the lengthy scheduled run should allow for few if any conflicts. I can't make everyday of its run, but its easier for me to frame it as such. Third Man also plays in the afternoon as well, but I'm only posting the evening screenings I might be able to do. Click the link below for more details:

A STAR IS BORN (1954)- Thurs July 16 at 7- MOMA- Part of MOMA's best of Eastman Technicolor series. Other  revival houses have screened the 3 hour one minute Director's Cut. Warner Bros. executives cut out 30 minutes after the film's premiere, before it was released. Director George Cukor fought it, to no avail. Not only was a lot of A Star Is Born cut, but a musical number, Born in a Trunk was added. In 1983, a version that restored all but 5 minutes was released, but the shortened cut seemed to be what was usually screened on some stations and revival screenings. I'm not sure if this screening will be the Director's cut or the 83 mostly restored cut. Either way, the cut that will be screened at MOMA will be, to quote their website, "an original 1954 Technicolor dye transfer print that incorporates the cut scenes". 

Cukor's fist musical and first color film, where Judy Garland plays the unknown who becomes a star, and James Mason plays the leading man who discovers her, marries her, and falls apart due to depression and alcoholism. Bogie, Gary Cooper, Brando, Montgomery Clift and Cary Grant all turned down the role; they all apparently didn't want to be perceived as loser has-beens, though Grant was supposedly afraid of working with a probably unreliable drug addict like Garland.

Grant seemed to be right regarding the difficulties it would take to work with the actress. Illnesses both real and imaginary (or made up?), fluctuating weight and difficulties from alcoholism and drug addiction made it a problematic shoot. And that was before Warner Bros. decided that A Star is Born had to be their first CinemaScope picture, forcing Cukor to scrap everything that had been shot and do it all over again. Oh joy.

Garland (singing mostly Ira Gershwin tunes) and Mason were both Oscar nominated, as was the Art Direction, Costume Design, Music and the Gershwin- Harold Arlen song "The Man That Got Away". That song might just be the highlight of the film. This is rather a unique revival opportunity, and one I hope you take advantage of:

LABYRINTH (1986) for 10 dollars- introduced by Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair- Fri July 17 at 9:30- A cheap-ish screening of Labyrinth. A flop back in the summer of 1986, a film with a cult following today. Personally, I think the cult is bigger in say, L.A. and Chicago than here. It feels to me that; if there is more of a following in terms of mid80s Jim Henson work, then it would be more for Fraggle Rock then for this flick. When you hear those from ages 26-33 in NYC who had HBO back then, talk lovingly about the show, or even Tina Fey, when she compared Paris Hilton's wig with a Fraggle, you might come to the same idea I did. That said, tell me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Labyrinth the only Jim Henson film to be re-released in a 2 disc DVD set to actually sell pretty well? Someone's rocking out to this.

While babysitting, Teenager Jennifer Connelly gets sick of her little brother, and wishes him taken away by some goblins. Why a mid 80s teen would pick goblins, who knows? But she gets her wish, as Goblin King David Bowie does exactly that. Jennifer goes off to David's Goblin castle to keep the rugrat from becoming a goblin. And of course, has to go through the title set of mazes to get there.Executive produced by George Lucas, but hey, at least it's better than the other film he produced from that summer, Howard The Duck. Directed by Henson, who co-wrote the story. Monty Python's Terry Jones wrote an early version of the screenplay, with some kind of uncredited re-writing from Elaine May. Hell, I'll give this a shot. Two people from the Jim Henson Workshop who worked on Labyrinth, Rollie Krewson and Connie Peterson, will introduce the film and bring their experiences on it:

THE THING (1982)- Fri July 17 and Sat July 18 at 12:10AM- IFC Center- A DCP projection of one of the popular studio-backed Midnight movies that play on a semi-regular basis at IFC Center. One of the better horror films, possibly the best from the 1980s. One of few that I can think of where a remake tops the original. Alien shape-shifting life crashes onto Earth, and in order to exist, it must live like a virus and wipe out or take over the life that already exists on whatever planet it exists on. Which in this case is us. And it's up to an isolated group from an American scientific station, desperately playing catch up and grasping for theories, to stop it. But when it starts taking them over, and becomes hard to tell which of them are human and which are not . . .

Kurt Russell makes a great action lead, with character actors like Keith David, Donald Moffat, and Wilford Brimley filling out the talented cast. The make-up effects grossed out some audiences (damaging potential word of mouth) and most critics, but they don't feel too over the top and still hold up today. Especially one scene where one portion tries to escape from another part in a very memorable way. If you haven't seen it, I'm not spoiling this.

The gross out factor, some brutal reviews, the R rating that made the PG rated Poltergeist more accessible, and just being released in the summer of 1982, where if you weren't E.T. (the happy alien movie released two weeks earlier), than you probably struggled at the box office. All of this helped make The Thing a high profile flop. But like another high profile flop released that very same day, Blade Runner, The Thing has also been re-evaluated and risen to both cult status and to the heights of its respective genre. Not AFI top 100 level like Blade Runner, but close enough:

SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (1978)- Fri July 17 and Sat July 18 at Midnight-  IFC Center- Part of IFC Center's Superheroes pre-Marvel series of films. My first and the best of the Superman films. Some prefer Superman 2, and i don't blame them. A few prefer Superman Returns, though I don't know them personally, more of a law of averages really . . . . Very few prefer Man of Steel, though I feel it's the best Superman film since 2 (a low bar here). But Superman: The Movie is one of the best of all superhero flicks. This is what all superhero films are and should be compared to. Terrific production values, a pitch perfect cast; what with Christopher Reeves and Margot Kidder in career performances, Gene Hackman having fun, Glenn Ford in his best {only good?} performance. Oh yeah, Marlon Brando's here too- in full paycheck mode, but that's better then some others. A wittier, savvier script than it's given credit for, credited to Mario Puzo, David and Leslie Newman and Robert Benton. A John Williams score that puts some others to shame, and makes the score from Superman Returns feel uninspired. Fun on TV, a must-see on the big screen, if you think you can stay up and stay out late

The next two films conflict with each other on Saturday, July 18th. Think before you commit.

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962)- Sat July 18 at 7 (Liberty)- Museum of the Moving Image- From the John Ford retrospective. A little surprised this is the first film from it on my list, but time and other options don't allow me to do otherwise. Not sure if I'll post another John Ford film on the next list, we'll see.

Another in the Revisionist category of Westerns. Almost the only way to make a Western post- Dances With Wolves, but not unusual for Ford to heavily tweak the conventions of typical Westerns. The Ox-Bow Incident and The Searchers being prime examples. Another Ford/Wayne collaboration, with James Stewart in this classic. Giving more of an idea of how the West was tamed. It required people like Stewart's character to have the ideas, but it also required people like Wayne's character to do the dirty work, and kill the bad guys. The latter will be feared, but then forgotten and ignored. Lee Marvin plays the title character, as despicable a bad guy as you can imagine. Made the saying "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." part of the lexicon. An archival print of the film will be screened:

BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967)- Sat July 18 at 7:20 and 9:40- Film Forum- A DCP screening. Part of the Forum's True Crime series, following the Depression-era exploits of Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker , their gang, and their crime spree that ultimately to a few arrests and the blowing away by law-enforcement of the title duo. This pair may never have deserved the romantic way director Arthur Penn and writers David Newman, Robert Benton, uncredited  Warren Beatty and ("Special Consultant") Robert Towne depicted them, and they were never as lovely to look at as Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the title roles. At least one defamation suit was filed over inaccuracies, resulting in one out-of-court settlement. But the choice to make the Barrow gang as similar to the rising Counterculture and ratcheting up the sex and violence to then-unseen levels in a Hollywood film while remaining at least emotionally believable, that hit the cultural zeitgeist like nobody's business. Critics were divided, audiences made it a smash. Eventually, since it took the critical notices to expand Bonnie and Clyde beyond the drive ins and second run houses, and into the bigger theaters where the eventual profits came from. And yet this film is rarely screened in revival houses. Don't ask me why, it just makes it more imperative to go. 

Oscar nominations for Picture (the nomination went to producer Beatty), Dunaway (in a career-making turn) for Actress, Gene Hackman and Michael J. Pollard for Supporting Actor, Penn for Director, Newman and Benton for Screenplay (launching their screenwriting careers) and Costume Design. Oscars for Cinematography and Estelle Parsons for Supporting Actress. On both AFI Top 100 lists, and inspiring the likes of The Wild Bunch, The Godfather, Terrence Malick's 1970s films, de Palma's Scarface and Natural Born Killers. Never mind the slow motion killings that Penn shot were inspired by Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. Never mind the fashion statement made by Dunaway's costumes by Theadora Van Runkle; the long skirt beret and short jacket combo became a fashion phenomenon. Plus throw in Gene Wilder making his screen debut. Very influential film indeed:

DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)- Mon July 20 at 2 and 7- AMC Empire 25 and Regal Union Square 14- A digitally restored screening, sponsored by TCM. With TCM host Ben Mankiewicz book-ending the film with an introduction and closing notes. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are both cool as they plot her husband for the insurance money, but pesky investigator/moral compass Edward G. Robinson keeps getting in the way. I shouldn't be that way; if Eddie G. didn't turn in such a humane performance as basically both the audience's stand-in and the incorruptible everyman (as opposed to MacMurray's fine performance as the corrupted/ corruptible everyman), maybe this film would be slightly less better remembered. That last sentence probably made little grammatical sense, but I have little time, so I'm just moving on. 

Except that it's not like Eddie G. created the performance out of a vacuum. He had Wilder as a director, and Wilder and Raymond Chandler as screenwriters (the screenwriters detested each other. Reading a little about this makes me think it was karma that Wilder had to deal with Monroe for Some Like It Hot). And let me not forget the source material: James M. Cain's novel, based on actual murder case from the 1920s.  I don't mean to dismiss Fred and Barbara, their chemistry is obvious. 

7 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Wilder for Director, Stanwyck for Actress, and Wilder and Chandler for Screenplay. Surprisingly, nothing for MacMurray or Robinson. I guess after all these years, it's still easy to think of Fred as the calm presence from My Three Sons, or from the Disney movies like The Absent Minded Professor. But he's just as realistic here, smarter than he looks yet almost as smart as he thinks, dissatisfied bordering on bored, spotting the honey trap (to use the term from Munich), and yet just leave it alone without taking a taste, and then wanting more till he's over his head.

No Oscar wins, since Going My Way was a juggernaut that year. On the short list for the best film noirs ever made. Sorry, but I won't put this above the likes of Maltese Falcon, Sierra Madre and can't put this above Laura, which was released the same year as Indemnity. But I enjoy the dance Wilder, Chandler and the cast do around the Production Code: 

SCARFACE (1932) and I'M A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (1932)- Mon July 20 at 6 (Scarface), 7:50 (Chain) and 9:40 (Scarface)- Film Forum- A Paul Muni double feature, both from 1932, both pre-Production Code pictures, and both part of the Forum's True Crime film retrospective. A DCP screening for Scarface and a 35mm print for Chain Gang.

First, the original Scarface, sub-titled "The Shame Of A Nation", it's actually pretty effective for a gangster film from 1932. Co directed by Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson, Muni stands out so well in the title role, he could give Pacino's version of the character (Italian in the original, Cuban in the remake) a run for his money. With George Raft and Boris Karloff. One of those that perhaps helped usher in The Production Code a little sooner then planned. Based loosely on the crime career of Al Capone, who supposedly had his own copy made. When it comes to brushing up on your early gangster films, start with Little Caesar, go to The Public Enemy, and move straight into this. Or just start by seeing this.

Next, I'm a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. More of a drama than most of the films in this retrospective. Based on a true story, but it seems to follow the serialized version of the story as opposed to the autobiography "I'm a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang". Also a version that wears its heart on its sleeve and  wants the viewer to get upset by what they see. Credit director Mervyn LeRoy and Screenwriters Howard J. Green and Brown Holmes for that. 

WW1 vet Muni,like many veterans from different eras, has trouble adjusting to civilian life. And like many Americans in the Great Depression, he can't find work. He drops below the poverty line, accidentally gets involved in a robbery, and is arrested and eventually sentenced to 10 years in a brutal chain gang down South. At this point the film heads straight long into Tragedy, as he goes thru a cycle of escape, redemption, success, betrayal, none of which Muni's character can escape.

Successful enough to cause sufficient anger at the judicial system to inspire questioning in general, and the appeal and release of the real life protagonist. Oscar nominations for Picture, Muni for Actor, and Sound:

Let me know if there's interest. Later all.

Friday, July 03, 2015

July revivals: first half

Mike here with revival options for the first half of July. I've wasted more than enough time trying to spit a list out. No intro, here we go:

THE THIRD MAN (1949/50)- Fri July 3 and Mon July 6- Thurs July 9 at 7:30 and 9:40- Film Forum- A 4k digital restoration, running thru Thursday, July 9. The Third Man, from 1949. Though in America, it came out in 1950, where it would rise to classic status at about the exact same time as Sunset Blvd., All About Eve and Harvey. Talk about when being the third or fourth best film of that particular year meant a lot more than usual. Seriously, it's seems to me to be among the least seen of all the post silent flim era flicks I would label classic, at least stateside. As the older audience dies out, younger ones may not know it. But once they see it, boom, it's got them, and they'll probably see it everytime it comes on TCM as well. Film students must also have to see this at least once I would imagine. If not, then it's probably not all that reputable a film school.

Simple fish out of water story, where American Joseph Cotton, who seems to hold black belts in screwups and stumbling blindly into situations, attends a funeral for his friend in post-war divided Vienna. And yet things, as usual in these kind of film noirs, are not what they appear to be. Thus, what I said about the story being simple, eeeeehhhhh, not so much. The film seems to exist entirely in states of gray, with camera angles that seem to have made it the Blair Witch Project of its day.

Standing out in the colorful supporting cast are Trevor Howard with what appears to be a permanent British stiff upper lip, and Alida Valli, who can keep many men's interest, but keeps pining for the one who treats her like shit. And, oh yeah, Orson Welles; who brought charm, gravitas, and the memorable, though historically inaccurate, cuckoo clock monologue. The only part of the film not written by Graham Greene, who adapted his book with some uncredited help.

Oh yeah, he didn't write the ending either. Director Carol Reed didn't like the book's ending, but still wasn't sure what to do. But he came up with a solution, over Greene's objections. At the end of shooting, just placed his camera and himself far away so the actors couldn't hear him say cut, and let it roll. Whatever would be, would be. Hey, it worked.

An Oscar for the black and white cinematography, nominations for Editing and Reed for Director. Winner of the Grand Prize at Cannes, on the first AFI Top 100 list (though not the second!), number one on Britain's similar film list, Japan's number one film on it's own similar list of non-Japanese films, and in my personal top 100. Not sure where exactly, but it's somewhere. It would be higher in my mind if there wasn't so much zither music. Yes, it fits, and after 60 years, we can't exactly do anything about that now, but still. That damn zither theme can still pop into my head from time to time. Despite that, you will enjoy it, whether you've seen it a bunch of times, or for the first time.

KISS ME KATE (1953) in 3-D- Fri July 3 at 7:30 for free (first come first served)- MOMA- A repeat posting, just like with The Third Man. But unlike that film, this one is free, on a first come first served basis. Tickets will be given out starting at 4pm.

Hey, film's like Mad Max: Fury Road, Avatar, Coraline, or Jaws 3-D (I only cite the best) didn't start the craze. And MOMA will show films that were shot in the original 3-D process. But they won't be SCREENED the way it was, with 2 projectors. Instead, much like the version of Dial M For Murder that was screened a couple of times at the Forum, MOMA will screen several films shot in 3-D back in the 1950s, that have been digitally restored and will screen in digital 3-D, via a process somewhat different than what is used at the multiplexes. Kiss Me Kate is not the first film in this retrospective, but it might be the only one I'll post. Sorry, but I can't work up a lot of interest in Hondo, with John Wayne. Kiss Me Kate use to be a staple of Ch. 13 broadcasting from the 80s and 90s, but my memories are a bit hazy since TCM doesn't screen it often. But I know I've never seen it in 3-D.

Now the film itself. One part variation of Taming of the Shrew, one part the fictionalized backstage bickering of Lunt and Fontanne, a fun musical. Has its footprint in film history for Ann Miller's Too Darn Hot (turned into a solo for her talents, smart move), and for the duet between Bob Fosse and Carol Haney in "From This Moment On". It's only about a minute long, and it was the only sequence Fosse choreographed, but it was enough to get him noticed as a choreographer, getting him work in that field for the rest of his life. Yeah, there's more about the film, but who gives a crap about the plot. Enjoy the jokes, enjoy Cole Porter's music and lyrics, enjoy the dancing, and enjoy it all in 3-D:

Next is your choice of Midnight movie options at IFC Center on Friday July 3rd: 

BATMAN (1989)- Fri July 3 at Midnight- IFC Center- The start of IFC's series of Superheroes films that were popular prior to Blade and all the other official and unofficial Marvel films. Not as good as Batman Begins, but still one of the best films of 1989. The psychological analysis and battle of wills between hero and villain seems to just scratch the surface compared to the Christopher Nolan film from last year, but back in 89, this was heavy. And considering its history, it's amazing it even came out the way it did.

A difficult shoot. Took years for Warners Bros. to find someone who could tackle the project, until they noticed Tim Burton's work on Beetlejuice. Burton brought along Michael Keaton for Bruce Wayne/Batman; a move that made studio heads a little nervous, and pissed off most fans worldwide.
Jack Nicohlson and Kim Basinger were cast in part to help out the box office. During shooting, Burton tussled (and sometimes lost) in the struggle between bringing Dark Knight mood and angst, against producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber's desire for more action and adventure. Luckily, Nicholson tended to side more with Burton.

The struggle brought out that rare thing, the modern Hollywood summer blockbuster that works big time. Wonderful cinematography, good songs from Prince and a terrific score from Danny Elfman don't overwhelm the film; they enhance and improve. Keaton is no Christian Bale, but you can see why for one brief instant, he became a superstar.

What does overwhelm the film, but not in a bad way was Nicholson's Joker and the Art Direction. Talk about one performance dominating a film, check out Jack. The cast and crew must have felt the same way. Those who had a day off made sure to be there to watch the scenes Jack had with Jack Palance as the other crime boss. As for the Art Direction, you had a fully imagined Gotham City, with minimal help from CGI. This film took the visual concepts of both Blade Runner and Brazil, and along with those films, influenced neo-noir or dark forbidding city design ever since. A deserved Oscar for the Art Direction (but its only nomination?!?!?!):

ROBOCOP (1987)- Fri July 3 at 12:05AM- IFC Center- The sleeper hit from the summer of 1987. One part kick in the teeth action film, one part kick in the teeth social commentary. Peter Weller is the poor schnook patrolman who gets killed in the line of duty lead by sadistic Kurtwood Smith, only to be rebuilt almost against his will by a multinational corporation as the title character, carrying out their contract to protect Old Detroit. The company thinks they erased or overrode his old identity and memories, but such human elements are hard to get rid of . . . Mix of sharp satire, tragedy, and good action scenes from director Paul Verhoven. Accept no substitutes, stick with the original:

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972) for free- Fri July 6 at sundown- Bryant Park-  A free screening as part of the Bryant Park film festival. Not the first film from this summer's selections, but I had no time for Ghostbusters and little faith that the dialogue heavy film The Killers would play well. The Great Lawn area opens at 5, and the screening will start near sundown with the old two minute intro to HBO (the series sponsor), probably a Looney Tunes cartoon as well. So expect to leave sometime between 10:55-11:05.

I've been waiting for this film for awhile. The best disaster film ever made. The only other disaster film I'd consider posting is The Towering Inferno. Ok, I'd also post The Concorde: Airport 1979, but that film I file under So Bad It's Fun. Actually, this film's sequel, Beyond The Poseidon Adventure is also in that category, but I digress.

One part action film, one part adventure film and one part religious parable, a group of passengers try to survive when the ocean liner they were on completely capsizes. They're attempting to reach the bottom or outer hull of the ship, which is the thinnest part of the ship and is above the surface. It's a theory that help will come in that direction, and that theory comes from a young boy, but those who haven't given up feel it's the only way to survive and see The Morning After (the title of the Oscar winning song). Gene Hackman plays an atypical hero, an ultra-self-righteous, Captain Ahab-esque, defrocked preacher whose personality clashes with loud doubter Ernest Borgnine may proof more problematic than the fires and leaks the group encounters. Throw in aspects of The Flying Dutchmen, Ship of Fools, other survivors wandering the ship like they were in the desert, and all the survivors looking for salvation of some sort, and you got parables right in your face. Or you can enjoy the strong acting and good action set pieces. Fine cast that includes Red Buttons, Jack Albertson, Leslie Neilsen, Roddy McDowell and Oscar nominated Shelley Winters. A special Oscar for its Visual Effects. 8 nominations in total, including Cinematography, Editing and for John Williams' fine score.

THE LAST DETAIL (1973)- Fri July 10 at 4:30- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- From Lincoln Center's Judd Apatow retrospective. Not just the films and TV work Apatow directed and/or produced, but also a few hand picked influences. While I liked The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and This Is 40 (in that order), I'm not running to do a revival screening of any of them. But this also includes 2 of Apatow's influences, chosen by him for this retrospective.

Here's the first, a DCP screening of The Last Detail, directed by Hal Ashby. Jack Nicholson is one of 2 Navy MPs who decide to give their prisoner (Oscar nominated Randy Quaid) a good time on the way to prison. Like Nicholson's then popular character said, which was used in the advertising "No *#@!!* Navy's going to give some poor **!!@* kid eight years in the #@!* brig without me taking him out for the time of his *#@!!* life.". Nominations for Nicholson and screenwriter Robert Towne, who would later reteam for Chinatown, Note the early appearances of Michael Moriarty, Nancy Allen, Gilda Radner and a very cute Carol Kane. Before the likes of Mamet and Tarantino, a good Towne screenplay combing obscenities, humor and pathos among macho men. Ashby's first hit that supposedly has influenced Apatow thru out his career:

BEING THERE (1979)- Sat July 11 at 1:30- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- The other film from Lincoln Center's Judd Apatow retrospective that I will be posting. Again, not one of his films, but a film of Apatow's biggest influence (at least cinematically), director Hal Ashby. Again, no disrespect intended, I just have no interest in posting one of Apatow's work, and every interest in posting the last of Ashby's 1970s creative hot streak, Being There.

Before Forest Gump, there was Chance The Gardner, from Jerrzy Kosinski's great novella, who adapted it for the big screen. Peter Sellers plays Chance, who was raised by an unnamed millionaire. Hidden from the outside world, unable to read or write, Chance gains the skills of a highly qualified gardener, but with the mental acuity of a schoolboy. A schoolboy who is raised more by television, but whose lack of proof of identity leaves him alone and homeless after his benefactor dies. The now middle-aged Chance explores the outside world (Washington D.C.), and thru some mishaps, is brought into the world of tycoon and Presidential confidant Melvyn Douglas. After a chance meeting between him and the President (Jack Warden), Chance the Gardner is mistaken for Chancey Gardner; a genius about world affairs whose every simple utterance is taken as something of importance. Soon the media gets a hold of him, and he grows into a phenomenon, while all Chance wants is to work in a garden and watch TV.

Highly effective satire, done in a effective way never to be seen in an American film ever again. On TV and overseas, certainly. But in a Hollywood backed film (Lorimar funded, United Artists distributed), never again. Or if it happens, it probably won't end in the same manner. And I'm not just talking about how the story ended, but the final image as well. One hidden from Lorimar by Ashby until it was too late to rework it. A good idea, based on the after-the-fact reactions from studio brass.

One of the best films of 1979. Successful, but thanks mainly to great reviews and Oscar nominations. An Oscar for Douglas for Supporting Actor. A nomination for Best Actor for Peter Sellers, in his last great performance. The simplicity of the outward emotions, the almost textbook definition of childlike from an adult. As good as Hanks is in Forest Gump, Sellers was better. Yes I'm biased toward Sellers and his acting. Good luck living life without bias:

IN COLD BLOOD (1967)-  Sat July 11 at  5:30 and 8- Film Forum- The Forum's new weeks-long series of True Crimes revival series kicks  off with In Cold Blood. A new 4k digital restoration, especially helpful for Quincy Jones's score. Almost 40 years before Capote, director Richard Brooks cast Robert Blake (former child star/ TVs Baretta/ acquitted murder suspect) and Scott Wilson as Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, whose arrest and conviction for the brutal murder of a family in Kansas attracted the attention of the very urban Capote. On November 15, 1959, a quiet night in western Kansas, ex-cons Smith and Hickock broke into the home a successful farmer, supposedly to commit burglary. But instead they murdered Clutter, his wife and two of their teenage kids with a shotgun.

"Based on a true story.", the tag line for every other Movie of the Week; but when Brooks adapted Capote's best-seller about the case, his realistic treatment was not only a breakthrough in American filmmaking and the granddaddy of a genre, but has arguably never been topped. Casting mostly little-known actors who bore uncanny resemblances to the actual participants, and authentic locals as bit players, Brooks shot the murders in the actual rooms in which they took place, with Conrad Hall's widescreen black-and-white photography (cited in the documentary Visions of Light as a seminal work of 60s cinematography) giving a near-documentary feel, and with even the parallel editing of the multiple storylines reproducing the pacing of the book. Blake and Wilson give powerful, and oddly sympathetic, portrayals as Smith and Hickock, with John Forsythe as Kansas Bureau of Investigation detective Alvin Dewey. 4 Oscar nominations, for Director, Cinematography, Original Score, and Screenplay Adaptation:

Let me know if there's interest. Have a Happy 4th.