Mary Pickford Theater
Film Schedule: 2007
Monday, April 2 (7:00pm)
Jazz Film Series
Cecil Taylor: All the Notes (2003). Dir/Prod Christopher
Felver. (73 min, DVD)
This insightful portrait of the avant pianist, composer and poet Cecil Taylor
finds the free-jazz firebrand playing piano, dancing, reciting, performing
with a big band and talking about life, art, music and childhood memories.
Monday, April 9 (7:00pm)
Jazz Film Series
Home (2005). Dir/Prod Dorothy Darr. (72 min, DVD)
Just two months before his death in 2001, drummer Billy Higgins visited saxophonist
Charles Lloyd at his home where they recorded a series of duets eventually
released as ‘Which Way Is East.’ The artist and film maker Dorothy Darr rolled
both audio tape and video, revealing an intimate celebration of music and spiritual
Wednesday, April 11 (7:00pm)
Clash by Night (Wald-Krasna/RKO, 1952). Dir Fritz Lang.
Wrt Alfred Hayes, based on the play by Clifford Odets. With Barbara
Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan, Marilyn Monroe, J. Carrol
Naish. (104 min, black & white, 35mm)
Mae returns to her hometown after ten years in New York, seeking peace and
security. But even in prosaic surroundings, her desires are hard to suppress,
as she finds herself drawn to two powerful men. This is not the stuff of romance,
but of juicy melodrama, and director Fritz Lang is a master at creating emotional
fireworks. Barbara Stanwyck, playing a hard-bitten woman of a certain age,
gives one of her most incisive later portrayals. Robert Ryan is a charismatic
anti-hero, and a young Marilyn Monroe lights up the screen in a supporting
Friday, April 13 (7:00pm)
Englima sto Kavouri = Death Kiss (Carar Films, Greece,
1974). Dir Dacosta Carayan (= Kostas Karayiannis). Wrt Thanos Livaditis.
With Larry Daniels (= Lakis Komninos), Dorothy Moore, Leslie Booman,
Vangelis Sillinos, Dimitris Bislanis. (87 min, color, 35mm)
Il Decameron [Trailer] (1971). (1½ min, color, 35mm)
Black Samurai [Trailer] (1976). (2 min, color, 35mm)
And When She Was Bad [Trailer] (1973). (2½ min, color, 35mm)
The People Who Own the Dark [Trailer] (1976). (2 min, color, 35mm)
Gigolo Jim Preston, disenchanted during the anniversary of his marriage to
his wealthy, older, alcoholic, shrill of a wife, Ellen, concocts a plan to
rid the planet of her presence and enjoy the breadth of her fortune with many
a young plaything. In his plight, Jim calls upon his seemingly normal friend
Mike to drop the axe. Unbeknownst to Jim, Mike is a heroin-addicted psychopath
with hobbies that include kidnaping, rape, addicting others to heroin, storing
live people in coffins, etc. and is considering taking up necrophilia. Mike
also happens to be the serial killer at the center of a citywide police investigation.
A crumbling grip on reality does not stop Mike from being hesitant towards
Jim's plan and suspecting that Jim will exterminate him as soon as the assignment
is complete. Mike, however, finds a doppelganger of Ellen and kills her instead,
confusing Jim, Ellen, the police, the doppelganger, one of Jim's playthings,
and even himself. Ellen, on the other hand, has diabolical plans of her own…
Greek exploitation films are near impossible to find in English speaking countries.
To see one in the theatre is un-imaginable! This rare experience is loaded
with enough over the top melodrama, violence, male bravado, conspiracies, plot-twists,
moral-decay, and naked flesh to satisfy almost all mammalian instincts!
Monday, April 16 (7:00pm)
Jazz Film Series
Keith Jarrett: The Art of Improvisation (2005). Dir/Prod
Mike Dibb. (85 min, DVD)
Pianist Keith Jarrett discusses his creative life in music with rare clips,
interviews and performances featuring his American and European Quartets, Gary
Burton, Chick Corea, Manfred Eicher and the Standards Trio.
Wednesday, April 18 (7:00pm)
Barfly (Cannon, 1987). Dir Barbet Schroeder. Wrt Charles
Bukowski. With Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, Alice Krige, Jack Nance,
J. C. Quinn, Frank Stallone. (99 min, color, 35mm)
Charles Bukowski’s alter ego Harry Chinaski (Rourke) spends his days and nights
in watering holes around Los Angeles, Bukowski’s home throughout most of his
life. He meets a fellow drunk, Wanda (Dunaway), and they begin a sloshed affair,
while a wealthy publisher (Krige) pursues Chinaski in attempt to make him a
successful, sober, clean-cut American writer. Schroeder shot the film in actual
Los Angeles bars, as well as a supposed former apartment of Bukowski. The film
features Bukowski’s trademark philosophical wit in unforgettable quotes, as
well as a cameo by the author/poet.
Friday, April 20 (7:00pm)
Screening Shakespeare: Silent Shakespeare -
(live piano accompaniment by Ray Brubacher)
Screening introduced by Dr Judith Buchanan, Film Studies, Department
of English and Related Literature, The University of York, United
The absence of the spoken word did not prevent silent cinema from producing more
than 300 screen adaptations of the Bard’s work, mostly before Word War I when
film was still struggling for recognition against unfavorable comparisons with
traditional forms of performing arts. Tonight and next Tuesday we present a small
sampling of the riches that are silent Shakespeare.
Duel Scene from "Macbeth" (American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., 1905). Camera
G. W. Bitzer. (40 sec, black & white, 16mm)
Taming of the Shrew (American Mutoscope & Biograph Co., 1908). Dir D.
W. Griffith. With Florence Lawrence (Kate), Harry Solter (Father), Linda Arvidson
(Bianca). (11 min, black & white, 16mm)
La Mégère Apprivoisée = Taming of a Shrew (Eclipse, France, 1911). Dir
Henri Desfontaines. With Romuald Joubé (Petruchio), André Bacqué (Baptista),
Roger Lion (Lucentio), Madeleine Barjac (Katherine), Cécile Didier (Bianca).
(11 min, black & white, 35mm)
We begin the evening with three men in kilts dueling in front of a painted backdrop,
one of the earliest screen depictions of Shakespeare’s work.
Taming of the Shrew , also produced by Biograph and D. W. Griffith's only
adaptation of Shakespeare, is a knockabout farce with Florence Lawrence's Kate
being tamed by an unidentified Petruchio (sometimes misidentified as actor Arthur
Johnson). The action takes place on four different studio sets (including a kitchen!),
without much effort to convey the ambiance of the original, and ends with an
incongruous pastoral exterior shot. Mack Sennett appears as one of Petruchio's
Unlike Griffith’s broad comedy, the version produced three years later by the
French company Eclipse is much closer to the play, both in its sets and performances,
the latter by stars of the famed Odéon theatre in Paris.
Macbeth (Cines, Italy, 1909). Dir. Mario Caserini. With Dante Capelli
(Macbeth), Maria Caserini Gasperini (Lady Macbeth). (16 min, black & white, 35mm)
Otello = Othello (Film d’Arte Italiana, Italy, 1909). Dir Gerolamo Lo
Savio. With Ferruccio Garavaglia, (Othello), Cesare Dondini (Iago), Vittoria
Lepanto (Desdemona), Alberto Nepoti (Cassio), A. Pezzaglia (The Doge). (11 min,
black & white, 35mm)
As is the case with most Italian silent renderings of Shakespeare, director Mario
Caserini (working here with his wife, actress Maria Gasperini), presents Macbeth as
a historical spectacle, with elaborate sets, backgrounds and crowd scenes. Interestingly,
the film limits Macbeth’s second encounter with the witches to their warning
about Macduff, thereby eliminating the trademark scene of Birnam Wood coming
Othello was the first production of the Italian offshoot of the "art film" movement,
inaugurated in France in 1907 when Charles Pathé established the Film d’Art company
with the goal of producing screen adaptations of classic novels and plays with
stars of the theater both in front and behind the camera. The film is particularly
interesting for its authentic settings as it was shot on location in Venice,
where "imposing facades, beautiful colonnades, magnificent porticos and marvelously
wrought gateways, all come under our view as we pass from one scene to another
of this great play." (Moving Picture World)
The Winter’s Tale (Thanhouser, 1910). Dir Barry O’Neil (?). Adapt Lloyd
F. Lonergan, Gertrude Thanhouser. With Anna Rosemond (Queen of Sicilia), Martin
Faust (King of Sicilia), Frank H. Crane (King of Bohemia), Amelia Barleon (Princess
of Sicilia), Alfred Hanlon (Prince of Bohemia). (10 min, black & white, 35mm)
With his extensive theatrical background, Edwin Thanhouser was well positioned
to tackle the Bard’s work on screen when he organized his film company in 1909. The
Winter’s Tale was the first in what was announced as "a strong series of
Shakespearean releases" (Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest followed
in 1911), and the first film adaptation of Shakespeare to publicly announce the
name of the actors. The work won high praise from contemporary reviewers, with
Moving Picture World claiming that "we have never seen better acting in any motion
picture that has come before our eyes." The existing copy lacks the ending in
which the King of Sicilia is reunited with his Queen who has been made up to
resemble a statue.
Desdemona (Nordisk, Denmark, 1911). Dir August Blom. Wrt Louis Møller.
With Valdemar Psilander (Ejnar/Othello), Thyra Reimann (Maria/Desdemona), Nicolai
Brechling (Preben/Iago), Henry Knudsen (Count Brisson). (17 min, black & white,
Produced at the peak of the golden age of Danish cinema by the Nordisk company,
which released its films in the U.S. under the Great Northern banner, Desdemona is
an early example of transposing Shakespeare’s work into a modern setting by building
a story around a performance of the original play. In this context, the "real
life" characters are usually a reflection of the roles they interpret on stage,
a formula used to good effect in later works such as George Cukor’s A Double
Life (1948) and Cole Porter’s musical Kiss Me Kate.
Twelfth Night (Vitagraph, 1910). Dir Charles Kent (?). With Florence Turner
(Viola), Edith Storey (Sebastian), Julia Swayne Gordon (Olivia), Tefft Johnson
(Orsino), Charles Kent (Malvolio). (9 min, black & white, 35mm)
As You Like It (Vitagraph, 1912). Dir Charles Kent. Adapt Margaret Birch.
With Rose Coghlan (Rosalind), Maurice Costello (Orlando), Rosemary Theby (Celia),
Robert Gaillord (Oliver), Rose Tapley (Phoebe). (29 min, black & white, 35mm)
Renowned for the high quality of its releases, the Vitagraph Co. of America produced
a number of Shakespeare adaptations, beginning with Macbeth in 1908
and represented here with two popular cross-dressing comedies, Twelfth Night and As
You Like It . The first is a rather confusing condensation of the play, not
helped by the lack of intertitles in the Library’s print. Pictorially, however,
it is a well made film, and the acting by Vitagraph’s stock company is more than
adequate, with Charles Kent excellent as the pompous steward Malvolio. As
You Like It , on the other hand, marked the first time the company extended
the length of its Shakespeare releases to three reels and imported a famous star
of the theater to play the lead. Rose Coghlan, who appeared on stage as Rosalind
back in 1880, was by then 61 years old, and "no amount of make-up or corseting
could hide the lines in her face or the dumpiness of her figure" (Robert Hamilton
Ball). The rest of the cast, including Vitagraph’s top male star of the time,
Maurice Costello, fared better, as did the attractive exteriors (Flatbush, NY,
standing in for the Forest of Arden).
Monday, April 23 (7:00pm)
Jazz Film Series
Los Zafiros: Music From the Edge of Time (2004). Dir/Prod Lorenzo
deStefano. (79 min, DVD)
Music, emotion and rarely seen archival film clips from Cuban television fuel
this bittersweet, award-winning tribute to the beloved vocal group Los Zafiros
(The Saffires), known as the Beatles of 1960s Cuba. Thirty years after their
breakup, the two surviving band members, Manuel Galban and Miguel Cancio, reunite
in Havana sharing songs, celebrations, memories and tears.
Tuesday, April 24 (7:00pm)
Screening Shakespeare: Silent Shakespeare - Part 2
(live piano accompaniment by Ray Brubacher)
Marcantonio e Cleopatra = Antony and Cleopatra (Cines, Italy, 1913).
Dir Enrico Guazzoni. Wrt Guazzoni. With Giovanna Terribili Gonzales (Cleopatra),
Amleto Novelli (Marc Antony), Ignazio Lupi (Octavius), Elsa Lenard (Octavia),
Matilde Di Marzio (Charmian). (62 min, black & white, 16mm)
Shylock, ou le More de Venise = The Merchant of Venice (Eclipse, France,
1913). Dir Henri Desfontaines. With Harry Baur (Shylock), Jean Hervé (Bassanio),
Pépa Bonafé (Portia), Romuald Joubé (Antonio). (32 min, black & white, 16mm)
Notwithstanding the references to Shakespeare in both modern sources and advertisements
accompanying the film’s original release in the U.S. and U.K., Antony and
Cleopatra owes more to its other two literary sources, Pietro Cossa’s dramatic
poem ‘Cleopatra’ and, in particular, Plutarch’s series of biographies and character
studies ‘Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans.’ Directed by Enrico Guazzoni
following the extraordinary worldwide success of his epic Quo Vadis? (1913),
the film was highly praised for its lavish costumes, elaborate special effects,
and massive sets, including a giant replica of Cleopatra's barge "of sufficiently
ample proportions to prevent its sinking under the weight of a Giovanna Terribili
Gonzales' well fed Cleopatra" (Kenneth S. Rothwell).
Preceded by the last in a series of Shakespeare films produced by Eclipse.
Earlier titles include Henry IV in 1909 and Hamlet in 1910,
both now lost, as well as The Taming of the Shrew in 1911 (see April
Friday, April 27 (7:00pm)
(introduced by Christel Schmidt)
Taming of the Shrew (Pickford Corp.-Elton Corp./United Artists, 1929).
Dir Sam Taylor. Adapt Taylor. With Mary Pickford (Katherine), Douglas Fairbanks
(Petruchio), Edwin Maxwell (Baptista), Joseph Cawthorn (Gremio), Clyde Cook
(Grumio). (68 min, black & white, 35mm)
Hamlet and Eggs (Educational/Twentieth Century-Fox, 1937). Dir William
Watson. Story Tim Ryan. With Ryan, Irene Noblette, Frank Jaquet, Douglas Leavitt,
Pat Patterson's Cowboy Trio. (16 min, black & white, 35mm)
The first Shakespeare talkie was produced by two superstars of the silent era
who both found the transition to sound to be a career-ending experience. Pickford
and Fairbanks never worked together before, and the production, somewhat mirroring
the state of their marriage, was plagued by a host of problems. Pickford complained
that "Fairbanks read Shakespeare from a blackboard" and expressed annoyance
with his on-set pranks. On screen, she certainly seems to be throwing punches
and various objects at her husband with the utmost conviction.
The film was simultaneously released in both sound and silent versions. As
Pickford's second talking feature, it did well at the box office, nearly doubling
its negative cost. In the mid-1960's, in conjunction with Franco Zeffirelli's
screen adaptation of the play, Matty Kemp, then director of the Pickford Company,
decided to reissue the 1929 version. The original film was shortened by five
minutes and a new music track and sound effects were added. Released in 1966,
this is the version we are presenting tonight.
Preceded by a comedy short about a Shakespearean actor who, while vacationing
in Arizona, is forced at gunpoint to appear in a production of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’
Monday, April 30 (7:00pm)
Jazz Film Series
Irène Schweizer (2005). Dir Gita Gsell. Prod Franzika Reck. (75 min,
Swiss pianist, composer Irène Schweizer has performed and recorded with many
of the most important American and European free improvisors, including Evan
Parker, Pierre Favre, Andrew Cyrille, George Lewis and Peter Kowald. Since
the 1980s, she’s been associated with both the Feminist Improvising Group and
the European Women's Improvising Group, as well as the collective trio Les
Diaboliques, with Maggie Nicols and Joëlle Léandre. Gita Gsell’s stylized,
visually stunning documentary features Schweizer talking about her work and
performing with Les Diaboliques, Fred Anderson, Hamid Drake, Han Bennink, Louis
Moholo and others. This screening is co-sponsored by the Embassy of Switzerland.
Tuesday, May 1 (7:00pm)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Warner Bros., 1935). Dir Max Reinhardt,
William Dieterle. Adapt Charles Kenyon, Mary C. McCall, Jr. With Ian Hunter
(Theseus), Verree Teasdale (Hippolyta), Hobart Cavanaugh (Philostrate), Dick
Powell (Lysander), Ross Alexander (Demetrius), Olivia De Havilland (Hermia),
Jean Muir (Helena), James Cagney (Bottom), Victor Jory (Oberon), Anita Louise
(Titania), Mickey Rooney (Puck). (132 min, black & white, 35mm)
Finding refuge in Hollywood after leaving Hitler’s Germany in 1934, Max Reinhardt,
who already staged ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ ten times in Europe, embarked
on yet another production of the play, an open-air extravaganza at the Hollywood
Bowl. With a nightly attendance of 15,000 spectators and highly praised by
the critics, the show inevitably came to the attention of the resident film
industry, and Warner Bros. hired the director to make a big-budget, star-studded
screen version of Shakespeare’s classic.
The end result is a mixed affair, with Reinhardt’s Expressionistic touches
often clashing with the demands and cliches of Hollywood filmmaking. The critical
response at the time was as varied, ranging from "Unquestionably the loveliest
fantastic imagery the screen has yet produced" (Variety) to "Poor old Shakespeare!" (The
Sunday Times), representing the extremely negative opinion of the film in the
British press). A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed poorly at the box-office,
convincing Hollywood to stay away from future adaptations of Shakespeare’s
work (MGM’s Romeo and Juliet was by then already in production). With
the 1953 Julius Caesar as the sole exception, this attitude prevailed
until the success of Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V (1989).
Friday, May 4 (7:00pm)
Romeo and Juliet (MGM, 1936). Dir George Cukor. Adapt Talbot Jennings.
With Norma Shearer (Juliet), Leslie Howard (Romeo), John Barrymore (Mercutio),
Edna May Oliver (Nurse to Juliet), Basil Rathbone (Tybalt), C. Aubrey Smith
(Lord Capulet). (125 min, black & white, 35mm)
With Irving G. Thalberg announcing the project as "a cultural undertaking of
importance," MGM spared no cost in bringing Shakespeare’s tragedy to the screen.
The studio’s research department spent two years gathering background material
for the film, even dispatching a technical crew to Italy to photograph parts
of the city of Verona, which were then reconstructed on MGM’s backlot. Cornell
University professor William Strunk, Jr. was hired as a "Literary Consultant" to
ensure that "no injustice was done" to Shakespeare, and the script did not
include a single line of dialogue not written by the Bard. While Norma Shearer
(Thalberg’s wife) was cast as Julia from the very beginning, among the actors
considered for the part of Romeo were Robert Montgomery, Brian Aherne, Clark
Gable, Robert Donat, Laurence Olivier, Franchot Tone and Robert Taylor.
Romeo and Juliet’s opulent production values did not translate into
box-office or critical success, and the film has won few admirers over the
years. Kenneth Rothwell calls it "a masterwork from antiquity: a bit archaic,
a little rigid, slightly overdone, but, yes, still withal warm and good." In
1954, Paul Dehn was particularly impressed by John Barrymore and Basil Rathbone
("the best Mercutio and the best Tybalt I ever saw"), with Barrymore being
praised as "‘Ham’ possibly - but how exquisitely cured!"
Monday, May 7 (7:00pm)
Tower of London (Universal, 1939). Dir Rowland V. Lee. Wrt Robert
N. Lee. With Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Barbara O'Neil, Ian Hunter, Vincent
Price. (92 min, black & white, 35mm)
Loosely based on Shakespeare's ‘Richard III,’ but also borrowing from all three
parts of ‘Henry VI,’ Tower of London is a curious mixture of history,
classic tragedy, and horror. Stylishly directed by Rowland V. Lee, whose Son
of Frankenstein was released earlier that same year, the film features
wonderfully sinister performances by Basil Rathbone as Richard, Duke of Gloucester,
and Boris Karloff as his bald, club-footed executioner Mord. The role of the
Duke of Clarence was played by the 28-year-old Vincent Price, who would later
take over the lead in Roger Corman's 1962 remake.
Tuesday, May 8 (7:00pm)
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (Paramount-Red Stripe Films,
1981). Dir Lou Adler. Wrt Rob Morton (= Nancy Dowd). With Diane Lane, Ray Winstone,
Peter Donat, David Clennon, John Lehne, Laura Dern. (87 min, color, 35mm)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band [Trailer] (1978). (color, 35mm)
Kitten with a Whip [Trailer] (1964). (black & white, 35mm)
The Legend of Frenchie King [Trailer] (1971). (color, 35mm)
The Fabulous Stains--Behind the Movie (1999). By Sarah Jacobson and
Sam Green. (12 min, color, DVD)
One of Hollywood's few forays into punk cinema, The Fabulous Stains was
shelved by Paramount after disastrous previews. Considered too repellent for
release, it however gained a cult following via cable in the mid ‘80's. Hailed
by one writer as a "teen trash classic," this vitriolic satire/drama is about
the rise and fall of an all-girl punk band. Stuck in a dead-end Pennsylvania
town, 16 year old Corinne (Diane Lane) takes inspiration from touring British
band The Looters (Ray Winstone and members of The Sex Pistols and The Clash)
and forms The Stains. Despite its flaws and contrivances, The Fabulous Stains is
a must-see document of the early ’80's. Washington, DC theatrical premiere.
Preceded by The Fabulous Stains--Behind the Movie , an "excavation of
an early-80s rock movie almost lost to obscurity" (Sam Green), which revisits
the history of a "clumsy, cursed Hollywood effort [...] to capitalize on the
rising visibility of girl power in the punk movement." The short documentary
features interviews with several principles, including Lou Adler, Fee Waybill,
and scriptwriter Nancy Dowd (who wrote Slap Shot).
Thursday, May 10 (7:00)
Playmates (RKO, 1941). Dir David Butler. Wrt James V. Kern, from an
original story by Kern and M. M. Musselman. With Kay Kyser, John Barrymore,
Lupe Velez, Ginny Simms, May Robson, Patsy Kelly. (96 min, black & white, 16mm)
This meeting of high art and pop culture has the temerity to team legendary
thespian John Barrymore and bandleader Kay Kyser. Their swingin’ Shakespearean
collaboration will please both hepcats and squares, providing Kyser can work
in a few musical numbers and the highbrows don’t mind their verse spoken in
a honeyed Southern drawl. Barrymore, not to be upstaged, indulges in merciless–and
uproarious--self-parody in what turned out to be his cinematic swan song.
Friday, May 11 (7:00pm)
Henry V (Two Cities Films, U.K., 1944). Dir Laurence Olivier. Adapt
Alan Dent. With Olivier (Henry V), Robert Newton (Ancient Pistol), Leslie Banks
(Chorus), Renée Asherson (Princess Katherine), Esmond Knight (Fluellen), Robert
Helpmann (Bishop of Ely). (137 min, Technicolor, 35mm)
Buoyant, fanciful version of Henry V chronicles the English king as
he overcomes tremendous odds by leading his men to a glorious victory on the
battlefields of France. Olivier proves equally assured in both directorial
and acting capacities, and the film remains a landmark in the history of British
cinema. The vibrant Technicolor photography, splendid sets, rendered in one-point-perspective
to evoke medieval manuscript illumination, and a stirring score by William
Walton combine to create an exuberant fairytale ambiance. As the on-screen
dedication to the commandos and airborne troops of Great Britain testifies,
the film is overtly propagandistic. With many of the darker nuances of the
play excised, the film served as a wholly affirmative wartime rallying cry
by delivering a heartening reminder of an historic British victory in Europe
to WWII audiences. After the film was released in the United States in 1946,
Olivier won an honorary Academy Award "for his outstanding achievement as actor,
producer and director in bringing ‘Henry V’ to the screen."
Tuesday, May 15 (7:00pm)
Strange Illusion (PRC, 1945). Dir Edgar G. Ulmer. Wrt Adele Comandini,
based on an original story by Fritz Rotter. With James Lydon, Warren William,
Sally Eilers, Regis Toomey, Charles Arnt. (84 min, black & white, 35mm)
A college student receives a letter from his deceased father instructing him
to guard his young and naive mother from unscrupulous men. Yes, it’s ‘Hamlet,’ re-imagined
by B movie master Edgar G. Ulmer as an urban crime thriller with a businessman,
who might also be a murderer and child molester, as the incarnation of King
Wednesday, May 16 (7:00pm)
Delicatessen (Constellation-UGC-Hachette Première, France, 1990).
Dir & Wrt Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro. With Dominique Pinon, Marie-Laure
Dougnac, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Karin Viard, Ticky Holgado. (96 min, color, 35mm)
A black-comedy set in post-apocalyptic France (maybe in the past, maybe in
the future) where food is rare but meat is even more scarce. The film takes
place almost entirely in a decrepit apartment building with a street-level
butcher shop where the Butcher (Dreyfus) is also the Landlord and has forced
his tenants into cannibalism. Louison (Pinon), a former circus clown who had
a chimp for a comedic partner, answers a ‘help wanted’ ad to be the building's
handyman. A wrench is thrown into the Butcher's plans to serve the clown as
the next meal when Louison falls in love with his daughter. Together, they
must escape the Butcher with the help of an underground vegetarian terrorist
organization--The Troglodists. The odd ensemble of characters are a treat and
the tightly edited sequences of sound and rhythm are breathtaking.
Thursday, May 17 (7:00pm)
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (NBC, 4/3/1949). Dir Garry Simpson. With
George Bliss (Julius Caesar), James Maxwell (Marcus Brutus), Donald Roberts
(Cassius), Peter Klaussen (Casca), Roger Neuhoff (Trebonius), Arch Taylor (Decius
Brutus), Raymond MacDonnell (Marcus Antonius). (105 min, black & white, Digital
The first performance ever presented on the Elizabethan stage of the Folger
Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. is also the earliest TV broadcast of
Shakespeare’s work held by the Library of Congress. Transmitted nationally
by NBC on a Sunday afternoon, the event was sponsored by the Socony-Vacuum
Oil Company and performed by members of the dramatic society of Amherst College
(The Masquers), which originally presented the play in March, 1949, at Amherst's
Kirby Memorial Theater (the production was staged by Professor Curtis Canfield).
Appropriately for the venue, the performance was presented "in the fashion
of Shakespeare's time, just as people saw it when ‘Julius Caesar’ was a new
and unknown play" (opening commentary). The broadcast profiles the Folger Library
and its founder, Henry Clay Folger, an Amherst graduate and later president
of Standard Oil, and includes appearances by Charles W. Cole, President of
Amherst College (1946-1960), and Louis B. Wright, Folger’s Director from 1948
Friday, May 18 (7:00pm)
Hallmark Hall of Fame. Hamlet (NBC, 4/26/1953). Dir Albert McCleery.
Adapt Mildred Freed Alberg, Tom Hughes Sand. With Maurice Evans (Hamlet), Ruth
Chatterton (Queen Gertrude), Joseph Schildkraut (King Claudius), Sarah Churchill
(Ophelia), Barry Jones (Polonius). (120 min, black & white, U-matic video)
A landmark production, NBC's Hamlet was at the time the longest drama
ever presented on American TV and the first TV adaptation of Shakespeare to
feature Maurice Evans. Appearing on Broadway in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (1936), ‘Richard
II’ (1937), ‘Hamlet’ (1938) ‘Henry IV, Part I’ (1939), ‘Twelfth Night’ (1940)
and ‘Macbeth’ (1941), the English-born actor became one of the world's best
known interpreters of Shakespeare. A U.S. citizen from 1941, Evans toured the
Pacific during World War II with the shortened "G.I." version of Hamlet, later
staged on Broadway by George Schaefer. Supervised by Schaefer himself, the
Hallmark telecast was unveiled on NBC on April 26, the date of William Shakespeare’s
baptism in 1564.
Evans's ornate and declamatory acting style might be considered dated by today's
standards, and he was certainly too old for the part (52 at the time of the
broadcast), but his presence, movement and eloquence stand up well. The production
also benefits from creative camerawork and sets, although the latter have been
criticized for trying to attain the "measure of illusion that movie sets afford" (Bernice
W. Kliman). As to his TV debut, Evans was somewhat prophetic: "TV? Any 6-year-old
in the living room can obliterate actor and play with a flick of the wrist
and go on to more tonic pursuits."
Tuesday, May 22 (7:00pm)
Julius Caesar (MGM, 1953). Dir Joseph L. Mankiewicz. With Marlon Brando
(Mark Antony), James Mason (Brutus), John Gielgud (Cassius), Louis Calhern
(Julius Caesar), Edmond O'Brien (Casca), Greer Garson (Calpurnia), Deborah
Kerr (Portia). (121 min, black & white, 35mm)
Solid, handsomely mounted production thought by many to be the most successful
Hollywood adaptation of a Shakespeare play. Mankiewicz wisely opted for intimacy
over spectacle, obtaining full value from the talents of the exemplary cast.
Brando’s Antony surprised contemporary critics who were fearful that his method
slurring and mumbling would compromise the poetic flow of the language, but
the anxieties proved unjustified as his performance is both eloquent and vivid,
purportedly benefitting from coaching by Gielgud. Exploiting sets used previously
in MGM’s roman epic Quo Vadis?, Mankiewicz insisted on filming in
black and white and, to preserve some of the energy of the play’s stage origins,
on shooting scenes in chronological order.
Wednesday, May 23 (7:00pm)
Konketsuji Rika = Half-Breed Rika (Toho, Japan, 1972). Dir Ko Nakahira.
Wrt Kaneto Shindo. With Rika Aoki, Kazuko Nagamoto, Masatane Tsukayama, Fuminori
Sato. (90 min, color, 35mm)
Toho's contribution to the "sukeban" genre - actually a sub-genre of the female
yakuza genre - featuring the exploits of young female delinquents (or "girl
gang bosses"). This was the first in a trilogy, with all three installments
written by Kaneto Shindo, director of such classics as Onibaba and The
Island. Director Ko Nakahira (Crazed Fruit) is sometimes (as
is Shindo) lumped together with the Japanese New Wave filmmakers.
Thursday, May 24 (7:00pm)
Kiss Me Kate (MGM, 1953). Dir George Sidney. Wrt Dorothy Kingsley,
based on the musical with book by Samuel & Bella Spewack, music and lyrics
by Cole Porter. With Kathryn Grayson (Lilli Vanessi "Katherine"), Howard Keel
(Fred Graham "Petruchio"), Ann Miller (Lois Lane "Bianca"), Keenan Wynn (Lippy),
Bobby Van ("Gremio"), Tommy Rall (Bill Calhoun "Lucentio"). (109 min, Technicolor,
Cole Porter’s witty musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1948, successfully
transposes Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ into the modern era while
at the same time preserving the original text in its "onstage" portions. Though
the film adaptation takes all of the songs from the stage production (with
the addition of ‘From This Moment On, ‘ originally written for another Porter
musical), it includes numerous alterations to the Broadway version’s often
suggestive lyrics - e.g. a reference to the Kinsey Report on sexual behavior
in the song ‘Too Darn Hot’ is changed to "the latest report." Kiss Me Kate was
originally released in 3-D, although Dore Schary, MGM’s head of production,
considered the technology "a freak entertainment... marked for extinction."
Friday, May 25 (7:00pm)
Omnibus. II, Vol. 3, King Lear (TV-Radio Workshop of the Ford Foundation/CBS,
10/18/1953). Dir Andrew McCullough. Staged by Peter Brook. With Orson Welles
(King Lear), Natasha Parry (Cordelia), Arnold Moss (Duke of Albany), Bramwell
Fletcher (Earl of Kent), David J. Stewart (Oswald), Margaret Phillips (Regan),
Beatrice Straight (Goneril), Alan Badel (Fool). (90 min, black & white, Digital
Omnibus. I, Vol. 10 [Segment: Henry V, Act 5, Scene 2] (TV-Radio Workshop
of the Ford Foundation/CBS, 1/11/1953). Dir Andrew McCullough. With Brian Aherne
(Henry V), Viveca Lindfors (Princess Katherine), Zolya Talma. (22 min, black & white,
Omnibus. II, Vol. 2 [Segment: King Lear Rehearsal Sequence] (TV-Radio
Workshop of the Ford Foundation/CBS, 10/11/1953). (5 min, black & white, U-matic
Underwritten by The Ford Foundation and hosted by Alistair Cooke, the cultural
anthology series Omnibus presented a wide variety of programs every
Sunday afternoon, from classic plays and operas to current affairs documentaries.
Each program usually contained several segments of varying lengths, although
occasionally an episode would be devoted entirely to a single work.
The 1953 production of King Lear was an ambitious endeavour: director
Peter Brook was brought over from London, Pulitzer-Prize-winning composer Virgil
Thomson wrote the original score, and Orson Welles made his U.S. TV debut in
the title role. With Brook having reduced the play to 73 minutes by eliminating
subplots secondary to the king's downfall and madness, CBS opted not to interrupt
the program with commercial breaks. The grueling work that went into these
live broadcasts is clearly visible on the director's tired and unshaven face
as he talks to Alistair Cook following the play's finale. Welles, based in
Ireland at the time, was saddled with a significant tax debt so that a deal
had to be negotiated with the U.S. government allowing him to come to New York
to work on the show. Observing the rehearsal, the NY Times noted that not once
did the actor, "famous on two continents for more self-esteem than humbleness,
lose his temper or threaten to have anyone ejected from the hall." The telecast
is of particular interest today for coming closest to illustrating what Welles's
theatrical performances of Shakespeare must have looked like. Welles returned
to the role of King Lear on the stage of New York's non-profit City Center
in January 1956, and was about to secure financing for a motion picture adaptation
of the play at the time of his death in 1985.
Preceded by the charming bilingual scene of Henry V’s wooing of Princess Katherine,
resulting in the marriage that united England and France, and a glimpse of
the rehearsal of King Lear with director Peter Brook, composer Virgil
Thomson, and Brook’s wife Natasha Parry in the role of Cordelia.
Tuesday, May 29 (7:00pm)
Kraft Television Theatre. Macbeth (NBC, 5/10/1950). Dir Stanley Quinn.
Adapt E. G. Marshall. With Marshall (Macbeth), Uta Hagen (Lady Macbeth), Chester
Stratton (Macduff), Philip Huston (Banquo), Philip Faversham (Ross). (60 min,
black & white, U-matic video)
Kraft Television Theatre. Romeo and Juliet (NBC, 6/9/1954). Dir Richard
Dunlap. With Susan Strasberg (Juliet), Liam Sullivan (Romeo), Carroll McComas
(Nurse), Noel Leslie (Friar Laurence), Felix Deebank (Mercutio), Eric Sinclair
(Benvolio), Marc Breaux (Tybalt), Jack Livesey (Lord Capulet), Madeleine
Clive (Lady Capulet). (60 min, black & white, U-matic video)
Two condensed versions of Shakespeare plays from the glory days of live television,
both part of the prestigious and long-running (1947-58) drama series underwritten
by the Kraft Foods company.
The title role in Macbeth is played by E. G. Marshall, a prolific film
and TV character actor probably best remembered as one of the 12 Angry
Men in the 1957 movie with Henry Fonda, while Lady Macbeth is portrayed
by the renowned stage actress and acting instructor Uta Hagen. The NBC broadcast
competed for an audience with What’s My Line?, horse races in Yonkers,
and a wrestling match, all of which were transmitted at the same time by other
Despite promoting itself as a showcase for established Broadway talent, the
Kraft series did not shy away from hiring unknowns for some rather meaty parts,
as examplefied by the 1954 broadcast of Romeo and Juliet . 16-year-old
Susan Strasberg starred as Juliet a year before her Broadway breakthrough in ‘The
Diary of Anne Frank,’ while Liam Sullivan had only a few TV acting credits
to his name when he tackled the role of Romeo. Sullivan went on to become one
of the hardest working actors in television, appearing in everything from Twilight
Zone and Perry Mason to Dynasty and Falcon Crest.
The hour-long digest of the play (including the obligatory cheese commercials),
was not treated kindly by Variety, which likened the romance to "a juve flirtation
in an icecream parlor", and accused Sullivan of paying "more attention to showcasing
his dentures than making the part of Romeo believable."
Wednesday, May 30 (7:00pm)
Les Félins = Joy House (Cipra-Cité Films, France, 1964). Dir René Clément.
Wrt Clément, Pascal Jardin, Charles Williams, from the novel by Day Keene.
With Alain Delon, Jane Fonda, Lola Albright, Sorrell Booke, Carl Studer. (98
min, black & white, 35mm)
A very underrated thriller, Joy House reunited Alain Delon with director
René Clément, who had previously directed him in Plein Soleil (Purple Noon).
In this film, a con man (Delon) on the run from his lover's gangster husband
finds shelter working as a chauffeur for two strange, beautiful women. Delon
soon finds that the gangster husband is the least of his worries as he becomes
part of a psychological game of deception and revenge.
Thursday, May 31 (7:00pm)
Romeo and Juliet (Universalcine-Verona Productions, Italy/U.K., 1954).
Dir & Adapt Renato Castellani. With Laurence Harvey (Romeo), Susan Shentall
(Juliet), Flora Robson (The Nurse), Mervyn Johns (Friar Laurence), Bill Travers
(Benvolio), Enzo Fiermonte (Tybalt), Sebastian Cabot (Capulet). (138 min, Technicolor,
Described as an "interesting and ambitious, if not wholly successful, experiment" (Monthly
Film Bulletin), this version of the tragic love story boldly combines Shakespeare
with elements of Italian neorealism by emphasizing the naturalistic visuals
over the spoken word. The project took three years to complete, with the bulk
of the seven-month shoot spent on various locations chosen for their authentic
Renaissance architecture, from Verona and Venice to the small Tuscan town of
San Quirico d'Orcia. With British cinematographer Robert Krasker (Olivier's Henry
V, The Third Man) behind the camera, and surrealist painter Leonor Fini
responsible for the costumes, the film is certainly one of the most visually
sumptuous screen adaptations of the Bard's works.
While the role of Romeo went to Laurence Harvey, a rising star of the Royal
Shakespeare Company, Juliet was played by a 19-year-old secretarial college
student from Derbyshire, England, who never appeared in another film. In keeping
with the latter choice, director Castellani also peppered the supporting cast
with non-professionals, including novelist Elio Vittorini (appearing under
the alias of Giovanni Rota) in the role of the Prince of Verona, and a Veronese
architect, Ubaldo Zollo, in the much truncated role of Mercutio. The film won
the top prize at the 1954 Venice Film Festival.
Friday, June 1 (7:00pm)
Hallmark Hall of Fame. King Richard II (NBC, 1/24/1954). Dir George
Schaefer. Adapt Maurice Evans. With Evans (King Richard II), Kent Smith (Bolingbroke),
Sarah Churchill (The Queen), Frederic Worlock (John of Gaunt), Richard Purdy
(Duke of York), Morton Da Costa (Aumerle). (120 min, black & white, Digital
Returning to television less than a year after Hamlet, Maurice Evans
recreated his greatest stage success with Hallmark's Richard II . The
telecast begins with documentary footage of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation
(June 2, 1953), which is followed by the play’s opening scene of the banishment
of Mowbray and Bolingbroke staged in a cathedral-like gothic interior, the
first in a series of impressive sets designed for the show by Richard Sylbert
and built in NBC's new Brooklyn studio (a major portion of the $175,000 production
cost was spent on the 2,500 work hours needed for set construction). Sylbert
went on to become one of Hollywood's top production designers and was responsible
for such films as The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Chinatown (1974),
and Reds (1981).
Echoing opinions of other early TV adaptations of Shakespeare, Richard II was
criticized both in contemporary reviews and later assessments for its elaborate
art direction ("too cluttered" was a common complaint), representing a prevalent
view that physical spectacle and pageantry take the focus away from the characters
and the spoken word, and are usually incompatible with the TV medium "where
the proscenium arch is only twenty-one inches" (New York Times). On the other
hand, the reviewers praised the clarity of the condensed script and especially
Evans's performance, which Time magazine described as a brilliant portrayal
of "a posturing, unsettled man, forever wavering between false triumph and
real despair." Maurice Evans appeared in five additional TV adaptations of
Shakespeare: twice in the title role of Macbeth (1954 and 1960), opposite
Lilli Palmer in The Taming of the Shrew (1956), as Malvolio in Twelfth
Night (1957), and with Richard Burton and Lee Remick in The Tempest (1960).
Today, however, he is best remembered as Samantha's father, Maurice, on the
sitcom Bewitched, and Dr. Zaius, the orangutan, in the 1968 film Planet
of the Apes.
Tuesday, June 5 (7:00pm)
The Young Lovers = Chance Meeting (Group Film Productions/Rank, U.K.,
1954). Dir Anthony Asquith. Wrt Robin Estridge, George Tabori. With Odile Versois,
David Knight, Joseph Tomelty, David Kossoff, Paul Carpenter, Theodore Bikel.
(95 min, black & white, 35mm)
Countless motion pictures have been inspired by the story of Shakespeare's
ill-fated lovers, some becoming classics in their own right (West Side
Story), others long forgotten, often undeservedly so. As a representative
of the latter group, Anthony Asquith's rarely seen film (at least in the U.S.)
puts a Cold War spin on the tale by having the daughter of a government official
from an unspecified Communist state fall in love with a young American employed
in the Intelligence Section of the U.S. Embassy in London.
Producer Anthony Havelock-Allan (Brief Encounter, Great Expectations)
envisioned the film "as a blast against McCarthyism," and wanted to hire an
American director (Mark Robson) and star (James Stewart). Instead, the Rank
Organisation brought in a veteran British filmmaker (Asquith) and a 26-year-old
American making his screen debut (Knight). Havelock-Allan's desired "stark,
realistic style the Americans were so good at" was thereby replaced by Asquith's
trademark lyricism and powerful emotional images. As Raymond Durgnat observed,
the two main characters are "Romeo and Juliet who cry 'A plague on both your
houses,' elope, and find happiness in flight - or death?"
Wednesday, June 6 (7:00pm)
Let the Good Times Roll (Metromedia Producers Corp./Columbia, 1973).
Dir Robert Abel & Sidney Levin. With Chuck Berry, Chubby Checker, Bo Diddley,
Fats Domino, The Five Satins, Bill Haley and the Comets, Bo Diddley, The Coasters,
The Shirelles. (98 min, color, 35mm)
Lonely Boy (National Film Board of Canada, 1962). Dir Wolf Koenig & Roman
Kroitor. With Paul Anka. (27 min, black & white, 16mm)
"Let the Good Times Roll intercuts 1950's documentary footage with latter-day
performance clips. In 1973, Richard Nader brought together the greatest names
in ‘50s rock for a reunion show in front of an extremely supportive New York
audience (as Fred Parris of the Five Satins exclaims tearfully, ‘This is just
like 1956’). The results leaves the viewer stunned, drained, and speechless.
It’s Woodstock, only in reverse. Little Richard’s nervous demand that his piano
be moved forward (‘I have to get close to the PEOPLE!’), the Five Satins singing
blues backstage, Chuck Berry’s nostalgic walk around his tour bus, and Bo Diddley’s
metal mashing ‘Hey Bo Diddley,’ all makes this indispensable viewing. Brutally, Let
the Good Times Roll was released on top of American Graffiti, which
stole all thunder. But the people who knew, knew." – Art Fein, in "Hollywood
Rock" (New York: Agincourt Press, 1994. Edited by Marshall Crenshaw). Never released
on home video.
Before A Hard Day’s Night and Don’t Look Back, there was Lonely
Boy , an influential cinéma vérité short that followed Canadian
singer Paul Anka for several days of a U.S. tour. Between singing for truly
hysterical teenaged girls at the Freedomland amusement park in the Bronx and
at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, we see the young Anka dealing with show
business power brokers and hear his manager explain his unique appeal.
Thursday, June 7 (6:30pm)
Richard III (London Film Productions, U.K., 1955). Dir Laurence Olivier.
Adapt Alan Dent. With Olivier (Richard), Claire Bloom (Lady Anne), Ralph Richardson
(Duke of Buckingham), John Gielgud (Clarence), Norman Wooland (Catesby), Mary
Kerridge (Queen Elizabeth). (160 min, Technicolor, 35mm)
Laurence Olivier’s third attempt at directing Shakespeare on film chronicles
Richard of Gloucester’s murderous efforts to steal the crown of England. Olivier’s
iconic personification of Richard, partly modeled on notorious Broadway producer
Jed Harris and Disney’s Big Bad Wolf, was highly praised at the time despite,
or because of, its caricatured villainy. With false nose, jet black hair, hunched
back and limp, Olivier cuts an imposing figure though his clipped, shrill delivery
often rushes through the text and at times falls perilously close to subsequent
parodies by the likes of Peter Sellers and Beyond the Fringe. Though somewhat
upstaged by the central performance, the supporting cast is strong with Gielgud’s
Clarence a highlight. Shot in VistaVision and vivid Technicolor, the film’s
long takes and wide compositions make for a rigorously theatrical viewing experience.
Friday, June 8 (7:00pm)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (BBC, U.K., 11/9/1958). Dir Rudolph Cartier.
Adapt Eric Crozier. With John Westbrook (Theseus), Margaret Whiting (Hippolyta),
Christine Finn (Hermia), Vivienne Drummond (Helena), Eric Lander (Demetrius),
David Oxley (Lysander), Miles Malleson (Quince), Paul Rogers (Bottom), John
Justin (Oberon), Natasha Parry (Titania), Gillian Lynne (Puck). (104 min, black & white,
Digital Betacam video)
The first full-length TV production of ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ was a big-budget
affair with a cast of twenty-two and a twenty-eight member ballet troupe. It
was directed by Austrian-born Rudolph Cartier, who studied drama under Max
Reinhardt and then worked as a script writer for the German filmmaking concern
UFA. After the Nazis came to power, Cartier left Germany, and following a brief
stint in the U.S. settled in England where he became BBC's top TV director,
active in both dramatic programming (the Quatermass series, Orwell's 1984)
and opera (Salome, Carmen).
A Midsummer Night's Dream won nothing but accolades at the time of its
broadcast. James Thomas in The Daily Mirror commented that "the Cartier magic
was at work again, building breadth and beauty out of the hysterical muddle
which normally passes for spectacle on the small screen," and proving "to a
worried BBC that Shakespeare needs only a master director to be box office,
even in this medium of TV where so often the intelligence is underrated." In
keeping with this sentiment, Philip Purser in The News Chronicle marveled how "Shakespeare
always flows a little unexpectedly from the telly, as if the kitchen tap had
suddenly started to gush a rather good claret."
Monday, June 11 (7:00pm)
The Love-ins (Four Leaf Productions/Columbia, 1967). Dir Arthur Dreifuss.
Wrt Hal Collins, Dreifuss. With Richard Todd, James MacArthur, Susan Oliver,
Mark Goddard, Carol Booth. (86 min, color, 35mm)
Love American Style. Love and the Elopement & Love and the Pen Pals (Paramount,
1971). Dir Charles Rondeau (seg. 1), Herbert Kenwith (seg. 2). Wrt William
S. Bickley (seg. 1), Dave Davis, Lorenzo Music (seg. 2). With Davy Jones, Karen
Valentine (seg. 1), Monte Markham, Julie Cobb, Dianne Keaton (seg. 2). (30
min, color, 16mm)
In The Love-ins , one of Hollywood's first attempts at cashing in on
the hippie culture of the late 1960's, a university professor resigns his position
and drops in to drop-out, becoming a fanatical leader of a hippy cult in San
Francisco. He leads the group astray and as it heads towards disaster takes
advantage of all the girls in the commune.
Preceded by an episode of the classic comedy series on American love & romance.
In Part 1, Davy Jones is a clumsy, directionally challenged groom who accidently
scales the wrong townhouse wall to elope with his bride. In Part 2, life-long
pen pals find love American Style.
Tuesday, June 12 (7:00pm)
Romanoff and Juliet (Pavor/Universal, 1961). Dir Peter Ustinov. Wrt
Ustinov, based on his play. With Ustinov, Sandra Dee, John Gavin, Akim Tamiroff,
Alix Talton, Rik von Nutter. (103 min, Technicolor, 35mm)
Under pressure from the two superpowers over his deciding U.N. vote, the president
of Europe's smallest country tries to remain neutral by orchestrating a romance
between the offspring of the Russian and American ambassadors. The play, a "delicious
piece of diplomatic fooling" (The Times), premiered in England in 1956 and
then moved to Broadway in October 1957, marking Peter Ustinov’s American stage
debut. Turning it into a motion picture, however, took several years to accomplish,
primarily due to Ustinov's desire to maintain complete creative control over
the project. According to the author, writing the screenplay involved altering
the original work's whimsical approach to accommodate the realistic setting,
as "comedy is merely another way to be serious," or quoting a line from the
script, "politics are activities in which gravity mingles with the ludicrous
in proportions which are not always happy."
The production was based in Italy, in the Cinecittà studios in Rome and the
Umbrian village of Todi, the latter doubling for the capital of mythical Concordia.
In the title roles, teen idol Sandra Dee was paired with John Gavin, whose
subsequent political career will include the appointment as U.S. ambassador
to Mexico during the Reagan era. The two previously appeared in Douglas Sirk’s Imitation
of Life (1959), and following Ustinov's film starred in Tammy Tell
Me True (1961). The sets were designed by the prolific Alexandre Trauner
(Orson Welles's Othello, Rififi), while Robert Krasker, the cinematographer
on Castellani's Romeo and Juliet (see above), returns with another
lavish Technicolor rendering of Italian locations.
Thursday, June 14 (7:00pm)
All Night Long (Bob Roberts Productions/Rank, U.K., 1962). Dir Basil
Dearden. Wrt Nel King, Peter Achilles (=Paul Jarrico). With Patrick McGoohan,
Marti Stevens, Betsy Blair, Keith Michell, Richard Attenborough, Paul Harris.
(91 min, black & white, 35mm)
A fascinating adaptation of ‘Othello’ set amidst the London jazz scene and
tackling the racial politics of contemporary Britain, a theme that the producer/director
team of Michael Relph and Basil Dearden were no strangers to (Pool of London,
Sapphire). The title character of Shakespeare's play is assumed by black
jazz pianist Aurelius Rex (Harris), whose marriage to a white singer (Stevens)
is threatened by the scheming drummer Johnny Cousin (McGoohan). Disparaged
at the time of its original release, the film has gained in stature over the
years, in no small part due to Patrick McGoohan's superb take on Iago and the
on-screen appearances of a host of jazz giants, including Dave Brubeck, John
Dankworth, Charles Mingus, and Tubby Hayes. At the other side of the spectrum, "the
nearly forty-year-old Attenborough's attempt at portraying a youthful finger-snapping
hipster will never go down as one of his finest hours" (Michael Brooke).
Friday, June 15 (7:00pm)
The Comedy of Errors (BBC, U.K., 1/1/1964). Dir Peter Duguid. With
Ian Richardson (Antipholus of Ephesus), Alec McCowen (Antipholus of Syracuse),
Clifford Rose (Dromio of Ephesus), Barry MacGregor (Dromio of Syracuse), Diana
Rigg (Adriana), Janet Suzman (Luciana). (93 min, black & white, U-matic video)
Originally broadcast in the U.K. on New Year's Day, 1964, as part of the celebration
of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, The Comedy of Errors was
the first production of the Royal Shakespeare Company televized directly from
its London headquarters at the Aldwych Theatre before an audience. Featuring
a top-notch cast and Clifford Williams's witty production, which introduces
commedia dell'arte elements into the play, this is Shakespeare's comedy at
its best. The broadcast was first seen in the U.S. in January 1967 as part
of the NET Playhouse series.
Tuesday, June 19 (7:00pm)
Shakespeare Wallah (Merchant-Ivory Productions, India, 1965). Dir
James Ivory. Wrt Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Ivory, from a story by Jhabvala. With
Shashi Kapoor, Felicity Kendal, Madhur Jaffrey, Geoffrey Kendal, Laura Liddel,
Utpal Dutt. (115 min, black & white, 35mm)
Exquisitely immersed in the mood and atmosphere of India, Shakespeare Wallah has
often been compared to the films of Satyajit Ray. The story, about a group
of Shakespearean actors touring the country shortly after it had achieved independence,
was inspired by the experiences of Geoffrey Kendal, the actor-manager of an
English repertory company (billed as "Shakespeariana") which traveled through
India following World War II. In the script by Ivory and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala,
the troupe's experiences mirror the passing of the British Raj as the audiences
turn away from Western classics to products of the indigenous culture, namely
The film was made on a shoestring budget, with the funds mostly originating
from the sale of worldwide distribution rights to The Householder,
James Ivory’s first feature as director, to Columbia Pictures. Kendal himself
was cast in the lead, along with his wife Laura Liddel, and their two daughters
Jennifer and Felicity. In keeping with the family-like nature of the project,
the role of Indian playboy Sanju went to Shashi Kapoor, Jennifer Kendal's real-life
husband. Once the final cut was ready, Ivory took it to Satyajit Ray and asked
him to compose the musical score, which contributes greatly to the film’s dreamlike
quality, as in Ray's own work. Shakespeare Wallah had its world premiere
at the 1965 Berlin Film Festival, where Madhur Jaffrey, in the role of film
star Manjula, won the Silver Bear for Best Actress.
Wednesday, June 20 (7:00pm)
Xiu Xiu, the Sent Down Girl (Whispering Steppes/Stratosphere Entertainment,
1998). Dir Joan Chen. Wrt Yan Geling, Chen, from Yan’s novella "Heavenly Bath." With
Lu Lu, Lopsang, Gao Jie, Li Qianqian, Lu Yue, Qiao Qian. (99 min, color, 35mm)
Millions of educated urban young people, now considered part of China’s "lost
generation," were "sent down to the villages and up to the mountains" during
the Cultural Revolution as a form of re-education to teach them the ways of
peasant life. Xiu Xiu recounts the tragic experiences of a young woman
who is "sent down" to live and work in a remote rural village. Chinese-American
actress Joan Chen makes her directorial debut with this haunting film about
Thursday, June 21 (7:00pm)
Screening Shakespeare: Sitcom Shakespeare, Part 1
I Love Lucy. Lucy Meets Orson Welles (Desilu Productions/CBS, 10/15/1956).
Dir James V. Kern. With Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley,
Orson Welles, Ellen Corby. (28 min, black & white, 16mm)
Gilligan's Island. The Producer (Gladasya-United Artists TV/CBS, 10/3/1966).
Dir Ida Lupino, George M. Cahan. Wrt Gerald Gardner, Dee Caruso. With Bob
Denver, Alan Hale, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Tina Louise, Russell Johnson,
Dawn Wells, Phil Silvers. (24 min, color, 16mm)
Sanford and Son. Lamont as Othello (Tandem-Norbud Productions/NBC,
9/14/1973). Dir Peter Baldwin. Wrt Ilunga Adell. With Redd Foxx, Demond Wilson,
Maureen Arthur, Jack Manning, Anne Driscoll. (28 min, color, U-matic video)
Happy Days. A Star Is Bored (Paramount TV/ABC, 12/3/1974). Dir Jerry
Paris. Wrt Bobby Boswell. With Ron Howard, Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Henry
Winkler, Donny Most, Tom Bosley. (24 min, color, 16mm)
The influence and presence of Shakespeare in popular TV entertainment has been
largely ignored by both scholarly texts and general reference sources. Our
two fun-filled evenings (see also July 19) will illustrate how the Bard's works
are often ingeniously weaved into the narratives of situation comedies, generating
humor by serving as pegs on which to hang the characters' aspirations, desires
and sometimes delusions.
The four titles showcased tonight need no introduction. First, Lucy mistakenly
assumes that she will play Juliet opposite Orson Welles's Romeo at a benefit
performance at Ricky's club. Next, Gilligan as Hamlet recites "To flee or not
to flee, that is the question that I ask of me" when the castaways stage a
musical version of the play to impress obnoxious Hollywood producer Harold
Hecuba (Phil Silvers, who else). In Lamont as Othello , the first episode
of Sanford and Son's 3rd season, Lamont's rehearsal of the "choking
scene" with his white drama teacher playing Desdemona causes all kinds of misunderstandings,
illustrating why the series is considered controversial to this day. And finally,
in Happy Days , Richie and friends, in need of new uniforms for their
underachieving baseball team, recruit Fonzie to play Hamlet in the annual Shakespeare
Festival organized by the local church.
Friday, June 22 (7:00pm)
Screening Shakespeare: Animated Shakespeare
Sen Noci Svatojanské = A Mid-summer Night’s Dream (Studio for Cartoon
and Puppet Films, Czechoslovakia, 1959). Dir & Wrt Jirí Trnka. English adapt
Howard Sackler. Voices: Richard Burton (Narrator), Alec McCowen (Bottom), Jack
Gwillim (Oberon), Barbara Jefford (Titania), Roger Shepherd (Puck), Barbara
Leigh-Hunt (Helena). (74 min, Eastmancolor, CinemaScope, 35mm)
Shakespearian Spinach (Fleischer Studios/Paramount, 1940). Dir Dave
Fleischer. Wrt George Manuel. (6 min, black & white, 35mm)
A Witch’s Tangled Hare (Warner Bros., 1959). Dir Abe Levitow. Wrt Michael
Maltese. Voices Mel Blanc. (6 min, Technicolor, 35mm)
Enter Hamlet (Film Dept. of the School of Visual Arts/Janus Films, 1965).
Dir Fred Mogubgub. Voice Maurice Evans. (4 min, color, 16mm)
Bottom’s Dream (1983). Dir John Canemaker. Voice Mary Bringle (Titania).
(6 min, color, 16mm)
The centerpiece of tonight's program represents the rich tradition of puppetry
in Central Europe and the work of its best known film practitioner, Czech animator
Jirí Trnka (1912-1969). The adaptation of Shakespeare's ‘A Midsummer Night's
Dream’ was Trnka’s last feature and his most lavish one. A nearly wordless
pantomime, it relied on movement, color and music to convey the magic of the
original work. The English language version, prepared for the film's U.S. release,
abandons the non-verbal approach by going back to the text of the play, adapted
by writer Howard Sackler (The Great White Hope). In addition to Richard Burton
as narrator (the film begins with his reading of Shakespeare's ‘Sonnet XV’),
other prominent Shakespeareans were hired to provide voices, among them Barbara
Jefford, of the Old Vic, Alec McCowen, of the Royal Shakespeare Company (seen
in this series as Antipholus of Syracuse in BBC's Comedy of Errors),
and Barbara Leigh-Hunt, who appeared in the 1954 Broadway revival of ‘A Midsummer
Preceded by a sampling of other animated renderings of the Bard's work, including
a couple of Hollywood cartoons (Popeye the Sailor & Bugs Bunny), a pop-art
illustration of the "To be or not to be" soliloquy, and Academy-award winning
animator John Canemaker's creative use of a variety of techniques (pastels,
pencil, water colors) in Bottom's Dream .
Tuesday, June 26 (7:00pm)
Much Ado About Nothing (BBC, U.K., 2/5/1967). Dir Alan Cooke. With
Derek Jacobi (Don Pedro), Ronald Pickup (Don John), Michael Byrne (Claudio),
Robert Stephens (Benedick), Maggie Smith (Beatrice), Caroline John (Hero),
Gerald James (Leonato), Harry Lomax (Antonio), Frank Finlay (Dogberry). (131
min, black & white, Digital Betacam video)
We are particularly pleased to be able to present the long lost TV version
of the legendary 1965 National Theatre production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ a
copy of which was uncovered earlier this year in the Library's PBS Collection.
Staged by Franco Zeffirelli, the production, which premiered on February 16,
1965, at London’s Old Vic, created a controversy with its modern Sicilian setting
and the characters’ heavy Italian accents. The TV version, made under BBC's
exclusive deal with the National Theatre, was taped on January 11, 1967, and
broadcast on BBC-1 on February 5. It was not a straightforward recording of
a stage performance, but rather a full-blown adaptation, with the cast spending
three weeks in rehearsal and director Alan Cooke's cameras joining the action
by moving around the set and engaging the actors in tight close-ups. The end
result was exciting television, although Zeffirelli himself, upon seeing the
preview, was "mighty miffed" (Variety) and asked that his name be removed from
the credits. The "heavy Italianate manner" of the stage version was retained,
as were other entertaining bits such as the living statues and a rowdy town
Needless to say, the cast is superb. Real-life married couple Maggie Smith
and Robert Stephens reprise their stage roles, while Derek Jacobi takes over
from Albert Finney as Don Pedro (Jacobi played the villain, Don John, in the
NT production), and Michael Byrne replaces Ian McKellen as Claudio. The music
was composed by Nino Rota, Federico Fellini's regular collaborator, who will
reunite with Zeffirelli on the 1968 screen adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (see
below). The show was first broadcast in the U.S. in two parts on March 11 and
18, 1971, in the NET Playhouse series.
Wednesday, June 27 (7:00pm)
Diplomatic Courier (20th Century-Fox, 1952). Dir Henry Hathaway. Wrt
Casey Robinson, Liam O'Brien, based on the novel "Sinister Errand" by Peter
Cheney. With Tyrone Power, Patricia Neal, Stephen McNally, Hildegard Neff.
(97 min, black & white, 35mm)
"Tyrone Power as the top agent of the U.S. State Department communications branch,
sent to Trieste to retrieve papers stolen from a murdered fellow agent" - a description
taken from "The Films of 20th Century-Fox," by Tony Thomas and Aubrey Solomon.
A befuddled, middle-aged, and humorless Tyrone Power, actually. Fortunately,
he's surrounded by a tip-top cast, including Karl Malden, who sets the right
tone of irreverence toward the ridiculous script. The real heroes of this fast-paced
and picturesque melodrama are cinematographer Lucien Ballard and film editor
James B. Clark, who turn an ancient European city into a decadent nightmare.
Thursday, June 28 (7:00pm)
The Taming of the Shrew (Royal Films-F.A.I., U.S./Italy, 1967). Dir
Franco Zeffirelli. Wrt Paul Dehn, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Zeffirelli. With Elizabeth
Taylor (Katharina), Richard Burton (Petruchio), Cyril Cusack (Grumio), Michael
Hordern (Baptista), Alfred Lynch (Tranio), Alan Webb (Gremio). (122 min, Technicolor,
Opulent production of the early Shakespeare comedy concerning a boorish dowry
hunter who meets his match when he agrees to marry the wild tempered, razor-tongued
daughter of a wealthy Paduan merchant. Like the 1929 Pickford/Fairbanks version,
Zeffirelli’s Shrew is employed as a celebrity vehicle for a famous Hollywood
couple. Burton and Taylor’s much publicized tempestuous off-screen relationship
grafts additional comic fodder onto the central protagonist’s battle of wills.
Playing fast and loose with Shakespeare’s text, Zeffirelli characteristically "opens
out" the play creating a frothy concoction of incidental visual detail and
busy kinetic spectacle.
Friday, June 29 (7:00pm)
Romeo and Juliet (B.H.E. Productions-Verona Produzione-Dino de Laurentiis,
U.K./Italy, 1968). Dir Franco Zeffirelli. Wrt Franco Brusati, Zeffirelli, Masolino
D’Amico. With Olivia Hussey (Juliet), Leonard Whiting (Romeo), John McEnery
(Mercutio), Michael York (Tybalt), Pat Heywood (Nurse), Milo O'Shea (Friar
Laurence), Bruce Robinson (Benvolio). (139 min, Technicolor, 35mm)
Commercially the most successful Shakespeare film of all time had its origins
in Franco Zeffirelli's first staging of the Bard, the 1960 production of ‘Romeo
and Juliet’ at the Old Vic. Following his highly praised screen adaptation
of The Taming of the Shrew, the Italian director returned to ‘Romeo’ believing
that the play could be made attractive to the rebellious youth of the late
1960's. To that end, he hired two unknowns for the title roles, the 17-year-old
Leonard Whiting and 15-year-old Olivia Hussey, and, following Renato Castellani's
example (see May 31), shot the film on various locations in Italy, although
not in Verona itself as the city by then looked too modern.
Romeo and Juliet divided the critics, with the Bard purists pointing
out the significant abridgement of Shakespeare's text and the poor delivery
of the verses by the two leads, and the film reviewers praising the impressive
visuals and Zeffirelli's flamboyant direction. The leads' age and good looks
certainly resonated with contemporary audiences, and combined with a strong
supporting cast (especially John McEnery as Mercutio) and the lavish production
design, cinematography and Nino Rota's sensual music, helped propel the world-wide
gross to an unprecedented $48 million. As an interesting footnote, Laurence
Olivier, who delivers the Prologue, also provides the dubbing voice for Antonio
Pierfederici (Lord Montague).
Monday, July 2 (6:30pm)
The Kiss Before the Mirror (Universal, 1933). Dir James Whale. Wrt
William Anthony McGuire, based on the play "Der Kuss Vor Dem Spiegel" by Ladislaus
Fodor. With Nancy Carroll, Frank Morgan, Paul Lukas, Gloria Stuart, Jean Dixon.
(67 min, black & white, 35mm)
The Common Law (RKO Pathé, 1931). Dir Paul L. Stein. Wrt John Farrow,
Horace Jackson, based on the novel of the same name by Robert W. Chambers.
With Constance Bennett, Joel McCrea, Lew Cody, Robert Williams, Hedda Hopper.
(74 min, black & white, 35mm)
Our first pre-Code feature, The Kiss Before the Mirror, offers a frank
portrayal of adultery and revenge. A famous doctor stalks and kills his wife
in a fit of jealousy. The criminal lawyer who defends him begins to suspect
his own wife of infidelity as he draws comparisons between her and the slain
woman. James Whale, the renowned director of Frankenstein, and other
classics, does not refrain from adding a gothic touch before taking us to the
courtroom. This early thriller is further distinguished by the photography
of German cinematographer Karl Freund. Remade by James Whale as Wives Under
Suspicion in 1938.
Free love, nude modeling, and a hefty dose of social criticism targeting the
upper class typify our next pre-Code feature, The Common Law . A kept
woman abandons her luxurious lifestyle in order to be with the man she loves,
a struggling artist. A tempestuous relationship ensues, complicated by interference
from her former lover and the young man's family. Marital bliss results, but
the message here is that a woman with a past can still "make good" without
any "compensating values" - she won't be punished for her so-called transgressions.
The Artists' Ball is an over-the-top fleshy spectacle full of remarkable costumes
Tuesday, July 3 (7:00pm)
The Winter’s Tale (BBC, U.K., 4/20/1962). Dir Don Taylor. With Robert
Shaw (Leontes), Rosalie Crutchley (Hermione), Sarah Badel (Perdita), Ron Moody
(Autolycus), Brian Smith (Florizel), Alan Rowe (Cleomenes), Patrick Macnee
(Polixenes), Geoffrey Bayldon (Antigonus), Brenda Bruce (Paulina), Frank Atkinson
(Old Shepherd), Norman Rossington (Young Shepherd). (144 min, black & white,
Digital Betacam video)
Another TV adaptation of the Bard in all likelihood not seen since its original
broadcast, The Winter's Tale was produced by the BBC as part of a series
of ten literary classics, including Ibsen's "Ghosts," Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" and
Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights." The cast is headed by Robert Shaw, graduate
of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, actor, novelist and playwright, today
best remembered as the gritty shark hunter Quint in Jaws, and Rosalie
Crutchley, a prolific theater and screen actress who appeared in some of BBC's
earliest adaptations of Shakespeare (as Juliet in 1947 and Goneril in 1948).
In a surprisingly effective performance, Ron Moody, a stalwart of British musical
theater, imbues the Cockney-accented thief Autolycus with shades of Fagin from
the musical "Oliver!," the role Moody originated on stage two years earlier
and went on to play in Carol Reed’s 1968 film version. The Winter's Tale was
first broadcast in the U.S. in August 1964 on New York's WOR-TV.
Thursday, July 5 (7:00pm)
Hamlet (Woodfall Films - Filmways, U.K., 1969). Dir Tony Richardson.
With Nicol Williamson (Hamlet), Anthony Hopkins (Claudius), Judy Parfitt (Gertrude),
Mark Dignam (Polonius), Marianne Faithfull (Ophelia). (114 min, Technicolor,
Often referred to as "cinema's fastest-talking Hamlet," Nicol Williamson's
Danish Prince is an anti-establishment figure: brooding, neurotic, cynical,
and as such perfectly in tune with the sentiments of the late 1960's. The film
originated as a highly acclaimed stage production at London's Roundhouse, which
had been built as a locomotive engine repair shop and then used as a gin warehouse
before becoming a performing arts venue in 1964. Tony Richardson, who also
directed the play, shot the film in ten days at the Roundhouse itself, relying
on spare production design, sustained close-ups, and several actors reappearing
in two or three minor roles (e.g. Roger Livesey, the star of The Life and
Death of Colonel Blimp, as both Lucianus and the Gravedigger). Watch for
17-year-old Anjelica Huston as a lady-in-waiting in the scene of Ophelia's
lament for Polonius.
Friday, July 6 (7:00pm)
Macbeth (Playboy Productions - Caliban Films, U.K., 1971). Dir Roman
Polanski. Wrt Polanski, Kenneth Tynan. With Jon Finch (Macbeth), Francesca
Annis (Lady Macbeth), Martin Shaw (Banquo), Nicholas Selby (Duncan), John Stride
(Ross), Terence Bayler (Macduff). (140 min, Technicolor, Todd-AO widescreen,
Polanski’s Macbeth stands as a vivid cinematic interpretation of one
of the world’s bloodiest plays by one of the world’s great directors. Produced
by Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Productions and made on the heels of the murder of
the director’s wife by the Manson Family, contemporary reviewers, perhaps understandably,
found it hard to see beyond the more lurid aspects of the film’s genesis. However
the points of critical contention (the onscreen violence, the nude sleepwalking
scene) actually strengthen the film, and Polanski’s own fatalistic sensibility,
which has characterized even his earliest work, is well suited to Shakespeare’s
tragedy of ambition, murder and destiny. The adaptation makes liberal textural
edits and invests some benign secondary characters with Machiavellian intent,
but whatever the film may occasionally lack in fidelity it more than makes
up for in texture. Infused with mayhem and suspicion, the brooding medieval
atmosphere, underscored by the droning dissonances of the Third Ear Band, is
masterfully sustained. Ultimately the film is marked by Polanski’s unshakable
skepticism which lends tangible motivation to many of the play’s supernatural
elements and furnishes a bleak denouement precluding any forecasts of equanimity.
Monday, July 9 (7:00pm)
Johnny Cool (Chrislaw Productions/UA, 1963). Dir William Asher. Wrt
Joseph Landon, based on the book "The Kingdom of Johnny Cool" by John McPartland.
With Henry Silva, Elizabeth Montgomery, Telly Savalas, Sammy Davis Jr., Marc
Lawrence. (101 min, black & white, 35mm)
An American gangster exiled in Italy "adopts" an Italian convict and trains
him to return to America and seek revenge on the people who betrayed him. Fun,
dark and cool with Elizabeth Montgomery as a femme fatale.
Tuesday, July 10 (7:00pm)
Theatre of Blood (Harbour Productions, 1973). Dir. Douglas Hickox.
Wrt Anthony Greville-Bell, from an idea by Stanley Mann & John Kohn. With Vincent
Price, Diana Rigg, Ian Hendry, Harry Andrews, Coral Browne, Robert Coote, Jack
Hawkins. (104 min, color, 35mm)
An aging actor systematically murders London's leading theater critics by disposing
of each victim in a manner modeled on one of Shakespeare's plays. A delightful
black comedy with an array of superlative performances led by Vincent Price,
reveling in the over-the-top delivery of the Bard's verses, and Diana Rigg
as his outrageously disguised daughter. Then there are the victims, including
Michael Hordern, a pre-eminent Shakespearean himself (both with the Stratford
Royal Shakespeare Company and the Old Vic) and one of British cinema's top
character actors, as the critic who is hacked to death by a group of squatters
(Julius Caesar), and the pink-suited Robert Morley, choked with a pie made
from his beloved poodles (Titus Andronicus). Other models for the carnage are "Troilus
and Cressida," "Cymbeline," "The Merchant of Venice," "Richard III," "Othello," "Henry
VI-Part 1," and "King Lear." In 2005, the film was adapted into a stage production
at London's National Theatre with Jim Broadbent in the lead.
Thursday, July 12 (6:30pm)
Antony and Cleopatra (ATV Network, U.K., 7/8/1974). Dir Jon Scoffield.
With Richard Johnson (Antony), Janet Suzman (Cleopatra), Corin Redgrave (Octavius
Caesar), Patrick Stewart (Enobarbus), Rosemary McHale (Charmian), Constantin
De Goguel (Ventidius), Raymond Westwell (Lepidus). (160 min, color, U-matic
Derived from Trevor Nunn's acclaimed 1972 production for the Royal Shakespeare
Company, and presented by ATV Network, one of Britain's oldest independent
TV broadcasters, Antony and Cleopatra has been praised for setting "a
standard for what televised Shakespeare should be" (Kenneth S. Rothwell). Employing
spare but suggestive production design and intricate camerawork, the production
masterfully conveys the time and place and effortlessly alternates the action
between Egypt and Rome. The performances, with the four principals retained
from the stage production, are magnificent. The two title characters are played
with an exquisite balance between larger-than-life stature and recognizably
human contradictions, and Patrick Stewart’s captivating speech describing Cleopatra's
barge (filmed in an intimate close-up) is a bravura piece of acting not easily
When Antony and Cleopatra was first broadcast in the U.S. on January
4, 1975, on ABC, its running time was extended to over three hours by commercial
breaks. This prompted a flood of angry letters from viewers to The New York
Times critic John J. O'Connor, who, having seen a preview without the ads,
praised the program as a "marvelously imaginative interpretation, beautifully
performed." As one irrate viewer stated, "[...] I shall never buy a product
I noticed advertised during this production. If I have been in a habit of buying
such a product, I shall immediately change brands."
Friday, July 13 (7:00pm)
Macbeth (Thames TV, U.K., 1979). Dir Philip Casson. With Ian McKellen
(Macbeth), Judi Dench (Lady Macbeth), John Bowen (Lennox), Susan Drury (Third
Witch/Lady Macduff), Judith Harte (Second Witch/Gentlewoman), Bob Peck (Macduff).
(120 min, color, U-matic video)
This adaptation of Trevor Nunn's 1976 production for the Royal Shakespeare
Company is considered by many as the best made-for-TV Shakespeare ever done.
The play was originally produced on a budget of 250 pounds sterling and performed
on a bare stage at The Other Place theater in Stratford-upon-Avon. Phillip
Casson's TV rendering effectively emphasizes the austerity of the original
by placing the actors against a dark background and choreographing their movements
into a religious-like ritual.
The broadcast received rave reviews: "You'll never see a better television
production of Shakespeare," commented The Guardian, while the London Daily
Mail concluded that "television is honored by this Macbeth." The two principals
are at the height of their art. McKellen "drove the play on with an energy
that grew manic as he was frustrated by forces inward and outward," (Marvin
Rosenberg), and The Scotsman pronounced that the sleep-walking scene featuring
Judi Dench's superb, black-clad Lady Macbeth, "will be remembered as long as
acting is honoured." Among the supporting cast, Ian McDiarmid, who plays both
Ross and Porter, produces what "surely must be one of the most virtuoso performances
ever recorded on television" (Kenneth S. Rothwell).
Tuesday, July 17 (7:00pm)
The Tempest (Kendon Films, U.K., 1979). Dir & Adapt Derek Jarman.
With Jack Birkett (Caliban), Heathcote Williams (Prospero), Karl Johnson (Ariel),
Toyah Wilcox (Miranda), Peter Bull (Alonso), Richard Warwick (Antonio). (96
min, color, 35mm)
Curious version of "The Tempest" by punk maverick, intellectual, and gay activist
director Derek Jarman who died of an Aids related illness in 1994. His iconoclastic
approach to film-making came out of his 1960s art school background and he
became further radicalized, along with the the majority of Britain’s underclass,
during the extreme conservatism of Thatcher’s reign. Shakespeare purists will
flinch at the punk aesthetic and kitsch anachronisms, including a camp, Broadway-like
rendition of "Stormy Weather." But the film will be best appreciated by those
interested in exploring Jarman’s unique and uncompromising life and career.
Wednesday, July 18 (7:00pm)
Design for Living (Paramount, 1933). Dir Ernst Lubitsch. Wrt Ben Hecht,
based on the play of the same name by Noël Coward. With Fredric March, Gary
Cooper, Miriam Hopkins, Edward Everett Horton, Franklin Pangborn. (90 min,
black & white, 35mm)
Known for his sophisticated and subtle sexual comedies, Ernst Lubitsch’s adaptation
of the Broadway production of "Design for Living" was hailed as a box office "champion" of
1934—despite objections by the Hays’ office, who found the film’s depiction
of a three-some morally problematic. Gilda Farrell, a commercial artist, meets
fellow bohemians George Curtis, a painter, and Thomas B. Chambers, a playwright,
on a train traveling to Paris. The three Americans become friends, but Gilda
secretly rendezvous with each man behind the other’s back. While Tom reads
George the lines to his latest play, "immortality might be fun, but not fun
enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals
a day," it soon becomes apparent that both men are in love with Gilda, so they
make a pact to forget her. One day she shows up at their apartment, and despite
their agreement, neither man can turn her down. Gilda confesses her sins of
betrayal to Tom and George, and unable to choose between them, she suggests
they make a pact to "forget sex and concentrate on work." Gilda moves into
their apartment and assumes the supportive role of "mother of the arts," but
the "gentlemen’s agreement" between friends doesn’t last long, as Gilda and
George can no longer restrain themselves, while Tom is away in London celebrating
the success of his play.
Thursday, July 19 (7:00pm)
Screening Shakespeare: Sitcom Shakespeare, Part 2
The Cosby Show. Shakespeare (Carsey-Werner Co. in association with
Bill Cosby/NBC, 10/22/1987). Dir Jay Sandrich. Wrt Matt Robinson. With Bill
Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe, Keshia Knight
Pulliam, Lisa Bonet, Earle Hyman, Roscoe Lee Browne, Christopher Plummer. (30
min, color, Digital Betacam video)
3rd Rock from the Sun. Romeo & Juliet & Dick (Carsey-Werner Co./NBC,
1/12/1997). Dir Terry Hughes. Wrt Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner. With John
Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jane Curtin,
Wayne Knight. (23 min, color, U-matic video)
The Wayans Bros. Romeo & J’leeta (Baby Way Productions - Next to Last
Productions, in association with Warner Bros./WB TV, 10/8/1998). Dir John
Bowab. Wrt Phil Beauman. With Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, John Witherspoon,
Anna Maria Horsford, Tracey Cherelle Jones, Earl Billings. (23 min, color,
Quintuplets. Shakespeare in Lust (20th Century Fox Television - Imagine
Television - Mark Reisman Productions/Fox, 8/4/2004). Dir Andy Cadiff. Wrt
Stephen Engel. With Andy Richter, Rebecca Creskoff, Johnny Lewis, April Matson,
Jake McDorman, Ryan Pinkston, Sarah Wright. (23 min, color, Betacam SP video)
We continue our sitcom review with more recent examples of the Bard’s presence
in popular TV entertainment. When Theo and Cockroach must read "Julius Caesar" as
part of their history class about Rome, two eminent Shakespeareans, Roscoe
Lee Browne and Christopher Plummer, are on hand to provide guidance. Followed
by three takes on the classic love tale. First, Dick suffers illusions of grandeur
when he is asked to direct a school production of "Romeo and Juliet" (plus
Wayne Knight’s hilarious take on "Hamlet"). Next, the Wayans brothers get entangled
in a "Romeo and Juliet" situation as part of the ongoing feud between restaurateurs
Pops and Rick. And finally, the short-lived Quintuplets bring us into
the 21st century with a minimalist, super-hero, gender-bending version of the
Friday, July 20 (7:00pm)
The Tempest (Columbia, 1982). Dir Paul Mazursky. Wrt Mazursky, Leon
Capetanos. With John Cassavetes (Phillip), Gena Rowlands (Antonia), Susan Sarandon
(Aretha), Molly Ringwald (Miranda), Vittorio Gassman (Alonzo), Raul Julia (Kalibanos).
(140 min, color, 35mm)
In 1974, director Paul Mazursky made Harry and Tonto, championed by
some eminent Shakespearian scholars (Sam Schoenbaum, Kenneth S. Rothwell) as
a successful displacement of "King Lear" into modern-day America. Approaching "The
Tempest," Mazursky's initial idea was to cast Mick Jagger as "an androgynous
Ariel" in a film that would have resembled "a Marx brothers musical." The project
eventually became a largely conventional modernization, more in tune with the
director's often explored themes of dysfunctional relationships and midlife
marital crises. After attempts to cast Paul Newman fell through, John Cassavetes
was selected for the Prospero-like role of a successful New York architect
who runs away from his career and marriage to a remote Greek island with his
teenage daughter. Ariel becomes Aretha, an American divorcee supporting herself
as a singer, and Caliban is Kalibanos, a lascivious Greek goatherd.
"I wanted to do a movie that would have some of the free form of Shakespeare's
plays, where almost incidentally, you have a little song, a little dance, some
low comedy, a little relief. Shakespeare sort of gives one a little courage to
try things like that" (Mazursky). The result is what critic David Sterritt described
as "an audacious hodge-podge," while Cassavetes himself referred to the film
as "wonderfully imperfect." The Tempest borrows some of the characters
and plot elements from Shakespeare's work, the latter mostly confined to the
final 40 minutes, but crucially moves away from the original by replacing Elizabethan
poetry with modern American English. The music was composed by Japanese multi-instrumentalist
Stomu Yamashta, who also provided the memorable score for Nicolas Roeg's The
Man Who Fell to Earth (1976).
Tuesday, July 24 (7:00pm)
The Shakespeare Plays. The Two Gentlemen of Verona (BBC in association
with Time-Life Television, U.K., 12/27/1983). Dir Don Taylor. Adapt David Snodin.
With Tyler Butterworth (Proteus), John Hudson (Valentine), Tessa Peake Jones
(Julia), Joanne Pearce (Silvia), Nicholas Kaby (Speed), Tony Haygarth (Launce),
Paul Daneman (Duke of Milan), David Collings (Thurio). (145 min, color, U-matic
Rarely seen, even on stage, The Two Gentlemen of Verona received only
two full-length screen treatments, in 1963 in West Germany as a made-for-TV
movie, and twenty years later as part of BBC's series The Shakespeare Plays,
the most ambitious and comprehensive attempt to date to bring the Bard to the
small screen. Starting with Romeo and Juliet in December 1978 and
concluding in April 1985 with Titus Andronicus, the BBC project, produced
in partnership with Time-Life, presented 37 plays adapted and staged specifically
One of Shakespeare's earliest works, rich with thematic references to his later
plays, this story of friendship, love and treachery on the court of the Duke
of Milan is treated by director Don Taylor in a rather straightforward manner.
The drama unfolds in a subtly stylized Renaissance setting which includes the
Garden of Courtly Love, where most of the court action takes place, and a wonderfully
unrealistic forest, home to a decidedly unthreatening group of ruffians. The
score was compiled by Anthony Rooley, Renaissance music expert and director
of the Consort of Musicke ensemble, and consists of arrangements of works by
the Bard's musical contemporaries. The performances, by both newcomers and
veterans of British television, are uniformly excellent, with Tessa Peake Jones,
in an archetypical cross-dressing role, providing a particularly moving portrayal
of emotional turmoil.
Wednesday, July 25 (7:00pm)
A Zed & Two Noughts (BFI - Artificial Eye - Film Four International
- Allarts Enterprises, U.K./Netherlands, 1985). Dir & Wrt Peter Greenaway.
With Andrea Ferreol, Brian Deacon, Eric Deacon, Frances Barber, Joss Ackland,
Jim Davidson. (115 min, color, 35mm)
Identical twin brothers documenting decay at a local zoo form a menage-a-trois
with an amputee who loses her leg when the car she is driving collides with
a swan. Greenaway’s astonishingly original contemplation of sexuality, death
and fearful symmetry infuses cinema with a new vocabulary of ideas otherwise
associated with art history. Like the best of the Surrealists, Greenaway dares
to indulge in ill-advised surrender to a host of obsessive compulsions and
habitual preoccupations. One weirdly familiar tableau follows another with
all the hallucinatory authority of a fevered nightmare. Greenaway demonstrates
the ultimate futility of all human endeavor by revealing the entirely arbitrary
nature of any constructed meaning. But rather than contenting itself with nullifying
experience, the film has at its core a dark, enigmatic potency which places
it among the finest examples of cinematic surrealism. Inspiration abounds in
all departments, not least the vivid luminosity of Sacha Vierny’s cinematography
and a nerve-wracking score by composer Michael Nyman.
Thursday, July 26 (7:00pm)
The Dresser (World Film Services - Goldcrest, UK, 1983). Dir Peter
Yates. Wrt Ronald Harwood, based on his play. With Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay,
Edward Fox, Zena Walker, Eileen Atkins, Michael Gough. (118 min, color, 35mm)
"Indisputably one of the best films ever made about theatre" (Variety), this
story about a group of traveling players touring provincial Britain during World
War II was adapted for the screen by Ronald Harwood from his own play, which
in turn was based on the career of the legendary Shakespearean actor Donald Wolfit
(1902-1968), for whom Harwood had worked as a dresser.
A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Albert Finney established
himself as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company before making a splash
as a working-class rebel in the landmark film Saturday Night and Sunday
Morning (1960), and then gaining international fame by playing the title
character in Tony Richardson's Tom Jones (1963). Although he continued
to appear in a number of stage productions of Shakespeare plays, The Dresser is
his one and only interpretation of the Bard on screen. Finney's character,
a spoiled and moody tyrant referred to only as "Sir" in the film, appears on
stage as King Lear, quotes Macbeth from his hospital bed, and is also seen
in the death scene from "Othello." Tom Courtenay, another stalwart of British
realist cinema of the 1960's (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,
Billy Liar), is Sir's personal assistant and confidant, the Fool to Finney's
King. "What are we doing tomorrow?" asks an exhausted Sir after a performance
of "Othello." "Lear" replies the dresser. "How does that begin?" asks Sir.
The next day, he will play Lear for the 227th time...
Friday, July 27 (6:30pm)
Live from Lincoln Center. William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors (Lincoln
Center for the Performing Arts/WNET, 6/24/1987). Dir Kirk Browning. With Paul
Magid (Antipholus of Syracuse), Howard Jay Patterson (Antipholus of Ephesus),
Sam Williams (Dromio of Syracuse), Randy Nelson (Dromio of Ephesus), Gina Leishman
(Luciana), Sophie Hayden (Adriana), Timothy Daniel Furst (William Shakespeare).
(150 min, color, U-matic video)
Broadcast live from the Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont, this
production, directed by Robert Woodruff, was originally staged at The Goodman
Theater in Chicago in 1983 and at the Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival in
1984. The zany, circus-like performance, albeit one which for the most part
preserves Shakespeare's language, features members of the juggling and comedy
troupes The Flying Karamazov Brothers and Vaudeville Nouveau, The Kamikaze
Ground Crew orchestra, and juggler and mime artist Avner the Eccentric.
Tuesday, July 31 (7:00pm)
King Lear (Cannon, 1987). Dir Jean-Luc Godard. With Woody Allen, Leos
Carax, Julie Delpy, Godard, Suzanne Lanza, Kate Mailer, Norman Mailer, Burgess
Meredith, Molly Ringwald, Peter Sellars. (91 min, color, 35mm)
In a post-Chernobyl world, gangster Don Learo (Meredith) and his daughter Cordelia
(Ringwald) sit in a hotel dining room exchanging quotes from "King Lear." Also
frequenting the hotel is William Shakespeare Jr. the Fifth (Sellars) who roams
about searching for lost cultural artifacts including his ancestor’s works.
Anyone expecting a straightforward version of Shakespeare’s tragedy, beware.
Godard is not interested in narrative storytelling and his films are not designed
to entertain. His specific lifelong aim is to abolish conventional dictates
of commercial cinema so as to encourage a less passive mode of viewing. If
this approach intrigues you then you may well be rewarded.
Wednesday, August 1 (7:00pm)
The Love Machine (Frankovich Productions/Columbia, 1971). Dir Jack
Haley, Jr. Wrt Samuel Taylor, based on the novel by Jacqueline Susann. With
John Phillip Law, Dyan Cannon, Robert Ryan, Jackie Cooper, David Hemmings,
Jodi Wexler. (109 min, Eastmancolor, 35mm)
Managing Your Emotions (Coronet, 1971). (8 min, color, 16mm)
The second in Jacqueline Susann's triad of saucy, salacious, showbiz-based
novels adapted into movies, The Love Machine centers on the drive to
get ahead in the entertainment biz at all cost. The sublime John Phillip Law
stars as the up and coming Casanova. The idea of using one’s sexual prowess
to improve one’s status in the workplace, combined with the consequences of
sleeping around, helps bring about doom and downfall for the main character
in this classic farce.
Preceded by a Coronet educational film which presents romantic advice for the
swinging 70's generation: don't dive off the deep end. Shelley Long is the
uncredited star of this short made in cooperation with the University of Maryland.
Thursday, August 2 (7:00pm)
Henry V (Renaissance Films, U.K., 1989). Dir & Wrt Kenneth Branagh.
With Branagh (Henry V), Derek Jacobi (Chorus), Simon Shepherd (Gloucester),
James Larkin (Bedford), Brian Blessed (Exeter), James Simmons (York), Ian Holm
(Fluellen), Richard Briers (Bardolph), Robert Stephens (Pistol), Paul Scofield
(French King Charles VI), Emma Thompson (Katherine), Robbie Coltrane (Falstaff),
Judy Dench (Mistress Quickly). (137 min, Eastmancolor, 35mm)
"Kenneth Branagh has done it. Who is Kenneth Branagh?" asked The New York Times
on the eve of the U.S. opening of Henry V . The 28-year-old Irishman's
directorial debut was a surprising success, even drawing favorable comparisons
to his celebrated predecessor, Laurence Olivier, who was 37 when he directed
his screen version of the play. In Branagh’s words "Where there has been resistance,
it's been based on a kind of 'How dare you!' philosophy, but I wouldn't agree
with that. I think Laurence Olivier would be the first person to say a) 'You
cheeky devil,' and b) 'Go ahead.'" At the time he made the film, Branagh was
already an established Shakespearean, having played Henry V for the Royal Shakespeare
Company in 1984 as well as several leading roles ("Hamlet," Benedick in "Much
Ado About Nothing") for his own Renaissance Theatre Company.
Unlike Olivier's stylized celebration of British patriotism, Branagh opts for
a decidedly unglamourous, down-to-earth approach, with bloody battle scenes
and graphic images of sickness and famine among the mud-drenched soldiers.
As a counterpoint, Derek Jacobi's Chorus opens the film on a soundstage in
modern dress, and then reappears several times interrupting the action. As
to the title character, again opposing Olivier whose Henry is a heroic figure
from the start, Branagh's king is gradually transformed during the course of
the action, attaining "a heroic stature almost in spite of himself" (Daniel
Rosenthal). The critical and commercial success of Henry V was instrumental
in bringing Shakespeare back into the cinematic mainstream both in the U.K.
and Hollywood. Shunned for decades as box-office poison, the Bard suddenly
became the darling of screen writers and directors. As Al Pacino, who himself
tackled "Richard III" in 1996 (Looking for Richard), stated: "Branagh
opened it all up with Henry V . That was just an explosion."
Friday, August 3 (7:00pm)
Prospero’s Books (Allarts - Cinéa - Camera One - Penta, Netherlands/France/Italy,
1991). Dir & Wrt Peter Greenaway. With John Gielgud (Prospero), Michel Blanc
(Alonso), Michael Clark (Caliban), Erland Josephson, (Gonzalo) Isabelle Pasco
(Miranda), Tom Bell (Antonio), Kenneth Cranham (Sebastian), Mark Rylance (Ferdinand).
(129 min, color, 35mm)
Intelligent, fascinating multimedia presentation of "The Tempest" is a sophisticated
amalgam of text, opera, dance, painting and the spoken word. Unlike other cinematic
interpreters like Luhrmann and Taymor, Greenaway realizes that Shakespeare
was already ahead of the postmodern curve and he illuminates the renaissance
universe with a keen curatorial eye. Gielgud’s magisterial elocution brings
the poetry to the fore and the link between Prospero’s magus and Shakespeare
the creator is firmly established. Michael Nyman’s splendid, fully realized
operatic score encapsulates the play’s description of its mysterious locale
as an isle of "noyses, sounds, and sweet aires". The film is cleverly punctuated
throughout by animated pages from volumes in Prospero’s library which perfectly
capture the play’s enigmatic blend of superstition and enlightenment.
Monday, August 6 (7:00pm)
Kessen! Nankai no daikaiju Gezora Ganime Kameba = Space Amoeba (Toho,
Japan, 1970). Dir Ishiro Honda. Wrt Ei Ogawa. With Akira Kubo, Atsuko Takahashi,
Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kenji Sahara, Noritake Saito. (84 min, color, Panavision,
"Three monsters ... they are scary!" So goes the trailer for this widescreen
meditation on the crossroads of science and real estate. Developers uncover a
hidden island in the South Pacific and make plans for a family resort. Meanwhile,
a satellite falls from the sky bearing the titular organism and her transformative
powers. And this is how the island is taken over by three giant creatures: a
cuttlefish, a crab and a snapping turtle. "Who will win? Man or monsters?" This
was the penultimate film by director Ishiro Honda, who unleashed Godzilla on
an unsuspecting world and said of his terrifying creations, "Monsters are born
too tall, too strong, too heavy; that is their tragedy." Originally released
in America as Yog: Monster from Outer Space, this is a rare chance to
see a classic of Japanese monsterism in a pristine scope print.
Tuesday, August 7 (7:00pm)
Othello (Dakota Films - Imminent Films, U.K., 1995). Dir & Adapt Oliver
Parker. With Laurence Fishburne (Othello), Irène Jacob (Desdemona), Kenneth
Branagh (Iago),, Nathaniel Parker (Cassio), Anna Patrick (Emilia), Michael
Maloney (Roderigo), Nicholas Farrell (Montano), Gabriele Ferzetti (Duke of
Venice), Pierre Vaneck (Brabantio). (124 min, Technicolor, 35mm)
In the wake of Kenneth Branagh's success, first-time director Oliver Parker's Othello ,
similarly to Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet five years earlier, was an
attempt to bring Shakespeare to the moviegoing masses by casting a well-known
Hollywood actor in the title role, emphasizing the eroticism, and truncating
the play to accommodate the multiplex-driven two-hour time slot. At the same
time, Parker, an established stage and TV actor, mostly stays away from the
visual fireworks and narrative twists common in latter-day screen adaptations
of the Bard. Hopes for a commercial success, however, were left unfulfilled
as the film didn't even come close to recuperating its $11 million production
In the lead, Laurence Fishburne, the first Black actor to play Othello on screen,
emphasizes the physicality of the character and adopts a Carribean accent not
unlike Laurence Olivier in the 1965 film version of the play. Branagh, sporting
close cropped hair and a leather jacket and often addressing the camera directly,
is obviously enjoying himself as the villain of the piece, while Swiss/French
actress Irène Jacob, probably best known in the U.S. from Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three
Colors: Red (1994), seems somewhat uncomfortable with the Elizabethan
verses in the severely reduced role of Desdemona.
Wednesday, August 8 (7:00pm)
Remember WENN. Klondike 9336 (Turtleback Productions/AMC, 1/13/1996).
Dir Juan Jose Campanella. Wrt Rupert Holmes. With Tom Beckett, George Hall,
Margaret Hall, Dina Spybey, Melinda Mullins, John Bedford Lloyd, Bob Dorian.
(30 min, color, U-matic video)
Remember WENN. Sight Unseen (Turtleback Productions/AMC, 6/1/1996).
Dir Juan Jose Campanella. Wrt Rupert Holmes. With Tom Beckett, Carolee Carmello,
George Hall, Margaret Hall, Melinda Mullins, Molly Ringwald. (30 min, color,
Homefront. SNAFU (Roundelay/ABC, 9/24/1991). Dir Ron Lagomarsino.
Wrt Bernard Lechowick, Lynn Marie Latham. With Wendy Phillips, Mimi Kennedy,
Hattie Winston, Jessica Steen, Montrose Hagins. (68 min, color, U-matic video)
Two episodes of the cable TV series Remember WENN and the pilot episode
of ABC’s Homefront make up the entertainment for this evening of nostalgia
television. The first is a witty, easygoing sitcom set in a 1939 Pittsburgh
radio station; the second, a dramatic look at the changed lives of ordinary
citizens and returning soldiers in the aftermath of World War II. Both shows
won several Emmy Awards for costuming, makeup and writing, but struggled to
The two Remember WENN episodes represent well the creator Rupert Holmes’ wit
and style, a mix of kitschy slapstick and bittersweet nostalgia. In Klondike
9366 , AMC host Bob Dorian guest stars as a WENN sponsor backing a new
type of radio program: the late-night call in show. Hosted by station lothario
Jeffrey Singer and bubbly newcomer Celia Mellon (two L’s, as in Andrew W. Mellon – the
local billionaire), "It’s Your Nickel" may be what finally puts Pittsburgh
radio on the map… if only they can afford to stay on the air. In Sight Unseen ,
Molly Ringwald guests as blind "Angela from Avalon", a devoted listener to
Mackie Bloom’s romantic "Vagabond". She would like nothing more than to dance
in the arms of her favorite radio star: a man more handsome than Clark Gable,
Gary Cooper and Ronald Colman combined…or is he?
A more dramatic offering, ABC’s Homefront leaves behind the sweetly
nostalgic snapshots of WENN and gives us instead a darker look at the hopeful
but disenchanted climate of postwar America as soldiers return from the European
and Pacific fronts to find their lives and their country forever altered. Their
mothers have worked on the assembly line, their younger brothers have grown
into men, their girlfriends have moved on – and yet old prejudices remain.
The world presented here is one as scarred by hardship as Radioland is untouched
Thursday, August 9 (7:00pm)
Twelfth Night (Renaissance Films, U.K., 1996). Dir & Adapt Trevor
Nunn. With Helena Bonham Carter (Olivia), Richard E. Grant (Sir Andrew Aguecheek),
Nigel Hawthorne (Malvolio), Ben Kingsley (Feste), Mel Smith (Sir Toby Belch),
Imelda Staunton (Maria), Toby Stephens (Orsino), Imogen Stubbs (Viola), Steven
MacKintosh (Sebastian), Nicholas Farrell (Antonio). (134 min, color, 35mm)
Director of both the Royal Shakespeare Company (1968-1986) and the National
Theatre (1997-2003), Trevor Nunn has been a leading figure of British theater
for almost four decades, renowned for his ground-breaking staging of Shakespeare,
Ibsen, Brecht, Shaw, Chekhov, Dickens, and mega-musicals such as "Cats" and "Les
Misérables." He also directed operas (Mozart's "Idomeneo," and "Cosi Fan Tutte," Gershwin's "Porgy
and Bess") and television, beginning with BBC’s 1979 broadcast of Tom Stoppard’s
play "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour."
Twelfth Night , Nunn's third venture into motion pictures (after Hedda in
1976 and Lady Jane in 1986), presents Shakespeare's popular work as
a Chekhovian comedy framed within the lush landscapes and costumes of the 1890's
(the film was shot on location in Cornwall, England). For Nunn, "Twelfth Night"'s
study of gender has a decidedly modern resonance, which determined the film's
style: "I felt the urge to make the content of the play seem real, and not
pantomimic or stylized, so that the contrary extremes of sexual behavior in
the central characters are seen in a believable social context. The story sets
out to provoke both genders in the audience, so it's important that spectators
shouldn't be able to get off the hook of the play by dismissing it as an improbable,
Friday, August 10 (5:30pm)
(NOTE EARLIER START TIME)
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Castle Rock Entertainment/Sony Pictures
Entertainment, 1996). Dir & Adapt Kenneth Branagh. With Branagh (Hamlet), Julie
Christie (Gertrude), Derek Jacobi (Claudius), Kate Winslet (Ophelia), Richard
Briers (Polonius), Michael Maloney (Laertes), Nicholas Farrell (Horatio), Brian
Blessed (Ghost). (220 min, Technicolor, Panavision, 35mm)
"Good and bad ideas scrambled together on a huge scale" was how The Independent
described Kenneth Branagh's mammoth production, the longest Shakespeare film
ever made and the first to use the complete, uncut text of a Shakespeare play.
This ambitious project had its roots in Branagh's life-long obsession with "Hamlet," in
particular his starring role in two full-text productions of the play, for the
BBC radio and the Royal Shakespeare Company, both in 1992. Persuading a Hollywood
studio to put up $18 million for the film version, however, was an all together
different matter, although the proposed budget was relatively modest considering
the size of the production. An added problem was the fiasco of Branagh's first
tinsel-town project, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. As a 1997 article
in The Scotsman explained, Branagh sold the film to Castle Rock Entertainment
by pointing out "that it begins like Jaws (with horrible suspense),
and ends like Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf going in for the kill. Even the advertising
promises ‘more artificial snow than in Dr. Zhivago'"
The visual splendor of the film matches its literary pretensions: the widescreen
photography brings to the fore the elegant costumes and stunning production
design, with the interiors built at England's Shepperton Studios and exteriors
shot at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Branagh moved the action to the late
19th century and sprinkled (some would say burdened) the film with star cameos,
including Jack Lemmon (Marcellus), Robin Williams (Osric), Charlton Heston
(Player King), and Billy Crystal (Gravedigger). The lush visuals and star-studded
cast could not overcome the intimidating running time, and the film's box-office
performance was doomed from the start. Don't miss this rare opportunity to
see Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet on the big screen on the eve of its long-anticipated
Monday, August 13 (7:00pm)
Alfredo Alfredo (Rizzoli Film - R.P.A. - Francoriz, Italy/France,
1972). Dir Pietro Germi. Wrt Piero De Bernardi, Leo Benvenuti, Tullio Pinelli,
Germi. With Dustin Hoffman, Stefania Sandrelli, Carla Gravina, Sarò Urzì, Duilio
Del Prete. (100 min, color, 35mm)
Best known for his Divorce, Italian Style, Germi once again takes
aim at Italy's divorce laws in this marital satire (although the laws had changed
by the time the film was released). Hoffman is Alfredo, a timid bank clerk
who marries his dream woman; but the dream soon turns into a nightmare.
Tuesday, August 14 (7:00pm)
William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (Bazmark/20th Century-Fox, 1996).
Dir Baz Luhrmann. Wrt Craig Pearce, Luhrmann. With Leonardo DiCaprio (Romeo),
Claire Danes (Juliet), Harold Perrineau (Mercutio), John Leguizamo (Tybalt),
Miriam Margolyes (The Nurse), Pete Postlethwaite (Father Laurence). (115 min,
color, Panavision, 35mm)
Baz Luhrmann employs every MTV trick in this comic book Shakespeare for the
teen set. While maintaining the original language, the film has a mix-tape
soundtrack including tracks by the Butthole Surfers, Garbage and Radiohead
and there are enough car chases and fiery explosions to keep the attention
of even the most restless adolescent. As with the music selections, the cinematic
style vacillates between loud "in your face" bravado and soft-pop romanticism.
Teen idol DiCaprio visibly struggles with his lines while Clare Danes’s manages
to radiate some charm as a mall-brat Juliet. The whole enterprise is shamelessly
kitsch, crass and commercial so will seem fresh and exhilarating or induce
an ice-cream headache, depending on your disposition. No doubt the film will
serve as a useful talking point for despairing highschool teachers.
Wednesday, August 15 (7:00pm)
Live piano accompaniment by Ray Brubacher
Safety Last (Hal Roach Studios/Pathé Exchange, 1923). Dir Fred Newmeyer,
Sam Taylor. Wrt Hal Roach, Taylor, Tim Whelan. With Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis,
Bill Strother, Noah Young, Westcott B. Clarke, Mickey Daniels. (72 min, black & white,
Saturday Afternoon (Mack Sennett/Pathé Exchange, 1926). Dir Harry Edwards.
Wrt Arthur Ripley, Frank Capra. With Harry Langdon, Vernon Dent, Ruth Hiatt,
Peggy Montgomery, Alice Ward. (28 min, black & white, 35mm)
A likable and dynamic performer even back in his Lonesome Luke days, Harold
Lloyd hit comedy pay dirt when he donned a pair of horn rims. His bespectacled
young go-getter fairly bursts with ingenuity and nervous energy, but he also
radiates a small-town decency that makes him an audience favorite. Best of
all is Lloyd’s lissome physicality, which is on resplendent display in Safety
Last . Of the movie’s most famous scene, Tom Dardis writes, "Harold Lloyd’s
long, tortuous climb up the side of an office building in downtown Los Angeles
is among the permanent images in film history. It rivals for sheer memorability
include the Odessa Steps sequence in Eisenstein’s Potemkin, Chaplin’s
lonely dance of the rolls in The Gold Rush, and Keaton’s flight from
all the police of the world in Cops."
Opening the show is Saturday Afternoon , a three-reel comedy starring
Harry Langdon, in which our wistful hero strives mightily to be a ladies’ man,
much to the consternation of his wife.
Thursday, August 16 (6:30pm)
Live from Lincoln center. Twelfth Night or What You Will (Lincoln
Center for the Performing Arts/PBS, 8/30/1998). Dir Kirk Browning. With Helen
Hunt (Viola/Cesario), Kyra Sedgwick (Olivia), Philip Bosco (Malvolio), Paul
Rudd (Orsino), David Patrick Kelly (Feste), Brian Murray (Sir Toby Belch),
Max Wright (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Rick Stear (Sebastian). (180 min, color,
Staged by Nicholas Hytner as part of the Lincoln Center Festival 98 and broadcast
live on PBS from the Vivian Beaumont Theater, this production of Shakespeare's
classic romantic comedy follows in the footsteps of modern film adaptations
of the Bard by casting well-known Hollywood names in the lead roles: Helen
Hunt had just won an Oscar for As Good As It Gets, while Paul Rudd
was riding high on the success of the hit comedy The Object of My Affection (also
directed by Hytner). In contrast to the parade of good looking physiques of
the four leads and their entourages, Brian Murray, a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare
Company in a superb take on the character of Olivia's parasitic uncle, and
Max Wright, as his dim-witted friend, almost walk away with the show. Hytner's
watery Illyria comes across as a vaguely Middle-Eastern fairy tale, with the
music emphasizing an opium induced otherworldliness - or, as The New York Times
put it, "a place, after all, of much mirth and beguiling spectacle - [Illyria]
remains an inviting oasis for theatergoers in search of escape from Manhattan
in its dog days, and their own midsummer madness." The broadcast was hosted
by the recently deceased opera diva Beverly Sills.
Friday, August 17 (6:30pm)
King Lear (Granada TV, U.K., 3/4/1983). Dir Michael Elliott. With
Laurence Olivier (Lear), Anna Calder-Mashal (Cordelia), Leo McKern (Earl of
Gloucester), John Hurt (Fool), David Threlfall (Edgar/Tom o’Bedlam), Dorothy
Tutin (Goneril), Diana Rigg (Regan), Robert Lang (Duke of Albany), Jeremy Kemp
(Duke of Cornwall), Brian Cox (Duke of Burgundy), Colin Blakely (Earl of Kent).
(180 min, color, U-matic video)
One of the few television adaptations of Shakespeare not based on a prior stage
production, Granada TV's King Lear provided Laurence Olivier, unable
to appear on stage for some years due to ill health, with an opportunity to
play the title role for the first time since 1946, when he starred as Lear
at the Old Vic (with Alec Guinness as the Fool). The 1983 production is extremely
faithful to the original text - only three scenes have been cut entirely. It
was taped in a Manchester studio on sets representing 9th century England and
including a replica of the druidic ruins at Stonehenge. Not surprisingly, considering
Olivier's stature and advanced age, the reviews primarily focused on his performance.
In the article "The Sweetness of Age," Stanley Wells summed it up succinctly: "It
is good that he [Olivier] has been given this late chance to demonstrate, to
a new generation and in a new medium, his technical and interpretative genius
in a great Shakespearean role."
Monday, August 20 (7:00pm)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (Universal, 1980). Dir Michael Apted. Wrt Tom
Rickman, based on the autobiography by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey. With
Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Levon Helm, Phyllis Boyens, Beverly D’Angelo.
(124 min, Technicolor, 35mm)
Not your typical cheesy biopic, this film about Loretta Lynn's life is adapted
from her autobiography of the same name. It covers Lynn's rags-to-riches life
- from her teenage years to adulthood, her rise to stardom, and her nervous
breakdowns along the way. Lynn married Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn (Tommy Lee Jones
) at 13, had four children by 18, and became a country sensation at 28. Lynn
is adeptly portrayed by Sissy Spacek, who won the Best Actress Oscar in 1980
(Lynn had handpicked Spacek for the role). Lynn's songs, which are autobiographical
and have a deeply feminist slant, are featured prominently throughout the film--sung
Tuesday, August 21 (7:00pm)
Mystery Science Theater 3000. Hamlet (Best Brains, Inc./Sci-Fi Channel,
6/27/1999). Dir Michael J. Nelson. Wrt Nelson (head writer), Paul Chaplin,
Bill Corbett, Bridget Jones, Kevin Murphy, Mary Jo Pehl. With Corbett, Patrick
Brantseg, Nelson, Murphy, Pehl. (97 min, color, U-matic video)
Hamlet: To be or not to be...
Mike: The verbal equivalent of 'da-da-da-dum'!
How do you make a poor, substantially altered, laborious, English-dubbed 1960’s
West German television adaptation of "Hamlet" starring Maximilian Schell as
the troubled Dane more entertaining? You could try altering one’s state of
consciousness or better yet, watch the film in an episode of Mystery Science
Theater 3000 . The series first appeared on a local television station
in Minneapolis, MN, in 1988 and quickly made the jump to Comedy Central, then
the Sci-Fi Channel. The premise: Originally Joel, then Mike, is held prisoner
on an orbiting satellite by an evil scientist and is forced to watch bad movies.
The movies are shown while Mike, along with his robot friends, Crow and Tom
Servo, sit in silhouette at the bottom of the screen and make jokes and wisecracks.
To quote Mike, Franz Peter Wirth’s Hamlet is "a production that likes
to show people watching other people." Many of the speeches are delivered as
thoughts in a character’s head, relying on facial expressions and lingering
camera movements to convey meaning. During the scene between Hamlet and his
father's ghost, the camera is frozen in a close-up of Hamlet, seemingly locked
in position for a good twenty minutes. To Maximilian Schell’s credit, his portrayal
of the title character as the vulnerable and conflicted prince is respectable.
The set is dark and oppressive, the costuming is laughable, and the dubbing
is somewhat distracting. Is that Ricardo Montalban as Claudius? You betcha!
The film is made watchable in the hands of Mike, Crow and Tom Servo--snide
comments, witty jokes and double entendres abound. Witness the premier of the
game show of "Alas, Poor Who?" and be the first to own the Hamlet action figure
complete with pull-string soliloquy.
Wednesday, August 22 (7:00pm)
Chikyu Boeigun = The Mysterians (Toho, Japan, 1957). Dir Ishiro Honda.
Wrt Takeshi Kimura, Shigeru Kayama. With Kenji Sahara, Yumi Shirakawa, Momoko
Kochi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura. (89 min, Eastmancolor, 35mm)
Ultraman. Defeat the Invaders! (TBS Television, Japan, in assoc. with
United Artists Television, 1967). Dir Hajime Tsuburaya. Wrt Tetsuo Kinjo, Shinichi
Sekizawa. With Susumu Kurobe, Bin Furuya, Masanari Nihei. (25 min, color, 16mm)
The Mysterians (a.k.a. Earth Defense Force), created in 1957
by Toho Studios, is a landmark Japanese science fiction film produced by the
duo that created Godzilla, director Ishiro Honda and special effects
designer Eiji Tsuburaya. In the film, Earth is invaded by an advanced race
called the Mysterians who offer to share technology with Earthlings if they
can only have some land, but it turns out that they also want to interbreed
with five Earth women. When the Mysterians’ evil robot spreads destruction,
the Earthlings have to figure out how to fight back. The Mysterians influenced
many later science fiction films and is still regarded as one of the best of
the alien invader genre. (Note: print has some color fading)
The television show Ultraman was produced by Tsuburaya Productions,
and was broadcast on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) from July 17, 1966 to
April 9, 1967. Ultraman's creator, Eiji Tsuburaya, was also the creator
of Godzilla and The Mysterians. In this television series,
a member of the Science Patrol in the future, Hayata, is accidently killed
by a giant alien being called Ultraman. Regretting the accident, Ultraman merges
with Hayata to allow him to live again. When danger appears, typically in the
shape of oversized, monster aliens, Hayata raises his beta capsule and transforms
into Ultraman who saves the day. In the episode Defeat the Invaders! ,
Ultraman fights insect-like aliens from the planet Baltan who plan to enslave
Thursday, August 23 (7:00pm)
10 Things I Hate About You (Mad Chance - Jaret Entertainment/Buena
Vista, 1999). Dir Gil Junger. WrtKaren McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith. With Heath
Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, David Krumholtz,
Andrew Keegan, Susan May Pratt, Gabrielle Union, Larry Miller, Daryl Mitchell,
Allison Janney. (97 min, color, 35mm)
Patrick Verona (Ledger) is an Aussie exchange student at Seattle’s Padua high;
Kat Stratford (Stiles) is a smart girl who isn’t interested in dating. This "Taming
of the Shrew" as high school rom-com dispenses with Shakespearean language,
but tries to engage with the Bard anyway, as Patrick and Kat are in the same
writing class and are assigned to write a sonnet. Elizabethan flourishes and
teenage angst ensue. Director Gil Junger was at the helm of his first feature
after graduating from television work (Dharma and Greg, The Golden Girls).
This was Ledger’s first leading role and only Shakespearean-or-inspired character
to date, but Julia Stiles has only just began to wax Bardic - she can be seen
at the Pickford Theater as Ophelia in Hamlet on August 30th, and also
went on to play Desi(demona) in O. One awaits her Lady Macbeth with bated breath.
Friday, August 24 (6:30pm)
Titus (Urania Pictures - NDF International, Italy/U.S., 1999). Dir & Wrt
Julie Taymor. With Anthony Hopkins (Titus Andronicus), Jessica Lange (Tamora),
Osheen Jones (Young Lucius), Dario D'Ambrosi (Clown), Raz Degan (Alarbus),
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Chiron). (162 min, color, widescreen, 35mm)
"Genius Grant" recipient and Broadway director (The Lion King) Julie Taymor’s
first theatrical motion picture is an ostentatious, arty romp through one of
Shakespeare’s earliest and most macabre plays. Taymor’s Rome is an anachronistic
melange of ancient and twentieth century styles that borrows particularly heavily
from 1930's fascist Italy. Many of the anachronisms seem arbitrary (chariots
and automobiles share the same streets and speeches are delivered through modern
public address systems), and the cinematic language riffs on slick Hollywood
cliches. While skeptics will find themselves questioning the stylistic rationale
behind much of this postmodern pastiche, Grand Guignol enthusiasts and admirers
of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet should gobble it up.
Monday, August 27 (6:30 pm)
Le Ballon Rouge = The Red Balloon (Films Montsouris, France, 1956).
Dir & Wrt Albert Lamorisse. With Pascal Lamorisse. (34 min, Technicolor, 16mm)
Crin Blanc = White Mane (Films Montsouris, France, 1953). Dir & Wrt
Albert Lamorisse. With Alain Emery. (40 min, black & white, 35mm)
Le Voyage en Ballon = Stowaway in the Sky (Filmsonor - Films Montsouris,
France, 1960). Dir & Wrt Albert Lamorisse. With Pascal Lamorisse, Maurice
Baquet. (84 min, Technicolor, Dyaliscope, 35mm)
Albert Lamorisse (1922-1970) was a Parisian photographer turned writer and
filmmaker best known for his 1956 film The Red Balloon , a gorgeous
Technicolor fantasy set in the streets of Paris. This charming film was a children’s
film staple for decades after its release. Although it is probably the most
widely seen French film of all time, it has never received a proper video release,
a fate shared by Lamorisse ’s other films. This evening is a rare opportunity
to see three of Lamorisse’s groundbreaking works on the big screen.
White Mane , made in 1953, is a somewhat more conventional narrative
of a boy and the wild horse he saves from ranchers in the marsh country of
Camargue in the south of France. This beautifully shot black and white film
brought Lamorrise his first international attention, and was frequently screened
alongside The Red Balloon.
Stowaway in the Sky was Lamorisse’s first feature film. It tells the
story of a balloonist and his ten year old grandson (played by the director’s
son Pascal, who played the boy in The Red Balloon) and their visually
dazzling widescreen voyage across France to the Alps. Stowaway in the Sky so
impressed the American actor Jack Lemmon that he purchased the American rights
and prepared the English language version that we will be screening tonight.
In spite of it’s stunning aerial photography, a glorious soundtrack and the
endorsement of a major Hollywood star, the film never found the international
audience that Lamorisse’s earlier work did.
Tuesday, August 28 (7:00pm)
William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (20th Century-Fox
- Regency Entertainment - Monarchy Enterprises, U.S./Germany, 1999). Dir & Wrt
Michael Hoffman. With David Strathairn (Theseus), Sophie Marceau (Hippolyta),
Anna Friel (Hermia), Dominic West (Lysander), Christian Bale (Demetrius), Kevin
Kline (Nick Bottom), Michelle Pfeiffer (Titania), Rupert Everett (Oberon),
Stanley Tucci (Puck), Calista Flockhart (Helena). (116 min, color, widescreen,
The epitome of Hollywood's new found love affair with Shakespeare, this screen
adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" follows Kenneth Branagh's example
by moving the story into a more modern setting, in this case from ancient Greece
to Tuscany in the 1890's, dressing it in ravishing production design, and packing
the cast with popular stars of the day, from "veterans" Pfeiffer and Kline
to Ally McBeal's Calista Flockhart. The forest scenes were shot on
the Cinecittà sound stages in Rome and with their decidedly theatrical feel
are somewhat reminiscent of Max Reinhardt's 1935 version.
"At the beginning I just had an image of this fat little Puck riding through
the Tuscan countryside on the back of a turtle. The rest of the film sort of
spun out from that" (Michael Hoffman). A graduate of Boise State University (BA
in theater arts), Hoffman (Restoration, The Emperor's Club) was a Rhodes
scholar at Oxford and one of the founders of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Notwithstanding the inevitable truncation of the original text, his key intervention
was adding the character of Bottom's wife, a "shrew" who considers her husband
a pompous fool.
Wednesday, August 29 (7:00pm)
5 Fingers (20th Century-Fox, 1952). Dir Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Wrt
Michael Wilson, based on the book "Der fall Cicero" by L. C. Moyzisch. With
James Mason, Danielle Darrieux, Michael Rennie, Walter Hampden, Oscar Karlweis.
(108 min, black & white, 35mm)
James Mason's matinee-idol looks enabled him to become one of those rare character
actors whose performance could sustain a picture. By the time he played the
master spy Diello, who sold military secrets to the Germans in World War II,
Mason had raised urbanity to a heightened level. With every move and gesture
he's the perfect valet and the perfect scoundrel. His courtship of Countess
Anna, a great schemer herself, is an example of what happens when a servant
tries to rise above his station.
Thursday, August 30 (7:00pm)
Hamlet (Double A Films/Miramax, 2000). Dir & Wrt Michael Almereyda.
With Ethan Hawke (Hamlet), Diane Venora (Gertrude), Kyle MacLachlan (Claudius),
Julia Stiles (Ophelia), Bill Murray (Polonius), Liev Schreiber (Laertes), Karl
Geary (Horatio), Sam Shepard (Ghost). (112 min, color, 35mm)
The CEO of the Denmark Corporation dies under mysterious circumstances; his
son Hamlet returns to New York to find his mother already re-married - to his
uncle. Among director Michael Almereyda previous features was a vampire movie
shot entirely with a toy video camera that produces grainy, ambiguous black
and white images. In this Hamlet , the melancholy Dane is an aspiring
filmmaker who himself wields that toy camera. For Hamlet , like his
sensory-overloaded Manhattan, is here preoccupied with images that dizzy the
arithmetic of memory and unreliably hold the mirror up to nature. The cast
includes two actors who played Hamlet on stage: Liev Schreiber you could have
guessed, but how many stage Hamlets have gone on to play Gertrude? (one: Diane
Venora). With Sam Sheperd as the Ghost (first spied in a surveillance camera)
and Bill Murray as Polonius.
Friday, August 31 (7:00pm)
She’s the Man (Donners' Co./DreamWorks, 2006). Dir Andy Fickman. With
Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Vinnie Jones, David Cross, Julie
Hagerty. (105 min, color, 35mm)
Olivia (Amanda Bynes) pretends to be a boy so she can play soccer for Illyria
Prep. Thus we close our Screening Shakespeare series with this tween comedy. "Inspired" by "Twelfth
Night," it replaces sibling separation anxiety with the Hollywood conventions
of who-am-i/why-is-my-body-changingism. What little of Shakespeare's language
that's left is shoehorned in; the role of Malvolio is, in a final insult, reduced
to a pet tarantula. But why not turn the play's ideas of transformation and
identity into a coming-of-age story? Music plays on indeed: Sebastian is not
lost at sea but has simply run off to England with his garage band; and his
sister Olivia’s gender-bending is nothing short of an Elvis Presley impersonation.
Tuesday, September 4 (7:00pm)
Age of Consent (Nautilus Productions, Australia, 1969). Dir Michael Powell. Wrt Peter Yeldham, based on the novel by Norman Lindsay. With James Mason, Helen Mirren, Jack MacGowran, Neva Carr-Glyn, Andonia Katsaros. (98 min, color, 35mm) NOTE: Print has some color fading
Visionary director Michael Powell's (Red Shoes, Peeping Tom) final completed feature, a mellow comedy-drama variation on the theme of the artist looking back on his life. James Mason is a New York painter, retired to the Great Barrier Reef, who finds his artistic drive renewed by the young and naked Helen Mirren (see also Savage Messiah, 9/18).
Wednesday, September 5 (7:00pm)
Un Homme de Trop = Shock Troops (Terra Films - Les Productions Artistes Associés - Compagnia Cinematografica Montoro - Sol Produzioni, France/Italy, 1967). Dir Costa-Gavras. Wrt Costa-Gavras, Daniel Boulanger, based on the novel by Jean-Pierre Chabrol. With Jean-Claude Brialy, Bruno Cremer, Jacques Perrin, Gérard Blain, Claude Brasseur, Michel Piccoli. (106 min, Technicolor, Techniscope, 35mm)
Feverish intensity through precision editing and photographic cunning are the talents displayed by Costa-Gavras in his tribute to the French Maquis. During WWII, twelve captured French soldiers await execution in a German prison camp. After a daring and bloody escape, they manage to release an entire prison filled with refugees. When the soldiers meet outside the walls, their number has increased from twelve to an unlucky thirteen. Number 13 carries no ID, and now the others must decide whether he should die. Their decision is distracted by fighting off hordes of Nazi storm troopers that are closing in on them. Costa-Gavras, a master in kinesics, has his almost entirely male cast striking for the jugular in this tense action film about honor, deception and paranoia.
Thursday, September 6 (7:00pm)
Z (Reggane Films - O.N.C.I.C, France/Algeria, 1969). Dir Costa-Gavras. Wrt Costa-Gavras, Jorge Semprun, based on the novel by Vassilis Vassilikos. With Yves Montand, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jacques Perrin, François Périer, Irene Papas. (127 min, color, 35mm)
Premier film critic Pauline Kael wrote of this film: "Costa-Gavras's extraordinary thriller--one of the fastest, most exciting melodramas ever made--was based on contemporary events in Greece. The picture never loses emotional contact with the audience; it derives from the traditions of the American gangster movies and prison pictures and anti-Fascist melodramas of the 40s. The young Greek expatriate director uses a searching, active camera style that's a little too self-consciously dynamic, and his staccato editing style and the use of loud music to build up suspense for the violent sequences put a lot of pressure on you. He gets you in his grip and squeezes you to react the way he wants you to. The story is based on the Lambrakis affair, as it was presented in fictional form in the novel ‘Z,’ by the Greek exile Vassili Vassilikos. In 1965, Lambrakis, a professor of medicine, was struck down by a delivery truck as he left a peace meeting; the investigation of his death uncovered such a scandalous network of corruption and illegality in the police and in the government that the leader of the opposition party, George Papandreou, became Premier. But in 1967 a military coup d'état overturned the legal government. The movie re-enacts the murder and the investigation in an attempt to show how the mechanics of fascist corruption may be hidden under the mask of law and order. It was shot in Algeria, in French, as a French-Algerian co-production, with a score by Mikis Theodorakis (who was under house arrest in Greece at the time), and a script by Jorge Semprun, an exile from Spain. When the picture is over and you've caught your breath you know perfectly well that its techniques of excitation could as easily be used by a smart fascist filmmaker, if there were one. Luckily there isn't."
Friday, September 7 (7:00pm)
État de Siège = State of Siege (Reggane Films - Euro International Films - Unidis - Dieter Geissler Filmproduktion, France/Italy/West Germany, 1973). Dir Costa-Gavras. Wrt Franco Solinas, Costa-Gavras. With Yves Montand, Renato Salvatori, O. E. Hasse, Jacques Weber, Jean-Luc Bideau. (120 min, Eastmancolor, 35mm)
An American diplomat (Montand) is found dead in Uruguay, kidnaped and murdered by the Tupamaro guerillas. What unravels are the seven days leading to his demise: espionage, political corruption and ideals warped and lead astray. Is this man simply a diplomat or has he been training the country's police in sophisticated counter-insurgency and torture techniques under shallow cover? Will his death show the strength of the resistance and encourage the toppling of the corrupt government? The question of whether the guerillas are terrorists or freedom fighters is at the heart of the State of Siege .
Developing the narrative in flash-backs, Costa-Gavras takes aim at the tyrannical right-wing government of a Latin American country. It is a re-creation of a true story of the interrogation of AID officer Daniel Mitrione by the Tupamoros in Uruguay. Subordinate to the political ideas is a blitzkrieg on American imperialism and its accomplices around the world. One could argue that this film is as strong a statement now as it was 35 years ago, if not stronger.
Monday, September 10 (7:00pm)
Train de Vie = Train of Life (Noé Productions - Le Studio Canal Plus - Raphaël Films - 71 A - Hungry Eye Lowland Pictures, France/Belgium/Romania/Netherlands, 1998). Dir & Wrt Radu Mihaileanu. With Lionel Abelanski, Rufus, Clément Harari, Michel Muller, Bruno Abraham-Kremer, Agathe de La Fontaine. (103 min, color, scope, 35mm)
During the dark days of 1941, the inhabitants of a Jewish village learn of the imminent arrival of the Nazis. How should they outwit the enemy? Thanks to the inspiration of the town fool, they decide on a plan: obtain a train, disguise some of the locals as soldiers to protect them, and ride east all the way to Palestine. This poignant fable about a community’s determination to survive is graced with plenty of humor and sly charm. Yorgos Arvanitis and Laurent Dailland’s widescreen cinematography captures the ravishing Romanian countryside; Goran Bregovic’s protean music is an invigorating accompaniment.
Tuesday, September 11 (7:00pm)
Peter Pan (NBC, 12/8/1960). Dir Vincent J. Donehue. Originally staged, choreographed and adapted by Jerome Robbins, based on the play by J. M. Barrie. With Mary Martin, Cyril Ritchard, Maureen Bailey, Margalo Gillmore, Sondra Lee. (120 min, color, U-matic video)
With all the attention given these days to the Disney Channel’s High School Musical, appreciation should be paid to this nationally televised musical production of Peter Pan . Compared to an earlier, New York stage vehicle created for Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff, with music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein, this newer production was staged, choreographed and adapted for Broadway and television by Jerome Robbins. Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Mr. Darling/Captain Hook, both won Tony awards for their roles in the 1954 Broadway run. The score was written by several folks: original lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and music by Moose Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne and additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. By popular demand, the show was aired seven times on NBC from 1955 (originally under the heading of Producers’ Showcase) to 1989, and although released on home video, the out-of-print DVD easily fetches several hundred dollars on the collectors’ market.
Wednesday, September 12 (7:00pm)
Geheimnisse Einer Seele = Secrets of a Soul (Neumann-Film-Produktion for Ufa, Germany, 1926). Dir G. W. Pabst. Wrt Colin Ross, Hans Neumann. With Werner Krauss, Ruth Weyher, Ilka Grüning, Jack Trevor, Pawel Pawlow. (81 min, black & white, 16mm)
In Secrets of a Soul , renowned director Georg Wilhelm Pabst explores Freudian psychoanalysis, especially its connection to dreams. For this film, Pabst contacted two assistants of Freud, Drs. Hans Sachs and Karl Abraham for background information, and used an actual case history as the framework. The film concerns a professor who begins to have disturbing thoughts and dreams after the return of his wife’s cousin from India and a nearby murder. He dreams of killing his wife and exhibits a phobia of knives. In desperation, he goes under the care of a psychoanalyst who probes the mysteries of his subconscious. The dream sequences are the core of the film and are especially impressive since they were made without a modern optical printer and were done using only the camera itself.
Thursday, September 13 (7:00pm)
Dizzy Gillespie on Film
Timex All-Star Jazz Show. The Golden Age of Jazz [Excerpt] (Lawrence White Productions/CBS, 1/7/1959). Dir David Geisel. Wrt George T. Simon. With Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong. (8 min, black & white, 16mm)
Dizzy Gillespie (1965). Dir Les Blank. With Dizzy Gillespie and His Quintet, Stan Kenton & The Los Angeles Neophonic Orchestra. (22 min, black & white, 16mm)
U. S. A. : Music. No. 1, Jazz Goes Intellectual: Bop (NET, 1965). Dir John Desmond. Wrt Clair Roskam. Host Ralph Ellison. With Dizzy Gillespie, Martin Williams. (30 min, black & white, Digital Betacam video)
The Hole (1962). Dir John Hubley. Wrt John & Faith Hubley. Voices Dizzy Gillespie, George Mathews. (15 min, color, DVD)
A selection of film and TV materials celebrating trumpeter, composer and bandleader John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (1917-93), one of the most influential and best loved musicians in the history of jazz. His State Department tours and his incorporation of Afro-Cuban, South American and African rhythms helped spread appreciation for jazz around the world. Followed by a post-screening discussion with special guests.
This screening is made possible by the Library's Music Division, in conjunction with the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival.
Friday, September 14 (7:00pm)
They Live by Night (RKO, 1948). Dir Nicholas Ray. Wrt Charles Schnee, Nicholas Ray, from the novel by Edward Anderson. With Cathy O’Donnell, Farley Granger, Howard Da Silva, Jay C. Flippen, Helen Craig. (95 min, black & white, 35mm)
In his masterful directorial debut, Nicholas Ray introduces his outcast lovers with the caption, "This boy and this girl were never properly introduced to the world we live in." This film is known as the most tender of noirs, owing to the sweet, albeit doomed, romance of its lead characters. The couple's naive hope of escaping the criminal life is shattered in one cruel and unforgettable scene. Astonishing aerial shots (purportedly the first use of a helicopter) and innovative framing hem in the fugitives and contrast strikingly with the expressionistic night shots. An atmosphere permeated in turn by innocence, vulnerability, melancholy, and violence, it resonates with the fatalistic tone of a ballad. This outlaw-lovers-on-the-lam film was based on Edward Anderson's novel "Thieves Like Us," also adapted for the screen by Robert Altman in 1974.
Monday, September 17 (6:30pm)
Ha-Kala ha-Surit = The Syrian Bride (Eran Riklis Productions - MACT Productions - Neue Impuls Film, Israel/France/Germany, 2004). Dir Eran Riklis. Wrt Suha Arraf, Riklis. With Hiam Abbass, Makram J. Khoury, Clara Khoury, Ashraf Barhoum, Eyad Sheety, Evelyn Kaplun. (98 min, color, scope, 35mm)
Entezar = Waiting (Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, Iran, 1974). Dir & Wrt Amir Naderi. With Hassan Haydari, Zohreh Ghahremani, Farzaneh Youssefi. (46 min, color, 35mm)
An obscure border crossing in a remote corner of the Golan Heights is the setting of the overtly political comedy about a Syrian bride named Mona, who hopes to cross from Israel into Syria so she can enter into an arranged marriage with a Syrian soap opera star she has never met. On her way to meet her fiancé, Mona encounters red tape at the checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah after the Syrians refuse to accept her passport because it has an Israeli stamp. Meanwhile, Mona’s intended groom and his family roast in the burning sun as they anxiously await her arrival from one side of the border, while she is stuck with her family on the other. The situation becomes increasingly more complex as Mona is unable to get rid of the stamp because the Israelis require that she have it to leave the country. To make matters worse, Mona’s fears her father will be arrested as he has just been released from an Israeli jail as a political prisoner and the terms of his parole prohibit him from being too close to the border. Caught between the political positions of two opposing nations, Mona and those around her confront a never-ending stream of insurmountable and paradoxical situations in an ongoing attempt to manage the simple events of their personal lives.
Preceded by Waiting , a rarely seen work by Iranian director and writer Amir Naderi, in which the filmmaker draws on his own early life as an orphan and street urchin to create a powerful and daring story of a sensitive young boy struggling on the verge of manhood. One day Amiro appears at the home of his rich neighbor, and through a crack in the door spots a pair of beautiful hands offering him a portion of ice in a crystal bowl. Enchanted by the beautiful hands of the mysterious woman, the boy slowly develops an emotional attachment to her that borders upon obsession. A film almost totally without dialogue and plot, Waiting has been described as the most beautiful of Naderi’s films, and one of the most visually striking films in the history of Iranian Cinema.
Tuesday, September 18 (7:00pm)
Savage Messiah (Russ-Arts for MGM, U.K., 1972). Dir Ken Russell. Wrt Christopher Logue, based on a book by H. S. Ede. With Dorothy Tutin, Scott Antony, Helen Mirren, Lindsay Kemp, Michael Gough. (99 min, Metrocolor, 35mm)
This heartfelt bio of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) was Ken Russell's return to the style of his early BBC films. A comparatively restrained (by Russell's standards) and almost gentle portrait of a young artist, the self-financed Savage Messiah was for the director something of a fictionalized autobiography. The late Dame Dorothy Tutin is outstanding as Polish writer Sophie Brzeska, the woman with whom Gaudier shared a passionate yet torturously platonic relationship. As a suffragette, Helen Mirren once again doffs her clothes in the cause of art.
Wednesday, September 19 (7:00pm)
Yi Ge Dou Bu Neng Shao = Not One Less (Guangxi Film Studios - Beijing New Picture Distribution Co., China, 1999). Dir Zhang Yimou. Wrt Shi Xiangsheng. With Wei Minzhi, Zhang Huike, Tian Zhenda, Gao Enman, Sun Zhimei. (106 min, color, 35mm )
A tenacious 13-year-old girl, Wei Minzhi, becomes a substitute teacher in her rural village’s primary school when the regular teacher leaves to help his ailing mother. The older teacher warns the girl not to lose even one student during his absence and promises a cash incentive for her success. When a young boy abandons school to get work in the city, Wei sets out to find him and bring him back but quickly finds the task much harder than she imagined. Even with the absence of his actress/muse Gong Li, director Zhang Yimou’s penchant for and success with stories featuring interesting heroines remains. The film, with its focus on the strength and vulnerability of children, is reminiscent of the work of Iranian directors Jafar Panahi (White Balloon, The Mirror) and Majid Majidi (Children of Heaven, The Color of Paradise).
Thursday, September 20 (7:00pm)
Ju Dou (Tokuma Shoten Publishing Co. - Tokuma Communications Co. - China Film Co-Production Corp. - China Film Export & Import Corp., Japan/China, 1990). Dir Zhang Yimou, Yang Fengliang. Wrt Liu Heng, based on his own short story. With Li Wei, Gong Li, Li Baotian, Zhang Yi, Zheng Jian. (94 min, color, 35mm)
In 1920's rural China, textile-dying shop owner Jinshan, a wealthy, cruel, impotent man, wants nothing more than his new bride, Ju Dou, to produce him a son. At night he tortures Ju Dou while Tianqing, his nephew, listens from the next room. It does not take long for Tianqing to fall in love with Ju Dou and soon an affair commences. She becomes pregnant by Tianqing, but convinces Jinshan that he is the father. The baby grows into a hateful, demonic child while Ju Dou and Tianqing continue their scheming and deception.
Ju Dou was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1990 after being suppressed by the Chinese government. This film gives us an example of director Zhang Yimou's use of color - the prints were generated with Technicolor’s dye transfer technology, in use in China long after its demise in the U.S. - which he has become famous for (House of Flying Daggers).
Friday, September 21 (7:00pm)
Dahong Denglong Gaigao Gua = Raise the Red Lantern (Era International, Hong Kong, 1991). Dir Zhang Yimou. Wrt Ni Zhen, based on a short story by Su Tong. With Gong Li, Ma Jingwu, He Caifei, Cao Cuifeng, Jin Shuyuan. (125 min, Eastmancolor, 35mm)
Zhang Yimou’s beautifully photographed drama about a young woman (Gong Li) who becomes the latest concubine of an old man in 1920's China. The beauty, youth and sexual appeal of the new "wife" initially bring favor and status in a house with an oppressive hierarchy but when her husband’s attention wanders, she, like the other wives, is forced into a cruel competition for reward and affection. Raise the Red Lantern , considered by many as Zhang’s best feature, was recently re-released in theaters and on DVD by MGM World Film. It was also adapted into a celebrated ballet that traveled the US last year. The film was nominated for and won a number awards including the Best Foreign Film at the 1993 BAFTAs.
Monday, September 24 (7:00pm)
The Great Punch-Out: The Bigger They Are.....The Harder They...
The Harder They Fall (Columbia, 1956). Dir Mark Robson. Wrt Philip Yordan, based on the novel by Budd Schulberg. With Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger, Jan Sterling, Mike Lane, Max Baer. (109 min, black & white, 35mm)
Max Baer versus Primo Carnera for Heavyweight Championship, New York, New York, June 14, 1934 (Turn of the Century Fights, 1964). (2 min, black & white, 16mm)
Dempsey vs. Firpo, Sept., 1923 (Greatest Fights of the Century, 1969). Dir William Cayton. (5 min, black & white, 16mm)
The Set-Up [Trailer] (1949). (3 min, black & white, 35mm)
Humphrey Bogart, in his final role, plays Eddie Willis, a New York sportswriter hired to build up the reputation of a gigantic but unskilled South American fighter named Toro Moreno. As Moreno’s unscrupulous promoter Nick Benko (Rod Steiger) maneuvers him through a series of fixed fights, Willis watches with growing dismay and alarm as the uncomprehending young man nears an undeserved (and unfixed) title shot against reigning heavyweight champ Buddy Brannen, played by real life former champion Max Baer.
The character of Toro Moreno was based on two real life heavyweights: Primo Carnera and Luis Firpo. Carnera, a former circus strongman from Italy, was a huge, powerfully built but awkward fighter who held the heavyweight title for a year before losing to Max Baer, who hammered him to the canvas repeatedly before knocking him out. Firpo, an Argentine billed as the "Wild Bull of the Pampas," was another giant with little finesse, but a devastating right hand that sent heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey through the ropes in their brief but classic encounter.
Plus a preview of Tuesday night’s main event, another searing look at the dark side of boxing.
Tuesday, September 25 (7:00pm)
The Great Punch-Out: I Coulda’ Been a Contender!
The Set-Up (RKO, 1949). Dir Robert Wise. Wrt Art Cohen, inspired by the poem by Joseph Moncure March. With Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias. Alan Baxter, Wallace Ford, Percy Helton. (72 min, black & white, 35mm)
Casey, Crime Photographer [1951-09-20] (CBS). Dir Curt Conway. Wrt Raphael Hayes, based on the character in the "Casey" novels by George Harmon Coxe, and the radio series "Casey, Crime Photographer." With Darren McGavin, Archie Smith, Maxwell Glanville, Jane White, Louis Sorin. (30 min, black & white, 16mm)
Day of the Fight (RKO, 1951). Dir Stanley Kubrick. Wrt Robert Rein. Narrator Douglas Edwards. (16 min, black & white, 35mm)
In The Set-Up , Robert Ryan, in one of his best roles, plays "Stoker" Thompson, an aging fighter given no chance at all against a young contender. So why should his crooked cornermen bother telling him that he’s supposed to throw the match? They might have to share their payoff! The film unfolds round by round, as Thompson gives the untested youngster a brutal boxing lesson and a seething gangster known only as "Little Boy" plots his revenge against the unsuspecting Thompson. Outside, Thompson’s long suffering wife (Audrey Totter) paces the grimy streets of the ironically named tank town "Paradise City."
Preceded by Day of the Fight and an episode of Casey, Crime Photographer .
It’s April 17th, 1950, and young middleweight Walter Cartier will fight Bobby James in New York tonight. The camera follows Walter (and his twin brother Vincent) through his day as he prepares for his 10:00 P.M. bout. After eating breakfast, going to early mass and eating lunch, he starts arranging his things for the fight at 4:00 P.M. By 8:00, he is waiting in his dressing room, where he undergoes a mental transformation, turning into the fighting machine the crowd clamors for. Day of the Fight , part of RKO’s This is America series, was one of the first filmmaking efforts of Stanley Kubrick, a staff photographer for "Look" magazine who had photographed Cartier for a 1949 pictorial entitled "Prizefighter."
Darren McGavin inherited the role of Casey, crime photographer for the "Morning Express" newspaper, when the popular radio series was brought to television for a short run. In this episode, Casey gets involved with an African-American contender threatened with violence if he does not agree in advance to lose a fight.
Wednesday, September 26 (6:30pm)
The Great Punch-Out: Sweet Sugar, the Sweetest Fighter Pound for Pound
Sugar Ray Robinson--Pound for Pound (Big Fights, 1977). Dir Jim Jacobs. Narrators Norman Rose, Kevin Kennedy. (99 min, color/black & white, 16mm)
Sugar Ray Robinson versus Jake LaMotta for the Middleweight Championship, February 14, 1951, Chicago, Illinois (Big Fights, 1952). (31 min, black & white,16mm)
Robinson-Turpin Fight (RKO, 1951). (19 min, black & white, 35mm)
By most reckonings, Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest "pound for pound" fighter that the ring has ever seen. Jim Jacobs’s documentary traces his 25 year career from the beginnings through his multiple reigns as welterweight and middleweight champion, with classic footage of Kid Gavilan, Carmen Basilio, Gene Fullmer and many others.
"I fought Sugar Ray Robinson so many time I got diabetes!" – Jake LaMotta
Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta fought five times in 1940s, with each fight ending in a close decision. In 1951, both men were at the top of their game, and LaMotta held the middleweight title that Robinson sought. In their sixth fight, there would be no decision but a knockout brawl, and the match would be forever known as "The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre."
Robinson toured Europe in 1951, defeating a string of second rate opponents who gave him little trouble. In England, however, he faced the unheralded Randy Turpin, a first rate opponent who gave him nothing but trouble. This fight proved to be on of the toughest and fiercest in the long and illustrious career of the Sugar man.
Thursday, September 27 (7:00pm)
The Great Punch-Out: Float like a Butterfly: Sting like Ali
A. K. A. Cassius Clay (Sports of the Century/United Artists, 1970). Dir Jim Jacobs. Wrt Bernard Evslin. With Muhammad Ali, Cus D'Amato. Narrator Richard Kiley. (79 min, black & white/color, 35mm)
Cassius Clay versus Zigzy Pietrzykowski, 1960 Olympic Light-Heavyweight Championship, Rome, Italy (Big Fights, 1978). (11 min, black & white, 16mm)
Fight of the Champions [Excerpt] (Perenchio - California Sports, 1971). (ca. 15 min, color, 35mm)
After refusing induction into the Army at the height of the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali was stripped of his title and banned from fighting for three years. While he fought his battle in the courts, there was time to make A. K. A. Cassius Clay , a memorable documentary of his early career, incorporating footage of his early fights, including his 1964 "knockout" of all four Beatles in Miami, Florida!
Rome, 1960. The sporting world gets its first glimpse of a new kind of fighter, as Cassius Clay of Louisville, Kentucky defeats Poland’s Ziggy Pietrzkowski for the Light-Heavyweight Olympic gold medal. Rare film footage of Ali’s Olympic fight for which there are those who say that at this time the young Cassius Clay had the fastest hands ever in boxing history; check and see for yourself.
The first Ali/Frazier fight is considered by many the greatest heavyweight fight of all time. It’s legend only grows as the years go by as does the reputation of the two fighters who fought their hearts out in front of so many at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Muhammad Ali would not have achieved the greatness he so craved if it were not for his three battles with Smokin’ Joe Frazier, his greatest adversary. It has been mostly forgotten that Frazier was favored to win this fight going in because Ali had a long forced layoff protesting the Vietnam War. You will see the last rounds of the fight when Joe Frazier starts to take over with his power and tenacity and then connects with one of the hardest left hooks ever to Ali’s chin sending him down for the first loss of his career. The fragment originates from 35mm film footage of the fight held as part of the Library’s Copyright Collection.
Friday, September 28 (7:00pm)
The Great Punch-Out: The Greatest Heavyweight Fights of the 20th Century
The Official Motion Pictures of the Heavyweight Boxing Contest between Gene Tunney-Heavyweight Champion of the World and Jack Dempsey-Contender for the Heavyweight Championship of the World (Tex Rickard, 1927). (9 min, black & white, 35mm)
In 1926, Gene Tunney outfought, out-thought and out-pointed Jack Dempsey to win the heavyweight championship. A year later, a determined Dempsey faced Tunney again in a bout forever remembered for the "long count" that the floored Tunney was given when Dempsey refused to go to a neutral corner. How long was it? Come and see! This classic fight film footage was restored by the Library of Congress from original nitrate elements..
Joe Louis versus Tony Galento for the Heavyweight Championship, New York City, June 28, 1939 (Turn of the Century Fights, 1967). (2 min, black & white, 16mm)
"I’ll moida da bum" declared Tony "Two Ton" Galento when he signed to fight Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship, and for a few fleeting seconds after he managed to knock Louis to the floor, it looked like he’d be as good as his word.
Joe Louis versus Buddy Baer for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, May 23, 1941, Washington, D.C. (Big Fights, 1979). (11 min, black & white, 16mm)
On his way to the title in the 1930s, Joe Louis handily defeated former champion Max Baer. By 1941, Max’s younger but bigger brother Buddy was ready for his turn, and squared off against the champion in Washington, DC’s Griffith Stadium.
Joe Louis vs Billy Conn for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, June 18, 1941, New York City (Big Fights, 1966). (30 min, black & white, 16mm)
In 1941, Light Heavyweight champion Billy Conn stepped up in weight and class to challenge Joe Louis for the heavyweight crown. The result was one of the greatest matches of all time.
Rocky Marciano versus Joe Louis, October 26, 1951, New York City (Big Fights, 1954). (11 min, black & white, 16mm)
Rocky Marciano vs. Jersey Joe Walcott for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, September 23, 1952, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Big Fights, 1952). (21 min, black & white, 16mm)
Rocky Marciano versus Archie Moore for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, September 21, 1955, New York City (Big Fights, 1955). (19 min, black & white, 16mm)
In October, 1951 Rocky Marciano made headlines when he ended former champion Joe Louis’s attempt at a comeback with a decisive knockout. Eleven months later he faced champion Jersey Joe Walcott, one of Louis’ toughest opponents and a fighter with considerably more experience. In one of the greatest title matches ever, Marciano weathered a first round knockdown and Walcott’s full arsenal of trick moves and tough punches, finally delivering one of boxing’s greatest knockout blows in what he would call his "lucky" thirteenth round. In his next to last title defense, Marciano took on one of the ring’s cleverest tacticians, the "Old Mongoose" Archie Moore.
Joe Frazier, Champion, versus George Foreman, Challenger for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, Kingston, Jamaica, January 22, 1973 (Big Fights, 1973). (11 min, black & white, 16mm)
After his historic defeat of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier took it easy for a couple of years by fighting against second rate opponents - then he met George Foreman. Two of the hardest punching heavyweights of all time squared off for the first and only time and something had to give. Very few could believe that Smokin’ Joe Frazier would get rocked so hard and so fast but he did get up each time.
Muhammad Ali versus Henry Cooper for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, London, England, May 21, 1966 (Greatest Fights of the Century, 1973). (10 min, black & white, 16mm)
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) versus Cleveland Williams for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, Astrodome, Houston, Texas, November 14, 1966 (Big Fights, 1966). (11 min, color, 16mm)
Two of Ali’s Championship defenses. First, against England’s Henry Cooper, who had floored him with a sharp left hook in their first meeting. In the second match, Ali outwits and declaws Cleveland "Big Cat" Williams.