2006 Winter Film Series

Classic Italian Films

January 13:

The Leopard (1963) Directed by Luchino Visconti. Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale. 185 min.

An Italian family patriarch realizes his noble traditions are doomed by the Industrial Age. This lushly detailed historical epic, based on a famous novel that reflected Visconti's own family experience, contains Lancaster’s own favorite performance. He modeled many of his character's gestures on his aristocratic director. Lancaster said, Visconti “was the most important director I worked for, because he opened for me a new world and a new way of doing things.” Released in a butchered and dubbed version in the US, it was virtually dead to English-speaking audiences for 30 years. New 35mm print. Film Notes for The Leopard.

January 20:

L’Avventura (1960) Directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni. Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti (145 min.)

A girl disappears from a luxurious cruise and her lover and best friend search for her through landscapes, silence and joyless sex. When L’Avventura (The Affair) debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960, the reaction was, to say the least, negative. During the screening, there were boos and hisses, and the end was greeted with laughter and catcalls. The next morning, 37 dissenters sent a letter of apology to the director, who was somewhat mollified by the award of a Special Jury Prize “for its remarkable contribution towards the search of a new cinematic language." Reviled at its premiere, it is now recognized as “a Rosetta Stone for post-1960 cinema and one of the greatest films of all time” (Elliot Wilheim). Introduced by Film Historian Brian Santana. 35mm print. Film Notes for L'Avventura.

Film Noir

January 27:

Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954) Directed by Jacques Becker. Jean Gabin, René Dary, Jeanne Moreau (94 min).

A weary criminal, Max the Liar, contemplates stylish retirement after one last heist. Becker is the most neglected of the great French directors and Don’t Touch the Loot is less about gangsters than aging and friendship, embodied by the elegant ennui of ex-matinée idol Jean Gabin. Based on a series of stories by Albert Simonin, it was not concerned with the detection of crime, as in a film policier, but with the gangsters alone, considered to give it a unique “Frenchness.” The underworld argot here is rendered in a tasty new translation, considered unsuitable for American audiences of the 1950s. New 35mm print. Film notes for Grisbi.

February 3:

Pickup on South Street (1953) Directed by Sam Fuller. Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter (80 min)

A pickpocket accidentially lifts some military secrets, and tries to grease his way in between a gorgeous dame, the FBI and the Commies in this summer sweaty Cold War noir. Director Fuller said, " I wanted to take a poke at the idiocy of the cold war climate of the fifties. Sure, there were communists who believed fervently in Marx and Lenin. But, there were also crumbs…who’d go to work for any “ism” if there was a payoff. People living on the edge of society don’t give a damn about politics. I wanted my film to be told through the eyes of the powerless. Cold war paranoia? Hell, these crooks were more interested in just getting by” Martin Scorsese, one of Fuller's admirers wrote, “I think if you don’t like the films of Sam Fuller, then you just don’t like cinema.” Introduced by NC State Film Studies Professor Marsha Orgeron. 35mm print. Film notes for Pickup

Urban Warfare

February 10:

The Battle of Algiers (1966) Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi (123 min)

This compelling documentary style drama about the Algerian War of Independence 1954-57, was shown at the Pentagon as a primer on urban warfare before the start of the Iraq War. Yacef Saadi, the former leader of the Algerian Resistance Movement is the producer of the film--and plays himself. He said, “I have substituted the camera for the machine gun…the idea of reliving those days and arousing the emotions I felt moved me greatly. But there is no rancor in my memories. Together, with our Italian friends, we desired to make an objective, equilibrated film that is not a trial of the people or of a nation, but a heartfelt act of accusation against colonialism, violence and war.” Robin Buss calls it, “ The best European film ever made on the subject of relations between a colonial people and a colonial power.” New 35mm print. Film notes for Battle of Algiers.

February 17:

The Day I Became a Woman (20002) Directed by Marzieh Meshkini. Fatemeh Cheragh Akhtar, Shabnam Toloul, Azizeh Seddighi. (78 min).

A girl savoring the last hours of childhood before donning a Muslim headscarf, a contingent of desperate female bicycle racers and a determined old woman fulfilling her dream are three fables about a woman’s place in Islamic society, in this classic of New Iranian Cinema. The film is a product of the family cooperative of director Mohsen Makhmalbaf; the film is directed by his wife. He became an Islamic militant as a young man, because “Cinema in our country meant selling dreams to people who longed for ideals.” His rigidity began to evolve as he became involved in filmmaking, more interested in filming psychological truth than representing Islamic ideals. This is the rare film made in a Muslim country by a woman director. Film Notes for Day I Became...

Independent Weekly Film Critic David Fellerath’s Overlooked Classic

February 24:

Centre Stage (a/k/a Actress) (1991) Directed by Stanley Kwan. Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung (147 min.)

Although largely unknown in the United States, this brilliant and innovative drama is one of the most celebrated films of the 1990s. In her star-making role, Maggie Cheung won Best Actress honors at the Berlin International Film Festival for her performance as Ruan Ling-yu, the “Chinese Garbo” who committed suicide at the age of 25. "...the greatest Hong Kong film I've seen...it combines documentary with period re-creation, biopic glamour with profound curiosity, and ravishing historical clips with color simulations of the same sequences being shot--all to explore a past that seems more complex, sexy, and mysterious than the present" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader). Thanks to Coco Wong of Pinetree-LA for the only 35mm print in US. Introduced by David Fellerath.

Films from the Library of Congress

March 3:

Baby Face (1933) Directed by Alfred E. Green. Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Donald Cook, John Wayne (76 min).

Sultry Lily, pimped by her degenerate father, breaks free and sleeps her way to the top of an Art Deco skyscraper with no regrets. Baby Face was one of the most notorious films of the Pre-Code era, and is often cited as one of the causes of film censorship being imposed in mid-1934. The heroine, Lily, uses her sexuality both for empowerment and well as social mobility, and thrives with her sinful lifestyle. Certainly, there are plenty of men willing to participate in her horizontal negotiations. The censors felt the film was “glorifying vice” and ordered it edited to show “morally compensating values.” Library of Congress Film Curator Mike Mashon recently discovered an unedited negative from which this new 35mm print is restored. Plus the musical short, Don Redman and his Orchestra. New 35mm print. Film Notes for Baby Face.

March 10: Free Event! Thanks to the North Carolina Humanities Council!

Helen’s Babies (1924) William A. Seiter. Baby Peggy Montgomery, Edward Everett Horton, Clara Bow (85 min).

A fussy bachelor who imagines himself the last word in child care runs afoul of the adorable Baby Peggy in this silent comedy.

.In the 1920s there were two adored child stars, silent era precursors to that adored moppet of the 1930s, Shirley Temple. One was Jackie Coogan, whose costarring role with Charlie Chaplin in The Kid assured his place in the movie star pantheon. The other was Baby Peggy Montgomery, whose astronomical salary, million and a half yearly fan letters and variety of official licensed Baby Peggy products put her at the vanguard of both celebrity and merchandising at the beginning of the studio era.The former Baby Peggy, Diana Serra Cary, is virtually the only surviving silent film star still making public appearances. Her unique insight into the lives and careers of young actors in her books "Hollywood's Children," "What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy?" (her autobiography) and "Jackie Coogan: The World's Boy King: A Biography of Hollywood's Legendary Child Star" make her an authority on a phenomenon often analyzed, but rarely from the inside out. Few child stars want to remember those years, not of carefree fun in the studio, but grinding work and exploitation by parents and managers.

This newly restored print of Helen’s Babies made by the Library of Congress and premiered at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in Italy, in 2002, and was shown there again in 2004. The little actress Baby Peggy may have been expert at following direction and displaying emotions, but as you will see in Helen’s Babies, she has a real instinct for improvisation—she steals scenes from veteran Edward Everett Horton not just because she is cute, but because she is skilled. We’re so pleased to show this charming film, with the excitement of live music by Maestro David Drazin and the added attraction of the presence of its star.

Introduced by the film’s star, Diana Serra Cary, the former Baby Peggy Montgomery. Film Notes for Helen's Babies.

March 17:

His Girl Friday (1941) Directed by Howard Hawks. Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy.

The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, a hard-boiled comedy about Chicago cops, corruption and the newspaper business gets a gender reversal overhaul, outing the workplace romance of Walter Burns and Hildy Johnson, both male characters in the 1920s original. A breathless masterpiece of the screwball era, Grant and Russell chatter, fuss and battle at a breakneck pace in this most successful adaptation of an often filmed, classic work of the American stage. Introduced by NC State Film Studies Professor Devin Orgeron. 35mm print. Plus, Tommy Dorsey and his Orchesta. Film Notes for His Girl Friday.


Never released on home video!

March 24:

That Night In Rio (1941) Directed by Irving Cummings. Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Carmen Miranda (90 min.)

Larry Martin looks exactly like Baron Duarte--and no wonder, since they are both played by Don Ameche. He finds himself entwined with both a fiery Brazilian samba goddess and a discontented countess, with plenty of time for dazzling Technicolor musical interludes. Whatever political benefit the World War II “Good Neighbor Policy,”produced, it had a splendid effect on 1940s musicals. Movies were filled with jubilant Latin numbers and the infusion of samba, rhumba and conga beats blended with the infectious rhythms of the jitterbug era still swing. That Night in Rio is remarkable, not just for Carmen Miranda’s singular samba tunes, but for a degree of erotic confusion and double entendre dialogue not often seen in Hollywood films of the Production Code Era. 35mm print. Film notes for That Night in Rio.


Three Stooges 75th Anniversary

March 31:

Seven 2 reel (18 minute) shorts, 1934-47 starring Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Shemp Howard.

Admit it—you’ve never seen them on the big screen. Vaudeville roots, topical slapstick, ethnic humor and plenty of nyuk, nyuk, nyuk enliven this compilation of classic Stooges hits in sparkling new 35mm prints, including Oscar-nominated Men in Black, An Ache in Every Stake and You Nazty Spy, a Hitler satire that predated Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Film notes for the Three Stooges.


All films will be shown in 35mm prints and begin at 8:00 pm.

The galleries and the Blue Ridge Restaurant will be open prior to screenings

Box Office: (919) 715-5923

Tickets: $5.00/$3.50 NCMA Members

Passes good for 10 admissions: $35/$25 NCMA Members

Introductions are by Film Curator Laura Boyes unless otherwise noted.

For more information about the NC Museum of Art: ncartmuseum.org