Winter Film Series 2009
January 2009 marks my tenth anniversary as NCMA Film Curator. Our aspirations have not changed, to present a Big City style repertory cinema program. But, our ability to accomplish our goals has improved greatly! We continue to make contacts with film studios and archives for the best 35mm prints around, and to present new prints of repertory revival sensations that have not played in our area. The theme of the Winter Film Series has always been to screen duets of a little something for everyone, English and foreign language, old and new. We are pleased that our expanding Fall, and this year Spring Film Series allows us to explore topics in greater depth. Our decade anniversary season includes everything from a 1928 silent film with live music by maestro David Drazin, to a favorite international film from 2007. There will be lots of comedy this time, a romance for Valentine’s Day, and one of N&O critic Craig Lindsey’s all time favorites. Please join us for what we think is the best film program in the Triangle.
“Sometimes I saw the same film four or five times within a month and could still not recount the story line correctly because, at one moment or another, the swelling of the music, a chase through the night, the actress’s tears, would intoxicate me, make me lose track of what was going on, carry me away from the rest of the movie.”
--François Truffaut quoted in French Cinema From Its Beginnings to the Present by Rémi Fournier Lanzoni
“ Sure, DVDs have changed things, but I believe in my heart that repertory programming will never die...At the end of the day, regardless of how great your flat screen tv is, or how great your Blue-ray discs are, you want to see movies with a community of people, to go out and make a night of it."
IFC Center Programmer Harris Dew, quoted in the June 15, 2007 New York Sun
All films will be shown in 35mm and will begin at 8 pm on Friday nights. preceeded by "Art in the Evening" the NCMA wine bar.
Although movies are unrated, older children and teens will find the titles in the series enriching and challenging. All films are shown in new or archival 35mm prints.
City Lights (1931) Written, directed by and starring Charles Chaplin, with Virginia Cherrill. (87 min).
Chaplin was the first international celebrity, touching hearts and funny bones world wide. In his masterpiece, voted #1 on AFI’s list of great romantic comedies, the Little Tramp, shabby and starved, but still a gentleman, falls in love with a blind flower seller, whose poignant gesture clearly inspired the creators of Wall*E. Keaton may be more admired these days, but Chaplin was the original, and as long as motion pictures flicker, his genius for finding both humor and sadness in the simple experiences of the common man will endure. Film Notes for City Lights.
The Mark of Zorro (1940) Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone (94 min).
Tyrone Power beguiles as dashing Don Diego, returning home to colonial California to find his home in the grip of scoundrels. He masquerades as a fop to conceal his secret identity as the populist hero, Zorro. The “Masked Avenger” novels and adventure films are the prototype for all contemporary comic book heroes; just ask Batman creator Bob Kane, who spent his childhood romping in Zorro’s mask and cape. The climactic swordfight is breathtaking and the film “among the finest examples of its genre” Tony Thomas, Films of the Forties. Film notes for Mark of Zorro.
Fanfan La Tulipe (1952) Directed by Christian-Jaque. Gérard Philipe, Gina Lollobrigida (95 min).
Longing for another Jack Sparrow adventure? Try this risqué anti-war romp which begins as Fanfan eludes a shotgun wedding by enlisting in Louis XV’s army. Philipe was a much adored romantic leading man, who died far too young. Here, he meets the voluptuous Lollo in one of the early films that made her an international sex goddess. Fanfan is a “witty and delightful confection of 18th century military derring-do and winking sexual naughtiness” (NY Times). In French with English subtitles. Film notes.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Directed by Sidney Lumet. Al Pacino, John Cazale, Charles Durning (124 min)
Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) Directed by Joseph Sargent. Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam (104 min).
A transit police lieutenant unexpectedly confronts a crew of meticulously organized and ruthless hostage takers demanding One Million Dollars in a single nerve wracking hour, for the lives of some unlucky passengers on a Bronx subway car. Harried Matthau plays tense mind games with coldly determined mastermind Shaw. “A true classic” + 100% positive reviews on the Rotten Tomato Meter. Introduced by News and Observer film critic Craig Lindsey’s, it’s one of his favorite movies.
The Awful Truth (1937) Directed by Leo McCarey. Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy (91 min).
A stylish New York society couple squabble over nothing and petulantly decide to divorce, in spite of the fact that they’re still madly in love. Suave Grant and Dunne, in a cleverly glam wardrobe that is just a tad over the top, are not only the ultimate in witty feuding romance, but their custody battle over their wire-hair fox terrier, Mr. Smith, provides the setting for one of the all time great dog performances by The Thin Man’s Asta. Frothy, sophisticated and unhinged, “one of the most enduring film comedies ever made.” Ed Sikov in Screwball. Film notes for The Awful Truth.
Far From Home
The Exiles (1961) Directed by Kent Mackenzie. (72 min)
Young Native Americans cruise, drink, flirt and fight during one rowdy night in downtown LA. Not precisely either fiction or nonfiction, it’s an improvised hybrid of both using real people and situations. Never released theatrically, this film has been one of the great reissue discoveries of the year. “The movie walks a nightworld so crackling with unfocused energy—so alive with threat, promise, and raw honking rock 'n' roll, yet so limited in any sense of a future—that to enter it is to feel your blood surge.”—Village Voice. Film notes for The Exiles.
The Band’s Visit (2007) Written and directed by Eran Kolirin. Sasson Gabai, Ronit Elkabetz (87 min) In Hebrew, Arabic and English with subtitles.
An Egyptian police band misses their bus on their way to an Arab Cultural Center concert and is stranded in an Israeli nowheresville. Warily dispersed amongst the townsfolk for the night, tentative friendships hint at political possibilities. The awkward friendship between sensual Ronit Elkabetz and shy bandmaster Sasson Gabai is unpredictable yet still exactly right. Winner of 35 international awards, including 8 Israeli Academy Awards for Best film, Director, Actor Actress and Screenplay. “Stop the presses. This is the one to see”--New York Post. Film Notes for The Band's Visit.
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2002) Written, directed and starring Larry Blamire. Fay Masterson, Jennifer Blaire (90 min). PG
An affectionate skewering--in Skeletorama!—of cheesy atomic monster movies; no cliché is left unexamined in this spoof of the Ed Wood school of filmmaking. Bad special effects, ludicrous dialogue, hammy acting. Do not expect a work of art, just a screaming good time. “We're the ones guffawing at this deadpan send-up of the 1950s low-budget, B-movie”—horror movie expert Elia Savada. Also the 1937 cartoon, “Skeleton Frolic.” Film Notes for Lost Skeleton.
Films from the Library of Congress
The Man Who Laughs (1928) Directed by Paul Leni. Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin, Olga Baclanova (125 min)
Little Gwynplaine is heir to a royal title. Plotters after his fortune abduct and then cruelly disfigure him, selling him to a carnival after his mouth has been surgically carved into a grotesque grin. Both historical spectacle and horror film, a genre without many modern examples but beloved during the silent era, Leni directs in extravagantly romantic German Expressionist style. Veidt (later, Major Strasser in Casablanca) emotes heartbreakingly, he’s a tender soul with a monster’s face, inspiring Batman scribe Bob Kane to create The Joker. Live musical accompaniment by David Drazin. Film notes for The Man Who Laughs.
I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1931) Directed by Mervyn Le Roy. Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell (93 min).
A wrongly convicted WWI vet is sentenced to a brutal Southern chain gang, in this searing Warner Brothers social consciousness drama. This uncompromising true story (in the early 1930s Pre-Code era, Warners didn’t pull their punches) sparked prison reform, while catapulting Yiddish theater actor Paul Muni to fame The bleak ending has been described as the most Kalfa-esque in Hollywood cinema. “A certifiable classic that retains the power to grip audiences by the throat.” Thomas Doherty in Pre-Code Hollywood. Introduced by NC State Film Studies Professor Marsha Orgeron.
Back to Comedy:
Their First Mistake, Them Thar Hills, Towed in a Hole, Twice Two. (1932-1934) Various Directors. Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy (about 80 minutes, total)
Although sometimes considered lesser than Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy were hugely successful comedy stars in both silents and talkies, and remain uproarious crowd pleasers to this day. Oliver Hardy, from small town Georgia and British Stan Laurel (the comedy brains of the team) somehow meshed perfectly as a team of hapless pals. Here, in four irreplaceable 2-reel talking comedies, they adopt a baby, embark on a disastrous camping trip, try to catch fish and play their own wives. Film notes.
All films are 35mm prints and begin Fridays at 8:00 pm
As part of "Art in the Evening" the galleries will be open prior to screenings
Box Office: (919) 715-5923
Tickets: $5.00/$3.50 NCMA Members
Series Passes $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