Winter Film Series 2014

Car Crazy, Continued

As our first-ever car show Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed continues racing around the track, NCMA film curator Laura Boyes’ license to explore on-screen autos from multiple vantage points proceeds apace. Nearly all movies contain driving, and as we drive in our real cars, we remember the driving experienced in movies.  Cars represent freedom, autonomy, enjoyment, intimacy, speed, risk, danger and excitement, in a word, possibility. A person gets in a car, and they can go anywhere their imagination (and gas tank) takes them. Our series, which extends through and beyond the run of the exhibition, takes an admiring look during this leg of the series at chauffeured cars, taxi cabs, car design, working cars and just plain cool cars. The NCMA Cinema has the keys to your automotive dreams—sit back and enjoy the ride.


Jan 10:

Sabrina (1954) Written and Directed by Billy Wilder.  Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden (113 min).

A chauffeur’s daughter’s chic Parisian makeover beguiles two wealthy brothers, one a wastrel and the other a stuffy businessman. Hepburn’s Cinderella tale delights, “But credit, above all, Mr. Wilder, for it is his unerring sense of form… and his wonderfully hardgrained comic style that makes Sabrina a picture to be cherished as a real and lasting joy.” (NY Times)Film notes for Sabrina.


January 17:

On the Waterfront (1954) Directed by Elia Kazan.  Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb , Eva Marie Saint (108 min)

The movies’ most famous taxi ride?  Director Kazan’s first outing after his appearance as a “friendly witness” in the 50s Commie witch hunts tackles a washed up fighter’s courageous stand against the gangsters controlling the longshoreman’s union. Brando’s powerful Best Actor performance was considered by his director the greatest in American film.  “A heart-clutcher from beginning to end” (Village Voice). Film Notes for On the Waterfront.

January 24:

Night on Earth (1991) Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch.  Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Roberto Benigni (129 min) Rated R

Five cabbies in five cities, LA, New York, Paris, Rome and Helsinki, simultaneously pick up a fare on a winter night.  An episodic city symphony, unpredictable, profane, washed over by the growly music of Tom Waits, “Jarmusch is a true visionary…In this compassionate comedy of missed connections, he makes us see the ordinary in fresh and pertinent ways” (Rolling Stone). Introduced by poet and writer Chris Vitello.

January 31:

On the Town (1949) Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen.  Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, Betty Garrett (98 min).

A  film musical masterpiece fuses (some of) Leonard Bernstein’s score with a crackling Comden and Green script, Gene Kelly’s inspired hoofing, Sinatra’s swoony voice, NYC location shots and Betty Garrett’s lady cab driver for a giddy 24 hour romp. “On the Town will always find a place in cinema history for being the first purely dance-oriented musical” (Clive Hirschhorn). Introduced by Broadway veteran, raconteur extraordinaire and former Mad Magazine editor, Nick Meglin. Film notes for On the Town.

Working Cars

February 7:

They Drive By Night (1940) Directed by Raoul Walsh.  Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino (95 min).

A hard scrabble wildcat trucking firm run by two brothers hauling fruit from the California fields to LA faces off against crooked bosses, lonely wives and exhaustion. “As usual, the Warners are delivering in A-1 shape another of their fast action dramas about tough guys and gals, sweaty with honest toil and very loose with suggestive repartee” (NY Times) Film Notes

February 14:

Desire (1936) Directed by Frank Borzage.  Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, John Halliday (95 min).

A Detroit auto engineer on a Spanish holiday encounters a jewel thief in this chic and frothy romp, the sexy epitome of classic Hollywood.  Lanky Cooper and sultry Dietrich in her mad, mad Travis Banton wardrobe flirt and banter and, somehow, evade movieland censors. “A romantic comedy of grace, dexterity and charm” (Time)--a perfect Valentine’s Day treat. You’re welcome. Film notes for Desire.

Just Plain Cool Cars

February 21:

Chico and Rita (2010) Directed by Tono Errando. Original Music by Bebo Valdes.  (94 min) NR, but suggested PG-13 for animated sex.

Havana, Cuba, 1948.  Chico, a pianist (his music by legendary Bebo Valdes) and Rita, a sensual vocalist, fall in love and chase fame from the Caribbean, to be-bop New York, smoky Paris and high rolling Las Vegas.  Big American cars represent big American success in this Oscar nominated animation.  “A pure delight, a keenly affecting, visually ravishing tale” (Washington Post).

February 28:

To Catch a Thief (1955) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jesse Royce Landis (106 min)

The Master of Suspense’s breeziest caper pits a retired jewel thief against a cool beauty. Black cats prowl and double entendre rules as Grant and Kelly spar, breezing along the Riviera in a sapphire blue Sunbeam Alpine. “A bubbly and effervescent Alfred Hitchcock romantic-suspenser that finds the Master in a relaxed and purely entertaining mood” (TV Guide). Film notes for To Catch a Thief.

March 7:

:Silent Films!

Two Tars (1928) Directed by James Parrott and Leo McCarey. Laurel and Hardy (21 min) and Three Ages (1923) directed by Edward F. Cline and Buster Keaton . Buster Keaton, Margaret Leahy, Wallace Beery (63 min) Live music by David Drazin

Laurel and Hardy, sailors on leave, pick up two troublemaking flappers and prove that traffic jams and road rage are nothing new. Keaton contrasts the love affairs (and transport) of three swains, in the Stone Age, Ancient Rome and the Modern Age. “With no single sustained narrative to pay obeisance to, Keaton’s invention goes calmly beserk” (The Silent Clowns). Film notes for Three Ages.

March 14:

Bluffmaster (2005) Directed by Rohan Sippy.  Abhishek Bachchan, Priyank Chopra, Ritesh Deshmukh (137 min)

The Argentine con man movie, Nueve Reinas, spawned global imitations (Hollywood’s starred Nick Cage) but the Bollywood version sports vivacious comic performances, scintillating music, and, as proof of ineffable style, a 60s Ford Mustang. “Tongue-in-chic, ultra-cool and nobody's fool, Bluffmaster achieves that strange synthesis of spoof and caper which our audiences are not quite prepared for” ( Film Notes for Bluffmaster.

March 21:

Sunset Blvd. (1950) Written and Directed by Billy Wilder.  William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim (110 min).

A crumbling California palazzo is haunted by a reclusive silent screen star and her obsequious butler. Joe Gillis, on the lam from the repo man, stumbles in, drawn into a web of egomania, delusion and desire; a former movie siren’s fate riding on 1929 Isotta Fraschini. “The finest movie ever made about the narcissistic hellhole that is Hollywood" (BBC). Film Notes.


All films are shown in 35mm unless noted, and begin Fridays at 8:00 pm

The galleries and Iris Restaurant will be open prior to screenings

Box Office: (919) 715-5923

Tickets: $7.00/$5.00 NCMA Members

Introductions are by Film Curator Laura Boyes unless otherwise noted.

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