The L.A. Rep-port: 3/24 to 3/30, by Scott Nye
The big happening this week is undoubtedly the annual Noir City series happening at the Egyptian over the next ten days, full of seedy crime films both rare and popular, some virtually unseen and not available on DVD and some standard-bearing classics. This year has an interesting twist – they’re pairing the films by year, showing an A-picture and a B-picture for each night, much as they would have been shown upon release, and proceeding chronologically. They won’t be hitting every year between 1942 and 1953, but they’re getting most of them.
You’re better off just going to the Cinematheque site and browsing the schedule yourself, but my experience with the series over the years has been that it’s hard to really go wrong on any given night. Eddie Muller and Alan Rode of the Film Noir Foundation assemble the program, and they know their stuff, which partially means knowing what plays to an audience. And baby, these films play. I can certainly vouch for This Gun for Hire (1942, 35mm), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950, DCP), and The Big Heat (1953, DCP), but with titles like Quiet Please, Murder (1942, 35mm), Escape in the Fog (1945, 35mm), Behind Green Lights (1946, 35mm), and I Was a Shoplifter (1949, 35mm), I’m excited to see what’s in store for us.
UCLA’s Festival of Preservation winds down with The Lost Moment (1947, 35mm) on Monday. I’ll be sad to see the festival end – this has been an especially eclectic year, bringing back to life many films that have almost never screened since their premiere. The highlights from the six or seven nights I attended have been Juleen Compton’s Stranded, John Reinhardt’s Open Secret, and Marcel Varnel’s Infernal Machine. I hope they find wider audiences and home video distribution soon.
The Lost Moment promises metaphysical overtones, fugue states, and old letters, so it should be a solid night of gothic-tinged drama. It’s actor Martin Gabel’s only film as director, but it was adapted from a Henry James novel, shot by the great Hal Mohr, and stars Robert Cummings and Agnes Moorehead, so I’m feeling pretty good about it. It also screens with an 18-minutes religious postwar animated short by Frank Tashlin. Right on.
Cinefamily continues a couple popular series this week – their for-our-times themed Fight the Power series continues with All the President’s Men (1976, 35mm) and WR: Mysteries of an Organism (1971, 35mm), while their Olivier Assayas retrospective boasts Demonlover (2002, 35mm), Clean (2004, 35mm), and his TV documentary Eldorado (2008, digibeta).
The New Beverly starts the weekend with an excellent Cary Grant double bill – Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings (1939, 35mm) and Josef von Sternberg’s Blonde Venus (1932, 35mm). The former is rightly regarded as a classic, with one of Grant’s finest performances. I haven’t seen the latter, but this is von Sternberg’s strongest period, and these early Grant roles are quite interesting. He hadn’t quite found his footing, but you can see in them how naturally interesting he is to watch, and how eager he was to make an impression. Through Marlene Dietrich and Herbert Marshall in for good measure, you’ve got yourself a picture.
Sunday and Monday brings Milos Forman’s excellent, incredibly funny Czech comedy The Firemen’s Ball (1967, 35mm) alongside Intimate Lighting (1965, 35mm), with – get this – Intimate Lighting writer/director and Firemen’s Ball co-screenwriter Ivan Passer in person on Sunday! How cool is that?
All eyes may be on the Egyptian for their noir series, but if you missed 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, 70mm) last fall at the Egyptian, it plays again at their sister theater, the Aero, Friday through Sunday. It’s quite a sight.
The Nuart’s midnight movie on Friday is Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982/2007, DCP), which is, for my money – I’m saying for me now – the best cut.
The Old Town Musical Hall has a very solid weekend planned, with the Fred Astaire/Rita Hayworth musical You Were Never Lovelier (1942, format unlisted) playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus a showcase of Georges Méliès shorts on Sunday evening. Astaire said Hayworth was his favorite dancing partner, which like, harsh burn to Ginger Rogers bro, and while I’m not as wild about this as almost any of the Astaire/Rogers collaborations, it’s an immensely enjoyable film.