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A Sterling Legacy: British Directors in Hollywood

Synopsis:

A STERLING LEGACY: BRITISH DIRECTORS IN HOLLYWOOD

Presented in association with the British Consulate in Los Angeles, this series pays tribute to the artistic contribution made by British-born directors working within the American film industry. Charles Chaplin arrived in LA in 1910 – a new 35mm print of his 1931 masterpiece City Lights will be screened four times on April 25/26 – and over the next 20 years a constant flow of comically inventive shorts and features made him the most influential and renowned filmmaker in the world. More recent arrivals like Tony Richardson and Alexander Mackendrick exhibited a uniquely British flair for satire, while hard-hitting realists like John Schlesinger and John Boorman blended seamlessly into the new realism of 60s/70s Hollywood with films like Marathon Man and Point Blank. Few can equal the influence of Alfred Hitchcock as the inventor of the suspense genre that already bore his name when Selznick brought him to Hollywood in 1939: a pairing of Hitchcock’s next-to-last British film and his only American re-make from his British cannon opens the series. Equally successful at genre – the horror film, the women’s picture, the location drama - were directors like James Whale, Charles Laughton, Edmund Goulding, and Ken Annakin whose films round out this brief survey.


April 4th at 7:30 pm

THE LADY VANISHES
1938/b&w/97 min.
Scr: Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder; dir: Alfred Hitchcock; w/ Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty.

When dotty old Miss Froy vanishes from a trans-European train that is snowbound in the Balkans, a poor musician and a beautiful heiress team up to uncover a nest of spies while falling in love. “Some of the finest examples of Hitchcock’s touches… directed with such skill and velocity that it has come to represent the quintessence of screen suspense.” – Pauline Kael


April 4th at 9:20 pm

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH 1956/color/120 min.
VistaVision | Scr: John Michael Hayes; dir: Alfred Hitchcock; w/ James Stewart, Doris Day, Brenda de Banzie.

From a sunny Marakesh medina teeming with assassins to the sinister back streets of rainy London, a driven father races the clock to find his kidnapped son. The American remake “replaces the British version's quirky social observations with a typically '50s examination of the family under melodramatic stress. Stewart and Day are the complacent couple… and their anxiety about their boy's safety steadily undermines the apparent happiness of a marriage founded on habit and compromise.” – Time Out



April 11th at 7:30 pm

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN 1935/b&w/75 min.
Scr: William Hurlbut; dir: James Whale; w/ Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Elsa Lanchester, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger.

Whale shows his affinity for outsiders and freaks in his monster movie sequel that enhances a melancholy atmosphere with striking visuals, campy humor, and a thunderbolt hairdo. “The best of the Frankenstein movies - a sly, subversive work that smuggled shocking material past the censors by disguising it in the trappings of horror. Some movies age; others ripen. Seen today, Whale's masterpiece is more surprising than when it was made because today's audiences are more alert to its buried hints of homosexuality, necrophilia and sacrilege.“ – Roger Ebert


April 11th at 9:00 pm

NIGHTMARE ALLEY 1947/b&w/110 min.
Scr: Jules Furthman; dir: Edmund Goulding; w/ Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray

Like Whale, Goulding had demons, but in a career largely devoted to women’s pictures, they surfaced late in this pitiless tale of a touring carnival con man destroyed by his primal urges. “Remarkably sordid for so high-profile a release… and excitingly tawdry, this backstage excursion through the showbiz lower depths was evidently initiated at Power's request and involved a number of high-powered professionals. The early sequences are nearly timeless in introducing the carnival world of marks and rubes, Gypsy fortune-tellers, dimwitted strongmen, and the unseen geek—a broken-down alcoholic who bites the heads off live chickens for a daily bottle of booze and a place to sleep.” – J. Hoberman, Village Voice



April 12th at 7:30 pm

ACROSS THE BRIDGE 1957/b&w/103 min.
Scr: Guy Elmes, Denis Freeman; dir: Ken Annakin; w/ Rod Steiger

Special Guest: Ken Annakin


An imperious, mean-spirited German financier wanted for murder flees into Mexico where he is caught in an existential trap. Based on the novel by Grahame Greene, Annakin’s film is rich in ironic twists and features a towering performance by Steiger. “This overlooked black-and-white thriller provides a compelling psychological study of a fugitive’s greed and his love for a dog that gradually becomes his conscience…and that ultimately seals his destiny.” – Brit Movie


April 12th at 9:30 pm

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER 1955/b&w/93 min.
Scr: James Agee; dir: Charles Laughton; w/ Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish

Laughton directed only one film, a poetic allegory about good vs evil in which the struggle between a deranged minister and two innocent children plays out in a gothic Southern milieu. The b&w images by cinematographer Stanley Cortez are legendary. “Evokes a Grimm landscape where love is constantly and erratically at war with the forces of hate. Perverse yet remarkably life-affirming, Night of the Hunter may be the best film ever made about spiritual perseverance.” – Slant



April 18th at 7:30 pm

DON'T MAKE WAVES 1967/color/97 min.
Panavision | Scr: George Kirgo, Maurice Richlin; dir: Alexander Mackendrick; w/ Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale, Sharon Tate

In Mackendrick’s final U.S. film, Curtis excels as a swimming pool salesman living in a pop-colored California beach community dotted with beauty queens and body builders. “The one gem out of nine million bad Tony Curtis comedy vehicles… has good direction, a funny performance by Tate, and a catchy title song by the Byrds.” – Leonard Maltin


April 18th at 9:20 pm

THE LOVED ONE 1965/b&w/122 min.
Scr: Terry Southern, Christopher Isherwood; dir: Tony Richardson; w/ Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters, Anjanette Corner, Rod Steiger, Dana Andrews, Milton Berle, John Gielgud.

Inspired by Evelyn Waugh’s satire about the American way of death, recent arrival Richardson crammed his film with SoCal archetypes including Morse as the naïve British manager of a mafia-owned mortuary, Comer as the necrophilic cosmetivian Aimee Thantogenos, Steiger as a bleached-blonde, limp-wristed embalmer named Mr. Joyboy, and Liberace as a casket salesman. “The fine cinematography by Haskell Wexler adds to the mood of the film, relecting the macabre surroundings… and while burial customs are the main satirical focus, potshots are also taken at the military bureaucracy, overeating, and the film business.” – Magill’s Survey of Cinema



April 19th at 7:30 pm

MARATHON MAN 1976/color/125 min.
scr: William Goldman; dir: John Schlesinger; w/ Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider, Marthe Keller.

In this box office smash, Schlesinger cast his Midnight Cowboy star as an NYU grad student and committed jogger who goes on the run when his brother is knifed to death by diamond smugglers. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Olivier chilled audiences as a former Auchwitz dentist who tortures Hoffman in the dentist chair. “What director John Schlesinger has done, wisely, is to concentrate on a series of scenes that hold us so firmly while we're watching them, that questions don't enter our minds… As well-crafted escapist entertainment, as a diabolical thriller, the movie works with relentless skill.” – Roger Ebert


April 19th at 9:45 pm

POINT BLANK 1967/color/92 min./Panavision
Scr: Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse, Rafe Newhouse; dir: John Boorman; w/ Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson ,John Vernon.

Marvin miraculously survives a brutal double-cross on deserted Alcatraz but is stymied in his attempt to collect his loot from a faceless corporate mob. Boorman’s time-fractured film is a nihilistic nightmare and one of the most influential films of the 60s. “The actual and the imaginary are perfectly joined in Point Blank. For it is not only an account of Marvin’s remorseless and romantic hacking away at the syndicate, but his dream in the instant that he dies... A masterpiece.“ – David Thomson



April 25 & 26 at 7:30 pm & 9:30 pm

CITY LIGHTS 1931/b&w/87 min./silent with music
Scr/dir: Charles Chaplin; w/ Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill

In this tender comedy/drama, the Tramp is mistaken for a millionaire when he tries to help a blind flower vendor regain her sight. Despite three years of personal and artistic setbacks, Chaplin’s innovative blend of slapstick and pathos resulted in his most emotionally compelling film. “At the end of City Lights, the blind girl who has regained her sight thanks to the Tramp, sees him for the first time… The camera just exchanges a few quiet close-ups of the emotions that shift and intensify in each face. It is enough to shrivel the heart and it is the greatest piece of acting and highest moment in movies.” – James Agee


 

Genre:

Classic Hollywood