Monthly Archives: May 2013

Practice Your Peace League Salute: Ultra-Rare, Ultra-Weird High Treason Screens in Newly Restored 35mm Print!

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Northwest Chicago Film Society will not be screening films at the Portage Theater this week. We apologize for the inconvenience. This screening has been moved to the Patio Theater

08A_High TreasonPatio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road
Wednesday, June 5 @ 8:00pm
HIGH TREASON
Directed by Maurice Elvey • 1929
Official film history records Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail as the first British talkie—a classic right out of the gate. Had the release of Blackmail been delayed, the trailblazing would’ve been left to High Treason, an eccentric Metropolis rip-off that alternates hectoring pacifism with lingerie peekaboo. Set in a futuristic 1940, High Treason envisions an imminent war between the world’s reigning superpowers, the United States of Europe and the Empire States of the Atlantic. Only the extralegal (and none too peaceful) maneuvering of the Peace League can save a world brought to the brink by scheming munitions manufacturers. Described by the New York Times as “a farrago of nonsense” that nevertheless offered American technicians much to learn, High Treason has been difficult to reevaluate in the intervening eight decades. Originally released in silent and sound versions, only the former was thought to survive until the Library of Congress restored the talkie version in partnership with the Film Foundation, Chace Audio, and the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association. (KW)
70 min • Gaumont British Pictures Corp. • 35mm from the Library of Congress
————

Have you ever thought that the modern media’s feeding frenzy was absolutely hilarious? See where it all begin with Billy Wilder’s black comedy classic.

08B - Ace in the HolePatio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road
Monday, June 10 @ 8:00pm
ACE IN THE HOLE
Directed by Billy Wilder • 1951
After being fired from his last eleven jobs, Kirk Douglas takes that left turn in Albuquerque and convinces the local newspaper editor to hire him on the spot. When he leaves town to cover a rattlesnake competition, Douglas discovers a bigger headline in an abandoned silver mine: the owner of a nearby trading post has been pinned down by fallen timbers. The reporter makes the news, keeping his victim in the mine for days while he creates a media frenzy and charges the public twenty-five cents to get into the surrounding area. Billy Wilder’s gritty, twisted, and menacing follow-up to Sunset Blvd. was hardly what American audiences wanted or expected. (A panicked Paramount withdrew the film and reissued it under the new title The Big Carnival with little success.) Wilder could make you laugh or cry as well as anyone, but Ace in the Hole is a firm kick in the gut. (JA)
111 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Paramount
Preceded by: Selected Cartoon – 16mm – 7 min

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The Anti-Restoration of Portrait of Jason: A Conversation with Dennis Doros

POJposterWhen Portrait of Jason opened in 1967, there were no LGBT film festivals. Major newspapers and respectable citizens referred to gays and lesbians in appallingly derogatory language. Civil rights pioneer Bayard Rustin had been shunted to the sidelines by Adam Clayton Powell, for fear that this homosexuality would undermine the movement.  To be black and gay meant a life on the margin of the margins.

And here was Jason Holliday talking for nearly two hours about his brave, bawdy life before the camera.

There was some precedent for Portrait of Jason in Andy Warhol’s flurry of talkies, particularly the Ron Tavel-scripted Fire Island gabfest My Hustler. Warhol also made film portraits of uncomfortable intensity—Edie Sedgwick going about her daily business in The Poor Little Rich Girl, for example.

The debt to Warhol is economic and logistical, not just aesthetic. The unprecedented mainstream interest in Warhol’s The Chelsea Girls strained the passive distribution capacity of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, which booked mostly college showings and underground establishments. To break into first-run theaters coast-to-coast, Jonas Mekas, Shirley Clarke, and Louis Brigante created the more commercially-minded Film-Makers Distribution Center. Portrait of Jason would be handled by the new FMDC, a potential cross-over hit in an era when Hollywood had largely missed recent upheavals in American taste. Holliday even cut a comedy LP. Continue reading

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Portrait of Jason Chicago Restoration Premiere
Screens Wednesday, 7pm at the Music Box

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Northwest Chicago Film Society will not be screening films at the Portage Theater this week. We apologize for the inconvenience.

PORTRAIT OF JASON
PLEASE NOTE NEW LOCATION AND START TIME

Parking information for the Music Box HERE

Wednesday, May 29 @ 7:00pm
The Music Box Theatre
– 3733 N. Southport Ave. – $5.00 per ticket

PORTRAIT OF JASON
Directed by Shirley Clarke • 1967
Armed with an Éclair 16mm camera and the most basic sound and lighting equipment, Shirley Clarke and her small crew holed up in her Chelsea Hotel apartment for twelve hours with hustler, cabaret mainstay, and seasoned raconteur Jason Holliday. They emerged with some kind of masterpiece. Before the camera, Holliday (né Aaron Payne of Trenton, New Jersey) spins the most rambunctious autobiography imaginable. Mixing treasured routines, dirty jokes, guilt-free confessions, and bullshit revelations, Holliday lies through his teeth to create the performance of a lifetime. Newly restored by Milestone Films and the Academy Film Archive after an exhaustive search for the best surviving materials and a highly publicized Kickstarter campaign, Portrait of Jason remains an essential document of one queer, black man’s adventures in crazy, pre-Stonewall America. (KW)
Chicago Restoration Premiere co-presented with Reeling and Black Cinema House.
105 min • Filmmakers’ Distribution Center • 35mm from Milestone Films

Read the rave reviews in: Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, New City, Windy City Times

——–

And don’t forget to come back next week for another new restoration that’s queer in whole ‘nother way! LOCATION TBA

07B_High Treason
Wednesday, June 5 @ 7:30pm
HIGH TREASON
Directed by Maurice Elvey • 1929
Official film history records Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail as the first British talkie—a classic right out of the gate. Had the release of Blackmail been delayed, the trailblazing would’ve been left to High Treason, an eccentric Metropolis rip-off that alternates hectoring pacifism with lingerie peekaboo. Set in a futuristic 1940, High Treason envisions an imminent war between the world’s reigning superpowers, the United States of Europe and the Empire States of the Atlantic. Only the extralegal (and none too peaceful) maneuvering of the Peace League can save a world brought to the brink by scheming munitions manufacturers. Described by the New York Times as “a farrago of nonsense” that nevertheless offered American technicians much to learn, High Treason has been difficult to reevaluate in the intervening eight decades. Originally released in silent and sound versions, only the former was thought to survive until the Library of Congress restored the talkie version in partnership with the Film Foundation, Chace Audio, and the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association. (KW)
95 min • Gaumont British Pictures Corp. • 35mm from the Library of Congress
Preceded by: King of the Kongo, Ch. 5: “Danger in the Dark” (Richard Thorpe, 1929) –  16mm – 16 min

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Screens Wednesday, 7pm at the Music Box

BREAKING NEWS: All I Desire Moved to the Patio Theater; Portrait of Jason Moved to the Music Box

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Northwest Chicago Film Society will not be screening films at the Portage Theater this week. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Please note new screening locations and times:
All I Desire – May 27 @ 8pm – The Patio Theater – 6008 W. Irving Park Road
Portrait of Jason – May 29 @ 7pm – The Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.

Help us spread the word! Please notify all your Film Society friends of the new locations.

Monday, May 27 @ 8pm
Presented at the Patio TheaterOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
ALL I DESIRE
Directed by Douglas Sirk • 1953
Barbara Stanwyck returns to Riverdale, Wisconsin, ten years after abandoning her family for a career on the stage. Hoping not to disappoint her daughter Lily (Lori Nelson), who invited her to come see her stage debut in a high school play, Stanwyck convinces her bitter ex-husband (Richard Carlson) and daughter Joyce (Marcia Henderson) that her failed career is a success. Buried love affairs resurface and the whole cast is either emotionally wounded or confused, but the poisonously curious, prying small town is the nastiest character of them all. Bridging a gap between his trilogy of Technicolor Americana musicals and his career-defining melodramas, All I Desire is an honest, forgiving, and sometimes painful examination of small town life at the turn of the century. It’s also melodrama at its most delicious: in a scene only Sirk could have directed, Stanwyck confronts Joyce, who’s never forgiven her for leaving: “We’re a big disappointment to each other, aren’t we? You’ve got a mother with no principles; I’ve got a daughter with no guts.” (JA)
79 min • Universal-International • 35mm from Universal

————–

Move over, Stanwyck! There’s a new queen of the screen.

PORTRAIT OF JASON
Wednesday, May 29 @ 7:00pm
Presented at the Music Box Theatre
PORTRAIT OF JASON
Directed by Shirley Clarke • 1967
Armed with an Éclair 16mm camera and the most basic sound and lighting equipment, Shirley Clarke and her small crew holed up in her Chelsea Hotel apartment for twelve hours with hustler, cabaret mainstay, and seasoned raconteur Jason Holliday. They emerged with some kind of masterpiece. Before the camera, Holliday (né Aaron Payne of Trenton, New Jersey) spins the most rambunctious autobiography imaginable. Mixing treasured routines, dirty jokes, guilt-free confessions, and bullshit revelations, Holliday lies through his teeth to create the performance of a lifetime. Newly restored by Milestone Films and the Academy Film Archive after an exhaustive search for the best surviving materials and a highly publicized Kickstarter campaign, Portrait of Jason remains an essential document of one queer, black man’s adventures in crazy, pre-Stonewall America. (KW)
Chicago Restoration Premiere co-presented with Reeling and Black Cinema House.
105 min • Filmmakers’ Distribution Center • 35mm from Milestone Films

Read the rave reviews in: Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, New City, Windy City Times

Please watch this space for news about future screenings!

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Beyond Love, Beyond Death, Beyond Cinema: Zardoz
Strangest, Sexiest Sci-Fi Sensation Ever in 35mm!

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

05A_Zardoz
Wednesday, May 22 @ 7:30pm
ZARDOZ
Directed by John Boorman • 1974
The poster promised a mind-blowing, adults-only science fiction experience—Beyond 1984, Beyond 2001, Beyond Love, Beyond Death. Audiences got all that and sinewy Sean Connery in a post-Bond bender, sporting a ponytail and a loincloth as monosyllabic killing machine Zed. Appointed with an endless supply of guns from a talking stone head hovering in the sky, Zed keeps the peace by slaughtering the unwashed hordes—until he learns to read and discovers a world beyond his brutal plain. Skeptically adopted by a commune of entitled immortals led by Charlotte Rampling and Sara Kestelman, Zed single-handedly upends the balance of life on Earth. Gratuitously ridiculed upon its release (in all fairness, the original prints looked like dishwater), Zardoz remains an ambitious and sincere statement from Point Blank director John Boorman—and the final word on the disintegration of Flower Power idealism. (KW)
105 min • 20th Century Fox • 35mm vault print from 20th Century Fox
Preceded by: TBA

———

Whoa, slow down, boy. You’re blowing my mind. Whatever happened to a good, old-fashioned melodrama?

05B_All I Desire

Monday, May 27 @ 7:30pm
ALL I DESIRE
Directed by Douglas Sirk • 1953
Barbara Stanwyck returns to Riverdale, Wisconsin, ten years after abandoning her family for a career on the stage. Hoping not to disappoint her daughter Lily (Lori Nelson), who invited her to come see her stage debut in a high school play, Stanwyck convinces her bitter ex-husband (Richard Carlson) and daughter Joyce (Marcia Henderson) that her failed career is a success. Buried love affairs resurface and the whole cast is either emotionally wounded or confused, but the poisonously curious, prying small town is the nastiest character of them all. Bridging a gap between his trilogy of Technicolor Americana musicals and his career-defining melodramas, All I Desire is an honest, forgiving, and sometimes painful examination of small town life at the turn of the century. It’s also melodrama at its most delicious: in a scene only Sirk could have directed, Stanwyck confronts Joyce, who’s never forgiven her for leaving: “We’re a big disappointment to each other, aren’t we? You’ve got a mother with no principles; I’ve got a daughter with no guts.” (JA)
79 min • Universal-International • 35mm from Universal
Preceded by: “Betty Boop’s Prize Show” (Fleischer Studios, 1934) – 16mm – 7 min

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Strangest, Sexiest Sci-Fi Sensation Ever in 35mm!

Fear of a Man…Fear of the Swamp…Fear of MURDER!
De Toth’s Dark Waters in 35mm This Wednesday!

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.
04A_dark_waters
Wednesday, May 15 @ 7:30pm
DARK WATERS
Directed by André de Toth • 1944
Oil heiress Merle Oberon survives a Nazi submarine attack, but soon discovers fates worse than death. Oberon journeys to Louisiana to live peaceably at her aunt and uncle’s plantation but winds up menaced by everybody from shady family friend Thomas Mitchell to Cajun overseer Elisha Cook, Jr. (!), all of whom share an uncommon curiosity about the minute details of her trauma. Can recitation and recollection depose reality? Released during the golden age of woman-in-peril thrillers and spiced up with all the standard-issue psychological trimmings, Dark Waters remains an outstanding example of its hazy, semi-feminist subgenre. (With a screenplay by Rebecca and Suspicion scribe Joan Harrison, its pedigree is beyond dispute.) Dark Waters succeeds in large measure because of de Toth’s attention to texture and atmosphere—a studio rendition of Southern Gothic so expert that it managed to fool real bayou dwellers. (KW)
90 min • United Artists • 35mm from private collections
Preceded by: Columbia Comedy Two-Reeler “You Dear Boy” (Jules White, 1943) – 16mm – 16 min

———–

In case you’re entertaining the crazy idea of not attending Zardoz next Wednesday, we present you with this self-explanatory still…

04B_Zardoz
Wednesday, May 22 @ 7:30pm
ZARDOZ
Directed by John Boorman • 1974
The poster promised a mind-blowing, adults-only science fiction experience—Beyond 1984, Beyond 2001, Beyond Love, Beyond Death. Audiences got all that and sinewy Sean Connery in a post-Bond bender, sporting a ponytail and a loincloth as monosyllabic killing machine Zed. Appointed with an endless supply of guns from a talking stone head hovering in the sky, Zed keeps the peace by slaughtering the unwashed hordes—until he learns to read and discovers a world beyond his brutal plain. Skeptically adopted by a commune of entitled immortals led by Charlotte Rampling and Sara Kestelman, Zed single-handedly upends the balance of life on Earth. Gratuitously ridiculed upon its release (in all fairness, the original prints looked like dishwater), Zardoz remains an ambitious and sincere statement from Point Blank director John Boorman—and the final word on the disintegration of Flower Power idealism. (KW)
105 min • 20th Century Fox • 35mm vault print from 20th Century Fox
Preceded by: TBA

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De Toth’s Dark Waters in 35mm This Wednesday!

Young Girls of Rochefort in 35mm: Love Under the Sign of Gemini and More Missed Connections than Craigslist

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

03A_Rochefort

Monday, May 13 @ 7:30pm
THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT (LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT)
Directed by Jacques Demy • 1967
It’s another summer in the French port city of Rochefort: you can’t walk down the sunny boulevards without bumping into hunky, dancing sailors or poetry-loving traveling carnies. Twin sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac canoodle and caterwaul about the humdrum happenings, longing for the urbane depravity of Paris. Although director and lyricist Jacques Demy takes the Technicolor MGM musicals as his model (the prevailing color scheme might be described as birthday cake pastel), Rochefort is more than a French love letter to American optimism and ingenuity: for Demy, the musical is not so much a genre as a viable template for envisioning and engaging with the world. Featuring a stellar jazz score by Michel Legrand and a supporting cast that includes Danielle Darrieux, Michel Piccoli, Jacques Perrin, George Chakiris, and a spry, Francophone Gene Kelly. (KW)
In French with English subtitles
125 min • Parc Film / Madeleine Films • 35mm from Park Circus
Preceded by: “Umbrella” (Qolga) (Mikheil Kobakhidze, 1967) – 16mm – 20 min

—–

We realize that some of our patrons don’t like feeling elated and effervescent at the movies. Well then, we’ve got just the movie for you, too!

03B_dark_watersWednesday, May 15 @ 7:30pm
DARK WATERS
Directed by André de Toth • 1944
Oil heiress Merle Oberon survives a Nazi submarine attack, but soon discovers fates worse than death. Oberon journeys to Louisiana to live peaceably at her aunt and uncle’s plantation but winds up menaced by everybody from shady family friend Thomas Mitchell to Cajun overseer Elisha Cook, Jr. (!), all of whom share an uncommon curiosity about the minute details of her trauma. Can recitation and recollection depose reality? Released during the golden age of woman-in-peril thrillers and spiced up with all the standard-issue psychological trimmings, Dark Waters remains an outstanding example of its hazy, semi-feminist subgenre. (With a screenplay by Rebecca and Suspicion scribe Joan Harrison, its pedigree is beyond dispute.) Dark Waters succeeds in large measure because of de Toth’s attention to texture and atmosphere—a studio rendition of Southern Gothic so expert that it managed to fool real bayou dwellers. (KW)
90 min • United Artists • 35mm from private collections
Preceded by: Columbia Comedy Two-Reeler “You Dear Boy” (Jules White, 1943) – 16mm – 16 min

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Gershwin, Gaynor, and Brendel in An Operetta of Del-ish-i-ous Proportions – This Wednesday in 35mm

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

02A_Delicious

Wednesday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
DELICIOUS
Directed by David Butler • 1931
Most studios responded to the talkie revolution by importing high-class talent from Broadway. Fox, on the other hand, had the chutzpah to put forward its immensely popular silent screen team of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell (7th Heaven, Street Angel) as the latest light opera sensation. When their bubbly musical debut Sunny Side Up proved a blockbuster, Fox ordered a follow-up and hired no less than George and Ira Gershwin to provide the score—the brothers’ first work for the movies. From this innocuous little story—Scottish immigrant Gaynor meets boy millionaire Farrell in steerage en route to Ellis Island—spring several popular Gershwin standards, including “Blah Blah Blah” and the “Second Rhapsody.” (The latter’s introduced in an extended sequence as Gaynor flees through an expressionist nightmare of Gotham.) An uncommonly optimistic vision of the American melting pot in the depths of the Great Depression—there’s even room for the antics of El Brendel. (KW)
Co-presented with portoluz – Old/New Dreams
106 min • Fox Film Corp. • 35mm from 20th Century Fox
Preceded by: Laurel & Hardy in “Putting Pants on Phillip” (Clyde Bruckman, 1927) – 16mm – 21 min

——-

You don’t like musicals, eh? Any chance our Monday show can convince you otherwise?

02B_Rochefort
Monday, May 13 @ 7:30pm
THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT (LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT)
Directed by Jacques Demy • 1967
It’s another summer in the French port city of Rochefort: you can’t walk down the sunny boulevards without bumping into hunky, dancing sailors or poetry-loving traveling carnies. Twin sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac canoodle and caterwaul about the humdrum happenings, longing for the urbane depravity of Paris. Although director and lyricist Jacques Demy takes the Technicolor MGM musicals as his model (the prevailing color scheme might be described as birthday cake pastel), Rochefort is more than a French love letter to American optimism and ingenuity: for Demy, the musical is not so much a genre as a viable template for envisioning and engaging with the world. Featuring a stellar jazz score by Michel Legrand and a supporting cast that includes Danielle Darrieux, Michel Piccoli, Jacques Perrin, George Chakiris, and a spry, Francophone Gene Kelly. (KW)
In French with English subtitles
125 min • Parc Film / Madeleine Films • 35mm from Park Circus
Preceded by: “Umbrella” (Qolga) (Mikheil Kobakhidze, 1967) – 16mm – 20 min

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