Monthly Archives: December 2013

Got the Christmas Blues? Let Allen Baron’s
Blast of Silence Dampen Your Holiday Spirit

Gene Siskel Film Center – 164 N. State Street
For the full schedule of our classic film screenings, please click here.

18B BLAST
Sunday, December 29 @ 7:30pm
BLAST OF SILENCE
Directed by Allen Baron • 1961
“You were born in pain.” A proto-punk film noir shot without permits on a scuzzball budget, Blast of Silence is practically a one-man show for director-writer-actor Allen Baron. The former comic book artist-turned-independent filmmaker stars as a square Cleveland hit man called away to New York City to fulfill a contract on a minor mobster. Floating through Manhattan during the loneliest time of the year—the week between Christmas and New Year’s—Baron takes a tentative stab at rekindling his romance with an old flame (Molly McCarthy) and falls in with burly weapons dealer Big Ralph (Larry Tucker). Narrated by an uncredited Lionel Stander in a singularly abrasive style (“the second person accusative,” in Dave Kehr’s concise formulation), Blast of Silence stands as an unaccountable debut. Remarkably, this hate-flecked calling card was picked up as a B-feature by Universal and yielded a four-decade career in TV-directing for Baron. If you think the holidays go down easier with a bottle of scotch, this is your kind of movie. (KW)
77 min • Magla Productions • 35mm from Universal

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Blast of Silence Dampen Your Holiday Spirit

Spend Christmas with the Kockenlockers! Sturges’s
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek – Archival 35mm Print

Gene Siskel Film Center – 164 N. State Street
For the full schedule of our classic film screenings, please click here.

17B MIRACLESunday, December 22 @ 7:30pm
THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN’S CREEK
Directed by Preston Sturges • 1944
After spending a drunken, sin-soaked night sending off six soldiers, Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) wakes up pregnant and married, but she can’t remember how or to whom. Eddie Bracken is the local 4-H boy who has been in love with Hutton for as long as he can remember and jumps at the opportunity to take responsibility for the incident and indirectly sire an heir. The Hays Office warned that a film with such a spindly moral backbone should have no resemblance to the story of Jesus Christ (they also only approved ten pages of the script), but The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek is an obvious and even touching play on the immaculate conception, and finds Sturges, who Manny Farber called “the most spectacular manipulator of sheer humor since Mark Twain,” at his most out-of-control. With William Demarest, Brian Donlevy, and Akim Tamiroff. (JA)
98 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress, permission Paramount

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But wait … there’s one more

18A BLAST
Sunday, December 29 @ 7:30pm
BLAST OF SILENCE
Directed by Allen Baron • 1961
“You were born in pain.” A proto-punk film noir shot without permits on a scuzzball budget, Blast of Silence is practically a one-man show for director-writer-actor Allen Baron. The former comic book artist-turned-independent filmmaker stars as a square Cleveland hit man called away to New York City to fulfill a contract on a minor mobster. Floating through Manhattan during the loneliest time of the year—the week between Christmas and New Year’s—Baron takes a tentative stab at rekindling his romance with an old flame (Molly McCarthy) and falls in with burly weapons dealer Big Ralph (Larry Tucker). Narrated by an uncredited Lionel Stander in a singularly abrasive style (“the second person accusative,” in Dave Kehr’s concise formulation), Blast of Silence stands as an unaccountable debut. Remarkably, this hate-flecked calling card was picked up as a B-feature by Universal and yielded a four-decade career in TV-directing for Baron. If you think the holidays go down easier with a bottle of scotch, this is your kind of movie. (KW)
77 min • Magla Productions • 35mm from Universal

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The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek – Archival 35mm Print

16B COLOSSUSGene Siskel Film Center – 164 N. State Street
For the full schedule of our classic film screenings, please click here.

Sunday, December 15 @ 7:30pm
COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT
Directed by Joseph Sargent • 1970
A visionary sci-fi yarn that unfolds entirely in dingy government offices and labs with floor-to-ceiling mainframes, Colossus: The Forbin Project asks, “Why elect a president when we can have a computer-king instead?” Forbin (Eric Braeden) has designed an intelligent supercomputer to remove that sissy human factor from nuclear brinkmanship and gets the Pentagon to go along with it.  But soon after Colossus is juiced up, it finds a crazy-smart penpal in its hitherto-unknown Soviet counterpart. Together the two computers will charter a more perfect world with a few strategic missiles. Just don’t try disconnecting them. TV veterans Braeden and Sargent apply their nondescript craftsmanship to a project so taut and economical it might as well be called Playhouse 90 Meets IBM. (Small screen credentials and pan-and-scan DVDs aside, Forbin is a formidable widescreen production.) Shelved by the studio for two years until the far-out success of 2001: A Space Odyssey confirmed hippie appetite for evil computers, this remains a serious and literate stab at sci-fi. (KW)
100 min  • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal

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Christmas is just around the corner, which means it’s time for another off-beat Yuletide choice from the Northwest Chicago Film Society.

17A MIRACLE
Sunday, December 22 @ 7:30pm
THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN’S CREEK
Directed by Preston Sturges • 1944
After spending a drunken, sin-soaked night sending off six soldiers, Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) wakes up pregnant and married, but she can’t remember how or to whom. Eddie Bracken is the local 4-H boy who has been in love with Hutton for as long as he can remember and jumps at the opportunity to take responsibility for the incident and indirectly sire an heir. The Hays Office warned that a film with such a spindly moral backbone should have no resemblance to the story of Jesus Christ (they also only approved ten pages of the script), but The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek is an obvious and even touching play on the immaculate conception, and finds Sturges, who Manny Farber called “the most spectacular manipulator of sheer humor since Mark Twain,” at his most out-of-control. With William Demarest, Brian Donlevy, and Akim Tamiroff. (JA)
98 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress, permission Paramount

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Ninotchka – Don’t Pronounce It, See It!
New 35mm Print on Sunday Night at the Siskel

Gene Siskel Film Center – 164 N. State Street
For the full schedule of our classic film screenings, please click here.

15B NINOTCHKASunday, December 8 @ 7:30pm
NINOTCHKA
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1939
Ninotchka, a no-nonsense Soviet envoy (Greta Garbo), is sent to check on three adorable Communists (Lubitsch regulars Sig Ruman and Felix Bressart and WWII refugee Alexander Granach) who were supposed to be selling off jewels confiscated from the ex-Grand Duchess of Russia (Ina Claire). To Garbo’s disgust, they have been taken in by the delightful ways of Parisian capitalism by way of Melvyn Douglas, who attempts to buy back the jewels for Claire but eventually becomes more interested in seducing Ninotchka. In many ways the ultimate Lubitsch picture, Otis Ferguson also noted that Ninotchka was the “first film with any airiness at all to discover that communists are people and may be treated as such in a story.” Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, and Walter Reisch wrote a screenplay filled with incredibly human one-liners. And Garbo in her first comic role is nothing less than perfect. (JA)
110 min • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer • 35mm from Warner Brothers

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If Ninotchka doesn’t fill your appetite for Communists, commissars, and Soviet slyness, come back next week for a very special Cold War treat…

16 A COLOSSUSSunday, December 15 @ 7:30pm
COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT
Directed by Joseph Sargent • 1970
A visionary sci-fi yarn that unfolds entirely in dingy government offices and labs with floor-to-ceiling mainframes, Colossus: The Forbin Project asks, “Why elect a president when we can have a computer-king instead?” Forbin (Eric Braeden) has designed an intelligent supercomputer to remove that sissy human factor from nuclear brinkmanship and gets the Pentagon to go along with it.  But soon after Colossus is juiced up, it finds a crazy-smart penpal in its hitherto-unknown Soviet counterpart. Together the two computers will charter a more perfect world with a few strategic missiles. Just don’t try disconnecting them. TV veterans Braeden and Sargent apply their nondescript craftsmanship to a project so taut and economical it might as well be called Playhouse 90 Meets IBM. (Small screen credentials and pan-and-scan DVDs aside, Forbin is a formidable widescreen production.) Shelved by the studio for two years until the far-out success of 2001: A Space Odyssey confirmed hippie appetite for evil computers, this remains a serious and literate stab at sci-fi. (KW)
100 min  • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal

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New 35mm Print on Sunday Night at the Siskel