Monthly Archives: January 2016

Get Magnascoped: Rare Naval Epic Old Ironsides in 35mm, with Live Organ Accompaniment from Jay Warren

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

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Wednesday, February 3rd @ 7:30 PM
OLD IRONSIDES
Directed by James Cruze • 1926
A premiere example of early epic action cinema, Old Ironsides plops Charles Farrell, Esther Ralston, and the crew of the merchant vessel Esther into the Battle of Tripoli Harbor alongside the titular ship, the USS Constitution. When Ralston is kidnapped by pirates in the Mediterranean, Farrell, with the assistance of legendary bruisers Wallace Beery and George Bancroft, takes it as his patriotic duty to rescue her and aid the US Navy’s efforts in stamping out piracy. The 1926 premiere of Old Ironsides was also the debut of the newly developed Magnascope widescreen process which involved opening the screen’s masking and switching lenses to magnify the film’s image during key scenes. While the popular narrative of film history positions widescreen projection as an enticement to viewers who had ditched the movies for television, Magnascope was one of many widescreen processes developed in the silent era and remained in common use through the 1940s. Used exclusively, in this instance, during the film’s battle sequences, the shift to a larger image gives Old Ironsides’s already remarkable action set-pieces an extra jolt, providing an experience that is the essence of cinematic spectacle. (CW)
111 min. • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from the Library of Congress
Preceded by: “The Pillar of Fire” (George Méliès, 1899) – 35mm – 1 min

Presented in Magnascope, with live organ accompaniment from Jay Warren.

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Moontide – Jean Gabin’s Franco-American Beachside Noir Screens in a Pristine 35mm Print from the Studio Vault

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

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Wednesday, January 27th @ 7:30 PM
MOONTIDE
Directed by Archie Mayo • 1942
Long admired for setting art house hearts aflutter with his sweaty magnetism in French imports like Grand Illusion and Pépé le moko, Jean Gabin abruptly found himself in Hollywood in the wake of the Nazi occupation. His American debut, Moontide, was a cockeyed passion project adapted by novelist John O’Hara from a lascivious book that Gabin selected himself. Gabin stars as Bobo, the San Pablo dock worker with a funny name and a decidedly unfunny demeanor. After saving prostitute Anna (Ida Lupino) from suicide, the big lug tries his damnedest to turn his rented bait barge into a rickety paragon of domestic bliss—but how long can he sustain the charade when his jilted buddy Tiny (Thomas Mitchell) holds a deadly secret? After Gabin clashed with the project’s original director, Fritz Lang, Moontide was handed over to underrated journeyman Mayo, who managed to sustain the movie’s delicately ethereal tone.  The resulting movie plays like an improbably romantic, proudly homegrown answer to the landmarks of French poetic realism (Le jour se lève, Le quai des brumes).  (KW)
94 min • 20th Century-Fox • 35mm from Fox Library Services

Preceded by: Tom & Jerry in “Cruise Cat” (Joseph Barbera & William Hanna, 1952) – 35mm – 7 min

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Are You Ready for the Great Atomic Power?: Decontaminating Doom Town

DT_13Before tonight’s screening of Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice, we’ll be presenting a rare short: Doom Town. Call it a prelude or a grim appetizer to Tarkovsky’s vision of the apocalypse, but Doom Town is so compelling in its own right that it deserves a few words. Originally released in polarized 3-D, Doom Town will be screened in 2-D, in a print made directly from one of Doom Town’s original camera negatives.

Whenever I try to explain the Film Society’s interest in physical media to a mixed audience, I shamelessly shoplift from other disciplines. Approach film prints like an anthropologist, I suggest. Who made them? Who used them? What do the print’s material characteristics suggest about its origins and purpose? Continue reading

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Apocalypse Now: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Staggering Final Film
The Sacrifice Screens in a New 35mm Print – Jan. 20

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

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Wednesday, January 20th @ 7:30 PM
THE SACRIFICE
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky • 1986
As bomber jets overhead signal the start of World War III, a man makes a deal with God for his own life in exchange for an end to the war. The final film by Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, Mirror) is without compromise. Punishingly long, devastatingly beautiful, and ultimately humbling, The Sacrifice was completed as the director was dying of cancer and struggling through years of crippling bureaucracy as an expatriate of the Soviet Union. Shot by frequent Ingmar Bergman collaborator Sven Nykvist, The Sacrifice winds through long, complex tracking shots and uses analog optical printing to find eerie spaces in between color and black and white. Unapologetically spiritual before Terrence Malick made it hip (for a moment), The Sacrifice earned unusual praise from Dave Kehr in the Chicago Tribune: “Nothing could be less fashionable than The Sacrifice… To conceive a movie as a prayer — this is a tremendous gesture at a time when movies are becoming smaller and smaller, more and more trivial. It’s hardly a gesture designed to attract a large public, but it remains a gesture of incredible courage.” (JA)
In Swedish with English subtitles
142 min • Svenska Filminstitutet • New 35mm from Kino Lorber

Preceded by: “Doom Town” (Gerald Schnitzer, 1953) – 35mm – 15 min

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The Sacrifice Screens in a New 35mm Print – Jan. 20

New Season Begins Jan 13: Hathaway’s Peter Ibbetson
A Triumph of Surrealist Thought – Archival 35mm Print

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

01 Ibbetson_600Wednesday, January 13th @ 7:30 PM
PETER IBBETSON
Directed by Henry Hathaway • 1935
When soul-scarred architect Peter Ibbetson (Gary Cooper) accepts a commission from the Duke of Towers (John Halliday), he doesn’t anticipate a major complication: the Duchess (Ann Harding) is Peter’s childhood sweetheart. A flesh-and-blood reminder of Gallic idylls gone by, the Duchess stirs memories and fantasies to last a lifetime. After Ibbetson finds himself imprisoned for accidentally killing the husband, their forbidden love crackles on in dreams—and along the astral plane. The story was already an established phantasmal classic by 1935: George du Maurier’s 1891 novel had served as the basis for an unsinkable stage melodrama, instantly familiar to small town audiences everywhere. Its cause was also taken up by André Breton, who exalted Hathaway’s film version as an (unconscious?) “triumph of Surrealist thought.” Above all, it’s a supernatural vision realized with a disarming sobriety; largely bereft of special effects and fantastic sets, Peter Ibbetson achieves the transcendent through the disciplined force of studio craft, with Charles Lang’s cinematography and Hans Dreier’s art direction contributing mightily to the atmosphere of l’amour fou. (KW)
88 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from UCLA Film & Television Archive, Permission Universal

Preceded by: “High Steel” (Don Owen, 1966) – 35mm – 14 min

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A Triumph of Surrealist Thought – Archival 35mm Print