Monthly Archives: May 2018

He’s No Ugly Duckling: Danny Kaye Is Hans Christian Andersen – The Musical Classic in 35mm IB Technicolor

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Tuesday, June 5 @ 7:30 PM
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
Directed by Charles Vidor • 1952
Danny Kaye, here at his very best, plays Hans Christian Andersen in this not-biopic, a gorgeous Technicolor musical which has next to no relation to the much-stranger-in-real-life man behind The Ugly Duckling and The Red Shoes. Exiled from his hometown of Odense, Denmark, for corrupting the minds of school children with fables, Andersen and his assistant cobbler Peter leave for Copenhagen, quickly driven to distraction by the French Ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire. Babyface Farley Granger plays the brutish ballet producer, though he doesn’t turn out to be such a bad guy. A pet project of producer Samuel Goldwyn, the film was in pre-production for fourteen years and went through sixteen different screenplays before it was finally produced. The trailer boasted that Goldwyn had never spent so many millions, and it even caused an international dispute when the people of Denmark feared their hero was being disgraced by this American mega-production. (Kaye himself was sent to smooth things over.) Happily, the money shows up on screen: beautiful, lavish sets and costumes, a delightful and luxurious twenty-minute ballet sequence, and eight perpetually hummable musical numbers, all in glorious Technicolor. (JA)
112 min • Samuel Goldwyn • 35mm IB Technicolor from private collections, permission Park Circus
Short: “Alice in Wonderland: Act II” (Ruth Page, 1977) – 7 min – 16mm from Chicago Film Archives

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And don’t forget about our monthly silent screening at the Music Box

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $11 • Seniors: $9 • MBT Members: $7

Saturday, June 16 @ 11:30 AM 
FEEL MY PULSE
Directed by Gregory La Cava • 1928
Live Organ Accompaniment from Dennis Scott
Bebe Daniels began her acting career at the age of seven; by fourteen, she was a frequent co-star of Harold Lloyd, with whom she made dozens of comedies under the “Lonesome Luke” banner. Towards the end of the silent era, Daniels had become a star and accomplished comedienne in her own right, though many of her most intriguing and subversive films from this period (e.g., She’s a Sheik) are now presumed lost. Among the handful that survive, Feel My Pulse is a rollicking comedy that offers Daniels a wonderful showcase for her knockabout antics and subtler character work. Directed by former cartoonist Gregory La Cava, who also fashioned a surprisingly effective silent comedian out of W.C. Fields in So’s Your Old Man and Running Wild, Feel My Pulse follows hypochondriac heiress Daniels to an island sanitarium where everything is not as it seems. The doctor (William Powell) is really a bootlegger in disguise and all the attendants, save for undercover reporter Richard Arlen, are lieutenants in his rum-running army. The kind of witty and unpretentious comedy at which Paramount excelled, Feel My Pulse never aspired to be anything more than an evening’s entertainment — but after seeing it, you’ll never look at surgical equipment the same way again. (KW)
63 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress
Short: “The Hasher’s Delirium” (Émile Cohl, 1910) – 5 min – 16mm

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Fire Up Your Projector-Looms: Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Art House Classic Gabbeh in 35mm – May 30 at NEIU

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, May 30 @ 7:30 PM
GABBEH
Directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf • 1996
In Farsi with English subtitles
The massively vital and influential Tehrani director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, perhaps best known to Western audiences for playing himself in Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up, scored an unexpected art house hit in 1997 with this strange and beautiful fable which defies easy (or even complex) categorization. Is Gabbeh a rich, circular, endlessly fertile film-poem slyly masquerading as a simple folk tale? Or is it an explosive meditation on color, texture, and the act of seeing, disguised as an easygoing narrative that pushes us toward a gentle reimagining of film language? It’s all of these things, and perhaps none of them as well. The title refers to a style of hand-woven, hand-dyed carpet made by rural nomads of southern Iran, the design of which often depicts an abstracted narrative. We first glimpse the eponymous carpet being washed in a clear stream; soon, the submerged gabbeh becomes Gabbeh, a mysterious young woman whose story the rug (and the film) will seem to depict. This soft transformation is just the first of many small, heart-stopping moments of ecstatic poetry. Those who surrender to the film’s quiet authority will be rewarded: the central tale of Gabbeh’s reckless desire to escape her family and elope with a distant lupine figure is deftly and powerfully interwoven with riveting episodes showing her tribe’s rug-making process, an unforgettable dyeing lesson, and the occasional unexplained mystical digression. (GW)
75 min • MK2 Productions • 35mm from CFS Collections, permission Arrow Films
Short: “The Red Thread” (Larry Gottheim, 1987) – 17 min – 16mm from Canyon Cinema

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And if that wasn’t colorful enough for ya …

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Tuesday, June 5 @ 7:30 PM
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
Directed by Charles Vidor • 1952
Danny Kaye, here at his very best, plays Hans Christian Andersen in this not-biopic, a gorgeous Technicolor musical which has next to no relation to the much-stranger-in-real-life man behind The Ugly Duckling and The Red Shoes. Exiled from his hometown of Odense, Denmark, for corrupting the minds of school children with fables, Andersen and his assistant cobbler Peter leave for Copenhagen, quickly driven to distraction by the French Ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire. Babyface Farley Granger plays the brutish ballet producer, though he doesn’t turn out to be such a bad guy. A pet project of producer Samuel Goldwyn, the film was in pre-production for fourteen years and went through sixteen different screenplays before it was finally produced. The trailer boasted that Goldwyn had never spent so many millions, and it even caused an international dispute when the people of Denmark feared their hero was being disgraced by this American mega-production. (Kaye himself was sent to smooth things over.) Happily, the money shows up on screen: beautiful, lavish sets and costumes, a delightful and luxurious twenty-minute ballet sequence, and eight perpetually hummable musical numbers, all in glorious Technicolor. (JA)
112 min • Samuel Goldwyn • 35mm IB Technicolor from private collections, permission Park Circus
Short: “Alice in Wonderland: Act II” (Ruth Page, 1977) – 7 min – 16mm from Chicago Film Archives

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Celebrate Memorial Day with the Widest & Most Patriotic Film Gauge: 70mm Shorts Showcase II at the Music Box

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $10

Monday, May 28 @ 6:00 PM
70mm SHORTS SHOWCASE, VOL. 2
 The Cinema-180 Adventure Theater sounds like a truly awful place to see a movie. In between rides at Great Adventure Theme Parks, audience members would shuffle in to an enormous screening room with a concrete floor covered in indoor/outdoor carpet, staring at a 180-degree curved screen held in place by suction for a neck-straining eleven minutes. Much like the outdoor screenings offered by well meaning but technologically inept park districts, the screen would deflate at the end of the night, sagging mightily. We’ll be creating this experience, though regrettably under much better technical circumstances, when we screen the 1983 ride film International Thrill Show as part of our second ever 70mm shorts program at the Music Box. Back by popular demand, we’ve combed the world for films that use 70mm’s wide, clear frame to enchant, delight, and terrify. Also screening: A Year Along the Abandoned Road (Morten Skallerud, 1991, 70mm DTS from Panavision), a time lapse film shot over the course of one year in Børfjord, Norway; Tanakh Bibelen al-Quran (Ole Mads Sirks Vevle, 2007, 70mm DTS from Norwegian Film Institute) a film of every page of the Bible, Quran, and Tanakh shot rapidly in sequence; a condensed version of the 1958 Russian Travelogue Great is My Country (70mm with magnetic sound from CFS collections); plus rare clips, trailers, and more. Buckle up for “an action packed sensory movie experience!” (JA)
Approx run time: 90 min

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The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, May 30 @ 7:30 PM
GABBEH
Directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf • 1996
In Farsi with English subtitles
The massively vital and influential Tehrani director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, perhaps best known to Western audiences for playing himself in Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up, scored an unexpected art house hit in 1997 with this strange and beautiful fable which defies easy (or even complex) categorization. Is Gabbeh a rich, circular, endlessly fertile film-poem slyly masquerading as a simple folk tale? Or is it an explosive meditation on color, texture, and the act of seeing, disguised as an easygoing narrative that pushes us toward a gentle reimagining of film language? It’s all of these things, and perhaps none of them as well. The title refers to a style of hand-woven, hand-dyed carpet made by rural nomads of southern Iran, the design of which often depicts an abstracted narrative. We first glimpse the eponymous carpet being washed in a clear stream; soon, the submerged gabbeh becomes Gabbeh, a mysterious young woman whose story the rug (and the film) will seem to depict. This soft transformation is just the first of many small, heart-stopping moments of ecstatic poetry. Those who surrender to the film’s quiet authority will be rewarded: the central tale of Gabbeh’s reckless desire to escape her family and elope with a distant lupine figure is deftly and powerfully interwoven with riveting episodes showing her tribe’s rug-making process, an unforgettable dyeing lesson, and the occasional unexplained mystical digression. (GW)
75 min • MK2 Productions • 35mm from CFS Collections, permission Arrow Films
Short: “The Red Thread” (Larry Gottheim, 1987) – 17 min – 16mm from Canyon Cinema

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“They’ll Take On the Guns of the Whole Damned West After They Take On Each Other”: Buck & the Preacher in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Tuesday, May 22 @ 7:30 PM
BUCK AND THE PREACHER
Directed by Sidney Poitier • 1972
A very loose Western adaptation of the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Buck and the Preacher stars Sidney Poitier as a former soldier leading black wagon trains to unsettled territories in Kansas with his wife Ruby Dee and the very squirrely Harry Belafonte. Joseph Sargent was originally slated to direct this Columbia Pictures/Belafonte Enterprises co-production, but was fired by Harry Belafonte and replaced by Poitier shortly after the production began filming in Mexico. The first Western directed by an African American for a major studio, Buck and the Preacher is most decidedly not a blaxploitation film, though it is one of the only Westerns to seriously portray the role of African Americans in the West, and a great revisionist Western in its own right. Reflecting the delicate line that Poitier’s film had to walk in the marketplace, the New York Times sought to reassure genre fanatics that Buck was a “loose, amiable, post‐Civil War Western with a firm though not especially severe Black Conscience. The film is aware of contemporary black issues but its soul is on the plains once ridden by Tom Mix, whom Poitier, astride his galloping horse, his jaw set, somehow resembles in the majestic traveling shots given him by the director.” With music by jazz legend Benny Carter and the most intense harmonica playing you’ve ever heard over opening credits by Sonny Terry. (JA)
102 min • Columbia Pictures • 35mm from Sony Pictures Repertory
Short: Production Featurette for Duel at Diablo (Ralph Nelson, 1966) – 7 min – 16mm

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Eastwood Gives New York 24 Hours To Get Out of Town in Coogan’s Bluff + Clint’s Ultra-Rare Tribute to Don Siegel

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Tuesday, May 15 @ 7:30 PM
COOGAN’S BLUFF
Directed by Don Siegel • 1968
Established on the heels of his beloved trilogy of films with Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood’s Malpaso Company provided the auteur-movie star with a space where he could work quickly and efficiently on projects that alternately reinforced and challenged his iconic screen presence. A highly effective action policier typical of early Malpaso product, Coogan’s Bluff was the first film to pair the actor with director Don Siegel, who would go on to direct Clint in four more indelible pictures and who would exert a considerable influence over Eastwood’s own directorial efforts. Eastwood stars as Arizona cowboy cop Walt Coogan, sent to the big city to extradite an acid-gobbling hippie gang leader charged with murder back West. In his quest to bring his man in and bed every woman half his age in New York, Coogan, ever the good libertarian, takes a fast and loose approach to “due process” and manages to alienate just about every person sucked into the chaos that surrounds him. As with any good Eastwood picture, the actor imbues his character with a nasty charm that’s wholly magnetic even as Coogan’s actions often appear far from heroic. Siegel, for his part, further proves his action bonafides with a handful of the greatest helicopter shots ever put to film and an absolute monster of a climatic motorcycle chase. (CW)
93 min. • The Malpaso Company • 35mm from Universal
Short: “The Beguiled: The Storyteller” (Clint Eastwood, 1971) – 12 min – 35mm

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And coming next week:

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Tuesday, May 22 @ 7:30 PM
BUCK AND THE PREACHER
Directed by Sidney Poitier • 1972
A very loose Western adaptation of the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Buck and the Preacher stars Sidney Poitier as a former soldier leading black wagon trains to unsettled territories in Kansas with his wife Ruby Dee and the very squirrely Harry Belafonte. Joseph Sargent was originally slated to direct this Columbia Pictures/Belafonte Enterprises co-production, but was fired by Harry Belafonte and replaced by Poitier shortly after the production began filming in Mexico. The first Western directed by an African American for a major studio, Buck and the Preacher is most decidedly not a blaxploitation film, though it is one of the only Westerns to seriously portray the role of African Americans in the West, and a great revisionist Western in its own right. Reflecting the delicate line that Poitier’s film had to walk in the marketplace, the New York Times sought to reassure genre fanatics that Buck was a “loose, amiable, post‐Civil War Western with a firm though not especially severe Black Conscience. The film is aware of contemporary black issues but its soul is on the plains once ridden by Tom Mix, whom Poitier, astride his galloping horse, his jaw set, somehow resembles in the majestic traveling shots given him by the director.” With music by jazz legend Benny Carter and the most intense harmonica playing you’ve ever heard over opening credits by Sonny Terry. (JA)
102 min • Columbia Pictures • 35mm from Sony Pictures Repertory
Short: Production Featurette for Duel at Diablo (Ralph Nelson, 1966) – 7 min – 16mm

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Freshly Popped Kettle Korn in 35mm: Universal’s Hi-larious Comedy Duo Ma and Pa Kettle Return on May 9 at NEIU

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, May 9 @ 7:30 PM
MA AND PA KETTLE
Directed by Charles Lamont • 1949
Nearly 50 years before television audiences gathered to have a good collective chuckle at the technologically challenged Ozzy Osbourne trying to work his new TV set on The Osbournes, there was the first Ma and Pa Kettle film, in which a loveable hillbilly family (Ma, Pa, their numerous children and farm animals) living in a dilapidated farmhouse in rural Washington move into a brand-new “house of the future” after Pa wins a slogan-writing contest for a tobacco company. Already on the verge of being evicted from their charming squalor, they move into the modern, mostly automated dream home only to be plagued by its state-of-the-art gadgets. Ma and Pa Kettle (Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride) first graced the screen as supporting characters in The Egg and I playing neighbors to a newlywed couple (Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurrary) trying to make a go at chicken farming. Universal subsequently launched a spin-off franchise of nine films about the Kettle clan that were so popular they helped pull the studio from the brink of bankruptcy. We doubt it will do the same for us, but we promise there will be hijinks, projectiles, and laughs more numerous than the Kettle kids, which is, well … a lot. (RL)
76 min • Universal-International • 35mm from Universal
Cartoon: Porky Pig in “The Swooner Crooner” (Frank Tashlin, 1944) – 7 min – 16mm

Not a Kettle kid? It’s OK, we’ve got something more your speed coming next week …

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Tuesday, May 15 @ 7:30 PM
COOGAN’S BLUFF
Directed by Don Siegel • 1968
Established on the heels of his beloved trilogy of films with Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood’s Malpaso Company provided the auteur-movie star with a space where he could work quickly and efficiently on projects that alternately reinforced and challenged his iconic screen presence. A highly effective action policier typical of early Malpaso product, Coogan’s Bluff was the first film to pair the actor with director Don Siegel, who would go on to direct Clint in four more indelible pictures and who would exert a considerable influence over Eastwood’s own directorial efforts. Eastwood stars as Arizona cowboy cop Walt Coogan, sent to the big city to extradite an acid-gobbling hippie gang leader charged with murder back West. In his quest to bring his man in and bed every woman half his age in New York, Coogan, ever the good libertarian, takes a fast and loose approach to “due process” and manages to alienate just about every person sucked into the chaos that surrounds him. As with any good Eastwood picture, the actor imbues his character with a nasty charm that’s wholly magnetic even as Coogan’s actions often appear far from heroic. Siegel, for his part, further proves his action bonafides with a handful of the greatest helicopter shots ever put to film and an absolute monster of a climatic motorcycle chase. (CW)
93 min. • The Malpaso Company • 35mm from Universal
Short: “The Beguiled: The Storyteller” (Clint Eastwood, 1971) – 12 min – 35mm

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Ozu’s Innovative Melodrama Woman of Tokyo Screens May 5 in 35mm with Live Accompaniment by Dennis Scott

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $11 • Seniors: $9 • MBT Members: $7

Saturday, May 5 @ 11:30 AM / Live Organ Accompaniment from Dennis Scott
WOMAN OF TOKYO
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1933
In Japanese with English subtitles
Although the Japanese film industry had been producing sound movies since the dawn of the decade, Yasujiro Ozu continued to turn out silent features until 1936. Ozu’s silent output was not a dead end, but a site of fervent experimentation and refinement, as demonstrated by Woman of Tokyo, a masterful miniature that applies the lessons of Ernst Lubitsch’s narrative shorthand to a new milieu. (A scene from Lubitsch’s If I Had a Million segment is excerpted at length, and the screenplay is credited to one “Ernst Schwartz”—an Ozu pseudonym.) Two pairs of adult siblings attempt to eke out a living in Tokyo: a university student (Ureo Egawa) shares an apartment with the sister (Yoshiko Okada) who pays for his education while his girlfriend (Mizoguchi regular Kinuyo Tanaka) lives with her policeman brother (Shin’yô Nara). When Nara learns that Okada may be supplementing her typist income with disreputable side gigs, the cheerful cop ruins one life and another in turn.  A staunchly feminist tragedy that envisions gender roles as pernicious traps for men and women alike, Woman of Tokyo plays like a melodrama refracted through a prism of avant-garde technique. Upon the belated American premiere in 1982, critic J. Hoberman cited Woman of Tokyo as the year’s best film. Co-presented with Chicago Critics Film Festival (KW)
47 min • Shôchiku Eiga • 35mm from Janus Films
Film Stock: Fuji
Short: A Straightforward Boy [Fragment] (Yasujiro Ozu, 1929) – 14 min – 35mm

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The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, May 9 @ 7:30 PM
MA AND PA KETTLE
Directed by Charles Lamont • 1949
Nearly 50 years before television audiences gathered to have a good collective chuckle at the technologically challenged Ozzy Osbourne trying to work his new TV set on The Osbournes, there was the first Ma and Pa Kettle film, in which a loveable hillbilly family (Ma, Pa, their numerous children and farm animals) living in a dilapidated farmhouse in rural Washington move into a brand-new “house of the future” after Pa wins a slogan-writing contest for a tobacco company. Already on the verge of being evicted from their charming squalor, they move into the modern, mostly automated dream home only to be plagued by its state-of-the-art gadgets. Ma and Pa Kettle (Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride) first graced the screen as supporting characters in The Egg and I playing neighbors to a newlywed couple (Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurrary) trying to make a go at chicken farming. Universal subsequently launched a spin-off franchise of nine films about the Kettle clan that were so popular they helped pull the studio from the brink of bankruptcy. We doubt it will do the same for us, but we promise there will be hijinks, projectiles, and laughs more numerous than the Kettle kids, which is, well … a lot. (RL)
76 min • Universal-International • 35mm from Universal
Cartoon: Porky Pig in “The Swooner Crooner” (Frank Tashlin, 1944) – 7 min – 16mm

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Taking Auteurism Too Far: The Short Films of Jacques Tourneur

The mythos of Jacques Tourneur often begins with his innovative and atmospheric horror film Cat People, the talent fully formed from the very beginning. Of course, when Cat People arrived in 1942, Tourneur was thirty-eight and had been working in movies for the better part of his life. He began as an assistant to his father, the distinguished French director Maurice Tourneur, and subsequently to David O. Selznick. The younger Tourneur directed features in France shortly after the coming of sound, as well as several ‘B’ features in the US before the feline breakthrough. He made some twenty short films between 1936 and 1942, which constitute one of the most underappreciated runs in the annals of American movies.

The shorts are not entirely unknown. Chris Fujiawara’s singles out these one- and two-reel M-G-M films on the second page of his critical biography Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall, and goes so far as to cite no less than seven of them as masterpieces. That designation might sound faintly ridiculous when applied to titles like  “Killer-Dog” or “What Do You Think? Tupapaoo,” but the challenge in evaluating Tourneur’s shorts ultimately speaks to broader problems in getting a handle on the genre as a whole.

It’s one thing to celebrate short films that premiere in festivals and tour the country in packages, like the annual Oscar shorts programs or the Spike and Mike animation showcases of old, but it’s another thing entirely to elevate the hundreds of shorts that filled out theater programs in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Upon reviewing a Chuck Jones retrospective offered by the Gene Siskel Film Center in the Chicago Reader, Fred Camper highlighted the basic credibility issue: Continue reading

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New Season Begins Wednesday with America’s Favorite Tycoon in William Wyler’s Dodsworth in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, May 2 @ 7:30 PM
DODSWORTH
Directed by William Wyler • 1936
Walter Huston gets to play the nicest guy ever (for once) in this adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis novel of the same name. After the titular industrialist retires from the auto industry, Dodsworth and his much younger wife (Ruth Chatterton) take a well deserved vacation to Europe, where their marriage quickly falls apart. Mary Astor, radiant as ever, befriends and falls in love with the soon-to-be divorcé, while Chatterton searches for a replacement husband. A delicate and mature film about marriage on the rocks that pushed the Hays Code to the limit with allusions of infidelity, Dodsworth quite naturally underperformed at the box office on its original release: “…nobody wanted to see it. In droves,” said producer Samuel Goldwyn. The film was, however, immediately beloved by critics and continues to be thought of as one of the best films of the thirties. Per Dave Kehr, “By far the most sensitive, restrained, and effective piece of direction Wyler ever turned in, the film achieves a measure of greatness through the dignity and depth of Huston’s superb interpretation of the plainspoken Yankee.” (JA)
101 min • Samuel Goldwyn • 35mm from Park Circus
Film Stock: Kodak B+W Lab: Fotokem (Print Struck 2010)
Short: “Yankee Doodle Goes to Town” (Jacques Tourneur, 1938) – 25 min – 16mm

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But that’s not all!

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $11 • Seniors: $9 • MBT Members: $7

Saturday, May 5 @ 11:30 AM / Live Organ Accompaniment from Dennis Scott
WOMAN OF TOKYO
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu • 1933
In Japanese with English subtitles
Although the Japanese film industry had been producing sound movies since the dawn of the decade, Yasujiro Ozu continued to turn out silent features until 1936. Ozu’s silent output was not a dead end, but a site of fervent experimentation and refinement, as demonstrated by Woman of Tokyo, a masterful miniature that applies the lessons of Ernst Lubitsch’s narrative shorthand to a new milieu. (A scene from Lubitsch’s If I Had a Million segment is excerpted at length, and the screenplay is credited to one “Ernst Schwartz”—an Ozu pseudonym.) Two pairs of adult siblings attempt to eke out a living in Tokyo: a university student (Ureo Egawa) shares an apartment with the sister (Yoshiko Okada) who pays for his education while his girlfriend (Mizoguchi regular Kinuyo Tanaka) lives with her policeman brother (Shin’yô Nara). When Nara learns that Okada may be supplementing her typist income with disreputable side gigs, the cheerful cop ruins one life and another in turn.  A staunchly feminist tragedy that envisions gender roles as pernicious traps for men and women alike, Woman of Tokyo plays like a melodrama refracted through a prism of avant-garde technique. Upon the belated American premiere in 1982, critic J. Hoberman cited Woman of Tokyo as the year’s best film. Co-presented with Chicago Critics Film Festival (KW)
47 min • Shôchiku Eiga • 35mm from Janus Films
Film Stock: Fuji
Short: A Straightforward Boy [Fragment] (Yasujiro Ozu, 1929) – 14 min – 35mm

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