Author Archives: Chicago Film Society

A Million Smackers Can’t Buy Love, but Eleven Bucks Buys a Ticket to This Silent: Curtiz’s A Million Bid, 4/21

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

Saturday, April 21 @ 11:30 AM 
Music Box Theatre / Live Accompaniment from Music Box Organist Dennis Scott
A MILLION BID
Directed by Michael Curtiz • 1927
Shortly after Warner Bros. acquired the assets of the ailing Vitagraph Company of America in 1925, the studio embarked on a remake of the latter’s 1914 melodrama A Million Bid. From the start Warner recognized the material’s aptness for contract starlet Dolores Costello (dubbed “The Belle of the Box Office” by the studio), but cycled through several directors—including Alan Crosland and Roy Del Ruth—before ultimately giving the assignment to Hungarian émigré Michael Curtiz, who needed a low-key follow-up to his ostentatious and much-publicized American debut The Third Degree. The plot is high seas hokum: Costello loves a young surgeon (Malcolm McGregor) but is betrothed to a wealthy jerk (Warner Oland) who ponied up a million bucks for the privilege. Oland eventually forces himself upon Costello aboard his yacht (where else?), but a violent storm interrupts his plunder, causing the rapacious millionaire to develop amnesia in the aftermath. The 1914 version of A Million Bid is presumed lost, and for decades it was assumed that the 1927 remake suffered the same fate. A tinted nitrate print with Italian titles was discovered at Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, and became the basis for this restoration from the Library of Congress and L’immagine Ritrovata in 2004. (KW)
65 min • Warner Bros. • 35mm from Library of Congress
Preceded by: “His Marriage Wow” (Harry Edwards, 1925) – 20 min – 16mm

Posted in News | Comments Off on A Million Smackers Can’t Buy Love, but Eleven Bucks Buys a Ticket to This Silent: Curtiz’s A Million Bid, 4/21

A Delirious New Musical from the Director of The Cobweb: Vincente Minnelli’s Yolanda and the Thief in 35mm – 4/18

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $2

Wednesday, April 18 @ 7:30 PM
YOLANDA AND THE THIEF
Directed by Vincente Minnelli • 1945
In the immediate wake of Meet Me in St. Louis, director and master stylist Vincente Minnelli found himself an in-demand property at his home studio M-G-M. In the midst of re-envisioning the Judy Garland romance The Clock and contributing sequences to Ziegfeld Follies, Minnelli directed one of the weirdest films to ever be made by a Hollywood studio. Yolanda and the Thief began life as a musical adaptation of a children’s story by Madeline author Ludwig Bemelmans (whose art, along with the paintings of Salvador Dali, serves as one of the film’s chief visual inspirations), but Minnelli saw the film as a chance to direct a full-on “surrealist revue,” a project he had been dreaming of since his early days as a Broadway set designer. Fred Astaire stars as an American gangster running from the law in the fictional and vaguely Latin American country of Patria who sees an opportunity for a quick payday when he encounters the beautiful and grotesquely naive mineral water-heiress Yolanda (Lucille Bremer) and whips up a plan to convince her he is a literal angel sent from Heaven. Minnelli’s marked disregard for coherent plotting or naturalistic performance may have ensured the film would be misunderstood by critics and audiences expecting a traditional Astaire movie, but the director’s refashioning of the Hollywood prestige-musical toolkit in service of bold, avant-garde filmmaking—on full display in the film’s 15-minute dream ballet centerpiece—feels utterly galvanizing today. (CW)
108 min • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer • 35mm from Warner Bros., Permission Swank
Short: Selected Cartoon

——————–

Please note: our April 7 screening of A Million Bid has been re-scheduled for April 21

Saturday, April 21 @ 11:30 AM 
Music Box Theatre / Live Accompaniment from Music Box Organist Dennis Scott
A MILLION BID
Directed by Michael Curtiz • 1927
Shortly after Warner Bros. acquired the assets of the ailing Vitagraph Company of America in 1925, the studio embarked on a remake of the latter’s 1914 melodrama A Million Bid. From the start Warner recognized the material’s aptness for contract starlet Dolores Costello (dubbed “The Belle of the Box Office” by the studio), but cycled through several directors—including Alan Crosland and Roy Del Ruth—before ultimately giving the assignment to Hungarian émigré Michael Curtiz, who needed a low-key follow-up to his ostentatious and much-publicized American debut The Third Degree. The plot is high seas hokum: Costello loves a young surgeon (Malcolm McGregor) but is betrothed to a wealthy jerk (Warner Oland) who ponied up a million bucks for the privilege. Oland eventually forces himself upon Costello aboard his yacht (where else?), but a violent storm interrupts his plunder, causing the rapacious millionaire to develop amnesia in the aftermath. The 1914 version of A Million Bid is presumed lost, and for decades it was assumed that the 1927 remake suffered the same fate. A tinted nitrate print with Italian titles was discovered at Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, and became the basis for this restoration from the Library of Congress and L’immagine Ritrovata in 2004. (KW)
65 min • Warner Bros. • 35mm from Library of Congress
Short: TBA

Posted in News | Comments Off on A Delirious New Musical from the Director of The Cobweb: Vincente Minnelli’s Yolanda and the Thief in 35mm – 4/18

We’ll Project It Geometrically!: Edgar G. Ulmer’s Sci-Fi Classic The Man from Planet X Screens April 10 in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $2

Tuesday, April 10 @ 7:30 PM
THE MAN FROM PLANET X
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer • 1951
As a mysterious “Planet X” hurtles towards Earth, mustachioed journalist John Lawrence (sci-fi staple Robert Clarke) is invited by a professor friend to the spot where it will come nearest to our planet — deep in the Scottish moors, where the fog machines are working overtime. He’s joined there by a classic woman in distress, a shifty evil doctor, and soon enough, the titular Man from Planet X! The characters are familiar and armed with eye-rolling lines (“We’ll communicate with him geometrically!”) but director Edgar G. Ulmer creates a place of ghostly beauty with the low-budget artful stylization he became famous for in his noirs and B-movies (see Detour or Bluebeard). Filmed on the leftover sets from Victor Fleming’s Joan of Arc, The Man from Planet X feels more like a baroque fairy tale than a sci-fi film, and Ulmer’s ability to get an audience to empathize (seemingly without effort) with a creature who “speaks” with a sorrowful droning noise and has the face of a death mask is nothing less than masterful. He adds a level of depth and complexity to what might have otherwise been another forgettable genre cheapie. As Ulmer himself said, “I was trying to create art and decency, with a style.” (RL)
71 min • Mid-Century Film Productions • 35mm from Park Circus
Cartoon: “Hare-Way to the Stars” (Chuck Jones, 1958) – 35mm – 7 min

——————–

Please note: our April 7 screening of A Million Bid has been re-scheduled for April 21

Saturday, April 21 @ 11:30 AM 
Music Box Theatre / Live Accompaniment from Music Box Organist Dennis Scott
A MILLION BID
Directed by Michael Curtiz • 1927
Shortly after Warner Bros. acquired the assets of the ailing Vitagraph Company of America in 1925, the studio embarked on a remake of the latter’s 1914 melodrama A Million Bid. From the start Warner recognized the material’s aptness for contract starlet Dolores Costello (dubbed “The Belle of the Box Office” by the studio), but cycled through several directors—including Alan Crosland and Roy Del Ruth—before ultimately giving the assignment to Hungarian émigré Michael Curtiz, who needed a low-key follow-up to his ostentatious and much-publicized American debut The Third Degree. The plot is high seas hokum: Costello loves a young surgeon (Malcolm McGregor) but is betrothed to a wealthy jerk (Warner Oland) who ponied up a million bucks for the privilege. Oland eventually forces himself upon Costello aboard his yacht (where else?), but a violent storm interrupts his plunder, causing the rapacious millionaire to develop amnesia in the aftermath. The 1914 version of A Million Bid is presumed lost, and for decades it was assumed that the 1927 remake suffered the same fate. A tinted nitrate print with Italian titles was discovered at Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, and became the basis for this restoration from the Library of Congress and L’immagine Ritrovata in 2004. (KW)
65 min • Warner Bros. • 35mm from Library of Congress
Short: TBA

Posted in News | Comments Off on We’ll Project It Geometrically!: Edgar G. Ulmer’s Sci-Fi Classic The Man from Planet X Screens April 10 in 35mm

Paul Bartel’s Goofy, Garish, and Gay Western Lust in the Dust Gallops to the Music Box on March 26 on 35mm

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

Monday, March 26 @ 7:00 PM
LUST IN THE DUST
Directed by Paul Bartel • 1985
One of the most overlooked talents to come out Roger Corman’s AIP director mill, Paul Bartel never demonstrated the interest in pursuing Hollywood filmmaking that so many of his cine-brat compatriots did, continuing to make the sort of unfashionable, high-concept, and decidedly independent B-pictures his peers had long since abandoned well into the ’90s. Bartel’s Western-comedy Lust in the Dust may have been advertised as something akin to a queer Blazing Saddles, but in its ambling, affable way, it is far more faithful to the genre’s B-movie roots than most of the Westerns produced during the revisionist heyday. Reuniting gay icons Tab Hunter and Divine, previously seen together in John Waters’s Polyester, Lust in the Dust is ostensibly concerned with a love triangle between Hunter’s gunslinger Abel Wood, Divine’s chorus girl-cum-prostitute Rosie Velez, and saloon-owner Marguerita (played by Barbra Streisand’s understudy Lainie Kazan, who, in her musical number “South of My Border,” steals the whole damn movie). There’s some nonsense about a search for gold, but Bartel is most excited just to play in his genre sandbox, trying on tropes (the New Mexico-shot vistas are a particular highlight) and casting off any useless seriousness. (CW)
84 min • New World Pictures • 35mm from Allan Glaser
Film Stock: AGFA
Presented with Chicago Filmmakers
Short: “The Secret Cinema” (Paul Bartel, 1966) – 35mm – 30 min
“The Secret Cinema” has been newly restored by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation with funding provided by The George Lucas Family Foundation.

Tickets on sale here!

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Paul Bartel’s Goofy, Garish, and Gay Western Lust in the Dust Gallops to the Music Box on March 26 on 35mm

The Gobble-uns’ll git you Ef you Don’t See Little Orphant Annie – New 35mm Print at the Music Box, March 10

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

Saturday, March 10 @ Noon
LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE
Directed by Colin Campbell • 1918
Live Accompaniment from Music Box Organist Dennis Scott
One of the final features produced by Chicago’s own Selig Polyscope before the company’s bankruptcy, Little Orphant Annie is a film steeped in deprivation: children fight over dinners rescued from garbage cans by day, and cower under the covers, menaced by grotesque puppet monsters, by night. Into the breach steps Little Orphant Annie (Colleen Moore, in her earliest extant performance), an eternal optimist and skilled storyteller whose fireside parables teach the other ragamuffins that “the Gobble-uns’ll git you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!” Adapted from the 1885 poem by Indiana’s favorite son James Whitcomb Riley that would later inspire the Little Orphan Annie comic strip, the film version is a work of dark whimsy to stand beside other silent fairy tale productions such as The Blue Bird and Peter Pan, albeit with a higher proportion of cardboard and tarpaulin to outright wonder. (Riley himself, two years deceased at the time of the film’s release, appears as a stock footage apparition at the beginning and the end.) Long available only in tattered and incomplete 16mm prints derived from a 1926 reissue that omitted all production credits, Little Orphant Annie has been painstakingly reconstructed by independent archivist Eric Grayson using materials from the Library of Congress and assorted film collectors. (KW)
Introduced by Eric Grayson.
58 min • Selig Polyscope Company • 35mm from Eric Grayson
Short: “The Haunted Hotel” (J. Stuart Blackton, 1907) – 16mm – 5 min

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on The Gobble-uns’ll git you Ef you Don’t See Little Orphant Annie – New 35mm Print at the Music Box, March 10

Jacques Tourneur’s Rare Argentine Western Way of a Gaucho Screens in a 35mm Vault Print – March 7

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $2

Wednesday, March 7 @ 7:30 PM
WAY OF A GAUCHO
Directed by Jacques Tourneur • 1952
Just in case you missed our recent screenings of Canyon Passage and Anne of the Indies we’re giving you a third opportunity (offer valid while supplies last!) to experience the sheer and unfettered joy that is a Technicolor Jacques Tourneur film. Rory Calhoun (How to Marry a Millionaire, The Texan) plays a fiery young gaucho who is forced into military service after killing a man in a duel. He quickly deserts and finds himself leading a group of radicalized locals in the fight against the building of a railroad across their land, but a love affair soon complicates his plans for rebellion. Richard Boone (as the militia major hot on Calhoun’s tail) and Gene Tierney co-star in this Argentine Western adapted from a novel by screenwriter Philip Dunne (How Green Was My Valley, The Agony and the Ecstasy), but the real allure of the film lies in its eye-popping location. With the exception of a few scenes, it was shot almost entirely in the Andes Mountains and on the Argentine pampas; think Gene Tierney lounging supine in the lowland grasses and former real-life cowboy Rory Calhoun maneuvering his horse ably in front of snow-capped peaks and endless sky. (RL)
93 min • 20th Century-Fox • 35mm from Fox Library Services
Short: “The Face Behind the Mask” (Jacques Tourneur, 1938) – 16mm – 11 min

Posted in News | Comments Off on Jacques Tourneur’s Rare Argentine Western Way of a Gaucho Screens in a 35mm Vault Print – March 7

Not Enough Hippie Modernism in Your Life? Steven Arnold’s Luminous Procuress Will Fix That – Chicago Premiere of the Restored 16mm Print from BAM/PFA

Film Studies Center at The Logan Center for the Arts
915 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637 • Free Admission

Friday, February 23 @ 7:00 PM
LUMINOUS PROCURESS
Directed by Steven Arnold • 1971
Co-presented by the Film Studies Center
The only feature film of photographer, designer, and Salvador Dalí protégé Steven Arnold, Luminous Procuress is that rarest of endeavors—a lavishly appointed queer underground epic that was tipped as a potential cross-over hit by investors besotted with the softcore success of I Am Curious,Yellow. The cosmic aspirations of this wide-eyed hippie bacchanal are in no way diminished by the fact that it was shot in an abandoned industrial laundry works in San Francisco’s Mission District. As two shaggy-haired simpletons are initiated by the mysterious Procuress, we are guided through a series of sparkling, Kodachrome tableaux of frank couplings, backed by Warner Jepson’s soupy synth score. The Cockettes, the renowned drag troupe that got its start at Arnold’s midnight movie séances, are on hand to provide color commentary. Luminous Procuress premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival, played Director’s Fortnight at Cannes, and received a run at the Whitney before vanishing almost entirely from the avant-garde canon. Newly preserved by BAM/PFA in partnership with the Walker Art Center, Luminous Procuress returns to us, per J. Hoberman, as a “blend of art nouveau stylization, occult rituals, Hollywood camp, and rampant orientalism.” (KW)
75 min • Paramour Pictures • 16mm from Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Not Enough Hippie Modernism in Your Life? Steven Arnold’s Luminous Procuress Will Fix That – Chicago Premiere of the Restored 16mm Print from BAM/PFA

Vincente Minnelli’s Garish Masterpiece Two Weeks in Another Town Screens Feb. 19 in 35mm Cinemascope

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

Monday, February 19 @ 7:00 PM
TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN
Directed by Vincente Minnelli • 1962
Adapted from a free-standing novel by Irvin Shaw but effectively retrofitted by director Vincente Minnelli, screenwriter Charles Schnee, producer John Houseman, star Kirk Douglas, and composer David Raksin as a spiritual sequel to their own Oscar-winning Tinsel Town satire The Bad and the Beautiful, Two Weeks in Another Town is a mad melodrama that charts Hollywood’s decline while frolicking in the detritus. Douglas stars as Jack Andrus, the Serious Actor discharged from a high-end sanitarium after a cablegram calls him to Rome for two weeks of work at Cinecitta under the direction of longtime collaborator Maurice Kruger (Edward G. Robinson). Upon his arrival, Andrus finds sun-dappled seaside rot: a runaway production that Kruger cannot control, dub-happy actors speaking past each other in different languages on the set, crass financiers who don’t give a damn about showmanship. Like a Henry James story turned inside out, this Metrocolor debauchery circus plays American neuroses against European cynicism and everybody comes up plastered. Shot immediately after Minnelli’s own deeply demoralizing experience on the international co-production The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Two Weeks in Another Town plays like a documentary that really wants to be a psychodrama instead, a craggly self-portrait rounded up to Greek tragedy. With supporting turns from Cyd Charisse, Claire Trevor, and George Hamilton. (KW)
107 min • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer • 35mm from Warner Bros.
Short: Production Featurette for The Cardinal (Otto Preminger, 1963) – 35mm Technicolor – 8 min

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Vincente Minnelli’s Garish Masterpiece Two Weeks in Another Town Screens Feb. 19 in 35mm Cinemascope

Tod Browning’s Drifting – Newly Restored 35mm Print Screens Feb. 17 at the Music Box with Live Organ Accompaniment from Dennis Scott

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

Saturday, February 17 @  11:30 AM 
DRIFTING
Directed by Tod Browning • 1923
Live Accompaniment from Music Box Organist Dennis Scott
Before he embarked on a series of macabre classics with Lon Chaney for the newly amalgamated M-G-M, Tod Browning was an accomplished director of crime films and melodramas at Universal. Drifting, his last film for that studio, is an old-fashioned barnstormer about the drug trade, loose morals, and the redemptive power of love. Based on a 1910 play by John Colton that had enjoyed a successful Broadway revival in 1922, Drifting toned down its source material considerably at the request of Browning’s regular star Priscilla Dean (Outside the Law), whose “lady of easy virtue” became a run-of-the-mill opium smuggler in China. (Hollywood’s unaccountably vigorous effort to translate the outré provocations of Colton, a gay playwright with a yin for Orientalist absurdity, to the cinema yielded a kind of deranged, censor-sculpted surrealism; when Colton’s The Shanghai Gesture reached the screen in 1941, brothel proprietress Mother Goddamn became the no-less-ridiculous Mother Gin Sling.) Dean’s petty criminal finds herself making common cause with her underworld rival Wallace Beery and strives to throw government agent Matt Moore off their trail. An eighteen-year-old Anna May Wong appears as a local opium supplier’s daughter, who develops a crush on Moore. The unsigned New York Times review probably says it best: “a very improbable story, directed with gusty flights of imagination.” Preservation funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation. (KW)
82 min • Universal • 35mm from George Eastman Museum
Short: “The Great Wall of China” (CineArts Production, 1930) – 16mm – 7 min

—————-

Don’t rest on your laurels. We have another big, big show coming up on Monday.

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

Monday, February 19 @ 7:00 PM
TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN
Directed by Vincente Minnelli • 1962
Adapted from a free-standing novel by Irvin Shaw but effectively retrofitted by director Vincente Minnelli, screenwriter Charles Schnee, producer John Houseman, star Kirk Douglas, and composer David Raksin as a spiritual sequel to their own Oscar-winning Tinsel Town satire The Bad and the Beautiful, Two Weeks in Another Town is a mad melodrama that charts Hollywood’s decline while frolicking in the detritus. Douglas stars as Jack Andrus, the Serious Actor discharged from a high-end sanitarium after a cablegram calls him to Rome for two weeks of work at Cinecitta under the direction of longtime collaborator Maurice Kruger (Edward G. Robinson). Upon his arrival, Andrus finds sun-dappled seaside rot: a runaway production that Kruger cannot control, dub-happy actors speaking past each other in different languages on the set, crass financiers who don’t give a damn about showmanship. Like a Henry James story turned inside out, this Metrocolor debauchery circus plays American neuroses against European cynicism and everybody comes up plastered. Shot immediately after Minnelli’s own deeply demoralizing experience on the international co-production The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Two Weeks in Another Town plays like a documentary that really wants to be a psychodrama instead, a craggly self-portrait rounded up to Greek tragedy. With supporting turns from Cyd Charisse, Claire Trevor, and George Hamilton. (KW)
107 min • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer • 35mm from Warner Bros.
Short: Production Featurette for The Cardinal (Otto Preminger, 1963) – 35mm Technicolor – 8 min

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Tod Browning’s Drifting – Newly Restored 35mm Print Screens Feb. 17 at the Music Box with Live Organ Accompaniment from Dennis Scott

Spend V-Day with RWF: Fassbinder’s Grotesque Rom Com Satan’s Brew Screens on Feb. 14 in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $2

Wednesday, February 14 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
SATAN’S BREW
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder • 1976
In German with English subtitles.
Despite evincing a gift for humor throughout his career, the hyper-prolific and ever-controversial Rainer Werner Fassbinder only once tried his hand at making an out-and-out comedy. That film, Satan’s Brew, just so happened to be one of his most venomous cavalcades of perversion, an anarchic farce trafficking in bad taste and extremely poor manners. Kurt Raab stars as an acclaimed poet desperately avoiding work and looking for new ways to exploit his family and acquaintances in an effort to keep his libido sated and his bank account from being overdrawn. While his beleaguered wife and brother (whose tragic sexual attraction to flies stands among the film’s more baroque touches) live hand-to-mouth in their own filth, Raab’s poet cycles through a series of female benefactors, publicly declares himself the reincarnation of poet Stefan George, and sows a measure of misery extreme even for a Fassbinder film. Be sure to bring along dein Liebling this Valentine’s Day for an evening of insect fondling, fraternal spanking, breakfast expectorating, and other acts of romance. With Volker Spengler, Y Sa Lo, the recently departed Ulli Lommel, and more of your favorite Fassbinder regulars. (CW)
112 min • Albatros Filmproduktion • 35mm from Janus
Cartoon: “Ein Stachliges Vergnügen” (Heinz Nagel, 1976) – 35mm – 9 min (unsubtitled)

Posted in News | Comments Off on Spend V-Day with RWF: Fassbinder’s Grotesque Rom Com Satan’s Brew Screens on Feb. 14 in 35mm