Category Archives: News

No Match for Warren William in The Match King – Pre-Code Drama in 35mm Print from Library of Congress – July 26

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

Wednesday, July 26 @ 7:30 PM
THE MATCH KING
Directed by Howard Bretherton and William Keighley • 1932
Warner Bros.-First National made its share of risqué and radical films during the pre-Production Code era, but none is so crammed with topical incident as The Match King. Based on the life of Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish con artist who popularized the superstition that “three on a match” brought bad luck (and boosted sales volume accordingly), The Match King chronicles Warren William’s rise from lowly Chicago Cubs sanitation worker to continental matchstick magnate. (Talk about efficiency: Kreuger killed himself in March 1932, and his life story reached the screen before year’s end.) A man capable of bluffing from the heart, leveraging assets out of thin air, and outright stealing whatever he needs to stay one step ahead of his creditors and competitors, William’s Paul Kroll is a tycoon only Ayn Rand could love. (Indeed, Rand brought her own version of Kreuger’s death to the stage as Night of January 16th, which naturally presented the so-called criminal as a victim of a mediocre, conformist society.) Like the best pre-Code films, The Match King subsists on a simple moral imperative, but ultimately stands apart from its brethren on the basis of its globe-trotting scope, ruthless forward momentum, and ever-timely warning against trusting a dealmaker in sheep’s clothing. (KW)
78 min • First National Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress, permission Swank

Preceded by: Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam in “Buccaneer Bunny” (Friz Freleng, 1948) – 16mm – 8 min

Photo courtesy of Museum of Modern Art/Film Stills Archive

For the full schedule of our classic film screenings, please click here.

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That’s Something That I Understand: Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends – Rare 35mm Screening – July 19

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

Wednesday, July 19 @ 7:30 PM
GIRLFRIENDS
Directed by Claudia Weill • 1978
After being dumped by her roommate (Anita Skinner) at the corner laundromat, Susan Weinblatt (Melanie Mayron) sets out to chart a new life for herself as a twentysomething single New Yorker who can paint her apartment any damn color she wants now. An aspiring photographer whose eye for the female body finds only fitful expression in bar mitzvah and wedding gigs, Susan struggles to keep the electricity on, but ultimately values her solitude over material comfort. She ascertains that most men her age are just interested in football or John Ford movies, but the women aren’t much better: Ceil (Amy Wright), the hitchhiker who becomes her involuntary roommate, can’t keep her hands away from Susan’s closet—or her body. Then again, neither can Susan’s rabbi, played with disarming sweetness by Eli Wallach (!). Shot cheaply on 16mm and pieced together over a year with the support of the AFI, the NEA, and New York State Council on the Arts, the feature debut of producer-director Claudia Weill is a landmark of low-key, unprepossessing feminism, sexual frankness, and Upper West Side Jewish ethnography. A key antecedent of Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha and Lena Dunham’s Girls, Girlfriends is the tender human comedy you never knew you’d been missing. (KW)
88 min • Cyclops Productions • 35mm from Warner Bros.

Preceded by: Joyce at 34” (Joyce Chopra and Claudia Weill, 1973) – 16mm – 28 min

“Joyce at 34” courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. “Joyce at 34” has been preserved with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

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Can It Happen Here? Too Late: Brownlow and Mollo’s Speculative Newsreel It Happened Here – 35mm Screening

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

Wednesday, July 12 @ 7:30 PM
IT HAPPENED HERE
Directed by Kevin Brownlow & Andrew Mollo • 1964
What if the Nazis had invaded Britain after the retreat from Dunkirk? As an opening title establishes, this is the world of It Happened Here: Britain, 1944, occupied by the Nazis. As U.S.-backed partisans attempt to take England back from fascist control, nurse Pauline Murray is evacuated from her village to the demilitarized city of London. Director Kevin Brownlow started the project as a teenager with help from friend, fellow teenager, and history buff Andrew Mollo. Over an eight-year production schedule, the two managed to complete It Happened Here on a microscopic budget without recourse to stock footage, finishing the film with raw stock donated by Stanley Kubrick from the production of Dr. Strangelove. The high-contrast photography is a perfect match for British newsreels of the period, as would be expected for any effort from future film scholar and preservationist Brownlow (The Parade’s Gone By), but everything here is a skillful recreation utilizing legions of amateur volunteer actors, including real British anti-Semites. Even leading lady Pauline Murray was an amateur actress, essentially playing herself after working as a nurse during World War II. The guilelessness Murray brings to the role keeps the film’s ethics from being black-and-white: as Pauline seeks normalcy amidst violence, no choice is as morally straightforward as the government of her world (or ours) might like us to believe. The film’s polemical vision of a Fascist “new normal” feels particularly relevant given the resurgence of far-right ideologies in the U.S. and Europe. (JR)
96 min • Rath Films • 35mm from Milestone Films
Film Stock: Eastman B+W (1996)
  Preceded by: Selected Cartoon

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A Movie So Large It Demands Large Gauge: Robert Altman’s Short Cuts in 70mm – Music Box Theatre – June 9

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $12
Screening in conjunction with The Music Box 70mm Film Festival

Sunday, July 9 @ 8:00 PM
SHORT CUTS
Directed by Robert Altman • 1993
Adapting nine stories and a poem from Raymond Carver and transposing the action from the Pacific Northwest to the sprawling working class Los Angeles suburbs inhabited by chauffeurs, birthday clowns, motorcycle cops, waitresses, pool cleaners, phone sex operators, and assorted ne’er-do-wells, Robert Altman crafts a one-of-a-kind, eccentric epic which he alone could pull off. A long-gestating project that became one of several commercially dubious Altman ideas financed in the giddy aftermath of the Cannes premiere of The Player, Short Cuts finds the director returning to the intersecting tableau style of Nashville and A Wedding, this time with twenty-two major characters, including spectacular turns by Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Jack Lemmon, Andie MacDowell, Lyle Lovett, Julianne Moore, and Frances McDormand. A work of astonishing sociological and geographical density, Short Cuts perfectly captures the free-floating fin de siècle anxieties coursing down the 405 freeway and over the KCAL-9 airwaves—the Big One is coming. Although Altman had been experimenting with multi-track recording since the 1970s, Short Cuts was the first and only one of his films to be granted a 70mm release with six-channel Dolby Stereo. Released a few months after Jurassic Park introduced DTS digital sound to multiplexes across America and seemingly rendered hulking magnetic prints obsolete, Short Cuts was among the last studio features distributed in a 35mm-to-70mm blowup … at least until Inherent Vice brought the tradition back. (Short Cuts was shot in Super35, so don’t expect pictorial miracles, but blowup prints generally had sharper and steadier laboratory work than the general run of 35mm release prints in the early 1990s.) As an art house movie replete with full-frontal nudity and bad vibes, Short Cuts is the most unlikely candidate for 70mm blowup this side of Three Men and a Baby. (KW)
188 min • Fine Line Features • 70mm from Chicago Film Society Collections, Permission WB
Preceded by a 70mm Blowup Trailer Reel

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And join us later this week for something completely different:

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

Wednesday, July 12 @ 7:30 PM
IT HAPPENED HERE
Directed by Kevin Brownlow & Andrew Mollo • 1964
What if the Nazis had invaded Britain after the retreat from Dunkirk? As an opening title establishes, this is the world of It Happened Here: Britain, 1944, occupied by the Nazis. As U.S.-backed partisans attempt to take England back from fascist control, nurse Pauline Murray is evacuated from her village to the demilitarized city of London. Director Kevin Brownlow started the project as a teenager with help from friend, fellow teenager, and history buff Andrew Mollo. Over an eight-year production schedule, the two managed to complete It Happened Here on a microscopic budget without recourse to stock footage, finishing the film with raw stock donated by Stanley Kubrick from the production of Dr. Strangelove. The high-contrast photography is a perfect match for British newsreels of the period, as would be expected for any effort from future film scholar and preservationist Brownlow (The Parade’s Gone By), but everything here is a skillful recreation utilizing legions of amateur volunteer actors, including real British anti-Semites. Even leading lady Pauline Murray was an amateur actress, essentially playing herself after working as a nurse during World War II. The guilelessness Murray brings to the role keeps the film’s ethics from being black-and-white: as Pauline seeks normalcy amidst violence, no choice is as morally straightforward as the government of her world (or ours) might like us to believe. The film’s polemical vision of a Fascist “new normal” feels particularly relevant given the resurgence of far-right ideologies in the U.S. and Europe. (JR)
96 min • Rath Films • 35mm from Milestone Films
  Preceded by: Selected Cartoon

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Sail the Seven Seas with Anne of the Indies – Jacques Tourneur’s Rare Swashbuckler – 35mm Studio Vault Print

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

Wednesday, July 5 @ 7:30 PM
ANNE OF THE INDIES
Directed by Jacques Tourneur • 1951
“Captain Providence isn’t a man—he’s a woman!” Jean Peters stars as Captain Providence, a 17th century lady pirate who slaps the face of any sea dog with the impudence to call her “mademoiselle.” A disciple of Blackbeard (Thomas Gomez) and fearless captain of the marauding Sheba Queen, Anne Providence is essentially a proto-capitalist who has no time for love if it gets in the way of business. Her priorities change when the Sheba Queen intercepts a British freighter with a handsome but shifty French prisoner (Louis Jourdan) aboard—a fateful decision that may threaten her nautical supremacy. Anne of the Indies foregrounds the novelty of a female pirate, but never succumbs to the rituals of humiliation and pacification so often visited upon successful career women in Hollywood films of the 1940s and ’50s. Much of the credit goes to Peters for her spunky performance and to genre man of all trades Jacques Tourneur, who delivers a Technicolor swashbuckler bathed in scorching primaries. Anne of the Indies also boasts one of Herbert Marshall’s most affecting and melancholic late-career performances as Anne’s doctor and confidante. (KW)
82 min • 20th-Century Fox • 35mm from Fox Library Services
Film Stock: Kodak 2383 Lab: Fotokem
 Preceded by: “Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor” (Dave Fleischer, 1936) – 16mm – 16 min

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Michael Schultz’s ’70s Classic Car Wash – Where Anything Can Happen and Usually Does! 35mm Screening 6/27

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

Tuesday, June 27 @ 7:30 PM
CAR WASH
Directed by Michael Schultz • 1976
Anybody who has languished in a low-paying service industry job will recognize the spectrum of frustrations—from vomiting children and condescending customers to unreliable coworkers and the parade of shady personalities moving to and from the restroom—suffered with good humor and great spirit by the employees of the Dee Luxe Car Wash. Director Michael Schultz’s follow-up to CFS favorite Cooley High contains the unique mixture of comic hijinks and astute social observation that had been something of a signature for the filmmaker up to that point. Tracking a single day in and around the car wash, Schultz mostly dispenses with the notion of dramatic escalation here in favor of observing workaday life and luxuriating in the charisma of his sprawling, diverse cast. Richard Pryor and George Carlin’s cameos may have been the marquee attractions, but it’s the countless lesser-known workhorse performers who make lasting impressions, particularly Ivan Dixon as ex-con family man Lonnie, Bill Duke as militant revolutionary Abdullah, and Antonio Fargas as gender-fluid cosmetology student Lindy. Featuring one of the most enduring soundtracks of any era, an ever-present and insistent counterpoint to all of the film’s action, Car Wash bursts with immeasurable musical energy. Earning minimum wage has never been done with such style. (CW)
97 min • Universal • 35mm from Universal
Preceded by: Production Featurette for Greased Lightning (Michael Schultz, 1977) – 16mm – 6 min

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Meet the Real Women Who Work: Dorothy Arzner’s Working Girls – 35mm Studio Print on June 21

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

Wednesday, June 21 @ 7:30 PM
WORKING GIRLS
Directed by Dorothy Arzner • 1931
Two sisters, Mae and June Thorpe (Dorothy Hall and Judith Wood), move from Rockville, Indiana, to New York City seeking their fortune. Under the direction of Dorothy Arzner, this boilerplate premise becomes a nuanced examination of the intersection of class and gender in Depression-era urban America. The relationship between sexual mores, work, and social advancement is a central area of interest: the sisters’ professional positions are opportunities for both economic empowerment and romantic liaisons, the latter of which in turn can be a source of either upward mobility or social ruin. As the first female member of the Director’s Guild and the only woman director to sustain a Hollywood career into the 1940s, Arzner brought a focus on female relationships to her work that was rare among her studio contemporaries. The relationship between Mae and June is as important as the sisters’ romantic relationships, contrasting the literal bond of sisterhood and the support it provides with the often cruel and fickle world of men. Aside from her underground feminist film studies classic Dance, Girl, Dance, much of Arzner’s output remains unseen and unavailable outside of archives and studio vaults. (JR)
77 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Preceded by: Thelma Todd and Zasu Pitts in “The Pajama Party” (Hal Roach, 1931) – 16mm – 20 min

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art / Film Stills Archive

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Last Vestige of the Lubitsch Touch This Wednesday: Masterful Cluny Brown in 35mm – Not Available on DVD

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

Wednesday, June 14 @ 7:30 PM
CLUNY BROWN
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1946
Lubitsch’s last completed film is everything one would hope for from one of Hollywood’s (and the Chicago Film Society’s) most beloved directors. Set in England on the verge of WWII, it’s a pithy commentary on class, with much of the film spent poking fun at the fumbling of British aristocrats and impotent liberals (“I’ve written a letter to the Times!” is one character’s earnest response to Hitler), while simultaneously managing to remain a weirdo romance. Destined to cross paths, two kindred misfits—Adam Belinski (Charles Boyer), a Czech intellectual hiding out from the Nazis (albeit leisurely), and Cluny Brown (Jennifer Jones), a bright plumber’s niece—both end up at the country estate of the wealthy Carmel family, Belinski as a guest and Cluny as a parlor maid. Belinski manages to charm his hosts with his knowledge of Shakespeare and purposeful ignorance of societal rules, while Cluny chips the china and goes on some soul-crushing dates with local pharmacist Jonathan W. Wilson (played beautifully by Richard Haydn). We pray Cluny isn’t lulled into the pharmacy life by Wilson’s mind-melting harmonium playing; just listen closely to the way Belinski says “Cluny” compared to Wilson’s clenched “Miiizzz Brown” and your ears will confirm where true love lies. It’s a film for anyone who’s ever been put in their place, ever felt out of place, or ever found their place in the arms of another. A strong supporting cast includes Una O’Connor, who literally snores her way through the film, and Helen Walker (Nightmare Alley) as a brassy society lady with all the best comebacks. (RL)
100 min • 20th Century-Fox • 35mm from Criterion Pictures, USA
Preceded by: Popeye the Sailor in “Plumbing is a ‘Pipe’” (Dave Fleischer, 1938) – 16mm – 8 min

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Shinoda’s Pale Flower, Mother of All Yakuza Movies, Screens June 12 at the Music Box Theatre in 35mm

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $7

Monday, June 12 @ 7:00 PM
PALE FLOWER
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda • 1964
In Japanese with English subtitles
Masahiro Shinoda was only a few years into a remarkable five-decade directing career when he made Pale Flower, his most popular and enduring work and the yakuza film by which all others in the genre would be measured. Muraki (played by Ryo Ikebe, some years past his gentler turn in Ozu’s Early Spring) has recently been released from a three-year prison stint (for murder, naturally) and cannot help but throw himself, with studied indifference, into the scrum of Yokohama night-life. Meanwhile, the reckless and inscrutable Saeko (Mariko Kaga, giving Pale Flower‘s scariest and most internalized performance amidst her co-stars’ macho smoldering) has taken to haunting yakuza-overseen gambling dens, a notable and disruptive feminine presence in a stiflingly masculine underworld. Immediately drawn to one another, Muraki mentors Saeko in tehonbiki, their game of choice, as she attempts to stave off corrosive and self-destructive boredom and he attempts to keep his homicidal impulses at bay. A master class in widescreen composition from cinematographer Masao Kosugi with a score by legendary avant-garde composer Toru Takemitsu, Pale Flower matches its pitch black amour fou narrative with hard-as-nails stylistic pyrotechnics and lurid Baudelairean cinematic poetry. (CW)
96 min • Shochiku • 35mm from Janus Films
Preceded by: “Dance Squared” (Danse carrée) (René Jodoin, 1961) – 16mm – 4 min

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And join us later this week for something different:

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

Wednesday, June 14 @ 7:30 PM
CLUNY BROWN
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1946
Lubitsch’s last completed film is everything one would hope for from one of Hollywood’s (and the Chicago Film Society’s) most beloved directors. Set in England on the verge of WWII, it’s a pithy commentary on class, with much of the film spent poking fun at the fumbling of British aristocrats and impotent liberals (“I’ve written a letter to the Times!” is one character’s earnest response to Hitler), while simultaneously managing to remain a weirdo romance. Destined to cross paths, two kindred misfits—Adam Belinski (Charles Boyer), a Czech intellectual hiding out from the Nazis (albeit leisurely), and Cluny Brown (Jennifer Jones), a bright plumber’s niece—both end up at the country estate of the wealthy Carmel family, Belinski as a guest and Cluny as a parlor maid. Belinski manages to charm his hosts with his knowledge of Shakespeare and purposeful ignorance of societal rules, while Cluny chips the china and goes on some soul-crushing dates with local pharmacist Jonathan W. Wilson (played beautifully by Richard Haydn). We pray Cluny isn’t lulled into the pharmacy life by Wilson’s mind-melting harmonium playing; just listen closely to the way Belinski says “Cluny” compared to Wilson’s clenched “Miiizzz Brown” and your ears will confirm where true love lies. It’s a film for anyone who’s ever been put in their place, ever felt out of place, or ever found their place in the arms of another. A strong supporting cast includes Una O’Connor, who literally snores her way through the film, and Helen Walker (Nightmare Alley) as a brassy society lady with all the best comebacks. (RL)
100 min • 20th Century-Fox • 35mm from Criterion Pictures, USA
Preceded by: Popeye the Sailor in “Plumbing is a ‘Pipe’” (Dave Fleischer, 1938) – 16mm – 8 min

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20th Anniversary Screening of Tsai Ming-Liang’s
Modern Masterpiece The River – May 30 in 35mm

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

Tuesday, May 30 @ 7:30 PM
THE RIVER
Directed by Tsai Ming-liang • 1997
In Mandarin with English subtitles
By the late ’90s, director Tsai Ming-liang had established himself as one of the leading lights in Taiwanese filmmaking, a favorite with critics and adventurous film festival programmers alike. The River was the last film Tsai would make that would hew towards narrative convention while also embracing the radical slowness that would become a stylistic signature for him. While hanging around a movie set with a female acquaintance, Lee Hsiao-Kang (played by Tsai’s persistent leading actor and closest collaborator Lee Kang-sheng) is cast to play a dead body floating in the polluted Tamsui River. Almost immediately after the shoot is over, he begins to develop a mysterious illness, causing him physical pain and a great deal of emotional distress. Meanwhile, both his mother and father carry on affairs with men in between taking Hsiao-Kang to various medical specialists and spiritual healers. As with all of Tsai’s films, there are moments of strange, Keaton-inflected, nonverbal deadpan humor as well as a surfeit of water imagery and free-floating, quietly tumultuous, queer desire. Featuring an emotionally decimating ending stretch unparalleled in Tsai’s filmography (or most of cinema for that matter), The River earns its reputation as one of the greatest films of the ’90s. (CW)
115 min • Taiwan Central Motion Pictures Corporation • 35mm from Leisure Time Features

Preceded by: “sound of a million insects, light of a thousand stars” (Tomonari Nishikawa, 2014) – 35mm – 2 min

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Modern Masterpiece The River – May 30 in 35mm