Category Archives: News

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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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)

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“Help Me Make It Through the Night”: John Huston’s Late Masterpiece Fat City Returns to the Ring in 35mm – Feb. 7

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

Wednesday, February 7 @ 7:30 PM
FAT CITY
Directed by John Huston • 1972
You can expect a film that opens and closes with Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” to leave some bruises behind after the credits scroll, and Fat City does not disappoint. Two fighters meet and spar in a YMCA, one fresh-faced and climbing, one boozed-up and falling fast. There’s only a 12-year age difference between tenderfoot Ernie Munger (a coltish Jeff Bridges) and the washed-up Billy Tully (played by Stacy Keach), but in this town that’s all that lies between the promise of youth and a lifetime of failure. The fight scenes are pathetic, scrambling affairs and pale in comparison to bouts between lovers Billy and Oma (played by Susan Tyrrell in one of the most viciously accurate portrayals of an onscreen drunk). Shot by the great Conrad Hall (In Cold Blood, Cool Hand Luke) and penned by ex-fighter Leonard Gardner (adapted from his own novel), it’s a deeply loving portrait of the occupants of Stockton, California’s skid row, most of which was bulldozed immediately after the production to make way for a freeway. Fat City’s existential blows are softened by how real it is: a tender hug between fighters after a brutal bout, the casual adjustment of a fallen zipper on a woman’s dress, a confession of love between daytime drunks. As critic Vincent Canby wrote, “This is grim material but Fat City is too full of life to be as truly dire as it sounds.” (RL)
96 min • Columbia • 35mm from Sony Pictures Repertory
Short: “Dick the Bruiser vs. Chest Bernard” (Russ Davis, 1955)  – 16mm – 13 min – Courtesy of Chicago Film Archives

 

 

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From Vienna with Love: Julien Duvivier’s The Great Waltz Delivers Capital-C Culture in 35 Lowercase-m mm

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

Wednesday, January 31 @ 7:30 PM
THE GREAT WALTZ
 Directed by Julien Duvivier • 1938
Louis B. Mayer’s very favorite M-G-M picture is a highly fictitious account of the early years of beloved Austrian composer Johann Strauss. Fernand Gravet plays our hero, a modest bank clerk who loses his job and begins composing waltzes with a group of scrappy musicians when three-quarter time was the punkest thing ever; Luise Rainer is Strauss’s wife, and the totally radiant real-life coloratura Miliza Korjus (pronounced “Gorgeous,” according to trailer) steals the show as the famous opera singer Clara Donner. A no-expense-spared mega-production complete with 90-piece orchestra, the film’s musical sequences (including one, not even the best one, directed by Josef von Sternberg) are transcendent, and at the time represented the best presentation of Strauss’s music that most of the American public had ever heard. Julien Duvivier, fresh off the success of Pépé le Moko, directed, with cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg, who won the Academy Award that year. (JA)
104 min • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer • 35mm from Chicago Film Society collections, permission Warner Bros. (Swank)
Film Stock: Eastman B+W (1962)
Cartoon: “Mr. Strauss Takes a Walk” (George Pal, 1942) – 16mm – 7 min

 

 

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Straight Outta Crooklyn: Spike Lee’s Ode to ’70s New York Screens on Jan. 24 on 35mm

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

Wednesday, January 24 @ 7:30 PM
CROOKLYN
Directed by Spike Lee • 1994
At its core, the semi-autobiographical Crooklyn is director Spike Lee’s love letter to his home borough. Set in the summer of 1973, it wistfully remembers a Brooklyn of hopscotch and baseball cards, of Black and Puerto Rican neighbors living in loud, contentious harmony, a Brooklyn where the local druggies huffed glue instead of smoking crack. It’s a pre-Giuliani paradise where a musician (Delroy Lindo) and a schoolteacher (Alfre Woodard) could afford both a brownstone and a car, the material resources for an almost quaint version of urban domesticity. Co-written with Lee’s siblings Joie and Cinqué, Crooklyn evokes childhood in the city: the film’s emotional center is eldest child and only daughter, 10-year-old Troy, whose perception of the world shapes the movie’s narrative and visual structure. It’s most jarringly highlighted in the visual distortion of scenes at Troy’s relatives’ house in the South, where she briefly stays; the image appears stretched as if projected with the wrong lens, ostensibly to reflect Troy’s feelings of being out of place. Meanwhile the film pulses with a soundtrack straight out of Soul Train, one of Troy’s favorite programs. Family matriarch Carolyn Carmichael may ask in a letter if Troy “isn’t glad to be away from these crazy people in Crooklyn, New York?”, but it’s clear she would never feel at home anywhere else. What New Yorker doesn’t pine for this version of Brooklyn? No wonder the film beat out more canonical choices from the likes of Scorsese to win the recent “One Film, One New York” contest. (JR)
115 min • Universal • 35mm from Universal
Short: “The Balloon Tree” (Ross Lowell, 1970) – 16mm – 10 min

 

 

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Martin Scorsese’s Feature Debut Who’s That Knocking at My Door – Rare 35mm Screening, Jan. 17

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

Wednesday, January 17 @ 7:30 PM
WHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR
Directed by Martin Scorsese • 1967
Begun as an NYU student film and eventually released as exploitation fodder after the late addition of an extended sex scene, Martin Scorsese’s first feature Who’s That Knocking at My Door contains all of the director’s stylistic strategies and thematic obsessions in germinal form: Italian-American rough-housing, Catholic guilt, sexual anxiety, and a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack that unrolls like a muffled jukebox overheard from the bar next door. Court stenographer-turned-actor Harvey Keitel makes his film debut as J. R., an aimless ruffian who spends his days getting drunk with neighborhood buddies at the 8th Ward Pleasure Club. A ride on the Staten Island Ferry changes J. R.’s life when he meets a sophisticated girl (Zina Bethune) reading a French magazine; she impresses him with her college education, while he charms her with his spirited defense of John Ford’s The Searchers. Who’s That Knocking at My Door charts their rocky relationship while interrogating J. R.’s toxic instinct to divide the women of the world into ‘nice girls’ and ‘broads.’ (Even the poster describes Bethune’s nameless character as ‘A Nice Girl But …’) Upon the film’s world premiere at the Chicago International Film Festival, newly appointed Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert declared, “I have no reservations in describing it as a great moment in American movies,” and the rest is history. (KW)
90 min • Trimod Films • 35mm from Chicago Film Society collections, permission Warner Bros. (Swank)
Preceded by: Selected vintage trailers for local film festivals – 16mm – 8 min

 

 

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Save Us From Ourselves: Roy Del Ruth’s Superlative Pre-Code Social Drama Employees’ Entrance in 35mm

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

Wednesday, January 10 @ 7:30 PM
EMPLOYEES’ ENTRANCE
Directed by Roy Del Ruth • 1933
The proprietor of the Franklin Monroe Department Store may be able to trace his lineage back to the Founding Fathers, but the yachted gentry are no match for Kurt Anderson (Warren William), the pitiless manager whose ruthlessly amoral tactics keep the business and its 12,000 employees afloat at the onset of the Great Depression. Once a poor farm boy from Ohio, Anderson rose to the top by adhering to his sole credo: “SMASH! — or be smashed.” Among the wreckage along the way: Loretta Young as the eager model who gets a job by sleeping with the boss, Wallace Ford as the innovative but pliable floor manager, and Alice White as an all-purpose C-suite Mata Hari. Stuffed with a roster of deftly sketched supporting players glimpsed fleetingly in the aisle or the elevator, this boiling backroom epic showcases the protean finesse of undervalued director Roy Del Ruth. Released shortly before Roosevelt’s inauguration, Employees’ Entrance is practically a Hooverism liquidation sale, chucking the dead wood of paralyzed patricians and callous bankers preaching passive retrenchment. The evergreen promise: Americans will go back to work as soon as we hand over the reins to a lecherous authoritarian. (KW)
75 min • First National Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress, permission Warner Bros.(Swank)

Preceded by: Bugs Bunny in “Hare Conditioned” (Chuck Jones, 1946) – 8 min – 16mm

 

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Leave Your Partner at the Altar and Join Us for Elaine May’s The Heartbreak Kid – Rare 35mm Screening at the Music Box, Introduced by Joe Swanberg – January 9

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

Tuesday, January 9 @ 7:00 PM
THE HEARTBREAK KID
Directed by Elaine May • 1972
Introduced by Filmmaker Joe Swanberg
Elaine May’s Hollywood directing career may have been unjustly cut short by the failure of 1987’s Ishtar to recoup its outsized budget, but the four narrative features she currently has to her name are all essential. The Heartbreak Kid is May’s only directorial effort to feature a screenplay by somebody else, but the seething, brutally pointed line-readings from which the film derives most of its comic energy are all her own. (Neil Simon is the sole credited writer, although much of the film was purportedly improvised under May’s direction.) Charles Grodin, in his breakout performance, plays Lenny Cantrow, a Jewish newlywed on his honeymoon in Miami Beach with wife Lila (May’s daughter Jeannie Berlin) who sets his sights on Midwestern Gentile coed Kelly (Cybill Shepherd), ignoring the inconveniences of Kelly’s ever-present father (an apoplectic Eddie Albert) and Lenny’s own very recent marriage. Given May’s astonishing gift for comedic timing, it’s no surprise that each of The Heartbreak Kid’s four principals gives an accomplished and hilarious performance (Albert and Berlin were rewarded with Academy Award nominations for theirs), nor that May is triumphantly successful in making a masterpiece unlike anything seen in the American cinema before or since: a sunny, light, anti-romantic comedy that manages to be one of the bleakest films of the 1970s. (CW)
106 min • Palomar Pictures • 35mm from Academy Film Archive, permission Bristol-Myers Squibb
Film Stock: Kodak 2383 (2006) Lab: Technicolor
Buy Tickets Here!
Preceded by: “Krasner, Norman: Beloved Husband of Irma” (Shevard Goldstein, 1974) – 6 min – 16mm

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But that’s not all this week!

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

Wednesday, January 10 @ 7:30 PM
EMPLOYEES’ ENTRANCE
Directed by Roy Del Ruth • 1933
The proprietor of the Franklin Monroe Department Store may be able to trace his lineage back to the Founding Fathers, but the yachted gentry are no match for Kurt Anderson (Warren William), the pitiless manager whose ruthlessly amoral tactics keep the business and its 12,000 employees afloat at the onset of the Great Depression. Once a poor farm boy from Ohio, Anderson rose to the top by adhering to his sole credo: “SMASH! — or be smashed.” Among the wreckage along the way: Loretta Young as the eager model who gets a job by sleeping with the boss, Wallace Ford as the innovative but pliable floor manager, and Alice White as an all-purpose C-suite Mata Hari. Stuffed with a roster of deftly sketched supporting players glimpsed fleetingly in the aisle or the elevator, this boiling backroom epic showcases the protean finesse of undervalued director Roy Del Ruth. Released shortly before Roosevelt’s inauguration, Employees’ Entrance is practically a Hooverism liquidation sale, chucking the dead wood of paralyzed patricians and callous bankers preaching passive retrenchment. The evergreen promise: Americans will go back to work as soon as we hand over the reins to a lecherous authoritarian. (KW)
75 min • First National Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress, permission Warner Bros.(Swank)

Preceded by: Bugs Bunny in “Hare Conditioned” (Chuck Jones, 1946) – 8 min – 16mm

 

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