Monthly Archives: April 2017

“The Devil Got Him First!” – New Season Begins May 3 with Rare 35mm Screening of Mitchum’s Thunder Road

Our 17th season begins on May 3 with Thunder Road. Check out the rest of the schedule.

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

Wednesday, May 3 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Arthur Ripley • 1958
Following the release of his first LP, Calypso Is Like So ..., Robert Mitchum delivered an even more personal testament, Thunder Road, a no-frills hillbilly thriller rooted in the eternal struggle between the moonshiners and the revenue men. Though nominally directed by silent film survivor Arthur Ripley, Thunder Road is definitely Mitchum’s show: he concocted the story, produced the movie, wrote the Billboard-charting theme song “Ballad of Thunder Road,” starred as veteran distiller Lucas Doolin, and cast his son James Mitchum as Doolin’s kid brother. Shot on location in Asheville, North Carolina, it played near-continuously in that state for three decades. The filmmaking is basic as a bag of dirt, but that’s an essential part of Thunder Road’s effortlessly elemental power: it’s a backwoods Beowulf that lumbers as storytelling and stumbles when it gropes for poetry but remains unassailable, irreducible. Richard Thompson’s evocative appreciation in Kings of the Bs remains definitive: “As a work, it shrinks from art straight toward its own truth. It transcends the limits of art because it is uncompromised by any elevated artistic intent: it exists at the white-hot juncture of fact and legend …. The film exists for a postwar subculture built on adolescence, cars, roads, night, windows rolled down, sleeves rolled up, and Chuck Berry on the radio.” (KW)
92 min • DRM Productions • 35mm from private collection, permission Park Circus
Preceded by: Meta-Four” (Wade Novy, 1964) – 16mm – 14 min
“Meta-Four” appears courtesy of Berkeley Film Museum and Pacific Film Archive

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