There Will Be Melodrama When Tomorrow Comes – John M. Stahl’s 1939 Classic in 35mm – July 10 at NEIU

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

Wednesday, July 10 at 7:30 PM
Directed by John M. Stahl • 1939
If virtually the entire corpus of Hollywood melodrama vanished overnight and had to be reconstructed from some representative specimens, John M. Stahl’s cycle of big-budget Universal weepers—Back Street (1932), Only Yesterday (1933), Imitation of Life (1934), and this 1939 straggler—would be more than sufficient. Achingly sincere, undoubtedly earnest, and charged with a feeling for the precariousness of working people’s lives, Stahl’s films will make you think twice before using ‘melodramatic’ as an epithet ever again. Recent retrospectives at Cinema Ritrovata in Bologna and the Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone attest that the re-evaluation of Stahl’s career has only just begun. Derided in its time as a quick cash-in riding the coattails of Love Affair, When Tomorrow Comes came out five months later and did indeed find Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer playing impossible lovers once more. She’s a hash house waitress and labor activist and he’s a suave pianist who may as well be from another planet. Problem is, he’s married and she’ll never find “Solidarity Forever” in his arms. Like Magnificent Obsession and Imitation of Life, When Tomorrow Comes was later remade by Douglas Sirk in a glossy, widescreen, color version (Interlude), but their virtues are divergent and ultimately complementary. (KW)
90 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Film Stock: Kodak 2302 (2001)
: Assorted Musical “Soundies” – 10 min – 16mm


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

Wednesday, July 17 at 7:30 PM
Directed by Spike Lee • 1990
Forced to practice the trumpet while all the other neighborhood kids congregate at the dugout, Bleek Gilliam grows up to be the leader of a successful jazz quintet. The adult Bleek (Denzel Washington) is torn between two strong-willed women—schoolteacher Joie Lee and aspiring singer Cynda Williams—but his first love is, of course, his music, and the biggest threat to it all is Bleek’s lingering loyalty to his manager and childhood friend (Spike Lee). For his follow-up to Do the Right Thing, Lee conceived a musical epic as expansive and misty as that breakthrough was tight and specific. Mo’ Better Blues is ostensibly set in present-day New York, but the cavernous club sets and musty caricatures of showbiz hangers-on suggest something more stylistically promiscuous, with decades’ worth of allusions and archetypes freely intermingling in an eternal cycle. (Wynn Thomas’s production design is a stand-out and Ruth E. Carter’s costumes likewise complicate any firm sense of period.) As always with Lee, Mo’ Better Blues is stocked with memorable supporting turns (Denzel’s bandmates include Wesley Snipes and Giancarlo Esposito) and enough swing-for-the-rafters digressions to remain vivid throughout. Lee’s father, Bill Lee, wrote the score, performed by the Branford Marsalis Quartet. (KW)
130 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal

Short: “All My Life” (Bruce Baillie, 1966) – 3 min – 16mm from Canyon Cinema — Travelling in Casper, California, Bruce Baille was struck by the beauty of the light in the area, and, wanting to finish a roll of Ansco film without the emotional drain of making a movie, shot a three minute pan of it before leaving. He then set the footage to Ella Fitzgerald’s “All My Life”, which he claimed as an inspiration for the film, using a scratchy recording to mimic how the song would sound when he listened to it at a friend’s cabin with “a potato sack over the speaker.” The result is what Baille considered one of his strongest films and which New York Times critic Manohla Dargis described as “one of the most perfect films that I’ve ever seen”.

Presented with the Jazz Institute of Chicago as part of JIC’s 50th Anniversary

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