Terry Zwigoff’s Riotious Louie Bluie Fiddles Over to filmfront: Two Free 16mm Screenings, Nov. 21

1740 W. 18th St., Chicago, IL 60608
Free Admission

Saturday, November 23 @ 7:00 & 9:00 PM
Directed by Tery Zwigoff • 1985
Terry Zwigoff’s first film follows Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong as he hangs out, plays music, and, anecdote by anecdote, recounts his life. There’s the time a drunk undertaker’s daughter told him he wasn’t Louie Armstrong, he was just “Louie Bluie,” originating the film’s titular moniker. Or the time Armstrong’s father became a preacher, gave up string instruments as the devil’s music, and thus unintendedly prompted young Howard to start playing. Born in 1909, Armstrong played 22 instruments and, by the time the film was made in 1985, was among the last members of a fading generation of black string musicians. Told to the camera in between musical numbers played live for the film by Armstrong and longtime bandmate Ted Bogan, Armstrong’s story is remarkable both for its charm and for its evocation of a grim and not-so-distant Jim Crow past. Armstrong’s life was a story of joy and music, but it was also inseparably a story about the challenges a black man faced moving through white spaces. From well-heeled white events in LaFollette, TN, to rough-and-tumble white immigrant dives in Chicago, Armstrong used music not only to survive but to thrive in highly adverse environments. Sometimes wrongly credited at 75 minutes, the film has always clocked in at a brief hour, according to Zwigoff due to his own erroneous belief at the time that the film could get a TV release if it was kept to sixty minutes. (JR)
60 min • Superior Pictures •  16mm from Terry Zwigoff, permission Janus Films
Preceded by: Assorted Musical “Soundies” – 10 min – 16mm
Presented with the Jazz Institute of Chicago as part of their 50th Anniversary.

Coming Soon

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

Wednesday, November 27 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by A. Edward Sutherland • 1936
Snake oil salesman Prof. Eustace P. McGargle (W.C. Fields) travels from town to town with his adopted daughter Poppy (Rochelle Hudson), who really deserves better than being chased around by bamboozled yokels. Following Sally of the Sawdust (1925), the second adaptation of the 1923 Broadway show that brought W.C. Fields to fame was produced with the star nearly at death’s door. Suffering from multiple medical conditions exacerbated by years of continuous drinking, rumor has it that most of Fields’s long shots were actually his stunt double John Sinclair (all the more reason to cement Fields’s reputation as Chicago Film Society’s go-to hero for Thankgsiving Eve). Production issues aside, Fields still plays a mean game of croquet, and Poppy is both spit-out-the-mustard-you-snuck-in hilarious and, perhaps unsurprisingly, a very affectionate and genuine film about how to make the best of the family you’re stuck into. Not another peep until you put your foot in it. (JA)
Short: W.C. Fields in“The Fatal Glass of Beer” (Clyde Bruckman, 1933) – 18 min – 16mm

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