Author Archives: Chicago Film Society

Bare Knees – A Tribute to the Great American Flapper – 35mm Archival Print with Live Accompaniment from Dennis Scott – Feb. 15 at the Music Box Theatre

Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport Ave
Admission: $11

Saturday, February 15 @ 11:30 AM
Directed by Erle C. Kenton • 1928
Live organ accompaniment by Dennis Scott
The flapper captured America’s tender imagination in the 1920s, and Hollywood gave the public what it wanted with star showcases such as Olive Thomas’s The Flapper, Clara Bow’s It, and Joan Crawford’s Our Dancing Daughters. Leave it to low-budget independent Gotham Productions to deliver the most whole-hearted endorsement of the archetype in Bare Knees, rated “a good cure for flapper pessimists” by Photoplay. With her modern fashion and penchant for cigarettes, Billie (Virginia Lee Corbin) sticks out from the moment she arrives in Hanford City, a marked contrast to her prim sister Jane (Jane Winton) and her district attorney husband (Forrest Stanley). Billie soon turns the sleepy town upside-down with new uniforms for the women’s softball team and fresh insights into conservative hypocrisy. With no star egos to weigh down the proceedings, Bare Knees emerges as a fleet and crisp time capsule — it’s barely an hour, but it’s crammed with clever wordplay and fiery setpieces. Initially distributed by the fly-by-night Lumas Film Corporation, the filmsurvives thanks to film collector Lou DiCrescenzo, whose nitrate print (snapped up at a flea market for five dollars per reel!) was preserved by the Library of Congress with the support of the Ambler Theater. (KW)
60 min • Gotham Productions • 35mm from Library of Congress
Preceded by: “Ginger Snaps” (Charles Lamont, 1929) – 20 min – 16mm

Coming Soon

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

Wednesday, February 19 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Otto Preminger • 1953
It begins, like so many film noirs of its era, with a chance meeting: racing enthusiast-cum-ambulance driver Frank (Robert Mitchum) momentarily encounters a haunted young woman (Jean Simmons) after her stepmother is found in a gas-filled bedroom, none of them capable of envisioning the death trip this rendezvous will send all three careening through over the subsequent 80 minutes. Nearly a decade after Otto Preminger distinguished himself as one of the premier stylists of the American crime cinema with his breakout feature Laura, Angel Face saw the director pushing the genre ever further, employing a camera style as winding and unpredictable as the film’s script, and dredging performances out of his leads that more than hinted at the unimaginable wells of pain and trauma beneath their controlled exteriors. Angel Face would moreover distinguish itself from countless other films about hapless working stiffs drawn into lawless worlds via unhealthy passions by treating its standard-issue noir trappings as mostly iconographic, the quickest route to a particularly elemental, drifting fatalism that could make room for countless piano sonatas and a detour into courtroom drama that would serve as a dry run for Preminger’s later landmark Anatomy of a Murder. Rising above it all is Simmons’s variably terrifying and heartrending femme fatale turn, transforming a role that reads on the page like a portrait of avarice (her casting was purportedly at the behest of RKO owner Howard Hughes, who sought to humiliate the actress for spurning his advances) into an arresting study of appetites tragically, pathologically unbound. (CW)
91 min • RKO • 35mm from Warner Brothers
Preceded by: “Sniffy Escapes Poisoning” (Barry Duncan, 1967) – 6 min – 16mm

“The most enigmatic and haunting of Preminger’s works after Laura” – Jonathan Rosenbaum

“one of the forgotten masterworks of film noir… a disturbingly cool, rational investigation of the terrors of sexuality” – Dave Kehr

“one of the 10 best American sound films” – Jean-Luc Godard

Watch a trailer for ANGEL FACE

See what’s coming up for the rest of the season!

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