Current Season

Our screenings are held at multiple venues around Chicago. This season you can find us at:

• The Music Box Theatre
3733 N Southport Ave — Directions • Parking
Tickets: $11 – $12

• The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) (inside of Building E)
3701 W Bryn Mawr Ave — DirectionsCampus Map
Tickets: $10

• Comfort Station
2579 N Milwaukee Ave — Directions
Tickets: FREE

***Complimentary Parking for audience members on Wednesday nights is available in Parking Lot D adjacent to the Bryn Mawr entrance.***

Want to attend our screenings but having financial hardships? Contact


May ▼

Thu 5/2 at 6:45 PM
Master and Commander ……………Music Box

Sat 5/11 at 11:30 AM
The Ship of Lost Men ……………..Music Box

Wed 5/15 at 7:30 PM
Frankenstein ……………..NEIU

Tues 5/28 at 7:30 PM
The Spirit of the Beehive ……………….NEIU


Wed 6/5 at 7:30 PM
Children of the Beehive ……………..NEIU

Sun 6/9 at 8 PM
Roving in Reversal with Jimmy Schaus

Wed 6/12 at 8 PM
Stooges in the Park ………….. Comfort Station

Sat 6/22 at 11:30 AM
Japanese Girls at the Harbor ………….Music Box

Wed 6/26 at 7:30 PM
Trouble in Paradise ……………..NEIU

Sat 6/29 at 8 PM
Mrs William Horsley’s Vexations


Wed 7/3 at 7:30 PM
The Day I Became a Woman ……………..NEIU

Sun 7/14 at 7:00 PM
Mantrap …………..Music Box

Wed 7/17 at 7:30 PM
Minnie and Moskowitz ……………….NEIU

Wed 7/24 at 7:30 PM
The Jackie Robinson Story ……………….NEIU

Mon 7/29 at 7:00 PM
Medium Cool …………..Music Box


Wed 8/7 at 7:30 PM
Beauty and the Beast …………….NEIU

Wed 8/14 at 7:30 PM
There’s Always Tomorrow …………….NEIU

Sun 8/25 at 6:00 PM ……….. GSFC
You’re Dancing This Dance All Wrong

8/28 at 7:30 PM
The Coca-Cola Kid …………….NEIU

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Thursday, May 2 @ 6:45 PM / Music Box Theatre
Directed by Peter Weir • 2003
In the years since its maiden voyage, Peter Weir’s epic seafaring adventure film has made an inexplicable journey: from respected blockbuster that never managed to launch a thousand sequels (or even one) to meme fodder. In 2020, pandemic-related boredom (or maybe just pure love of a solid adventure story?) led to a baffling explosion of internet posts quoting the opening line of the film: “Oceans are now battlefields” — reaching a pinnacle of sorts when a Chicago tattoo shop owner shared a photo of the line freshly inked on an anonymous gentleman’s back. Based on Patrick O’Brian’s classic series of maritime novels set during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, the film follows the crew of the HMS Surprise as they battle a larger and better-equipped French vessel in and around Cape Horn. But the heart of the film is on board the ship, in the relationship between best friends and intellectual opposites Captain Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and ship’s doctor Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany). While this might not seem like back tattoo material to most, there’s much here to be awed by. The film was shot partly on full-scale replicas of ships from the era (both in the open ocean, and in the water-tank built for James Cameron’s Titanic). It’s rich with tremendous scenes of oceanic action, and shows a commitment to practical effects and historical accuracy that was becoming increasingly rare even in 2003. It’s light on plot but heavy on hanging out, and there’s a true beauty in the easy camaraderie and Peter Pan-like playfulness of the crew members (some of whom are actual children), not to mention the leisurely philosophical bantering between battle sequences. As Roger Ebert put it, “Like the work of David Lean, it achieves the epic without losing sight of the human, and to see it is to be reminded of the way great action movies can rouse and exhilarate us, can affirm life instead of simply dramatizing its destruction.” (RL)
138 min • 20th Century Fox / Universal Pictures / Miramax • 35mm, permission Disney
Preceded by: Voiliers et Coquelicots (Sailboats & Poppies) (Rose Lowder, 2001) – 2 min – 16mm from Canyon Cinema

Saturday, May 11 @ 11:30 AM / Music Box Theatre
Directed by Maurice Tourneur • 1929
A Frenchman who established his directorial renown in New Jersey in 1914 when the infant industry was still working out the grammar of feature-length filmmaking, Maurice Tourneur carved out a niche for himself as a patient, painterly filmmaker with an idiosyncratic aesthetic. His methods were a poor fit for the ascendant studio system, and his short-lived but disastrous tenure at the helm of M-G-M’s production of The Mysterious Island ended Tourneur’s American career in 1926. Returning to Europe, Tourneur poured all his taste and skill into The Ship of Lost Men, a million-dollar German super-production that would be his last silent picture. With a roster of British, French, Russian, and German actors (including Marlene Dietrich as an American aviatrix, just before her Blue Angel breakthrough) calculated to appeal to markets that were already fragmenting with the coming of sound, Tourneur’s atmospheric drama plays like the valedictory voyage of cosmopolitan silent cinema. This tale of a barge of scoundrels who rise in mutiny against their tyrannical captain (Fritz Kortner) during an expedition to Brazil was largely ignored when it was new, a ghost ship drifting away in the fog. TheShip of Lost Men came ashore belatedly in the early 1970s, when silent film collector and distributor Paul Killiam donated a 35mm print to the American Film Institute. Although rarely revived, The Ship of Lost Men has been praised by historian William K. Everson for its “remarkable pictorial quality” and for Tourneur treating Dietrich “as though she had already established a screen mystique, cagily withholding her introductory closeup for as long as he can.” (KW)
122 min • Max Glass Film Produktion GmbH • 35mm from Library of Congress
Preceded by:  “Felix Braves the Briny” (Otto Mesmer, 1926) – 7 min – 16mm

Live musical accompaniment by Jay Warren!

Wednesday, May 15 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by James Whale • 1931
Frankenstein stands as a reanimated behemoth in cinema history and cultural lore. We follow deranged medical student Henry Frankenstein, who dares to play God by piecing together body parts from rifled graves in an attempt to create life, only to create a monster in an experiment — and within himself. After Bela Lugosi’s rise to fame from Universal’s first monster movie success, Dracula, he was initially slated to embody Frankenstein’s monster, but he declined the part (on account of it being a non-speaking role), paving the way for Boris Karloff’s iconic portrayal. Karloff was already a seasoned actor with over 80 Hollywood silent films and talkies under his belt, from bit parts in Westerns to a powerful supporting performance in Howard Hawks’s 1930 crime drama The Criminal Code. But it was through a chance encounter at Universal’s commissary that he caught the eye of director James Whale, who noticed Karloff’s towering presence and distinctive jawline and found that the pair’s British camaraderie made him the perfect fit. To become the monster, Karloff underwent grueling makeup sessions orchestrated by Jack Pierce, who would later be known for his work on The Mummy and The Wolf Man. Pierce’s painstaking attention to detail included adhering mortician’s wax to Karloff’s eyelids, making his eyes heavy to open — giving the monster a less alive, and more corpse-like, gaze. In addition, to pull off the weighted look of the monster, Karloff wore 4-inch platform boots that weighed 11 pounds each. The amalgamation of special effects and Karloff’s appearance cemented the style of Frankenstein’s monster across countless adaptations and sequels. The tale of Frankenstin’s monster has left an enduring legacy that has captivated audiences for nearly two centuries, from Mary Shelley’s publication of the original novel in 1818 to the present day. As a cornerstone of Universal’s Monster franchise, Karloff’s hypnotizing performance as the monster, full of pathos, challenges us to reflect on our humanity. The legacy of Frankenstein affirms its status as a timeless classic, a testament to the power of Shelley’s tale and Whale’s cinematic vision. (TV)
71 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Preceded by: Nocturne (Peter Tscherkassky,  2006) – 9 min – 35mm from Canyon Cinema

Tuesday, May 28 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by Víctor Erice • 1973
In Spanish with English subtitles
In a remote Castilian village, circa 1940, an itinerant film projectionist presents a screening of the 1931 Universal Pictures classic Frankenstein. In the audience are two young sisters, Isabel (Isabel Tellería) and Ana (Spanish film icon Ana Torrent in her first screen appearance). Their encounter with James Whale’s celluloid monster will imbue their experiences in the subsequent days with a mysterious and phantasmal power, particularly Ana’s discovery of a wounded revolutionary from the recently defeated Spanish Republican Army. Víctor Erice began his career as a filmmaker in the waning days of Spain’s Nationalist regime, when the heavy censorship exerted over film production began to loosen and artists began to tentatively and obliquely approach the political oppression of recent Spanish history. The Spirit of the Beehive, Erice’s first feature, would become perhaps the most indelible work of film art produced during the course of the Franco dictatorship, as well as a major cult item for cinephiles of all stripes: at turns wondrous, enigmatic, unnerving, and heartrending. With rapturously beautiful cinematography courtesy of the nearly blind Luis Cuadrado. (CW)
98 min • Elías Querejeta Producciones Cinematográficas • 35mm from Janus Films
Preceded by: Selected cartoon

Wednesday, June 5 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by Hiroshi Shimizu • 1948
In Japanese with English subtitles
The limitless Hiroshi Shimizu promotes humanity with the awe-inspiring Children of the Beehive, a heartrending drama set in postwar Japan. Shimizu’s masterwork is an underappreciated yet enduring portrait of a band of war orphans on the road to whatever comes next. The film marked Shimizu’s first independently produced feature under his production banner, Beehive Films, and became a landmark work of Japanese independent cinema. Shimizu had been a Shochiku Studio fixture since his early twenties, where he was the inexhaustible director of over 160 films, but he produced only 5 — including two follow-ups to Children of the Beehive. In the film, a group of young orphaned boys (portrayed by unknown and amateur actors) hang around a train station. They befriend a repatriated soldier who decides to lead the gang to his former reformatory school, the Introspection Tower. They hit the road and Shimizu takes us on a journey through rural Japan, with landscapes stretching endlessly. Despite the heaviness of the subject material, the film is tender and warm, a nod of encouragement from a director with a deeply felt affinity towards children and the marginalized. In Children of the Beehive, Shimizu’s lost souls are shepherded not only towards a destination, but towards a state of belonging — amid the ruins, they find community. However, despite its sunny tone, it remains firmly rooted in the real world, with moments of beauty and connection alongside great tragedy and uncertainty. (RIN)
86 min • Hachi no Su Eiga-bu • 35mm from Kawakita Memorial Film Institute, permission Kobe Planet Film Archive.
Preceded by: “Boobs in the Woods” (Robert McKimson, 1950) – 7 min – 35mm

Sunday, June 9 @ 8 PM
Roving in Reversal with Jimmy Schaus
Directed by Jimmy Schaus
An underground music and cinema stalwart since the mid-00s, artist and filmmaker Jimmy Schaus has worked in nearly every creative medium you could name. A two-time alumnus of Celluloid Now (Chicago Film Society’s contemporary film art showcase), Schaus has of late completed a number of experimental shorts in super 8 and 16mm, shot amidst restless travels and tranquil respites, with in-camera editing that evinces an instinct for spontaneous artistic gestures honed through years of working in improvised music and performance, and often scored with Schaus’s own frequently mutating audio compositions. Wandering from the sun-dappled Mediterranean vistas of Spain and Greece to the sun-scorched scrub-and-asphalt expanses of suburban California and Florida (with a notable detour to explore Wisconsin’s House on the Rock), Schaus’s films capture, with an abundance of curiosity and humor, the texture of an artistic life lived with fullness and passion across two continents. Shot entirely on reversal film stocks, the work in this program will be presented from Schaus’s camera originals, irreplaceable film objects with a direct physical tie to the events and experiences they document. (CW)
Approx. 60 min. • 16mm and super 8 from Jimmy Schaus

Seating is limited for this program, RSVPs are currently closed.

This screening is supported by:

Wednesday, June 12 @ 8PM / Comfort Station
Stooges in the Park
Often misunderstood, rarely celebrated, and occasionally openly derided, the Three Stooges (Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Moe Howard, and sometimes Shemp Howard) have been an occasional and sometimes controversial staple of Chicago Film Society’s programming since our modest beginnings in 2011. “Why are they so mean to each other?” asks the timid Midwesterner who has never had to live with a roommate or sibling. “Why are they so dumb?” asks the well-intentioned over thinker. “Why are they so bad at their jobs?” asks the craftsman who has never suffered the crippling pain of their own incompetence. You will have questions, too, but rest assured the Three Stooges are actually very kind, very smart, and very good at what they do. This family-friendly program of Three Stooges shorts will be accompanied by other inexplicable oddities from the Chicago Film Society film collection. Admission to this outdoor screening is free! (JA)
Approx 90 min • 16mm from CFS, permission Swank

Saturday, June 22 @ 11:30 AM / Music Box Theatre
Directed by Hiroshi Shimizu • 1933
Best friends Sunako (Michiko Oikawa) and Dora (Yukiko Inoue) attend a Catholic school together in the port city of Yokohama, a bustling gateway to Western fashions — and vices. Their dutiful existence is soon disrupted by Henry (Ureo Egawa), a wannabe gangster who rides a motorcycle through the hills. Sunako falls for him, but after she turns to impulsive violence to keep her man to herself, she exiles herself to Nagasaki. Years later, she returns to Yokohama as a geisha, with a wannabe bohemian boyfriend in tow, and finds Dora and Henry have married. An exquisite character study of old friends trying to rebuild their connections amidst doubt and distrust in a rapidly changing society, Japanese Girls at the Harbor plays like a melodrama with modernist flourishes. By the time he made this film, Hiroshi Shimizu had been working at Shochiku for almost a decade, often turning out ten feature films a year. The vast majority of Shimizu’s silent output is no longer extant, but if Japanese Girls at the Harbor is any guide, the loss is immense. Unlike his friend and Shochiku colleague Yasujirô Ozu, Shimizu did not lean heavily on prefab genre tropes, instead building the narrative through a number of eccentric stylistic choices (jump cuts, ghostly fade-outs) that suggest an engaged artist grappling with how to tell this particular story and breaking the rules as he saw fit. (KW)
77 min • Shochiku • 35mm from National Film Archive of Japan, permission Janus
Preceded by: “Battle of the Monkey and the Crab” (Yasuji Murato, 1927) – 4 min – 16mm

Live musical accompaniment by MIYUMI Project Japanese Experimental Ensemble

Sponsored in part by Asian Improv aRts Midwest

Wednesday, June 26 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
This screening was cancelled. We hope to reschedule for a later date.
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1932
Many directorial stars shine brightly in the wide and diverse CFS galaxy, but if we’ve had one North Star over the years, it’s surely been Mr. Lubitsch. Since spring 2011, we’ve averaged about one of his films per year — yes, stat-hounds, this marks our thirteenth Lubitsch-helmed title on the books, almost double that of the nearest competitor (sorry, Mitchell Leisen!). Naturally, we’ve taken our time getting around to showing what’s arguably his most celebrated effort, but here we are. Warm, debonair Herbert Marshall and sparkling, impish Miriam Hopkins breeze lusciously onto the screen as newly acquainted con artist/jewel thieves improvising a transcontinental tarantella that, with the addition of Kay Francis’s wealthy perfume magnate as their mark, becomes a delicious pas de trois and one of filmdom’s most iconic and enduring love triangles. All three principals exhibit that rare charm one associates with the Marx Brothers or Marilyn Monroe — they seem almost to have burst into the movie from some higher charismatic plane and convinced the other actors to go along with their idea of fun. (And Hall of Fame supporting players Edward Everett Horton and Charlie Ruggles are happy to oblige.) Everyone here vibrates higher. Despite this momentum, or perhaps because of it, Trouble is a movie that never seems to be trying to be anything more than it is … and therefore becomes much more. Pre-Code ellipses abound, as do breathtaking, oversized Deco sets and witty, tantalizing, “just enough” exchanges (both verbal and non-) among the scheming players, right up until the final (silent) moments, the gentle perfection of which cannot fail to satisfy. (GW)
83 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Preceded by: “The Pharmacist” (Arthur Ripley, 1933) – 19 min – 35mm

Saturday, June 29 @ 8 PM
Mrs William Horsley’s Vexations
A film and projection performance by Mrs William Horsley studio
directed, edited, performed by Matthew Thurber, 2021-23

The CIA around 1959 after successful forays into the visual arts, began to infiltrate “Easy- Listening” music. They secretly funded many favorite artists like Les Baxter, Arthur Lyman, and saw potential for weaponized sound in Erik Satie’s Vexations, an infamous piano piece that repeates a simple phrase 840 times. As John Cage had organized the only public airing of this work, CIA operatives recruited him to create an arrangement of Vexations for Mantovani’s orchestra with prepared piano plinking out the main melody line. Breakthroughs in miniaturization technology meant a capsule of microscopic musicians performing this torturous durational piece could be used to assasinate communist targets. What happened instead was a terrible accident during the recording session in Langley, Virginia during which all the musicians were turned into ethereal gas…But they are still with us, in a limbo state out of time, gathered around a piano bar physically located inside the dumpster of “The Thing” junk store in Greenpoint. As the condo buildings shimmer into being along the shores of the East River, the waves reflected in glass awaken dematerialized musicians. One by one, they are crossfaded from limbo into our hellish real world… in which the imperialist musical project has prevailed in endlessly Spotified coffee-shopping Furniture Music.
45 min • 16mm film with live mixed sound and multiple projections

Matthew Thurber is a cartoonist and filmmaker based in NYC. He is the author of 1-800-MICE, INFOMANIACS, Art Comic, Looking For The Cat. He has performed at the Serpentine Gallery UK, Hammer Museum LA, and had a 2 person drawing show with William Wegman in 2017. Thurber’s films Fleegix (2019) The Sea Masons (2021), and Vexations (2024) are feature length narratives on 16mm, manifesting as performances. Mrs William Horsley is a cinema “band” in which the films, made in a role playing game process, are projected in ritual performance.

RSVPs are currently closed for this program. Join us next time!

This screening is supported by:

Wednesday, July 3 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by Marzieh Meshkini • 2000
In Farsi with English subtitles
A young girl enjoys her last moments of unencumbered childhood before being fitted with a chador and all the gendered expectations that come with it. A wife joins a bicycle race with hundreds of other women, yet her husband still manages to find her amidst the crowd to deliver a conjugal harangue. An elderly woman stocks up for an afterlife’s worth of furniture and creature comforts at a beachside shopping mall. These three gently satiric, acidly serious sketches about the contradictions and constraints of sisterhood in the Islamic Republic form the basis of The Day I Became a Woman, the debut feature of Marzieh Meshkini, the wife of fundamentalist-militant-turned-filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Meshkini’s venture was a literal family concern, a production of Makhmalbaf Film House, the putative film school whose handful of students were Makhmalbaf’s family and friends. After over a decade representing the leading edge of the Iranian New Wave on the festival circuit, Makhmalbaf had decided to take a step back, declaring that he had “stopped making films and decided to make filmmakers.” (Among the other Film House productions were The Apple and Blackboards from Makhmalbaf’s daughter Samira.) The Day I Became a Woman bowed to acclaim at the Venice Film Festival and landed US distribution from The Shooting Gallery, a once-lauded indie company that shuttered within three months of the film’s stateside release amidst an ill-timed pivot to tech company pretensions. Distribution is ephemeral, art is eternal, and Meshkin’s film has been wandering the beach ever since. (KW)
78 min • Makhmalbaf Film House • 35mm from Chicago Film Society collections, permission Makhmalbaf Film House
Preceded by:  “Vau Vau” (Boris Kolar, 1964) – 9 min – 35mm

Sunday, July 14 @ 7:00 PM / Music Box Theatre
Directed by Victor Fleming • 1926
The girl can’t help it in Mantrap, a raucous silent romantic comedy starring the inimitable Clara Bow as an out-of-control flirt at the center of a madcap love triangle in backwoods Canada. It’s a testament to Bow’s endearingly audacious appeal that Mantrap was a hit at the box office, despite having been adapted from a commercially unsuccessful novel published by Sinclair Lewis less than two months before the film’s release. (The sharp direction from Victor Fleming and the gorgeous photography from James Wong Howe surely helped, too.) Fleming, who had directed eighteen tepidly received films by the time of Mantrap’s release, was uniquely suited to the material as a rugged sportsman, a great director of actresses, and a bit of a Casanova. The film became the 37-year-old director’s breakthrough in a career that was really only just beginning, and he wasn’t the only one — Wong Howe had yet to establish his reputation, and Bow was just on the cusp of dominating the zeitgeist with 1927’s It. (Bow would name Mantrap as her enduring favorite among her own films.) In the film, Alverna (Bow), a head-turning Minneapolis manicurist, agrees to dinner and a marriage with Joe Easter (Ernest Torrance), an oafish yet adoring shop owner based in Mantrap, Canada. Ralph Prescott (Percy Marmont), a hotshot New York divorce attorney, takes a troubled sojourn to Mantrap, where the jaded bachelor is flabbergasted and irritated to find Alverna making eyes at him from the dock. She shamelessly pursues him and we can’t quite blame him for buckling, just as we can’t quite blame her for flirting. The script’s paper-thin characterization of Alverna and her motivations are rendered inconsequential by the vitality of Bow’s intuitive and intelligent performance. What else is the consummate flapper supposed to do in Mantrap, Canada? Can a woman so vibrant handle being so bored? She can hardly be contained onscreen! (RIN)
71 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress
Preceded by: “Alice in the Wooly West” (Walt Disney, 1926) – 8 min – 16mm

Live musical accompaniment by David Drazin!

Wednesday, July 17 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by John Cassavetes • 1971
One year after the release of the revelatory and difficult Husbands, John Cassavetes continued his ongoing studies in machismo with his unsteadying take on the screwball comedy, Minnie and Moskowitz. Cassavetes, no stranger to courtship or domesticity, cast his wife and closest collaborator Gena Rowlands as a woman under the gaze of his deranged men. Museum curator Minnie Rippon (Gena Rowlands), a great appreciator of beauty (and a great example of it) removes her cartoonishly oversized sunglasses at the museum and at the cinema, where she can fully immerse herself in the fantasy and artifice of picture-perfect movie love. After a lifetime of romantic disappointment, she feels resigned to what she’s grown to accept as reality (did Ingrid Bergman have to navigate the same world?). In an astonishing monologue, a wine-drunk Minnie proclaims movies to be a “conspiracy,” explaining to her equally hopeless and clueless friend that she “…never met a Charles Boyer. I never met a Humphrey Bogart.” She has a string of violent encounters with suitors who admit to envying and objectifying her, without particularly liking or even knowing her (“…if I could find someone…it could be you…it could be someone that would have your qualities…that if I touched her hand she would not pull it away, if you know what I mean.”) Parking attendant Moskowitz (Seymour Cassell), the least bad of the bunch, is no charmer; he’s uncouth and forceful; he may come to her rescue, but she never escapes a scene of chaos unscathed. But he sweeps her off her feet (literally). To the well-bred and emotionally repressed Minnie, he is an absolute original, and the closest thing she’s found to a lover in a while. He may not be Charles Boyer, but he exists, and he likes the movies too. (RIN)
114 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Preceded by: “D’ Fightin’ Ones” (Friz Freleng, 1961) – 7 min – 35mm

Wednesday, July 24 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by Alfred E. Green • 1950
By January 1950, Jackie Robinson had already made history as the first Black major league baseball player, been named Rookie of the Year in 1947, and been designated National League MVP in 1949. In the interim between his third and fourth season playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson took a detour to California. Hollywood had been contemplating a Robinson biopic for a few years, but the industry instinct to kowtow to Southern exhibitors and to concoct imaginary white mentors for the ballplayer meant that a major studio could not and would not do Robinson’s story justice. Instead, Robinson wound up playing himself in a low-budget independent picture, financed largely by the employees of the fledgling Eagle-Lion Films. (Hardly lavish by Poverty Row standards, the production nevertheless paid Robinson almost 50% more than his Dodgers salary the previous year, and cast up-and-coming American Negro Theatre actress Ruby Dee as his wife Rachel.) Directed by the veteran journeyman Alfred E. Green, who cut his teeth on cheap, quick Warner Bros. pre-Code films like Baby Face, The Jackie Robinson Story offered an inspirational, rat-a-tat dramatic re-enactment of key moments from Robinson’s life, from his childhood in Pasadena and his student days at UCLA to his service in the Army and his time in the Negro Leagues. The film was warmly received, with Bosley Crowther of the New York Times praising it as “a frank and familiar pursual of the old pluck-and-luck routine, with the hero smacking a grand-slam off Jim Crow in the ninth.” (KW)
77 min • Eagle-Lion Films • 35mm from Library of Congress
Preceded by: “Sports Parade: Daredevils on Wheels” (Charles L. Tedford, 1949) – 10 min – 35mm

Monday, July 29 @ 7:00 PM / Music Box Theatre
Directed by Haskell Wexler • 1969
“Look out, Haskell, it’s real!” So warns an off-camera crewmember as a police-thrown tear gas canister rolls towards the director during one of the more cataclysmic verité sequences at the center of this monumental doc/fiction hybrid. The shouted alert (added in post-production) is almost too perfect an outcry to be contained in a restless film which constantly yaws back and forth between “reality” and “artifice.” Just before the summer of ’68, Wexler, fresh off an Oscar win for cinematography, cashed in his clout to convince Paramount to back an experimental trip to Chicago, where, he assured newly installed studio boss Robert Evans, an important movie would emerge. He was right. Wexler, interrogating his own profession, created a loose fictional story around a proxy character — a cold-eyed, Eclair-wielding television reporter (the stoic, sinewy Robert Forster) who navigates the run-up to the real-life Democratic National Convention while carrying on a tender affair with a young widowed mother (Verna Bloom). While in town, Wexler and crew would immerse themselves in the political moment, capturing a thick slice of the zeitgeist including police riot training sessions, precious scenes of the now-vanished “hillbilly tenements” of Uptown, and of course the well-known police-led riots that shocked a divided nation. The finished film daringly, perhaps irresponsibly, entwines such footage with the devised narrative to create a blurred statement of radical poetry, all the more potent for its being a major studio film at a time of major industry transition. As Chicagoans enter another turbulent political season, in which our city will again play host to a DNC against a backdrop of war and unrest, we owe it to ourselves to wrestle with the images and ideas of this untidy document. Chicago Film Society has commissioned a new print of Medium Cool for our permanent collection, special thanks to Paramount Pictures Corporation and FotoKem. (GW)
111 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Chicago Film Society collections, permission Paramount
Preceded by:  “The People’s Right to Know: Police vs. Reporters” (The Film Group, 1969) – 14 min – 16mm from Chicago Film Archives. Preserved with the support of the National Film Preservation Foundation

Wednesday, August 7 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by Jean Cocteau • 1946
In French with English subtitles
Sixteen years after shaking up the film world with his cryptic classical/surreal mashup The Blood of a Poet, 57-year-old polymath Jean Cocteau celebrated the end of the Nazi occupation by directing his second film. His wildly influential take on Mme. de Beaumont’s 18th-century fairy tale would become known for its delightful visual trickery, its Busby Berkeley-level explorations of cinematic space, and camera movements that seem plugged into a universal yet intensely personal dream-logic. Perversely, Cocteau cast his “longtime companion,” chiseled hunk Jean Marais, as the Beast, a cursed prince who enslaves Josette Day’s Belle, ostensibly to punish her father for poaching. Largely invisible under prosthetic fur, fangs, claws, and moveable ears (!), Marais’s performance is powerfully tender and terrifying in equal measure. Of course, the Beast becomes dangerously infatuated with his captive — and we viewers, caught up in this extreme D/s narrative, must contend with our possible complicity. Is this film “merely” a hypnotic study of surfaces and obsessive love, or can it be read as an allegory for life under a brutal, imprisoning force, from a filmmaker who sometimes prankishly expressed sympathy for the Führer? Cocteau, born in 1889, liked to put himself above such debates by claiming to be “the same age” as cinema itself (er, close) and therefore immune to critical interpretation; for him, art was entirely separate from politics. A slippery character, both Wildean icon and Anger-ish troll, whose public statements often clouded the intent of his works, Cocteau remains elusive and compelling, just like the ancient myths and folktales which haunted him and provided fodder for his blazing imagination. (GW)
93 min • Les Films André Paulvé • 35mm from Janus Films
Preceded by: Beasts in Cinema trailer reel – 35mm – 10 min

Wednesday, August 14  @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by Douglas Sirk • 1956
Twenty years after leaving town, design maven Norma Miller Vale (Barbara Stanwyck) arrives at the front door of her former employer, toy manufacturer Clifford Groves (Fred MacMurray), purposefully rekindling an abandoned intimacy. There’s Always Tomorrow was adapted from a popular Jazz Age novel from Ursula Parrott (who acted as the film’s co-screenwriter) and was sandwiched between the releases of Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows in 1955 and Written on the Wind at the end of 1956. This virtuosic run forever established Sirk as a master of style and tone. Although all three films were shot by legendary cinematographer and frequent Sirk collaborator Russell L. Metty (also responsible for 1958’s highly stylized film noir Touch of Evil), There’s Always Tomorrow is distinguished from its Technicolor siblings by its expressive use of black and white and notedly gloomy undercurrent. The film is cast in shadows, with a plot that’s driven by whispers. As Sirk scholar Tom Ryan wrote, the film “…comes just about as close to being a film noir as a family melodrama can get without someone dying, or at least pulling a gun.” Despite leading a comfortable, all-American life with a swell wife (Joan Bennett) and three children, Clifford fears he is too close to becoming one of his own robotic creations. As portrayed by the pitch-perfect Fred MacMurray, we understand his fear; he seems to lack interiority and ideas for how to gain it. He can only project his dissatisfaction outwards, towards his own family. Norma arrives, projecting vitality (even a repressed Barbara Stanwyck is still Barbara Stanwyck). With a mutual ambivalence towards their current realities, they soak in the dry heat of Palm Valley as if it’s their last grasp at happiness. (RIN)
84 min • Universal-International • 35mm from Universal
Preceded by:  “World’s Most Beautiful Girls” (Jesse Hibbs, 1952) – 20 min – 35mm

Sunday, August 25 @ 6:00 PM / Gene Siskel Film Center
Directed by Cameron Worden  2021
A discursive, fluid portrait of a loose community shouldering homelessness, drug addiction, and mental illness, You’re Dancing This Dance All Wrong presents an intimate snapshot of life in the fringes of pre-Covid Kansas City, Missouri. Taking a subjective, diaristic approach, filmmaker (and CFS staff member) Cameron Worden assembles a rough-edged, formally adventurous nonfiction hangout film out of super 8 film footage captured on the fly (and blown up to 35mm for exhibition) alongside a dense soundtrack built out of hours of field recordings, presenting a series of often darkly humorous conversations touching on employment frustrations, best filmmaking practices, fast food, and the encroaching threat of gentrification.
68 min  35mm from Cameron Worden
Preceded by: “Leaves for a reel” (Cameron Worden, 2022) – 18 min – 35mm

This screening is supported by:

Wednesday, August 28 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by Dušan Makavejev • 1985
“They call him Whiz Kid. They advise not to try and understand him.” In this conspicuously offbeat film, Eric Roberts is Becker, an ex-marine turned eccentric Coca-Cola marketing executive from Atlanta, USA. Thirsty to tap into markets yet untouched by the soda giant’s reach, he heads to the small Australian town of Anderson Valley with a mission to transform an independent soda factory into another Coca-Cola production facility. Becker has only a month to conceive of a way to take over the small soda company’s facility, but is hell-bent on giving it everything he has with his oozing Southern charm and idiosyncratic suaveness. Anderson Valley isn’t so easily taken in, but Becker’s arrival at Sydney’s Coke headquarters turns the head of the secretary the company assigns him for his visit. Terri, played by Greta Scacchi, tries to ignite a romance with the ambivalent Becker amidst her tumultuous home life and personal connections to the town that rejects his soda capitalist fantasies. The Coca-Cola Kid was shot on location in the lush landscape of the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney by cinematographer Dean Semler, veteran of hit action titles like Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and The Last Action Hero. Here, his lens highlights the glaring red from the onslaught of Coke products while maintaining the beauty of the Australian landscape. All of this was dreamed up by countercultural Australian novelist Frank Moorhouse and director Dušan Makavejev, whose illustrious 1971 film about communism and sexuality, W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism, was banned after its release in his native Yugoslavia. Even as he pursued new projects in Europe, producers often saw his interest in sexuality and politics and his tendency to dive into experimentation, subversion, and absurdity in his filmmaking as a risk. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Coca-Cola did not sponsor the making of The Coca-Cola Kid, one of the great truly weird and singular films of the 1980s. But by the end of it, you’ll be repeating musician Tim Finn’s jingle in your head: “you’ve got life by the throat when you’re drinking a Coke!” (TV)
98 min • Cinecom • 35mm from Park Circus
Preceded by:  Vintage soda advertisements – 35mm – approx. 10 min

Programmed and Projected by Julian Antos, Becca Hall, Rocío Irizarry Nuñez, Rebecca Lyon, Tavi Veraldi, Kyle Westphal, and Cameron Worden.

Research Associate: Mike Quintero

Ambassador / Additional Capsules: Gabriel Wallace

The Chicago Film Society is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

Heartfelt thanks to:

Shayne Pepper, Cyndi Moran, Robert Ritsema, & Jose Aguinaga of Northeastern Illinois University; Brian Andreotti & Ryan Oestreich of the Music Box Theatre; David Antos; Brian Belovarac of Janus Films; James Bond of Full Aperture Systems; Edo Choi of the Museum of the Moving Image; Chris Chouinard of Park Circus; Amy Crismer of Disney; Justin Dennis of Kinora; Alexander Fee of the Japan Society; Jason Jackowski of Universal Pictures; Japan Foundation, New York; Andrea Kalas & Jack Durwood of Paramount; Steven Lloyd; Denise Marques & Andrew Oran of FotoKem; Maysam Makhmalbaf of Makhmalbaf Film House; Douglas McLaren of the University of Chicago Film Studies Center; Brian Meacham of Yale Film Archive; Jeff Milam of Ecometric Solutions; Brett Kashmere & Seth Mitter of Canyon Cinema; Lynanne Schweighofer, Andy Whitmore, & David Pierce of the Library of Congress; Leila Sherbini; Tommy José Stathes; Yukiko Wachi, Kawakita Memorial Film Institute; Nancy Watrous, Olvia Babler, & Mickey Gral of Chicago Film Archives; Yoshio Yasui, and Kobe Planet Film Archive. Particular thanks to CFS board members Raul Benitez, Mimi Brody, Steven Lucy, Brigid Maniates, & Artemis Willis, and CFS advisory board members Brian Block, Lori Felker, & Andy Uhrich.

And extra special thanks to our audience, who make it all possible!