2019 UCLA Festival of Preservation
November 2 - December 4
"Filled, as always, with a deeply satisying cornucopia of films, forgotten gems and rarely revived classics that never fail to astonish in their diversity and dazzle in their newly restored glory."—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
From November 1 through December 4, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents the 2019 UCLA Festival of Preservation, a touring series of ten programs selected from the UCLA Film & Television Archive's latest restoration efforts.
Venues like the Gene Siskel Film Center depend heavily upon the efforts of enlightened film archives and distribution companies to undertake the costly and difficult task of preserving classic films. No organization has been more important to us in this respect than the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The superb restorations we have shown over the years of such films as Max Ophuls's LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, Shirley Clarke's THE CONNECTION, Joseph H. Lewis's GUN CRAZY, Larry Clark's PASSING THROUGH, J.L. Anderson's SPRING NIGHT, SUMMER NIGHT, and Howard Alk's THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON represent just a few of the treasures that UCLA has shared with us.
With more than 220,000 motion picture and television titles, the UCLA collection is second only to the Library of Congress in the United States and is the largest of any university in the world. Every two years, the archive opens up its vaults and presents the cream of its latest restorations to the public in the Festival of Preservation. As it did in its previous editions, the UCLA Festival of Preservation is touring in 2019-20 to selected venues across North America, and the Film Center is honored to be included among them.
The ten programs cover a wide spectrum of American film history. The effects of fascism on personal lives are dramatized in Frank Borzage's elegant THE MORTAL STORM and Arthur Ripley's low-budget VOICE IN THE WIND. The world of independent cinema is visited in L.Q. Jones's cult classic A BOY AND HIS DOG and Christopher Munch's New Queer Cinema milestone THE HOURS AND TIMES. Abuses of police power are the subject of the early talkie ALIBI and the film noir THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF. Other dimensions of film noir are explored in the neo-Gothic frenzies of THE RED HOUSE and the postwar disorientation of THE CROOKED WAY. The pleasures of genre entertainment are represented by the operetta MY LIPS BETRAY and the anarchic comedy of the four classic shorts in Laurel & Hardy: Fugues of Destruction.
35mm preservation prints courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Special thanks to Steven Hill, Paul Malcolm, and Todd Weiner of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
UCLA DOUBLE-BILL DISCOUNT!
Buy a ticket at our regular prices for the first UCLA film on any Saturday in November, and get a ticket for the second UCLA film that day at the discounted rate with proof of your original purchase: General Admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second film only. Discount available in person at the box office only.)
The Mortal Storm
1940, Frank Borzage, USA, 100 min.
With Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart
"Deft, moving 1940 melodrama, further proof (if anyone needs it) of the emotional honesty that the genre was capable."—Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
THE MORTAL STORM expands arch-romanticist Borzage’s focus from the couple to the family—in this case, the family of a persecuted German-Jewish professor (Frank Morgan), whose daughter (Margaret Sullavan) is courted by two suitors, one (Robert Young) a militant Nazi, the other (James Stewart) a staunch pacifist. This powerful mixture of romance and politics was one of the strongest anti-Fascist statements to come out of Hollywood in the pre-Pearl Harbor period. Borzage's fluid style, interweaving larger groups with individuals and couples, traces the intersection of the personal and the political. He creates a radiant world in which even inanimate forms—chairs, cups, snowflakes—are charged with feeling. 35mm. Preservation funding provided by The Juanita Scott Moss Estate. (MR)
Voice in the Wind
1944, Arthur Ripley, USA, 85 min.
With Francis Lederer, Sigrid Gurie
- Fri, Nov 1st 4:00pm
- Sat, Nov 2nd 5:00pm
"A film of deranged genius, as freaked-out as anything by Ulmer, Fuller, or Joseph H. Lewis."—Dan Stumpf, Mystery *File
One-time Mack Sennett gag man Ripley spent the first part of his career directing comedy shorts and the last part directing offbeat noirs (including the cult moonshiner saga THUNDER ROAD). An independent film produced by a Jewish refugee from Prague and scripted by noted Jewish-Austrian author Friedrich Torberg, this heartfelt, atmospheric drama deals with the plight of European refugees stranded on the Mexican island of Guadalupe. One of these lost souls, an amnesiac whom the locals call El Hombre, is revealed in flashbacks to be a celebrated Czech pianist who ran afoul of the Nazis. Inventively using offscreen sound and foggy expressionist sets to mask its low budget, VOICE IN THE WIND received Oscar nominations for Best Music and Best Sound Recording. DCP digital. Preservation funding provided by The Film Foundation and The George Lucas Family Foundation. (MR)
A Boy and His Dog
1975, L.Q. Jones, USA, 93 min.
With Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Jason Robards
"Grungy, fleet, and lively...an unruly daydream capped with a surprisingly jet-black acknowledgement of humankind's genetic destiny to ruin itself."—Chuck Bowen, Slant
The title suggests a wholesome family film, but that is just one of the edgy twists in this dark-humored cult classic, adapted from a novella by iconoclastic sci-fi author Harlan Ellison. Setting the template for THE ROAD WARRIOR and countless other post-apocalyptic sagas, the film is set in a scrapheap future where life is cheap, and women and food are scarce. It is also a future in which humans and dogs can communicate telepathically, with dogs clearly the superior species. Vic (Johnson), a lad of basic appetites, and Blood (voiced by Tim McIntire, who also composed the film's score), his sardonic canine companion, roam the desert wasteland, until a nubile lass (Benton) lures Vic down to a subterranean dystopia that plays like a warped version of Disneyland's Main Street. DCP digital widescreen. (MR)
The Hours and Times
1991, Christopher Munch, USA, 57 min.
With David Angus, Ian Hart
"Brilliant and concise."—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Along with such films as SWOON, POISON, and THE LIVING END, Christopher Munch's audacious first feature is one of the foundational works of the New Queer Cinema movement that arose in the early 1990s. The story is a speculative fiction extrapolated from a real event: a four-day getaway to Barcelona taken by John Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein in April 1963, just before the full explosion of Beatlemania. Most of the film is set in their hotel suite, as the cultured, gay Epstein (Angus) and the working-class, hetero-but-curious Lennon (Hart) circle around the issue of taking their affection for each other to the next level. Etched in austere, observant black-and-white images that dispel any traces of gossipy exploitation, THE HOURS AND TIMES is a poignant and nuanced portrait of deep male friendship tested by incipient fame and sexual tension. DCP digital. Preservation funding provided by Oscilloscope Laboratories and Sundance Institute. (MR)
The Red House
1947, Delmer Daves, USA, 100 min.
With Edward G. Robinson, Allene Roberts
"A pastoral, noir-inflected psychodrama with supernatural overtones, dealing chiefly with the thin line between healthy and sick sexuality. All very Freudian, in fact, and often very frightening, with Robinson in superb form as the patriarch tormented by his past."—Geoff Andrew, Time Out London
There are two movies here. The first is a neo-Gothic farrago, featuring Edward G. Robinson as a wooden-legged Ahabian patriarch, lording it over an isolated farm out of Wuthering Heights, with a deep dark secret hidden in a cursed forest out of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The second is a tale of adolescent romance (a specialty of writer-director Daves), centered on two intermingled good/bad girl/boy couples, with youthful Julie London and Rory Calhoun impressive as the darker halves of clean-cut Lon McCallister and Allene Roberts. The second movie is more successful than the first, but the mixture of the two lends a fascinating dimension, crackling with incestuous overtones and generational conflict, to this offbeat hybrid, a childhood favorite of Martin Scorsese. 35mm. Preservation funding provided by The Film Foundation and The George Lucas Family Foundation. (MR)
The Crooked Way
1949, Robert Florey, USA, 90 min.
With John Payne, Ellen Drew, Sonny Tufts
"A superb film noir...suspenseful, exciting and gorgeously shot."—Keith Humphreys, Washington Monthly
This low-budget film noir features a deep dive into L.A.'s seedy nightworld, enriched by the shadowy genius of noir's greatest cinematographer, John Alton (RAW DEAL, THE BIG COMBO). Payne, the rumpled everyman of such classic noirs as 99 RIVER STREET and KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, plays a war vet whose memory has been erased by a piece of shrapnel. He goes to L.A. in search of his lost identity and discovers that he has a criminal past, an ex-wife (Drew), and a disgruntled partner (onetime punchline Tufts, effective in an atypically nasty role) who is looking to get even with him. The film's pervasive mood of postwar malaise is fittingly capped by a climactic shootout in a cluttered war-surplus warehouse. DCP digital. Preservation funding provided by The Film Foundation and The George Lucas Family Foundation. (MR)
The Man Who Cheated Himself
1950, Felix Feist, USA, 80 min.
With Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt, John Dall
"Under Feist's watchful eye, the film takes the hard-boiled noir and turns it into visual poetry."—Matthew Lucas, From the Front Row
MAN is a solid entry in the flawed-cop cycle (THE PROWLER, WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, ON DANGEROUS GROUND, etc.) that reinvigorated the crime genre in the early 1950s. As in those films, the excruciatingly compromised position of the protagonist provides a rich opportunity for the actor in the leading role, here taken by Lee J. Cobb, fresh off his legendary performance in the original stage production of Death of a Salesman. Cobb plays Ed Cullen, a veteran San Francisco homicide detective who covers up a killing committed by his wealthy mistress (Wyatt, a long way from Father Knows Best). Tension mounts when Cullen's kid brother (Dall of ROPE and GUN CRAZY), recently assigned to the homicide division and eager to prove himself, starts circling in on the truth. Ace cinematographer Russell Harlan (GUN CRAZY, RIO BRAVO) makes excellent use of San Francisco locations, especially in the climactic showdown set at windswept, eerily deserted Fort Point. 35mm. Preservation funding provided by the Film Noir Foundation in memory of Joseph K. McLaughlin. (MR)
1929, Roland West, USA, 90 min.
With Chester Morris, Mae Busch
"Anyone interested in the progression of cop and gangster thrillers will want to see this early gem."—Paul Mavis, DVD Talk
Gangsters and chorus girls were mainstays of the early talkie era, and this crime saga features plenty of both, augmented by the expressionist flourishes and innovative sound techniques of director West (THE BAT WHISPERS). The line between cops and criminals is disturbingly thin in this gray-shaded morality tale, which centers on antihero Chick Williams (Morris), an embittered ex-con who was once framed by police. Pitted against him are his fiancée's onetime suitor and her disapproving dad, both policeman who are not reluctant to use third-degree methods to get suspects to cooperate. Caught in between is Chick's tough-minded fiancée (Busch), who refuses to be intimidated by anyone on either side of the law. ALIBI received three Oscar nominations: for Best Picture, Best Actor, and William Cameron Menzies's wild Art Deco set design. DCP digital. Preservation funding provided by The Film Foundation and The George Lucas Family Foundation. (MR)
Laurel & Hardy: Fugues of Destruction
1927-30, Various directors, USA, 79 min.
With Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy
Escalating, expertly orchestrated havoc was a specialty of the greatest of all movie comedy duos, as demonstrated by these four classic shorts.
Long extant only as a fragment, this recent reconstruction of THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY (1927, Clyde Bruckman, USA, 19 min., DCP digital) opens with a hilarious, long-lost boxing match and climaxes with an epic pie fight. Preservation funding provided by Jeff Joseph/SabuCat and UCLA Film & Television Archive.
HOG WILD (1930, James Parrott, USA, 19 min., 35mm) centers on Stan and Ollie's calamitous efforts to erect a radio antenna on the latter's roof; the opening bit of Ollie looking for his hat is a priceless display of pompous indignation. Preservation funding provided the Laurel & Hardy Preservation Fund, including the support of many “Sons of the Desert” tents, and Jeff Joseph/SabuCat.
BRATS (1930, James Parrott, USA, 21 min., 35mm) features Laurel & Hardy as both their adult selves and their miniaturized children, with an overflowing bathtub providing the coup de grâce. Preservation funding provided by the Laurel & Hardy Preservation Fund, including the support of many “Sons of the Desert” tents, The Packard Humanities Institute and Jeff Joseph/SabuCat.
PERFECT DAY (1929, James Parrott, USA, 20 min., 35mm) depicts Stan and Ollie's futile attempts to set out with their families on a picnic, accompanied by a repeated, increasingly ironic chorus of neighborly "goodbyes!" Preservation funding provided by a UCLA Spark crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to our numerous donors including members of the “Sons of the Desert” tents, M. Duane Rutledge and The Packard Humanities Institute. (MR)
My Lips Betray
1933, John G. Blystone, USA, 76 min.
With Lillian Harvey, John Boles
- Sat, Nov 30th 4:45pm
- Mon, Dec 2nd 6:00pm
Arising in the late nineteenth century, the operetta form was lighter than opera but more Europeanized and less vernacular than musical comedy, with a primary emphasis on singing rather than dancing. The operetta was still popular during the movie-musicals boom of the early talkie era, when it provided a platform for such stars as Jeanette MacDonald, Grace Moore, and German sensation Lillian Harvey, who was imported to Hollywood for MY LIPS BETRAY. Set in one of the mythical European monarchies beloved of operettas, the story features Harvey as an aspiring but unsuccessful singer whose career soars when she is mistakenly identified as the King's latest consort. John Boles plays the King, Swedish shtick specialist El Brendel plays the King's chauffeur, and the King's gadget-laden car, complete with built-in TV, also plays a major role. Preservation funding provided by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. 35mm. (MR)