2011 UCLA Festival of Preservation
- 2011 UCLA Festival of Preservation
"Forget Blu-Ray discs and plasma TVs. For true cinephiles, nothing lets a movie really sing like a pristine celluloid print. In which case, UCLA's Festival of Preservation is a veritable opera."
From September 3 through October 5, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents the 2011 UCLA Festival of Preservation, a touring series of fourteen programs culled from the UCLA Film & Television Archive's latest restoration efforts.
Venues like the Gene Siskel Film Center depend heavily upon the efforts of enlightened distribution companies and film archives to undertake the costly and difficult task of preserving classic films in the glorious but all-too-fragile medium of 35mm film. No organization has been more important to us in this respect than the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The gorgeous restorations we have shown in recent years of such films as Max Ophuls's LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, Shirley Clarke's THE CONNECTION, Joseph H. Lewis's THE BIG COMBO, and Fritz Lang's THE SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR 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 had in 2009, the UCLA Festival of Preservation is touring in 2011 to selected venues across North America, and the Film Center is honored to be included.
The fourteen programs cover a wide spectrum of American film history. The silent era is represented by the gender-bending comedy EVE'S LEAVES, the headline-inspired melodrama THE GOOSE WOMAN, and a pair of films by the influential stylist Rex Ingram, all featuring live piano accompaniment by the superb David Drazin. Film noir casts its enchanting shadows in rarely seen early efforts by high-powered auteurs Douglas Sirk (SLEEP, MY LOVE) and Anthony Mann (STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT). The post-1960s "New Hollywood" era is represented by two maverick productions, the first by one of the era's most prolific filmmakers (Robert Altman's COME BACK TO THE 5 & DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN), the other by a director who made only one, remarkable film (Barbara Loden's WANDA). Early television gets its due, too, with a legendary 1961 telecast of Waiting for Godot and a program of three episodes of the pioneer reality-TV show This Is Your Life.
All prints are courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Special thanks to Shannon Kelley and Steven Hill of the UCLA Film & Television Archive for coordinating this tour.
- COME BACK TO THE 5 & DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN
- 1982, Robert Altman, USA, 109 min.
- With Sandy Dennis, Cher, Karen Black
"A richly textured mixture of confessions, obsessions, and surprises...Cher's performance here is a revelation."
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"The movie version shouldn't work, but it does. When Robert Altman gives a project everything he's got, his skills are such that he can make poetry out of fake poetry and magic out of fake magic."
—Pauline Kael, The New Yorker
Long out of circulation and never released on DVD, JIMMY DEAN marked a watershed in Altman's career, as he turned his back on Hollywood and entered the world of full-fledged independent production. The film is based on Ed Graczyk's play, which Altman had directed on Broadway, and he retains several of the stage production's devices, notably the spectacular use of two identical sets that represent past/present mirror images of each other. The story is set in a small Texas town near the locations where GIANT was filmed in 1955; twenty years later, the members of the local James Dean fan club meet again for an evening of reminiscence and revelation. The ensemble (which includes only one male) is characteristically superb, with Cher giving a career-changing performance as the town's aging bombshell. Preservation funded by The Film Foundation and The Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 35mm. (MR)
- Outfest Legacy Project Program
- 1950-84, Various directors, USA, 95 min.
Three fascinating films rescued by the Outfest Legacy Project provide priceless records of the evolution of LGBT consciousness. MONA'S CANDLELIGHT (1950, Director unknown, 28 min.) provides an authentic picture of the habitués of a San Francisco lesbian bar, including performances by drag king Jimmy Reynard and singer Jan Jansen. QUEENS AT HEART (1967, Director unknown, 22 min.) depicts candid interviews with four male-to-female transsexuals in New York City. CHOOSING CHILDREN (1984, Debra Chasnoff and Kim Klausner, 45 min.) presents emotionally powerful portraits of some of the first lesbian mothers. All in color 35mm. (MR)
- EVE'S LEAVES
- 1926, Paul Sloane, USA, ca. 75 min.
- With Leatrice Joy, William Boyd
After forming his own studio in 1925, Cecil B. DeMille produced this exuberant blend of orientalist melodrama and gender-bending comedy featuring his THE TEN COMMANDMENTS leading lady Leatrice Joy. An over-protective sea captain forces his daughter Eve to pass as a boy. But she craves romance and sets her sights on a handsome American tourist (Boyd) who still thinks she's a boy when she shanghais him aboard her father's ship; then a lustful Chinese pirate (Walter Long) takes them prisoner. Joy, an appealing comedienne whose career nosedived when talkies came in, sparkles in both her tomboy and love-hungry phases. Silent film with live accompaniment by David Drazin. 35mm. (MR)
- THE GOOSE WOMAN
- 1925, Clarence Brown, USA, ca. 85 min.
- With Louise Dresser, Constance Bennett
Sensational fact and generic fiction mingle in this melodrama of misguided motherhood anchored by Louise Dresser's bravura performance. The Hall-Mills murder case, one of the most notorious crimes of the 1920s, was marked by the unreliable testimony of a woman whose hog-raising livelihood earned her the epithet "pig lady." The film transforms her into an ex-opera diva reduced to living on a squalid goose farm. The murder trial gives her an opportunity to reclaim the limelight...but at the cost of incriminating her own son (Jack Pickford). Silent film with live accompaniment by David Drazin. 35mm. (MR)
- WAITING FOR GODOT
- 1961, Alan Schneider, USA, 101 min.
- With Burgess Meredith, Zero Mostel
Samuel Beckett's absurdist play is one of the most important works of twentieth-century literature, as well as an enormously entertaining showcase for actors. Beckett resisted all efforts to film the play during his lifetime, but the barrier was relaxed for this 1961 telecast by the ambitious New York-based series Play of the Week. Kurt Kasznar (Pozzo) and Alvin Epstein (Lucky) reprise their roles from the original 1956 Broadway production, while a double casting-coup puts Burgess Meredith and then-blacklisted Zero Mostel in the shabby shoes of the wandering tramps Vladimir and Estragon. DigiBeta video.
Preceded by the short:
- 1965, Alan Schneider, USA, 20 min.
- With Buster Keaton
- NATIVE LAND
- 1942, Leo Hurwitz and Paul Strand, USA, 80 min.
- Narrated by Paul Robeson
"Fascinating...You shouldn't miss this singular work."
—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Enhanced by stunning Paul Strand cinematography and dynamic Soviet-style editing, this rousing example of political filmmaking uses re-enactments to expose union-busting, spying, blacklisting, and other hardly-dated corporate abuses. The film's impressive leftist credentials include screenwriter Ben Maddow, composer Marc Blitzstein, actors Art Smith and Howard Da Silva, and the great Paul Robeson, whose mighty voice unifies the film with voiceover narration and songs. 35mm. (MR)
- SLEEP, MY LOVE
- 1948, Douglas Sirk, USA, 96 min.
- With Claudette Colbert, Robert Cummings
Before he became identified with melodramas, Douglas Sirk directed some top-notch noirs, including LURED, SHOCKPROOF, and this highly entertaining entry in the victimized-wife vein of SUSPICION and GASLIGHT. A Manhattan woman (Colbert) seems to be going crazy, much to the apparent dismay of her concerned husband (Don Ameche), but a lovestruck friend (Cummings) suspects otherwise. Sirk demonstrates his customary flair with staircases and mirrors, and short-careered Hazel Brooks is a fabulously slinky femme fatale operating out of a crummy photography studio. 35mm. (MR)
- STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT
- 1944, Anthony Mann, USA, 56 min.
- With William Terry, Virginia Grey
Short, strange, and stuffed with bizarre plot twists, STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT was Anthony Mann's first significant step into the film noir style that would lead to such classics as DESPERATE, RAW DEAL, and HE WALKED BY NIGHT. A wounded marine starts up a correspondence with a stateside gal who shares his literary tastes, but, when he tries to visit her, he finds a gothic mansion, a creepy mother, and no sign of his mysterious pen pal. In her book Anthony Mann, film scholar Jeanine Basinger finds this to be the first film in which Mann develops his signature visual style, based on "deep focus, daring camera angles, exaggerated close-ups, and deeply shadowed environments." Preservation funded by Paramount Pictures Corporation. 35mm.
Followed by the program:
- 1941-1946, Various directors, USA, ca. 40 min.
- 1970, Barbara Loden, USA, 102 min.
- With Barbara Loden, Michael Higgins
"A brilliantly atmospheric film with a superb performance by Loden."
—Don Druker, Chicago Reader
"Overwhelming...There's a commitment to real people that you may have never seen before."
—Michael Atkinson, Village Voice
A bleak, bluesy flipside to BONNIE AND CLYDE, Barbara Loden's first and only film is a landmark in the evolution of women's cinema and American independent cinema. Loden, a remarkable, offbeat actress best known for her performances in husband Elia Kazan's films (SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS) and stage productions (After the Fall), plays the title role of a Rust Belt wife who leaves her family, drifts from bed to bed, and hooks up with a surly small-time thief (Higgins). Shot in a raw verité style, WANDA displays an uncompromising vision that marked Loden as a potential peer of John Cassavetes and Shirley Clarke, but she never got a chance to make another film before her death (at age 48) in 1980. Preservation funded by The Film Foundation and GUCCI. 35mm. (MR)
- CRY DANGER
- 1951, Robert Parrish, USA, 79 min.
- With Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming
Film noir became increasingly de-romanticized in what might be called the post-postwar period. The milieu is seedy, the tone bitter, and the humor hardboiled in this intriguing low-budget crime thriller, set primarily around a shabby trailer court in L.A.'s lamented Bunker Hill neighborhood. Deadpan par excellence Powell plays a recently released convict who was framed for a heist and has a lingering yen for his best friend's wife (Fleming). The central couple are nearly upstaged by the vivid supporting characters of a cynical one-legged veteran (Richard Erdman) and a good-natured blonde pickpocket (Jean Porter). Preservation funded by the Film Noir Foundation. 35mm. (MR)
- THE FLOWER OF DOOM
- 1917, Rex Ingram, USA, ca. 70 min.
- With M.K. Wilson, Gypsy Hart
Rex Ingram's meticulous visual style made him one of the most admired directors of the silent era, an acknowledged influence on David Lean, Michael Powell, and Erich von Stroheim (who called Ingram "the world's greatest director"). The first film in our Ingram double-header demonstrates his fondness for the exotic while exhibiting a grittier style than the one he later became known for. A crime reporter (Wilson) becomes infatuated with a cabaret singer (Hart) and inadvertently gives her a piece of jewelry (the "Flower of Doom") that causes her to be kidnapped by a Chinatown gang. He must descend into the opium-drenched underworld to get her back. Silent film with live accompaniment by David Drazin. 35mm. (MR)
- THE CHALICE OF SORROW
- 1916, Rex Ingram, USA, ca. 70 min.
- With Cleo Madison, Charles Cummings
Ingram's third feature film, and the first after his relocation from New York to Hollywood, THE CHALICE OF SORROW is a loose adaptation of Sardou's play La Tosca (also the source of Puccini's opera), with the setting transposed from Rome to Mexico City. Cleo Madison, one of the most important early Hollywood actresses, stars as Lorelei, a renowned opera singer who loves an American artist and is lusted after by the corrupt Mexican governor. When the artist is sentenced to death, the governor offers Lorelei one way of saving her lover... Those familiar with the opera (or with Bugs Bunny's last line in WHAT'S OPERA, DOC?) will know what to expect. Silent film with live accompaniment by David Drazin. 35mm. (MR)
- RENDEZVOUS WITH ANNIE
- 1946, Allan Dwan, USA, 80 min.
- With Eddie Albert, Faye Marlowe
"A long-forgotten gem...frantic, fast, and extremely entertaining."
—Tony Sloman, RadioTimes
Called "The Last Pioneer" by Peter Bogdanovich, Allan Dwan had one of Hollywood's longest and most versatile careers. The first film in Dwan's productive tenure with Republic Pictures, RENDEZVOUS WITH ANNIE is a raucously suggestive wartime farce in the vein of Preston Sturges's THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK. An American soldier stationed in England, Jeff Donlan (Albert) hitches a ride on a buddy's plane to make an unauthorized three-day visit to his wife (Marlowe) in New Jersey. Complications ensue when the whirlwind visit leaves her pregnant, and, for fear of Jeff being court-martialed, they are unable to reveal the real explanation for her delicate condition. 35mm. (MR)
- This Is Your Life
- 1953-61, Various directors, USA, ca. 90 min.
- With Ralph Edwards
A pioneer show in what is now called reality TV (indeed, Mark Burnett was recently planning to revive it), This Is Your Life ran on NBC from 1952 to 1961. Every week an undisclosed guest would be surprised by host Ralph Edwards, who would then recap her or his life, always with an inspirational spin. Many of the guests were celebrities, but just as many were so-called ordinary people. The three episodes in this selection all center on women who survived the Holocaust: "Hanna Bloch" (May 27, 1953), featuring the first Holocaust survivor to describe her experiences on national television; "Ilse Stanley" (November 2, 1955), honoring a German actress who helped free over 400 people from concentration camps; and "Sara Veffer" (March 19, 1961), about a Dutch woman whose family hid for 18 months in a tiny attic. 35mm. (MR)
- THESE AMAZING SHADOWS/UCLA Discount!
Buy a ticket at our regular prices for any screening of THESE AMAZING SHADOWS, and get a ticket for any UCLA Festival of Preservation film at this discount rate (tickets must be purchased at the same time): General Admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second film only.)
Filmmakers in person!
- THESE AMAZING SHADOWS
- 2011, Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton, USA, 88 min.
To accompany this month's celebration of film history and preservation, we present this film buffs' bonanza that tells the story of the National Film Registry--the Congressionally created program that since 1989 has selected 25 American films each year for preservation in the Library of Congress. The list includes not only prestigious classics, but also educational films, amateur films, vaudeville shorts, and a concessions promo. Copious film clips are accompanied by heartfelt testimonials from archivists and film industry figures, including Tim Roth on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Rob Reiner on IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, Julie Dash on THE WIZARD OF OZ, John Lassiter on WHAT'S OPERA, DOC?, Gale Ann Hurd on INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, and Christopher Nolan on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. HDCAM video. (MR)
Co-directors Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton will be present for audience discussion at the October 5 screening.