Friday, April 30, 2010

Revival: Phantom Lady

Robert Siodmak's
Beautiful 35MM Print!

Saturday, May 1 at Noon
Monday, May 3 at 7 PM
Thursday, May 6 at 9 PM

1944 Dir. Robert Siodmak. Franchot Tone, Ella Raines, Alan Curtis, Aurora Miranda, Thomas Gomez, Elisha Cook, Jr. 87 m. bw.

"Landmark exercise in nocturnal noir stylistics..."
(J. Hoberman, The Village Voice)

Siodmak's first American success, a moody thriller from a Cornell Woolrich novel which set the mould for a string of dark classics. The wife of an engineer is murdered, his female alibi's very existence is denied by every witness, and he faces the chair. His secretary and a curious off-duty cop investigate... Siodmak's angled compositions and dramatic lighting might be uncharitably ticked off as genre staples, but his manipulation of the film's key motif is masterly. He concentrates on the tangible and psychological evidence - the 'records' - of absence: the wife's portrait, the messages on the office dictaphone, the court transcript, the dead witness' typed address, the hat that recalls a dead fiancé. And the film's quest is for a woman who exists only in the memories of the condemned man and the audience. (Time Out)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Revival: UMBERTO D.

This week's revival at the Charles Theatre.


Saturday, April 24 at Noon
Monday, April 26 at 7 PM
Thursday, April 29 at 9 PM.

1952 Italy. Dir. Vittorio De Sica. Carlo Battisti, Maria-Pia Casilio. In Italian with English subtitles. bw. 89 m.

Shot on location with a cast of nonprofessional actors, Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist masterpiece follows Umberto D., an elderly pensioner, as he struggles to make ends meet during Italy’s postwar economic boom. Alone except for his dog, Flike, Umberto strives to maintain his dignity while trying to survive in a city where traditional human kindness seems to have lost out to the forces of modernization. Umberto’s simple quest to fulfill the most fundamental human needs—food, shelter, companionship—is one of the most heartbreaking stories ever filmed and an essential classic of world cinema. -Criterion Collection

"De Sica's Greatest Achievement!"
-Martin Scorsese

"An unflinching of the greatest works of Italian neorealism."
-- Mike D'Angelo, Time Out New York

"When this film came out, we felt that there was nothing the cinema could not do."
-- David Shipman

"Truly extraordinary...Nothing of De Sica's [previous work] has had [its] pure simplicity and almost unbearable candor and compassion."
-- Bosley Crowther NY Times 1955

"UMBERTO D. was overdue for revival. And now, expertly restored... exemplifying a movement that has had an immeasurable impact on the last 50 years of filmmaking around the world....
The [print's] visual and sound tracks are superb."
-- Peter Brunette, The New York Times

"As powerful as The Bicycle Thief was, for me, De Sica and Zavattini's greatest achievement together was Umberto D...a great movie about a hero of everyday life. That was De Sica's precious gift to his father. And to us."
-- Martin Scorsese

"Screenwriter Cesare Zavattini likely deserves as much credit as director Vittorio De Sica for such masterpieces of Italian neorealism as The Bicycle Thief (1947) and this 1952 feature about a retired civil servant (schoolteacher Carlo Battisti) who discovers that his meager pension won't pay the rent for his room. He's befriended by a maid in the same flat who's pregnant but unsure of the father's identity; apart from her the only creature he feels close to is his dog, and though he contemplates suicide, he has to find someone to care for it. This simple, almost Chaplinesque story of a man fighting to preserve his dignity is even more moving for its firm grasp of everyday activities."
--Jonathan Rosenbaum

Saturday, April 17, 2010




1954 Dir. Douglas Sirk. Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, Agnes Moorehead, Otto Kruger. 108 m. Technicolor.

Reckless playboy Bob Merrick (Rock Hudson, in his breakthrough role) crashes his speedboat, requiring emergency attention from the town’s only resuscitator—at the very moment that beloved local Dr. Phillips has a heart attack and dies waiting for the life-saving device. Thus begins one of Douglas Sirk’s most flamboyant master classes in melodrama, a delirious Technicolor mix of the sudsy and the spiritual in which Bob and the doctor’s widow, Helen (Jane Wyman), find themselves inextricably linked amid a series of increasingly wild twists, turns, trials, and tribulations. (Criterion Collection)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Revival: The Incredible Shrinking Man


Saturday, April 10 at Noon
Monday, April 12 at 7 PM
Thursday, April 15 at 9 PM.

1957 Dir. Jack Arnold. Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton, Raymond Bailey, William Schallert. 81 m. bw.

"Not merely the best of Arnold's classic sci-fi movies of the '50s, but one of the finest films ever made in that genre. It's a simple enough story: after being contaminated by what may or may not be nuclear waste, Williams finds himself slowly but steadily shedding the pounds and inches until he reaches truly minuscule proportions. But it is what Richard Matheson's script (adapted from his own novel) does with this basic material that makes the film so gripping and intelligent. At first, Williams is merely worried about his mysterious illness, but soon, towered over by his wife, he begins to feel humiliated, expressing his shame and impotence through cruel anger. And then his entire relationship with the universe changes, with cats, spiders and drops of water representing lethal threats in the surreal and endless landscape that is, in fact, his house's cellar. And finally, to the strains of Joseph Gershenson's impressive score, we arrive at the film's philosophical core: a moving, strangely pantheist assertion of what it really means to be alive. A pulp masterpiece." (Time Out Film Guide)