Monthly Archives: February 2011

Wednesday 3/2: SO ENDS OUR NIGHT at the Portage Theater

Join us this Wednesday 3/2 for John Cromwell’s SO ENDS OUR NIGHT on 16mm
Our first screening in March!!
The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – 7:30 – $5.00 per ticket

March 2nd, 2011
SO ENDS OUR NIGHT
John Cromwell • 1944
Our memories of wartime Hollywood pictures are generally limited to patriotic army propaganda and topical espionage thrillers—familiar genre dynamics essentially retrofitted with political import. But an unexpected and radical strain of melodrama co-existed with these assembly-line exercises. Despite generally isolationist views dominating the American scene before Pearl Harbor, Hollywood turned out a handful of films declaiming the carnage as a particularly human tragedy. Familiar stars played the dispossessed and unwashed masses of Europe, but the plots dripped with intimations of genocide that respectable newspapers declined to print. So Ends Our Night is a particularly neglected example. Despite an outstanding pedigree (reliable craftsman John Cromwell in the director’s chair, production design by the inimitable William Cameron Menzies, a source novel by Erich Maria Remarque, sophisticate Albert Lewin overseeing production), this United Artists release was soon traveling around in dupey prints from the disingenuously named Favorite Films Corporation and forthwith to the public domain wilderness. Fredric March, Margaret Sullavan, and Glenn Ford are a trio of refugees (the first a conscientious objector to the Nazi regime, the latter two explicitly Jewish) whose warm friendship and life-affirming solidarity is tested by the relentless violence and hopelessness of European society. Erich von Stroheim, whose screen persona was cemented early on with infinitely hissable portrayals of German officers during the Great War, comes full circle with a memorable performance as a Nazi thug. Also featuring Francis Dee, Sig Rumann, and Anna Sten. (KW)
Print from the Radio Cinema Film Archive.
117 min. • David L. Loew-Albert Lewin • 16mm

Also on the Program: The Shell Shocked Egg (Robert McKimson, 1948) 35mm Technicolor AND The World Premier of a newly restored WWII Era snipe entitled A Spy In Your Theater?

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Wednesday 2/23: I MARRIED A WITCH at the Portage Theater

Join us this Wednesday 2/23 for Rene Clair’s I MARRIED A WITCH on 16mm!!
The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – 7:30 – $5.00 per ticket


February 23rd, 2011
I MARRIED A WITCH
Rene Clair • 1942
Joel McCrea was originally slated to star alongside Veronica Lake in this precursor to the 60s TV series Bewitched, but refused to work with the blond bombshell following their testy relationship during the production of Sullivan’s Travels (producer Preston Sturges didn’t get along with her either, nearly strangling the young actress when he found out she was six months pregnant at the start of the film). Before Lake and her father (Cecil Kellaway) are burned at the stake by Seventeenth Century Puritan Jonathan Wooley, they put a curse on all of Wooley’s male descendants ensuring misery in marrage. Little did they know that way the heck off in the twentieth century, the young witch would fall madly in love with Wooley’s 1942 incarnation (Fredric March) on the eve of his marriage to Susan Hayward, who spends most of the movie nagging March about his political career. Paramount didn’t quite know what to do with a film that solved familial squabbling by trapping loved ones in wine bottles and sold the movie to United Artists. A shame, as this ranks among the best of Sturges output for the studio (look for a good half dozen of his stock character actors) and Clair’s output in America, and Lake could sweep any young man over thirteen off of his wobbling knees (though Jonathan Rosenbaum writes of having a similar experience watching the film at age six). (JA)
Print rescued from the Bank of America Cinema Booth, courtesy of Mike King.
77 min. • Rene Clair Productions • 16mm

Also on the Program: Crazy Ray (Paris Qui Dort) (Rene Clair, 1925, 35 min) 16mm
A young night watchman at the Eiffel Tower awakes at 3:25 in the morning to find that all of Paris is frozen in time. Considered one of the most formative science fiction films, Rene Clair edited his second film down to a brisk 35 minutes in the 50s. Live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren!
Print Courtesy of the Chicago Film Archives,
From the Chicago Public Library Collection

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2/16: WRITTEN ON THE WIND at the Portage Theater

We’re kicking off our series to-day with Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind at the Portage Theater in glorious 35mm. Tickets are $5 and the show starts at 7:30 pm

It’s only 48 degrees out, you can’t afford to miss it!

February 16th, 2011

WRITTEN ON THE WIND
Douglas Sirk • 1956
Perhaps the most anxious and lurid of Sirk’s incredible run of melodramas for Universal-International, Written on the Wind is a soap opera laid in a Texas too extravagant for even Edna Ferber. Everything is out-sized but developmentally crippled—big, big oil derricks, shotgun aeroplane weddings, saloon brawls, and a hoochie-cooch pagan jazz dance that embarrasses Old Testament fury. Even a child’s bucking bronco becomes as a crude-cruel reminder of vanished potency. Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone star as those danged spoiled rich thirtysomething Hadley brats with a Texas-sized deficit of self-awareness and restraint. (The latter won a much-deserved Oscar, in a mind-boggling moment of slumming for Academy voters.) Rock Hudson, at his most heterosexual, plays long-time Hadley hanger-on Mitch Wayne, born with sense and decency rather than a trust fund. Lauren Bacall is a tragic witness to the unraveling. (KW)
Print from Universal, special thanks to Paul Ginsburg and Dennis Chong.
99 min. • Universal International Pictures • 35mm

Also on the Program: Saga of the First and Last (Margaret Conneely, 1954, 4 min)
Restored 35mm Print Courtesy of The Chicago Film Archives!!!
Margaret Conneely was active in amateur filmmaking locally and internationally for nearly half a century, first joining a local Chicago camera club in 1949. She shot and directed 16mm films at a time when most of the women in these clubs were less technically inclined and often delegated to the role of actress or slide show manager. Margaret often used her kids as the principal actors. Her son, John, stars in Saga of the First and Last, a short film about a boy, a gun and his first cigarette. This film was preserved to 35mm by the City of Chicago for the outdoors Grant Park Film Festival in 2006. [Please Note: due to audio inconsistencies in the original 16mm Mag track, the sound is uneven at times.]
For more information about the Margaret Conneely film collection at Chicago Film Archives, please visit their website.

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