Monthly Archives: June 2012

Incredible! Invisible! Insatiable! A Thursday Screening?
Don Siegel’s Body Snatchers Invades the Portage in 35mm

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – 7:30 – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

July 5
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Directed by Don Siegel • 1956
The residents of fictional Santa Mira, California (also home to Halloween III, for whatever it’s worth) are one by one imperceptibly taken over by pod people, eventually leaving only Kevin McCarthy and his psychiatrist. Originally titled Sleep No More, this was the first of the several adaptations of Jack Finney’s 1954 novel The Body Snatchers, and Don Siegel’s allegory of cultural totalitarianism still remains the most frightening and relevant. Employing virtually no special effects, Siegel’s no-nonsense, low-budget masterpiece seems miles ahead of everything else going on in ’50s sci-fi, and features one of the most claustrophobic uses of widescreen to date (it helps that the SuperScope aspect ratio was forced on it after much of the film was shot for a slightly less wide composition). Look for Sam Peckinpah in a small, small role as a meter reader (he also worked as a dialog coach on this and several other Siegel productions in the 50s), and watch out! You could be next, and you probably are… (JA)
80 min • Allied Artists Pictures • 35mm from Paramount Pictures
Plus: Trailers from 1950s Sci-Fi Thrillers – 35mm – ~ 15 min

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The Cinema-Century

In 1995, cinema celebrated a distinctly ambivalent centenary, with most activity occurring at the intersection of Europe’s cinematheques, universities, and state-funded production centers. The collective commemoration yielded renewed scholarship on early cinema and even a few productions, such as the omnibus Lumière et compagnie and the BFI-commissioned ‘Century of Cinema’ documentary series. (Stateside, we made due with Chuck Workman’s nine-minute clip show ‘100 Years at the Movies,’ endlessly replayed on Turner Classic Movies and elsewhere.) Here’s to the next century!

The bureaucratic anniversary stirred a few notes of dissent, notably Susan Sontag’s widely-published think piece about the decline of film culture. Almost entirely absent from these discussions, though, was the possibility that cinema would radically transform itself over the next fifteen years. Continue reading

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Hey Dumbbell! It’s the Sweetest Film of the Season
Borzage’s After Tomorrow — Restored Print from UCLA!

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – 7:30 – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

June 27
AFTER TOMORROW
Directed by Frank Borzage • 1932
On twenty dollars a week, Charles Farrell can barely get by, let alone scrape together a down payment on a future with his dumbbell sweetheart, Marian Nixon. But the kids love each other (he even goes without cigarettes for a week to buy her some sheet music) and know that the promise of a private flat and a marital bed will be realized—after tomorrow. Until then, they have to contend with his wretched, doting mother (Josephine Hull), her wretched, indifferent mother (Minna Gombell), her kind-hearted but ineffectual schlemiel of a father (William Collier, Sr.), and a whole neighborhood so cramped you can’t do laundry without tripping over some kook fortune teller. Shot at the height of the Depression, After Tomorrow is an extraordinary and pungent slice of lower-middle class urban aspirations—every day you’re just one heart attack away from being put out of work forever or just one clove-flavored chewing gum formula away from beating the whole savings racket. From this potentially grim material (a Broadway hit from the year before), director Frank Borzage and cameraman James Wong Howe craft an exuberant, sure-footed tribute to the carnal drive of youth. For a movie that endorses waiting until you’re married, this tender pre-Code romance also empathically believes in not waiting a minute later than you have to. (KW)
Co-presented with portoluz–WPA 2.0: A Brand New Deal
79 min. • Fox Film Corporation • Restored 35mm Print from UCLA Film & Television Archive
Short: “City of Contrasts” (Irving Browning, 1931) – 16mm – 18 min

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Crime Does Not Pay — Except Maybe This Wednesday in Fritz Lang’s Ultra-Rare You and Me in 35mm…

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – 7:30 – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

Read Ben Sachs’s in-depth rave in the Reader.

June 20
YOU AND ME
Directed by Fritz Lang • 1938
Liberal department store magnate Harry Carey puts his payroll where his politics are and hires ex-convicts to run his shop as a reform gesture. Two such specimens, Sylvia Sidney and George Raft, fall in love—a mistake that dredges up uncomfortable personal histories and threatens Sidney’s chances with the parole board. The siren song of crime calls to Raft anew. As if Fritz Lang’s efforts were not already the most Germanic product to come out of Hollywood, You and Me, his third American feature, enlisted composer Kurt Weill to pen charming-dialectic tunes like “The Song of the Cash Register.” If not quite a stateside Threepenny Opera (a Damon Runyon-inflected romantic comedy with gangsters and songs would be closer to the mark), there’s an undeniably daffy and intellectual film in here. (It even ends with Sidney’s mathematical demonstration of the familiar adage that Crime Does Not Pay.) Coldly received when it was new, the befuddled reviews portend an obviously great movie. Per Variety, “There’s quite a bit of the René Clair in You and Me. Lang tries to blend dramatic music with melodramatic action more than heretofore. It’s a sort of cinematic Mercury Theatre, by way of Marc Blitzstein-Orson Welles, with European flavoring, also.” (KW)
Co-presented with portoluz–WPA 2.0: A Brand New Deal
90 min. • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Cartoon: Mighty Mouse in “He Dood It” (Eddie Donnelly, 1943) – 35mm Technicolor – 7 min

AND ALSO: THIS SUNDAY, June 17th – Selected Oddities from our vaults. The Northwest Chicago Film Society provides indoor entertainment during the Six Corners BBQ Fest. Complete lineup of shorts, cartoons, trailers, and odds ‘n’ ends below!

Program repeats at 12:00 and 2:30 at the Portage Theater
Superman: THE BILLION DOLLAR LIMITED (Dave Fleischer, 1942) 16mm
Coronet Films: YOUR THRIFT HABITS (1948) 16mm
Trailer: DANTE’S INFERNO (Harry Lachman, 1935) 16mm
Columbia Color Rhapsody: LET’S GO (Charles Mintz, 1937) 16mm Technicolor
The Three Stooges in CORNY CASANOVAS (Jules White, 1952) 16mm
Donald Duck in THE LITTERBUG (Hamilton Luske, 1961) 16mm
The King Sisters in FARMYARD FOLLIES (Castle Films, 1948) 16mm
Merrie Melodies: THUGS WITH DIRTY MUGS (Tex Avery, 1939) 16mm
35mm Trailer Reel: VERBOTEN, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, THE DESERT HAWK, UNTAMED FRONTIER, CAPTAIN BLOOD, & ULYSSES
“A Dog in Search of an Orange” in THE MASCOT (Wladyslaw Starewicz, 1933) 16mm

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This Wednesday, Screen Dark /
Next Wednesday, You and Me

There will be no screening at the Portage Theater this Wednesday.

We suggest that you go and see Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Wednesday at 6pm. And come back next week for You and Me.

——

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – 7:30 – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

June 20
YOU AND ME
Directed by Fritz Lang • 1938
Liberal department store magnate Harry Carey puts his payroll where his politics are and hires ex-convicts to run his shop as a reform gesture. Two such specimens, Sylvia Sidney and George Raft, fall in love—a mistake that dredges up uncomfortable personal histories and threatens Sidney’s chances with the parole board. The siren song of crime calls to Raft anew. As if Fritz Lang’s efforts were not already the most Germanic product to come out of Hollywood, You and Me, his third American feature, enlisted composer Kurt Weill to pen charming-dialectic tunes like “The Song of the Cash Register.” If not quite a stateside Threepenny Opera (a Damon Runyon-inflected romantic comedy with gangsters and songs would be closer to the mark), there’s an undeniably daffy and intellectual film in here. (It even ends with Sidney’s mathematical demonstration of the familiar adage that Crime Does Not Pay.) Coldly received when it was new, the befuddled reviews portend an obviously great movie. Per Variety, “There’s quite a bit of the René Clair in You and Me. Lang tries to blend dramatic music with melodramatic action more than heretofore. It’s a sort of cinematic Mercury Theatre, by way of Marc Blitzstein-Orson Welles, with European flavoring, also.” (KW)
Co-presented with portoluz–WPA 2.0: A Brand New Deal
90 min. • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Cartoon: Mighty Mouse in “He Dood It” (Eddie Donnelly, 1943) – 35mm Technicolor – 7 min

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