Author Archives: Northwest Chicago Film Society

Brando and Nicholson – The Screen’s Greatest Couple Together in 35mm in Arthur Penn’s The Missouri Breaks

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

11 Missouri Breaks 600

Wednesday, August 24 @ 7:30 PM
THE MISSOURI BREAKS
Directed by Arthur Penn • 1976
Time has been kind to The Missouri Breaks. Considered a commercial and critical flop upon its release, perhaps our eyes are now clear of the anticipation haze that came with the first (and only) pairing of two of Hollywood’s favorite sons. After losing a gang member to hanging, horse rustler Tom Logan (Jack Nicholson) settles down to play farmer and neighbor to rancher David Braxton (John McLiam), soon beginning an unintended affair with Braxton’s daughter (Kathleen Lloyd). The two are stalked by a sociopathic regulator (an erratic but completely mesmerizing Marlon Brando), resulting in some of the most believable representations of “looking through binoculars” in the history of film. Forty years after its release, as the screeching of the buzzards circling Brando’s later career have died down, it’s time to see this film anew. A simultaneously stoned and savage Western tale; a strange dance of death where no one is right and everyone loses. Peppered with standout interludes by the likes of Harry Dean Stanton, Randy Quaid, and Frederic Forrest as Logan’s crew of loveable losers. (RL)
126 min • United Artists • 35mm from Park Circus
Film Stock: Kodak 2383 (2005)
Preceded by: Cartoon TBA

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A bout de souffle … Made in USA: Jim McBride’s Gonzo Breathless – 35mm Screening with the Power Cosmic

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

10 Breathless 600

Wednesday, August 17 @ 7:30 PM
BREATHLESS
Directed by Jim McBride • 1983
“Hey, where’d you get those pants? What are you trying to do—disguise yourself as an asshole? How many times have I told you that style counts?” That’s the central lesson of Jim McBride and L.M. Kit Carson’s unequivocally gonzo SoCal reimagining of the 1960 nouvelle vague classic. Like the bastard love child and/or hell spawn of Jean-Luc Godard and Jerry Lee Lewis, the ’83 Breathless translates the transgressions of the original version to the decadent vernacular of its glam-addled moment. Richard Gere replaces Jean-Paul Belmondo as the dumb lug cop-killer and assays a ridiculous and riotous masculine energy. He gives 110% and plays the part like a horny Speedy Gonzales, forever hopped up on Ding Dongs and Silver Surfer comics. Valérie Kaprisky takes the thankless Jean Seberg part and plays Gere’s wiser, grounded girlfriend with unassuming gusto. (Luckily, with Godard out of the picture, the misogyny is dialed down considerably.) The soundtrack tells the tale: the sock hop pop melodies of Sam Cooke and The Pretenders gradually give way to X and Eno, signaling the dawn of another New Wave. (KW)
100 min • Orion Pictures • 35mm from Park Circus

Preceded by: “Miss Universe 1983” – 35mm – 16 min

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Chinese Roulette:
Karina, Kraftwerk, and More in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

09 Chinese Roulette 600

Wednesday, August 3 @ 7:30 PM
CHINESE ROULETTE
Directed by R. W. Fassbinder • 1976
In German with English subtitles
A woman, her husband, their respective lovers, and a cadre of domestic workers all find themselves inconveniently in the couple’s country home for the weekend. It is quickly revealed that all have been brought there via the machinations of the couple’s disabled teenage daughter Angela, initiating a game with unknown and potentially deadly consequences. Perhaps the strangest, most misunderstood and bleakly hilarious film in a career packed with cinematic feints, Chinese Roulette found Rainer Werner Fassbinder at the height of his powers as a stylist and an observer of human beings struggling to maintain control in the face of their own powerlessness. Working with the internationally renowned actresses Anna Karina and Macha Meril (both well known for their work with Jean-Luc Godard) and his highest budget to date, Fassbinder makes every second of this tense and wildly eccentric chamber thriller count, sending master cinematographer Michael Ballhaus’s unmoored camera careening across rooms, carving up screen space with doorways and reflections, pinning characters under panes of glass, moving in and out of close-ups to find the best vantage point to watch them squirm, finding time for snatches of political intrigue, a creepy doll collection, and a dance on crutches to Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity. (CW)
86 min • Albatros Filmproduktion/Les Films du Losange • 35mm from Janus
Film Stock: Kodak 2383 (2003)
Preceded by: “Schlitz Playhouse: I Shot a Prowler” (Arthur Hiller, 1958) – 35mm – 30 min

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Karina, Kraftwerk, and More in 35mm

James Whale’s Anti-War Saga The Road Back
New 35mm Restoration from the Library of Congress

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

08 Road Back 600

Wednesday, July 27 @ 7:30 PM
THE ROAD BACK
Directed by James Whale • 1937
The most prestigious and improbable sequel this side of The Godfather Part II, this follow-up to Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front found itself on Universal’s production schedule as soon as it was a gleam in the eye of novelist Erich Maria Remarque. With production constantly pushed back due to budgetary and political considerations, the film finally went before the cameras after the 1936 ouster of Carl Laemmle, Jr., the producer who had shepherded All Quiet to the screen. The story focuses on the Great War’s unruly aftermath for the soldiers themselves and German society at large. Under the versatile direction of James Whale and the questionable supervision of production chief Charles R. Rogers, The Road Back marshalled a cast of unknowns and comic relief bit players to put across a bracingly anti-militarist message. Targeted by the German consul for being “detrimental to German prestige,” the film was recut both before and during its 1937 run, and further altered for a 1939 reissue. Practically unseen for eight decades, this new restoration brings The Road Back as close as possible to its original form. Preserved by the Library of Congress with funding provided by NBCUniversal and The Film Foundation. (KW)
100 min • Universal Studios • 35mm from Library of Congress
Film Stock: ORWO

Preceded by: “A.W.O.L.” (Charley Bowers, 1918) – 16mm – 5 min

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New 35mm Restoration from the Library of Congress

Silent Mystery, She Wrote: de Mille and Beranger’s The Bedroom Window – Live Accompaniment from Jay Warren

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

07 Bedroom Window 600

Wednesday, July 20 @ 7:30 PM
THE BEDROOM WINDOW
Directed by William C. de Mille • 1924
Before Miss Marple and Murder, She Wrote, there was Matilda Jones, the crime-solving senior citizen and mystery writer (pen name: Rufus Rome) with “a brain like a man.”  When Robert Delano (Ricardo Cortez) discovers the corpse of his future father-in-law, it’s up to his fiancée (May McAvoy) and her spinster aunt Matilda (Ethel Wales) to find the real killer. This superbly entertaining whodunit is a prime example of the long-standing collaboration between director William C. de Mille and screenwriter Clara S. Beranger. William had a lighter touch than his brother Cecil, and the handful of his films that survive (Conrad in Quest of His Youth, Miss Lulu Bett) suggests a refined and cosmopolitan talent. Beranger, author of nearly eighty silent film scenarios, is an equally forgotten talent who retired shortly after the talkies arrived and took up teaching at USC. A staunch feminist, Beranger frequently celebrated the contributions of women screenwriters and averred that certain subjects like “the heart throb, the human interest note, child life, domestic scenes and even the eternal triangle is more ably handled by women than men.” (KW)
70 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress
Live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren
Film Stock: Eastman B+W (1976)

Preceded by: “The Thieving Hand” (J. Stuart Blackton, 1908) – 35mm – 5 min

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“Baby, You’re So Good to Me!” – Gerry & the Pacemakers in Ferry Cross the Mersey – Rare 35mm Screening

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

06 Ferry Cross the Mersey 600

Wednesday, July 13 @ 7:30 PM
FERRY CROSS THE MERSEY
Directed by Jeremy Summers • 1965
After the success and critical adulation that greeted A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles manager Brian Epstein masterminded a film project to showcase Liverpool, the Merseybeat community that fostered the Fab Four, and the scene’s second most famous act, Gerry & the Pacemakers. Ferry Cross the Mersey, the resulting film, turned out to be a strange mixture of classic rock ‘n’ roll teensploitation and the formal dynamism of A Hard Day’s Night, with numerous exterior sequences and live numbers shot off the cuff and on the fly in the streets and clubs of Liverpool. Gerry Marsden and the rest of the Pacemakers form a band, play some shows, meet some ladies, and win a climactic talent show. In between are musical numbers, including rough-and-tumble sequences shot in the legendary Cavern Club and Locarno Ballroom (the latter of which contains a real brawl between extras that occurred during filming) and the title song performed on a ferry, Mack Sennett homages, and scooter rides along the Mersey river. Never issued on video and very rarely screened, Ferry Cross the Mersey is an essential opportunity to immerse oneself in a music scene that was more than just the Beatles. (CW)
88 min • Subafilms/United Artists • 35mm from NWCFS Collections
Film Stock: Gevaert Belgium

Preceded by: “Light on East Anglia” (British Pathe/British Motor Corporation, 1966) – 35mm – 20 min

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Shirtless but Not Burt-less: Hunky Lancaster in Jules Dassin’s Crackling Prison Drama Brute Force – 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

05 Brute Force 600
Wednesday, July 6 @ 7:30 PM
BRUTE FORCE
Directed by Jules Dassin • 1947
Is America a nation of laws or a fragile society held together by little more than brute force? The elemental prison backdrop of Brute Force serves as a springboard for an incendiary examination of the postwar American psyche in this grisly thriller. The work of newspaperman-turned-producer Mark Hellinger and a raft of Communists and leftist fellow travelers (director Jules Dassin, screenwriter Richard Brooks, one-man Calypsonian chorus Sir Lancelot, supporting players Art Smith and Roman Bohnen), Brute Force drills down to sociological basics: exploited prisoners, a quasi-fascist jailer, ineffectual civilian control, a none-too-subtle drainpipe to nowhere.  Sweaty, frequently shirtless prole Burt Lancaster and the other inmates of Cell R17 plot an improbable escape, their efforts legitimized by the participation of model prisoner Charles Bickford and punched up by patriotic memories of wartime exploits. Standing in their way is Hume Cronyn, a politically ambitious enforcer who cleans his gun with a t-shirt and stages Wagner-scored torture sessions like a Nazi wannabe. Scarcely softened by the domestic flashbacks transparently inserted to make the movie more palatable to women, Brute Force still packs a wallop. (KW)
98 min • Mark Hellinger Productions • 35mm from NWCFS Collections, permission Upcoast Film
Film Stock: Eastman (1956)

Preceded by:  Jules Dassin trailer reel

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“What I Do with My Body Is My Business!” – Stephanie Rothman’s The Student Nurses – New 35mm Print

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

04 Student Nurses 600
Tuesday, June 28 @ 7:30 PM
THE STUDENT NURSES
Directed by Stephanie Rothman • 1970
One of the earliest films produced during Roger Corman’s legendary run with New World Pictures and the progenitor of Corman’s lucrative “Nurses” cycle, Stephanie Rothman’s The Student Nurses was a socially conscious and explicitly feminist anomaly in the world of early ’70s exploitation filmmaking. Centered on a group of four young nursing students who live together, Rothman reenvisioned a rote scenario that could simply have been a vehicle for delivering copious nudity as an exploration of the diversity of experiences particular to young women at the dawn of the ’70s. Speaking on the freedom working independently in a disreputable genre afforded her, Rothman said, “It allowed me to have a dramatized discussion about issues that were then being ignored in big-budget major studio films: for example […] a discussion about a woman’s right to have a safe and legal abortion when, at the time, abortion was still illegal in America.” A film of great energy, with a clear head and a racing pulse, The Student Nurses stands the test of time, simultaneously of its moment and more relevant than ever. (CW)
89 min • New World Pictures • 35mm from Academy Film Archive, permission Criterion Pictures, USA
Film Stock: Kodak 2383 (2016) • Lab: Fotokem

Preceded by: “A Visit from the Incubus” (Anna Biller, 2001) – 16mm – 26 min

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C’est si bon! Billy Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

03 Love in the Afternoon 600
LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON
Directed by Billy Wilder • 1957
The first collaboration between Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond plays like a spiritual sequel to the pre-Code romantic comedies of Wilder’s mentor, Ernst Lubitsch. Maurice Chevalier returns to the American screen after a decade-long absence to play bedroom detective Claude Chavasse, who may as well be a grayer version of his character in One Hour with You. (The film inaugurated the second act of Chevalier’s career, which saw him playing similar roués in Gigi and Can-Can and performing the delightful theme song of The Aristocats.) When Chavasse’s daughter Ariane (Audrey Hepburn) intervenes to save an American playboy (Gary Cooper) from the bullets of a cuckold’s gun, a grand romance is born. The age difference between Hepburn and Cooper is considerable, but the scenario never tips over into squick territory because the masterful screenplay continually emphasizes Ariane’s agency and wit, as well as her “certain quelque chose, as they say on the Left Bank.” (KW)
130 min • Allied Artists • 35mm from RCFA, permission Swank
Film Stock: Eastman (1957)

Preceded by: Cartoon TBA

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“This Bitter Earth”: Charles Burnett’s Groundbreaking
Debut Feature Killer of Sheep – Restored 35mm Print

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

Tuesday, June 14 @ 7:30 PM
KILLER OF SHEEP
Directed by Charles Burnett • 1977
“I ain’t poor. I give things away to Salvation Army.” Spoken by Stan, the central figure in Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, these words are the closest this towering masterwork of American independent cinema comes to vocalizing a structuring philosophy, refusing to define the community it documents by its marginality and instead celebrating the vibrancy of black life in Watts, Los Angeles. Stan works days in a slaughterhouse (he’s the titular killer) and is kept up nights by bouts of chronic insomnia that are left unexplained. Meanwhile, his kids occupy their time playing in empty lots and on vacant rooftops that litter the outskirts of their neighborhood and singing along to the family’s record collection (the depth and diversity of African American recorded music is one of the throughlines in the film). Nothing like a plot coalesces to distract from the neighborhood reveries and quiet nights of introspection, and while a heavy air of melancholy suffuses much of the film, it’s a melancholy that remains tempered with the sweetness of family, community, and joy. (CW)
81 min • 35mm from Milestone Films
Film Stock: Kodak (2005) • Lab: UCLA

Preceded by: “Felicia” (Bob Dickson, Alan Gorg, & Trevor Greenwood, 1965) – Archival 16mm print courtesy of USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive – 13 min

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Debut Feature Killer of Sheep – Restored 35mm Print