Author Archives: Northwest Chicago Film Society

Okay, You Mugs: Tay Garnett’s Ultra-Rare Pre-Code Political Satire Okay, America! Screens Oct. 5 in 35mm

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

06-okay-america-600

Museum of Modern Art / Film Stills Archive

Wednesday, October 5 @ 7:30 PM
OKAY, AMERICA!
Directed by Tay Garnett • 1932
Every starlet, politician, and high society arriviste fears the acid tongue of Larry Wayne (Lew Ayres), prominent radioland gossipmonger and author of the New York Blade’s “Broadway Broadside” column. Aided by girl Friday Sheila Barton (Maureen O’Sullivan), Wayne embarks on the first act of bona fide journalism of his career: tracking down the kidnapped daughter of a prominent White House cabinet member. All paths lead to Edward Arnold, the rat-a-tat racketeer who eyes a presidential pardon. A corker of a pre-Code melodrama from underrated stylist Tay Garnett (Her Man, One Way Passage), Okay, America! borrows the tics and catchphrases of real-life radio spieler Walter Winchell to give voice to the anxieties of a nation on the precipice. Like its New Deal contemporaries This Day and Age and Gabriel Over the White House, Okay, America! is a work that blurs the line between extralegal excitement and hellzapoppin’ incitement.  Does America need a fascist strongman to keep law ‘n’ order or would an entertainer-in-chief suffice? Remember to vote on November 8th! (KW)
78 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal

Preceded by: “The Editor’s Notebook” (Wilding Pictures Productions, 1950) – 35mm – 30 min

Posted in News | Leave a comment

H.P. Carver’s The Silent Enemy with Live Organ Accompaniment by Jay Warren – Tinted 35mm Print

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

05-silent-enemy-600

Wednesday, September 28 @ 7:30 PM
THE SILENT ENEMY
Directed by H.P. Carver • 1930
Live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren
One of the last silent films released by a major studio—it contains one spoken monologue, which was sufficient for Paramount to promote it as the “all talking feature picture which required one year to film”—The Silent Enemy straddles the line between ethnographic documentary and sentimental fiction in the tradition of Nanook of the North. Inspired by the success of Cooper and Schoedsack’s Grass and Chang, safariing scions Douglas Burden and William Chanler endeavored to recreate and record the pre-Columbian lifestyle of the Ojibwa tribe of the Canadian Far North. Enlisting a professional Hollywood crew led by director H.P. Carver and cinematographer Marcel Le Picard, they spun a loose narrative allegedly drawn from 17th-century Jesuit histories of the region. The filmmakers’ devotion to authenticity went only so far; their cast was assembled from the “photogenic” ranks of First Nations people, with Ojibwa heritage preferred but not necessary. Their star, Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, who claimed mixed heritage, had already been thoroughly assimilated into modern life, working as a journalist and serving with distinction in World War I before being adopted as an honorary Blackfoot; Chief Yellow Rose, who delivers the opening monologue, was a Sioux whom the filmmakers met at the American Museum of Natural History. In spite of its limitations, this empathetic portrayal of hunger and strife on the plains (the titular Silent Enemy) remains powerful and pictorially distinguished. Long circulated in a mutilated version prepared for the educational market, the original version of The Silent Enemy, rescued by David Shepard during his tenure at the American Film Institute, remains a capstone of silent cinema. (KW)
84 min • Burden-Chanler Productions • Tinted 35mm from Film Preservation Associates
Film Stock: Eastman LPP (1992)
Short: TBA

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Ken Russell’s Blasphemous Masterpiece The Devils
Rare 35mm Screening at the Music Box

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $7

04-the-devils-600

Monday, September 26 @ 7:00 PM
THE DEVILS
Directed by Ken Russell • 1971
Co-Presented by Odd Obsession Movies
Based on real events and Aldous Huxley’s 1952 novel The Devils of Loudun, The Devils is still regarded as one of the most controversial films of all time, at this point probably more for its garishness than its actual content (disclaimer: The Devils is a beautiful film, no matter what your washed-out pan-and-scan VHS dupe might tell you). Directed by Roman Catholic Ken Russell with production design by Derek Jarman (Jubilee, The Tempest), the film stars Oliver Reed as a 17th-century French priest who is accused of being in league with the Devil and possessing an entire convent of nuns – the unforgettable Vanessa Redgrave is Mother Superior. Despite overwhelming criticism and tussles with the British Board of Film Censors, Russell was awarded Best Director by the National Board of Review in New York. One of the film’s early champions was fellow midwesterner Father Gene D. Phillips, who immediately added the film to his curriculum at Loyola University Chicago. From Richard Crouse’s book Raising Hell: “Russell said that because the film is taught by Jesuits as if it were a good Catholic film, chances are it is.” (JA)
108 min • Russo Productions • 35mm from Warner Brothers
Film Stock: Eastman LPP (1991)

Preceded by: “The Red Spectre” (Segundo de Chomon, 1907) – 16mm – 7 min – Film print courtesy of The University of Chicago Film Studies Center

[ PRE-ORDER TICKETS THROUGH BROWN PAPER TICKETS ]

——

And then, back to NEIU on Wednesday …

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

05-silent-enemy-600

Wednesday, September 28 @ 7:30 PM
THE SILENT ENEMY
Directed by H.P. Carver • 1930
Live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren
One of the last silent films released by a major studio—it contains one spoken monologue, which was sufficient for Paramount to promote it as the “all talking feature picture which required one year to film”—The Silent Enemy straddles the line between ethnographic documentary and sentimental fiction in the tradition of Nanook of the North. Inspired by the success of Cooper and Schoedsack’s Grass and Chang, safariing scions Douglas Burden and William Chanler endeavored to recreate and record the pre-Columbian lifestyle of the Ojibwa tribe of the Canadian Far North. Enlisting a professional Hollywood crew led by director H.P. Carver and cinematographer Marcel Le Picard, they spun a loose narrative allegedly drawn from 17th-century Jesuit histories of the region. The filmmakers’ devotion to authenticity went only so far; their cast was assembled from the “photogenic” ranks of First Nations people, with Ojibwa heritage preferred but not necessary. Their star, Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, who claimed mixed heritage, had already been thoroughly assimilated into modern life, working as a journalist and serving with distinction in World War I before being adopted as an honorary Blackfoot; Chief Yellow Rose, who delivers the opening monologue, was a Sioux whom the filmmakers met at the American Museum of Natural History. In spite of its limitations, this empathetic portrayal of hunger and strife on the plains (the titular Silent Enemy) remains powerful and pictorially distinguished. Long circulated in a mutilated version prepared for the educational market, the original version of The Silent Enemy, rescued by David Shepard during his tenure at the American Film Institute, remains a capstone of silent cinema. (KW)
84 min • Burden-Chanler Productions • Tinted 35mm from Film Preservation Associates
Film Stock: Eastman LPP (1992)
Short: TBA

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Ken Russell’s Blasphemous Masterpiece The Devils
Rare 35mm Screening at the Music Box

From the Studio That Brought You Breakin’: Jean-Luc Godard’s King Lear – Ultra-Rare 35mm Screening

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

03-king-lear-600

Wednesday, September 21 @ 7:30 PM
KING LEAR
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard • 1987
In retrospect, one wonders how an ’80s vintage, English-language Jean-Luc Godard Shakespeare interpolation could have turned out to be anything but a gloriously weird and obtuse misbegotten commercial prospect. Certainly the Cannon Group (storied producers of Bloodsport, Kickboxer, and Love Streams) thought they had a viable prestige product on their hands when they signed a much-ballyhooed napkin contract with the New Wave iconoclast, hiring Norman Mailer for a script that would go unused and later adding Burgess Meredith and Molly Ringwald as Lear and Cordelia. Instead, King Lear turned out to be almost certainly the most experimental major film adaptation of a Shakespeare work. Theater director Peter Sellars (who in his capacity as cowriter also assisted Godard in dismantling the play) plays William Shakespeare Jr. the Fifth who has been enlisted by the Queen of England and the Cannon Cultural Group to recover, through a sort of associative mysticism, the works of his great ancestor after they have been wiped from cultural memory following a nuclear disaster. His assignment brings him into constant orbit with the characters from Shakespeare’s play, as well as a strange group of researchers played by Julie Delpy, director Leos Carax, and Godard himself. A work of spectacular friction, King Lear is ultimately a Godard film through and through, averse to cogent narrative progression, richly beautiful, deeply intelligent, funny and ineffably moving. (CW)
91 min • The Cannon Group • 35mm from Park Circus
Film Stock: Eastman LPP, manufactured in France (1987)

Preceded by: “Bottom’s Dream” (John Canemaker, 1983) – 16mm – 9 min

Posted in News | Comments Off on From the Studio That Brought You Breakin’: Jean-Luc Godard’s King Lear – Ultra-Rare 35mm Screening

Holden, Kelly, and Rooney vs. World Communism in
The Bridges at Toko-Ri – 35mm IB Technicolor Print

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

02-bridges-toko-ri

Wednesday, September 14 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI
Directed by Mark Robson • 1954
Existential dread induced by the possibility of dying a meaningless death for an arbitrary cause is not something one immediately associates with Cold War cinema of the 1950s, particularly not with fare as popular and successful in its time as The Bridges at Toko-Ri. All the same, it’s rare for a picture of its era to so bitterly and relentlessly puncture the myth that dying in war is a valorous and honorable act. William Holden anchors the film as Harry Brubaker, a naval aviator who is tasked with flying a strategically important mission to bomb the titular bridges. After his wife (Grace Kelly) and children visit him in Tokyo, Brubaker is thrown into a crisis, actively questioning his national and professional duties in the days leading up to the bombing. Filming in Yokosuka, Japan, and on the decks of various naval aircraft carriers, director Mark Robson evinces a strong eye for location shooting, proving adept at capturing the vibrant nightlife of postwar Japan as well as the labor required to launch and land airplanes at sea. While studded with bits of levity (supporting player Mickey Rooney’s diminutive, brawling helicopter pilot is a particularly fruitful source of comedy), The Bridges at Toko-Ri remains as intense and rattling an action picture as any to come out in its day, as well as a sober and unsparing look at the emotionally draining power of war. (CW)
102 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from NWCFS Collections, permission Swank
Film Stock: Eastman (IB Tech) 1959
Preceded by: “Schlitz Playhouse: Dual Control” (Paul Henreid, 1957) – 35mm – 30 min

Posted in News | Comments Off on Holden, Kelly, and Rooney vs. World Communism in
The Bridges at Toko-Ri – 35mm IB Technicolor Print

New Season Opens with Jane Campion’s Sweetie in 35mm

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

01 Sweetie 600

Wednesday, September 7 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
SWEETIE
Directed by Jane Campion • 1989
The first feature film by director Jane Campion, Sweetie is the story of a family “falling apart like a wet paper bag.” On the advice of a tea-leaf reading psychic, Kay (Karen Colston) steals her presumed soul mate from the arms of a coworker. Soon Kay and Louis (Tom Lycos) are living the suburban dream outside Sydney, Australia, working nameless jobs and watching their sex life disappear into the candy-colored linoleum. Enter Dawn, a.k.a. Sweetie (Geneviève Lemon), Kay’s feral, sexually charged sister, and let the hair pulling and destruction of all things beloved commence. Perhaps Campion’s funniest film (with the exception of the unfairly maligned Holy Smoke!), Sweetie is a fever dream occupied by needy, selfish children being literally (thanks to cinematographer Sally Bongers) and figuratively backed into corners. Released four years before Campion became the first (and only, as of 2016) female filmmaker to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes (for The Piano), it contains both the poetry and depravity that can be traced throughout her later work. Always ready and willing to treat seemingly mad and irrational characters with deadly sincerity, Campion makes no exception for neurotic, tree-fearing Kay, as we watch her demons made flesh in the film’s final scenes. (RL)
97 min • Arena Films • 35mm from NWCFS Collections, permission Janus
Film Stock: Eastman LPP (1989)
Preceded by: “Hey Girls!” (Tom Palazzolo, 1990) – 16mm – 4 min – Courtesy of Chicago Film Archives

Posted in News | Comments Off on New Season Opens with Jane Campion’s Sweetie in 35mm

Colbert and Marshall Together in George Cukor’s Ultra-Rare Zaza in 35mm – Never Released on Home Video

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

12 Zaza 600

Wednesday, August 31 @ 7:30 PM
ZAZA
Directed by George Cukor • 1939
A classic tale of love and heartbreak gets reworked by the steady directorial hand of George Cukor (of Gaslight and My Fair Lady fame). Directing a story told time and again for the stage, screen, and even the opera, Cukor steered  away  from  what  he considered the  “terribly  French  endless exploration of unfaithfulness and the suffering of love” and focused instead on recreating the rich and bustling world of the cabaret with Zaza (played by Claudette Colbert) at its center. The Zaza of 1939 casts off its sentimental origins to become the story of a woman trying desperately to maintain the delicate balance of life onstage and off. When Zaza begins an affair with a married man (Herbert Marshall), the ensuing turmoil threatens to bring it all crashing down. A fresh take on an old tale, and a chance to catch two familiar actors doing unfamiliar things, with Colbert doing her own singing and dancing, and Bert “The Cowardly Lion” Lahr in a rare dramatic role. (RL)
83 min • Paramount Pictures  • 35mm from Universal
Film Stock: Kodak (B+W Acetate) 1997
Preceded by: Bert Lahr in “No More West” (Nick Grinde, 1934) – 16mm – 20 min

Posted in News | Comments Off on Colbert and Marshall Together in George Cukor’s Ultra-Rare Zaza in 35mm – Never Released on Home Video

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

Posted in News | Comments Off on Brando and Nicholson – The Screen’s Greatest Couple Together in 35mm in Arthur Penn’s The Missouri Breaks

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

Posted in News | Comments Off on A bout de souffle … Made in USA: Jim McBride’s Gonzo Breathless – 35mm Screening with the Power Cosmic

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

Posted in News | Comments Off on Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Chinese Roulette:
Karina, Kraftwerk, and More in 35mm