Category Archives: News

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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Leopards in Connecticut: New Season Kicks Off with 35mm Screening of Howard Hawks’s Bringing Up Baby

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

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Tuesday, May 31 @ 7:30 PM
BRINGING UP BABY
Directed by Howard Hawks • 1938
“My dear sir, it will never be clear as long as she’s explaining it.” With a plot involving a stressed-out paleontologist, a nutty heiress, a missing dinosaur bone, some befuddled cops, a couple instances of grand theft auto, and a slightly paunchy leopard, things may never be clear no matter who’s explaining it, but it quite possibly doesn’t matter. A frenetic and sexy (the censors were out to lunch for this one) ping pong game played with words, wit, and a hefty dose of lunacy, everything in this film seems to be in place for stars Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn to ricochet off of into each other’s arms and back out again. The screwball comedy for even those who grimace at the very term. A disappointment at the box office upon its initial release it’s now widely considered one of the funniest films ever made, going on to define a genre and inspire two film homages, Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? and the Madonna star vehicle Who’s That Girl? Cinematography by longtime Douglas Sirk collaborator Russell Metty. (RL)
102 min • RKO Radio Pictures • 35mm from Criterion Pictures, USA

Preceded by: Cartoon TBA

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You Asked For It! — Latest NWCFS Season Announced /
35mm Screenings Resume May 31

08 Road Back 600
Our latest schedule is now online!

This season’s calendar is all over the map, just the way we like it. It includes prints that have been rescued by private collectors like Ferry Cross the Mersey, as well as films that have benefited from deluxe archival restorations like The Road Back and Killer of Sheep. We have a silent mystery written by a woman in 1924 (The Bedroom Window), as well as a politically savvy exploitation film directed by a woman in 1970 (The Student Nurses). We’re screening films that everybody loves (screwball classic Bringing Up Baby) and films that everybody loves to dismiss sight unseen (screwy Breathless with ballsy studmuffin Richard Gere).

Check out the full schedule.

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35mm Screenings Resume May 31

Edgar G. Ulmer’s “Joyously Energetic and Wholesome” The Naked Dawn – Vintage 35mm IB Technicolor Print

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

ND Half Sheet
Wednesday, May 11th @ 7:30 PM
THE NAKED DAWN
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer • 1955
A rare chance to see B-movie master Edgar G. Ulmer work in fantastically garish Technicolor, The Naked Dawn is a tense and whimsical south-of-the-border Western brimming with lust, greed, and hate, just as nasty and intense as Detour. Shot on location in Mexico, The Naked Dawn stars Arthur Kennedy as Santiago the Bandit, who convinces a poor farmer (Eugene Iglesias) to join him on a train robbery. Lured by a life of crime, Iglesias plans to murder Kennedy, while his wife plots to kill him and run away with the Bandit. A favorite of François Truffaut, The Naked Dawn was one of the primary inspirations for Jules et Jim and a flurry of adjectives; the young director called it “poetic and violent, tender and droll, moving and subtle, joyously energetic and wholesome.” Screening in an original IB Technicolor Print from NWCFS Collections. (JA)
82 min • Universal International Pictures • 35mm, permission Universal

Preceded by: “Around the World Revue” (George Robinson, 1956) – 35mm – 16 min

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