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'The Boy Friend,' 'The River': Art Directors Guild Film Series

Twiggy The Boy Friend Ken Russell
Joaquin Phoenix Gladiator Ridley Scott
Crack in the World poster Andrew Marton
Twiggy in Ken Russell's The Boy Friend (top); Joaquin Phoenix in Ridley Scott's Gladiator (middle); Andrew Marton's Crack in the World, starring Dana Andrews, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore, and Alexander Knox (bottom)

Ridley Scott's Oscar-winning Gladiator, Jean Renoir's The River, Ken Russell's The Boy Friend, and Andrew Marton's little-seen Crack in the World are some of the movies to be screened at the fourth Art Directors Guild (ADG) Film Society and the American Cinematheque series highlighting the works of renowned production designers.

Those are Arthur Max (Gladiator), Eugène Lourié (Crack in the World, The River), Rudolph Sternad (The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T), Nitin Chandrakant Desai (Devdas), Eiko Ishioka (Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters), and Tony Walton (The Boy Friend). [Film schedule.]

Of the ones I've seen, I particularly recommend The Boy Friend, a trippy homage to Busby Berkeley's musicals of the '30s, immensely aided by Tony Walton's production design. And of course, Renoir's The River, a simple but visually stunning coming-of-age tale set in India.

Of the ones I haven't seen, Crack in the World sounds like a must. Just take a look at the poster. Also, director Andrew Marton was responsible for the chariot race in the 1959 version of Ben-Hur, a multiple Oscar winner and quite possibly the worst movie William Wyler ever made. But the chariot race is brilliant (even if not quite as brilliant as the one found in the 1925 version starring Ramon Novarro).

Marton also co-directed King Solomon's Mines (1950), one of my favorite adventure flicks. That's another good reason for me to recommend Crack in the World, which stars solid 1940s leading man Dana Andrews, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore (Vivien Leigh's leading man in Julien Duvivier's 1948 version of Anna Karenina), and 1944 best actor Oscar nominee Alexander Knox.

Sponsored by Variety, the ADG series will run from May through October. The screenings will alternate between the AC's Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the Egyptian (6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood) and the Max Palevsky Theatre at the Aero (1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica). All screenings will start at 5:30 p.m.

Photos: Courtesy of the American Cinematheque.

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