“Four Angry Young Men” is the title of a four-film series to take place on two consecutive Saturdays, Nov. 14 and 21, at the Getty Center’s Harold M. Williams Auditorium. Note: The screenings are free, but a separate reservation is required for each film.
The Four Angry Young Men in question – no actorish Marlon Brando-James Dean types, they – are Richard Burton (Look Back in Anger), Albert Finney (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning), Richard Harris (This Sporting Life), and Tom Courtenay (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner). Good-looking, (mostly) working-class blokes with the chance of happiness and success at their fingertips if only … Well, if only life were like sappy Hollywood movies.
The women in those films, a couple of which are about just as angry – or at least as frustrated – as the guys are Claire Bloom and Mary Ure (Look Back in Anger), Rachel Roberts and Shirley Anne Field (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning), and Roberts again (This Sporting Life).
I haven’t seen Tony Richardson’s Look Back in Anger (1958), yet, which is considered the first (and according to some, finest) of the British Angry Young Men movies. Even if only for historical reasons, this drama about a disillusioned university graduate is definitely worth checking out.
Of the other three, my favorite is Lindsay Anderson’s gritty This Sporting Life (1963), with Richard Harris, as a potential rugby star, delivering what may well be one of the two best performances of his career (the other was in The Field) while supported by Rachel Roberts in equally top form. Both actors were nominated for Academy Awards; Harris, at least, should have won that year. (Roberts competition was stiffer, including Patricia Neal in Hud.)
Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) has much to recommend it, particularly Roberts’ performance as a married woman who becomes pregnant by factory worker Albert Finney; Tony Richardson’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), for its part, offers one of my favorite moments in film history: long-distance runner Tom Courtenay’s defiant look at headmaster Michael Redgrave near the end of the drama. Why do so few of today’s movies boast that spirit of genuine anti-establishment rebelliousness? Our loss, really.
Now, just as important as the actors and directors are the screenwriters of those four films. They are: Nigel Kneale (adapting John Osborne’s play); Alan Sillitoe (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, from his short story, and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, from his novel); and David Storey (This Sporting Life, from his novel).
Schedule and synopses from the Getty Center website:
Look Back in Anger
Saturday, November 14, 4:00 p.m.
(1959, 98 min., 35 mm, not rated)
Directed by Tony Richardson
Produced in 1956, John Osborne’s play, with its blunt, realistic look at the everyday life of a university-educated man living a lower-class existence, shocked West End theatergoers used to Noël Coward.
Brought to screen with Richard Burton in the lead role, the film maintains the anger, ruthlessness, and raw energy of the play while creating what some film critics claim was the pinnacle of British New Wave Cinema.
Photo: Courtesy Getty Center; Warner Bros. Pictures/Photofest © Warner Bros. Pictures. Photographer: Bob Penn.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Saturday, November 14, 7:00 p.m.
(1961, 89 min., 35mm, not rated)
Directed by Karel Reisz
Uttering the iconic angry young man line, “Whatever they say I am, that’s what I’m not,” Albert Finney created one of the most memorable characters in British film history, Arthur Seaton—factory worker, disillusioned youth, working-class sex symbol, rebellious pleasure seeker.
With Reisz’s direction and Finney’s breakthrough performance, the film would come to epitomize the social concerns of post-World War II Britain as it edged into the swinging ’60s.
This Sporting Life
Saturday, November 21, 4:00 p.m.
(1963, 134 min., 35mm, not rated)
Directed by Lindsay Anderson
In a dramatic contrast to some of his later great roles (Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, for instance!), here a young Richard Harris shines as a poor Yorkshire miner turned hopeful rugby star.
In this gritty and beautiful work, director Anderson created not only a fine essay on working-class angst, but also a film that looked new and different thanks to unusual editing, riveting cinematography, and a haunting score.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Saturday, November 21, 7:00 p.m.
(1962, 104 min., 35 mm, not rated)
Directed by Tony Richardson
Colin (Tom Courtenay) is determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a miner. He resorts to petty crimes until he gets caught and sent to a reform school. There he meets his dopplegänger, the headmaster (Michael Redgrave), who seeks to exploit the young man’s talent of running to both “help” the lad and bring a bit of glory to the school.
The desires of the two men create the atmosphere indicative of the “kitchen sink” drama, which—at its best, as here—brought the British class system to its knees.
Paulette Goddard, Betty Grable, Edward G. Robinson, Ginger Rogers, and Natalie Wood’s rarely seen home movies will be screened at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ presentation of “Hollywood Home Movies II: Treasures from the Academy Film Archive” on Saturday, October 17, at 7 p.m. at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. This event is sold out, but standby tickets may become available.
The Academy Film Archive houses a wide variety of amateur movies – whether featuring the stars’ families and friends, or behind-the-scenes activities on their sets. “Hollywood Home Movies II” will feature a number of excerpts, among them footage of Marlon Brando, Marlene Dietrich, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Judy Garland, Alfred Hitchcock, Gene Kelly, Sophia Loren, Harpo Marx, Mickey Rooney, James Stewart, Esther Williams and Loretta Young.
The evening will also include footage of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre from 1928, aerial footage of Los Angeles from the Goodyear blimp from 1938, and a compilation of “Stars on the Move,” featuring a variety of classic travel conveyances.
James Stewart ca. 1938
“Hollywood Home Movies II” is being presented in conjunction with Home Movie Day, described as “an annual international celebration of amateur films and filmmaking that provides individuals and families an opportunity to see and share their own home movies with an audience of their community.” The Linwood Dunn Theater will serve as the event’s Los Angeles-area venue.
Though “Hollywood Home Movies II: Treasures from the Academy Film Archive” is sold out, additional tickets typically become available at the last minute due to no-shows and cancellations. There will be a standby line at the west doors of the Pickford Center on October 17. Standby numbers will be given out at approximately 5:30 p.m. The number of standby tickets that can be sold will be determined shortly before the event’s 7 p.m. start time.
Tickets to are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. All seating is unreserved.
The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood. For more information call (310) 247-3600 or visit the Academy’s website.
Photos: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library.
Lon Chaney ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Halloween screening
The 1925 silent classic The Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney in the title role, will be screened on Sunday, Oct. 25, ’09, at 2:30 p.m. at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, about 9 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Directed by Rupert Julian for Universal, The Phantom of the Opera is perhaps Lon Chaney’s best-known movie role. This film adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel also features popular Universal star Mary Philbin as the object of the Phantom’s desire and burly leading man Norman Kerry as the hero, in addition to Arthur Edmund Carewe and Gibson Gowland (the leading man in Erich von Stroheim’s Greed) in supporting roles.
This Halloween Special presentation by the Los Angeles Theatre Organ Society (website) will feature live musical accompaniment on a Wurlitzer theatre organ restored with the support of the Peter Lloyd Crotty Charitable Fund.
MGM star + The Phantom of the Opera versions
At about the time The Phantom of the Opera came out, Chaney became a contract player at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he would star in a number of highly successful productions – some of which have popped up on Turner Classic Movies – until his death from cancer at age 47 in 1930.
Among Chaney’s notable MGM movies are The Unholy Three (1925), Tell It to the Marines (1926), Mr. Wu (1927), The Unknown (1927), the legendary (believed lost) London After Midnight (1927), and his one and only talkie, the 1930 remake of The Unholy Three.
Among the actors who starred in the various The Phantom of the Opera movie remakes, reboots, and updates are Claude Rains (1943), Herbert Lom (1962), Robert Englund (1989), Julian Sands (1998), and Gerard Butler (2004).
For more information on The Phantom of the Opera screening, visit the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse website.
Lon Chaney The Phantom of the Opera 1925 image: Universal Pictures.
Michael Haneke drama ‘The White Ribbon’: Best-reviewed film of the year?
Whether or not it gets a 2010 Best Picture Academy Award or BAFTA nomination, Michael Haneke’s 2009 Palme d’Or-winning The White Ribbon may well end up as the best reviewed film of 2009. At least in the United Kingdom.
Here are a few review samples:
“It is typical of Haneke, though, that he makes such strong suggestions so indirectly and purely through the sheer brilliant, precise power of his characterisations and superb conjuring up of an astonishing sense of time and place.” Dave Calhoun, Time Out.
“The White Ribbon has an absolute confidence and mastery of its own cinematic language, and the performances Haneke elicits from his first-rate cast, particularly the children, are eerily perfect.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.
“White Ribbon‘s made from material that haunts, grips and immerses.” Total Film.
“A visually stunning thinkpiece.” Empire.
“Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or-winning The White Ribbon shows the master of austere rigour at the very height of his powers.” Wendy Ide, The London Times.
‘The White Ribbon’ images
Set in a small German village beset by strange, violent acts right before the outbreak of World War I, The White Ribbon shows how the Germany of the 1910s became the Germany of the Nazi era. Not quite a horror movie like The Phantom of the Opera, but a horror story all the same.
Below is a trio of striking The White Ribbon images – black and white cinematography by Christian Berger, whose credits, dating back to the mid-1970s, include Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher and Hidden / Caché.
‘The White Ribbon’ cast
In The White Ribbon cast: German Film Award winners Ulrich Tukur and Susanne Lothar, in addition to Burghart Klaußner, Christian Friedel, Ursina Lardi, Ernst Jacobi, Leonie Benesch, and Leonard Proxauf.
Artificial Eye will release The White Ribbon at London’s Curzon Mayfair and across the U.K. on Nov. 13, ’09. Sony Pictures Classics will distribute the film in the U.S. beginning on Dec. 30.
Ursina Lardi and The White Ribbon images: PPR Online Press.
‘Citizen Kane’ back in the U.K.
Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece Citizen Kane, winner of the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, will hit U.K. theaters on Nov. 30. In addition to London’s bfi Southbank, Citizen Kane will also be screened in Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.
Written by Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz, Citizen Kane stars Welles as megalomaniacal newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, based on megalomaniacal right-wing tycoon William Randolph Hearst – creepier than the Lon Chaney characters in The Phantom of the Opera, The Unknown, and Mr. Wu all put together.
Also in the cast:
Cinematography by the masterful Gregg Toland; music by Bernard Herrmann.
Citizen Kane was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (Orson Welles). The winners that year were, respectively, How Green Was My Valley and its director, John Ford, plus actor Gary Cooper for playing the titular character in Howard Hawks’ World War I fable Sergeant York.
Dorothy Comingore and Orson Welles Citizen Kane image: RKO Pictures.
Robert Osborne & Alec Baldwin to host Turner Classic Movies’ ‘The Essentials’
Two-time Emmy winner Alec Baldwin will be returning for a second season as co-host of Turner Classic Movies’ “The Essentials,” joining forces with TCM host Robert Osborne to present a new slate of must-see movies every Saturday at 5 p.m. (PT).
The 10th season of “The Essentials” will kick off in March 2010 with Elia Kazan’s 1951 version of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Oscar nominee Marlon Brando and Oscar winners Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden. If you haven’t seen it, yet, you must. If you have, it’s one of those movies that can be watched again and again.
As per the TCM press release, the season will also feature four Best Picture Oscar winners: William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Vincente Minnelli’s Gigi (1958), David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and George Roy Hill’s The Sting (1973), in addition to Marcel Camus’ Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner Black Orpheus (1959), a musicalized version of the Orpheus legend set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.
Also, for the first time, “The Essentials” will include special late-night installments, featuring 1970s classics such as Saturday Night Fever (1977), starring John Travolta, and Serpico (1973), with Al Pacino and lots of corrupt cops.
Other titles for 2010 include the 1960s classics Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Graduate (1967); the Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), with Alec Guinness in eight different roles; plus Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe (1941) (hopefully in a restored print), John Ford’s My Darling Clementine (1946), Stanley Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) and George Cukor’s newly restored A Star Is Born (1954). The complete schedule for next year’s installments of “The Essentials” will be announced later.
Past hosts of “The Essentials” include filmmakers Rob Reiner, Peter Bogdanovich and Sydney Pollack. Robert Osborne took over hosting duties in 2006, paired with film critic and author Molly Haskell. He was joined by actress and bestselling author Carrie Fisher in 2007 and actress Rose McGowan in 2008.
Robert Osborne and Alec Baldwin image: Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.
Pordenone Presents ‘The Merry Widow’
At The Bioscope: 2009 Pordenone Film Festival Day I
“The main event, though, is the Erich Von Stroheim version of The Merry Widow (USA 1925), introduced by Leatrice Joy Fountain and featuring a new orchestral score by Maud Nelissen. The film itself is almost a checklist of Von’s obsessions; militaria, aristocrats at play, wedding processions, grotesques, fetishes and matters of honour; how close it all is to the source material I’m not qualified to say, but it’s a superior piece of froth; the score, using Lehar lightly but effectively matched it to perfection. And every new film I see John Gilbert in, my perception of him changes; not just the star of legend, I’m realising what a really fine actor he was too, and what a waste his loss was to cinema.”
Leatrice Joy Fountain is the daughter of John Gilbert and Leatrice Joy, both of whom were big names in the 1920s. Gilbert, in particular, became an MGM superstar in the second half of the decade, thanks in large part to the enormous success of both The Merry Widow and The Big Parade (right). His silent films with Greta Garbo – Flesh and the Devil, Love, A Woman of Affairs – didn’t hurt, either.
Gilbert’s career dwindled away with the coming of sound. (Gene Kelly spoofs him in the “I love you! I love you! I love you!” scene in Singin’ in the Rain.) His astronomical salary (which fattened his films’ budgets), difficult temper, and ugly rift with MGM head Louis B. Mayer didn’t help matters any. John Gilbert died in 1936.
The 2009 Pordenone Film Festival – Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (“The Journey of Silent Cinema”) – ran Oct. 3-10.
Pordenone Film Festival website.