Tonight at 7:30 pm at UCLA's Festival of Preservation you'll be able to catch a screening of Fritz Lang's unfairly neglected Secret Beyond the Door (above), a 1947 noirish psychological melodrama starring Joan Bennett as woman married to Michael Redgrave, whom she suspects is out to kill her (possibly for her money).
Unlike Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941) and George Cukor's similarly themed Gaslight (1944), Secret Beyond the Door boasts a highly stylized Gothic feel that makes the viewer feel just as off-kilter as both the heroine and the hero. Stanley Cortez, who also shot Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons, was the cinematographer.
Tomorrow, Sunday, April 5, at 7pm, the Festival of Preservation will feature two rarities from the 1910s: Lena Rivers, a 1914 drama whose director is unknown, and the 1916 melodrama He Fell in Love with His Wife, directed by William Desmond Taylor. He Fell in Love with His Wife – about bigamist husbands and loveless marriages of convenience – is worth a look at the very least for historical reasons: Taylor was the victim of one of the most scandalous and as-yet unsolved murders in Hollywood history (though various theories abound).
Taylor's murder, in fact, in addition to Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle's trial for the death of minor actress Virginia Rappe would lead to the creation of the Production Code and an attempt to clean up Hollywood's image. In other words, people could still do whatever the hell they pleased, as long as it never reached other people's eyes and ears. Whoever said that Hollywood has ever been any different from any other American town?
On Monday, April 6, at 7:30 pm the Festival of Preservation presents the double feature Check and Double Check and Pointed Heels. The former is a “Amos 'n Andy” vehicle that will most likely be cringe-inducing, but the film does feature veteran Irene Rich in a supporting role.
Pointed Heels is an early backstage musical – in 1929, every other film released seemed to be some sort of musical or other – and most of the ones I've seen are pretty dreary. However, they didn't feature William Powell, Fay Wray, Phillips Holmes, and Helen Kane. For its cast alone, Pointed Heels can't be missed.
- On Wed., April 15, at 7:30 pm: Efraín Gutiérrez's Run, Tecato, Run (1979), described as a real-life inspired tale that “depicts a junkie's efforts to get off heroin in order to reclaim and raise his daughter.” Actor-director Gutiérrez is expected to attend the screening.
- On Fri., April 17, at 7:30 pm: Lester James Peries' Gamperaliya (1964), a “seminal” work in Sri Lankan cinema that has been compared to Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy. Gamperaliya tells the story of “a teacher and member of the new rising middle class, who falls in love with the daughter of his village's leading aristocratic clan. Defensive positions are assumed and the girl's parents insist upon a marriage to a stuffed shirt of her own class.”
- On Sat., April 18, at 7:30 pm: Director Edgar G. Ulmer's Ruthless (1948) is described as both a “complex psycho-melodrama” and “Ulmer's Citizen Kane.” Zachary Scott, Louis Hayward, and Diana Lynn star in this tale of greed and ambition.
- On Sun., April 19, at 2:00 pm (at the Melnitz, also in Westwood): Cecil B. DeMille's The Buccaneer (1938), starring an oddly miscast Fredric March as Jean Lafitte (above, with Akim Tamiroff).
- On Sun., April 19, at 7:00 pm: “Legacies from the ONE Archives,” featuring films and videos from the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives (approx. 45 minutes running time). Don Kilhefner, Lillian Faderman, Malcolm Boyd, Mark Thompson, and Joseph Hawkins are expected to show up at the screening.