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Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Classic Film Screenings in Greater Boston

After August delivered an abundance of classic film screening riches in the Boston area, with a bit of a chill in the air fast approaching, September is 'cooling down' on the number of options for cinephiles.  However, there are some exciting and notable offerings to report.

Somerville Theatre  -- Sept 16-24
The Somerville in Davis Square celebrates the start of fall with a Festival of screenings mostly devoted to the 70 mm format -- this includes both classic film in the era of epics shot originally on 70 mm, in addition to some more modern films adopted this format.  Films in this format are weightier, and in many cases offer more detail than even you'll see on your home Blu-Ray.  This is what makes these films ideal for big screens, as film-makers in the 1950s and 1960s learned, to compete with the increasing popularity of television.  Today, film-makers use this format to draw people to cinemas in the age of advancing home video technology and the proliferation of quality visual media offerings.
For those interested in attending most or all screenings, you can buy a festival pass for $200 (adult); individual features will cost $15.00 (The cost of making or restoring 70mm prints is higher than digital or 35 mm).  

Great classic & modern titles will be screened, including: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962), BEN-HUR (1959), WEST SIDE STORY (1961), SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959), just to name a few.  I'm particularly excited to see THE WILD BUNCH (1969) on Monday Sept 19 & SPARTACUS (1960) on Saturday Sept 24.

Shockingly, both these well-regarded films have yet to be seen by me.  THE WILD BUNCH would continue my exploration of the Western film, and is directed by Sam Peckinpah and showcases aging classic actors known to apparently good effect:  William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, and two personal favorites, Ben Johnson and Edmond O'Brien.  In a film that is more than mildly influenced by Vietnam War politics, if I can tolerate the violence, I'm sure I'll enjoy it.
SPARTACUS is a picture known for Kirk Douglas showing off his pecs, and more seriously defying the blacklist by hiring famed screenwriter Dalton Trumbo back under his own name.  Stanley Kubrick directed this period epic, and if I load up on caffeine for the 3+ hour running time, I'm sure the 70mm presentation on the big screen will provide quite the experience, indeed.
The retrospective of the films of Rouben Mamoulian finishes up Friday Sept 2 with BLOOD AND SAND (1941) starting at 7PM and THE SONG OF SONGS (1933) to follow.  I'm thrilled to be attending these screenings. Again, neither film I've seen, but I did see the 1922 Valentino version of the famous tale of the ill-fated love triangle in 19th century Spain, which was nothing if not entertaining.  In the 1941 technicolor version we get three of the brightest and most gorgeous stars to feast our eyes on: Tyrone Power, Rita Hayworth, and Linda Darnell.  The mise-en-scene created by Mamoulian is said to take on 'painterly dimensions' with masterful use of color and noir shadows (HFA website).
Rita Hayworth and Tyrone Power throw sparks in BLOOD AND SAND
Rudolph Valentino and Nita Naldi as lovers in the earlier BLOOD AND SAND
THE SONG OF SONGS is a lesser-known film made in the pre-code era (1933), and it stars Marlene Dietrich coming off of her apex with director Josef von Sternberg.  Here she apparently starts out as a naive young country girl but rapidly changes her character after getting involved with Brian Aherne. It seems to be an interesting melodrama with 'touches of humor.'  If I can stay awake I will definitely catch this one (in 35 mm)!
Brian Aherne & Marlene Dietrich in THE SONG OF SONGS
Coolidge Corner Theatre
The Coolidge is presenting their perennial favorite JAWS (1975) on Monday Sept 5 (Labor Day), which is a great choice of a date because I doubt anyone is planning to return to the beach after that date anyway(!).  It will no doubt be a fun crowd.
Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Schneider and Robert Shaw in JAWS
It's not my favorite Hitchcock, but it is for many and deserves a shout-out for Sunday Sept 25 -- REAR WINDOW (1954) screens in 35 mm film format at the Brattle.  Starring a mostly immobile James Stewart character and the lovely Grace Kelly playing amateur sleuth.  
Sat Sept 24 deserves special mention here as it is the first annual "Art House Theater Day" -- in which over 160 theaters around the country have joined on to take part in showcasing their role in "celebrating the legacy of independent theaters as advocates for cinema arts."  For participating theaters there will be special screenings and giveaways.  In the Boston area both the Coolidge and the Brattle are taking part.  The Brattle is even extending the celebration to 'Art House Theater Week' from Sept 16-24, for which their screening of REAR WINDOW is a part.  Sounds like the start of a great tradition.  

A final 'special mention' for New Englanders is the weekend Telluride-by-the-Sea film festival Sept 16-18 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  This quaint seaside town and its historic theater 'Music Hall' bring patrons a selection of 6 films that are screened at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado earlier in the month.  This is a lot of fun and a nice way to welcome in fall while seeing some newer films making the festival rounds -- highly recommended!

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