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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Classic Movies on the big screen in Greater Boston -- Jan 2017 edition

The 'musical' must be the theme for classic movies on the big screen to open 2017 in Greater Boston.
I don't normally feature the TCM/Fathom Events screenings of classic films on this blog, because they are a US-wide initiative, but this January 15th & 18th the screening of Singin' in the Rain deserves your consideration, first because it's a fabulous and fun movie, and secondly, it's Debbie Reynolds' break-out role.  May she rest in peace.  For those who haven't seen it, it's a musical from 1952 that tells the story of the development of the movies from silent to sound through the eyes of fictional cinema star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly).  There are great musical numbers and joy in nearly every scene -- and this coming from one who is not a big fan of Hollywood musicals.  It inspired, among others, the 2011 Oscar winner The Artist.

Use this link to pre-order tickets.  In the Greater Boston area the following theaters are participating:
Fenway 13 (Boston); Assembly 12 (Somerville); Revere Showcase Cinemas (Revere); Burlington 10 (Burlington); Lowell Showcase Cinemas (Lowell); Legacy Place (Dedham); Braintree 10 (Braintree); Patriot Place (Foxboro); Randolph Showcase (Randolph).

Speaking of musicals. at the HFA the 'Busby Berkeley Babylon' continues through much of January, perhaps an early sign that 2017 might be a good year after all!  There are too many to highlight all here, so definitely check out the link above for the complete listing.  For those new to Busby Berkeley, you must see the classics: 

Fri Jan 6th 9 PM42nd Street (1933) directed by Lloyd Bacon, an effort to "marry the dark, urban gangster picture with the spectacular, exhilarating musical", as described by Brittany Gravely of the HFA.  Screened using a 35 mm print.
Mon Jan 23rd, 7 PM:  For Me and My Gal (1942), with Gene Kelly in his film debut, and Judy Garland, when she was particularly vibrant.  This one was directed by Berkeley himself.
Garland & Kelly, For Me and My Gal
The lesser known films are also worth checking out as there are fewer opportunities to see them.  I'm particularly interested in:
Sat Jan 21, 7 PM: Whoopee (1930), which is the first ever film choreographed by Berkeley, featuring musical theater star Eddie Cantor.   
Sun Jan 22, 7 PM:  Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936), also directed by Lloyd Bacon and starring Berkeley regulars Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, and Glenda Farrell.

Monday, Jan 2 7:00 PM -- The Umbrellas of Cherbourg screens to open the 'Big Screen Classics' series at the Coolidge.  This French film from 1964 launched the career of Catherine Deneuve.  It's a drama/romance/musical by Jacques Demy in which all the dialogue is sung, like an opera (score by Michel Legrand).  Roger Ebert called it "a surprisingly effective film, touching and knowing, and, like Deneuve, ageless."  I've not seen it, but considering Monday is a holiday, I may go to my neighborhood theater and check it out, if I'm not at the Brattle for the Marx Bros. marathon (see below)!

I mentioned this last month, but starting tomorrow Jan 1 and going through Tuesday, is the Brattle's 'Marx Brothers' Marathon.'  For those inclined to binge-watching this would be the ultimate experience, as all are early-career pre-code Paramount productions, digital presentations of restored versions of these films.  The lineup tomorrow, starting at 12 noon, and going through util about 8:30 PM, are:  The CocoanutsAnimal CrackersMonkey BusinessHorse Feathers, and Duck Soup.  Then on Monday, Jan 2, a double feature of Animal Crackers and Duck Soup, then Tuesday it's a double feature of Horse Feathers and Monkey Business.  My favorite of these is Horse Feathers -- in which the brothers take over a college campus and wreak havoc, of course.  
Groucho Marx somehow is appointed the President of Huxley College
Sunday Jan 29: Then for something completely different, as part of the 'Cinema of the Occult' Repertory Series, it's Bell, Book and Candle (1958, Dir. Richard Quine).  I've not seen it, but with the big names James StewartKim NovakJack LemmonErnie Kovacs, and Elsa Lanchester, it should entertain, if nothing else.  

An advantage for the Boston-area cinephile is the proximity of local experts who can curate and illuminate these screenings -- for this particular series, each film will be introduced by scholars/writers Peter Bebergal, Pam Grossman, & Janaka Stucky.  

Tues Jan 31 Also in the series is Night of the Demon aka Curse of the Demon (1957), directed by Jacques Tourneur, perhaps best known for his fabulous noir Out of the Past, and starring Dana Andrews and Peggy Cummins.  I haven't seen this but looking at the film poster, with the statement ''most terrifying story the screen has ever told", it seems one must not miss it!  It's received an average rating of 7.6 on IMDb, which is pretty good for IMDb standards.  I need to see more films by Dana Andrews so this might be a good start for the year.

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