He-Man Hur and Harold Lloyd: Recommendations and Warnings

Ben-Hur (1959), Castro, Saturday. The best of the many big, long religious epics Hollywood churned out when the wide screen was a selling point, Ben-Hur doesn’t quite manage to be the masterpiece that many people remember. The story is heavy-handed, especially in the final hour when the Christianity is ladled on rather thick. But it’s great to look at, offers several entertaining supporting roles, and belongs on the big screen. If you have a hankering to see Ben-Hur, see it here, not on DVD. As part of it’s tribute to composer Miklós Rózsa, the Castro will screen Ben-Hur in what they promise to be “an excellent 35mm [print] in Dolby “A”, including overture, etc..”

Dr. Jack, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30. This early Harold Lloyd feature lacks the strong sense of story and character found in his later silents, but it still delivers laughs. Its theme, preferring the common-sense small-town general practitioner to the fancy-pants medical specialist, was probably conservative in 1922; today it feels like holistic medicine. Frederick Hodges accompanies on piano.

Double Bill: Double Indemnity & The Lost Weekend, Castro, Tuesday. Rich but unhappy (and evil) housewife Barbara Stanwyck leads insurance salesman Fred MacMurray from adultery to murder in Billy Wilder’s noir thriller Double Indemnity. Not that she has much trouble doing it (this is not the MacMurray we grew up on in “My Three Sons”). A good, gritty thriller about sex (or the code-era equivalent) and betrayal. Also noirish in style, The Lost Weekend is the sort of social problem picture we don’t expect from Wilder. The problem is alcoholism, and while Ray Milland earned the Oscar he won for his performance, the picture seems to be more about the problem than the person. The on this double bill, part of the Castro’s tribute to composer Miklós Rózsa, belongs to Double Endemnity.

Time After Time, Castro, Monday, 2:20. I haven’t seen Nicholas Meyer’s sci-fi fantasy thriller romantic comedy since it was new, and I suspect that 1979 may look almost as quaint to us as 1888 looked then, but I liked this picture enough back then. Meyer plays the silly plot–H. G. Wells travels in time to present day San Francisco to catch Jack the Ripper, but gets distracted by a liberated woman–for all its worth. Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, and Mary Steenburgen star. On a Miklós Rózsa matinee double-bill with Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, which I also haven’t seen since new and don’t remember at all.

Reviewed First-Run Films in Bayflicks-Approved Theaters
Click title for review. All films either ongoing or opening Friday.