What’s Screening: July 15 – 21

We’ve got a ridiculously large selection of great classics screening this week–most of them at the Pacific Film Archive.


Promising events

Streetcar San Francisco: Transit Tales of the City in Motion, Balboa, Wednesday, 7:00

This collection of shorts highlight the history of San Francisco public transportation. It promises to “feature archival footage, new and original short films, highlights from the OpenSFHistory collection, and other historically-inspired surprises.” Presented by Western Neighborhoods Project.

Republican National Convention Viewing Party, New Parkway, Wednesday & Thursday, 6:00
Just in case you’d rather watch it in a crowd…probably a booing crowd.

Recommended revivals

A+ Paths of Glory, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Friday, 7:30; Sunday, 4:00

Stanley Kubrick doesn’t just show us that war is hell. He illustrates how powerless men go through that hell for the benefit of powerful men. When an impossible mission inevitably fails, the officers who planned it arrange for three enlisted men to be tried for cowardice, convicted, and executed–it’s easier than admitting the generals’ mistake. Kirk Douglas plays the honorable officer who tilts at the windmills of corrupted military justice. Part of the series Kubrick in Black & White.

A+ Preston Sturges double bill: The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek & The Great McGinty, Stanford, Wednesday through next Friday

The A+ goes to The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. At a time when it was impossible for a Hollywood picture to criticize the American military or suggest that a young woman could get pregnant out of wedlock, Preston Sturges made a very funny comedy about a teenage girl who goes out with some soldiers and comes back in a family way. Read my A+ appreciation. Sturges’ directorial debut, The Great McGinty, isn’t near as funny as Morgan’s Creek, but this story of a crooked politician who goes straight and thus ruins his life has its charms and laughs. I give it a B-.

A The Mill and the Cross, Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday, 7:00

Lech Majewski recreates the making of Bruegel’s painting The Way to Calvary, using 21-century art and technology. True to Bruegel’s style, the film starts with the day-to-day lives of ordinary, 16th-century peasants, then moves on to the religious clashes of the day. Using nature, paint, and digital effects, Majewski creates a visual feast that moves from the world of Bruegel’s experience into the world of his imagination. Read my full review. Part of the series Guided Tour: Museums In Cinema.

A The Killing, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Saturday, 7:30; Sunday, 2:00

Stanley Kubrick started his Hollywood career with this crackerjack noir heist thriller. A career criminal (Sterling Hayden) orchestrates a complex racetrack robbery likely to net two million 1956 dollars. But he needs collaborators, and needless to say, human frailty gets in the way. Hayden’s rat-a-tat-tat delivery does wonders for snappy, pulp-heavy dialog like “You’d be killing a horse – that’s not first degree murder. In fact, it’s not murder at all. In fact, I don’t know what it is.”

A- Comedy Short Subject Night, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30

In One AM, Charlie Chaplin plays his rich drunk character in what’s basically a solo performance, too soused to find his way to bed. The Scarecrow isn’t Keaton’s best two-reeler, but it still provides plenty of laughs. In High and Dizzy, Harold Lloyd finds himself high on a skyscraper; a comic dilemma he’d perfect to an art in Safety Last.
You’re Darn Tootin’ stands amongst the best silent Laurel and Hardy shorts. With Greg Pane on piano.

B+ Wings of Desire, Pacific Film Archive, Sunday, 7:15

Wenders’ fantasy about angels in Berlin offers a view of the city as a land of interior monologues. Two angels (Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander) watch over the people, listen to their thoughts, and comfort them in their pain. Then one of them falls in love with a trapeze artist, and finds himself longing for mortality. Wenders couldn’t have known it when he made the film in 1988, but he was capturing the last months of a divided city; the wall seen in the film would soon come down. With Peter Falk as a strange version of himself. Part of the series Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)