The Bay Area hosts several theatrical screenings of classic cinema this week. You can choose between laughs from Preston Sturges, Kubrick’s great SciFi epic, Norman Jewison (who is, by the way, not Jewish) and changed the look of noir while breaking the color line. James Whales made the monster who just wanted to be loved. And if you love brass, there are seventy-six trombones!
Festivals & Series
- The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival opened last night
- The Classic Movie Musicals series plays Wednesday night through August 24
- The Pixar Family Film series plays weekends thru September 5
A- The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) & B+ Christmas in July (1940), July 21-22; full double bills 6:10 & 7:30
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek: Read my appreciation. Has there ever been an ingénue with a more perfectly comical name than Trudy Kockenlocker? Or a code-era Hollywood movie that so deftly outwitted the censors of its time? There are funnier movies than The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, but not many, and none this funny that flew in the face of traditional morality with as much glee.
Christmas in July: In his second film as a director, Sturges creates a charming yet bitter comedy about the American Dream – with themes that come right out of King Vidor’s much more serious masterpiece, The Crowd. Dick Powell stars as a lowly clerk who thinks he has the makings of a brilliant advertising executive.
A+ 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Balboa, Tuesday, 7:30pm
Stanley Kubrick’s visualization of Arthur C. Clarke’s imagination tells you little, but it shows you a lot. Unlike any other science fiction movie (or any other big-budget blockbuster), it offers a daring story structure, striking visuals, breathtaking use of music, plus a refusal to explain what it’s all about. As prophesy, 2001 failed. But as fantasy, adventure, mystery, and even theology, it’s brilliant. Read my report and my Eat Drink Film article on how this masterpiece should best be shown.
A- In the Heat of the Night
(1967), Stanford, Saturday and Sunday, 5:30 & 9:25
The Best Picture winner of 1967 is one really good noir. A brilliant, African American homicide detective from Philadelphia (Sidney Poitier) finds himself in a small, redneck town in Mississippi when an important member of the community has just been murdered. Rod Steiger plays the bigoted sheriff who slowly realizes that this Black man is much smarter than he is. Haskell Wexler’s unique cinematography (for its time) helped change the way color films looked. On a Sidney Poitier double feature with To Sir, With Love, which I barely remember.
B+ Frankenstein (1931), Balboa, Monday, 7:30pm
Screening in 16mm (or as the theater is calling it, 16 Millimurder! James Whales’ original Frankenstein is atmospheric and beautiful. Besides, No one played Dr. Frankenstein’s nameless creation like Boris Karloff, who interpreted the monster as an ugly child in a too-large body – an outcast torn between his need for love and his anger at the society that rejects him.
B+ The Music Man (1962), Lark, Wednesday, 2:00pm
One of my childhood favorites doesn’t quite look like a masterpiece anymore, but it’s still big, dazzling, funny, and filled with catchy tunes. Robert Preston carries the picture as Professor Harold Hill, the conman who pretends to be a music teacher, and deep down wants to be one. The cast is rounded out with Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Paul Ford, and the Buffalo Bills (this may be the only major Hollywood movie featuring a barbershop quartet). Shot in Technirama – a process that used twice as much film for each frame than standard 35mm–The Music Man really should be experienced on a large, wide screen.