The Cerrito Classics Festival

Rialto Cinemas’ Cerrito Cinema is playing classic American films from Friday, September 9 to Thursday, the 15. They’re screening six old movies, and you have two of three chances to see each of these pictures. [[I corrected the dates]].

Here are the movies, with dates, times, and my own opinions:

A The Treasure of The Sierra Madre (1948)
*Friday, September 9, 4:00pm
*Sunday, September 11, 1:00pm
*Thursday, September 15, 7:00pm

Three down-on-their-luck Yankees (Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and the director’s father, Walter Huston) prospect for gold in Mexico. They find and stake out a profitable mine before discovering that they don’t really trust each other. Writer/director John Huston, working from B. Traven’s novel, turned a rousing adventure story into a morality play about the corruption of greed, much of it shot in the remote part of Mexico where the story takes place.

A Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
*Saturday, September 10, 1:30pm
*Wednesday, September 14, 7:00pm

Writer/director Preston Sturges joyfully bites the hand that feeds him. This Hollywood satire follows a successful film director (Joel McCrea) as he tries to pretend to be a bum riding the rails so he can learn about common people. He gets much more than he expected. It ends with a stirring speech proclaiming the film’s moral: “Movies shouldn’t teach morals.”

A Touch of Evil (1958)
*Sunday, September 11, 7:00pm
*Wednesday, September 14, 4:00pm

Orson Welles’ film noir classic, and his last Hollywood studio feature. He lacked the freedom he found in Europe, but the bigger budget – and perhaps even the studio oversight – resulted in one of his best works. As a corrupt border-town sheriff, Welles makes a bloated, scary, yet strangely sympathetic villain. Janet Leigh is a lovely and effective damsel in distress. As the hero, a brilliant Mexican detective, Charlton Heston is…well, he’s miscast, but not as badly as some people say. Read my Blu-ray review.

B+ Bullitt (1968)
*Friday, September 9, 7:00pm
*Tuesday, September 13, 4:00pm

Age hasn’t been altogether kind to this once cutting-edge police thriller. But it has its pleasures, such as Steve McQueen’s exceptionally cool charisma and the best car chase ever shot on the streets of San Francisco. To my knowledge, McQueen’s single use of the word bullshit marks the first time that word was heard in a Hollywood movie.

B- The Birds (1963)
*Saturday, September 10, 7:00pm
*Sunday, September 11, 4:00pm
*Thursday, September 15, 4:00pm

Alfred Hitchcock’s only out-and-out fantasy has some great sequences. The scene where Tippi Hedren calmly sits and smokes while crows gather on playground equipment behind her, and the following attack on the children, are classics. The lovely Bodega Bay location adds atmosphere and local color, and many of the special effects were way ahead of their time. But the story is weak, the ending unsatisfactory, and lovely scenery plays side-by-side with obvious soundstage mockups. Worse yet, new-comer Hedren doesn’t provide a single believable moment. She’s beautiful, but utterly lacking in acting talent or charisma.

? The Mummy (1932)
*Saturday, September 10, 4:00pm
*Tuesday, September 13, 7:00pm

I have not seen the 1932 original, nor the 1999 remake, in decades. Therefore, I’m not reviewing the film.

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