Aug 11, 2012

Ernest Borgnine, Elvis and a Whole Lot More Screening This Week at The American Cinematheque (August 13 – 19, 2012)

If you regularly check my weekly American Cinematheque posts, you may have noticed I haven’t done one for the last three weeks as some things got in the way.  But I am back, and what a week to return to.

While I was attending the San Diego International Comic-con, there were a couple of fairly significant deaths within the ranks of Hollywood Legends.  Producer and former 20th Century Fox studio head Richard Zanuck passed away (also son of legendary Hollywood Mogul Daryl F. Zanuck) as did one of the best character actors in Hollywood history, Ernest Borgnine.  Born in 1917 Borgnine had a very long career playing heavies as well as good guys and did both equally well.  He was still working recently with appearances in TV movies, had a role in the 2010 movie RED and even voiced a character on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS.  Borgnine will always be remembered for his Oscar-winning performance in the 1955 movie MARTY.  He was one of the few actors to segue into TV when it wasn’t so popular to do so (MCHALE’S NAVY) and still continued on in an exciting film career afterwards with titles like ICE STATION ZEBRA, FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, THE DIRTY DOZEN, THE WILD BUNCH and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK to name just a few.  The Cinematheque this week has selection of some of his work to honor his very long and successful career.

THE EGYPTIAN – 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA  90028

Thursday, August 16th, 7:30pm

Ernie: A Tribute to the Great Ernest Borgnine

JOHNNY GUITAR (1954, Republic; Directed by: Nicholas Ray)

The timing of this screening couldn’t be more convenient.  A beautiful Blu-ray Disc release of JOHNNY  GUITAR just came out this past Tuesday (via Olive Films) which I watched last night having no idea that the film was screening this week at the Egyptian. 

Joan Crawford is a saloon owner whose relationship with a known gunslinger (great name too – The Dancing Kid) has made her an undesirable in this very straitlaced western town that also isn’t too happy that she also has plans to build up a depot when the eventual railroad is built through the area.  Most indignant is Emma played by Mercedes McCambridge who is so jealous of Crawford’s sex appeal and her relationship with the Dancing Kid, she wants her pretty much dead – and from one of the best performances I have seen of an angry woman.  You believe that had there not been laws or people around she would have no problem pulling a gun out and shooting Crawford cold.

Shot in gorgeous TruColor with a color scheme that in itself is worth studying (pay attention to the costumes especially which practically leap off the screen in Olive’s Blu-ray release), JOHNNY GUITAR has become something of a cult classic among Film lovers.  The French lauded it and it cemented Nicholas Ray as an American director that demanded attention.

Borgnine plays one of the Dancing Kid’s henchmen, and is at his best as a very bad guy.

Followed by…

THE BADLANDERS (1958, Warner Bros.; Directed by: Delmer Daves)

Ernest Borgnine plays yet another heavy – this time an ex-con wanting to go straight which doesn’t last long when he teams up with fellow prison-mate Alan Ladd to steal some gold from a mining town Ladd is seeking revenge on.  Considered to be a Western remake of THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, this is a very fast paced movie with complex characters and definitely worth seeing in all its Cinemascope glory on the big screen.



Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

Friday, August 17th, 7:30pm

Ernie: A Tribute to the Great Ernest Borgnine

Discussion with actor Keith Carradine will take place between the films.

EMPEROR OF THE NORTH (1973, 20th Century Fox; Directed by: Robert Aldrich)

Set during the depression, Ernest Borgnine again in heavy mode here as a sadistic railroad conductor who has a “no-hobo” policy on his train, and delights in being as nasty about it as possible.  Fellow DIRTY DOZEN performer Lee Marvin is out to be the one to outwit and beat Borgnine at his game and stay on the train for the entire ride.  Directed by Robert Aldrich (who directed both Marvin and Borgnine in THE DIRTY DOZEN) has crafted a very intense and exciting movie featuring a battle of wits and wills that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Followed by…

THE VIKINGS (1958, United Artists; Directed by: Richard Fleischer)

Borgnine plays Ragnar, leader of the Vikings whose sons (Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis playing unknowing half-brothers) compete for a vacant throne – oh and the available and beautiful Janet Leigh.  Me personally I’d focus on Leigh and forget the throne. 

This is a big, fun spectacle, the kind of movie that makes going to the theater a grand event which you can see from a 35mm print.



Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

Saturday, August 18th, 7:30pm

Ernie: A Tribute to the Great Ernest Borgnine

A night of rousing action movies featuring Borgnine kicks off with the most violent western of all time.

THE WILD BUNCH (1969 Warner Bros.; Directed by: Sam Peckinpah)

THE WILD BUNCH is a seminal movie.  It changed the way violence was portrayed on screen and was like nothing anyone had ever seen before.  Directed by maverick Sam Peckinpah, THE WILD BUNCH is about a group of cowboys out for one last stand as the way of life they know so well disappears rapidly around them. 

With a gun battle to end all gun battles, THE WILD BUNCH was a game changer of a movie that features an impressive cast that along with Borgnine consists of William Holden, Robert Ryan, Warren Oates and Ben Johnson.

Followed by…

THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Directed by: Robert Aldrich)

Lee Marvin has an attitude problem and is assigned the task of training a group of unruly ex-cons to carry 
out a dangerous behind-enemy-lines mission.  This is a perfect pairing with THE WILD BUNCH given that the heroes of the movie are not your typical clean cut all-American soldier types, but a ragtag group of undesirables that you wouldn’t associate with being heroic. 

Ernest Borgnine plays a General with a cast that includes Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, George Kennedy, John Cassavetes, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland.



Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

Sunday, August 19th, 2:00pm

A screening to commemorate The 35th Anniversary of Elvis Presley’s Death

JAILHOUSE ROCK (1957, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Directed by: Richard Thorpe)

The King of Rock-n-Roll may have been dead for more than 3 decades now, but his legend still lives on.  Here in one of his best screen performances.  He goes to jail for manslaughter, becomes a rock superstar and quickly forgets the people who got him there. 

Features the best on-screen production number featuring Elvis and that is of course the title track JAILHOUSE ROCK.

A discussion with author Mike Stoller will precede the film, and he will be signing copies of the book he co-wrote with Jerry Lieber HOUND DOG: THE LEIBER AND STOLLER AUTOBIOGRAPHY.


Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

Sunday, August 19th, 7:30pm

Ernie: A Tribute to the Great Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine in the role he is best known for.

MARTY (1955, United Artists; Directed by: Delbert Mann)

Winner of Academy Awards for Best Actor (Borgnine), Picture and Screenplay (Paddy Cheyefsky), this big screen remake of what was original a live NBC Television drama features Borgnine as a lonely butcher in the Bronx who still lives with his Mother, and has resigned himself to the single life.  Then he meets a very ordinary schoolteacher (Betsy Blair) who also extremely lonely and discovers that it’s never too late for romance.

A very genuine and touching movie that is so far from being the typical Hollywood romance movie – especially given that the characters are not exactly what you would expect to be the archetype Hollywood couple.  It’s a movie that will leave you feeling wonderful by the end.

I was fortunate enough to see this screened at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills as part of an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences series highlighting Best Picture winners in 2002, and Mr. Borgnine was on-hand to introduce the film.  He made a great speech about how he missed the pictures of yesterday, and what a pleasure it was that such a large crowd (it was sold out) were willing to come out and see a movie that at that point was almost 50 years old.  Needless to say, he received a well deserved standing ovation.

Followed by…

THE CATERED AFFAIR (1956, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Directed by: Richard Brooks)

Another story originally written by Paddy Cheyfsky for TV, written for the big screen by Gore Vidal (who also passed away recently) and directed by Richard Brooks (ELMER GANTRY).

Ernest Borgnine and Bette Davis are a poor couple living in New York, with Borgnine scraping together as much money as he can to buy his own cab.  His daughter (Debbie Reynolds) announces that she is about to be married and that she and the groom-to-be would like to have a very simple ceremony.  The groom’s parents talk about how all the weddings they threw for their daughters were big elaborate affairs, and suddenly Bette Davis wants to plan a wedding well beyond their means to impress everyone. 

This has great performances all around but especially by Borgnine as a regular Joe struggling in a world that demands more than he can afford. 



Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

THE AERO – 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA  90403

Monday, August 13th, 7:30pm

Monday Night Mysteries

Beat the Monday blues with one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest movies.

REAR WINDOW (1954, Paramount – via Universal; Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock)

James Stewart is a photographer with a broken leg, trapped in a wheelchair and bored beyond belief.  Using a pair of binoculars, he spies on his neighbor (Raymond Burr) and thinks he may have seen a murder take place. 

Entirely from the viewpoint of one location this claustrophobic movie uses that confinement as well the voyeuristic nature of the story to create a memorable and intense thriller.  Funny though, with Grace Kelly always hanging around I’m sure if I were in Stewart’s position I’d spend more time looking at her rather than staring at my neighbors through binoculars.


Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

Wednesday, August 15th, 7:30pm

Grit and Whimsy III: The Best of Recent Belgian Cinema

The Cinematheque continues their series of recent Belgian Cinema – complete with Waffle and Beer reception following the film.

From the Cinematheque Website:

HIGH HEELS, LOW TIDE [a.k.a. WEEKEND AAN ZEE] (2012; Directed by: Ilse Somers)

When An, Karen, Elke and Dorian take a weekend "girls getaway" trip to the Belgian coast, they discover that their once-close friendships have become strained. Over the course of two days, the four women take a hard look at their relationships in order to come to terms with whom they once were and who they've become. Starring Eline Kuppens, Maaike Neuville, Marieke Dilles and Ellen Schoeters. In Dutch with English subtitles.


Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

Thursday, August 16th, 7:30pm

Magic From Melbourne: The Movies of Nadia Tass

Discussion with Director Nadia Tass between films, and this event is free for all Cinematheque members.

From the Cinematheque Website:

MALCOLM (1986, Cascade Films; Directed by: Nadia Tass)

Socially awkward but a mechanical genius, Malcolm (a character inspired by the director’s late brother) loses his job as a Melbourne tram operator and takes in a couple of boarders to make ends meet. When he learns the pair are petty criminals, Malcolm uses his knack for gadgetry to help them pull off a series of dazzling robberies. Both warm and hilarious, Nadia Tass’ debut feature won eight Australian Film Institute Awards, including Best Film. Internationally, it won more than 20 awards.

Followed by…

THE BIG STEAL (1990, Cascade Films; Directed by: Nadia Tass)

Young Danny (Ben Mendelsohn of ANIMAL KINGDOM) tries to impress the girl of his dreams with the promise of a ride in his new Jag; unfortunately, Danny drives his family’s old Nissan Cedric. But there’s a spiffy Jaguar XJ6 in a local used-car lot, and the salesman (Steve Bisley) is offering him the deal of a lifetime - what could possibly go wrong? This delightful caper comedy took home three AFI awards including one for David Parker’s screenplay.



Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

Friday, August 17th, 7:30pm

Magic From Melbourne: The Movies of Nadia Tass

Discussion with Director Nadia Tass between films, and this event is free for all Cinematheque members.

From the Cinematheque Website:

MATCHING JACK (2010, Cascade Films; Directed by: Nadia Tass)

In the most recent film from noted Australian director Nadia Tass, a mother seeks a bone-marrow match for her son, diagnosed with leukemia, and finds unlikely sources of hope in her husband’s infidelity, and in another man with a sick child. With outstanding performances from stars Jacinda Barrett, James Nesbitt, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Tom Russell. MATCHING JACK garnered the top awards at the Milan International Film Festival for Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay, and Best Film Prix du Jury at Cannes Cinephile.

Followed by:

AMY (1998, Cascade Films; Directed by: Nadia Tass)

Traumatized by the death of her rock star father, 8-year-old Amy (a remarkable Alana De Roma) has become mute. When her mother (Rachel Griffiths) brings her to Melbourne in search of treatment, they move in with some quirky locals, one of whom (Ben Mendelsohn) tries to use music to bring the little girl out of her world of silence. A touching mix of comedy, drama and song, AMY won nearly 30 international awards, including the Grand Prix Cannes Junior at the Cannes Film Festival.



Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

Saturday, August 18th, 7:30pm

Advanced Screening

Actor/Co-Director Dax Shepard and Actress Kristen Bell will participate in a Discussion following the feature.

HIT AND RUN (2012, Open Road Films; Directed by: Dax Shepard and David Palmer)

Again the Cinematheque provides a chance to see a movie before it opens to the general public (it is scheduled to open August 22nd). 

This is a chase movie about a former getaway driver who jeopardizes his Witness Protection Plan identity in order to help his girlfriend played by Kristen Bell (VERONICA MARS) get to Los Angeles.  They are chased by the Feds and Charlie’s ex-gang.  Tom Arnold, Kristin Chenoweth, Beau Bridges and Bradley Cooper also star.

I am excited about this screening as not only does the film look and sound like fun, but I may also harbor a bit of a crush on Kristen Bell who I absolutely loved in VERONICA MARS.  It’s a show that if you haven’t seen, you should track down (I believe it may be available on Netflix Streaming).


Link for Tickets and Information HERE.

Sunday, August 19th, 5:30pm

75th Anniversary of the Art Director’s Guild

JUST IMAGINE (1930, 20th Century Fox; Directed by: David Butler)

One thing I find fascinating about living in the “future” of 2012 and the 21st Century is looking back at how older films and TV shows portrayed how they thought our times would turn out.  Who knew that while watching Captain Kirk in STAR TREK use his communicator that we would all have transportable cellular phones allowing us to be reached anywhere (200 years before the time of Star Trek), or Captain Picard using his tablet computer device in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION would predate iPads.

Here we have a comedic musical from 1930 set in a playful utopian future of 1980 complete with personal airships and rockets to Mars (very timely considering the recent Curiosity rover landing on Mars last week).  This movie won an Oscar for Best Art Direction of 1930, and instead of the usual bleak future featured in films (most of them had us nearly wiped out by now) this one is less daunting.

Co-presented by the Art Director’s Guild Film Society, the evening will also include:

5:30pm – BEFORE THE FUTURE, a series of film clips exploring the cinema’s legacy of futurism in American movies.
6:00pm – screening of JUST IMAGINE.
8:00pm – discussion with Nicholas Cull, Professor of Public Diplomacy at USC’s Annenberg School.  He has written such books as: PROJECTING EMPIRE: IMPERIALISM AND THE POPULAR CINEMA and PROJECTING TOMORROW: SCIENCE FICTION AND POPULAR CINEMA.

The future is always looking bright at the American Cinematheque.


Link for Tickets and Information HERE.