March 22, 2010

'20 Years/20 Films' screens classics

Emory will screen four classic films from March 25 to April 8 as part of the preservation screening program "20 Years/20 Films," presented by The Film Foundation and American Express. The Film Foundation is director Martin Scorsese’s nonprofit dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history by supporting preservation and restoration projects at the leading film archives.

Co-Sponsored by the Emory College Department of Film Studies and the Atlanta Film Festival 365, each film will be shown in 35mm and will be introduced by a member of the Department of Film Studies faculty.

“Letter from an Unknown Woman” (1948, 86 min.)
Directed by Max Ophüls
Thursday, Mar. 25, 8 p.m., White Hall 205, free
Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in association with Paramount Pictures with funding provided by The Film Foundation.

The great German director Max Ophüls’ second film during his years of American exile was this exquisitely refined adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s novella, set in Ophüls’ beloved Vienna at the turn of the century. Louis Jourdan is the concert pianist who receives the letter in question on the night before he faces a duel with a betrayed husband. Joan Fontaine is the unknown woman. Like all of Ophüls’ greatest films, “Letter From An Unknown Woman” is lush and romantic on the surface and bitterly tragic at the core. For many film lovers and critics, including Andrew Sarris and Robin Wood, this film stands as one of the cinema’s greatest achievements. Thanks to UCLA’s meticulous restoration, we are able to appreciate every nuance revealed by Ophüls’ fluidly mobile camera eye. With Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, and Mady Christians.

“The Night of the Hunter” (1955, 93 min.)
Directed by Charles Laughton
Thursday, Apr. 1, 8 p.m. White Hall 205, free
Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. with funding provided by Robert Sturm and The Film Foundation.

Actor Charles Laughton’s one and only work as a director was this extraordinary, one-of-a-kind 1955 film, which has now become one of the enduring classics of American cinema. Robert Mitchum, in one of the greatest performances of his career, is the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the psychotic criminal in a parson’s garb who is trying to divine the whereabouts of some carefully hidden money from the innocent children of his former cellmate. Shelley Winters is the children’s unsuspecting mother, and Lillian Gish is their protector. The story is set in the turn of the century, but the actual setting is a mythic America where good and evil are locked in pitched battle over the souls of the innocent. Stylistically, rhythmically, visually (thanks to cinematographer Stanley Cortez), there’s nothing else like it. UCLA restored the film to perfection, along with a selection of revelatory outtakes in which Laughton directs his actors.

“A Face in the Crowd” (1957, 125 min.)
Directed by Elia Kazan
Thursday, April 8, 8 p.m., White Hall 205, free
Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. with funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation.

Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg followed up “On the Waterfront” with this ferocious and harrowing portrait of a folksy country singer (Andy Griffith, who storms through his film debut like a hurricane) gradually inflated to megalomaniacal proportions by the new medium of commercial television. The filmmakers, who loosely based Griffith’s “Lonesome Rhodes” on popular figures as various as Tennessee Ernie Ford, Arthur Godfrey and Will Rogers, closely studied the inner workings of the television and advertising industries, and they displayed more than a little prescience in linking the new televisual celebrity culture to the political sphere. The electrifying cast includes Tony Franciosa as Lonesome’s agent, Walter Matthau as his writer, the brilliant Lee Remick as his teenage bride, Patricia Neal as his promoter and ultimate agent of destruction, and actual media superstars of the day like Mike Wallace, John Cameron Swayze and Walter Winchell in cameo appearances as themselves. UCLA repaired damaged sections of the original negative with newly created elements made from an original fine grain master, and the soundtrack was digitally restored from an original mixed magnetic track and a print of the original optical track.

“The Red Shoes” (1948, 133 min.)
Written, Produced and Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Wednesday, April 14, 7:30 p.m., White Hall 205, free
Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in Association with the BFI, The Film Foundation, ITV Studios, Global Entertainment Ltd., and Janus Films. Restoration funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, The Film Foundation, and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation.

“Why do you dance?” asks Anton Walbrook’s driven impresario. “Why do you live?” responds Moira Shearer’s equally driven dancer. The spirit of art, as something to live and die for, is embodied in every frame of this 1948 landmark from The Archers, better known as the dynamic duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. “The Red Shoes” pulses with the excitement of creation and the addiction to it, the joy and agony of dance, the dangerous allure of art. Appropriately enough, it is also one of the most intoxicatingly beautiful films ever made, really and truly in color (and shot by one of the real pioneers of Technicolor cinematography, Jack Cardiff). It is only recently that “The Red Shoes” received the restoration it deserved, from Bob Gitt and his team at UCLA. It can now be seen in its full splendor. Cast: Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Moira Shearer. The public is invited to screen this lovingly restored print from Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation, and salute the kickoff of the Atlanta Film Festival on April 15. Co-sponsored by the Atlanta Film Festival 365.

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