SAM and the Nordic Museum continue our centennial celebration of Swedish writer-director Ingmar Bergman, who explores deep existential questions, and reveals the abiding mystery and beauty of life. All the films were photographed by Oscar-winner Sven Nykvist. Films in Swedish with English subtitles. Get your tickets to the series today!
Jan 10:Sawdust and Tinsel/The Naked Night (1953)
Things get complicated when a circus owner (Ake Gronberg) and his mistress (Harriet Andersson) visit the town where the wife and children Gronberg abandoned still live. Bergman felt that Andersson “radiated more erotic charm than any other actress.” Digital restoration, 93 min.
Jan 17: Winter Light (1961)
A village pastor (Gunnar Bjornstrand) brings little comfort to his mistress (Ingrid Thulin), a widow (Gunnel Lindblom) and a fisherman (the majestic Max Von Sydow) afraid of nuclear annihilation. Perhaps learning to truly give of himself can make true, communal consolation possible. Digital restoration, 81 min.
Jan 24: Hour of the Wolf (1966)
When artist Max Von Sydow has a bad dream he sketches it on his pad, and the demons of his art gradually become real for both he and his wife (Liv Ullmann). They confront the shadow side of life, and art, at a dinner party at a lonely castle, where Von Sydow’s “dead” former mistress (Ingrid Thulin) is in attendance. Digital restoration, 93 min.
Jan 31: Shame (1967)
What would you do if the comforts, and protections, of civilization, were gone? In an unnamed country, a civil war rages, and concert musicians Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann flee to a peaceful island. Ironically, they still have to fight for what they believe in and wrestle with the hard truths of their marriage. With Gunnar Bjornstrand. Digital restoration, 103 min.
Feb 7: The Passion of Anna (1968)
A chance encounter with a beautiful woman (Liv Ullmann) embroils him in the personal dramas of her, an architect (Erland Josephson), and his wife (Bibi Andersson). Von Sydow knows it can be dangerous to get involved with others, but how can he resist? As mysteries of tangled emotions and wicked actions proliferate, Ullmann dreams of “Living in the truth.” Digital restoration, 101 min.
Feb 14: Cries and Whispers (1971)
In a mansion in a park, two women (chilly Ingrid Thulin, earthy Liv Ullmann) are comforting their dying sister (Harriett Andersson), who is anticipating her “new voyage.” Mysteries of eroticism, personal and family pain, and tension are in the air, but, as critic David Thomson says, “It evokes a sense of a time when three sisters were as one in a summer of joy.” In 35mm, 91 min.
Feb 21: The Magic Flute (1974)
Aglow with light, love, humor, and Mozart’s sublime music, this operatic masterpiece tells the enchanting tale of friends Tamino (Josef Kostlinger) and Papagano (Hakan Hagegard) who try to rescue Pamina (Irma Urrila) from the evil enchanter Sarastro (Urik Cold). Will we see a dragon in a Bergman film? Yes! In 35mm, 135 min.
Mar 7: Autumn Sonata (1977)
A renowned pianist (Ingrid Bergman) comes to visit her estranged daughter (Liv Ullmann), the wife of a humble country parson (Halvar Bjork). Bergman has put her art and career above her child, and in their mesmerizing late night talk, resentments and humiliations, as well as the hope for love and forgiveness, come pouring out. In 35mm, 93 min.
Mar 14: Fanny and Alexander (1982)
This festive, warm-hearted celebration of the joys and dramas of family life centers on a large 1907 family that runs a repertory theater. The film is vibrant with Bergman’s great life lesson that imagination and performance can restore balance and hope, and it conjures the wonder of everyday life. As Bergman says, “I moved in complete freedom between magic and oatmeal porridge.” With Pernilla Allwin, Bertil Guve, Harriet Andersson, and members of Ingmar Bergman’s family. In 35mm, 188 min.
Who can sleep when the night is a fever of perfume and gun smoke, the wails of saxophones and police sirens, when acting on impulse is better than a dream? Called “the best series in Seattle film history” by Charles R. Cross, this is the world’s longest-running film noir celebration. Get your series tickets online now or try your luck day of for standby tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.
September 27: White Heat
(Raoul Walsh, 1949)
A tense, wound-up gangster’s (James Cagney) inner demons are always threatening to boil over. He’s got a beautiful wife (Virginia Mayo), but his heart, his tormented emotions, are all tangled up with his mother (Margaret Wycherley). He sits in her lap while she soothes his pounding headaches. A robber and a killer, Cagney’s sent to prison, where he doesn’t know that his cellmate (Edmond O’Brien) is an undercover cop trying to ferret further incriminating information from him. On the outside, Mayo’s falling in with Cagney’s hunky rival (Steve Cochran). Behind bars, Cody’s cut off from his consoling and advising mother, and he rages out of control in a famous mess hall scene. O’Brien’s a simpatico cellmate, but Cagney’s just got to crash out and become the man Ma wants him to be: grasping, destroying, making it to the top of the world. In 35mm, 114 min.
October 4: Leave Her to Heaven
(John M. Stahl, 1945)
The sensuous, saturated visuals of this film convinced everyone that a knockout film noir could be in Technicolor. It’s novelist Cornell Wilde’s lucky day. On the train he meets a stunningly beautiful woman (green-eyed Gene Tierney), who’s reading, and enjoying, his latest book. Within a few days Wilde and this most romantic woman are deeply in love. In record time she scatters her beloved father’s ashes to the winds, riding fast through the New Mexico desert, jilts her fiancé, (Vincent Price) and announces her coming betrothal to Wilde. Tierney’s ardor for him is absolute, but it’s a weaponized devotion. She wants to command his attention and affection, and sometimes she wishes that his typewriter, his crippled brother (Darryl Hickman), and her sweet sister (Jeanne Crain) would just go away. Luscious 1940s art direction gives us a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired desert house, a Maine forest retreat and a comfy New England cottage. As Martin Scorsese says, “a lost paradise, its beauty ravished by the heroine’s perverse nature.” Critic-author David Thomson calls the film “a mad goddess creation; if you want a wild thrill one night, I know which way I’d go.” In 35mm, 110 min.
October 11: Force of Evil
(Abraham Polonsky, 1948)
Director Polonsky and actor John Garfield, both Bronx-born, both scarred by the anti-Communist witch hunts, crafted this gritty blank-verse poem of the urban jungle, that conflates a soul’s and a society’s corruption. America is devoted to making money and strategizing to make more. Nothing new there, but there are gradations of commitment and devotion to the pursuit. Corporate racketeer Ray Roberts is all in, scheming to monopolize the symbiotic relationship between illegal betting and the banks that provide the winnings, and lawyer Garfield will make it happen. He arranges for the July fourth lucky number seven-seventy-six to win all over New York, so all the small-time betting banks will have to borrow money from Roberts to pay so many winners, and then he’ll take them over. Garfield will make a cool million, but his conscience troubles him. His estranged brother Thomas Gomez is one of the little guys who’ll get squeezed. Is it too late for Garfield to act on his better nature? Or is he too far on a path “going down and down, to the bottom of the world.” Music by David Raksin (“Laura”). In 35mm, 87 min.
October 25: On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1951)
Nicholas Ray is the cinematic poet of human alienation, and the saving grace of connection. He studied architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, and understands the shaping influence of the places we inhabit. Tough cop Robert Ryan is brutal with himself and others in New York’s concrete labyrinth. His youthful sports trophies? Who cares? When he breaks the rules and savagely beats a suspect, he yells, “Why do you punks make me do this?” To keep from getting fired, he’s sent from the dark city to pristine snow fields upstate. But human wildlife is everywhere, and he helps track a child-killer with a man (Ward Bond) bent on illegal vengeance. Is there any way Ryan can see a different way of being? The suspect’s sister (Ida Lupino), herself isolated geographically and in her blindness, tells Ryan, who trusts no one, that she has to trust everyone. Music by Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite composer Bernard Herrmann (Psycho). In 35mm, 82 min.
November 1: Sudden Fear
(David Miller, 1952)
Wealthy Broadway dramatist Joan Crawford rejects actor Jack Palance as the lead in her new play, but falls for him big-time on a train trip to San Francisco. They marry, and Crawford is deliriously happy: she’s found her leading man for life. But Palance is secretly writing his own life script, which features a major part for his smoldering ex-flame Gloria Grahame, who’s got her eyes on Crawford’s substantial bank balance. Add some newfangled 1950s technology, and the elements for one of film noir’s most suspenseful climaxes are firmly in place. In 35mm, 110 min.
November 8: Wicked Woman
(Russell Rouse, 1953)
This seedy, down-and-dirty gem features luscious B-movie siren Beverly Michaels as the new waitress at the bar where muscular Richard Egan mixes the drinks. She can’t keep her hands off him, he responds in kind, and she concocts a scheme to have him sell the bar and carry her off to Mexico. But there are complications. Egan’s alcoholic wife (Evelyn Scott) is the one who owns the bar. And toad-like little Percy Helton, who’s always had lustful eyes for Michaels, can ruin everything. Maybe there’s something she can do to keep her dream alive. In 35mm, 77 min.
November 15: The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
Film noir usually presents the shadow side of the human psyche in adult terms. But Laughton’s masterpiece immerses us in a child’s view of a grown-up world of greed, violence and twisted sexuality that’s almost overwhelming, where adults loom like monsters and angels, and reality, fairy tale and nightmare merge. Via cinematographer Stanley Cortez’s searing images, Laughton floats us into a world where playing kids find the molested body of a woman in a cellar, and a dead woman sits at the bottom of a river, her hair streaming in the current. Where a Bible-crazed preacher with a knife (Robert Mitchum) tries to get little Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce to tell him where some money’s hidden. They won’t say, and they have to get away, floating on that river, watched by innocent animals. Laughton’s aesthetic of power-through-simplicity was inspired by D.W. Griffith’s seminal films, and Griffith’s great heroine, Lilian Gish, provides a sanctuary for lost children. She’s got a spine of steel, but Mitchum, worse than any boogey man, just keeps coming. With Shelley Winters, Peter Graves. Screenplay by James Agee and Laughton. In 35mm, 93 min.
November 29: Lilith
(Robert Rossen, 1964)
In the Bible and the Talmud, Lilith is a female demon, a destroyer of men. In film noir, femme fatales can be brash and harsh, or as softly seductive as a spider web in a beautiful meadow. A young man (Warren Beatty) with a war-wounded soul returns to his home town. He needs to rediscover who he is and find a purpose in life. Working at a park-like mental hospital, he comes under the spell of Lilith (Jean Seberg), an artistic woman who wants to share her love with the world. But Seberg’s golden aura casts shadows, ensnaring patient Peter Fonda, who touchingly speaks of the life he’ll lead after he’s released. Beatty goes home to sleep at night, but home is where the heart is. Great acting all around, with Beatty trying to gather, and find himself in his pauses and hesitations, and Gene Hackman tense and wonderful in his first film. But Seberg is the sun. With Kim Hunter. In 35mm, 114 min.
December 6: Heat
(Michael Mann, 1995)
Two men in L.A. Both hunters, both prey. One takes money that isn’t his own, the other tries to stop him. A criminal, a cop. Robert de Niro and Al Pacino. Ice and fire, coming to a boil. Cool and controlled, De Niro and his pals (Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore) pull off big robberies with military precision. Steamed-up, swaggering Pacino uses intuition and manpower to track them down, with limited success. Master stylist Michael Mann gives this monumental crime saga irresistible forward momentum, but everything stops so two great American actors, De Niro and Pacino, can appear together for the first time and have coffee. The outlaw and the lawman are both doing what they’re best at, and it’s their nature to keep on with it. But for moments out of time they talk about the fullness and emptiness of their lives, person to person. This isn’t a truce, there will be skirmishes, machine gun fire on downtown streets, people lying dead. They’ll meet again at the airport at night, out in the field, where planes glide like souls, some coming in, some leaving, on the soft sultry air. With Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman. Digital Cinema, 172 min.
In the 1930s before he came to America, young London-born Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) was already a world-acknowledged master of cinema, a sublime orchestrator of images and emotions. Often with story contributions from his wife Alma Reville, Hitchcock thrilled viewers with engrossing mystery, gripping suspense, intimate romance, psychological insight, witty British humor, and droll cameo appearances. Even after settling in America, he continued to portray his homeland with deep affection. Get your tickets to this series before they sell out!
March 22: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Hitchcock’s youthful mastery of suspense, humor and a compelling story move this thriller at an enthralling pace. A vacationing couple (Leslie Banks, Edna Best) are told of a plot to assassinate an international diplomat; their daughter (Nova Pilbeam) is kidnapped to keep them quiet; and the evil shooter (Peter Lorre) is in position at a Royal Albert Hall concert, waiting for his cymbal-crash cue. With atmospheric production design by Alfred Junge, who worked on Michael Powell classics like The Red Shoes. Digital restoration, 84 min.
March 29: Sabotage (1936). Based on Joseph Conrad’s novel The Secret Agent, with script contributions by Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville, Sabotage centers on a woman (Sylvia Sidney) who doesn’t know that her husband (Oscar Homolka) is the saboteur wreaking havoc in London. Scotland Yard and Sidney’s little brother (Desmond Tester) get involved, but Sidney is the one with righteous agency. Features one of Hitchcock’s most intense suspense sequences. In 35mm, 76 min.
April 5: The 39 Steps (1936). Adapted from John Buchan’s novel, with script work by Alma Reville, this is one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces. Vacationing in London, an innocent man (Robert Donat) finds a murdered woman in his bed, and flees for Scotland when the police assume he’s the killer. Spies are chasing him too, and on a quest to track down the master villain, he’s handcuffed to a feisty beauty (Madeleine Carroll), and must rely on the help of many flavorful characters. Hitchcock liked to say, “Other directors’ films are slices of life; my films are slices of cake.” Bon appetite! In 35mm, 81 min.
April 12: Young and Innocent (1937). A woman’s body washes ashore, and an innocent young chap (Derrick De Marney) is accused of murder. A tense situation, but charm abounds as he enlists the reluctant help of a policeman’s teenage daughter (Nova Pilbeam) to help him flee and sleuth out the real killer. The couple is humorously waylaid by a children’s party, and Hitchcock propels us towards the real culprit with a stupendous, unbroken shot that traverses a hotel lobby and ballroom, right up to a most guilty face. Screenplay co-written by alma Reville. In 35mm, 80 min.
April 19: The Lady Vanishes (1938). A favorite film of everyone from Orson Welles to author James Thurber, The Lady Vanishes is a perfect blending of thrills and laughs. On a Balkan train trip a dear old lady (Dame May Whitty) is suddenly not there anymore. Young Margaret Lockwood had befriended Whitty, and reports her disappearance. But no one believes her, because the woman is right there—but it’s some other woman, eerily wearing Whitty’s clothes. Won’t someone—maybe that whimsical musician Michael Redgrave—help Lockwood solve one of the cinema’s most entertaining mysteries? In 35mm, 97 min.
April 26: Rebecca (1940). This haunting romantic mystery finds the shy, unworldly Joan Fontaine marrying the dashing Laurence Olivier and moving to Manderly, his house on the Cornish coast. Fontaine must live in the shadow of Rebecca, Olivier’s dead first wife, to whom her sinister housekeeper Judith Anderson was more than professionally devoted. And by the way, how did Rebecca die? From Daphne Du Maurier’s novel. In 35mm, 130 min.
May 3: Suspicion (1941). Joan Fontaine won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a woman who defies her stuffy parents and marries notorious playboy Cary Grant. He’s irresponsible, charming and lovable, but Fontaine starts putting together bits of evidence that spell lethal danger. With Nigel Bruce, and script work by Alma Reville. In 35mm, 99 min.
May 10: Stage Fright (1950). Stage star Marlene Dietrich gets her boyfriend Richard Todd to help cover up her self-defense killing of her abusive husband, and Todd becomes murder suspect number one. Drama student Jane Wyman, who’s crazy about Todd, gets her father (the delightful Alastair Sim) to help him, and Wyman does her own sleuthing while pretending to be Dietrich’s maid. Hitchcock’s wife adapted the screenplay, and his daughter Patricia plays Wyman’s chum. In 35mm, 110 min.
May 17: Dial M For Murder (1954). Suave Ray Milland is nervous. He’s married to gorgeous, wealthy Grace Kelly, but she like writer Robert Cummings. Milland needs to do something drastic now, before Kelly makes Cummings her insurance beneficiary. Stunningly, Kelly kills her attacker, but is accused of murder. Can Cummings and Scotland Yard’s John Williams figure out how to trap the true guilty party? In 35mm, 88 min.
Seattle Art Museum and the Nordic Heritage Museum celebrate the centennial of Swedish writer-director Ingmar Bergman (1907–2017), focusing on the mid-20th century decade when the world discovered one of the supreme masters of cinema. Bergman, the secular son of the Swedish Royal Court’s pastor, ponders the essential human questions. What gives life meaning? How do we find intimacy and love? Are we sustained beyond death? Bergman’s mesmerizing storytelling and family of superb actors answer with the eloquence of the human face. Films are in Swedish with English subtitles.
Jan 11: Summer With Monika (1952)
Bergman’s films often center on women, Monika (Harriet Andersson) being a well-known example. Monika and her boyfriend become lovers during an idyllic island summer. They’ve left their responsibilities behind, but what will happen when they return to Stockholm? In 35mm, 97 min.
Jan 18: Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
With quicksilver wit and tenderness, Bergman invites us to a country house weekend, where the hostess (Eva Dahlbeck) has filled the rooms and lush grounds with former, present, and would-be lovers. Smiles inspired Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. In 35mm, 108 min.
Jan 25: The Seventh Seal (1957)
A returning 14th-century knight (the majestic Max von Sydow) finds his homeland plagued by physical and moral corruption. When the figure of Death comes for him, he proposes playing a game of chess for his life, with a secret strategy in mind. In 35mm, 95 min.
Feb 1: Wild Strawberries (1957)
A patch of strawberries prompts an elderly professor (pioneering Swedish director-actor Victor Sjostrom) to movingly re-examine his life with his parents, his current family, and himself. There are painful truths to consider, but the fruit is sweet. In 35mm, 90 min.
Feb 8: The Magician (1958)
This dark Gothic comedy wonders if rationality alone can explain the mysteries of life. In the 1840s, a man of logic and science (Gunnar Bjornstrand) gets more than he bargained for when he challenges and provokes a traveling magician (Max von Sydow). In 35mm, 100 min.
Feb 22: The Virgin Spring (1960)
Inspired by a 14th-century ballad, this film portrays a world still under the sway of pagan folklore. A girl curses her half-sister, and the cursed one is murdered. When the father (Max von Sydow) discovers the culprits, his desire for vengeance makes him question his new Christian faith. Digital restoration, 88 min.
Mar 1: Through a Glass Darkly (1961)
On a remote island a young woman (Harriet Andersson) waits and waits to see God. Her husband (Max von Sydow) and her father are detached observers, but her brother is emotionally present, and will grow from their filial bond. Digital restoration, 91 min.
Mar 8: The Silence (1963)
A cool intellectual (Ingrid Thulin), her sensual sister (Gunnel Lindblom), and the sister’s young son arrive in a strange city, where they can’t understand what people are saying. Bergman presents the lack of communication as a modern hell, but the boy wanders as in a wonderland, perceiving traces of grown-up sexuality and death, and learning three words: spirit, anxiety, joy. Digital restoration, 96 min.
Mar 15: Persona (1966)
Bergman’s most tantalizing masterpiece is a meditation on the subjectivity of reality and the personas, the aspects of ourselves that we show the world, the characters that actors create. On a secluded island, a talkative nurse (Bibi Andersson) cares for an actress (Liv Ullmann) who’s retreated into muteness. They’re both blonde and beautiful, and somehow they begin to merge. Persona is a stunning, poetic summation of Bergman’s lifelong obsession with character and story. Digital restoration, 84 min.
Once again our summer series celebrates Cary Grant, witty, handsome, elegant gentleman, and superb actor. Comedy, romance, action, suspense—Grant handles it all with incomparable grace and a wry grin.
July 13: Mr. Lucky (H.C. Potter, 1943)
Archie Leach of Bristol, England, rose from his humble, impoverished origins to become Cary Grant of Hollywood, “the man from dream city.” In Mr. Lucky, Joe Aden’s (Grant) life follows a similar arc, rising from lower-class British obscurity to stellar American success—but on the shady side of the law. World War II is raging, but Joe has more immediate concerns: he needs more money to run his floating gambling casino, so he steals another man’s identity to avoid the draft and launches a fail-proof scheme. He’ll charm War Relief society ladies, including delectable Laraine Day and her crew of elders, into letting him run a gambling operation at their charity ball. But Joe’s more than met his match as the women put him to work knitting with needles and yarn in a downtown window, where men walking by on the street can see him. With Charles Bickford, Gladys Cooper, Paul Stewart. In 35mm, 100 min.
The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer (1947)
July 20: The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer (Irving Reis, 1947)
This is the first film to make Grant’s capacity for bedazzlement its subject. When visiting artist Dick (Grant) lectures her high school class, student Susan (seventeen-year-old Shirley Temple) envisions him as a knight in shining armor. Dick wants no part of her dream, but after he’s found in a compromising position by a judge, Susan’s older sister Margaret (Myrna Loy), he’s sentenced to squire Susan about until her crush subsides. Grant is marvelously silly as he dresses cool, talks jive, and competes in a three-legged race at a teen picnic. Is Susan still feverish? Of course, and now solemn sister Margaret is getting weak kneed. With Rudy Vallee. In 35mm, 95 min.
I was a Male War Bride (1949)
July 27: I Was a Male War Bride (Howard Hawks, 1949)
In his roles Grant could suffer frustrations and humiliations hilariously, and a spirited, independent-minded Howard Hawks woman like Air Corps officer Catherine Gates (Ann Sheridan) can dish them out. During World War II in occupied Germany, Catherine and French officer Henri Rochard (Grant) find each other obnoxious, presumptuous, even dangerous—so of course they fall in love and marry. But the much-desired consummation of their marriage, and their entry into the United States, must wait for Grant to put on a dress and a wig and convince the world that he’s a woman. With Marion Marshall, Randy Stewart. Digital restoration, 105 min.
August 3: People Will Talk (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1951)
Powered by Mankiewicz’s wise, witty, literate script and one of Grant’s best performances, People Will Talk celebrates non-conforming, quirky individuals who put their provocative ideas into practice. Plus, it’s a romantic comedy! Grant is a non-traditional medical professor who believes that emotions effect physical health, whose best friends are a convicted murderer (Findlay Currie) and an atomic physicist (Walter Slezak) who plays with toy trains. And he thinks maybe he should marry one of his students, a suicidal pregnant woman (Jeanne Crain) who has no partner. All this is just too much for a sour, spiteful academic (Hume Cronyn) who launches an investigation of easygoing Professor Grant. With Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch). In 35mm, 109 min.
August 10: Monkey Business (Howard Hawks, 1952)
In this comic masterpiece, director Hawks and screenwriters Ben Hecht, I.A.L. Diamond, and Charles Lederer take America’s obsession with remaining youthful to delightfully absurd extremes. The marriage of chemist Cary Grant to physicist Ginger Rogers is a dismal, rocky affair of boredom and smoldering resentments. When Grant, with the help of a laboratory chimpanzee, develops a rejuvenation drug and samples it, he suddenly gets a crew cut and a sports car and flirts with his secretary (Marilyn Monroe). Rogers gets her own turn at being an adolescent again, with the dangerously unruly anarchy of childhood soon to follow. In the wacky way of screwball comedy, maybe indulging your inner savage is a sign of true love. With Charles Coburn and George Winslow, famous in the 1950s for his “foghorn voice.” In 35mm, 97 min.
To Catch a Thief (1955)
August 17: To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)
This Hitchcock jewel sparkles with the glamor of Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, and the French Riviera, and the allure of ill-gotten gains. Grant, a retired high society jewel thief called “The Cat,” is suspected when priceless trinkets start disappearing all around Cannes. The gendarmes want to catch him in the act, while Grant wants to prove his innocence by nabbing the real culprit. Prime targets for plucking are a wealthy American heiress (Jesse Royce Landis) and her daughter (Grace Kelly), so Grant stays close to them, hoping the thief will make a move. Kelly appears to be a remote ice princess, but inside she gets an erotic thrill from the idea that Grant might want to steal from her. Kelly and Grant’s coy approach to seduction is a delight, as when Kelly unpacks a chicken lunch and says, “Would you like a leg or a breast?,” striking Grant speechless. With Brigitte Auber and John Williams. In 35mm, 97 min.
The British Film Institute calls Yasujiro Ozu “one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, in any medium or any country.” Critic David Thomson says that “the Western moviegoer won’t be able to resist Ozu, for he is a treasury of humane intelligence and feeling.”
He was also an unruly rascal. Born in Tokyo (1903) to a stern merchant father and a pampering mother, at age 10 he was sent to school at his ancestral hometown. Instead of attending classes, he earned a reputation for drinking and worshipping Hollywood actresses. Ozu developed a lifelong attitude of not submitting to authority unless it would help him do what he wanted to do. Returning to Tokyo, Ozu, against his father’s wishes, became a filmmaker as a young man. In nine years he made 34 silent films, mostly mischievous “nonsense” comedies, before discovering his grand themes and expressing them in transcendent beauty.
Ozu lived in a conformist society, but he embodied the Zen spirit of harmonizing with nature and human nature, knowing that no dogmatic rules can explain the exquisite mystery of life. Being patient and restrained were of value, but so were impulsive, intuitive gestures. Ozu’s impeccable framing reflects the Zen aesthetic of seemingly “empty” spaces being vibrant with feeling and eternal presence. One of Ozu’s artistic signatures is the unique rhythm with which his images flow on the screen. In the editing process he would stand behind his editor and tap him on the shoulder when it “felt right” to cut to the next shot.
Mar 23: The Only Son (1936)
Among his many talents, Ozu creates characters who are unique human beings. His first talking film focuses on an impoverished provincial mother raising her son alone. She works hard and is able to send him to college in Tokyo. Hearing nothing from him for a long time, she uses up her savings to visit him. She’s surprised to find him married, with a child. He tries to appear prosperous, borrowing money to entertain his mother, but secretly he’s very poor and disillusioned with himself and life. Perhaps in silences and things unsaid, his mother can still teach him a valuable lesson. 87 min.
Mar 30: Late Spring (1949)
One of the films that Ozu himself most cherished, Late Spring shows the director further developing his unique ability to portray ordinary events in very moving ways. Ozu’s favorite actors, Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, play a widowed Kamakura father and his grown-up daughter, who’s past the usual marrying age. She’s happy following the childhood pattern of living with her father, but when she hears that he’s thinking of taking a new wife, she begins to ponder her future. The father feels that it’s wise to flow with the natural course of time, not fight against it, but he has a surprising way of showing it. Ozu’s artistry makes us sense something momentous in mundane reality, and he begins each film with a short sequence of poetically simple “placing shots” that introduce the story: A railway station, the sound of a railway bell; a closer view, the steps, the daisies; a temple room; inside, the tea ceremony, the story begins. 108 min.
Apr 6: Early Summer (1951)
Ozu probably drank more than any major film director, since he saw alcohol as a source of artistic inspiration. Beginning with Late Spring, he wrote every film with his lifelong friend Kogo Noda. They would hole up in a country inn, Ozu would cook hamburgers and they would drink a lot of sake. “If the number of cups you drink be small, there can be no masterpiece.” Of Early Summer, Ozu said, “I wanted to show a life cycle, to depict mutability and to leave the audience with a poignant aftertaste.” Six members of three generations live in a Kamakura household, and five of them want Noriko (Setsuko Hara) to get married. They keep parading eligible suitors past her, but she’s not interested. In postwar Japan young people are welcoming a Western influence of self-determination, and Noriko sees marriage as emotional and social serfdom. The nature of happiness is elusive in this family. A man says, “We have it better than most; we shouldn’t want too much or there’s no end to it.” But his wife objects, “We were really happy.” With the eloquence of a seasoned Ozu character, the man responds, “Mmmm.” 135 min.
Tokyo Story (1953)
April 13: Tokyo Story (1953)
Ozu’s tender and perceptive feeling for human shortcomings and generosity is fully realized in this internationally celebrated masterpiece. The director’s focus is the decentralization of a family. The elderly mother and father (Chieko Higashiyama and Chishu Ryu), who live in a southern province, come to Tokyo to visit their two married children, a doctor and a beautician. Too engrossed in their own lives to entertain their parents, they ship them off to a noisy resort for young people. Weary of this, the old couple returns to Tokyo, where the widow (Setsuko Hara) of their soldier son is the one who shows them warmth and kindness. 134 min.
April 20: Early Spring (1956)
This film further shows Ozu’s sensitivity to Japan’s changing postwar society. Young adults are defining life for themselves, rather than through blood ties to family and traditional codes of behavior. Full of high hopes, a Tokyo man lands a coveted white-collar office job, works hard, and marries a sweet woman. But the dreary routines of life become boring, and he starts spending more time with friends and the office flirt, while his wife sits at home fanning herself. Is the big city a corrupting influence? Would accepting a job in the country allow the couple to rediscover the good in each other? 108 min.
April 27: Equinox Flower (1958)
Ozu’s first color film is one of his most beautiful and affectionate. Two rebellious teenage girls make a solidarity pact to protect themselves from the well-intentioned marriage schemes of their traditional parents. One father (Shin Saburi) advises other people’s children to find their own way in life, but then he learns that his own daughter (Ineko Arima) has chosen a man without consulting him. It is said that Ozu, like Jane Austen, perceives the cosmic in the domestic, and his cinematic cut from a satisfied mother sitting in her favorite chair to a brightly fluttering washing line has been called “a moment of truly exquisite transcendence.” 118 min.
May 4: Good Morning (1959)
In his life and art Ozu has been a wise, charming rebel, and here he identifies with two stubborn boys. They pester their father (Chishu Ryu) to buy them a TV set, and when he tells them to shut up they vow to never say another word to him, not even “Good morning.” As if to illustrate chaos theory, the boys’ silence has an often funny, sometimes serious, effect on their entire suburban community. 97 min.
Late Autumn (1960)
May 11: Late Autumn (1960)
An independent-minded marriage-age young woman (Yoko Tsukasa) enjoys living with her gracious widowed mother (Setsuko Hara) and socializing with her lively young friends. Tsukasa has had opportunities to marry, but she’s just not interested. Hara wants her daughter to move forward into adult life so she enlists the matchmaking help of her late husband’s businessmen friends (Shin Saburi, Ryuji Kita, Nobuo Nakamura). Are these three well-intentioned, befuddled drinking buddies up to the task? Setsuko Hara, known as “the Japanese Garbo,” was Ozu’s favorite actress. Ozu, who knows that feelings can’t be fully expressed in words, shows us that nothing is more eloquent than Hara’s half-smile. 115 min.
May 18: An Autumn Afternoon (1962)
Ozu made six films with actress Setsuko Hara and twenty-two with Chishu Ryu, his favorite actor. The two men worked and aged together over three decades. Their first film was 1928’s The Dreams of Youth, their last (and Ozu’s final film) was this wry, gentle chronicle of the autumn of life. An aging, widowed company auditor (Ryu) likes to drink with his similarly aged male friends. One of them talks about how they’re in the stage of their life when most fathers give up their beloved daughters in marriage, and Ryu starts to get ideas. For all his wisdom about intergenerational family relationships, Ozu never married and had children. His own dear mother died during the making of this film, and Ozu died a year later. Ozu has been called a Zen master of cinema, calmly watching the seasons, the storms of life and death come and go, noticing and awakening to the brightness of the day. He shows us the world of Buddhism’s 10,000 things, the trees, the people, the traffic jams. He knows that these seemingly separate things are individual manifestations of an underlying oneness, a wholeness that encompasses all. In a Zen paradox, this everything is also the void. Ozu’s tombstone bears a single mark: the Japanese character for “nothingness.”
—Greg Olson, Manager of SAM Films
All films will be shown in Japanese with English subtitles in 35 mm. Get your series pass to Family Circle: The Films of Yasujiro Ozu, on sale now.
In 1989, at Seattle’s Burke Museum, I toured an exhibition of 19th-century Native American artifacts with the legendary British film director Michael Powell (1905-90) and his wife, Thelma Schoonmaker, who has received three Oscars for editing all of Martin Scorsese’s films since 1980. Michael’s eyesight being somewhat dimmed, Thelma read a text panel of Chief Seattle’s words aloud: “Every part of this country is sacred to my people. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its winding rivers, great mountains and sequestered vales, and they ever yearn in tenderest affection over the lonely-hearted living, and often return to visit, guide and comfort them.” Michael considered this for a moment, then looked at me with his intensely blue, far-seeing eyes: “That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?”
Young Powell was a “dreamy boy” of the English countryside, who grew up attuned to the mystical murmurings of nature and the invisible forces and connections that draw us to certain places and people, and that make us ponder the deep questions of life and death. Powell’s sense of the mythic in everyday reality, his ravishing pictorial vision, wild imagination, and questing heart empowered him to conjure true cinematic magic. King Arthur’s Merlin, Shakespeare’s Prospero, and Aladdin would rightly call him brother.
The Red Shoes (1948)
Almost every film Powell made with his writing partner, Emeric Pressburger, breathes the rarified air of fairytale or fable, even when set in post-World War II London. The Red Shoes, their most famous film, is based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of a girl whose wish to dance at a grand ball in red shoes is granted. But the shoes are possessed by dark sorcery, and though the girl is tired at evening’s end and wants to go home, the shoes sweep her on and on, never stopping. The film sweeps us into the world of passionate young people who live to dance. It’s a rainy afternoon, everyone crowds into a threadbare back street theater, and someone turns on a record player. Vicky Paige (Moira Shearer, another of Powell’s red heads) takes the stage and, melded with the music, she twirls and twirls. As her body whirls around to a frontal position, Powell smites us with what The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane calls “the most stunning close-up in the history of cinema, a sudden bright ecstacy that verges on the demonic.” This transcendent moment and Vicky’s religious devotion to her art pierce the chilly heart of impresario Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), who woos her into joining his celebrated European troupe.
Vicky embraces the gritty, punishing work necessary to make her body defy gravity with perfect grace, and she bonds with the colorful characters in Lermontov’s company. She’s especially fond of young composer Julian Kraster (Marius Goring), and she becomes an overnight star performing his The Red ShoesBallet. Director Powell’s wizardry transports us from the dance-theater stage to an aesthetic-emotional realm of music, dance, Technicolor expressionism, and surreal design that embodies Christian Andersen’s fairy tale and the growing tension between Lermontov, Vicky, and Julian, for Vicky and Julian have fallen in love. Can “the comforts of human love” be enough for a woman who can soar like a goddess? Is being wedded to one’s art a matter of life and death? Over the years The Red Shoes has inspired countless people to become dancers, from classical to modern and avant garde.
As a New York youth, Martin Scorsese felt that The Red Shoes was the most powerful movie he had ever seen. Aside from the sheer joy of watching Powell and Pressburger’s films, Scorsese learned from them as he ventured into filmmaking. Powell always began a project with a sharp personal vision, got that vision onto the screen, and fought any meddling bean counters to keep it there. Years after Powell’s daring and disturbing film Peeping Tom ended his British career, Scorsese welcomed him (“my inspiration”) to his New York film family and was instrumental in bringing Powell’s work the critical and audience appreciation it deserved. Powell gave Scorsese good advice (“Raging Bull should be in black and white”), and fell in love with Scorsese’s new editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, who won her first Oscar for Raging Bull.
The King of Comedy (1983)
Actor Robert de Niro, who stunned the world with his searing performances in Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, brought Scorsese his next project, The King of Comedy. While Powell and Schoonmaker’s love blossomed, Scorsese was in a “Poor Me” mood: his marriage to Isabella Rossellini was crumbling and he felt lonely and dejected. The King of Comedy’s Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) doesn’t have the capacity for low spirits. He’s frantically, exuberantly ambitious in a one-track direction, to perform a ten-minute stand-up comedy spot on the TV show of his idol Jerry Langford (a wonderfully subdued Jerry Lewis). Rupert’s convinced that he’s bubbling over with talent, though, down in his basement, the cardboard figures of celebrities like Liza Minnelli don’t applaud when he delivers his act.
One day Rupert worms his way into Langford’s limousine and raves about his own dynamite talent. Langford invites him to a follow-up meeting, but it’s just a way of brushing him off. Scorsese has said that “the amount of rejection in the film is horrifying; there are scenes I almost can’t watch.” Horrifying, true, but also hilarious. Cutting rebuffs that would embarrass and shame a less obsessive person just spur Rupert on: he keeps bouncing back and reframing harsh setbacks as the challenging stepping stones of his creative mission. When all else fails, Rupert and his fellow Langford-worshipper Masha (the fierce comic Sandra Bernhard) kidnap Langford, with hopes of getting Rupert his TV gig. The extreme social chaos that Rupert and Masha perpetrate is nicely balanced by Langford’s quiet nobility as he copes with these two wild, absurd grown-up kids. Researchers say that we laugh with recognition when we experience familiar, perhaps endearing human foibles and shortcomings. But we also laugh nervously, when behavior is unexpectedly intense, and there’s danger in the air. Marlon Brando laughed so much at The King of Comedy that he hosted Scorsese and De Niro at his private Tahitian island.
Born in the British Isles, Michael Powell loved islands and waterways and, as a man in his eighties, saw that his life was a river flowing ever onward until “there will be nothing left for me but the open sea.” His spirit lives on in his wondrous, thoughtful, thrilling art, and in the hearts of Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese. Twenty-eight years after Michael and Thelma’s 1989 visit, Thelma will join us at the Seattle Art Museum to present Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes on Monday, March 6 and Scorsese’s The King of Comedy on March 7. She’ll introduce the films, answer audience questions and speak of her life in movies.
Once again, we again team with Festa Italiana to celebrate classic Italian cinema.
January 12 Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)
During the World War II Nazi occupation, Roberto Rossellini, a rich man’s son, playboy, and passionate intellectual, whose credo was “freedom above all else,” plotted in secret to attack Italy’s invading enemies with the sword of artistic expression. Believing that “ideas generate images,” Rossellini sold his possessions, lived with Resistance partisans and, with Federico Fellini, crafted a scenario that celebrated the day-to-day heroism of Romans opposing oppression. In the film a fleeing Resistance leader is sheltered by a pregnant woman (the great Anna Magnani), with a sadistic Gestapo leader (Harry Feist) in pursuit, while an activist priest attempts to deliver money to the freedom fighters. This founding classic of neorealism has the intense immediacy of a documentary, and the heart and soul of a poem. Digital restoration, 101 min.
January 19 Europe 51 (Roberto Rossellini, 1952)
In the post-World War II years, Rossellini reacquainted himself with the pleasures of living well: his beautiful suits, cars, and women. He met the celebrated actress Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca), they fell in love, divorced their respective families, got married, and made films in Italy. A sensualist by nature, Rossellini also had a deep spiritual sensitivity, and had made a moving testament to St. Francis in 1950 (St. Francis, God’s Jester). The director was stirred by Francis’s compassion and devotion to helping others, and one day he said to Bergman, “I’m going to make a modern-day story about Francis, and Francis is going to be you.” Rossellini had suffered the death of a beloved son, and in Europe 51 Bergman is a wealthy woman who, after her young son dies, shocks her husband (Alexander Knox) and friends by renouncing her privileged life to try to uplift the downtrodden. With Giulietta Masina (star of The Nights of Cabiria, and Federico Fellini’s wife). Digital restoration, 118 min.
February 2 Voyage in Italy (Roberto Rossellini, 1953)
Often called one of the most beautiful films ever made, Voyage explores the interplay between buttoned-up Nordic and relaxed Latin temperaments. An unhappily married couple (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) embodies the emotionally cool, rational hyper-efficient ethos of northern cultures. Rossellini, as a boy growing up in Naples, “felt the presence of the miraculous,” but Bergman and Sanders are in Naples for a business deal, to sell the villa they’ve inherited. Each on their own, they make separate excursions in the region that give them a taste of the Italians’ intimate bond with their mythic past, nature and sexuality. Rossellini immerses us in a world that “is for the departed as well as the living, something eternal,” a world that brings two northern visitors to their senses. Digital restoration, 97 min.
February 9 The Passionate Thief (Mario Monicelli, 1960)
This festive romp is a prime example of commedia all’italiana, which mixes laughter, desperation, and satire into a sparkling cocktail. Or many cocktails, since it’s New Year’s eve in Rome, and a movie extra (Anna Magnani) plunges into an all-night swirl of adventures with an actor friend (the comic Toto) and a suave crook (Ben Gazzara). The trio encounters La Dolce Vita’s Trevi Fountain, German aristocrats, and countless parties; they sing and dance, scramble and scheme as Magnani’s effusive persona makes the journey a soulful quest. Digital restoration, 105 min.
February 16 I Knew Her Well (Antonio Pietrangeli, 1965)
This rediscovered seriocomic gem of Swinging-Sixties Italy centers on Adriana (Stefania Sandrelli), a young provincial beauty who comes to Rome with dreams of becoming a movie star. Innocent, guileless, and sexually alluring, she grows up quickly as she negotiates an obstacle course of tangential jobs and hungry men who “know her well.” But we who see the full arc of her life know her best. As one man says, “She may be the wisest of all.” Digital restoration, 115 min.
February 23 The Conformist (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1969)
This stunning masterpiece, an adaptation of Alberto Moravia’s novel, melds in-depth character study, Fascist politics and transcendent cinematic beauty in a sensual, operatic flow of images. In the prewar 1930s, a man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) represses his youthful sexual trauma by obsessively seeking conformity, thus endangering everyone he cares about. Ravishing cinematography by world-master Vittorio Storaro. Digital restoration, 115 min.
March 2 Padre Padrone (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1975)
This moving autobiographical story of author Gavino Ledda’s life begins in rural Sardinia, where the boy’s father (padre) is also his boss (padrone). The youth (Saverio Marconi) is hungry for learning, but his father (Omero Antonutti) makes him tend sheep in solitude, unschooled. Can a traditionalist patriarch and a creative and ambitious son learn to accommodate each other? Winner of the Grand Prix and International Critics’ Prize, Cannes Film festival. Digital restoration, 113 min.
March 9 City of Women (Federico Fellini, 1980)
“Have you ever explored your female side?” an angry woman asks Marcello Mastroianni, who, as in La Dolce Vita and 8 ½, portrays director Fellini’s alter ego. For three decades Fellini has presented onscreen women of spirit, willpower and unique individuality, and men who are confused, enraptured and overwhelmed by them. In this film Mastroianni finds himself in a fantastical world dominated by women who make fun of his cluelessness. Ultimately, Fellini feels that the “taste of life” is in the mystery of men and women, the way we’re waiting for a message from each other. With Anna Prucnal, Bernice Stegers. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rottuno. Digital restoration, 140 min.
March 16 Night of the Shooting Stars (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1981)
Via the viewpoint of a six-year-old girl, the Taviani brothers transform a chapter of Italian history, which they lived as youths, into a poetic legend. During World War II, on a night when wishes come true, a Tuscan farming village challenges their Nazi occupiers as liberating American forces draw near. The film, a highly acclaimed melding of realism and spiritual grace, has the look of early Cézanne paintings. With Omero Andonutti, Margarita Lozano. Digital restoration, 107 min.
As he grew up, Yves Saint Laurent’s personal and professional sensibilities were shaped by the art of film. The Seattle Art Museum and Alliance Française de Seattle present two of Saint Laurent’s favorite films, Children of Paradise and Beauty and the Beast, plus Belle de jour, for which he designed Catherine Deneuve’s costumes, one of which is in Yves Saint Laurent: Perfection of Style.
October 26 Les Enfants du Paradis/Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945)
Young Yves Saint Laurent and the cinema-goers of the world were swept away by this visually lush, romantic, witty, and ironic epic of intertwined life and art in the 19th-century Paris of Balzac. There are comedies and dramas in the teeming streets of the Boulevard of Crime and on the Funambules Theatre stage. Outside, the soulful mime Debureau (Jean-Louis Barrault) saves the beautiful courtesan Garance (Arletty) from being falsely accused of theft. She is the mistress of the sly, murderous criminal Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand), but this doesn’t stifle her sudden surge of love for Debureau. Over the years, this threesome’s dance of changing partners and betrayals is joined by a classical actor (Pierre Brasseur), an aristocrat (Louis Salou) and a young actress (Maria Cessarès) as director Carné and screenwriter Jacques Prévert show us that “poetry and cinema are almost the same thing.” And we can throw in “the world is but a larger stage” for good measure. Stunning art direction by Alexandre Trauner, costumes by Mayo. In French with English subtitles, 35mm, 195 min.
November 9 La Belle et la Bête/Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau, 1946)
One of the most enchanting films for adults and children opens with poet-writer-director Jean Cocteau’s words: “Let me begin with the true ‘Open Sesame’ to childhood: Once upon a time . . .” In this marvelous live-action version of the classic fairy tale, an impoverished merchant (Marcel André) picks a rose for his daughter, Beauty (Josette Day) in a mysterious castle garden, and is confronted by the leonine Beast (Jean Marais), who accuses him of stealing. The Beast will spare his life if he sends Beauty to live at the castle. To save her father, she agrees, but faints when she first sees her fierce new companion. As her fear blossoms into compassion and affection, Cocteau conjures a wondrous realm of magic mirrors and golden keys, where tears become diamonds and “love can beautify ugliness.” It’s easy to see how this film about physical and emotional transformation could inspire Yves Saint Laurent, who would brighten women’s lives with creations of fabric and form. Art direction by Christian Bérard, costumes by Marcel Escoffier. In French with English subtitles, 35mm, 95 min.
November 30 Belle de jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967)
With abundant self-knowledge, Luis Buñuel, the cinema’s master Surrealist, said that “in the hands of a free spirit, the cinema expresses the life of the subconscious.” Beneath the chilly, reserved surface of a beautiful Parisian wife’s (Catherine Deneuve) bourgeois life, a torrent of unexplored sexual desire gushes. Like an innocent discovering an obscure pathway to her psyche and her body, she crosses the threshold of a brothel and goes to work. What she learns about herself in the house of women is a treasure of selfhood that she keeps secret, but her involvements with a young hoodlum (Pierre Clémenti) and her husband’s friend (Michel Piccoli) threaten to expose her. The film poses the provocative question: Is Deneuve’s narrative of emancipation all a dream or fantasy? One thing’s for sure: she wears, and steps out of, costumes by Yves Saint Laurent, one of which is in our exhibit Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style. Art direction by Robert Clavel. In French with English subtitles, 35mm, 100 min.
Film/Life: Shadowland: The 39th Film Noir Series
Thursdays, Sep 29-Dec 11, 7:30 pm
Seattle Art Museum
Shadowland, where the past is haunted, but the future’s bright with big-money schemes. Where tough dames and wise guys live for midnight and hope to see the dawn. Where fate sings a blues tune and laughs in the dark.
Film noir is low-down, sexed-up, over the speed limit. It’s the juvenile delinquent child of brooding German Expressionist cinema aesthetics, French poetic realism, and American pulp fiction, godfathered by post-World-War-II malaise and timeless moral corruption.
The world’s longest running film noir celebration, called “the best series in Seattle film history” by Charles R. Cross, features a Top Pot doughnut opening night party.
September 29: Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding, 1947). “Film noir” is a French term, but it speaks eloquently to the American ethos of success at any price. Romantic matinee idol Tyrone Power stunned the world with his deep-delving portrayal of a carnival hustler who manipulates women and a gullible public to gain all the glittering prizes in life. Years ahead of its time, the film holds up a dark mirror to the show business of religion, and it gives a frightening whiff of a cunning animal hiding behind a respectable façade. In 35mm, 110 min.
October 6: The Chase (Arthur Ripley, 1946). Haven’t been to Cuba yet? Have we got a trip for you. One of the most evocative adaptations of master noir novelist Cornell Woolrich’s fictional world, The Chase centers on downtrodden war vet Robert Cummings. In Miami he finds, and returns, mobster Steve Cochran’s wallet. Hired to be Cochran’s chauffeur, Cummings meets the racketeer’s melancholy, victimized wife (Michele Morgan) and creepy henchman (Peter Lorre). Cummings is stirred by Morgan’s beauty, and her plight, and the film becomes a fever dream of escape to Havana, speeding cars and lurking menace. UCLA Film Archive 35mm print, 86 min.
October 20: T-Men (Anthony Mann, 1948). This gritty gem established the artistic reputations of director Anthony Mann and wizard noir cinematographer John Alton. Attempting to crack a Detroit counterfeiting ring, Treasury Agents Dennis O’Keefe and Alfred Ryder descend into a dangerous night world. Mann shows that there’s a thin line between the law and the lawless as the agents pose as hoods to infiltrate the gang. Alton’s camera bathes everything in cold shadow and hot light, and Wallace Ford has the cinema’s most memorable steam bath. With favorite gravel-voiced bad guy Charles McGraw. Library of Congress 35mm print, 91 min.
October 27: The Unsuspected (Michael Curtiz, 1947). Cultured and refined, the silky voice of Claude Rains tells tales of mystery and murder on his popular radio show. Obsessed with death and deception, as well as the need to gain control of a fortune and his niece’s opulent mansion, Rains plans to kill to get what he wants. And of course he will do it with finesse, as an exercise of his brilliant mind. Still, no matter how carefully he plans, blackmail, amnesia, and femme fatale Audrey Totter are beyond his control. Library of Congress 35mm print, 103 min. Screening includes a film discussion with critic Richard T. Jameson.
November 3: The Red House (Delmer Daves, 1947). This rare pastoral noir features the superb Edward G. Robinson as a crippled farmer who’s cared for by his devoted sister (Judith Anderson) and adopted daughter (Allene Roberts). Roberts has always been told to stay away from a strange, abandoned red house somewhere out in the woods, but one day she and hired hand Lon McCallister set out to find it. Twisted psyches, dark secrets and Miklos Rosza’s haunting music are sure to follow. Library of Congress 35mm print, 100 min.
November 10: Flaxy Martin (Richard Bare, 1949). An honest attorney (Zachary Scott) starts working for a crime syndicate. It’s not for the money—it’s the woman. He can’t resist mob boss Douglas Kennedy’s luscious girlfriend (Virginia Mayo), and she feels the same about him. But soon Scott’s trapped in a web of underworld machinations and sudden death. Maybe librarian Dorothy Malone can help. With the great Elisha Cook, Jr. as a small-time hood. Library of Congress 35mm print, 86 min.
November 17: The Prowler (Joseph Losey, 1951). Van Heflin appears to be a model policeman, but he’s out to get everything he can out of life, any way he can. The report of a prowler takes him to an affluent neighborhood, where he meets the lonely wife (Evelyn Keyes) of a popular, wealthy radio disc jockey (the voice of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo). Heflin sees the sad and shapely Keyes as a ticket to the good life, and starts scheming on the wrong side of the law. UCLA Film Archive restored 35mm print, 92 min. Screening includes a film discussion with critic Richard T. Jameson.
December 1: Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957). Powerhouse Burt Lancaster plays a ruthless Broadway gossip columnist who has more than brotherly feelings for his sister (Susan Harrison). “Susie’s all I’ve got,” he tells nervous press agent Tony Curtis as he orders him to ruin the career of Susie’s jazz musician boyfriend (Martin Milner). This proves to be no easy task, even in “a dirty town” where brutal power rules and souls are for sale. With poetic dialogue by Clifford Odets, James Wong Howe cinematography and hot Chico Hamilton Quartet jazz. Digital cinema restoration, 96 min.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (2014) Directed by Dan Gilroy
December 8: Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy, 2014). From the acid-dripping gossip columns of Sweet Smell of Success to the late-breaking video footage of Nightcrawler, the cynical, dark side of human nature makes news. An LA loner (Jake Gyllenhaal) fascinated by TV news starts shooting car wrecks and homicide scenes after the action’s over, and selling his footage to struggling news editor Rene Russo. His good artistic eye and gutsy pursuits advance his career, and one night he comes upon a crime as it’s happening. Does he pause to consider professional ethics, human decency and personal safety? Not for a second. Digital cinema, 104 min.
David Lynch Movie Night Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Wed Jul 20 2016
7:30 Pm – 9:45 PM
Writer, director, furniture maker, painter, musician, songwriter, vocalist, and photographer David Lynch believes in reincarnation: “You die and you have a little time in a dream and, by golly, you come back.”
Born and raised in the Northwest (Montana, Washington, Idaho), Lynch, who now lives in Los Angeles, keeps coming back to our neck of the woods to reincarnate one of his most potent and enduring artistic dreams: Twin Peaks. In this international TV phenomenon (1990-91), Lynch’s floating-in-a-dream, emotional-visceral storytelling penetrated the dark woods and rainy mists of a small town to reveal secret desires and enigmatic metaphysical connections.
The idea of exploring beneath the surface of everyday reality is central to Lynch’s sensibility. His father was a Forest Service research scientist who probed pine trees for hidden disease, and for over three decades Lynch, the daily meditator, has plumbed the deep inner stream of his subconscious.
Things hummed along pleasantly in the town of Twin Peaks. People worked in the sawmill, chowed down at the diner, drank hot black coffee; kids went to school, everyone felt safe with Sherriff Harry Truman on guard—and then the sweetheart of the community, golden Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer, was found cold, blue, dead and wrapped in plastic on a lakeshore. Unprecedented for TV, we saw the town grieve for a harrowing period of time. Nothing less than innocence was lost, chaos reigned, an almost cosmic wound was suffered.
The FBI sent Dale Cooper to investigate, and he was indeed a Special Agent well beyond the parameters of his job description. He was dressed in regulation black suit, white shirt and dark tie, but his mind colored outside orthodox lines. He was a stalwart and true defender of the law, but he intuitively sought clues by throwing rocks at bottles while reciting people’s names, correctly read folks’ romantic status in a split second, entered “a box of chocolate bunnies” into the official record and voiced a child-like wonder at “those amazing trees you’ve got around here.” Cooper got to know Laura’s parents, her friends and those she loved, but all his efforts couldn’t solve the mystery of her killing. He knew that two plus two sometimes equals seven, but even his creative, non-linear mind couldn’t grasp the shape of an ancient evil that breathed in empty rooms. And he was haunted by Laura; it felt like his mission was to save a girl who was already dead.
It took Lynch and his writing/production partner Mark Frost so long to reveal Laura’s killer that many viewers dropped out, and Twin Peaks was cancelled in its second season. The continuing story of Laura, Cooper, the town, and its denizens remained an energy-generating locus in Lynch’s mind, so in September of 1991 he and his cast and crew returned to the Snoqualmie Valley to shoot the theatrical film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. (This blog’s author, in stealth mode, witnessed much of the filming, as recounted in his book David Lynch: Beautiful Dark). The filmmakers expected the typical Northwest gloomy chill, but were met with a golden eighty-degree Indian Summer. Lynch believes that “things happen when they’re supposed to,” and he embraces artistic accidents. So since this prequel film would focus on Laura Palmer’s days and nights leading up to her death, he saw the unexpected death-of-summer atmosphere as a perfect fit.
Lynch is very much a hands-on creator, but for part of the TV Twin Peaks run he was away making his film Wild at Heart (1990), and when he resumed production he didn’t like the way the show had meandered away from its essence. So Fire Walk With Me is the intimate, direct-experience (rather than TV’s alluded-to) story of Laura and those she loves and fears. She’s a vital young woman who chooses/is chosen by the shadow side of life, a schoolgirl of the sorrows, but with delivering angels hovering near. For, though no one can convey the terrible power and beauty of darkness like Lynch, he believes in the white-light grace of transcendence. Sheryl Lee’s stunningly committed performance as Laura can make you feel that the order of the universe is at stake. In addition to the TV Twin Peaks’ fine cast (including the late, great Catherine E. Coulson as The Log Lady and Lynch himself as FBI Inspector Gordon Cole), Fire Walk With Me features Keifer Sutherland, Chris Isaak, and a tall, thin gentleman named David Bowie.
Throughout the TV run of Twin Peaks, Lynch’s hypnotic narrative bent time and space, and made dreams invade reality. So, though Fire Walk With Me precedes Laura’s death, it also follows it; it’s a prequel and a sequel—and a bridge to the future. For the third time in twenty-seven years Lynch has brought his continuing story and cameras to the Northwest: the new incarnation of Twin Peaks will air on Showtime cable in 2017.
Get in the Twin Peaks mood with our Fire Walk With Me screening. The trees are green, the coffee’s black, the Red Room is as mysterious as a blue rose, and shades of good and evil color the night. Get your ticket today.