SATURDAY MORNING CLASSICS, Cinema 21
SATURDAY MORNING CLASSICS
Programmed Exclusively for Cinema 21 by Elliot Lavine
Showcasing a film each Saturday morning starring an indisputable cinema legend in what many consider their signature roles
September 30: JAMES DEAN! EAST OF EDEN
This was the first of the three films James Dean appeared in before his tragically premature death on September 30, 1955 (exactly 68 years to the day of our screening!) in a fiery car crash out on a lonely California highway. Not since the death of Rudolph Valentino in the 1920s had the nation been so obsessed with the passing of a Hollywood figure, especially one who had appeared to have just arrived. Here, he is Cal Trask, the rebellious son of a domineering father and the brother of the son his father favors. John Steinbeck’s sprawling novel is a perfect showcase for Dean’s explosive and emotional performance, making him at once immediately relatable on the most intimate level. This film, along with Rebel Without A Cause, which was released two weeks after Dean’s death, created a permanent legacy of teenage longing. Also starring Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Jo Van Fleet, Richard Davalos, Burl Ives, Albert Dekker. Directed by Elia Kazan. In COLOR. 115 minutes. 1955.
SCORSESE + DE NIRO
FIVE SEMINAL FILM CLASSICS FROM ONE OF THE PREMIERE DIRECTORS OF HIS GENERATION AND THE BRILLIANT ACTOR WHO HELPED MAKE THESE FILMS UNFORGETTABLE.
OCTOBER 7: MEAN STREETS
Not his first film, but the one that brought both the director and at least two of its stars into the national spotlight. A brilliantly realized, very personal film charting the chaotic misadventures of a group of young Little Italy wannabe gangsters trying to exist in a world constantly exploding into heart-stopping sudden violence and one dominated by enveloping Catholic guilt. As one would expect, the soundtrack is an amazing collection of 50s and 60s musical cues, all designed for maximum impact, creating a stylistic template that is imitated blatantly to this day. MEAN STREETS had its official premiere screening at the New York Film Festival at the Alice Tully Hall on October 7, 1973, exactly fifty years to the day of our screening this morning! Directed by MARTIN SCORSESE. Starring ROBERT DE NIRO, Harvey Keitel, David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova, George Memmoli, Robert Carradine, David Carradine. In COLOR. 110 minutes. 1973.
OCTOBER 14: TAXI DRIVER
With this film, the director had finally achieved the almost unthinkable: an ultra-violent urban nightmare thriller had just won the coveted Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in France amid loud protests over the film’s incendiary content. Regardless, TAXI DRIVER has gone on to take its place as one of the 70s most influential (and controversial) films. The story of an alienated Viet Nam veteran, slowly growing more disturbed by his decaying environment sets a plan in motion to make the world a safer place for young runaway girls. Brilliantly directed by MARTIN SCORSESE from a remarkable screenplay by Paul Schrader. Starring ROBERT DE NIRO, Cybill Shepherd, Harvey Keitel, Jodie Foster, Peter Boyle, Albert Brooks. In COLOR. 113 mins. 1976.
OCTOBER 21: THE KING OF COMEDY
One of the director’s most eccentric and seldom seen films, a remarkable and disturbing social satire about the precarious nature of fame in a world slowly going mad. A strangely neurotic autograph-hound develops a dangerous obsession with television’s number one nighttime talk show host and legendary comedian. The question of what lengths a deranged stalker might go to in order to satisfy his obsession for recognition, at least by association, is carried out in wonderfully unexpected ways that only a cast like this and a director in complete control of his craft could pull off. Directed with customary style and wit by MARTIN SCORSESE. Starring ROBERT DE NIRO, Jerry Lewis, Diahnne Abbott, Sandra Bernhard, Shelley Hack, Tony Randall, Ed Herlihy. In COLOR. 109 minutes. 1983.
OCTOBER 28: RAGING BULL
One of Cinema’s seminal boxing pictures, it presented its star with an Oscar and began its ascent to being heralded as that decade’s most highly regarded film. The story of real life boxer Jake LaMotta, himself a perpetually troubled man, both by his explosively violent temper as well as his nearly psychotically terrifying paranoia. Dazzling period (1940s – 60s) detail and eye-popping black & white cinematography (Michael Chapman) help make this emotionally enveloping saga an unforgettable experience. Directed with razor sharp precision by MARTIN SCORSESE. Starring ROBERT DE NIRO, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colastano, Theresa Saldana. In BLACK & WHITE. 128 minutes. 1980.
NOVEMBER 4: GOODFELLAS
Based on Nicolas Pileggi’s best-selling book Wiseguy, this sprawling mostly true crime saga remains, in the view of most of take these things seriously, just about the greatest modern gangster film yet made, which takes in quite a laundry list of acknowledged classics. The story of the violent rise of a young man with big dreams to become one of the most notorious sidemen in Mafia history is told with a savage eye for detail and a knowing nod to the nefarious underworld it so beautifully and horribly depicts. We could go another fifty years and we still wouldn’t see a film that could even challenge GOODFELLA’s foothold on cinema history. Directed with appropriate bombast by MARTIN SCORESESE. Starring Ray Liotta, ROBERT DE NIRO, Lorraine Bracco, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, Frank Vincent. In COLOR. 145 minutes. 1990.
PRE-CODE DOUBLE FEATURE! Sights your eyes will not soon forget!! Travel back in time at Cinema 21 this spooky season for a very special cinematic experience. TWO SHOWS ONLY!! Both films will screen together, with a 10-minute intermission between.
OCTOBER 29 + 30: FREAKS + SAFE IN HELL
FREAKS (1932) This was the film MGM wanted to go up against Universal Studios—then the reigning kings of the horror genre—and they recruited the great director, Tod Browning back into the fold. Browning had, during the silent period, created some of cinemas greatest horror films for MGM, along with his frequent collaborator, Lon Chaney. Browning, whose previous film had been DRACULA for Universal, which made Bela Lugosi an international star. Browning promised MGM a film that would put DRACULA, as well as James Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN, to shame. What he delivered was a film that nearly destroyed MGM’s reputation, a film considered by critics to be repulsive and offensive, was literally banned for nearly forty years. Browning had the courage to create a circus revenge story which, to this day has the power to terrify and fascinate. This legendary classic of cinematic exotica is being presented in a brand new 4K restoration and promises to be, along with its astonishing co-feature (see below), the cinematic event of the season. Starring Wallace Ford, Olga Baclanova, Leila Hyams, Harry Earles, Roscoe Ates. Directed by Tod Browning. In B&W. 69 mins.
SAFE IN HELL (1931) Lost, or at least ignored, for decades, this fierce and horrific tale of a fallen woman’s terrifying journey for survival amongst an island colony of degenerates and desperate, sex-starved men, capable of carrying out their own form of gratification. When a young woman, driven into prostitution, accidentally kills the man responsible for leading her down this path, a hell-fraught mission to salvage her soul and her life takes her to a living hell unlike any she’d known before. Since this film was produced during the infamous “pre-code” period in Hollywood, no lurid detail is spared in this uncompromising, brilliant film, created by one of the industry’s leading directors. Cinema 21 is proud to present this rediscovered classic in a brand new 4K restoration. Starring Dorothy Mackaill, Donald Cook, Ralf Harolde, John Wray. Directed by the legendary William A. Wellman. In B&W. 74 mins. 1931.
HOLLYWOOD BEFORE THE CODE
AN INFAMOUS TRIO OF UNADULTERATED PRE-CODE CLASSICS for NOVEMBER!
Due to popular demand—and the excitement being created around our pre-code Halloween screenings of FREAKS and SAFE IN HELL--we are bringing three more of the most explosively notorious pre-code Hollywood classics to our SATURDAY MORNING CLASSICS series; those often torrid and scandalous films made before the infamous Hays Code put an end to all the sex-fueled, shockingly violent and, frankly very funny films that could no longer be made after the spring of 1934. If you’ve been deprived of Pre-Code films, rejoice in the fact you can now see three of the very best the great studios had to offer!
NOVEMBER 11: SCARFACE
Hands down the most vividly violent gangster film of them all, which says a lot. Originally set to be released in 1931, it would take another year before the censors would finally let it out. Paul Muni made a star of himself with this barbaric portrayal of a Capone-like gangster, consumed by an evil lust for power and domination, including a dangerously salacious obsession with his sexually voracious sister.Also in thecast: GeorgeRaft, Boris Karloff, Karen Morley. Written by W. R. Burnett and Ben Hecht. Directed by Howard Hawks. In B&W. 90 mins. 1932.
NOVEMBER 18: BABY FACE
Considered by many to be among the most blatantly, and for some, blasphemously sexual of all pre-code films. Barbara Stanwyck plays the abused daughter of a speakeasy owner who sells her sexual favors to factory laborers and politicians alike. When a freak accident gives her a ticket out and to the Big City, her journey to the top of the financial world then becomes a sexually voracious one, paved with the predatory skills branded in her at birth. Also in the cast: George Brent, Donald Cook, Margaret Lindsay, Douglass Dumbrille. Directed by Alfred E. Green. In B&W. 70 mins. 1933.
NOVEMBER 25: THE THIN MAN
Dashiell Hammett’s exciting and distinctly chic detective classic featuring the famed Nick and Nora Charles (and their dog Asta) set the standard for combining sexually flippant verbal byplay, genuinely funny personal chemistry, and a darker tale of death and deception lurking underneath all the detecting and drinking. And it all takes place during the Christmas holidays! Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan, Nat Pendleton, Edward Ellis. Directed by W. S. Van Dyke II. In B&W. 93 mins. 1934.