A visit to the Harvard Film Archive afforded an opportunity to see Robert Altman’s HealtH. The film, shot in 1979, was screened in 1980 but shelved by a hostile studio-in-transition, and not properly released until 1982. One of Altman’s most obscure films, it remains largely unavailable and so despite its modest reputation the chance to catch it in the theater was irresistible.
News and Commentary
Noir week at MCC reached its conclusion with the pitch-perfect classic Out of the Past – one for the time capsule if you were looking to preserve the essence of noir for future generations – before wrapping up class with a consideration of neo-noir, and a very close read of Chinatown. (In Hollywood’s Last Golden Age I called Chinatown “the Citizen Kane of th
Noir week continues at Mid Century Cinema (and at Cornell’s Adult University) with two classics, The Big Sleep and Gilda. The justly beloved Big Sleep comes with a famous backstory—in the can in 1945, the film was shown to American servicemen overseas, but with distribution schedules juggled by the end of the war, Sleep was held back from general release until 1946. In the interim, Lauren Bacall’s second picture was poorly received (in contrast to her head-turning debut alongside Humphrey Bogart in Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not).
It’s a week of Noir at Mid Century Cinema—I’m teaching a class on the subject at Cornell’s Adult University. Today we visited the bookends of the classic period: John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958), before diving into a close reading of Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944), one of the greatest films ever made. With source material from James M.
Two months ago we discussed Ethan Hawke’s absorbing interview in the spring issue of Cineaste in which the actor elaborated on the influence of the New Hollywood on his career choices; part two of that conversation appears in the magazine’s summer issue, and is again of great interest to fans of the seventies film. “If the point of making a movie is to make a
Between 1969 and 1972 filmmaker Costa-Gavras and actor Yves Montand teamed up for three compelling political thrillers, two of which, The Confession (1970) and State of Siege (1972) have just been released in excellent new special editions from the Criterion Collection. Criterion had previously issued
Celebrating Orson Welles’ 100th birthday isn’t something you do in just one day, or even a month, and here at Mid Century Cinema we’ve been in a very Wellesy state of mind. If you have not much familiarity with Welles (or even if you do), take a look at this entertaining and informative six minute video essay by film critic and Welles scholar Jonathan Rosenbaum.
Orson Welles would have celebrated his 100th birthday on May 6. I’m posting this a week before the official date because Welles was one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, and I thought I’d send my card in a little early, ahead of the tidal wave of good wishes that will soon flood every conceivable media platform.
Odd Man Out, which took home the prize for best British film of 1947, is just out in a sparkling new special edition from The Criterion Collection. One of the great films of the 1940s, it had not previously been officially available on disc in North America. Johnny McQueen, the man who finds himself more than just out – he is face down and bleeding on the street as his comrades idle, indecisively, nearby – is played by James Mason, who delivers an outstanding performance that served