News And Commentary – Still Celebrating the Orson Welles Centennial

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. 

50 Years Ago This Week – Alfred Hitchcock’s Last “Hour”

On May 10, 1965, “Off Season” the last episode of season three of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour was broadcast on NBC.  Not what you would call “must-see-TV,” nevertheless, for a number of reasons the fairly routine, thinly-motivated, and at times only tenuously credible drama effectively holds one’s attention throughout.  The first few minutes offer a strong and artfully done night-for-night suspense sequence culminating in a shoot-out, and from there a well-turned civics-lecture about the imperatives and responsibilities inherent to the use of force by the police that remains distress

News And Commentary – Happy 100th Birthday, Orson Welles!

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.

50 Years Ago This Week – Landmarks and Locations

New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Law went into effect on April 19, 1965.  The collective, astonished reaction heard after the razing of old Penn Station in 1964: “you mean they can do that?” contributed to a movement that ultimately led to the measure.  It was not enough to save the majestic Singer Building from the wrecking ball in 1968 – the forty-seven story tower was once the tallest building in the world – but countless other treasures have been saved as a result of the Act.

News And Commentary – Odd Man Out

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

News And Commentary – Ethan Hawke Talks New Hollywood

The spring issue of Cineaste features an insightful interview with Ethan Hawke, who has some interesting things to say about the New Hollywood, how he made career decisions “based on a 1970s ascetic,” and that he and his contemporaries, like the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, were “chasing the old-school definition of a New York actor—meaning the actor-artist.  Not the actor-movie star.”

50 Years Ago This Week – Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee

Major Dundee, Sam Peckinpah’s ill-fated Western starring Charlton Heston and Richard Harris, opened in New York City on April 7, 1965—or at least some version of it did.  Taken out of the director’s hands and cut by almost a third (an “extended version” DVD release restores some of the lost material), the movie was a textbook example of the “troubled production.”  Unsupported by an ambivalent studio that got cold feet just before production, Peckinpah—as he would do repeatedly in the future—led his large cast and crew deep into Mexico on the wings of an unfinished script and with m

News And Commentary – Alice’s Restaurant

Alice’s Restaurant is out this week on DVD and Blu-Ray (Olive Films).  Arthur Penn’s 1969 film, inspired by the Arlo Guthrie song/shaggy dog story (and starring the young singer), is a sympathetic but cautionary ode to the counter-culture.  Made in the midst of Penn’s most fertile period as a director—after Mickey One and Bonnie and Clyde and before Little Big Man and Night MovesAlice does not stand in the first rank of his best work, but it is a thoughtful and serious film.