Release Date: January 10, 2002
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Josef von Sternberg's classic "Blue Angel" (1930), the film that made Marlene Dietrich an international star, will be among the highlights of the Spring 2002 edition of the "Buffalo Film Seminars: Conversations about Great Films with Bruce Jackson & Diane Christian."
The 14-week series of screenings and discussions will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Market Arcade Theater, 639 Main St. It will be sponsored by the University at Buffalo and the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center.
Each film will be introduced by Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture in the UB Department of English, and Christian, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, also in the English department.
Following a short break at the end of each film, Jackson and Christian will lead a discussion of the film with members of the audience.
The screenings are part of "Contemporary Cinema" (Eng 441), an undergraduate course being taught by Jackson and Christian. Screenings also are open to the general public.
Admission to each film will be $6.50 for the general public and $4.50 for students and senior citizens. The films will be free for those enrolled in the three-credit "Contemporary Cinema" course. Those wishing to earn credit in relation to the series should register for the course.
Free monitored parking will be available in the M&T Bank lot opposite the theater's Washington Street entrance.
The series will begin on Jan. 22 with a screening of the 1930 Mervyn LeRoy classic, "Little Caesar." Edward G. Robinson is superb as Rico Bandello, a fictionalized blend of Chicago's Al Capone and Brooklyn's Buggsy Goldstein, in the first great gangster film. It has been selected for the National Film Registry.
The rest of the semester's lineup, with film descriptions culled from the seminars' Web site at http://csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html is:
o Jan. 29: "I Know Where I'm Going," 1945, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The film, wrote critic Dave Kehr, "opens as a screwball comedy, grows into a mystical Flaherty-like study of man against the elements, and concludes as a warm romance. ...Funny and stirring in quite unpredictable ways, with the usual Powellian flair for drawing the universal out of the seemingly eccentric."
o Feb. 5: "In a Lonely Place," 1950, directed by Nicolas Ray. Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Graeme star in Ray's film noir classic about morality, ambition, love, crime and work.
o Feb. 12: "Rashomon," 1950, directed by Akira Kurosawa. "Tell me what you saw? Tell me what happened?" You'll never ask those questions and accept the answers they elicit with an iota of innocence once you see this film, which gives narrative body to the core ideas post-modernist critics have been trying to write intelligently about for the past 25 years. The film won the Academy Award as best foreign language film.
o Feb. 19: "Pather Panchali," 1955, directed by Satyajit Ray. The first part of Ray's "Apu Trilogy," this is a beautifully conceived and executed film, with great acting, photography and a fine musical track by the great Ravi Shankar. "When discussing 'giants' of the non-English-speaking, international film world," wrote James Beardinelli, "four names leap immediately to mind: Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa and Satyajit Ray. Of these men, Ray has received the least North American exposure, but, arguably, the most critical acclaim."
o Feb. 26: "Breathless," 1959, directed by Jean-Luc Godard. One of the films that defined "Nouvelle Vague," "Breathless" is Godard's homage to American gangster films, with Jean-Paul Belmondo doing Bogart français, Jean Seberg as his American girlfriend and Godard himself as a snitch.
o March 5: "The Hustler," 1961, directed by Robert Rossen. This film received eight Oscar nominations and two wins, and was selected for the National Film Registry. It features Paul Newman in his star-making role as Fast Eddie Felson, Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats, Piper Laurie as a woman who substitutes love for booze and George C. Scott as a milk-drinking snake, with bit parts by Vincent Gardenia, Jake LaMotta and Willie Mosconi.
o March 12: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," 1962, directed by John Ford. John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Vera Myles, Andy Devine, Woody Strode and Lee Marvin in Ford's great story about law and legend in the changing American west.
o March 19: "Dr. Strangelove," 1964, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Peter Sellers is triply brilliant as a British officer on temporary duty in the office of psychotic SAC General Jack D. Ripper, as U.S. President Merkin Muffley and as Muffley's teutonic science adviser, Dr. Strangelove, whose wooden arm has a life of its own. The film, wrote Roger Ebert, has "a purity that today's lily-livered, happy-ending technicians would probably find a way around. Its black-and-white photography helps, too, putting an unadorned face on its deadly political paradoxes. If movies of this irreverence, intelligence and savagery still were being made, the world would seem a younger place." Selected for the National Film Registry.
o April 2: "Blue Angel," 1930, directed by Josef von Sternberg. This story of a professor out of his element was supposed to be silent star Emil Jan.nings' showcase entry into the talkies, but Marlene Dietrich ran away with the show. Her performance as cabaret performer Lola Lola in this story of Weimar decadence made her an international star. Paulene Kael called it "one of the most frightening movies ever made." The film originally was released with German and English soundtracks. Most critics found the German version superior because Jan.nings and Dietrich were more comfortable in their native language. For many years, the only version available in the U.S. was a shortened and badly subtitled print of the German version. The version to be viewed -- released only a few months ago -- restores the film to its original length and has better subtitles.
o April 9: "if...," 1968, directed by Lindsay Anderson. Malcolm McDowell debuts in this excoriating view of a British upper-class boarding school at its perfect worst. "if...," made the same year as student and worker riots in Paris, Berlin, Rome and London, is at once realistic and surrealistic, funny and angry. The great school film of the 1960s, it won the Cannes Film Festival Palm d'Or (gold palm) Award.
o April 16: "Nashville," 1975, directed by Robert Altman. This astonishing epic is, says critic Roger Ebert, a musical, a docudrama and a political parable. "It tells interlocking stories of love and sex, of hearts broken and mended. And it is a wicked satire of American smarminess.... But more than anything else, it is a tender poem to the wounded and the sad." Altman invented a new sound system to handle the more than 25 speaking parts, wonderfully portrayed by Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Shelley Duvall, Henry Gibson, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Harris, Lily Tomlin, Elliot Gould and Julie Christie, among others.
o April 23: "Mean Streets," 1973, directed by Martin Scorsese. Harvey Keitel and Robert de Niro enact Scorsese's vision of the Little Italy of his youth. "Mean Streets" is a film about crime as ordinary work, as sin. Brilliant dialog -- much of it improvised by the actors -- camerawork and acting. Selected for the National Film Registry.
o April 30: "Some Like it Hot," 1959, directed by Billy Wilder. Starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Joe E. Brown and George Raft, this film didn't even get a best-picture nomination in the year that "Ben-Hur" won the best-picture Oscar. Who can abide "Ben-Hur" now? What does Oscar know, anyway? "Well," as Joe E. Brown says in this hilarious film's memorable last line, "Nobody's perfect." Maybe nobody is, but some movies are. "Some Like it Hot" is the perfect movie. Selected for the National Film Registry.