'The Maltese Falcon' and 'The Thin Man' Among Selections in Fall 'Buffalo Film Seminars' at Market Arcade

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: August 2, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Thin Man" -- two legendary film adaptations of Dashiell Hammett novels -- will be among the highlights of the Fall 2002 edition of "Buffalo Film Seminars: Conversations About Great Films with Diane Christian and Bruce Jackson."

The 15-week series of screenings and discussions will be sponsored by the University at Buffalo and the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center. Screenings will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesdays in the Market Arcade theater, 639 Main St.

Each film will be introduced by Christian, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of English in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture, also in UB's English department.

Following a short break at the end of each film, Christian and Jackson will lead a discussion of the film with members of the audience.

The screenings are part of "Contemporary Cinema" (Eng. 441), a UB undergraduate course being taught by the pair. The screenings also are open to the general public.

Admission to each film will be $7 for the general public, $5 for senior citizens and$4.50 for students. Series tickets are available at a 15 percent discount.

The films are 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 lot opposite the theater's Washington Street entrance.

At UB, the film seminars are sponsored by the Capen Chair in American Culture, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of English.

The series lineup, with film descriptions culled from the seminars' Web site at http://csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html .

o Aug. 27: "Sunrise," 1927, directed by F.W. Murnau. Starring George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston, this film won three Academy Awards the first time they were given out. It shared best picture with "Wings," Gaynor received the first best actress award, and Charles Rosher got the first best cinematography. The themes are betrayal and redemption, and guilt and innocence, with love triumphant. Selected for the National Film Registryin 1989. This screening will be accompanied on electronic piano by Philip Carli.

o Sept. 3: "M," 1931, directed by Fritz Lang. The first serial-murderer film, this movie made Peter Lorre one of filmdom's great psychopaths. It also was one of the first films that expressed the evil that would soon dominate Germany.

o Sept. 10: "The Thin Man," 1934, directed by W. S. Van Dyke. William Powell and Myrna Loy star as Nick and Nora Charles in the first and best of the six films based on Dashiell Hammett's 1923 novel. It features sophisticated characters, great dialog, enough martinis to pickle the finest liver, gorgeous sets by Cedric Gibbons, great cinematography by James Wong Howe, and timely woofs from Asta, the dog that has figured in more crossword puzzles than any other animal. Selected for the National Film Registry in 1997.

o Sept. 17: "Queen Christina," 1933, directed by Ruben Mamoulian. Greta Garbo cross-dresses. John Gilbert talks. Garbo stares over the bow into the future. A great romantic classic.

o Sept. 24: "The Rules of the Game," 1939, directed by Jean Renoir. Renoir's most celebrated film, this satire on the French class structure is so good that the film was banned in France until 1956. In the U.S., films were banned because they were too sexy; in France, they were banned because their ideas about society were too accurate.

o Oct. 1: "The Maltese Falcon," 1941, directed by John Huston. Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Elisha Cook star in Huston's first film, a great adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel. This film also has been called the first film noir. Selected for the National Film Registry in 1989.

o Oct. 8: "Open City," 1945, directed by Roberto Rossellini. Aldo Fabrizi and Anna Magnani star in this seminal work of Italian neo-realism, written by Rossellini, Federico Fellini and Sergio Amidei. Awarded the Grand Prize at the 1946 Cannes film festival.

o Oct. 15: "The Third Man," 1949, directed by Carol Reed. Joseph Cotten, Ailida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, a zither and Robert Krasker's Oscar-winning cinematography star in this classic, written by Graham Greene, Alexander Korda, Carol Reed and Orson Welles. Producer David O. Selznick wanted to cast Noel Coward in the role that Welles got-Harry Lime-which, among other things, would have deprived the film of its most memorable speech. Sometimes directors win out, as Reed did in that battle. Received the Grand Prize at Cannes.

o Oct. 22: "Tokyo Story," 1953, directed by Yasujiro Ozu. A "radiant, gentle,

heartbreaking, perceptive investigation into the tensions with the generations of a family.... One of the finest films of Ozu's last decade, it was the one that belatedly made his reputation in the West," wrote critic Henry Holt.

o Oct. 29: "Black Orpheus," 1958, directed by Marcel Camus. Based on the Orpheus-Euridice legend, but updated and set in Carnival in Rio de Janiero, this film won the Oscar for "Best Foreign Film," as well as the "Golden Palm" at Cannes. It features a great score by Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto that put the bossa nova into the musical mainstream and had a profound influence on American jazz.

o Nov. 5: "Belle de Jour," 1967, directed by Luis Buñuel. Catherine Deneuve is featured in one of the three truly great erotic films. So what did the Japanese client have in that box?

o Nov. 12: "Faces," 1968, directed by John Cassavetes. The only film about marriage in distress that comes close to this for cinematic power is "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966), which is made in a cinematic style so different from "Faces" that it is difficult to imagine they were made in the same country and only two years apart. Cassavetes was constantly improvising, getting his actors-John Marley and Gena Rowlands-to improvise, creating the specifics of the story as they moved through it. He was one of the great innovators in American film.

o Nov. 19: "The Wild Bunch," 1969, directed by Sam Peckinpah. William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, Robert Ryan, Edmund O'Brian, Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones star in a film that contains what critic Roger Ebert calls "one of the great defining moments in modern movies." That moment makes a good deal more sense in this 1995 restoration, which is 10 minutes longer than the original.

o Nov. 26: "Day for Night," 1973, directed by François Truffaut. Truffaut was one of the founders of the French New Wave, and this film is his love-poem to the movies. Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Truffaut himself star. Not only is it a good story, but you get to find out how they get the snow to do exactly what it's supposed to do, what's under the second-floor balcony and how they do all that filming in the dark of night.

o Dec. 3: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," 1975, directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. If you know the Pythons, then no words are necessary here; if you don't, words will not suffice. In no other film will you learn all you need to know about The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch or see a cow used as a defensive weapon.