Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week

Posted By , and on Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 9:00 AM

hud paul newman martin ritt
Hud (1963)
Directed by Martin Ritt
One of the saddest, stateliest, more actor-y experiments to arise from the late 50s collision of liberal theater and fastidious studio filmmaking, this is a masterpiece. Based on an early novella by Larry McMurtry, the film is a sweaty, minute character study across three young people—Paul Newman, Brandon De Wilde and Patricia Neal—and a stubborn elegy for Texas cattle-ranching, epitomized by Melvyn Douglas’s merciless frontier father. Hud resists the grandiosity of its contemporaries with remarkable dexterity; Newman’s performance as Hud is feckless and barrenly human, as are cinematographer James Wong Howe’s unflinching widescreen still-lives. Steve Macfarlane (Jan 1-3 at MoMA, part of its Auteurist History of Film)

it should happen to you movie george cukor judy holliday
It Should Happen to You (1952)
Directed by George Cukor
Even the generally feminist screenwriter Garson Kanin and “women’s director” George Cukor patronize their heroine, Gladys Glover (the great Judy Holliday), a pneumatic child-woman for whom, as her suitor (Jack Lemmon) keeps insisting, happiness lies in giving up her inchoate ambitions to be “part of the crowd.” But a gorgeous young Holliday, grounded yet flighty as a young woman determined to “make a name for myself” in New York, makes this gem sparkle in spite of its flaws. Fourteen years before Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes” declaration and long before the Kardashians, this likable rom-com rips into the hunger for fame that's one of the defining manias of our time. Lemmon gives a pretty good speech about why getting famous just for being famous is nuts, but Holliday effortlessly one-ups his smug self-assurance in scenes like the one where the creamily lighted Gladys stops a smarmy would-be seducer in his tracks by asking, “You ever think of getting a parrot?" Elise Nakhnikian (Jan 1 at Lincoln Center)

unknown chaplin documentary
Unknown Chaplin (1983)
Directed by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill
Film Forum will kick off 2014 by honoring the Little Tramp’s centennial with a week of Chaplin films, including new DCP-projected restorations of many of the shorts. These timeless works grow even more remarkable with the knowledge that the filmmaker was inventing them as he went along. This three-part, James Mason-narrated documentary (originally made by a pair of film historians and preservationists for British television, and screening at Film Forum in 16mm) unveils previously private outtakes from Charles Chaplin’s film shoots in order to show his working method. Chaplin would begin with full sets and a troupe of actors but no script and only the barest idea of a scene’s beginning; he would then experiment on film, analyze the takes, and change ideas, roles, and camera setups until he felt he had gotten things right. Months—sometimes years—of effort would go into developing single gags. He made life hard for his collaborators in the name of elusive great results. Aaron Cutler (Jan 7 at Film Forum, part of its The Tramp 100)

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