Thursday, August 16th, 2012
Posted by Jim Healy



AUGUST 16, 2012




Hot on the heels of our enormously popular summer offerings, the UW Cinematheque is back with the most jam-packed season of screenings ever offered for the fall.

Director and cinephile Peter Bogdanovich (who almost made an early version of Lonesome Dove during the era of the revisionist Western) writes that “There are no ‘old’ movies—only movies you have already seen and ones you haven't.” With all that in mind, our Fall 2012 selections presented at 4070 Vilas Hall, the Chazen Museum of Art, and the Marquee Theater at Union South offer a moveable feast of outstanding international movies from the silent era to the present, some you may have seen and some you probably haven’t.

Retrospective series include five classic “Anti-Westerns” from the late 1960s and early 70s; the complete features of Russian master Aleksei Guerman; action epics and contemplative dramas from Japanese filmmaker Kenji Misumi; a breathtaking survey of Italian Masterworks from the neorealist era to the early 1970s; Depression Era comedies and dramas with scripts by the renowned Preston Sturges; and three silent comedy classics directed by and starring Charles Chaplin. Other Special Presentations include a screening of Yasujiro Ozu’s Dragnet Girl with live piano accompaniment and an in-person visit from veteran film and television director Tim Hunter, who will present one of his favorite films, Tsui Hark’s Shanghai Blues and a screening of his own acclaimed youth film, River’s Edge.

The Cinematheque’s fall season begins on August 31 with the first in our series of Premiere Showcase screenings, The Waiting Room. A powerful new documentary by Peter Nicks, The Waiting Room takes you inside Oakland CA’s Highland Hospital. The Washington Post describes it as “A sad, funny, tense, deeply affecting day-in-the-life of an under-resourced public hospital.” Other Premiere Showcase selections include two new disturbing French thrillers and two unique films from South Korea, one starring the great Isabelle Huppert.

As usual, all screenings are free and open to the public. Please see below for a complete listing of programs and series descriptions. The Cinematheque’s website ( will go live with the summer calendar at midnight on Friday, August 17.

Friday and Saturday programs screen at:

4070 Vilas Hall
821 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706


Sunday afternoon programs screen at:


Chazen Museum of Art

750 University Avenue

Madison, WI 53706


‘Marquee Monday’ programs screen at:


Marquee Theater at Union South

1308 W. Dayton Street

Madison, WI 53715

Admission free for all screenings, seating limited.


Our website:

For photos, visit:


Preview screening copies are available for many of the films listed below. To request copies or for additional information, contact:
Jim Healy, (608) 263-9643,
Karin Kolb, (608) 262-3627,




Pioneers of the Anti-Western
This series showcases a handful of remarkable and influential westerns from the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time when Hollywood reconsidered and re-formatted most of its previously successful genres. From the groundbreaking violence of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch to Philip Kaufman’s revisionist take on Jesse James, The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, these “anti-westerns” frequently offer bleak views of American history but they are bursting with renewed, creative energy. Collectively, they represent the last great period for the classic American western. The series will conclude with an ultra-rare screening of Blake Edwards’ beautiful and elegiac Wild Rovers, shown in its complete, uncut “roadshow” version in a new 35mm print from the Cinémathèque Française.
Aleksei Guerman: The Complete Features
Although widely heralded in his native Russia, the visionary and controversial director Aleksei Guerman remains virtually unknown in the West.  This oversight is all the more puzzling given that his historical epic My Friend Ivan Lapshin was voted the greatest Soviet film of all time in a national poll of Russian critics, beating out international superstars Tarkovsky and Eisenstein. While he’s a more prolific actor and screenwriter, Guerman’s slender directorial oeuvre (five features in 45 years) can be attributed to a combination of cinematic perfectionism, manifest in his trademark high contrast black-and-white and sinuous long takes, and official censorship: Trial on the Road and Lapshin’s searing indictments of Stalinism caused both to sit completed on the shelf for years before finding release.  His most recent film, 1998’s Khrustalyov, My Car!, is a dark, surreal trip through Stalinist Russia that imbues historical events with the aura of mythology.  It appeared on many best-of-the-90s lists, and left critics salivating for his long-gestating sci-fi adaptation of Hard to be a God, which has been over a decade in the making and is still not complete.  At once absurdist and grim, awestruck and knowing, Guerman’s cinema comprises an unforgettable odyssey through Stalin’s regime.

Kenji Misumi: Samurai Swordplay and Beyond
A director of period dramas for Daiei studios, Kenji Misumi has been internationally renowned for his direction of action Samurai films. While this retrospective will highlight some of these popular works, it will also include some of Misumi’s films that are lesser known in the U.S.; ghost stories and melodramas which exemplify why Misumi is renowned in his homeland as a creator of the jidai-geki (historical period drama). This series was co-organized with the Japan Foundation.

Preston Sturges: Screenwriter
In the 1940s, Preston Sturges became Hollywood’s most heralded writer-director of comedies. In the 1930s, prior to attaining his auteur status, Sturges was a much sought-after screenwriter who imbued his scripts with witty, peppy dialogue and a frequently satirical investigation of the American psyche. This selection showcases the best Sturges screenplays from the Depression era including the William Wyler-directed romantic fantasy, The Good Fairy; two trenchant character studies of American industrialists, The Power and the Glory and Diamond Jim; and two gems directed by Mitchell Leisen, Easy Living and Remember the Night, a holiday classic.

Premiere Showcase
Our selection of the most exciting new international and independent cinema includes five new features and documentaries that you will not see theatrically anywhere else in the area. The fall season opens with The Waiting Room, a revealing and powerful look at a day-in-the-life of one of our country’s busiest hospitals. Plus, two from France that bring new dimensions to familiar genres: the cinephilic horror film Last Screening and the dystopian satire Carré Blanc. We are also pleased to present the local premieres of two acclaimed new works from South Korea: the fascinating love story Planet of Snail and In Another Country, starring Eurocinema icon Isabelle Huppert.

Special Presentations
Fall 2012 special presentations include screenings of a Czech New Wave masterpiece; a great silent film by Yasujiro Ozu with live piano accompaniment; a double bill of Frank Borzage gems from the Depression Era; a new print of Howard Hawks’ legendary screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby; and a Hong Kong classic from the 1980s that will be introduced in person by HK film aficionado and noted film and television director Tim Hunter.

UW Cinematheque and WUD Film Committee Present Marquee Mondays
In collaboration with the student-run Wisconsin Union Directorate Film Committee, the Cinematheque will present four fun programs in the comfortable confines of the Marquee Theater in Union South. This season’s offerings include Noel Black’s cult classic Pretty Poison; a Halloween week horror show featuring The Other, a neglected and very creepy thriller from To Kill a Mockingbird director Robert Mulligan; a special screening of River’s Edge, the teen classic that helped spawn the grunge movement, with director Tim Hunter in person; and Django, a great spaghetti western that is one of the inspirations behind Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, Django Unchained.   

Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen: Italian Masterworks & Chaplin Classics
The Cinematheque-Chazen Museum of Art’s first collaboration for the fall will be presented in conjunction with the museum’s gallery exhibition, “Offering of the Angels: Paintings and Tapestries from the Uffizi Gallery” (running August 24 through November 25). Our film series puts the spotlight on newly struck prints and recent restorations of marvelous Italian feature films from the late 1940s through the early 1970s. From influential neorealist gems to more experimental and postmodern works, this period of Italian film history arguably produced more masterpieces than any other era in any other European national cinema. The selection includes canonized titles such as Antonioni’s Red Desert, De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, and also features a few lesser known gems like Ferreri’s Dillinger is Dead and Blasetti’s Too Bad She’s Bad.

On Sundays in December, the Chazen’s screen will spotlight three enormously popular and enduringly funny feature comedies from Charles Chaplin all starring Chaplin as his iconic “Little Tramp”: The Kid, The Gold Rush and City Lights.




Friday, August 31, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Premiere Showcase
US, 2012, HD Projection, 81 min.
Directed by Peter Nicks
“A sad, funny, tense, deeply affecting day-in-the-life of an under-resourced public hospital” (Washington Post), this gripping documentary easily ranks among the most important films of the year.  Over the course of a single day at Oakland’s Highland Hospital, an overworked staff copes with an unending stream of under- and uninsured patients.  Director Nicks combines the formal elegance and micro/macro scope of Frederick Wiseman with a profoundly human sense of empathy to craft an unshakable view of the frontlines of American healthcare.  “The Waiting Room doesn’t simply shed light on the broken healthcare system; like the best dramas, it humbly illuminates the human condition.” – Washington City Paper

Saturday, September 1, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
US, 1969, 35mm, 144 min.
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
With William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan
In Peckinpah’s revered classic, a group of mostly aging bank robbers (led by Holden as Pike Bishop) head South to pull off one last heist for a volatile Mexican warlord…while a posse closes in. Violent, brilliantly edited, and brimming with tour-de-force action sequences that blend seamlessly with quiet, reflective moments, The Wild Bunch is a true masterpiece of cinema. “This is not the kind of film that would likely be made today, but it represents its set of sad, empty values with real poetry.” (Roger Ebert)

Friday, September 7, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Premiere Showcase
France, 2011, 35mm, 81 min., French with English subtitles
Directed by Laurent Achard
With Pascal Cervo, Charlotte Van Kemmel, Karole Rocher
A cinephilic riff on the serial killer genre, Last Screening imagines Norman Bates running a repertory cinema.  Projectionist/manager of a Paris Cinematheque not terribly different from our own, Sylvain runs Renoir revivals for dwindling crowds every evening, then commits grisly murders overnight.  Writer/director Laurent Achard nails the details, crafting a film that evokes a newly discovered 1970s giallo print on every level, from script to lighting, right down to the burned-in cue marks between reels.

Saturday, September 8, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
US, 1972, 35mm, 91 min.
Directed by Philip Kaufman
With Cliff Robertson, Robert Duvall, Luke Askew
The first Hollywood feature from director Kaufman (The Right Stuff, Hemingway & Gellhorn) is a revisionist western with a fresh take on the legendary James/Younger gang. As their outlaw band of thieves plan and execute the fateful bank robbery in the title town, Jesse James (Duvall) is depicted as a slow-witted degenerate, while Cole Younger (Robertson) is revealed to be the brains of the operation.

Sunday, September 9, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1971, 35mm, 111 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
With Franco Citti, Ninetto Davoli, Pier Paolo Pasolini
After a series of challenging films, Pasolini achieved worldwide success with this erotic and comedic adaptation of Boccaccio’s 14th Century story collection. Utilizing a clever script, a haunting Ennio Morricone score, and beautifully filmed locations in Naples, Ravello, and Caserta, The Decameron is easily Pasolini’s most accessible and charming film.

Friday, September 14, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Special Presentation
Czechoslovakia, 1966, 35mm, 76 min., Czech with English subtitles
Directed by Vera Chytilová
With Ivana Karbanová, Jitka Cerhová
In this satirical, feminist, and enormously fun gem from the Czech new wave, Marie I and Marie II set out on a series of life-exploring anarchic adventures. Their episodic exploits lead to the dismantling of a number of western civilization’s tentpoles, including food, clothing, and war. Don’t miss your chance to see a newly struck 35mm print of this classic, which is, in the words of director Chytilová, ““a philosophical documentary in the form of a farce.”

Saturday, September 15, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
US, 1973, 35mm, 100 min.
Directed by James Frawley
With Dennis Hopper, Warren Oates, Peter Boyle
Attempting to go straight, Bickford Warner, aka the notorious train robber Kid Blue (Hopper), arrives in the tiny town of Dime Box, Texas and ultimately finds an unfulfilling job at the Great American Ceramic Novelty Company. Soon, however, the drudgery of his occupation and a personal scandal drive the Kid back into a life of crime. “A relaxed piece of work...[with] a meandering jug band sensibility. What's most impressive about Kid Blue as a statement and a western is its honest hatred of work.” (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice.)

Sunday, September 16, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1969, 35mm, 132 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo
With Marlon Brando, Evaristo Márquez, Renato Salvatori
In this story based on historical fact, the fascinating Brando (in what he considered his best performance) plays William Walker, a British agent who is sent to a Caribbean Island in 1845 to teach black sugar plantation workers the art of revolution against the Portuguese landowners. Though Walker’s intentions are for the British to eventually gain control, his plans are thwarted when the charismatic revolutionary leader he installed refuses to accept any sort of colonization. This rousing political adventure set to the equally inspiring music of Ennio Morricone is just as good as radical filmmaker Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers. Burn! will be presented in its original Italian release version, which restores 20 minutes of footage never before shown in the U.S.

Friday, September 21, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Special Presentation
Japan, 1933, 35mm, 96 min., Japanese intertitles with English subtitles
Directed by Yasujirô Ozu
With Kinuyo Tanaka, Joji Oka, Sumiko Mizukubo
The story of a hoodlum, his moll, and their redemption through an encounter with an innocent girl provided celebrated auteur Ozu the basis for one of the most moving and stylish films from Japan’s silent era. Although Ozu made other gangster films, Dragnet Girl’s memorable and suspenseful climax features the only gunshot fired in the master filmmakers entire oeuvre. Live piano by David Drazin.

Saturday, September 22, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
US, 1972, 35mm, 103 min.
Directed by Robert Aldrich
With Burt Lancaster, Bruce Davison, Jorge Luke
An experienced but battle weary Indian scout (Lancaster) accompanies a U.S. Cavalry troop into hazardous territory in search of the brutal Apache leader Ulzana and his tribe of followers. The literate and concise script by Scottish writer Alan Sharp provides the backbone for one of the best films of the 1970s, and the finest western from director Aldrich (Vera Cruz, The Last Sunset).

Sunday, September 23, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1953, 35mm, 101 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Federico Fellini
With Alberto Sordi, Franco Fabrizi, Leopoldo Trieste
For what is largely considered his first masterpiece, Fellini drew upon his adolescence in the small town of Rimini to tell the story of five young men who slowly come to realize their melancholy futures. From American Graffiti to Diner to GoodFellas, Fellini influenced personal filmmaking for many years to come with his splintered storyline, innovative voice-over technique and "wandering" camera.

Monday, September 24, 7 p.m., Marquee Theater
Marquee Mondays
US, 1968, 35mm, 89 min.
Directed by Noel Black
With Anthony Perkins, Tuesday Weld, Beverly Garland
Recently released from a mental hospital, Dennis (Anthony Perkins) arrives in a sleepy Massachusetts town and attracts the attentions of pretty high schooler Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld) by posing as a CIA agent. Little does Dennis know, he’s the one being deceived, and before he knows it, Sue Ann has him involved in her far-from-innocent plans. This wicked thriller and black comedy “is one of the few still-sparkling gems of the late 60s.” (Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic)

Friday, September 28, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Premiere Showcase
France, 2011, 35mm, 77 min., French with English subtitles
Directed by Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
With Sami Bouajila, Julie Gayet, Jean-Pierre Andréani
Set in a dystopian future, this stark satire of corporate culture has earned critical comparisons to Kafka, Kubrick, and Tarkovsky.  An executive in an oppressive corporate regime, Phillipe subjects society’s weakest members to inscrutable, grimly comic physical challenges and mind games, while his wife struggles to maintain the dead-eyed façade necessary to blend in. Crisp cinematography and impeccable design cultivate an atmosphere of almost palpable dread, sliced with a dark humor worthy of Brazil. Presented in conjunction with the Wisconsin Science Festival.

Saturday, September 29, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
US, 1971, 35mm, 136 min.
Directed by Blake Edwards
With Willian Holden, Ryan O’Neal, Karl Malden
Looking to get out of the cattle wrangling business, aging cowpoke Ross Bodine (Holden) and his sidekick Frank Post (O’Neal) decide to rob a local bank. Unwittingly making off with the payroll of their cowboy colleagues, Ross and Frank are tracked down by their former ranch boss (Malden) and his two sons (Tom Skerritt and Joe Don Baker).  One of the most unfairly neglected movies of the early 70s, this rare foray into the Western genre from director Edwards is a nearly perfect hybrid of his rollicking farces (The Pink Panther, Victor/Victoria) and his tragic dramas (The Days of Wine and Roses). This newly struck print from the Cinémathèque Française restores Edwards’ original “roadshow” version, which was cut by 27 minutes for its original American release.

Sunday, September 30, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1948, 35mm, 93 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Vittorio De Sica
With Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell
A poster hanger and his adorable son search the streets of Rome for the stolen bicycle that is essential to their survival. Perhaps the most important and most heartbreaking film from Italy’s post-war neorealist movement, Bicycle Thieves  is quite simply, unforgettable.

Friday, October 5, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Special Presentation
US, 1933, 35mm, 75 min.
Directed by Frank Borzage
With Spencer Tracy, Loretta Young, Glenda Farrell
Fast-paced and swooningly romantic, Borzage’s pre-code masterpiece stars on-and-off screen lovers Tracy and Young, whose affection for each other transcends the Depression in a New York shantytown. "Borzage never needed dream worlds for his suspensions of disbelief. He plunged into the real world of poverty and oppression, the world of Roosevelt and Hitler, the New Deal and the New Order, to impart an aura to his characters, not merely through soft focus and a fluid camera, but through a genuine concern with the wondrous inner life of lovers in the midst of adversity." (Andrew Sarris)

Friday, October 5, 8:30 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Special Presentation
US, 1934, 35mm, 91 min.
Directed by Frank Borzage
With Margaret Sullavan, Douglass Montgomery, Alan Hale
In Germany in the early 1930s, the marriage of a young bookkeeper and his bride survive poverty and hardships due to their great love for one another. Ironically, through its fine, authentic depiction of a pre-WWII Europe, Borzage’s lovely and unusual movie is one of the most emblematic Hollywood films of the Depression era.

Saturday, October 6, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Soviet Union, 1971, 35mm, 97 min., Russian with English subtitles
Directed by Aleksei Guerman
With Vladimir Zamansky, Fyodor Odinokov, Anatoly Solonitskin
A searing anti-war film, Guerman’s first solo feature was banned for 15 years.  Based on true events in WWII, the film follows Lazarev, a Russian sergeant who defected to the Nazis, only to later return to the Red Army. Suspicious of his loyalty, Lazarev’s co-combatants repeatedly make him prove his allegiance through a gauntlet of increasingly risky missions.  “Bravura filmmaking at its best.” - Artforum

Saturday, October 6, 8:45 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Soviet Union, 1967, 35mm, 89 min., Russian with English subtitles
Directed by Aleksei Guerman and Grigori Aronov
With Andrei Popov
Guerman’s first feature was co-directed with the more established (and conventional) Griogori Aronov, to whom he ceded more control.  Nevertheless, Guerman’s oblique view of history and rough wartime humanism are on full display in this vision of the Russian civil war.  Imprisoned by revolutionary forces, a bourgeois general is cleared of his crimes and released back into society, only to find his apartment has turned into a crowded commune.

Sunday, October 7, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1963, 35mm, 130 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Mario Monicelli
With Marcello Mastrioianni, Renato Salvatori, Gabriella Giorgelli
Mastroianni stars as a socialist labor organizer in turn-of-the-century Turin who helps textile workers fight for better working conditions. From the director of Big Deal on Madonna Street, this is “one of the great Italian films of the 60s, it cries out for rediscovery.” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader)

Friday, October 12, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Japan, 1962, 35mm, 96 min., Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Kenji Misumi
With Shintarô Katsu, Masayo Banri, Ryuzo Shimada
The blind masseur Zatoichi is continuously faced with the challenges of other men and answers with a dazzling, ruthless display of swordsmanship. Based on the novella by Kan Shimozawa, Misumi’s black and white ‘Scope Samurai classic film was the first of 26 Zatoichi movies made between 1962 and 1989, an enormously popular series starring the charismatic Katsu.

Friday, October 12, 8:45 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Japan, 1964, 35mm, 87 min., Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Kenji Misumi
With Shintarô Katsu, Nobuo Kaneko, Gen Kimura
A young mother dies in an ambush intended for the blind swordsman Zatoichi, who vows to deliver her baby to his father. With the reluctant help of a young prostitute he tries to find the father while being relentlessly pursued by assassins. But in a final bitter twist of fate Zatoichi must add to his list of enemies the father of the child he has sworn to protect. For this 8th installment of the long-running action series, director Misumi switched to Eastman Color.

Saturday, October 13, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Soviet Union, 1976, 35mm, 101 min., Russian with English subtitles
Directed by Aleksei Guerman
With Yuri Nikulin
In a characteristically perverse move, Guerman followed the banned Trial on the Road with a second critical WWII film that keeps the war almost entirely offscreen.  On leave from the front, a soldier returns to his hometown, where he encounters a film crew producing a bombastic adaptation of his own war correspondence, and courts a seamstress in the costume department. (MK)

Sunday, October 14, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1969, 35mm, 90 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Marco Ferreri
With Michel Piccoli, Anita Pallenberg, Annie Girardot
A bored industrial designer (Piccoli) looking for diversion discovers an old revolver wrapped in a 1934 newspaper headline announcing the death of a famous American gangster. He paints the gun with red and white polka dots, seduces his maid (Girardot), and contemplates suicide, as well as the murder of his wife (Pallenberg). Writer/director Ferreri’s (Le Grande Bouffe, The Last Woman) surreal and symbolic head trip belongs in the tradition of the Theater of the Absurd. Don’t miss your chance to discover this oddball puzzler on the big screen.

Friday, October 19, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Japan, 1964, 35mm, 94 min., Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Kenji Misumi
With Raizô Ichikawa, Yûsuke Kawazu, Hisaya Morishige
This adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s famous novel tells the story of the rivalry between Jiro Kokubu (Ichikawa), a star pupil of the university kendo club and his fellow senior Kagawa (Kawazu, star of Nagisa Oshima's early films). Misumi's only film in a contemporary setting is shot in suitably high-contrast black and white and is closer in style and tone to the seishun-eiga (the Japanese New Wave), than to any of the director’s own chanbara films. An overlooked gem that sheds a very different light on Misumi.

Saturday, October 20, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Soviet Union, 1984, 35mm, 101 min., Russian with English subtitles
Directed by Aleksei Guerman
With Andrei Boltnev, Nina Ruslanova, Andrey Mironov
Heralded as the greatest Soviet film of all time in a national poll of film critics, this legendary movie is itself an inquiry into the nature of legends.  A beloved provincial policeman is remembered 50 years later for both his heroism and his involvement in a love triangle.  Based on popular stories by Guerman’s father, Lapshin’s life unfolds in a fragmented narrative film scholar Ian Christie deemed “as elaborate as anything in Orson Welles.”

Sunday, October 21, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1954, 35mm, 95 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Alessandro Blasetti
With Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio De Sica
Rome provides the splendid backdrop for Blassetti's fast-paced comedy about life and love among crooks. Loren as Lina, in the first of her enormously popular comedies of the 50s, also provides pleasant visual stimulation. De Sica plays Lina’s dad, a veteran purse-snatcher nearing retirement age who occasionally lends a helping hand to his daughter's unlawful adventures. Mastroianni shines as the clumsy cab driver who is convinced that only one thing will cure our heroine: matrimony.

Friday, October 26, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Japan, 1959, 35mm, 84 min., Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Kenji Misumi
With Kazuo Hasegawa, Yasuko Nakata, San'emon Arashi
In one of Japan's most frequently-told ghost stories, a murdered wife returns in an act of vengeance. Misumi’s brilliant black & white version of this bloody tale puts a new twist on the old story by presenting the husband in a much more sympathetic light.

Saturday, October 27, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Russia, 1998, 35mm, 137 min., Russian with English subtitles
Directed by Aleksei Guerman
With Yuriy Tsurilo, Nina Ruslanova
“One of the few indisputable masterpieces of world cinema of the past 40 years” (Film Comment), this phantasmagorical odyssey into the dark heart of Soviet Russia is mad, bewildering, and unlike anything you’ve seen.  The delirious scenario follows a Red Army general/brain surgeon during the mayhem of Stalin’s final days.  “An orchestrated cataclysm, a narrative inferno that demands to be inhabited rather than decoded… Russian cinema’s answer to Finnegan’s Wake.” – Sight and Sound.

Sunday, October 28, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy/US, 1968, 35mm, 175 min.
Directed by Sergio Leone
With Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale
Brilliantly cast against type, Fonda is Frank, a cold-hearted, avaricious monster who shows no remorse while gunning down a family to access their land. The surviving widow (Cardinale) defends the farm with the help of the outlaw Cheyenne (Jason Robards) and a nameless drifter with a harmonica (Charles Bronson) who seeks his own personal revenge on Frank. For this Italian-American co-production, director Leone shot on American locations for the first time, choosing John Ford’s beloved Monument Valley as a backdrop. Topping their success with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Leone and his composer Ennio Morricone reached new operatic heights in matching music with image. A new 35mm print of the uncut original release version will be shown. Restored by Paramount Pictures and Sergio Leone Productions with the Academy Film Archive. Restoration funding provided by Cinema per Roma Foundation and The Film Foundation.

Monday, October 29, 7 p.m., Marquee Theater
Marquee Mondays
US, 1972, 35mm, 100 min.
Directed by Robert Mulligan
With Uta Hagen, Diana Muldaur, John Ritter
9-year-old twins Niles and Holland Perry are identical in every respect…except for Holland’s homicidal tendencies. Since everyone who gets on the boys’ bad side is turning up dead, it’s up to their protective grandmother (played by renowned theater actress and drama coach Uta Hagen in a rare film appearance) to stop the nightmare. This atmospheric chiller from the director of To Kill a Mockingbird is set in an idyllic rural community during the depression. Based on a bestselling novel by former actor Tom Tryon, it finds just the right balance between the lyrical and the horrific. The feature will be preceded by a fun reel of horror trailers.

Friday, November 2, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Japan, 1962, 35mm, 71 min., Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Kenji Misumi
With Raizô Ichikawa, Shigeru Amachi, Masayo Banri
In Misumi’s breakthrough film, Shingo (Ichikawa) seeks revenge and redemption after his family is murdered by a rival clan. Based on a novel by Shibata Renzaburo and adapted for the screen by fellow director and horror master Kaneto Shindo, Destiny’s Son is filled with stylistic highlights and thrilling fight scenes. Patrick Galloway calls it a perfect synthesis of Zen and bushido (way of the warrior)”.

Friday, November 2, 8:30 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Japan, 1967, 35mm, 79 min., Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Kenji Misumi
With Shiho Fujimura, Kiku Wakayagi, Rokko Toura
In the 19th century Edo period, sisters Oshizu and Otaka have sacrificed their personal happiness to work and care for their ailing father. Otaka falls in love, but can’t accept a marriage proposal since her older sister needs to marry first. When Oshizu learns of this decision, she takes matters in her own hands. A routine Daiei studio contract assignment for director Misumi, it nonetheless stands as one of his most sensitive and memorable films.

Saturday, November 3, 7 p.m. 4070 Vilas Hall
Preston Sturges, Screenwriter
US, 1935, 35mm, 97 min.
Directed by William Wyler
With Margaret Sullavan, Herbert Marshall, Frank Morgan
While fending off the aggressive advances of a wealthy bachelor (Morgan), movie theater usherette Luisa Ginglebusher (Sullavan) finds a way to use the rich man’s money to help others, specifically, a poor lawyer (Marshall). Working for the first and only time with director Wyler, screenwriter Preston Sturges adapted a Ferenc Molnar play set in Budapest and the resulting film plays like the best movie Ernst Lubitsch never made!

Sunday, November 4, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1966, 35mm, 115 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Pietro Germi
With Virna Lisi, Gastone Moschin, Nora Ricci
Germi’s fast-paced bedroom farce is his third, after Divorce, Italian Style and Seduced and Abandoned. Set in the provincial northern town of Treviso, Germi dissects the hypocritical middle class (the “Ladies and Gentleman” of the Italian title) with subtle observations on marriage, chastity, the police, the court system, the church and family. Winner of the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966.

Monday, November 5, 7:30 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Special Presentation
US, 2011, HD projection, 40 min.
Directed by Ken Jacobs
France, 1933, 35mm, 41 min., French with English subtitles
Directed by Jean Vigo
Avant-garde filmmaking legend Jacobs’ latest Stereoscopic masterwork is a mesmerizing exploration of an intricate, tin-foiled “landscape” that glitters and shines as it spins into labyrinthine concentric circles. Periodically punctuated by acerbic text that offers a damning critique of American history and politics, this pre-Election night special (which has been shown frequently in conjunction with the Occupy movement) suggests that all that glitters is not gold. Monkey King will be followed by one of Jacobs’ influences: Vigo’s great Zero for Conduct, an indelible portrait of adolescent angst and anarchy.

Friday, November 9, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Japan, 1964, 35mm, 89 min., Japanese with English subtitles)
Directey by Kenji Misumi
With Raizô Ichikawa
Dynamic action star Raizô Ichikawa stars as Lone Tree, a wandering gambler who strolls into a village looking for his father’s murderers. While investigating, our hero uncovers multiple levels of power and a plot to turn the town’s peasants into gold mine slaves! Smoothly directed and beautifully photographed in ‘Scope and color, Mushuku Mono is a classic of its genre.
Saturday, November 10, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Preston Sturges, Screenwriter
US, 1933, 35mm, 77 min.
Directed by William K. Howard
With Spencer Tracy, Colleen Moore, Ralph Morgan
In one of his first leading roles, Tracy plays a self-made railroad baron whose personal affections are torn between his devoted wife (played by silent star Moore) and loving mistress. The screenplay, by the renowned Preston Sturges, contains an innovative time structure that has led many critics to call this lyrical gem a major influence on Citizen Kane.

Saturday, November 10, 8:30 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Preston Sturges, Screenwriter
US, 1935, 35mm, 93 min.
Directed by A. Edward Sutherland
With Edward Arnold, Jean Arthur, Cesar Romero
Preston Sturges wrote the script for this excellent biopic on the life of millionaire industrialist (and prodigious eater) James Buchanan Brady, aka “Diamond Jim”. The film’s story is divided between Brady’s rise from poverty to affluence and his subsequent luckless love life.

Sunday, November 11, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1960, 35mm, 177 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Luchino Visconti
With Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot
Rocco (Delon), along with his four brothers and their widowed mother, leave their impoverished farm in southern Italy for the corruption of Milan. Tragedy ensues when Rocco and his brutal sibling Simone (Salvatori) clash over a prostitute (Girardot). As in Visconti’s The Leopard, you’ll be swept along by the powerful story, the beauty of stars Delon and Claudia Cardinale, the graceful direction, and Nino Rota’s haunting music.

Friday, November 16, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Special Presentation - Tim Hunter in person!
Hong Kong, 1984, 35mm, 103 min., Cantonese with English subtitles
Directed by Tsui Hark
With Kenny Bee, Sylvia Chang, Sally Yeh
In this sophisticated musical homage to classic Hong Kong comedies of the 1930s, a love triangle develops between a composer, a singer, and a girl from the country. Rarely screened, this dazzling blend of pathos and pop culture will be introduced by filmmaker and HK film aficionado Tim Hunter. “Tsui...suggests that by reviving older traditions you don’t simply indulge in nostalgia; you link your life to a vital heritage.” (David Bordwell, Planet Hong Kong)

Saturday, November 17, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Preston Sturges, Screenwriter
US, 1935, 35mm, 75 min.
Directed by Marion Gering
With Sylvia Sidney, Cary Grant, Edward Arnold
In a dual role, 30s movie icon Sidney plays both a princess on a U.S. goodwill tour to raise money for the tiny kingdom of Taronia and the starving lookalike actress who takes over when her highness develops the mumps. Complications develop when the double falls for a newspaper publisher (Grant) whom she’s been hired to influence.

Saturday, November 17, 8:30 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Preston Sturges, Screenwriter
US, 1930, 35mm, 75 min.
Directed by Fred Newmeyer
With Miriam Hopkins, Carole Lombard, Frank Morgan
The head (Morgan) of a tradition-bound Long Island family interferes with the love lives of his grown children, then attempts to set things right again. Credited with “Additional Dialogue,” this prototype for the screwball comedy marked Preston Sturges third Hollywood assignment.

Sunday, November 18, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy/France, 1964, 35mm, 118 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
With Monica Vitti, Richard Harris, Rita Renoir
In Antonioni’s first color film, an alienated wife and mother (the director’s muse Vitti) contemplates an affair with her husband’s colleague (Harris) while navigating an industrial wasteland brought on by the technological age. Perhaps Antonioni’s most stylish effort, Red Desert is suffused with devastatingly beautiful imagery and an almost overwhelming sense of disaffection.

Monday, November 19, 7 p.m., Marquee Theater
Marquee Mondays. Tim Hunter in person!
US, 1986, 35mm, 99 min.
Directed by Tim Hunter
With Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper
Loosely based on the true story of a California high schooler who killed his girlfriend and bragged about it to his friends, this disturbing but classic youth film was also a powerful influence on the ‘grunge’ movement in fashion and music of the early 90s. Among the cast, the electric Glover stands out as the hopped up, self-appointed group leader. In another of his memorable possessed performances, Hopper plays Feck, the teens’ psychotic mentor/drug dealer. Director Tim Hunter, who also co-wrote the teen classic Over the Edge, will discuss his work in person after the screening

Sunday, November 25, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Italian Masterworks
Italy, 1967, 35mm, 121 min., Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, Mauro Bolognini, Franco Rossi
With Silvana Mangano, Totò, Clint Eastwood
Producer Dino De Laurentiis assembles an all-star team of Italian directors to take the helm of five short episodes. Each short - ranging from the comically inventive to the fantastically bizarre - features the enrapturing Silvana Mangano, Mrs. De Laurentiis. Fun for all adults, The Witches is also a must see for completists of Eastwood, who co-stars in De Sica’s episode.

Friday, November, 30, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Premiere Showcase
South Korea, 2011, HD Projection, 87 min., Korean with English subtitles
Directed by Seungjun Yi
A spellbinding, intimate documentary Planet of Snail explores the world of a deaf-blind man and his wife in Seoul.  As they communicate by tapping out braille on each other’s fingers, simple endeavors like changing a lightbulb take on herculean proportions. Funny, moving, and mesmerizing, this one-of-a-kind romance has scooped up prizes at premiere documentary showcases wordwide, including IDFA and Silverdocs.  “Cinematic love stories don’t come more convincing or singular that this.” – Village Voice

Saturday, December 1, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Preston Sturges, Screenwriter
US, 1937, 35mm, 88 min.
Directed by Mitchell Leisen
With Jean Arthur, Edward Arnold, Ray Milland
In this exemplary, hilarious screwball comedy, Arthur plays a working-class girl who gets a face-full of fur when a fed-up financier (Edward Arnold) throws his wife’s sable out the window. Soon, she finds romance in the arms of the rich man’s son (Ray Milland).

Sunday, December 2, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Chaplin Classics
US,1921, 35mm, 60 min.
Directed by Charles Chaplin
With Charles Chaplin Jackie Coogan, Edna Purviance
The Little Tramp (Chaplin) raises a street-smart orphan (Coogan) in a series of hilariously picaresque episodes. Chaplin’s first feature as writer, director, and star is one of his most memorably moving, but also one of the most popular comedies of the silent era. Preceded by A DOG’S LIFE (US, 1918, 30 min., Directed by Charles Chaplin)

Friday, December 7, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Premiere Showcase
South Korea, 2012, 35mm, 89 min., Korean and French with English subtitles
Directed by Hong Sang Soo
With Isabelle Huppert, Kwon Hae-Hyo, Jung Yu Mi
Art-house superstar Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher, White Material) teams with prolific auteur Hong Sang Soo (Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Woman is the Future of Man) for this deceptively mischievous comic roundelay. Huppert stars as three French tourists named Anne, whose visits to the same South Korean beach resort in quick succession create a cinematic rhyming game that is quintessential Hong.  Pleasantly loose yet beguiling enough to chew on for days, In Another Country “takes Hong’s signature style and concerns to a new level.” – LA Weekly

Saturday, December 8, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Preston Sturges, Screenwriter
US, 1940, 35mm, 94 min.
Directed by Mitchell Leisen
With Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi
Four years before they teamed on Double Indemnity, Stanwyck and MacMurray were paired as a chronic shoplifter and the prosecutor who takes her home for the holidays to keep her out of jail. Her encounter with the lawyer’s wholesome family, culminating on a moving and memorable New Year’s Eve, begins to change her perspective on a life of crime. Remember the Night marked Preston Sturges’ last credit as screenwriter before he became a writer-director on The Great McGinty, released the same year.

Sunday, December 9, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Chaplin Classics
US, 1925, 35mm, 82 min.,
Directed by Charles Chaplin
With Charles Chaplin, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain
In Chaplin’s most celebrated feature of the 1920s, The Little Tramp is a prospector looking for gold who finds romance. This is the original 1925 release version of the film (without Chaplin’s narration) and will be presented with a synchronized score.  

Monday, December 10, 7 p.m., Marquee Theater
Marquee Mondays
Italy/Spain, 1966, HD projection, 92 min.
Directed by Sergio Corbucci
With Franco Nero, Loredano Nusciak, Eduardo Fajardo
In one of the greatest of all Spaghetti Westerns, an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, a stranger dragging a coffin (Nero) finds himself caught between two warring factions in a border town. The mystery of what’s in the coffin is soon revealed, unleashing a wave of violence that leads to one of the highest body-counts in any film of its era. As the title character, Nero makes just as solid a hero as Clint Eastwood in Corbucci’s fast-paced and enormously entertaining action mini-epic. The feature will be preceded by a reel of trailers for other Italian shoot-em-ups.

Friday, December 14, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Special Presentation
US, 1938, 35mm, 102 min.
Directed by Howard Hawks
With Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charlie Ruggles
In the mother of all screwball comedies, Grant stars as a stuffy paleontologist who knows more about dinosaurs than he does about the modern woman. This makes him easy prey for wacky heiress Hepburn who gets her man involved in a series of increasingly funny disasters. Director Hawks, a master of all genres, provided a template for comedy directors for years to come.

Saturday, December 15, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Special Presentation
Highlighting works produced in Communication Arts Media Production courses at UW Madison, this 90-minute program is curated by the instructors of film, video and animation courses and gives new filmmakers the opportunity to present their films on screen for the first time.

Sunday, December 16, 2 p.m. Chazen Museum of Art
Chaplin Classics
US, 1931, 35mm, 86 min.
Directed by Charles Chaplin
With Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Harry Myers
The iconic Little Tramp falls in love with a blind flower girl, convinces her that he is a handsome millionaire, and attempts to provide her with the funds for a sight restoring operation. Made in an era when Hollywood had completely embraced talkies, Chaplin’s moving and tremendously funny work of art is told entirely without spoken dialogue.


See you at the Movies!


Jim Healy, Director of Programming


Rio Conchos & Gordon Douglas: Subjects for Further Research—A Conversation with Lem Dobbs

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
Posted by Jim Healy

Veteran screenwriter Lem Dobbs has contributed to the scripts of Romancing the Stone (1984), Dark City (1998) and The Score (2001). He has also authored three screenplays for director Steven Soderbergh: Kafka (1991), The Limey (1999) and Haywire (2012). He is also an avid cinephile and an aficionado of the films of journeyman director Gordon Douglas (1907-1993), whose career spanned from Hal Roach-produced Our Gang shorts in the 1930s to Viva Knievel (1977). We both recently watched Rio Conchos and had this conversation over the phone on May 1, 2012 (JH).

Warning: Contains “spoilers”.

JH:  What are your first impressions after watching Rio Conchos again?

LD: I always think this about movies: the magical thing about them is that no matter how many times you’ve seen them, you don’t remember them! Even ones you think you know really well.

JH: My first viewing was of a pan/scan transfer on television, so watching a widescreen version almost was like seeing it for the first time.

LD: Me too. I saw it so many times growing up in England, and I have to believe they cut little bits of violence out of it, because I kept saying “Whoa!”

JH: In terms of violence, it’s really ahead of its time.

LD: Yeah, doesn’t it seem so? I was really surprised to find out it was made in 1964! I looked it up in Phil Hardy’s Encyclopedia of the Western. He calls it an unofficial remake of The Comancheros (1961, Michael Curtiz). Of course, it’s very similar and there are many points of comparison in the plot, plus Stuart Whitman’s in both movies and both were released by Fox in CinemaScope. The difference between them is that The Comancheros is totally a product of old Hollywood – it really looks back – and Rio Conchos looks forward. I kept thinking that it anticipates all those “mission to Mexico” movies: Major Dundee (Sam Peckinphah, 1965) and The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969) and The Professionals (Richard Brooks, 1966) and so many other movies that came after it.

JH: Like some of those films, the violence in Rio Conchos seems amped up, both in the number of violent incidents in the story, plus the graphicness and intensity of it all.  There’s a surprising amount of blood for 1964!

LD: And sadism! It also anticipates Ulzana’s Raid (Robert Aldrich, 1971) in the depiction of the brutality of the Apaches, who are torturing and raping women….

JH: …and in establishing an intense sense of dread in facing the Apaches.

LD: Exactly. There’s a sense of real fear.

JH: Richard Boone’s character is driven almost entirely by his hatred of the Apaches and he begins to adopt some of their sadistic tendencies.

LD: There’s that scene, where they’re shooting at the Apaches hiding in that brush and Boone sets fire to it in order to smoke them out and one of them starts screaming and Boone just shouts back, “Let ‘em burn! Let ‘em burn!” Harsh stuff for 1964 and to have the hero of the movie be like that anticipates the Spaghetti Westerns that were just beginning at the same time. I think A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone) came out the same year.

JH: That’s right. The violence is certainly there in Fistful, but for me, Leone and the Spaghetti Westerns come into their own with films like For a Few Dollars More (Leone, 1965) and Django (Sergio Corbucci, 1966) and I have to believe that Rio Conchos had a big impact on the Italians. There’s also that terrific long sequence at Timothy Carey’s cantina where Anthony Franciosa checks in to the whorehouse, and then Boone shows up looking for him. It has this sense of digression to it that reminds me of Leone and, later, Quentin Tarantino. It seems like Franciosa could have been written off in a much quicker way and saved the film nine minutes! Also, Boone and Franciosa are each bluffing and hiding something from the other, which reminds me of the sadistic games played out between the farmer and Lee Van Cleef near the beginning of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Leone, 1966).

LD:  And the basement saloon sequence in Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009). When you’re watching it, you might think this seems like some sort of padding that they stuck in the movie to make the running time longer or something. It’s also the most stage-bound, studio-type sequence in the movie, which is such an outdoors movie that looks so good in widescreen, and here, stuck in the middle, is this talky, rather dull sequence, but the most shocking thing about it is, of course, the death of Franciosa and I didn’t remember that at all, for some reason!

JH: It comes with almost a third of the film left to go and he’s a major character!

LD: Yeah! He’s one of the name-above-the-title, top-billed stars of the movie!

JH: It’s the kind of shock-digressive thing you find later in Leone and Brian DePalma and Tarantino.

LD: It breaks the convention of the “team of misfits on a mission impossible” formula where all of the characters will usually come to their own separate destinies in the big climax. You wonder if it’s deliberate clever screenwriting that’s meant to surprise the audience or is it just a lucky accident that it turns out to be something interesting. Perhaps it’s a re-shoot because Timothy Carey isn’t even credited in the movie! I don’t know the backstage story of the movie and why it’s so similar to The Comancheros, which was made with the same studio and the same screenwriter [Clair Huffaker] just a few years earlier. Perhaps the Huffaker script for The Comancheros was turned into a John Wayne vehicle and a few years later [Fox] saw a way to reconstitute the story and do it again, kind of like what Hawks did with Rio Bravo/El Dorado? I don’t know. It requires some research.

JH: The director, Gordon Douglas, would seem to be Fox’s go-to guy for Western remakes. He directed The Fiend Who Walked the West (1958), which re-worked Kiss of Death (1947) and he also made the 1966 Fox remake of John Ford’s Stagecoach. Even Gold of the Seven Saints (1961), which he made for Warner Bros., is almost his contribution to the Rio Bravo/El Dorado cycle.

LD: Even that was supposed to be a Hawks movie, perhaps another re-teaming with John Wayne. Leigh Brackett wrote the screenplay.  When you watch The Comancheros, which is directed by Michael Curtiz, you can see how it harkens back to the style of 30s and 40s films [Curtiz] directed, but it’s deformed by John Wayne, because he’s such a presence and an icon. The minute you get John Wayne in a western, it can’t just be about the story and the characters any more; it has to be geared towards being a Wayne vehicle.  You see something like Rio Conchos and it doesn’t have those major, iconic people in it and that’s almost a virtue because their characters can be unsympathetic, convention-breaking protagonists.

JH: Sure. I’d say Douglas uses Richard Boone the way that a lot of filmmakers use Tommy Lee Jones today. In fact, their voices are very similar. There’s a dangerous sense that since our hero is played by a character actor, anything could happen at any moment.

LD: It’s almost arbitrary whether the filmmakers decide to make him a hero or not!

JH: This is Jim Brown’s first movie, made while he was still playing football, and it’s two or three years before he acts again. This seems to be a prototypical role for him and presages his work in other “mission” movies like The Dirty Dozen (Aldrich, 1967) and Dark of the Sun (Jack Cardiff, 1968).

LD: …and 100 Rifles (1969, Tom Gries). If Rio Conchos is an unofficial remake of The Comancheros, then 100 Rifles is almost an unofficial remake of Rio Conchos. Burt Reynolds is in the same outfit, the same mustache and the same phony accent doing the Tony Franciosa part! And [composer] Jerry Goldsmith again and this business of selling rifles, which is like the joke that never gets old. You can imagine the story meetings at 20th Century Fox where they’re trying to come up with some sort of generic plot and then they all say, “ah, let’s just go with the fucking rifles!” (laughs).

JH: What do you know of the screenwriter, Clair Huffaker, who co-wrote the script, based on his novel.

LD:  You know, I met him when he was an old man.  Someone took me to his house where he was having a party and he seemed to be one of those guys who was an old-time Hollywood type yet connected to young people. He had a kind of coterie of young admirers. I’m sorry I didn’t investigate further or sit down to talk with him more. He died in the early 90's and this must’ve been like the mid-80’s. He’s not a particularly distinguished writer, but once upon a time you could have a career specializing in, like, being a “Western guy,” which is all he basically wrote.

JH: I see from the IMDB here that he also wrote 100 Rifles!

LD: I hadn’t realized that! So he wasn’t just a specialist in Westerns, he was a specialist in just recycling the same, pulpy plot time and again and squeezing out another dollar for it!

JH: Tell me how you rank Gordon Douglas, I know you’ve seen most, if not all of his features.

LD: What’s interesting to me is that he’s just a journeyman. I don’t think anyone’s really written about what it’s like to have the career of a journeyman. I suppose a more unkind term would be “Hollywood hack” but I don’t know if anyone has ever tried to define what makes one guy an artist or an “auteur” and another guy just a talented craftsman. What is the dividing line between the two and how does one leap across that line and become something a bit more?

JH: For me, Douglas bears comparison with Henry Hathaway, they worked a lot in the same genres and at the same studios during roughly the same period in film history, but Hathaway has much more of a reputation as an auteur.

LD: I guess that’s because Hathaway, at times, tried to be an artist, when he made something like Peter Ibbetson (1935) and he’d get bigger budgets and bigger stars and Douglas was kind of a “b” movie guy and he never got out of it. He was considered a reliable studio guy that they could count on, or someone who Frank Sinatra would be able to deal with.

JH: While we try to make our case for Rio Conchos, is there one Douglas film that has a universally acclaimed reputation among critics and cinephiles?

LD: Well, the one that everyone always points to is Them! (1954). He’s often referred to as “Gordon Douglas, director of Them!” That’s the one film that everyone agrees is a classic, that’s memorable. It’s one that everyone saw as a kid and is still exciting. I don’t know. I haven’t seen it for a long time.

JH: Dave Kehr recently had some nice things to say about Douglas’ remake of Stagecoach. Have you seen it lately?

LD: I’ve been meaning to watch the new blu-ray. I’ve only seen it years ago, pan and scan, as a kid. I’m sure it’s better than its reputation. Obviously, it was a stupid thing even to go near such a thing as John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939). And it has that kind of kitschy 60s cast of Bing Crosby and Ann-Margret. But I’d be interested to see it again because it would seem like a family entertainment with that cast, but I’d be curious to see if it has those moments of Douglas violence. One distinguishing feature of his that I think is pretty consistent over his career is a rather startling degree of sadistic violence for the period.

JH: Yes, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950, with James Cagney) seems to want to up the ante on the violence of White Heat (1949, Raoul Walsh).

LD: Yes [Andrew] Sarris always makes comparisons between directors and he judges one director against another. A lot of Douglas’ films seem to be deliberately made to, as you say, up the ante on something made by another director: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, for example, and these Western remakes like Stagecoach. He always seems to be struggling against his betters in that way and I wonder how much that weighed upon him or was he just a happy-go-lucky guy who went from assignment to assignment, was happy being “Zanuck’s guy.” Was there ever any resentment or ambition to be something more, to be taken more seriously? You would kind of doubt it given his films, because I don’t think he ever, unlike Hathaway, really tried to do anything that said, “here guys, I’m more than the hack that you think I am.”

JH: Whether he was trying or not, I think Rio Conchos is a special film. I especially like the use of CinemaScope and the sense of spatial geography, especially in scenes like the one in the rain where Boone is tied up under the wagon.

LD: On the other hand, you wonder is that just the studio style that’s been lost? There used to be much more attention to composition and framing and making the image look more artistic than studio directors today care about or even know about. Was that Douglas or was that just the glory of the system that employed old-time cameramen like Joseph MacDonald.

JH: And composers like Jerry Goldsmith. His Rio Conchos score is quite good. His work on Douglas’ Stagecoach is even better, I think.

LD: This is from that period of 60s Westerns where the composer alone could elevate the average studio product like that. It’s totally lost now.

JH: Rio Conchos also anticipates Apocalypse Now (Francis Coppola, 1979) in Edmond O’Brien’s Kurtz-like character. He definitely dominates the final act of the movie, the way Brando does.

LD: Again, one of the magical things about the movies is that it brings up all of your own personal memories of when and where you saw them and how you learned about actors. Every time I see Edmond O’Brien, particularly in this film, I remember my mother saying, when I was very little watching O’Brien, “he’s a very nervous actor.” And it’s one of those moments, as a child, when you go, “what’s nervous?” And she says, “Oh, you know, he’s kind of excitable and jumpy. He moves around a lot and makes a lot of gestures.” Now every time I see Edmond O’Brien in my whole life since, I think, he’s a very “nervous actor” (laughs). And he is. It’s another way of saying, I guess, that he’s “hammy” but I think she was being very precise because Richard Boone is hammy, Tony Franciosa doing his Mexican “bandito” accent is hammy. Edmond O’Brien is a hammy actor too but he’s also nervous. He is gesticulating and trembling. He always acts that way, a nervous way.

JH: And in this role, he makes us nervous too, because he has all of the power and he’s out of his mind.

LD: You’re right. Maybe that’s what “nervous” means – he acts crazy and I guess he always tended to. Even in The Wild Bunch, he’s cast for that quality, like he’s got Alzheimer’s, which I think he wound up having in real life. In The Comancheros, the madman Confederate in the gothic mansion is played by Nehemiah Persoff.

JH: Now I want to see The Comancheros and 100 Rifles again. Perhaps this was [Fox Studio chief Darryl F.] Zanuck’s own attempt at what Howard Hawks pulled off with Rio Bravo/El Dorado/Rio Lobo.

LD: The other Zanuck thing I think of while watching Rio Conchos, or anything from that period that Darryl F. Zanuck had any control over, is that in film after film after film, there’s always some girl who’s never been in any other movie [laughs]. I looked her up, Wende Wagner, and it turns out she was a kind-of Gina Carano type. She was an athlete/stunt woman particularly in the field of surfing and swimming and diving and scuba. She was a stunt double on the Sea Hunt series and this was her one significant movie. She married Jim Mitchum [son of Robert] for about 10 years. She’s sort of memorable and you look at her and wonder about the strange lives people have when they end up in one movie like this.

JH: Thanks for talking with me, Lem.

LD: It was fun. I was thrilled to watch it again!
Funding for Cinematheque programs has been provided by generous grants from the Anonymous Fund and the Brittingham Foundation. Special thanks to Dean Gary Sandefur, Associate Dean Susan Zaeske, Associate Dean Maria Cancian, and the College of Letters and Science for their continued support.

Screenings for 3/2 NOT CANCELLED

Friday, March 2nd, 2012
Posted by Peter Sengstock

The show WILL go on!  The musicians and films are here for tonight's screening, so we hope you can brave the weather to enjoy a nice warm show.

Press Release: Indie Films at Cinematheque

Monday, February 13th, 2012
Posted by

For more information about our upcoming indie films at the Cinematheque, see the attached press release.

Technical Upgrades

Friday, January 27th, 2012
Posted by


When the lights went down last weekend for the UW Cinematheque’s first programs of 2012 on January 20 and 21, viewers were treated to the best possible presentation of 35mm film to be found in the region. During the Cinematheque’s programming hiatus in December and January, new 35mm projectors from custom German designers Kinoton were installed in 4070 Vilas Hall, the Cinematheque’s primary venue. The sound system in 4070 also received an upgrade, as did the masking surrounding the screen area.

Widely regarded as the best 35mm projectors available, the Kinoton FP-30s are providing a dramatically brighter and steadier image.  Their revolutionary electronic shutter will allow us to project silent films (such as Josef von Sternberg’s The Docks of New York, screening on February 11) at the correct speed without any flicker, providing a much smoother presentation.  The room's sound system has received an overhaul: we have repositioned the speakers behind the screen and added soundproofing to attune the room for enhanced acoustic performance.  Our Dolby processor has received an upgrade that will improve the noise floor in the room.  Finally, the masking has been replaced with non-reflective material, creating crisper, more defined edges around the image.

The new projectors and upgrades were made possible through generous gifts from the Hamel Family and other alumni of the Department of Communication Arts, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, and Drs. Daniel and Evelyn McMillan.

For additional information, contact:
Jim Healy, (608) 263-9643,


See you at the Movies!

Jim Healy, Director of Programming


Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Posted by

The majority of Cinematheque shows are held in 4070 Vilas Hall (821 University Avenue), but don't miss our Sunday Screenings at the Chazen and Marquee Mondays at Union South! For more detailed directions, check out our Locations Page.

Spring 2012 Press Release

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Posted by

If you prefer to peruse the Cinematheque's film schedule in a document format, we have provided the Spring 2012 Press Release in PDF form.

New Site!

Monday, December 19th, 2011
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Welcome to the new Cinematheque website! The new design features upcoming shows on the main page so you can quickly find the most relevant screenings. Please explore the site and let us know what you think! We hope you will enjoy it as much as we are.