Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen: Reinventing Hollywood


This lineup of great entertainments draws its inspiration from David Bordwell’s captivating new book, Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling. The book and this series focus on just some of the storytelling methods that made the 40s period exciting, in particular the outrageous and outlandish use of flashbacks and subjective viewpoints, as well as an exploration of character psychologies and neuroses. The series begins on January 28 with a special lecture from Professor Bordwell and a screening of The Chase (1946).

  • Sun., Jan. 28 | 2:00 PM

In this unpredictable, weird, and stylish thriller, based on a book by Cornell Woolrich (Rear Window), a chauffeur (Cummings) runs away to Havana with his gangster boss’ wife (Morgan) and is later accused of her murder. "The Chase, long a cult film maudit, is for some aficionados the ultimate noir” (David Bordwell). The screening will be preceded by a one hour lecture and discussion from Professor Bordwell, author of Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling. 35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation and the Franco-American Cultural Fund.

  • Sun., Feb. 4 | 2:00 PM

Harrison has a field day as paranoiac conductor Sir Alfred de Carter, suspicious of his wife’s (Darnell) fidelity to the brink of hysteria. His jealousy fueled by the music of Rossini, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner, Sir Alfred plots revenge in increasingly deranged fantasies, only to find his protracted attempt at retribution foiled in a hilariously extended bout with technology. In a stylistic departure from the signature chaos of his ensemble comedies, writer/director Sturges gracefully reflects Sir Alfred’s arrogance by precisely coordinating his diabolical visions with a near-constant musical underscore, only to pull the rug out with reality driven slapstick in the haywire finale. (MK)

  • Sun., Feb. 11 | 2:00 PM

Wilder’s second feature as director is a witty and suspenseful wartime thriller about British officer Bramble (Tone), the only survivor of a desert tank attack in North Africa. Determined to kill Nazi General Rommel (von Stroheim), Bramble assumes the identity of a dead waiter before realizing that the waiter was a German agent!

  • Sun., Feb. 18 | 2:00 PM

Isolated and bedridden with a number of psychosomatic ailments, Leona (Stanwyck) is increasingly driven to hysteria after she hears the plans for her impending murder over the phone. This memorable adaptation of Lucille Fletcher’s oft-produced radio play imaginatively creates complex backstories for both Leona and her ambitious, duplicitous husband Henry (Lancaster). Sorry Wrong Number’s “flashbacks provide an exemplary case of 1940s character shading” (David Bordwell).

  • Sun., Feb. 25 | 2:00 PM

The widowed and guilt-ridden Janet (Russell) sets out to meet the fellow platoon members of her late husband, who threw himself on a grenade to save his comrades’ lives. Struck by a car and overcome with hysterical paralysis, Janet is visited in the hospital by one of the men (Douglas) who tells her about himself and the other soldiers through a series of “vivid word pictures”. Dream therapy, shared visions, and Caesar’s spoof of Freudian analysis are just a few of the many wacky ingredients in this fascinating melodrama/love story, the sort of which “typify an era that encouraged risky storytelling choices” (David Bordwell).

  • Sun., Mar. 4 | 2:00 PM

In this terrific noir thriller from expert B-movie craftsman Lewis, Julia (Foch) answers a want ad placed by a wealthy (and crazy) family and finds herself the ultimate victim of identity theft!  A model of low-budget studio filmmaking with limited sets and locations, Julia Ross packs in a lot of story and excitement in 65 minutes. Preceded by Bugs Bunny in Little Red Riding Rabbit (1944, 7 min.).

  • Sun., Mar. 11 | 2:00 PM

Plagued by mysterious blackouts resulting from loud noises, serious composer Cregar loses it when his mistress Darnell betrays him. Square is a sensational vision of psychopathology with an evocative score by Bernard Herrmann, who also composed Cregar’s featured concerto. Cregar is even made up to look like Herrmann!