American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre Presents...
Making Movie History for 80 Years!

Max Rosenberg was scheduled to join us to speak after AT THE EARTH's CORE which he produced. The screening is now dedicated to his memory.

Click Here To Print a  Schedule for the 5th Annual Fantasy, Horror & Science Fiction Festival.

Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $8 general admission unless noted otherwise.
Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.
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The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Randall Michelson. Detail of Egyptian Theatre Ceiling.

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<<< June 2004 >>>

An Appreciation of Max Rosenberg

 

We’re very saddened to learn of the death of a dear friend of the American Cinematheque, legendary producer Max Rosenberg, who passed away on June 14th in Los Angeles after a short illness. Co-founder of Amicus Productions, Max brought his superb literary taste, hard-headed business savvy and a devilish flair for the surreal and absurd to such horror, supernatural and fantasy classics as TALES FROM THE CRYPT, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, DR. TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS, AT THE EARTH’S CORE, CITY OF THE DEAD and SCREAM & SCREAM AGAIN, pioneering rock and pop music films ROCK, ROCK, ROCK, JAMBOREE and IT’S TRAD, DAD, as well as fascinating non-genre movies including THE BIRTHDAY PARTY (based on Harold Pinter’s acclaimed stage play), THE MIND OF MR. SOAMES and LANGRISHE GO DOWN, to name just a few. Over the past few years, Cinematheque audiences at the Egyptian had the pleasure (and occasionally, the shock) of hearing Max hold court about his colorful career. Max never pulled his punches, and he was as blunt and critical of his own work as he was of his colleague’s: after a screening of a newly restored print of THE MIND OF MR. SOAMES, Max broke up the audience by saying, the ending stinks, doesn’t it?

If anything, Max was too modest about his own achievements. Born in 1914 in the Bronx, the son of "Manhattan’s least successful furrier" as he liked to quip, Max worked initially as a lawyer before breaking into the film business with the nostalgic compilation film THE GOOD OLD DAYS in 1943; Max bought up a bunch of old newsreel footage from the turn of the century for $10,000, and the movie grossed many times that amount, launching his career. Later, Max formed a distribution company with equally legendary producer Joseph E. Levine, bringing arthouse classics such as THE BLUE ANGEL and OPEN CITY to the U.S. for the first time. In the mid-1950’s, he hooked up with writer/producer Milton Subotsky to produce a series of scientific programs for children’s TV. Operating under the names Vanguard and Rearguard Productions, Max and Milton went on to make the classic drive-in rock movie ROCK, ROCK, ROCK with Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon and Tuesday Weld. But it was their work co-producing the seminal THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN with Hammer Films in the U.K. that opened the door to the gothic horror film revival in the late 50’s and 60’s. The two men founded Amicus Productions in 1962 and relocated to England, where the available talent pool of actors, writers and technicians and the tax incentives for independent producers, provided a fertile climate.

Amicus ("friendship" in Latin) became, along with A.I.P., Hammer Films and Tigon, one of the most consistently successful producers of horror films throughout the 1960’s and into the 70’s. While Amicus worked in many different styles, their forte was the anthology horror film, beginning with DR. TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS in 1964. Amicus prided themselves on working with established actors such as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Burgess Meredith, Jack Palance and Joan Collins, while also giving breaks to up-and-coming stars including Donald Sutherland and Terence Stamp. "Psycho" author Robert Bloch was brought in to script a number of the best Amicus films. The company also fostered young filmmakers such as Richard Lester (IT’S TRAD, DAD) and William Friedkin (THE BIRTHDAY PARTY). Amicus continued successfully into the 1970’s after several of its compatriots had gone into decline, putting out entertaining fantasy films such as AT THE EARTH’S CORE (screening on August 8th at the Egyptian Theatre in a new 35 mm. print in Max’s honor) and THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT, along with arguably their single best omnibus horror film TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972).

Eventually, Max and Milton Subotsky went their separate ways in the late 1970’s. Max continued working on low-budget genre films such as BLOODY BIRTHDAY and HOMEWORK, and overseeing the rich legacy of the Amicus Films catalogue, which has recently seen a renaissance through DVD releases of such titles as THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD.

With his mischievous smile, his elegant fashion sense, and his treasure trove of anecdotes and stories of over six decades in the film business, Max was an unforgettable figure. In an increasingly cookie-cutter industry dominated by big budget, visual F/X driven blockbuster’s, Max’s movies - and his sensibility - seem refreshingly hand-crafted. He may have been the son of "Manhattan’s least successful furrier" - but Max certainly succeeded in crafting many dark, beautiful movie gems of his own.

He will be sorely missed.

-- Dennis Bartok, American Cinematheque