February 1 – 11, 2001

American Cinematheque presents...

The Method: Revolution in American Screen Acting 1945-1970

"The Method helps you to observe, to see life, to look outside yourself." – Eva Marie Saint

"What do the Method-trained actors, from Garfield to DeNiro, have in common? They’re private, moody, intuitive, deeply sexual; their toughness is qualified by flashes of sensitivity and humor. They are finely tuned American drifters, outlaws and anti-heroes." – Foster Hirsch, A Method To Their Madness

Series Compiled by Dennis Bartok and Foster Hirsch. Additional Program Notes by Chris D.

 

Special Thanks to: Michael Schlesinger/COLUMBIA PICTURES REPERTORY; Marilee Womack/WARNER BROS. CLASSICS; John Kirk/MGM-UA; Rick Griffith, Marc Bovee & Chip Blake/20TH CENTURY FOX; Gene Persson; Cathye Clark/PARAMOUNT PICTURES REPERTORY; Rob Stone/UCLA FILM & TELEVISION ARCHIVE.

Tickets available 30 days in advance.

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When the first generation of Method-trained actors hit American movie screens in the late 1940’s – including brooding loners like Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Rod Steiger and James Dean, and beautiful, complex women like Eva Marie Saint, Geraldine Page, Carroll Baker, Kim Stanley, Shirley Knight and Joanne Woodward – it must have seemed like a seismic shock had hit the glossy, insular Hollywood studio style of acting. In truth, the Method had been developing for nearly 50 years, descended through Constantin Stanislavski’s work with the Moscow Art Theatre, and elaborated and Americanized by the short-lived Group Theatre in New York in the early 1930’s.

The Actors Studio, founded in October, 1947 by the legendary Elia Kazan with Cheryl Crawford and Robert Lewis, soon became the prime incubator for the Method, a style of acting that was "rough-and-ready, instinctive, improvisatory, proletarian, physically active and defiantly emotional" (Foster Hirsch). The impact of the Method wasn’t just limited to actors – future directors like Martin Ritt, Delbert Mann, Arthur Penn, Mark Rydell and others were heavily influenced by its almost-mythic appeal. Ironically, for an approach developed mainly in the theater, the Method reached its greatest success on film – post-war classics like A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, ON THE WATERFRONT, THE HUSTLER, A PLACE IN THE SUN and others caught Method acting at its finest, and actors like Robert DeNiro (RAGING BULL), Al Pacino (SCARFACE) and Ellen Burstyn (REQUIEM FOR A DREAM) have carried the Method up to the present.

Anna Strasberg, widow of Lee Strasberg is also planning to attend one or more of the screenings to participate in a post-screening discussion. Her schedule will be announced as it is confirmed.

Thursday, February 1 – 8:00 PM

Eva Marie Saint In Person!

ON THE WATERFRONT, 1954, Columbia, 108 min. Director Elia Kazan’s stunning adaptation of Budd Schulberg’s grueling account of Hoboken dock-worker life stars Marlon Brando as a has-been fighter who falls in love with the sister (Eva Marie Saint) of the "stool pigeon" he set up for union organizer Lee J. Cobb. Rod Steiger delivers a wrenching performance as the older brother who helped betray Brando’s chances as a boxer, with Karl Malden as the tough, working-class priest who serves as Brando’s conscience. Winner of 8 Oscars including Best Picture, Actor and Director. "Brando was as close to genius as I’ve ever met among actors." – Elia Kazan. Discussion following with Eva Marie Saint.

 

Friday, February 2 – 7:00 PM

Shirley Knight In-Person!

SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, 1962, MGM (Warners) 120 min. Dir. Richard Brooks. Geraldine Page delivers a harrowing, unstoppable performance (repeating her stage triumph in the role) as a vodka-swilling, aging movie stars who returns to a small Southern town with young gigolo Paul Newman. Shirley Knight co-stars as Newman’s former flame, in this seething, hothouse adaptation of one of Tennessee Williams’ finest plays. Discussion following with actress Shirley Knight.

 

Friday, February 2 – 9:45 PM

Brando & Garfield Double-Header!!

THE WILD ONE, 1954, Columbia, 79 min. Dir. Laslo Benedek. Marlon Brando roars into pop culture as one of the first anti-hero outsiders in American cinema. His biker gang turns a small burg upside-down when they drunkenly brawl with Lee Marvin’s rival wild bunch, only to have the tables turned when vigilante rule takes over. Based on an actual incident in a Southern California town in 1947.

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, 1946, MGM (Warners) 113 min. Director Tay Garnett weaves a smooth, steamy adaptation of the James Cain noir classic, with brooding John Garfield -- the first famous exponent of the Method -- as the aimless drifter drawn into a net of murder, when he falls for platinum bombshell Lana Turner at her husband’s roadside diner.

 

Saturday, February 3 – 5:00 PM

Director Delbert Mann In-Person!!

MARTY, 1955, MGM/UA, 91 min. Director Delbert Mann and writer Paddy Chayefsky expanded their earlier, award-winning NBC-TV drama into this equally-acclaimed feature film. Ernest Borgnine delivers an Oscar-winning performance (in the role originally played by Rod Steiger), as a blue-collar Bronx butcher who finds love late in life with schoolteacher Betsy Blair. Winner of Oscars for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. Discussion following with director Delbert Mann (schedule permitting).

 

Saturday, February 3 – 7:30 PM

Ultra-Rare Method Double Feature:

THE GODDESS, 1958, Columbia, 105 min. Dir. John Cromwell. Widely acknowledged as one of the finest actresses of her day, Method-trained Kim Stanley sadly made few films – the rarely-screened THE GODDESS is arguably her best. Inspired by the meteoric career of Marilyn Monroe, THE GODDESS follows Emily Ann Faulkner (Stanley) from her abused childhood to her supposedly-glamorous, booze-and-pill soaked life as a screen star. Brilliantly scripted by Paddy Chayefsky.

THE STRANGE ONE, 1957, Columbia, 99 min. Dir. Jack Garfein. Ben Gazzara has a field day in his screen debut as a warped military-school student with a brutal iron grip on his fellow classmates. Based on THE GRADUATE author Calder Willingham's novel End As A Man, THE STRANGE ONE is unique as one of the few projects developed by the Actors Studio (where it began as an off-Broadway play) that made it intact to the screen. With George Peppard, Pat Hingle. Director Jack Garfein is scheduled to come in from Paris to be present for a Q & A. He was one of the founders of the Actor's Studio on the West Coast. He was also married to Carroll Baker.

 

Sunday, February 4 - 5:00 PM

THE MIRACLE WORKER, 1962, MGM/UA, 106 min. Director Arthur Penn (BONNIE & CLYDE) taught at the Actors Studio from the 1950’s on – here, he coaxes beautiful, unsentimental performances from Patty Duke as blind, rebellious Helen Keller, and Anne Bancroft (in an Oscar-winning role) as fiercely dedicated teacher Annie Sullivan.

 

Sunday, February 4 - 7:30 PM

THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING, 1952, Columbia, 91 min. Dir. Fred Zinnemann. Based on Carson McCullers’ award-winning play, THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING stars Julie Harris in a remarkable, introspective performance as a 12-year old Southern girl traumatized by the approach of puberty and her older brother’s impending wedding. Ethel Waters is equally memorable as the family’s cook, with Brandon de Wilde as Harris’ owlish, next-door neighbor.

 

Friday, February 9 - 7:00 PM

THE HUSTLER, 1961, 20th Century Fox, 135 min. Paul Newman is unforgettable as the pool shark who shakes his loser persona when heartless gambler George C. Scott teaches him the psychology of winning. He realizes too late that obsessive victory over the unbeatable Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) is empty, since the cost is the destruction of his crippled alcoholic lover Piper Laurie, in this intense, back-alley poem by director Robert Rossen.

 

Friday, February 9 - 10:00 PM

Method Actress Double-Feature – Knight & Woodward!!

DUTCHMAN, 1966, Gene Persson Films, 56 min. Director Anthony Harvey scorches the screen with this version of LeRoi Jones' incendiary play about the racial and sexual tensions boiling over between anguished white woman Shirley Knight and complacent, middle class black man Al Freeman, Jr., a couple caught in the claustrophobic confines of a NYC subway car.

THE STRIPPER, 1963, 20th Century Fox, 95 min. Franklin Schaffner's (PAPILLON) debut film as director is probably the least known and most underrated of William Inge's poignant studies of vulnerable sensuality. Joanne Woodward is quietly, mesmerizingly beautiful as an aging stripper stranded in the emotional vacuum of a small town and driven by loneliness into the arms of her benefactor Clare Trevor’s teenage son. With Richard Beymer, Gypsy Rose Lee.

 

Saturday, February 10 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Sunday, February 11 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Historic Tours of the Egyptian Theatre: Join us for an in-depth, behind-the-scenes tour of the historic, 1922 Egyptian Theatre. Find out how the Egyptian brought the stars to Hollywood. See what it would have been like to be in a Grauman stage show with a visit to the dressing rooms and singers’ boxes. Discover the painstaking restoration work and the marriage of modern technology with a landmark of Hollywood history. Check out our state-of-the-art projection booth and more! For the total "Old Hollywood" experience, combine a tour and a screening of FOREVER HOLLYWOOD (11:00 AM on both days). Tour tickets: $7 Adults; $5 under 12 years/over 65. Cinematheque Members $10; Tour & Film Combo $10.

 

Saturday, February 10 - 5:00 PM

SOMETHING WILD, 1961, MGM/UA, 112 min. Dir. Jack Garfein. Rarely-screened, claustrophobically intense drama of a traumatized rape victim (Carroll Baker, in one of her most fearless performances) and the blue-collar garage mechanic (1950’s thug supreme Ralph Meeker) who tries to draw her out of her confused, isolated shell of existence. Expressionist photography by the legendary Eugen Shuftan (METROPOLIS), with a score by noted composer Aaron Copland.  Director Jack Garfein is scheduled to come in from Paris to be present for a Q & A. He was one of the founders of the Actor's Studio on the West Coast. He was also married to Carroll Baker.

 

Saturday, February 10 - 7:45 PM

Tennessee Williams Double Feature!!

THE FUGITIVE KIND, 1959, MGM/UA, 135 min. Director Sidney Lumet conjures a sensual fever dream from Tennessee Williams intoxicating southern gothic Orpheus Descending. Itinerant hustler Marlon Brando is the ultimate snakeskin-clad loner who drifts into a redneck backwater town and falls into a torrid affair with fellow outcast Anna Magnani, the middle-aged immigrant wife of hate-crippled Victor Jory. Sparks fly from a pyrotechnic cast that also includes Joanne Woodward and Maureen Stapleton.

SUMMER AND SMOKE, 1961, Paramount, 118 min. Geraldine Page glows with feverish intensity as the lonely spinster who has a spiritual affinity for next-door doctor and libertine Laurence Harvey, in director Peter Glenville's torrid adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ drama of inhibitions being swept aside in turn-of-the-century Mississippi. With Una Merkel, John McIntire, Rita Moreno, Thomas Gomez.

 

Sunday, February 11 - 5:00 PM

Shelley Winters In-Person!!

A PLACE IN THE SUN, 1951, Paramount, 122 min. Montgomery Clift delivers arguably his finest performance as a tormented young man in love with socialite Elizabeth Taylor, but still weighed down by his past fling with factory girl Shelley Winters. Superb, heartbreaking adaptation by director George Stevens of novelist Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy. Discussion following with actress Shelley Winters (schedule permitting).

 

Sunday, February 11 - 7:45 PM

Robert Forster in person!

REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE, 1967, Warner Bros., 108 min. Carson McCullers’ novel becomes, in director John Huston's hands, a perversely perceptive study of how repression cultivates poisonous emotional fetishes. Marlon Brando is the rigid southern military officer married to volatile Elizabeth Taylor. but obsessed with studly soldier Robert Forster. With Julie Harris, Brian Keith. Discussion with Robert Forster in person!