Cinema: The Original British New Wave
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Screenings in this series also take place at the
Egyptian Theatre May 19 - 31!
Post-war European cinema in the 1950s and early 1960s - especially movies hailing from
England, France and Italy - had some universal things in common contrary to their
obviously different stylistic and cultural approaches. Much like the impact of WWII on
American cinema (seen most dramatically in downbeat film noir, the Method Acting
revolution and later in 1960s New Hollywood), there was a fresh quest for emotional
truth, social relevance, realistic human behavior and down-to-earth stories about
individualistic, working class people. Italy really got there first in the late
1940s by way of the neo-realist movement, with both the UK and France erupting
simultaneously in the late 1950s with their own respective New Waves. In England,
"Angry Young Cinema," "Kitchen Sink Cinema," "Free Cinema"
were some of the descriptive titles for this startling explosion of tell-it-like-it-is
movies, virtually all filmed in high contrast, ashen black-and-white and often adapted
from theatrical (John Osborne, Harold Pinter, et.al.) or literary (Alan Silitoe, David
Storey, et.al) source material. Three monumental filmmakers Tony Richardson, Karel
Reisz and Lindsay Anderson - took the lead, first when they co-founded together the
groundbreaking film journal, Sequence, and subsequently when their directing
careers in film shorts and plays mushroomed into full-blown dramatic features. Tony
Richardson launched the notable initial foray in 1958 with LOOK BACK IN ANGER with Reisz
following in 1960 with SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING and Anderson in 1963 with THIS
SPORTING LIFE. There were also directors like Jack Clayton, originally known for more
traditional fare, who took advantage of the new climate of freedom with trailblazers like
ROOM AT THE TOP (1959). And we havent even mentioned yet other great directors like
John Schlesinger (BILLY LIAR, DARLING). The films became famous for their acting, too,
with thespians like Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Julie Christie, Tom Courtenay, Rita
Tushingham, Anne Bancroft, Peter Finch, Laurence Harvey, Dirk Bogarde, Mary Ure turning
out what remain, to this day, arguably their most accomplished, mesmerizing performances.
Please join us for this look back at some of the best films from the era, as well as the
final double feature (Lindsay Andersons IF
and Michael Winners ILL
NEVER FORGET WHATS IS NAME) representing Angry Young Cinema transformed into
an even more revolutionary, stream-of-consciousness organism.
Thursday, May 11 - 7:30 PM
Julie Christie/John Schlesinger
DARLING, 1965, Avco-Embassy & Stuart Lisell Films, 128
min. Dir. John Schlesinger. Julie Christie sets off fireworks in her Academy
Award-winning performance as a common girl in swinging London who achieves supermodel
stardom while breaking the hearts of intellectual writer, Dirk Bogarde and decadent
cad, Laurence Harvey. Finally, Christie seems destined for a fairy tale ending when
she weds Italian nobility - but sometimes fairy tales arent all theyre cracked
up to be. The costume design and Frederic Raphaels incisive script also won Oscars.
a slashing social satire and also a devastating spoof of the synthetic,
stomach-turning output of the television-advertising age-it is loaded with startling
expositions and lacerating wit."-- Bosley Crowther, New York Times
BILLY LIAR, 1963, Rialto Pictures,
98 min. John Schlesinger (MIDNIGHT COWBOY) had already directed two other films, but this
biting comedy-drama raised his visibility as a force to be reckoned with. Tom Courtenay
is wonderful as the frustrated, imaginative young man prone to flights of fancy. Which
also leads him to lie about nearly everything, whether he feels he needs to or not,
something that gets him in hot water with his stern father and his two very different
girlfriends, not to mention his undertaker bosses. His fast wit make his ambitions as
scriptwriter for a TV host seem almost plausible. But when finally confronted with an
opportunity to leave home and go to London with free-spirit friend, Julie Christie
(in her stunning feature film debut), were left to wonder whether Billys
Walter-Mitty-ish dreams are models for the future or an escape from reality.
>>Also showing at the Egyptian, May 20.
Wednesday, May 24 - 7:30 PM
Albert Finney/Karel Reisz Double
SATURDAY NIGHT & SUNDAY MORNING,
1960, Sony Repertory, 90 min. Karel Reisz had already directed the acclaimed
documentary WE ARE THE LAMBETH BOYS, when this smoldering tale of a smart-mouthed rake in
a Northern England factory town became his breakthrough debut feature. It likewise put a
spotlight on Albert Finney in his first leading role as Arthur, a human fireball
burning a swath through the female population, including married Brenda (Rachel Roberts)
and easy-going Doreen (Shirley Anne Field). Whether his career of seduction proves
his downfall or ultimate salvation, the audience must decide. Like many other
"kitchen sink" dramas, this is an unflinchingly honest depiction of the plight
of women in the working class world. >>Also
showing at the Egyptian, May 27.
THIS SPORTING LIFE, 1963,
Sony Repertory, 129 min. Director Lindsay Andersons astonishing debut feature
remains one of the most perfectly realized examples of the then-hitting-its-peak
Angry Young Cinema. Richard Harris gives his greatest performance as a defiant,
uncomplicated rugby star on his way to the pinnacle of the game. However, the sports
brutality, the behind-the-scenes politics as well as Harrisuncompromising honesty
slowly sour things. Even worse, his tragically-mismatched love affair with embittered
widow, Rachel Roberts, seems headed for an even harsher end. The films
desolate climax is guaranteed to coax moist eyes from even the most hardened viewer.
Harris won Best Actor at Cannes, and he and Roberts were both nominated for Oscars.
Produced by Karel Reisz. "
lucid, realistic stuff as tough and genuine as the
rough rugby star on whom it is centered."- A.H. Weiler, New York Times.
>>Also showing at the Egyptian, May 19.