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American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre Presents...
Movies on the Big Screen Since 1940!
1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street in Santa Monica

Click to print Page 1 or Page 2 or Full Text of an January Calendar!
Series compiled by: Chris D, Gwen Deglise.

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Special Thanks to: Marilee Womack/WARNER BROS.; Emily Horn and Barry Allen/PARAMOUNT; Caitlin Robertson/20th CENTURY FOX; Michael Schlesinger/SONY REPERTORY; Dennis Bartok.

 

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SOLD OUT SCREENINGS: There will be a waiting line for Sold Out screenings. Tickets often become available at the door the night of an event.

Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.

All guests are subject to availability. The Cinematheque will offer a refund due to guest cancellations only IF the refund transaction is complete PRIOR to the start of the show.

 

 

Tickets are $10 general admission unless noted otherwise.
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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 newly re-opened and renovated Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica and at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Barry Gerber. Aero Theatre (c) 2004.

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<< January 3 - 7, 2007 >>>

In A Lonely Place - The Rebellious Cinema of Nicholas Ray


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This is an Aero Theatre Exclusive!

 

Like few American directors before or since, Nicholas Ray was capable of imbuing his films with the violent, gleeful, contradictory impulses of his own personality. But his color-saturated stories of abusive men and morally stronger women, of Americans caught in the awful throes of re-imagining themselves, as in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, BIGGER THAN LIFE, THE LUSTY MEN (sadly unavailable for screening) or WIND ACROSS THE EVERGLADES, have to be seen on the Wide, Wide Screen to appreciate why Ray remains such an enigma.

Born in Wisconsin in 1911, Ray spent his early years soaking up a staggering array of influences: studying architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, working with Elia Kazan in New York’s Theatre of Action, promoting folk music with Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax. He directed his first film, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1948), working with producer John Houseman. Ray soon gained a reputation for his unique, intuitive rapport with actors in such films as IN A LONELY PLACE and ON DANGEROUS GROUND, and also for his combative, almost sado-masochistic relationship with the Hollywood establishment. Although his strangest, most daring (and some say greatest) film came in 1954 with the surreal Joan Crawford western, JOHNNY GUITAR, it was the epochal REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) that was his most widely-acclaimed success. His unique friendship with James Dean became the stuff of legend, but it was Ray’s discovery of the widescreen Cinemascope format on REBEL that helped shape the rest of his career. Sadly, almost inevitably, Ray quit Hollywood in the early 1960’s (or, more likely, Hollywood quit him). He spent the rest of his creative years as a teacher, inspiring a new generation of filmmakers including Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders. Nicholas Ray died in New York in 1979.

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 3 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, 1948, Warner Bros., 95 min. Nicholas Ray’s directorial debut (and his own favorite) is a deeply-felt tale of young love struggling to survive in a cruel, unforgiving world. Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell are memorable as star-crossed lovers Bowie and Keechie in this darkly romantic and melancholy adaptation of Edward Anderson’s depression-era crime classic Thieves Like Us. In Ray’s hands, it’s Romeo and Juliet for the film noir era. Co-starring a wonderfully sociopathic Howard da Silva. NOT ON DVD.

ON DANGEROUS GROUND, 1952, Warner Bros., 82 min. Dir. Nicholas Ray. A violent, embittered metro cop (Robert Ryan) in hot water with his boss gets sent upstate to help with a small town manhunt. The search leads him into a fateful confrontation with his own off-limits heart when he falls in love with the fugitive’s blind sister (Ida Lupino). Sterling contributions all around: A.I. Bezzerides’ savvy script, Ray’s vigorous direction, Bernard Herrmann’s magnificent, brassy score, and Ryan’s ferocious performance make this one of film noir’s most affecting statements about anger and alienation in the big city. The contrast between city and country, brutality and tenderness is pure Ray.

 

 

Thursday, January 4 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

BIGGER THAN LIFE, 1956, 20th Century Fox, 95 min. Director Nicholas Ray’s subversively twisted portrait of suburban life centers on a teacher (James Mason) who becomes addicted to cortisone and experiences visionary, tyrannical delusions. Ray’s superb use of color and shot composition reaches a deliriously surreal intensity here that, at times, borders on the psychedelic. In addition to one of Mason’s finest performances, there’s also standout work from co-stars Barbara Rush and Walter Matthau. A must for Ray fans. NOT ON DVD.

PARTY GIRL, 1958, Warner Bros., 99 min. Director Nicholas Ray’s ultra-stylish homage to 1930’s gangster films revolves around an ice-cold chorus girl (Cyd Charisse) and her equally cynical lawyer boyfriend (Robert Taylor) who want to sever their ties to organized crime. But the film really belongs to Ray’s stunning use of color and the widescreen as well as Lee J. Cobb in a savage caricature of a Capone-like mobster. NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Friday, January 5 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

IN A LONELY PLACE, 1950, Sony Repertory, 94 min. Dir. Nicholas Ray. A brilliant, moody drama of a screenwriter (Humphrey Bogart) accused of murder, and the starlet (Gloria Grahame) afraid to trust him. On one level, a poisonous rejection of all things Hollywood; on another, a love triangle of almost demonic intensity between the director and his two stars. Although Dorothy B. Hughes’ original novel was also possessed of a desolate ending, Ray’s equally downbeat climax was quite different and undoubtedly did not find favor with the studio powers-that-be. Co-starring Frank Lovejoy.

BITTER VICTORY, 1957, Sony Repertory, 103 min. Richard Burton is a fatalistic captain at odds with his indecisive and inexperienced superior, a timid major played by Curt Jurgens, as they undertake a dangerous mission across the desert to steal secret documents from the Nazis during WWII. Burton had left Jurgens’ beautiful wife, Ruth Roman, heartbroken years before, and this association further poisons the relationship between the two officers. One of Nicholas Ray’s most underrated and most beautifully directed masterworks is full of subtle touches that build inexorably to a shattering and tragic conclusion. Originally cut by over 20 minutes in America, this is the restored and original uncut version. Writing about BITTER VICTORY in Cahiers du Cinema, Jean Luc Godard famously declared "Henceforth there is cinema. And the cinema is Nicholas Ray."

 

 

 

Saturday, January 6 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

JOHNNY GUITAR, 1954, Republic (Paramount), 110 min. Joan Crawford is headstrong Vienna, a saloon-owner waiting for the railroad to reach her town. But her friendship with charming outlaw, The Dancing Kid (Scott Brady) jeopardizes her standing in the local community. If things weren’t bad enough, the uptight landowners are led by vindictively jealous Emma (a frightening Mercedes McCambridge) who will do anything to repress her yen for The Kid, even if she has to lynch half the town to do it. Enter Vienna’s returning old flame, Johnny (Sterling Hayden), a fast-draw who has given up guns for a guitar! Only director Nicholas Ray could pull off something so brazen - a color-coded, violent, romantic tall tale rife with allegorical references to the rabid right wing of 1950’s America. A stunning achievement that comes off like a crazy quilt collaboration between Luis Bunuel, Anthony Mann and Vincente Minelli! Victor Young did the lush score with Peggy Lee singing the memorably torrid theme song. Co-starring Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine. NOT ON DVD.

TRUE STORY OF JESSE JAMES, 1957, 20th Century Fox, 92 min. Director Nicholas Ray was hamstrung by studio interference in his remake of the Tyrone Power-starring original, but there are still enough off-kilter touches as well as the filmmaker’s trademark brilliant use of color to make it more than worthwhile viewing. This time around, Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter star as Jesse and Frank James respectively, with a great supporting cast that also includes Agnes Moorehead, John Carradine, Alan Hale, Jr. and Hope Lange. NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Sunday, January 7 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, 1955, Warner Bros., 111 min. Director Nicholas Ray’s awesome, mythic saga of teen disobedience and alienation in 1950’s America made James Dean and co-star Natalie Wood instant cultural icons. Ray’s use of color and the Cinemascope screen remains groundbreaking to this day, rivaling Hitchcock for striking frame compositions and bold symbolism. Co-starring Sal Mineo, Jim Backus, Corey Allen, Dennis Hopper. "...the film still breathes like a hurt, brooding animal. It's an indelible vision of a pretty 1950s America with a searing crack in it… a movie so audacious it can only be poetry, a kind of cinematic free verse…" – Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle

KNOCK ON ANY DOOR, 1949, Sony Repertory, 100 min. Director Nicholas Ray’s second picture was produced by its star, Humphrey Bogart’s Santana Productions, and it mirrors the kind of gutsy social realism both men favored in their storytelling. It’s remarkably candid and gritty for the time period as it follows delinquent John Derek and his gutter rat chums who have shot a cop in the course of a robbery. Bogart’s character, a successful attorney who extricated himself from toxic ghetto roots, feels obligated to defend Derek. Ray poses eternal questions about character versus environment, and how much responsibilty each side bears for rampant urban crime. Although Bogart and Ray obviously lean towards the latter as being a big part of the problem, there are no easy answers here. The film compares favorably with other socially conscious noirs of the 1950’s such as NO WAY OUT and EDGE OF THE CITY, and is an intriguing foreshadow of Ray’s later work with James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. NOT ON DVD.