FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: July 16, 1999

Contact: Margot Gerber

Tel.: 323/461-2020 ext. 115

 

 AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE PRESENTS A TRIBUTE TO THE LEGENDARY DIRECTOR

OF THE BLACK CAT AND DETOUR WITH

STRANGE ILLUSIONS: THE FILMS OF EDGAR G. ULMER

Daughter Ariane Ulmer Cipes in-person, plus brand new 35 mm prints of

BLUEBEARD,

THE WIFE OF MONTE CRISTO and THE STRANGE WOMAN

August 4 - 15, 1999

HOLLYWOOD – The American Cinematheque presents STRANGE ILLUSIONS: THE FILMS OF EDGAR G. ULMER (August 4-15, 1999), a tribute to Edgar G. Ulmer (1904 -1972), the legendary director of THE BLACK CAT and DETOUR at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. An extraordinary master of light and shadow, Expressionist wunderkind and permanent Hollywood outlaw, Ulmer has gained a reputation as one of the most innovative and resourceful low-budget filmmakers in cinema history. Peter Bogdanovich said of Ulmer, "Nobody ever made good pictures faster or for less money than Edgar G. Ulmer." After working with some of his fellow Austro-German emigrs like Lang, Lubitsch, Murnau, von Stroheim and Siodmak as a production designer, Ulmer spent a brief career at Universal where he directed the awesome, Bauhaus-inspired THE BLACK CAT (1934) before plunging into the zero-budget world of Poverty Row studios like PRC ("It had a nice family feeling, not too much interference" -- Ulmer). Working in every imaginable genre feverish noirs and thrillers (DETOUR, BLUEBEARD), baroque sci-fi (THE MAN FROM PLANET X), black musicals, Yiddish dramas (GREEN FIELDS, THE LIGHT AHEAD), Army training shorts and venereal disease films, Ulmer turned budgetary limitations on their head, using "dreamlike super-impositions, twisted perspectives, Dutch angles and stilted CALIGARI-like sets" (Michael Henry Wilson). His best pictures are odd, relentless gems, carved out of pure imagination. This series was made possible by Ulmer’s tireless champion, daughter Arianne Ulmer Cipes, who is helping to restore her father’s legacy through the Edgar G. Ulmer Preservation Corp. All screenings are at the newly renovated Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the historic Egyptian (6712 Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Las Palmas) in Hollywood.

Wednesday, August 4, 1999

The Wednesday, August 4th program begins at 8:00 PM with a double feature that starts with a screening of a brand new 35 mm print of BLUEBEARD (1944, PRC, 73 min.), the story of frustrated painter and puppet-master John Carradine, who roams the fog-bound streets of Paris strangling innocent women, in this macabre masterpiece. "I was very much influenced at the time by Grand Guignol -- which took me 20 years to get out of my system!" -- Ulmer. Print courtesy of the Cinematheque Francaise. Next, is a screening of a restored 35 mm print of STRANGE ILLUSION (1945, PRC, 80 min.). Ulmer’s inspired remake of Hamlet stars James Lydon as a young man tormented by dreams of his dead father until he realizes that too-suave Warren Williams is out for his mother’s money, and has himself committed to a mental institution to prove his case. "Few cared that Ulmer had chosen the most impossible of terms, and had functioned as a true artist" -- Myron Meisel.

Discussion following with Arianne Ulmer Cipes and BLUEBEARD puppeteer Bob Baker.

Thursday, August 5, 1999

The Thursday, August 5th program begins at 8:00 PM with a double feature of

new 35 mm prints of Ulmer's ultra-rare Yiddish films. First is GREEN FIELDS

(1937, 95 min.), co-directed with Jacob Ben-Ami. Ulmer’s first Yiddish

picture (lovingly restored by the National Center for Jewish Film) is a

luminous, Chagall-like portrait of a Talmudic scholar (Michael Goldstein)

whose spirit is restored when he visits the countryside. Next is THE LIGHT

AHEAD (1939, 94 min.) starring David Opatoshu and Helen Beverly as a

crippled young man and his blind sweetheart living in the impoverished

Eastern European shtetls. Lost for years until it was rediscovered by the

National Center for Jewish Film, LIGHT AHEAD emerges as one of Ulmer’s major

Expressionist works. "A haunting poem of metaphysical dread and Jewish

suffering" -- Bret Wood.

Friday, August 6, 1999

The Friday, August 6th program begins at 7:00 PM with a screening of a

restored 35 mm print of the Ulmer classic, THE BLACK CAT (1934, Universal,

65 min.). Cat-fearing Bela Lugosi pursues devil-worshipping Boris Karloff

through his crazed, Bauhaus-on-acid mansion, sitting atop the bodies of

thousands of WW I vets. "Every time I had Karloff come in the door, he

would open it and say ‘Here comes the heavy.’ He was a very lovely man." --

Ulmer. Following at 8:45 PM is a double feature beginning with a brand new

35 mm print of THE WIFE OF MONTE CRISTO (1946, PRC, 78 min.), an

entertaining yarn about the Count’s resourceful wife (the stunning Lenore

Aubert) who steps in as a Masked Avenger and saves plague-stricken Paris

from a web of bogus drug-peddlers. "The only one that took two weeks to

shoot was WIFE OF MONTE CRISTO, because that was a BIG picture" -- Ulmer.

Next is, THE PIRATES OF CAPRI (1949, Edgar G. Ulmer Preservation Corp/Kyra

Pahlen, 94 min., in which Scarlet Pimpernel-clone Louis Hayward plays a

court fop by day and the avenging pirate Scirocco by night. Ulmer’s

breathless swashbuckler features a score by future Fellini-composer Nino

Rota.

Saturday, August 7, 1999

The Saturday, August 7th program begins at 4:00 PM with a screening of the

only surviving print of CARNEGIE HALL (1947, 134 min.) in which Ulmer lines

up the greatest classical talents of the day -- from conductors Leopold

Stokowski and Fritz Reiner, to pianist Artur Rubinstein and legendary

violinist Jascha Heifetz to tell the story of a boy-who-wants-to-play-jazz-against-mother’s-wishes.

Following at 6:45 PM is a screening of the noir B-movie classic DETOUR (1946, 70 min.).

Hitchhiking to Hollywood, loser Tom Neal takes several wrong turns and ends

up on the expressway to hell -- Ann Savage plays the vixenish vagabond who

ushers him there. She ends up paying a stiff toll herself. Discussion

following with actress Ann Savage and Arianne Ulmer Cipes, moderated by

Eddie Muller. Following at 8:45 PM, is an Ultra-Ulmer Sci-Fi Double Feature

beginning with THE MAN FROM PLANET X (1951, MGM/UA, 70 min.) with Margaret

Field. Ulmer’s hallucinatory sci-fi flick stars Robert Clarke as a reporter

investigating the alien invasion of the Scottish moors where he runs smack

into scheming scientist William Schallert. "A U.F.A. fantasia filled with

expressionist tropes -- the spaceship that blinks like a jack-o’-lantern,

the lonely castle on the blasted moor" -- J. Hoberman, Village Voice. Next

is, DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL (1957, 71 min.), a doom-laden quickie in which

werewolf-to-be Gloria Talbott finds out her dad was the notorious Dr. Jekyll

much to the alarm of boyfriend John Agar and the local villagers. "Anyone

who loves cinema must be moved by THE DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL" -- Andrew

Sarris. Discussion following with MAN FROM PLANET X star Robert Clarke.

Sunday, August 8, 1999

The Sunday, August 8th program begins at 4:00 PM with HANNIBAL (1960,

Warner Bros., 103 min.), a costume epic starring Victor Mature as the

Carthaginian general who tackles Rome with 12,000 extras and a herd of

elephants. Back in 1960, Variety said of the film, "HANNIBAL contains

enough sheer spectacle, gore and quasi-historical action to excite those

still willing to meet such films on their own primitive level." Following

at 6:15 PM is a double feature beginning with the US Premiere of a restored

35 mm print of PEOPLE ON SUNDAY (MENSCHEN AM SONNTAG) (1929, 59 min.). A

true landmark in film history, this neo-realist story of a young taxi-driver

and his girlfriend on a Sunday outing was co-directed by Ulmer with friend

Robert Siodmak, scripted by Billy Wilder, and photographed by the great

Eugen Schfftan with the help of Fred Zinnemann. Our thanks to the British

Film Institute for allowing us to screen this brand-new print of the film

with English-intertitles. Next is, a restored 35 mm print of DAMAGED LIVES

(1933, 69 min.). When young husband Lyman Williams strays from the path, he

and wife Diane Sinclair end up getting a venereal disease lecture, in Ulmer’

s suitably-deranged anti-syphilis film (made for the American Social Hygiene

Society). DAMAGED LIVES was widely banned in the U.S. but it led to Ulmer

directing the even-stranger THE BLACK CAT the next year at Universal.

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

The Wednesday, August 11th program begins at 8:00 PM with a double feature

beginning with CLUB HAVANA (1945, Films Around the World, 62 min.). Ulmer’s low-budget

hybrid of GRAND HOTEL and noir fatalism stars DETOUR’s Tom Neal as yet

another unlucky schlemiel trying to escape the dreamlike Club Havana. "I

adored making CLUB HAVANA -- I loved it! I had no script ..." -- Ulmer.

Filmed in deep chiarascuro by Ulmer’s favorite cameraman Eugen Schfftan.

Next is, MOON OVER HARLEM (1939, 80 min.) with Bud Harris and Cora Green.

Shot in four days in a cigar warehouse, Ulmer’s black gangster/musical was

light years ahead of its time. Look for jazz great Sidney Bechet blowing

clarinet. "In MOON OVER HARLEM I tried for the first time what was later

called the Rossellini style: we didn’t use actors, we used real people, and

they were very natural" -- Ulmer.

Friday, August 13, 1999

The Friday, August 13th program begins at 7:00 PM with BEYOND THE TIME

BARRIER (1960, MGM/UA, 75 min.). High-testosterone pilot Robert Clarke

pushes his jet past 5,000 mph and finds himself catapulted into a crumbling,

plague-ridden Utopia of Tomorrow. Shot at a futuristic exhibit at the Texas

State Fairgrounds (along with THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN), TIME BARRIER

co-stars Ulmer’s daughter as the villainous Markova. "The mutants were

basically rubber bathing caps on these poor people’s heads!" -- Arianne

Ulmer. Discussion following with actress Arianne Ulmer Cipes. Following at

9:00 PM is a double feature beginning with a screening of a brand new 35 mm

print of THE STRANGE WOMAN (1946, 100 min.). Black widow Hedy Lamarr lures

suitors George Sanders and Gene Lockhart to destruction and drives stepson

Louis Heyward to suicide before God tracks her down, in Ulmer’s fascinating

portrait of avarice and depravity in 1820’s America. Followed by, HER

SISTER’S SECRET (1946, Films Around the World, 85 min.). The most

Ophuls-like of Ulmer’s films (he used future LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

cameraman Franz Planer), HER SISTER’S SECRET stars Nancy Coleman as a

pregnant young woman who switches identities with New York sister Margaret

Lindsay to protect her unborn child from shame.

Saturday, August 14, 1999

The Saturday, August 14th program begins at 6:00 PM with a double feature

which starts with Ulmer’s rarest film THE NAKED VENUS (1958, 74 min.).

Daughter Arianne stars as a lawyer defending the rights of nudists

everywhere. Then the judge demands to see evidence! Long credited to

"Gaston Hakim" as director, NAKED VENUS screens here in the only surviving

35 mm. print! Next is, GIRLS IN CHAINS (1943, PRC, 70 min.). Sold on the

title alone, GIRLS IN CHAINS is a detective yarn/bad gal picture starring

Arline Judge as a reform school teacher working with detective Roger Clark

to ferret out a killer. Discussion following with NAKED VENUS co-star

Arianne Ulmer Cipes. Following at 9:15 PM, is a double feature beginning

with a screening of a rare 35 mm. print of MURDER IS MY BEAT (1955, Warner

Bros., 77 min.). Next to DETOUR, this is Ulmer’s finest noir. Police

detective Paul Langton finds himself sucked into a chaotic whirlpool of

blackmail, missing persons and torched corpses while fighting for the

innocence of gal-pal Barbara Payton. Next is, THE NAKED DAWN (1955,

Universal, 82 min.). One of Ulmer’s personal favorites, NAKED DAWN stars Arthur Kennedy as an aging

Mexican bandido who draws a young farmer (Eugene Iglesias) and his wife into

a inescapable circle of deceit, regret and absolution. "Ulmer loved both:

the saints and the pariahs." -- Michael Henry Wilson.

Sunday, August 15, 1999

The Sunday, August 15th program begins at 4:00 PM with a screening of a rare

35 mm print of RUTHLESS (1948, 104 min.). "I’m going far, fast and alone,"

snarls Grade-A heel Zachary Scott, taking revenge on the world for being

abandoned by his mother. Diana Lynn co-stars as the unlucky girl who falls

for Scott’s charms, with poisonous Sydney Greenstreet as the snake who

finally stops him cold, in Ulmer’s brilliant, over-the-top version of

CITIZEN KANE. Print courtesy of the British Film Institute. Discussion

following with Edgar Ulmer’s wife and frequent collaborator, Shirley Castle

Ulmer. Following at 6:30 PM is a double feature that begins with a rare 35

mm print of THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN (1960, MGM/UA, 60 min.) in which

former Army major James Griffith springs vicious con Douglas Kennedy so he

can steal nuclear material for scientist Ivan Triesault’s invisible-ray

machine -- the rest is film history. Released on a 1960 double-bill with

GET OUTTA TOWN. Followed by, the uncut European version of THE CAVERN (1965,

100 min.), a claustrophobic, psychological nailbiter in which six soldiers

and one woman (the radiant Rosanna Schiaffino) are trapped for months in an

underground munitions dump. Ulmer’s last picture and a fitting swan-song to

one of Hollywood’s wildest, most prolific careers. With standout

performances by John Saxon, Brian Ahern and a young Larry Hagman.

The Edgar G. Ulmer Preservayion Corp. is a non-profit, Public Benefit

Corporation 501 (3) committed to the preservation and propagation of the

work of independent, pioneering filmmakers. For more information phone or

fax 818.789.2477 or e-mail aucipes@aol.com

A complete calendar/flyer listing of these films has been mailed to you.

BLACK & WHITE PHOTOS AND PRESS KITS ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

WE DO NOT HAVE GUARANTEED PRESS PASSES TO PUBLIC SCREENINGS. IT IS

RECOMMENDED THAT YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ADVANCE PRESS SCREENINGS.

REQUESTS FOR PRESS TICKETS TO PUBLIC SCREENINGS MUST BE IN WRITING AND

SHOULD BE FAXED TO 323.461.9737 ATTN: MARGOT GERBER, 24 HOURS PRIOR TO SHOW

TIME.

ADVANCE PRESS SCREENINGS WILL BE SCHEDULED FOR SOME TITLES. MOST FILMS WILL

ALSO BE AVAILABLE ON VIDEOTAPE (NTSC) AT THE OFFICES OF THE AMERICAN

CINEMATHEQUE CALL 323.461-2020 ext. 115 or 116 TO SCHEDULE SCREENINGS.

Tapes Available:

THE WIFE OF MONTE CRISTO

MOON OVER HARLEM

THE MAN FROM PLANET X

NAKED VENUS

BEYOND THE BARRIER

DETOUR

THE BLACK CAT

GREEN FIELDS

THE LIGHT AHEAD

THE PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.

Upcoming at the American Cinematheque:

Sleep (LA Premiere of new independent feature) – August 12

Twisted Hollywood Shorts – August 25

The Basement & The Kitchen (LA Premiere of new independent feature) - August 26

The Films of Natalie Wood – September 2 – 12

The Films of Russ Meyer – September 16 - 25