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Curator’s Choice

This will be my last calendar as Acting Curator of the Harvard Film Archive. Thank you to my extraordinarily hard-working staff (Steffen Pierce, Katie Trainor, Peter Dowd, Bill Westfall), the ace projectionists (Steve Livernash, Clayton Mattos), calendar designer John dale, and the dedicated box-office people and interns. I will miss being at the HFA, and I thank the VES Department for offering me the chance to curate. And certainly good luck to the new Curator.

My last urgings: everyone attend lots of movies of my favorite filmmaker in the world, John Ford, who also made my favorite film in the world, The Searchers. And I’ve added a bunch of movies that, before I go, I’d like to watch in 35mm on the big screen. Several I saw years ago, others never. I’m making no claims for their importance (most of them aren’t important), only that, to this movie-crazy fan, they sound damned enjoyable. Four of the films came out in the 1950s, the greatest era in the history of cinema.

Join me, four Tuesdays in June.--Gerald Peary


June 8 (Tuesday) 7pm

The Connection

Directed by Shirley Clarke
USA 1961, b/w, 35mm, 103 min.
with William Redfield, Carl Lee, Roscoe Lee Brown

Decades before Sundance, a genuinely independent feature by maverick Shirley Clarke, from the Jack Gelber Off-Broadway drama. A bunch of junkies stand around waiting for "the man" while a documentarian (Redfield) films their activity. Every once in a while, some of the bunch play some jazz. One of these jazzmen (who appeared in the play) is sax maestro Jackie McLean.

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June 8 (Tuseday) 9:15pm

The Bowery

Directed by Raoul Walsh
USA 1933, b/w, 35mm, 90 min.
with Beery, Ray, Raft, Cooper

New York City in the 1890s, and a swell early 1930s cast: Wallace Beery, Fay Wray, Jackie Cooper, and George Raft, who plays Steve Brodie, the fool who leapt off the Brooklyn Bridge. Relaxed direction is by Raoul Walsh (High Sierra, White Heat), among America’s most unappreciated filmmakers.

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June 15 (Tuesday) 7pm

The Sleeping Tiger

Directed by Joseph Losey
Britain 1954, b/w, 35mm, 89 min.

with Bogarde, Alexander Knox, Alexis Smith

While Elia Kazan pointed fingers and kept working in Hollywood, blacklisted Joseph Losey went into exile in England and made this film under the forced alias of Victor Hanbury. A psychiatrist (Knox) takes a criminal (Bogarde) into his home, much to the consternation of his wife (Smith). The sexual fireworks that follow are an obvious prefigurement of the later Losey/Bogarde classic, The Servant. (The astonishing Dirk Bogarde starred in five Losey films.)

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June 15 (Tuesday) 9pm

Time Without Pity

Directed by Joseph Losey
Britain 1957 b/w, 35mm, 88 min.

with Michael Redgrave, Ann Todd, Alec McCowen, Peter Cushing

More unseen Losey. A tense, anti-capital punishment thriller, in which an alcoholic man (Redgrave) has twenty-four hours to prove the innocence of his son (McCowen). Losey: "The subject was a phony subject; visually it was exciting. It was the first of my films to get recognition in France."

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June 22 (Tuesday) 7pm

The Crimson Pirate

Directed by Robert Siodmak
USA 1952, color, 35mm, 104 min.

with Lancaster, Kravat, Eva Bartok, Christopher Lee

Forget Star Wars stuff: this is the Harvard Archive’s big summer movie! Burt Lancaster and Nick Kravat swashbuckle themselves across the Mediterranean in what Leonard Maltin calls "one of the great genre classics of all time. Cult film offers loads of thrills and laughs to both adults and the young."

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June 22 (Tuesday) 9pm

Man Without a Star

Directed by King Vidor
USA 1955, color, 35mm, 89 min.

with Douglas, Jeanne Crain, Claire Trevor

This sounds interesting, a 1950s western made by the fine filmmaker, King Vidor (Duel in the Sun). Kirk Douglas plays a drifter who plays the banjo, sings a bit, gets embroiled with a manipulative female rancher (Crain).

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June 29 (Tuesday) 7pm

The Great Rock'N'Roll Swindle

Directed by Julien Temple
Britain 1980, color, 35mm, 103 min.
with Malcolm McClaren, Rotten, Vicious, Steve Jones

One of the very greatest rock films, and hardly ever seen. Director Julien Temple found the properly nihilist, chaotic structure to hang loosely around the Sex Pistols, as they went about their merrily destructive way. Here they are, raw and real: Johnny Rotten and the actual-life, soon-dead Sid Vicious.

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June 29 (Tuesday) 9pm

mummy.jpg (11353 bytes)The Mummy

Directed by Karl Freund
USA 1932, b/w, 35mm, 72 min.

with Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners

Boris Karloff, fresh off of creating the Frankenstein monster for all time, stars as an Egyptian mummy revived after thousands of years, who believes a young woman (Johann) is the reincarnation of his ancient mate. Top-notch makeup, chills and thrills, and direction is by German emigré Karl Freund, who was the great cameraman back home for Murnau and Lang.

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