Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film

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Read the reviews for MICHAEL CURTIZ—A LIFE IN FILM

 

 

The 2017 UCLA Film and Television Archive Festival of Preservation

He Walked by Night poster

One of my favorite cinema events is the annual Festival of Preservation (FOP) produced by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and presented at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood.

From classics like Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise (1932), early animated Paramount shorts, silent films, documentaries including The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971) and a 1965 KTLA-TV Nancy Wilson concert, the Archive’s preservation activities encompasses the full spectrum of the moving image.

The Film Noir Foundation has funded (whole or in part) nine different films that have been restored by UCLA along with the striking of numerous preservation prints of other noir titles.

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The Season of Noir

Los tallos amargos 4

The late spring and beginning of summer is my favorite time of the year in Southern California.  The roses are in bloom, the temperature in the San Fernando Valley hasn’t yet reached the upper extremes of a pizza oven and the birds sing all day.  It is also the time for cinematic darkness. The annual NOIR CITY, HOLLYWOOD film festival opens this Friday for its 18th season at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.  It is difficult for me to believe that I’ve been attending this festival since a screaming Lawrence Tierney was 86ed from the theater lobby. I’ve also been the co-programmer and co-host with my inspired comrade in noir, Eddie Muller.  With the American Cinematheque’s stellar programmer Gwen DeGlise, we have put together some memorable programs during the past decade, but perhaps none better than this year’s fest that opens on Friday April 15.

In addition to opening the festival with the Film Noir Foundation and Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s (HFPA) funded restoration of LOS TALLOS AMARGOS (THE BITTER STEMS), 1956 by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, our good friends at Universal Studios have struck new 35mm prints of cinematic treasures including ALL MY SONS (1948), FLESH AND FURY (1951), FLESH AND FANTASY (1943)  and MEET DANNY WILSON (1952) that haven’t been viewed on a theater screen for decades and are not on DVD.  The extraordinary festival line-up can be found on the American Cinematheque website. 

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Back on the Street with THE BIG COMBO and PITFALL

Million Dollar Theatre

To inaugurate my new and improved ONE WAY STREET blog and web site, I am posting my introduction to THE BIG COMBO and PITFALL double feature when I presented on Wednesday night at the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown L.A. While I was crossing the street at the corner of 3rd, I gazed across Broadway at the Bradbury building and realized that this was where Edmond O'Brien, wracked with pain from luminous poisoning, staggered to his rendezvous with destiny in D.O.A. This was also where Lon Chaney Jr., recently revived from the San Quentin gas chamber, murderously prowled for "Squeemy Ellis" in Indestructible Man and where Jack Lemmon parked his T-Bird filled with ladders, paint, and Romy Schneider to deface a billboard in Good Neighbor Sam. This was also the same real estate where Harrison Ford was assigned to hunt replicants in Blade Runner (1982). I was treading on cinematic hallowed ground. And when I arrived under the marquee of Sid Grauman's 1918 movie palace and was greeted by 83-year old actor Clu Gulager who actually walked from West Hollywood to attend this screening, I knew at that moment, there was no other place I would rather be.

"It is always a distinct privilege to participate in an event involving the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The Archive's mutually beneficial partnership with The Film Noir Foundation has resulted in the complete restoration of The Prowler and Cry Danger along with the archiving of new 35 mm prints of such classic noir titles as High Wall, Loophole, Cry Tough, Down Three Dark Streets and more recently Three Strangers.

Tonight is an auspicious event at the Million Dollar, Sid Grauman's first Los Angeles movie palace. I hosted the 2008 reopening during the L.A. Conservancy's Last Remaining Seats festival to introduce Mildred Pierce and last year with special guest Patrice Wymore for Captain Blood. Although the two movies being screened tonight may not be as famous, both are equally terrific films and personal favorites. Quantifying exactly what film noir is has proven to be well-nigh impossible and the perpetual discussion to determine what is or isn't film noir certainly adds to its cachet. It might be that noir is best defined by the cliché "I Know it when I see it" Simply put, The Big Combo and Pitfall epitomize what the film noir style is all about.

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