08.15.2003

Cinemascope @ Walter Reade

Topic(s): ongoing film screenings | No Comments

Date/Time: 15/08/2003 12:00 am


http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/programs/8-2003/scope.htm

Fifty years ago, a 10-year-old boy went to the movies with his father. The lights went down, the curtains parted, and, as Martin Scorsese tells it now, the screen kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The inauguration of CinemaScope was a turning point in movie going consciousness, as monumental as the shift from silence to sound 26 years earlier.
Did the anamorphic lens literally widen our perception of the world? For many members of Hollywood’s old guard, Scope was something to be avoided at all costs. Hitchcock never touched it. Ford used it to enlarge his window on the past. Younger directors like Nicholas Ray, Anthony Mann and Vincente Minnelli turned it into something excitingly dynamic, a new point of view for a new era. In the 60s and 70s, directors as diverse as Antonioni, Godard, Altman and Leone used Scope to take narrative cinema into new directions, bringing it into the realm of abstraction.
This series offers a tour through some of the peaks of widescreen filmmaking, from its beginnings to the present day. Whether you know these movies by heart or if you’re coming to discover them for the first time, we can promise you one thing: they’ll never look better than they do on our big, beautiful screen, which has the best projection in town.
This series was curated by Kent Jones and John Belton.
————————————–
filmlinc.com Home PageNew York Film FestivalWalter Reade TheaterFilm Comment MagazineNew Directors/New FilmsAnnual Gala Tributenyff home pagenyff introenter your filmviews from the avant-gardenyff archiveall nyff films listfilmlinc.com archivewrt home pagehow to attendtoday’s schedulecontact usrent the wrtgallery exhibitsfilm linksbox office infoonline ticketsemail listreceive our calendarwrt seating chartaccessibilityfilm comment hometable of contentsfilm comment forumonline onlybuy film commentonline archiveback issuesadvertisesubscribe onlinesubscription pagebuy current issuebuy back issues onlineback issue infondnf home page2003 new directors series2002 new directors seriesndnf archiveall ndnf filmscontact usgala home pagesusan sarandonorder gala ticketsfrancis ford coppolalist of honoreesrecollections
The Whole Wide World:
50 Years of Widescreen Moviemaking
August 15 – September 4, 2003
left: the thin red line
about the series | film descriptions and times
Fifty years ago, a 10-year-old boy went to the movies with his father. The lights went down, the curtains parted, and, as Martin Scorsese tells it now, the screen kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The inauguration of CinemaScope was a turning point in movie going consciousness, as monumental as the shift from silence to sound 26 years earlier.
Did the anamorphic lens literally widen our perception of the world? For many members of Hollywood’s old guard, Scope was something to be avoided at all costs. Hitchcock never touched it. Ford used it to enlarge his window on the past. Younger directors like Nicholas Ray, Anthony Mann and Vincente Minnelli turned it into something excitingly dynamic, a new point of view for a new era. In the 60s and 70s, directors as diverse as Antonioni, Godard, Altman and Leone used Scope to take narrative cinema into new directions, bringing it into the realm of abstraction.
This series offers a tour through some of the peaks of widescreen filmmaking, from its beginnings to the present day. Whether you know these movies by heart or if you’re coming to discover them for the first time, we can promise you one thing: they’ll never look better than they do on our big, beautiful screen, which has the best projection in town.
This series was curated by Kent Jones and John Belton.
BITTER VICTORY
Nicholas Ray, U.S., 1957; 82m
“Of them all, Nicholas Ray is without doubt the greatest and the most secret; without doubt the most spontaneously poetic,” wrote Jacques Rivette on the brooding, tempestuous American filmmaker for whom many of the Cahiers writers felt a special affinity: “Henceforth there is cinema,” wrote Godard, “and the cinema is Nicholas Ray.” BITTER VICTORY, gorgeously composed in black-and-white Scope, is centered around a love triangle between Richard Burton, Curt Jürgens and Ruth Roman during the Libyan campaign in WWII, and it’s one of Ray’s greatest works, although one of his least known. “BITTER VICTORY,” wrote Godard, “is not a reflection of life, it is life itself turned into film, seen from behind the mirror where the cinema intercepts it.”
Fri Aug 15: 3 & 7
Mon Aug 18: 3 & 6:45
BIGGER THAN LIFE
Nicholas Ray, U.S., 1956; 95m
When a schoolteacher (James Mason) holding down two jobs to make ends meet collapses from the strain, he’s given a “miracle drug.” His initial feelings of euphoria give way to all-out megalomania, which takes the greatest toll on his young son – no one who has seen this film can forget the encounter on the staircase that ends with Mason’s definitive reply to his wife’s pleas to save their son: “God was wrong.” This brilliant film (which includes uncredited contributions from Gavin Lambert and Clifford Odets) isn’t so much about the side effects of cortisone as it is about the fraught, sometimes terrifying dynamics of the American nuclear family. Ray’s dynamic Scope framing turns the inside of a suburban house into a tense battleground. With Barbara Rush and Walter Matthau. Based on a true story, as recounted in Burton Roueche’s New Yorker article. Produced by Mason.
Fri Aug 15: 5 &9
Mon Aug 18: 4:45 & 8:30
FORTY GUNS
Samuel Fuller, U.S., 1957; 79m
“There is something he wants to do, and he does it naturally and effortlessly,” wrote Luc Moullet in his 1959 piece “Sam Fuller: In Marlowe’s Footsteps” (that’s Christopher, not Philip). This 1957 western starring Barbara Stanwyck was a key film for Godard, who quoted it visually in Breathless and who paid tribute to Fuller many times, most famously by giving him a cameo in PIERROT LE FOU: “Each scene, each shot of this savage and brutal western, shot in black-and-white CinemaScope in under ten days, is so rich in invention – despite an incomprehensible plot – that it reminds one of the extravagances of Abel Gance and Stroheim, or purely and simply of Murnau.” With Barbara Stanwyck, the ultimate professional, as the cattle baroness of Tombstone Territory.
Sat Aug 16: 1 & 6
Tue Aug 19: 3:45
SATYRICON
Federico Fellini, Italy, 1970; 138m
Fellini took Petronius’s ribald classic and turned it into a piece of “science fiction of Ancient Rome,” in the process creating one of the scariest, most forbidding aesthetic objects of its time. And also one of the most thrilling. The screen becomes a wide mosaic in constant, unscrolling motion, revealing sights and odd sensations you’ve never experienced before in any movie. The soundtrack, filled with snippets of African and electronic music and German-accented Italian, is no less inventive. SATYRICON is probably Fellini’s last genuinely great work, and it’s also one of his very best, a truly exhilarating piece of moviemaking.
Sat Aug 16: 3:15 & 8:15
Tue Aug 19: 1
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Stanley Kubrick, U.S., 1968; 139m
The film that initially baffled viewers became a cultural touchstone of the 70s, a sci-fi extravaganza, a psychological suspense tale, and nothing less than a meditation on man’s origins, present and future, including a mind-blowing (and enhancing) encounter with a higher intelligence. The discovery of the mysterious black artifact on the moon leads to a mission to Jupiter designed to track its intentions. The two astronauts launched into space are played by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, but we all know that the most fascinating character with the most emotionally compelling affect is Hal (the voice of Canadian actor Douglas Rain), who takes his caretaking responsibilities very, very seriously. The music soundtrack by Ligeti and the Strausses – Richard and Johann – is nothing short of brilliant. Who can hear “The Blue Danube” without visualizing the starship ballet? Although special effects have come a long way since Kubrick’s groundbreaking journey, 2001 stands alone as a visual and visionary masterpiece.
Sun Aug 17: 2 & 8:30
SPARTACUS
Stanley Kubrick, U.S., 1960; 3h 18m
Anthony Mann started this movie and was fired after nine days and replaced by a young Stanley Kubrick, who had scored with his previous Kirk Douglas collaboration, Paths of Glory. Kubrick turned out what is probably the most literate, intelligent sword-and-sandal epic ever made. The battle scenes are clearly the work of someone who knows his military history, and the Roman senate intrigues betray a passionate interest in politics. But let it not be forgotten that this is also a magnificent, stirring epic, which packs a melodramatic wallop with the collective cry, “I’m Spartacus!” Douglas plays the eponymous character, the leader of the great slave revolt. Laurence Olivier is Crassus, and Charles Laughton is Gracchus, two standouts in an amazing cast. The formerly blacklisted Dalton Trumbo adapted Howard Fast’s source novel, and the great Russell Metty was behind the Super Technirama 70 camera.
Sun Aug 17: 4:45
THE INNOCENTS
Jack Clayton, Great Britain, 1960; 100m
A highly engrossing and visually stunning adaptation of Henry James’s popular novella The Turn of the Screw, with Deborah Kerr as a governess whose young charges appear to be possessed by evil demons that threaten to disrupt the placid Victorian household. Is the solitary woman a victim of her own feverish imagination or are the children for real? The suspenseful script is by William Archibald and Truman Capote and the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by Freddie Francis. One of Jack Clayton’s most potent and atmospheric efforts. With Michael Redgrave and Pamela Franklin.
Wed Aug 20: 2 & 6:20
Thurs Aug 21: 4 & 8:30
THESE ARE THE DAMNED
Joseph Losey, U.S., 1962; 87m
Winner of the Golden Asteroid at the 1964 Trieste Festival of Science Fiction Films, this very odd (and Pinter-less) Joseph Losey movie is one his very best and most disturbing. MacDonald Carey falls in love with a local woman living in a dank British seaside town. Which incites the wrath of her loving brother King (played by a very menacing young Oliver Reed), prompting him and his motorcycle gang to chase the couple down. They hide out in a cave, where they find a group of lonely, radioactive children, the sad result of scientist Alexander Knox’s attempt to create a race of people able to withstand nuclear annihilation. Losey’s customary physicality – everything is hard, tense, graphic – is in full force here. One sad, tough movie, tangentially related to Village of the Damned. You’ll come out humming the motorcycle gang’s theme song, “Black Leather Rock.” Shot in “Hammerscope.”
Wed Aug 20: 4 & 8:30
Thurs Aug 21: 2 & 6:30
THE THIN RED LINE
Terrence Malick, U.S., 1999; 170m
Terrence Malick took 21 years off between Days of Heaven and this adaptation of James Jones’s novel about the taking of Guadalcanal. We know that he was writing scripts, doctoring others, that he shot quite a bit of material for a discarded project in the early 80s. And based on the evidence of this extraordinary movie, quite unlike any other, he was also thinking: about man and the place he occupies in nature, about war and why it exists, about the toll it takes on the people forced to fight it. As he did with Days of Heaven, Malick shot a much longer film and then cut it into a series of elliptical, free-floating gestures, working from multiple points of view: one minute you’re in the mind of a soldier, the next you’re looking at the world from the most primordial viewpoint, and then through the eyes of God. A majestic, epic cinematic poem.
Fri Aug 22: 2 & 8
Sun Aug 24: 4:45
THE LONG GRAY LINE
John Ford, U.S., 1955; 138m
John Ford’s film version of a life lived honorably on the sidelines seems like the ultimate in lace curtain Irish bathos, but it develops into a devastatingly emotional meditation on time, history and love. Tyrone Power is Marty Maher, the (real life) Irish immigrant who starts as a cook at West Point and winds up spending his whole life there, training boys to go off to war, some of whom never return. Maureen O’Hara is his patient, passionate wife. With Donald Crisp as his father and Betsy Palmer as the woman he and O’Hara take under their wing. There are moments here that are absolutely crushing; a birth celebration that suddenly turns somber, Marty marking off a casualty by silently cutting a piece of ribbon and placing it next to the boy’s yearbook picture, and, most of all, O’Hara’s death scene are among the finest moments in American cinema. Shot – beautifully, on location – by the great Charles Lawton, Jr.
Fri Aug 22: 5:15
Sun Aug 24: 2 & 8
CARLITO’S WAY
Brian De Palma, U.S., 1993; 145m
This ultra-soulful, deeply romantic 70s-set gangster epic might be Brian de Palma¹s most underrated film. He plays it straight this time, sidestepping his usual Chinese Box narrative structures in favor of a straight ahead portrait of an old-time Puerto Rican gangster (Al Pacino) coming off a five-year prison stint and making a vain attempt to leave the criminal life behind him. Like Michael Corleone, everyone keeps pulling Carlito back in, from his scummy lawyer (Sean Penn) to the new kid in town (John Le Guizamo). Pacino gives a beautifully somber performance, and De Palma is in perfect control of the material, but still manages to retain his flamboyance – in one especially eye-popping moment, Carlito sees the reflection of his potential assassin in an 8-ball on a pool table. Beautifully written by David Koepp, gorgeously shot in deep, burnished blues and blacks by the great Stephen Burum. And dig that score – everything from Ray Barretto to Gamble and Huff.
Sat Aug 23: 2 & 8:15
Mon Aug 25: 4
ALIENS
James Cameron, U.S., 1986; 154m
57 years after her first terrifying encounter with an alien organism on planet LV-426, Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) wakes up from her deep sleep, unable to convince anyone from her company about what happened to the crew of the Nostromo so long ago. When all contact is lost with the planet, Ripley is put back in action, in charge of a group of tough mercenaries. The original ALIEN remains a terrifying experience, but this has to be one of the most kinetic, high-voltage action movies ever made, rocketing forward at a furious pace, filling every square inch of the screen with energized detail. Titanic has its fans, and the Terminator movies have a permanent place in our cultural consciousness, but this is still James Cameron’s best movie.
Sat Aug 23: 5:15
Mon Aug 25: 1
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST
Sergio Leone, U.S., 1969; 165m
Sergio Leone’s first truly great movie is as mind-bending an experience as 2001, particularly when it’s seen on the big screen. Leone uses the width and depth of the Scope frame like few filmmakers before or since, to craft an inscrutable space of mythic vastness, the western as grand opera. Claudia Cardinale is the bride who arrives in the middle of nowhere to find that her intended and his family have been massacred. She inherits the land, and with it the threat of the railroad, personified by one of the most terrifying villains in movie history, Henry Fonda’s Frank. With Charles Bronson in one of his best roles as Harmonica, forever blowing that lonely Ennio Morricone theme, Jason Robards as “Cheyenne” Gutierrez, and an amazing cast that includes Woody Strode, Paolo Stoppa, Jack Elam, Keenan Wynn, and the inimitable Lionel Stander.
Mon Aug 25: 7:15
Sat Aug 30: 3:20 & 9
PIERROT LE FOU
Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1965; 112m
Two of the most memorable faces in French or any other cinema – Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina – photographed ravishingly by the great Raoul Coutard and directed by the still-revolutionary Godard. Running away from middle-class boredom, the bourgeois Belmondo and erstwhile babysitter Karina embark on a picaresque excursion across France into many varieties of violence – persona, political, criminal, aesthetic. (Asked why there is so much blood in the film, Godard replied, “It is not blood but red.” Few films can compare with PIERROT’s dramatic and symbolic use of color.) What’s ultimately the greatest casuality in Godard’s audacious and exhilarating movie is contemporary complacency with a world that’s gone to hell.
Tue Aug 26: 1
Fri Aug 29: 3:45 & 8:30
MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER
Robert Altman, U.S., 1971; 107m
Robert Altman’s dream of life in the old west – langorous, luxuriating in cozy detail, gorgeously raunchy, and, in the end, pure hushed poetry. Warren Beatty gives what is sure to be remembered as his greatest performance as the mumbling pie-eyed businessman who has the bright idea to set up a first-class whorehouse in deepest Alaska, and then takes on the railroad when they want to buy up his land. Julie Christie is the madame, who retires to her room at night and blisses out on opium. Altman and DP Vilmos Zsigmond perfected a new, elastic form of Scope composition with this movie, and created one of the most visually stunning movies of its era.
Tue Aug 26: 3:15
Fri Aug 29: 1:30 & 6:15
ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE
Peter R. Hunt, U.S., 1969; 140m
Between Connery and Moore, there was … Lazenby. George Lazenby, a former model. Who had one brief shot at super-stardom in the role of 007. Actually, he’s not bad, quite good at the comic relief. And he lucked out, because this is at once the most emotionally affecting of the Bond films – the movie also belongs to the great Diana Rigg, as Bond’s beloved – and one of the most beautifully designed: this is truly one of the sleekest pop artifacts of the late 60s. Telly Savalas’s Blofeld is one of the very best of the Bond villains, his Alpine lair is a wondrous piece of production design, the final action set piece is a mindblower, and the end is shattering.
Wed Aug 27: 1:30 & 6:15
Thurs Aug 28: 3:30 & 8:30
THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT
Frank Tashlin, U.S., 1956; 99m
Top talent agent Tom Ewell is hired by shady entrepreneur Fats Murdock (Edmond O’Brien) to make his curvaceous girlfriend (Jayne Mansfield) a singing star. Danny Peary calls this “far and away the best of the many rock’ n’ roll movies made during the rockin’ 50s, the one film of the genre not geared exclusively to teens and the drive-in crowd.” It’s also the greatest merger of cinema amd the comic book, bursting at the scene with comic inventions. With Little Richard, the Platters, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, Abbey Lincoln and Eddie Cochran. Wed Aug 27: 4:15 & 9
Thurs Aug 28: 1:30 & 6:30
THE WIND AND THE LION
John Milius, U.S., 1975; 119m
John Milius has always been out of step with Hollywood tastes (discounting the fluke of Conan the Barbarian), but he was easily one of the most talented members of what was once known as the New Hollywood. He’s also one of the greatest “outdoor” filmmakers in movie history. This high-spirited adventure movie is one of his liveliest. Sean Connery is the Berber chieftain (!) who kidnaps an American heiress (Candice Bergen), thus prompting an international incident and several wonderfully spirited scenes with Brian Keith as Teddy Roosevelt. A wonderfully vivid piece of mythmaking.
Sat Aug 30: 1 & 6:30
THEY LIVE
John Carpenter, U.S., 1988; 93m
With the exception of his debut film, Dark Star, and his television work, John Carpenter may be the only director who has consistently worked in Scope throughout his career. He understands the shape better than almost any filmmaker. Which is why this tough, anti-Reagan sci-fi tale has the feel of a mini-western epic. Wrestling star “Rowdy” Roddy Piper is the prole hero, drifting into the meanest, most impoverished stretch of L.A. in search of work. One day, he discovers that America has been taken over by aliens. Their true identities can be divined beneath their all-American business class exteriors by putting on a pair of special sunglasses, of which Piper discovers a trove. A great, corny, beautifully made working-class adventure, which still packs a political punch. And yes, that is the longest fight scene in movie history between Piper and co-star Keith David.
Sun Aug 31: 2 & 6:30
Wed Sept 3: 9:15
PLAY DIRTY
André de Toth, U.S., 1969; 117m
The Dirty Dozen prompted several misfits-under-pressure-behind-the-lines movies, and this is easily the best – which is to say the meanest, the most task-oriented, the one that verges closest to abstraction. The one-eyed André de Toth was a master of 3-D, and he had a firm grasp of Scope as well – his violent swan song is notable for its visual precision and tough lyricism (if that sounds like a contradiction in terms, then you haven’t seen enough de Toth movies). Michael Caine is the inexperienced commander, leading his team of disenchanted soldiers on a dangerous mission through the African desert to destroy a Nazi depot. But the director is the real star: one of the most memorable sequences in the film involves nothing more (or less) than the arduous task of hauling a truck up a mountain. An action tour de force.
Sun Aug 31: 4 & 8:30
Wed Sept 3: 1
LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD / L’ANNÉE DERNIÈRE AT MARIENBAD
Alain Resnais, France, 1961; 93m
Resnais’s second explosion in decentered narrative film form via the nouveau roman (this time the collaborator was Alain Robbe-Grillet) polarized viewers all around the world. The setting is a vast European chateau. A man, whom we call X (Giorgio Albertazzi), tries to persuade a woman, A (Delphine Seyrig), that they’ve met and had an affair the previous year at Marienbad. The rhythm of the film, combined with Sacha Vierny’s rich black-and-white photography, the incantatory repetitions of Robbe-Grillet’s dialogue, and the ritualistic severity of the actions make for a brooding, deeply unsettling experience. Unlike any other film, MARIENBAD may be the only film ever made about the terrifying persistence of memory.
Mon Sept 1: 1
Thurs Sept 4: 3:15
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP
Monte Hellman, U.S., 1971; 102m
Monte Hellman’s brilliant existential road movie began life as a cross-country chase comedy the director refers to as “a Disney version of The Gumball Rally.” He engaged novelist Rudy Wurlitzer to write a whole new story and then shopped it around several studios before he found his backing – Hellman had to prove that he could sustain a sufficient amount of visual variety with his car epic, and demonstrated that there were 24 possible camera angles within a moving car. He shot his film in geographical and emotional sequence, and let his quartet of actors see their script pages only on a day-by-day basis. From a four-hour rough cut, he cut a terse, excitingly austere two hours. The over-hyped film was far from the Easy Rider follow-up everybody wanted in the heady early days of the New Hollywood, temperamentally closer to a Beckett play, and Universal president Lew Wasserman took an active dislike to his property. Thirty years later, Hellman’s concentrated movie makes Easy Rider look like child’s play. In this “minimalist Zen road movie with maximalist detail” (Tom Allen), the four participants in an eastbound race for pink slips displace their longing and desire onto the endless, Scope-framed open road, finding temporary relief and even a measure of salvation in constant motion. James Taylor may not have been much of an actor, but he was an amazingly iconic presence as the Driver. With Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson as his affable mechanic, Laurie Bird as The Girl, and, in one of the finest performances of the 70s or any other decade, Warren Oates as the vain, touching playboy-wanna-be driving the yellow GTO.
Mon Sept 1: 3 & 9
Thurs Sept 4: 1
EL CID
Anthony Mann, U.S., 1961; 182m
Anthony Mann began his career with terse little noirs, moved on to terse but more expansive westerns with James Stewart, and finished with a series of historical pageants for the king of historical pageantry himself, Samuel L. Bronston. The scale was bigger than ever, but somehow the terseness remained. This majestic version of the life of the great warrior who drove the Moors out of Spain is as filled with visually splendid artifacts and opulent production design as the other Bronston epics, but there’s a uniform austerity, a cleanness of line, that harks back to Mann’s B-movie days. Charlton Heston is probably the only actor who could have played the lead role, and Sophia Loren is gorgeous, but Mann is the star, and the Cid’s final ride along the beach is quite a stirring moment – it feels like the twilight of epic moviemaking.
Mon Sept 1: 5:30
Tue Sept 2: 1
“>http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/programs/8-2003/scope.htm
Fifty years ago, a 10-year-old boy went to the movies with his father. The lights went down, the curtains parted, and, as Martin Scorsese tells it now, the screen kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The inauguration of CinemaScope was a turning point in movie going consciousness, as monumental as the shift from silence to sound 26 years earlier.
Did the anamorphic lens literally widen our perception of the world? For many members of Hollywood’s old guard, Scope was something to be avoided at all costs. Hitchcock never touched it. Ford used it to enlarge his window on the past. Younger directors like Nicholas Ray, Anthony Mann and Vincente Minnelli turned it into something excitingly dynamic, a new point of view for a new era. In the 60s and 70s, directors as diverse as Antonioni, Godard, Altman and Leone used Scope to take narrative cinema into new directions, bringing it into the realm of abstraction.
This series offers a tour through some of the peaks of widescreen filmmaking, from its beginnings to the present day. Whether you know these movies by heart or if you’re coming to discover them for the first time, we can promise you one thing: they’ll never look better than they do on our big, beautiful screen, which has the best projection in town.
This series was curated by Kent Jones and John Belton.
————————————–
filmlinc.com Home PageNew York Film FestivalWalter Reade TheaterFilm Comment MagazineNew Directors/New FilmsAnnual Gala Tributenyff home pagenyff introenter your filmviews from the avant-gardenyff archiveall nyff films listfilmlinc.com archivewrt home pagehow to attendtoday’s schedulecontact usrent the wrtgallery exhibitsfilm linksbox office infoonline ticketsemail listreceive our calendarwrt seating chartaccessibilityfilm comment hometable of contentsfilm comment forumonline onlybuy film commentonline archiveback issuesadvertisesubscribe onlinesubscription pagebuy current issuebuy back issues onlineback issue infondnf home page2003 new directors series2002 new directors seriesndnf archiveall ndnf filmscontact usgala home pagesusan sarandonorder gala ticketsfrancis ford coppolalist of honoreesrecollections
The Whole Wide World:
50 Years of Widescreen Moviemaking
August 15 – September 4, 2003
left: the thin red line
about the series | film descriptions and times
Fifty years ago, a 10-year-old boy went to the movies with his father. The lights went down, the curtains parted, and, as Martin Scorsese tells it now, the screen kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The inauguration of CinemaScope was a turning point in movie going consciousness, as monumental as the shift from silence to sound 26 years earlier.
Did the anamorphic lens literally widen our perception of the world? For many members of Hollywood’s old guard, Scope was something to be avoided at all costs. Hitchcock never touched it. Ford used it to enlarge his window on the past. Younger directors like Nicholas Ray, Anthony Mann and Vincente Minnelli turned it into something excitingly dynamic, a new point of view for a new era. In the 60s and 70s, directors as diverse as Antonioni, Godard, Altman and Leone used Scope to take narrative cinema into new directions, bringing it into the realm of abstraction.
This series offers a tour through some of the peaks of widescreen filmmaking, from its beginnings to the present day. Whether you know these movies by heart or if you’re coming to discover them for the first time, we can promise you one thing: they’ll never look better than they do on our big, beautiful screen, which has the best projection in town.
This series was curated by Kent Jones and John Belton.
BITTER VICTORY
Nicholas Ray, U.S., 1957; 82m
“Of them all, Nicholas Ray is without doubt the greatest and the most secret; without doubt the most spontaneously poetic,” wrote Jacques Rivette on the brooding, tempestuous American filmmaker for whom many of the Cahiers writers felt a special affinity: “Henceforth there is cinema,” wrote Godard, “and the cinema is Nicholas Ray.” BITTER VICTORY, gorgeously composed in black-and-white Scope, is centered around a love triangle between Richard Burton, Curt Jürgens and Ruth Roman during the Libyan campaign in WWII, and it’s one of Ray’s greatest works, although one of his least known. “BITTER VICTORY,” wrote Godard, “is not a reflection of life, it is life itself turned into film, seen from behind the mirror where the cinema intercepts it.”
Fri Aug 15: 3 & 7
Mon Aug 18: 3 & 6:45
BIGGER THAN LIFE
Nicholas Ray, U.S., 1956; 95m
When a schoolteacher (James Mason) holding down two jobs to make ends meet collapses from the strain, he’s given a “miracle drug.” His initial feelings of euphoria give way to all-out megalomania, which takes the greatest toll on his young son – no one who has seen this film can forget the encounter on the staircase that ends with Mason’s definitive reply to his wife’s pleas to save their son: “God was wrong.” This brilliant film (which includes uncredited contributions from Gavin Lambert and Clifford Odets) isn’t so much about the side effects of cortisone as it is about the fraught, sometimes terrifying dynamics of the American nuclear family. Ray’s dynamic Scope framing turns the inside of a suburban house into a tense battleground. With Barbara Rush and Walter Matthau. Based on a true story, as recounted in Burton Roueche’s New Yorker article. Produced by Mason.
Fri Aug 15: 5 &9
Mon Aug 18: 4:45 & 8:30
FORTY GUNS
Samuel Fuller, U.S., 1957; 79m
“There is something he wants to do, and he does it naturally and effortlessly,” wrote Luc Moullet in his 1959 piece “Sam Fuller: In Marlowe’s Footsteps” (that’s Christopher, not Philip). This 1957 western starring Barbara Stanwyck was a key film for Godard, who quoted it visually in Breathless and who paid tribute to Fuller many times, most famously by giving him a cameo in PIERROT LE FOU: “Each scene, each shot of this savage and brutal western, shot in black-and-white CinemaScope in under ten days, is so rich in invention – despite an incomprehensible plot – that it reminds one of the extravagances of Abel Gance and Stroheim, or purely and simply of Murnau.” With Barbara Stanwyck, the ultimate professional, as the cattle baroness of Tombstone Territory.
Sat Aug 16: 1 & 6
Tue Aug 19: 3:45
SATYRICON
Federico Fellini, Italy, 1970; 138m
Fellini took Petronius’s ribald classic and turned it into a piece of “science fiction of Ancient Rome,” in the process creating one of the scariest, most forbidding aesthetic objects of its time. And also one of the most thrilling. The screen becomes a wide mosaic in constant, unscrolling motion, revealing sights and odd sensations you’ve never experienced before in any movie. The soundtrack, filled with snippets of African and electronic music and German-accented Italian, is no less inventive. SATYRICON is probably Fellini’s last genuinely great work, and it’s also one of his very best, a truly exhilarating piece of moviemaking.
Sat Aug 16: 3:15 & 8:15
Tue Aug 19: 1
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Stanley Kubrick, U.S., 1968; 139m
The film that initially baffled viewers became a cultural touchstone of the 70s, a sci-fi extravaganza, a psychological suspense tale, and nothing less than a meditation on man’s origins, present and future, including a mind-blowing (and enhancing) encounter with a higher intelligence. The discovery of the mysterious black artifact on the moon leads to a mission to Jupiter designed to track its intentions. The two astronauts launched into space are played by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, but we all know that the most fascinating character with the most emotionally compelling affect is Hal (the voice of Canadian actor Douglas Rain), who takes his caretaking responsibilities very, very seriously. The music soundtrack by Ligeti and the Strausses – Richard and Johann – is nothing short of brilliant. Who can hear “The Blue Danube” without visualizing the starship ballet? Although special effects have come a long way since Kubrick’s groundbreaking journey, 2001 stands alone as a visual and visionary masterpiece.
Sun Aug 17: 2 & 8:30
SPARTACUS
Stanley Kubrick, U.S., 1960; 3h 18m
Anthony Mann started this movie and was fired after nine days and replaced by a young Stanley Kubrick, who had scored with his previous Kirk Douglas collaboration, Paths of Glory. Kubrick turned out what is probably the most literate, intelligent sword-and-sandal epic ever made. The battle scenes are clearly the work of someone who knows his military history, and the Roman senate intrigues betray a passionate interest in politics. But let it not be forgotten that this is also a magnificent, stirring epic, which packs a melodramatic wallop with the collective cry, “I’m Spartacus!” Douglas plays the eponymous character, the leader of the great slave revolt. Laurence Olivier is Crassus, and Charles Laughton is Gracchus, two standouts in an amazing cast. The formerly blacklisted Dalton Trumbo adapted Howard Fast’s source novel, and the great Russell Metty was behind the Super Technirama 70 camera.
Sun Aug 17: 4:45
THE INNOCENTS
Jack Clayton, Great Britain, 1960; 100m
A highly engrossing and visually stunning adaptation of Henry James’s popular novella The Turn of the Screw, with Deborah Kerr as a governess whose young charges appear to be possessed by evil demons that threaten to disrupt the placid Victorian household. Is the solitary woman a victim of her own feverish imagination or are the children for real? The suspenseful script is by William Archibald and Truman Capote and the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by Freddie Francis. One of Jack Clayton’s most potent and atmospheric efforts. With Michael Redgrave and Pamela Franklin.
Wed Aug 20: 2 & 6:20
Thurs Aug 21: 4 & 8:30
THESE ARE THE DAMNED
Joseph Losey, U.S., 1962; 87m
Winner of the Golden Asteroid at the 1964 Trieste Festival of Science Fiction Films, this very odd (and Pinter-less) Joseph Losey movie is one his very best and most disturbing. MacDonald Carey falls in love with a local woman living in a dank British seaside town. Which incites the wrath of her loving brother King (played by a very menacing young Oliver Reed), prompting him and his motorcycle gang to chase the couple down. They hide out in a cave, where they find a group of lonely, radioactive children, the sad result of scientist Alexander Knox’s attempt to create a race of people able to withstand nuclear annihilation. Losey’s customary physicality – everything is hard, tense, graphic – is in full force here. One sad, tough movie, tangentially related to Village of the Damned. You’ll come out humming the motorcycle gang’s theme song, “Black Leather Rock.” Shot in “Hammerscope.”
Wed Aug 20: 4 & 8:30
Thurs Aug 21: 2 & 6:30
THE THIN RED LINE
Terrence Malick, U.S., 1999; 170m
Terrence Malick took 21 years off between Days of Heaven and this adaptation of James Jones’s novel about the taking of Guadalcanal. We know that he was writing scripts, doctoring others, that he shot quite a bit of material for a discarded project in the early 80s. And based on the evidence of this extraordinary movie, quite unlike any other, he was also thinking: about man and the place he occupies in nature, about war and why it exists, about the toll it takes on the people forced to fight it. As he did with Days of Heaven, Malick shot a much longer film and then cut it into a series of elliptical, free-floating gestures, working from multiple points of view: one minute you’re in the mind of a soldier, the next you’re looking at the world from the most primordial viewpoint, and then through the eyes of God. A majestic, epic cinematic poem.
Fri Aug 22: 2 & 8
Sun Aug 24: 4:45
THE LONG GRAY LINE
John Ford, U.S., 1955; 138m
John Ford’s film version of a life lived honorably on the sidelines seems like the ultimate in lace curtain Irish bathos, but it develops into a devastatingly emotional meditation on time, history and love. Tyrone Power is Marty Maher, the (real life) Irish immigrant who starts as a cook at West Point and winds up spending his whole life there, training boys to go off to war, some of whom never return. Maureen O’Hara is his patient, passionate wife. With Donald Crisp as his father and Betsy Palmer as the woman he and O’Hara take under their wing. There are moments here that are absolutely crushing; a birth celebration that suddenly turns somber, Marty marking off a casualty by silently cutting a piece of ribbon and placing it next to the boy’s yearbook picture, and, most of all, O’Hara’s death scene are among the finest moments in American cinema. Shot – beautifully, on location – by the great Charles Lawton, Jr.
Fri Aug 22: 5:15
Sun Aug 24: 2 & 8
CARLITO’S WAY
Brian De Palma, U.S., 1993; 145m
This ultra-soulful, deeply romantic 70s-set gangster epic might be Brian de Palma¹s most underrated film. He plays it straight this time, sidestepping his usual Chinese Box narrative structures in favor of a straight ahead portrait of an old-time Puerto Rican gangster (Al Pacino) coming off a five-year prison stint and making a vain attempt to leave the criminal life behind him. Like Michael Corleone, everyone keeps pulling Carlito back in, from his scummy lawyer (Sean Penn) to the new kid in town (John Le Guizamo). Pacino gives a beautifully somber performance, and De Palma is in perfect control of the material, but still manages to retain his flamboyance – in one especially eye-popping moment, Carlito sees the reflection of his potential assassin in an 8-ball on a pool table. Beautifully written by David Koepp, gorgeously shot in deep, burnished blues and blacks by the great Stephen Burum. And dig that score – everything from Ray Barretto to Gamble and Huff.
Sat Aug 23: 2 & 8:15
Mon Aug 25: 4
ALIENS
James Cameron, U.S., 1986; 154m
57 years after her first terrifying encounter with an alien organism on planet LV-426, Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) wakes up from her deep sleep, unable to convince anyone from her company about what happened to the crew of the Nostromo so long ago. When all contact is lost with the planet, Ripley is put back in action, in charge of a group of tough mercenaries. The original ALIEN remains a terrifying experience, but this has to be one of the most kinetic, high-voltage action movies ever made, rocketing forward at a furious pace, filling every square inch of the screen with energized detail. Titanic has its fans, and the Terminator movies have a permanent place in our cultural consciousness, but this is still James Cameron’s best movie.
Sat Aug 23: 5:15
Mon Aug 25: 1
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST
Sergio Leone, U.S., 1969; 165m
Sergio Leone’s first truly great movie is as mind-bending an experience as 2001, particularly when it’s seen on the big screen. Leone uses the width and depth of the Scope frame like few filmmakers before or since, to craft an inscrutable space of mythic vastness, the western as grand opera. Claudia Cardinale is the bride who arrives in the middle of nowhere to find that her intended and his family have been massacred. She inherits the land, and with it the threat of the railroad, personified by one of the most terrifying villains in movie history, Henry Fonda’s Frank. With Charles Bronson in one of his best roles as Harmonica, forever blowing that lonely Ennio Morricone theme, Jason Robards as “Cheyenne” Gutierrez, and an amazing cast that includes Woody Strode, Paolo Stoppa, Jack Elam, Keenan Wynn, and the inimitable Lionel Stander.
Mon Aug 25: 7:15
Sat Aug 30: 3:20 & 9
PIERROT LE FOU
Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1965; 112m
Two of the most memorable faces in French or any other cinema – Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina – photographed ravishingly by the great Raoul Coutard and directed by the still-revolutionary Godard. Running away from middle-class boredom, the bourgeois Belmondo and erstwhile babysitter Karina embark on a picaresque excursion across France into many varieties of violence – persona, political, criminal, aesthetic. (Asked why there is so much blood in the film, Godard replied, “It is not blood but red.” Few films can compare with PIERROT’s dramatic and symbolic use of color.) What’s ultimately the greatest casuality in Godard’s audacious and exhilarating movie is contemporary complacency with a world that’s gone to hell.
Tue Aug 26: 1
Fri Aug 29: 3:45 & 8:30
MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER
Robert Altman, U.S., 1971; 107m
Robert Altman’s dream of life in the old west – langorous, luxuriating in cozy detail, gorgeously raunchy, and, in the end, pure hushed poetry. Warren Beatty gives what is sure to be remembered as his greatest performance as the mumbling pie-eyed businessman who has the bright idea to set up a first-class whorehouse in deepest Alaska, and then takes on the railroad when they want to buy up his land. Julie Christie is the madame, who retires to her room at night and blisses out on opium. Altman and DP Vilmos Zsigmond perfected a new, elastic form of Scope composition with this movie, and created one of the most visually stunning movies of its era.
Tue Aug 26: 3:15
Fri Aug 29: 1:30 & 6:15
ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE
Peter R. Hunt, U.S., 1969; 140m
Between Connery and Moore, there was … Lazenby. George Lazenby, a former model. Who had one brief shot at super-stardom in the role of 007. Actually, he’s not bad, quite good at the comic relief. And he lucked out, because this is at once the most emotionally affecting of the Bond films – the movie also belongs to the great Diana Rigg, as Bond’s beloved – and one of the most beautifully designed: this is truly one of the sleekest pop artifacts of the late 60s. Telly Savalas’s Blofeld is one of the very best of the Bond villains, his Alpine lair is a wondrous piece of production design, the final action set piece is a mindblower, and the end is shattering.
Wed Aug 27: 1:30 & 6:15
Thurs Aug 28: 3:30 & 8:30
THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT
Frank Tashlin, U.S., 1956; 99m
Top talent agent Tom Ewell is hired by shady entrepreneur Fats Murdock (Edmond O’Brien) to make his curvaceous girlfriend (Jayne Mansfield) a singing star. Danny Peary calls this “far and away the best of the many rock’ n’ roll movies made during the rockin’ 50s, the one film of the genre not geared exclusively to teens and the drive-in crowd.” It’s also the greatest merger of cinema amd the comic book, bursting at the scene with comic inventions. With Little Richard, the Platters, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, Abbey Lincoln and Eddie Cochran. Wed Aug 27: 4:15 & 9
Thurs Aug 28: 1:30 & 6:30
THE WIND AND THE LION
John Milius, U.S., 1975; 119m
John Milius has always been out of step with Hollywood tastes (discounting the fluke of Conan the Barbarian), but he was easily one of the most talented members of what was once known as the New Hollywood. He’s also one of the greatest “outdoor” filmmakers in movie history. This high-spirited adventure movie is one of his liveliest. Sean Connery is the Berber chieftain (!) who kidnaps an American heiress (Candice Bergen), thus prompting an international incident and several wonderfully spirited scenes with Brian Keith as Teddy Roosevelt. A wonderfully vivid piece of mythmaking.
Sat Aug 30: 1 & 6:30
THEY LIVE
John Carpenter, U.S., 1988; 93m
With the exception of his debut film, Dark Star, and his television work, John Carpenter may be the only director who has consistently worked in Scope throughout his career. He understands the shape better than almost any filmmaker. Which is why this tough, anti-Reagan sci-fi tale has the feel of a mini-western epic. Wrestling star “Rowdy” Roddy Piper is the prole hero, drifting into the meanest, most impoverished stretch of L.A. in search of work. One day, he discovers that America has been taken over by aliens. Their true identities can be divined beneath their all-American business class exteriors by putting on a pair of special sunglasses, of which Piper discovers a trove. A great, corny, beautifully made working-class adventure, which still packs a political punch. And yes, that is the longest fight scene in movie history between Piper and co-star Keith David.
Sun Aug 31: 2 & 6:30
Wed Sept 3: 9:15
PLAY DIRTY
André de Toth, U.S., 1969; 117m
The Dirty Dozen prompted several misfits-under-pressure-behind-the-lines movies, and this is easily the best – which is to say the meanest, the most task-oriented, the one that verges closest to abstraction. The one-eyed André de Toth was a master of 3-D, and he had a firm grasp of Scope as well – his violent swan song is notable for its visual precision and tough lyricism (if that sounds like a contradiction in terms, then you haven’t seen enough de Toth movies). Michael Caine is the inexperienced commander, leading his team of disenchanted soldiers on a dangerous mission through the African desert to destroy a Nazi depot. But the director is the real star: one of the most memorable sequences in the film involves nothing more (or less) than the arduous task of hauling a truck up a mountain. An action tour de force.
Sun Aug 31: 4 & 8:30
Wed Sept 3: 1
LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD / L’ANNÉE DERNIÈRE AT MARIENBAD
Alain Resnais, France, 1961; 93m
Resnais’s second explosion in decentered narrative film form via the nouveau roman (this time the collaborator was Alain Robbe-Grillet) polarized viewers all around the world. The setting is a vast European chateau. A man, whom we call X (Giorgio Albertazzi), tries to persuade a woman, A (Delphine Seyrig), that they’ve met and had an affair the previous year at Marienbad. The rhythm of the film, combined with Sacha Vierny’s rich black-and-white photography, the incantatory repetitions of Robbe-Grillet’s dialogue, and the ritualistic severity of the actions make for a brooding, deeply unsettling experience. Unlike any other film, MARIENBAD may be the only film ever made about the terrifying persistence of memory.
Mon Sept 1: 1
Thurs Sept 4: 3:15
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP
Monte Hellman, U.S., 1971; 102m
Monte Hellman’s brilliant existential road movie began life as a cross-country chase comedy the director refers to as “a Disney version of The Gumball Rally.” He engaged novelist Rudy Wurlitzer to write a whole new story and then shopped it around several studios before he found his backing – Hellman had to prove that he could sustain a sufficient amount of visual variety with his car epic, and demonstrated that there were 24 possible camera angles within a moving car. He shot his film in geographical and emotional sequence, and let his quartet of actors see their script pages only on a day-by-day basis. From a four-hour rough cut, he cut a terse, excitingly austere two hours. The over-hyped film was far from the Easy Rider follow-up everybody wanted in the heady early days of the New Hollywood, temperamentally closer to a Beckett play, and Universal president Lew Wasserman took an active dislike to his property. Thirty years later, Hellman’s concentrated movie makes Easy Rider look like child’s play. In this “minimalist Zen road movie with maximalist detail” (Tom Allen), the four participants in an eastbound race for pink slips displace their longing and desire onto the endless, Scope-framed open road, finding temporary relief and even a measure of salvation in constant motion. James Taylor may not have been much of an actor, but he was an amazingly iconic presence as the Driver. With Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson as his affable mechanic, Laurie Bird as The Girl, and, in one of the finest performances of the 70s or any other decade, Warren Oates as the vain, touching playboy-wanna-be driving the yellow GTO.
Mon Sept 1: 3 & 9
Thurs Sept 4: 1
EL CID
Anthony Mann, U.S., 1961; 182m
Anthony Mann began his career with terse little noirs, moved on to terse but more expansive westerns with James Stewart, and finished with a series of historical pageants for the king of historical pageantry himself, Samuel L. Bronston. The scale was bigger than ever, but somehow the terseness remained. This majestic version of the life of the great warrior who drove the Moors out of Spain is as filled with visually splendid artifacts and opulent production design as the other Bronston epics, but there’s a uniform austerity, a cleanness of line, that harks back to Mann’s B-movie days. Charlton Heston is probably the only actor who could have played the lead role, and Sophia Loren is gorgeous, but Mann is the star, and the Cid’s final ride along the beach is quite a stirring moment – it feels like the twilight of epic moviemaking.
Mon Sept 1: 5:30
Tue Sept 2: 1

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