March 09 – March 23

BARBARA STANWYCK: BALL OF FIRE

Barbara Stanwyck (1907–1990) was a diminutive figure who nevertheless had a towering presence on screen and off. Long underrated, Stanwyck’s legendary life and career is the focus of several recent books, stimulating an ongoing interest in her eternally modern style.

A consummate professional who valued good relationships with directors, actors and crew members, Stanwyck navigated an extremely rewarding Hollywood career spanning the pre-Code era, the rise of TV, Westerns, comedies, melodramas and films noir. On screen she called the shots, constantly delivering superb performances illuminated by her expressive face, distinctive voice and unequalled intuition. Forever in control, she was the toughest screen goddess of the Golden Age, equally adept at comedy and melodrama in a film career bridging 4 decades and over 80 films.

She worked with some of the leading directors of her time, including William A. Wellman, Preston Sturges, Douglas Sirk, Billy Wilder, King Vidor and Frank Capra, after which she successfully moved to television as both an actress and producer. Her impeccable comic timing, passionate intelligence and devastating melodramatic prowess, cements her as one of the most consistent and essential feminist screen icons of her generation.

This season of imported 35mm prints includes a number of her signature roles, showcasing Stanwyck’s luminous command of the silver screen and her natural talent with other actors.

March 9

7:00PM – STELLA DALLAS
King Vidor (1937) 106 mins
Unclassified 15 + (unless accompanied by an adult)

A working-class woman marries a wealthy society man yet can never fully infiltrate his world, a gulf put into stark relief after the birth of their daughter (Anne Shirley). Earning her a Best Actress Oscar nomination, this was Stanwyck’s favourite role and it’s easy to see why – beneath the vulgar exterior lies a vulnerable and tragically self-sacrificing woman. Vidor’s film, based on the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty and previously adapted in the 1920s, is at once a tearjerker and a biting social critique of a society obsessed with class and social climbing. “The picture is all Stanwyck’s, and worth seeing for her brassy, touching, all-out performance” (Pauline Kael).

35mm print courtesy of The Academy Film Archive.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
‘Stella Dallas: The Female Hero in the Maternal Melodrama’ by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster.


9:00PM – THE LADY EVE
Preston Sturges (1941) 97 mins PG

This brilliant romantic screwball comedy bears all the quintessential hallmarks of Sturges’ best and most ingenious work— breakneck dialogue exchanges, delicious tonal shifts and deliriously eccentric characterisations. Stanwyck plays a gold- digger who sets her sights on a nerdy, gullible millionaire (Henry Fonda) travelling to America aboard an ocean liner after a stint in the Amazon jungle. With Charles Coburn and Eugene Pallette. “The oddest thing of all is that the effect of this anarchic, coldly brilliant comedy about the humiliation of a man by a woman… is not only exhilarating but positively good-natured” (James Harvey).

‘The Lady Eve’ by Peter Tonguette.

March 16

7:00PM – DOUBLE INDEMNITY
Billy Wilder 1944 110 mins PG

Wilder’s urgent & brutal tale of adultery, betrayal & murder, is a cynical, witty, & sleazy noir derived from James M. Cain’s razor-sharp crime novella, with the screenplay further honed by Raymond Chandler (who makes a brief appearance in the film). Stanwyck’s slippery femme fatale manipulates Fred MacMurray’s experienced & likeable but naive insurance salesman into murdering her husband. Their crime is near perfect but, slowly, Edward G. Robinson’s methodical fraud investigator unravels their cold-blooded scheme. All enhanced by John F. Seitz atmospheric, chiaroscuro cinematography & Miklós Rózsa’s foreboding musical score.


9:00PM – THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS
Lewis Milestone (1946) 116 mins PG

In the Midwestern industrial city of Iverstown, Stanwyck plays the ruthless Martha, trapped in a loveless marriage with the local district attorney (Kirk Douglas, in his Hollywood debut). Versatile director Milestone twists a tale of jealousy, betrayal and bitter desire between new loves and old flames, scripted by Robert Rossen. This key, expressly cynical noir is masterfully filmed through Victor Milner’s stark black-and-white lens, spiced up by Miklós Rózsa’s vivid score. With Lizabeth Scott, Van Heflin and Judith Anderson.

35mm print courtesy of The Library of Congress.

CTEQ ANNOTATION
Open Game – Our Strange Love for Martha Ivers by David Melville

March 23

7:00PM – NIGHT NURSE
William A. Wellman
 (1931) 72 mins
Unclassified 15 + (unless accompanied by an adult)

This pre-Code crime drama featuring early performances by Stanwyck, Joan Blondell and Clark Gable, begins with a portrait of the daily life of women working in a hospital before shifting to a sinister mystery involving con men, child abuse, greed and Gable as a villainous chauffeur. A saucy, wisecracking Stanwyck exudes sexual power and toughness as well as maternal compassion while standing up for injustice. Wellman takes advantage of pre-Code moral permissiveness to include women disrobing, witty double entendres, drunkenness, violence and a pro-vengeance ending.

35mm print courtesy of The Library of Congress.

CTEQ ANNOTATIONS:
‘Night Nurse’ by Wheeler Winston Dixon.


8:25PM – MEET JOHN DOE
Frank Capra
 (1941) 122 mins G
This sharp, Depression-infected vision of the Capraesque is one of the director’s most underrated and biting works. Capra and screenwriter Robert Riskin’s story of how an anonymous tramp, Gary Cooper in the title role, is plucked, made and then unmade into a spokesman for popular discontent by press hype woman Stanwyck is one of the director’s most ambiguous and still relevant socio-political allegories. With Walter Brennan, Edward Arnold and James Gleason. “One of Capra’s greatest films” (Ray Carney).

#5mm print courtesy of The Library of Congress.

CTEQ ANNOTATIONS:
‘Individualism and Populism in Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe (1941)’ by Sandra Lim

February 5
OPENING NIGHT

February 12 – February 26
VITTORIO DE SICA: CINEMA, ITALIAN STYLE

March 4 – March 18
LIGHT AND SHADOW: THE MERCURIAL STARDOM OF MARLENE DIETRICH

March 23 – April 6
CAST A DARK SHADOW: THE BEAUTIFUL SADNESS OF DIRK BOGARDE

April 13 – April 29
THE BIG CARNIVAL: THE FILMS OF BILLY WILDER

May 6 – May 20
“LIFE’S PARADE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS”: DOUGLAS SIRK

May 27 – June 10
WILDFLOWERS: DANCING, DESIRE AND FREEDOM IN THE FILMS OF GILLIAN ARMSTRONG

June 17 – July 1
DRIFTING STATES: THE FILMS OF APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL

July 8
AT HOME IN THE WORLD: CECIL HOLMES, ACTIVIST FILMMAKER

July 15 – July 29
HIROSHI SHIMIZU: FORGOTTEN MASTER

September 2 – September 16
JEAN COCTEAU: THE POETRY OF DREAMS

September 23 – September 30
QUEERING THE ARCHIVE: THE CINEMA OF BARBARA HAMMER

October 7 – October 14
GALLOWS BACCHANALIAS, FRACTIOUS FAIRY-TALES AND THE RULE OF THREE: THE CINEMA OF JURAJ JAKUBISKO

October 21 – November 4
REACHING BEYOND THE FRAME: THE POETIC CINEMA OF ABBAS KIAROSTAMI

November 11 – November 25
BORSCHT, SAUERKRAUT, GOULASH AND LEMONADE: AN INTRODUCTION TO OSTERNS AND RED WESTERNS

December 2 – December 16
THE LAND IS OURS: YOUSSEF CHAHINE