23 February

OPENING NIGHT

NOTE: SCREENINGS AT THE CAPITOL UNTIL WEDNESDAY 16 MARCH

It has been trying times over the last two years and hopefully this year will be better. As an acknowledgement of the difficulties, we are beginning the year with two comedies directed by Mitchel Leisen and written by Preston Sturges. This is also a primer for our Sturges’ season which screens in March.

From the mid-30s into the late 40s Leisen was a much-respected A-grade Paramount Studio director and worked with many of the industry’s greatest artists including actors Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray, Jean Arthur, Claudette Colbert, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland, Paulette Goddard, and Dorothy Lamour (all of whom he worked with multiple times) and writers like Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett & Preston Sturges.

These writers are all well-known for writing & directing some of Hollywood’s great comedies, but where in their hands the comedy was fast, slapstick, dark, bitter, and cynical, Leisen moulded their scripts, removing some of the more outré material and slowing the pace to create works of humanistic melancholia with real physical and emotional attraction between his principal characters.

As a footnote, Leisen was ostensibly married to Stella Yeager, but as is suggested by the list of performers he worked with (a women’s director!), he was another of the Golden Age of Hollywood’s queer directors, along with Friedrich Murnau, James Whale, George Cukor, Dorothy Arzner and Nicholas Ray. He had a very long relationship with dancer/actor/choreographer Billy Daniel until the 1950s.

Please keep safe and keep others safe. You will need to wear masks at the Cinémathèque screenings and produce documentation of your vaccination status. Also, try to remain in the foyer for as short a time as possible, and minimise eating during the screenings. Two reasons, it can be noisy and it means you will not be wearing a mask.

Enjoy, and let’s have a fantastic year,

Michael Koller
On behalf of The Melbourne Cinémathèque

Wednesday 23 February

NOTE: SCREENINGS AT THE CAPITOL UNTIL WEDNESDAY MARCH 16

7pm EASY LIVING
Mitchell Leisen (1937) 88 mins – PG

One of the defining works of Hollywood romantic comedy, Leisen’s deftly calibrated and beautifully staged tale of a young working girl (the extraordinary Jean Arthur) who chances upon an expensive sable coat when it is flung from the high-rise apartment of a wealthy banker (Edward Arnold) was Preston Sturges’ first major script for Paramount. Ray Milland features as the millionaire’s son who ends up courting Arthur. Sturges’ screenplay highlights the themes of success and fast-paced modern life that would define his later work and gives space to a wonderful stock company of character actors who would go on to define his cinema (Franklin Pangborn, Robert Greig, William Demarest and so on).


8.45pm REMEMBER THE NIGHT
Mitchell Leisen (1940) 94 mins – Unclassified 15 +

Beautifully directed by Leisen from a brilliant screenplay by Preston Sturges – the last before starting his directorial career – this luminous film conveys the sentimental gleam of new-found love but goes well beyond the hide-bound conventions of romantic comedy. Leisen’s handling of the romance between prosecutor Fred MacMurray and the savvy shoplifter (Barbara Stanwyck) he falls for, caught stealing a diamond bracelet during the Christmas rush, is surprisingly complex and unexpectedly moving. A knowing follow up to the director and writer’s Easy Living, it also features Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson and Sterling Holloway.

23 February
OPENING NIGHT 2022

2 March – 16 March
“THIS COCKEYED CARAVAN”: THE COMIC UNIVERSE OF PRESTON STURGES

23 March – 4 April
FEARLESS VULNERABILITY: THE FILMS OF JULIETTE BINOCHE

12 April – 27 April
WILDFLOWERS: DANCING, DESIRE AND FREEDOM IN THE FILMS OF GILLIAN ARMSTRONG

4 May – 18 May
MORE THAN NIGHT: THE FATAL VISION OF FRITZ LANG

25 May – 1 June
FACING MODERNITY: A TRIBUTE TO MONICA VITTI

8 June – 22 June
REACHING BEYOND THE FRAME: THE POETIC CINEMA OF ABBAS KIAROSTAMI

29 June – 13 July
HIROSHI SHIMIZU: FORGOTTEN MASTER

20 July – 3 August
MASTERPIECES OF UKRAINIAN CINEMA

24 August – 7 September
"LIFE’S PARADE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS": DOUGLAS SIRK

14 September – 28 September
OSCILLATING WILDLY: CÉLINE SCIAMMA’S INCLUSIVE CINEMA – FILMS TBA

5 October – 12 October
GALLOWS BACCHANALIAS, FRACTIOUS FAIRY-TALES AND THE RULE OF THREE: THE CINEMA OF JURAJ JAKUBISKO – FILMS TBA

19 October
AT HOME IN THE WORLD: CECIL HOLMES, ACTIVIST FILMMAKER – FILMS TBA

26 October – 2 November
QUEERING THE ARCHIVE: THE CINEMA OF BARBARA HAMMER– FILMS TBA

9 November – 23 November
THE BRINK OF LIFE: F. W. MURNAU, CINEMATIC VISIONARY – FILMS TBA

30 November
SHIFTING THE FOCUS: JOAN MICKLIN SILVER IN THE SEVENTIES – FILMS TBA

7 December – 21 December
GENRE NONCONFORMITY AND EAST SIDE STORIES: DECENTRING THE MUSICAL – FILMS TBA