The First Transition:
World Cinema in the 1940s
Lecturer: Jonathan Rosenbaum
From January 23 through May 6, we offer a series of fourteen programs entitled The First Transition: World Cinema in the 1940s, with weekly lecture/discussions by Jonathan Rosenbaum, internationally renowned film critic and author of numerous books including Discovering Orson Welles. The series is made possible in part through the sponsorship of American Airlines, the Film Center’s Educational Underwriter, and is presented in cooperation with the School of the Art Institute’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism. Additional screenings of the films on Friday do not include Jonathan Rosenbaum’s lecture. Admission to all First Transition programs is $4 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members.
-- Martin Rubin
This two-part series is a “prequel” to my 2007-8 series The Great Transition: World Cinema in the 1950s and 1960s only in the sense that the latter transition alludes to the New Wave, whereas the “first transition” alludes to Italian neorealism. More specifically, the second part of the series deals with postwar cinema in a variety of contexts, including American comedy (Sturges, Lubitsch, Chaplin), horror film (Val Lewton), French Occupation cinema (L’Herbier), film noir (Ulmer, Welles), Japanese cinema (Ozu), British cinema (Powell & Pressburger), neorealism (Rossellini, De Sica), and international masters (Dreyer, Eisenstein).-- Jonathan Rosenbaum
CHRISTMAS IN JULY
1940, Preston Sturges, USA, 67 min.
With Dick Powell, Ellen Drew
1945, Edgar G. Ulmer, USA, 69 min.
With Tom Neal, Ann Savage
Two short, sharp visions of the American Success Dream, very different in style but equally trenchant:
CHRISTMAS IN JULY is comedy master Preston Sturges’s purest expression of his favorite theme: nothing exceeds (or recedes) like success. A lowly office clerk (Powell) gains fame and fortune by winning a coffee-company slogan contest…and then his troubles begin. 35mm.
Featuring a brilliant pulp script and a hair-raising femme fatale, DETOUR is deservedly a legend among connoisseurs of B-movies, film noir, and Poverty Row auteur Ulmer. A hapless shmoe (Neal) hitchhikes west to join his Hollywood-hopeful girlfriend and falls face first into the American Nightmare. Note: DETOUR plays on Jan. 28 only. 35mm. (MR)
Friday, January 23, 6:15 pm (CHRISTMAS IN JULY only)
Wednesday, January 28, 6:00 pm (Both films)
THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER
1940, Ernst Lubitsch, USA, 97 min.
With James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan
Perhaps Lubitsch’s best loved movie, this supremely charming romantic comedy (remade--but far from equaled--as 1949’s IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME and 1998’s YOU’VE GOT MAIL) centers on two bickering shop clerks (Stewart, Sullavan) who don’t realize they are each other’s lonely-hearts pen pals. Lubitsch drew upon his own boyhood experiences as a clerk in his father’s tailor shop, and few films have portrayed the workplace with such affectionate insight. 35mm. (MR)
Friday, January 30, 6:00 pm
Wednesday, February 4, 6:00 pm
The remaining schedule for the series will appear in the February Gazette.