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May 9-15, 2007

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This Week's Revivals

By Richard von Busack


Movie Times Alice Adams/Holiday
(1935/1938) Booth Tarkington's novel, a hurting comedy of Midwestern snobbery, is the direct template for Pretty in Pink; the film stars Katharine Hepburn as the poor, small-town girl trying to rise above. More about this anon. George Stevens directs, and Fred Stone co-stars as the shiftless father: "Played with a good rough edge but an eye tending to slide off to the camera crew to see how they're taking it," wrote critic Otis Ferguson. BILLED WITH Holiday, George Cukor's drama about a wealthy, boyish heiress (played by Hepburn) who travels to broaden herself. Cary Grant co-stars, with the highprincipled Lew Ayres and Edward Everett Horton. (Plays May 16-17 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)

Movie Times My Country, My Country
(2006) Laura Poitras' study of Dr. Riyadh, a Sunni political candidate who is prodemocracy and anti-occupation in the newly democratic Iraq. Poitras spent eight months following Riyadh as he tends his family, as well as the dozens of wounded pouring into his office. She also interviews U.S. military and privately hired security contractors. (Plays May 11 at 7:30pm in Palo Alto at Unitarian Hall, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston; www. worldcentric.org.)

Movie Times The Philadelphia Story/A Bill of Divorcement
(1940/1932) The Henry Luce-like publisher of Spy magazine (meant to be Life magazine) forces an idealistic novelistturned- reporter ( Jimmy Stewart) to cover a high-society wedding. His entry is vouchsafed by another Spy employee—the bride's self-amused, dissolute ex-husband (Cary Grant). All this would seem like hard cheese for the bride, except that the frigidness and brittleness of heiress Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) is all too well known by the male members of her family. In developing this film from her Broadway hit, and in implicitly critiquing her image as a slender art deco vial of boxoffice poison, Hepburn saved her movie career. Here she shows her erotic side, in a shadowy two-shot of herself, tousled and tipsy, hiding in a carriage with Grant. Director George Cukor's film is a peak of cinematic elegance during the Hollywood studio age. Rarely did Grant get to rebound off a male star who was in his league, as he does here with Stewart. While essentially a slice of cake, it's rich with implications of Hollywood's conflicting attitudes toward the class structure in America. It represents the coda of an era in movies when playboys and women in sequined gowns sauntered through the movies with cocktail glasses in hand. Here, these figures of the leisure class confront the discontent of people who had to fight their way up from the bottom. BILLED WITH A Bill of Divorcement. Once, Bugs Bunny asked Elmer Fudd, "Is there any insanity in your family?" The rabbit picked up that line from the movie, which teamed Hepburn (debuting) and John Barrymore as her trembling father in a faithful version of Clemence Dane's play about a hereditary taint staining some members of the upper class. (Plays May 11-13 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)


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