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May 31-June 6, 2006

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This Week's Revivals

By Richard von Busack


Movie Times Lucky Partners
(1940) Ronald Colman and Ginger Rogers—it's the studio's idea that opposites might attract. He's a famous embittered painter who goes half on a lottery ticket with a shop girl; if the ticket wins, he says, they have to go on a trip together, even though she's about to marry a Ralph Bellamy (Jack Carson plays the Bellamy). Certain aspects of the film, claimed critic Otis Ferguson, "made strong men head to the nearest bar." It's based on a short story by French farceur Sasha Guitry. (Plays May 31-Jun 2 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times Oklahoma!
(1955) See story. The ultimate escapist dream of a wild West and cowboying at its most exuberant. The success of "this pastoral opera" (Agnes de Mille) is partially due to Gordon MacRae and the kittenish 19-year-old Shirley Jones. Part of the charm, too, is that the movie is two kinds of Westerns in one. Certainly, MacRae out-Rogers Roy, to the delight of kids; here he was, the most robust singing cowboy in what was once a crowded field. One the other hand, director Fred Zinnemann gets to show his tough side; could either Anthony Mann or Budd Boetticher have elicited more twisted evil out of the smokehouse rat of a villain, Poor Jud (Rod Steiger)? Tune by tune, this is Rodgers and Hammerstein's most artistically successful musical. Thanks to the Stanford Theatre Foundation, this screening features an original 70 mm Todd-AO print for that full widescreen effect. (Plays May 30 and Jun 1 in San Jose at the California Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times Pee-wee's Big Adventure
(1985) Tim Burton's minor classic of Expressionist cartooning is a retake on The Bicycle Thief, with a Los Angeles child-in-a-man's-body named Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) on the trail of a beloved bike stolen and spirited away—apparently to the basement of the Alamo. The score by Danny Elfman—his first—brings out the well-developed sinister side of this comedy; almost single-handedly, Burton went on to invigorate bland '80s moviemaking with the long shadows and theatrical menace of the old Universal horror movies. This begins the annual outdoor series of screenings known as Cinema San Pedro, sponsored by Cinequest. The series runs Wednesdays through Sept. 6. (Plays Jun 7 at sunset in San Jose at San Pedro Square; www.cinequest.org.) (RvB)

Movie Times Plan 9 From Outer Space
See story.

Movie Times The Talk of the Town
(1942) George Stevens' comedy/drama about justice stars Cary Grant as a union organizer wanted for arson, lodging with a law professor (Ronald Colman) under the care of landlady Jean Arthur. This unusual plot, like that of The Philadelphia Story, shows some hints of social struggle breaking into the typical screwball comedy scenario. (Plays May 31-Jun 3 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times Two Weeks in Another Town/The Courtship of Eddie's Father
(1962/1963) La Dolce Vita looked like so much fun, but scriptwriter Charles Schnee (who worked with Ray Harryhausen on the made-in-Italy Sinbad movies) reveals that Rome was just another tank town for cinematic spoilers, and that "Cinecittà" is just the Italian word for "angst." Kirk Douglas stars as a cracked actor subbing for a failing director (Edward G. Robinson) on an Italian shoot; Cyd Charisse co-stars as his prowling ex-wife. Peter Bogdanovich maintains that it is a better movie than the Fellini classic: "Compare Fellini's tiresome, vapid orgy sequences with Minnelli's sexy, colorful ones." Will do! Eye and arm candy on display include Israeli sex-bomb Dahlia Lavi (the original Casino Royale) and Leslie Uggams. BILLED WITH The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Glenn Ford, the Mel Gibson of his day, plays a Manhattan widower whose son (Ron Howard, decades before he was baffling the world with The Da Vinci Code) is trying to help his dad find a new mom. Stella Stevens, underrated comedian that she is, is very proud of her performance as the "profane love" interest (as Vincente Minnelli described her ); Shirley Jones as the more sacred variety, and the skinny-eyed Dina Merrill is the date allergic to motherhood. (Plays Jun 4-6 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times The Winning of Barbara Worth
(1926) Yearning for Burning Man? Have a look at this early Western about the creation of the Salton Sea, with silent-screen heartthrob Vilma Banky torn between an effete easterner (Ronald Colman) and a cowboy (Gary Cooper). It's the bestselling version of the hydrological mishap that devastated the Imperial Valley, but the movie was shot somewhere else entirely: in Nevada's incomparable Black Rock Desert, 100 miles north of Reno, where a spur railroad line had to be built to film it. Clark Wilson at the Stanford's Wurlitzer. (Plays Jun 3-4 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)


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