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June 21-27, 2006

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This Week's Revivals

By Richard von Busack


Movie Times The Boondock Saints
(1999) Two brothers (twins no less) try to fight evil in Boston. Stars Willem Dafoe and Sean Patrick Flanery. (Plays Jun 22 at 9:30pm at the Los Gatos Cinema, Jun 23 at midnight at Camera 7 in Campbell and Jun 24 at midnight in San Jose at Camera 12.)

Movie Times A Double Life
(1947) Often filed under film noir—and deservedly so. Ronald Colman's late-period performance about a cracked actor named Anthony John; his ex-wife (Signe Hasso) can't slow him as he heads down a corridor of madness. Colman is excellent embodying the sadness of a thespian who can't remember who he really is any more. Still, the movie has its creakier side; composer Miklos Rosza always was a bulldozer, and so was Shelley Winters, even from the time of this, her debut as a sleazy waitress. Later, director George Cukor intimated that Colman may not have had enough of a really demonic side to be Othello—in fact, Colman was legendary for what Othello denounces, that "soft part of conversation that chamberers have." In any case, it's a great happiness to hear that voice doing those lines, and this film is essential viewing for anyone studying acting. (Plays June 28-30 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)

Movie Times Gigi/The Reluctant Debutante
(Both 1958) An elderly French roué (Maurice Chevalier) thanks heaven for little girls, particularly the fresh schoolgirl Leslie Caron. The unlikely story (from Colette) was the source of one of the most honored of all screen musicals by Lerner and Loewe (My Fair Lady, Camelot). Louis Jourdan and Hermione Gingold co-star. BILLED WITH The Reluctant Debutante. Vincente Minnelli's comedy about an American stepdaughter getting the works in London society. Stars Rex Harrison and his wife, the ill-fated comedian Kay Kendall, and Sandra Dee—the 1950s' answer to Reese Witherspoon? (Plays Jun 25-27 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)

Movie Times Her Sister From Paris
(1925) Tired of being ignored, a wife (Constance Talmadge) poses as her sophisticated sister from Paris. Dennis James plays the Stanford's Wurlitzer. (Plays Jun 24-25 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)

Movie Times Jaws
(1975) "I don't know who Mr. [Nathaniel] Benchley is ... but he knows the great white. Because everything he writes about could happen." —Ron Taylor, co-director of the documentary Blue Water, White Death (1971), as quoted in Joseph McBride's Steven Spielberg. In a small resort town, a great white shark terrorizes the vacationers; a tough fisherman (Robert Shaw) and an undersized oceanographer (Richard Dreyfus) team up to slay the beast. Spielberg made his name and fortune with this megahit underwater monster movie. Taken a little less seriously in its day, thanks to the sometimes rubbery Bruce the shark. Still, it had a lightness of tone that Spielberg's movies have lacked ever since, after the director's 1970s scruffiness gave way to decades of rabbinical self-importance. Audiences have been jumping ever since to its mix of underwater photography, skillful editing and John Williams' score (possibly an homage to Bernard Herrmann's minimalist all-strings Psycho soundtrack). Maybe the most lasting effect of the film is Spielberg's invention: the pop-up scene that's given hundreds of lame horror movies the illusion of tension. (Plays Jun 28 at sunset in San Jose at San Pedro Square; www.cinequest.org; free.)

Movie Times Kismet
(1944) Exactly what Edward Said meant by "Orientalism." Ronald Colman plays Hafiz, a beggar and magician of Baghdad who romances the mistress of a dangerous Grand Vizier (Edward Arnold). Memorable especially as the movie where Marlene Dietrich was covered from tip to toe with gold paint, some years before Shirley Eaton tried it. (Plays Jun 21-23 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)

Movie Times Saturday Night Fever
(1977) In this dark, low-budget musical, a working-class disco in Bay Ridge is the cockpit where Tony (John Travolta), a half-bright hardware store clerk, struts his stuff. Director John Badham infuses the film with the beat of the Brothers Gibb hits that ruled the airwaves for months after this came out. Thanks to the editing, even if you hate the song, it's hard to get "Stayin' Alive" out of your mind for days after seeing it. Karen Lynn Gorney plays the girl trying to climb out of the neighborhood. (Plays Jun 21 at sunset in San Jose at San Pedro Square; www.cinequest.org; free.)

Movie Times The Unholy Garden
(1931) This sounds dainty: Ronald Colman stars as a lamming bank robber who roosts in an Algerian quagmire with other lost souls: a German military turncoat (Ullrich Haupt), a murdering doctor (Lawrence Grant) who uses his wife's skull as a tobacco jar, and an ancient French embezzler with a large hidden fortune and a nubile daughter (Fay Wray). Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur cooked it up, in one night—or so they boasted. (Plays Jun 21-24 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)


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