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09.26.07

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This Week's Revivals

By Richard von Busack


Movie Times Gold Diggers of 1933
(1933) Pre-Code, kitschy, wild and slightly grimy, the Warner Bros. musical is exemplified in Gold Diggers of 1933. The film was made at the bottom of the Depression. Naturally, it's about the class struggle: the courtship between patrician Dick Powell and working (chorus) girl Ruby Keeler. As always, the Elmer Fuddish Guy Kibbee provides the comic relief, impersonating a nooky-struck plutocrat. Also as always, Joan Blondell is aboard, dubbed by Marian Anderson, singing "Remember My Forgotten Man"—as fine a piece of fake Brecht as you'll ever see. But Brecht never imagined Ginger Rogers in a gold-coin-covered bikini singing "We're in the Money" in pig Latin. And who but the deranged genius choreographer Busby Berkeley could conceive of a horde of platinum-blonde women carrying neon violins, arranged in the form of a 100-foot-long lit-up neon violin? (Plays Sep 30 at 7pm in Saratoga at the Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road. www.montalvoarts.org.) (RvB)

Movie Times Lollipop Girls In Hard Candy in 3-D
(1976) Stephen Gibson (Black Lolita, Hot Skin), directing under the name "Norm dePlume" (no relation to "Syd O. Nym"), leads us through this hard-hitting exposť of the aphrodisiac-laced candy racket with a scrupulous 60 Minutes–style analysis of its results. John Holmes is among those seen, along with cast members "Brenda Ram" and "John Seeman." Adults only, and free 3-D glasses included. (Plays Sep 28-29 at midnight in Palo Alto at the Aquarius Theater.) (RvB)

Movie Times Meet Me in St. Louis/This Happy Breed
(Both 1944) Vincente Minnelli's cherished musical about the 1903 World"'s Fair in St. Louis and a family's awakening to the new century. It's nostalgia, but it's nostalgia with dark shadows, emblematic of the bleak year in which it was made. The sadness is audible in the diminuendo wartime Christmas carol "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The film offers a lot: not just the pleasantness of watching unruffled lives but a brilliant Halloween sequence. In it, Minnelli claimed he was trying to capture a child's "wistful longing for horror." As the daughter who can't seem to get next to the boy next door, Judy Garland gives her best performance. So does the irresistible Margaret O'Brien as the family's little sister. BILLED WITH This Happy Breed. NoŽl Coward's tightly controlled account of a normal British middle-class family enduring titanic days from the end of World War I to the middle of World War II. David Lean directs Robert Newton and Stanley Holloway. (Plays Sep 26-28 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times Niles Essanay Film Museum
Regularly scheduled silent movies. Tonight: Pioneer film director Augusto Genina's Italian-made hand-tinted Cyrano de Bergerac (1925) with "Memories of Silent Stars No. 4" and Harold Lloyd in His Royal Slyness (1920). Harold Lloyd's sendup of The Prisoner of Zenda has a meek book-peddler impersonating King Razzamatazz of Thermosa. Music by David Giovacchini and the Ahl-i Nafs. (Plays Sep 29 at 7:30 in Fremont at the Edison Theater, 37417 Niles Blvd; www.nilesfilmmuseum.org.) (RvB)

Movie TimesThe Prisoner of Zenda/The Palm Beach Story
(1937/1942) In the tiny imaginary country of Zenda, an Englishman (Ronald Colman) is induced to impersonate a king. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. stars as the pleasantly lethal Rupert of Hentzau. and Madeleine Carroll plays the princess. Also starring C. Aubrey Smith in one of the most dangerous of his harrumphing colonel roles, David Niven and Mary Astor. BILLED WITH The Palm Beach Story. Claudette Colbert runs away from her broke husband (Joe McCrea) in hopes of finding a sugar daddy. Some of the plutocrats she meets: the fusty but sweet John D. Hackensacker III (Rudy Vallee), the oracular old Texas Wienie King (Robert Dudley) and the armed, dangerous and drunken members of the Ale & Quail Club. No other director managed the combination of slapstick and literary comedy as well as Sturges, but sometimes he's so ruthlessly funny that he tends to alienate the sensitive. The Palm Beach Story has a resilient love story at its core, making it the perfect introduction to this massive talent. (Plays Sep 29-Oct 2 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)


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