“Actually, what will be shown from here to eternity will be Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr cavorting on the beach.” Manny Farber, The Nation.
Is there a better way to wallow in the post-gluttony induced guilt of a Turkey-day binge then to admire two superbly fit and breathtakingly beautiful stars makeout-wrestle on the beach in this iconic classic? I doubt it.
From Here to Eternity
Friday, November 29th: 7pm & 915pm
Saturday, November 30 7pm & 925pm
Sunday, December 1st 5pm&715pm
Lancastic rolls on this weekend and Burt finds himself trapped in two very different situations. In Birdman of Alcatraz, he’s trapped by prison walls. In The Train, he’s trapped between the French resistance and a Nazi train laden with stolen art. Both are directed by John Frankenheimer, whose career was given a huge boost by Lancaster after the two worked on The Young Savages in 1961.
Frankenheimer wasn’t supposed to direct either of these films. Birdman began under Charles Chrichton (The Lavender Hill Mob, a bunch of other stuff), but Lancaster brought in Frankenheimer to take over. A perhaps over-ambitious prestige bio-pic (the first cut was over 4 hours long), it was still quite the success, earning Lancaster his 3rd of 4 best actor nominations — which he lost to Gregory Peck for To Kill A Mockingbird, no shame in losing to that performance.
The Train is more in the Frankenheimer mode, a tense, action-filled thriller. But Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, Night Moves, other classics) was the initial director, until Lancaster fired him and brought in Frankenheimer to make the film more action-packed. Lancaster does his own stunts, real trains are crashed, real dynamite blows up real good. It’s a style of action mostly unseen since special effects took over the world.
See? Isn’t that great? Real humans did that stuff. Not a computer.
Birdman of Alcatraz
Friday, November 22nd: 7pm
Saturday, November 23rd: 9:30pm
Sunday, November 24th: 7:30pm Buy tickets
Friday, November 22nd: 9:30pm
Saturday, November 23rd: 7pm
Sunday, November 24th: 5pm Buy tickets
It was early in my days with the Trylon when I feel in love with Lancaster when we showed The Sweet Smell of Success, a movie so dark, so mean, so grim that it’s hard to believe it was ever made. Shortly thereafter I went on a noir bender and saw Lancaster in both The Killers and Criss Cross, which only cemented my love of Lancaster.
So imagine my excitement when we announced a whole month of Lancaster! 11 films, 9 of which were new to me. Now that we’re half-way through the month, I thought I’d offer a brief summary of what we’ve shown so far and what we have coming up. If you’ve missed the films so far, there’s still plenty of great movies coming up.
Tonight and tomorrow we’ll be showing Ulzana’s Raid, which Trylon regular John Bloomfield has already introduced quite well. But I’m interested in seeing it as a companion piece to The Professionals. That earlier film straddled the line between straightforward western and the darker, introspective westerns that began to appear in the 60s. For all its attempts at grimy characters with questionable morals, The Professionals remained a bit too glossy and clean. But by the time Ulzana was made, all that sheen had been stripped from the western, and I’m very excited to see how Lancaster approaches a truly dark Western.
This weekend is double dose of Lancaster/Frankenheimer. The Train is what I expect from the pairing, a stunt-heavy action film, with the physically amazing Lancaster doing all his own stunts. The Train falls nicely in line with films like The Swimmer and Trapeze as a film that highlights Lancaster’s intense physicality, and I’m very excited to see how Frankenheimer puts Lancaster to use.
On the utter opposite end of the spectrum is Birdman of Alcatraz a biopic set almost entirely in a prison cell, a weird work in both of Lancaster and Frankenheimer’s careers. The subject of Robert Stroud seems so far from Lancaster’s usual wheelhouse of energetic, charming characters. But as he showed in The Killers, he had the ability to play quiet, internal men as well. So, while much of Birdman looks like a prototypical “Prestige Picture”, I’m interested in seeing it for a restrained (in more than ways than one) Lancaster.
On the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving we show Run Silent, Run Deep, another film that constrains the effervescent Lancaster, this time by both the walls of a submarine and the laws of his captain, Clark Gable. Made right after Sweet Smell of Success, the film looks to be a more traditional studio product after that paradigm-smashing masterpiece. The pairing of Lancaster and Gable is the big draw for me, as this is the only film we’re showing in this series where Lancaster share’s the screen with a ‘classic’ star, someone just as able of dominating the screen as he was.
Our final Lancaster film is one of his best known, From Here to Eternity. Known as a soapy romance, the film also focuses on darker, repressed fears. While I don’t expect anything like the existential horror of The Swimmer, I’m excited to see this classic for another Lancaster performance as a man running from his past.
A pickup baseball game played by soldiers on the barren ochre land outside Fort Lowell is interrupted when a rider appears yelling, “Ulzana’s on a raid”. Ulzana (Joaquin Martinez) and a small group of Apaches have broken out of the San Carlos Reservation. When the Fort’s officers say they won’t know how large a force to deploy until they have determined both how many Apaches have broken out and what Ulzana’s probable intention is, the experienced Army scout McIntosh (Burt Lancaster) responds, “Their probable intention is to burn, maim, torture, rape, and murder.” Two messengers are dispatched to warn homesteaders. Both are ambushed, one of them while he is escorting a woman and her son, and the stunning violence that occurs (some of which is self-inflicted) indicates the accuracy of McIntosh’s assessment.
McIntosh and Indian scout Ke-Ni-Tay (Jorge Luke) go with the cavalry troop that is sent to hunt Ulzana. The troop is led by a greenhorn, Lieutenant DeBuin (Bruce Davidson), who is just six months out of the Army Academy. As they attempt to out-maneuver Ulzana, this pursuit Western becomes a contest in which, as McIntosh says, “The first one to make a mistake gets to burying some people”.
The characters are sharply drawn. The naive DeBuin tries to be both a Christian and a soldier, following the edicts of his pastor father, but finds it increasingly difficult to understand Ulzana and his cruelty. McIntosh, who lives with an Indian woman, says he does not hate the Apache because it would “be like hatin’ the desert cause there ain’t no water in it. I can get by just bein’ plenty scared of them”. And Ke-Ni-Tay, who is Ulzana’s brother-in law—their wives are sisters—explains that Ulzana kills the way he does because “Each man that die, the man that kill him take the power”.
Ulzana’s Raid is based on a brilliant script by Alan Sharp (Night Moves), and Aldrich elicits fine performances by Davidson, Luke, Martinez, and Richard Jaeckel as a veteran sergeant, as well as by Lancaster. The action scenes are meticulously filmed and shockingly violent. In 1972, when this savage movie was made, it clearly referenced the Vietnam War—with DeBuin’s cavalry troop dealing with an implacable enemy that they do not understand. Ulzana’s Raid still has relevance today.
John Bloomfield wrote the column New York on Film for The New York Resident from 2002 to 2005. More recently he contributed a chapter on the films of Guy Maddin to the anthology Cinema Inferno (Scarecrow Press, 2010), and presented a paper on the Mexican films of Luis Buñuel at the Southwest/Texas Popular Culture Association Conference in 2012.
THE HOLIDAYS! Oh, man, you either love ’em or hate ’em. Love the shopping, trimming the tree, celebrating with family and friends… or not.
One thing we can all agree on, the holidays see some dynamite movies coming. Our brother and sister screens here in town have sleigh full of great titles. The Trylon’s pleased as punch to bring you a list of the great flicks programmed by the local geniuses at the Heights, Riverview, and Landmark Theaters:
TOP HAT, 1935, dir Mark Sandrich, w/Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
7:30pm at the Heights Theater.
Friday, November 29
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, 1953, dir Fred Zinneman, w/Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr.
Friday and Saturday at 7 & 9:15 and Sunday at 5 & 7:15 at the Trylon microcinema.
THE ARMSTRONG LIE, 2013, dir Alex Gibney.
THE GREAT BEAUTY, 2013, dir Paolo Sorrentino, w/Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone.
Regular engagement at the Lagoon Cinema.
Monday, December 2
A TASTE OF SIN, 2013, dir Jia Zhangke, w/Zhao Tao, Jiang Wu.
Monday and Tuesday 7 & 9:30 at the Trylon microcinema.
Friday, December 6 PATHS OF GLORY, 1957, dir. Stanley Kubrick, w/ Kirk Douglas, Adlophe Menjou.
Friday and Saturday at 7 & 9, Sunday at 5 & 7 at the Trylon microcinema.
GO FOR SISTERS, 2013, dir John Sayles, w/LisaGay Hamilton, Yolonda Ross.
OUT OF THE FURNACE, 2013, dir Scott Cooper, w/Christian Bale, Casey Affleck.
Regular engagement at the Lagoon Cinema.
Saturday, December 7
WHITE CHRISTMAS, 1954, dir Michael Curtiz, w/Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney.
Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 and 7:00 at the Heights Theatre.
Monday, December 9
CAMILLE CLAUDEL 1915, 2013, dir Bruno Dumont, w/Juliette Binoche.
Monday and Tuesday at 7 & 9 at the Trylon microcinema.
Thursday, December 12
LES VEPRES SICILIENNES, 2013, The Royal Opera House
Two shows only on December 12 and 15 at the Edina Cinema.
Friday, December 13 KILLER’S KISS, 1955, dir Stanley Kubrick, w/Jamie Smith, Irene Kane.
FEAR AND DESIRE, 1953, dir Kubrick, w/Frank Silvera, Kenneth Harp. Killer’s Kiss shows Friday at 7, Saturday at 8:30, Sunday at 6:30; Fear and Desire screens Friday at 8:30, Sat at 7, Sunday at 5:00 and 8:00 at the Trylon microcinema.
THE LAST DAYS ON MARS, 2013, dir Ruairi Robinson, w/Liev Schreiber, Romola Garai.
Regular engagement at the Uptown Theatre.
Sunday, December 15
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, 1989, w/Chevy Chase.
1:30pm at the Heights Theatre.
Monday, December 16
BASTARDS, 2013, dir Claire Denis, w/Vincent Lindon, Lola Creton.
Monday and Tuesday 7 & 9 at the Trylon microcinema.
Wednesday, December 18 THE DEFENDERS: MATT GAMBLE
Secret movie screens at 7:00 at the Trylon microcinema.
RICHARD II, Royal Shakespeare Company
Wednesday December 18 at 7:00 and Sunday, December 22 at 11:00am at the Edina Cinema.
Friday, December 20
BARRY LYNDON, 1975, dir Stanley Kubrick, w/Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson.
Friday and Saturday one show at 7:00, Sunday at 5 & 8:30 at the Trylon microcinema.
A CHRISTMAS STORY, 1983, dir Bob Clark, w/Peter Billingsly, Melinda Dillon.
Shows December 20-23 at the Riverview Theater.
INSDIE LLEWYN DAVIS, 2013, dir Joel & Ethan Coen, w/Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake.
Regular engagement at the Uptown Theatre.
Monday, December 23
ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW, 2013, dir Randy Moore.
Shows Monday, 12/24 and Monday, 12/31 at the Trylon microcinema.