“Elmer Gantry is an all American boy! He’s interested in money, sex…and religion.”
Burt Lancaster was nominated four times for a Leading Actor Oscar (From Here to Eternity, Elmer Gantry, Birdman of Alcatraz and Atlantic City), but only pulled down a win once for Elmer Gantry, screening tonight and tomorrow at the Trylon. Based on the novel of the same name by Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry tells the story of a slick con man, played by Lancaster, and a pious agent of God, played by Jean Simmons, who team up for a hard-to-beat religious roadshow. Lancaster uses his charisma to create award-winning appeal as the fiery preacher, but his past is about to catch up with him in the form of a woman scorned!
As with our entire Burt Lancaster series, Elmer Gantry will be presented on beautiful 35mm. Buy tickets in advance for screenings on Monday and Tuesday, November 11 and 12, at 7:00pm.
Oh, you lucky souls! Lancastic!, our Burt Lancaster Centennial Series marches on with two of his craziest, most entertaining flicks, including TRAPEZE, from 1956, and not available on DVD anywhere in this hemisphere. Pony up for two tickets and you can see that and The Professionals, which isn’t quite in the same cynical ranks as the acid Westerns of the 1970s, but it’s close, it’s close.
Trapeze is directed by Carol Reed (of The Third Man fame) and stars Burt as a trapeze artist, which is perfect because, well, you know he used to be one in real life. See, Burt’s character Mike has been trapeze-ing forever, and he takes Tony Curtis’ Tino under his wing. But there’s some bad blood when sexy Lola (Gina Lollobrigida)–“a twisting, turning, taunting godess!”– comes betwixt them! Burt must’ve liked working with Curtis, for they’re seen together in the classic Sweet Smell of Success just a year later.
Much as I adore The Professionals, if there’s only one of these two you can see, check out Trapeze, ’cause there ain’t no place else you’re ever gonna see it. Believe you me.
Trapeze shows Friday at 7:00, Saturday at 9:15, and Sunday at 7:15. The Professionals screens Friday at 9:00, Saturday at 7:00, and Sunday at 5:00. Get your tickets here!
“When you talk about The Swimmer will you talk about yourself?” Let’s be honest–that is one weird looking poster. And The Swimmer is one weird, weird movie. And again, to be honest, you probably won’t walk out of the Trylon asking yourself: “Am I like Burt Lancaster’s Neddy Merrill?”
This is a very 60s, Mad Men type of a movie (though so much better than that show), where a buttoned-down man confronts his failures. The original short story, by John Cheever, is absolutely brilliant, and widely regarded as one of the greatest short stories in American literature. Its central metaphor is strange and compelling: one Sunday, one of those lazy midsummer Sundays where everyone’s recovering from a hangover, Ned Merrill, champion swimmer, decides that he’s going to “swim” across his suburb of Bullet Park, walking in only his trunks across back yards, diving into people’s pools, and then repeating the process until he returns home (he begins across town at a neighbor’s home.) He names the chain of pools the “Lucinda River” after his wife. And in the process, he discovers nasty secrets about himself and his clean-cut neighbors.
Time has aged this film a bit (though the story remains solid–it’s only ten pages, so you should read it before you check out the movie), but it’s still a fascinating examination into this culture. Burt Lancaster is brilliant, and had to overcome a tremendous fear of water (which even included swimming in pools.) Fortunately for us, we live in an era that’s more relaxed, and perhaps honest, than this time period. But let’s not forget that we had to go through this type of self-examination in order to get here. Guys like Neddy Merrill used to exist en masse back in the day (and no, I don’t mean guys who would swim across the suburbs.) So give The Swimmer its due–it was startling in its day and retains much of its power even now.
Plus, I just have to say, the damn thing is groovy.
The Swimmer screens tonight and tomorrow at the Trylon microcinema at 7:00 and 9:00. Get your tickets here.