It’s another in our Masterpieces of Paranoia series!
De Palma, master of the homage, borrows from Blow-Up and The Conversation and goes totally de Palma on them, creating a movie of tremendous style and insight into filmmaking. Sound engineer John Travolta accidentally records evidence of a murder, but is it more important to find the killer or finish the movie?
Blow Out screens Monday and Tuesday, February 9 and 10, at 7:00 and 9:00. Want advance tickets? They’re right here.
Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep is on the shortlist of essential noirs: it’s fast-paced, cynical and razor-sharp, with a very young Lauren Bacall playing Vivian Rutledge, whose half-sister Carmen (Martha Vickers) has fallen in with a den of pornographers. Humphrey Bogart plays Raymond Chandler’s world-weary private eye Philip Marlowe.
As a noir, this movie hits all the marks: there are stake-outs, dangerous dames, double-crosses and cynical antiheroes getting sapped in back alleys. We even get a scene where Bogart shows up at a gambling club in order to “send a signal” to the mysterious head of the syndicate. Many have complained over the years that the film’s plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, and that’s true. But trying to make sense of the plot just spoils the fun. It’s better to just let each scene wash over you.
And each scene – penned by William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett — is brilliant, perfectly tailored for Bogart and Bacall’s palpable screen chemistry. The Big Sleep is one of the best films of the 1940s, and this may be one of the last chances you’ll have to see it in 35mm, the film’s original format. –Michael Popham
THE BIG SLEEP screens Friday and Saturday, February 6 and 7 at 7:00 and 9:15, and Sunday, February 8 at 5:00 and 7:15, at the Trylon. Advance tickets can be purchased here.
All white-knuckle paranoia and crisply-photographed Cold War flop sweat, John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate jangles nerves by diving into the heart of mid-century America’s deepest fears. Chinese operatives capture an American patrol that’s been lured off the beaten track during the Korean War. The soldiers are brainwashed, provided with a set of false memories, and set free, remembering nothing of their capture. One of them, Lt. Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) is tinkered with further; he’s programmed as a sleeper assassin. Once back in the States, he’s celebrated as a war hero and is the toast of Washington — even his estranged father, red-baiting congressman Johnny Isaakson (James Gregory) wants to be photographed with him. No one suspects he’s now a Communist killbot, ready to assassinate whomever his masters choose. All they have to do is pick up the phone.
Luckily for our side, Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) was also on the patrol that fateful night, and while he can’t put his finger on it, he knows something is definitely wrong. He keeps having nightmares that he’s in an auditorium, where Communist psychiatrists are demonstrating an amazing new technique in mind control. Even weirder, whenever anyone asks him about Lt. Shaw, his praise seems, well, automatic: “Raymond Shaw,” he tells people. “is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” Except, as Marco readily admits, he never even liked the guy.
Marco must race against time to put the clues together, knowing that Shaw is the pawn in a very dangerous game — one that could bring America to ruin. This is a fast-paced thriller that stands up very well today, thanks to a tautly-written script by George Axelrod, from the novel by Richard Condon. — Michael Popham
The Manchurian Candidate screens Monday and Tuesday, February 2 and 3, at 7:00 and 9:30 at the Trylon. You can purchase advance tickets here.