Wednesday, September 19, 2018

GEORGE SEGAL AT THE AERO, by Judith Resell

“He is the greatest actor I have ever seen,” commented a tearful George Segal, regarding Richard Burton’s performance in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). “People mention Brando, but there’s never a false moment in Richard’s performance.” Foster Hirsch interviewed Segal after a screening of the film at the Aero Theatre on August 5, 2018. Segal added that he had seen Burton’s Hamlet on stage and, for the first time, understood the character.

Photo by Sasha Lebedeva
“I can’t believe I’m still here,” smiled Segal, the only surviving actor from the film, after the applause from his standing ovation quieted down. All four actors - Segal, Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sandy Dennis - received Oscar nominations for their performances, with Taylor and Dennis winning. The film is one of only two in history that was nominated for every Academy Award for which it was eligible (the other being Cimarron). Hirsch described Virginia Woolf as an American masterpiece.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

AIRPLANE AT THE AERO, by Judith Resell

“We said we want to make a comedy with no comedians, so we got turned down a lot,” writer-director David Zucker said of his movie Airplane! (1980) after an August 3, 2018 screening at the Aero Theater. When the film was finally picked up, it was with industry titans Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, so it went well from that point forward.

Photo by Sasha Lebedeva
The unusual casting approach Zucker and his colleague Joel Stein insisted upon was to cast major dramatic actors in parts that parodied their own work, and also allowed them to play the character straight. If the characters in the script were played purely for comedy, it simply wouldn’t work.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

ANTONIONI: DYING IN A MATERIAL WORLD, by Scott Nye

The American Cinematheque’s retrospective Modernist Master: Michelangelo Antonioni, begins Thursday, September 13th and runs through Sunday, September 23rd at the Egyptian Theatre.

By 1959, Michelangelo Antonioni had directed five features over ten years, none of which made very much money. He was in the midst of shooting a film that would change cinema forever. But at the moment, he was stranded on a tiny, uninhabited island - his production company having virtually abandoned him and the storms cutting him off from any other means of rescue - with a crew that was on strike, having not been paid for weeks or fed for days.



The island on which they were shooting would provide the central mystery at the heart of L’Avventura (1960) - a woman goes missing, and is never found. That it should nearly swallow its makers whole in the midst of production feels almost fitting, and establishes a vital pattern that would define Antonioni’s work going forward. In his films, people are defined physically, by they make and do and the ways they express themselves; yet the physical world in his films is forever unfulfilling, uninspiring, and is slowly, gradually eroding us until we rot.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

MAE WEST: ABOVE THE REST, by Susan King

In honor of Mae West's 125th birthday, the Egyptian Theatre will screen her bawdy classic She Done Him Wrong on Saturday, August 18, with an introduction by author Michael Gregg Michaud.

Did you know that Mae West released a holiday album in 1966 called Wild Christmas? Among the songs were - of course - an especially suggestive version of “Santa Baby,” and such innuendo-filled tunes as “Santa Come Up and See Me” and “Put the Loot in the Boot, Santa.”



Award-winning former L.A. Times film critic Kevin Thomas was all of 30 when he was assigned to interview West about the Christmas disc at her famed white and gold apartment at Hollywood's Ravenwood apartment building. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that lasted until her death in 1980 at age 87.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

THE MAGIC OF MILOS, by Judith Resell

“He had a magical way with actors,” Courtney Love recalls of Milos Forman, her director in The People Vs. Larry Flynt. “I didn’t have a lot of experience. I would miss my marks, step on Woody’s lines. But Milos went out of his way to cast people who were the character.” Love’s incredible performance as Larry Flynt’s wife Althea is ample proof of Forman’s casting judgment.

Courtney Love appeared following a screening of the film at the Aero Theater on June 30, 2018, along with the screenwriting team of Larry Karazewski and Scott Alexander. The program was one in a series of events paying tribute to Milos Forman.

Photo by Mario Jennings

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

THE WOMEN BEHIND THE CAMERA IN EARLY FILMMAKING, by Cari Beauchamp

In honor of the series "Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers" running July 27-29 at the Egyptian, author and historian Cari Beauchamp provides some background on these innovators and their peers.

Alice Guy-Blaché was not only the first woman director, she was one of the very first film directors, period. She was a secretary to camera maker Leon Gaumont, and together they attended the first-ever public screening of a movie in Paris in 1895, "Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory." As a result, Gaumont agreed to let Alice "play" with their cameras as long as her clerical duties didn't suffer. Her after-hours creations became among the first narrative films and they were so successful, she was made the head of Gaumont’s newly formed production company in 1897. Over the next decade, she directed over 1000 short films and when she moved to America in 1910 with her husband, the cameraman Herbert Blache, she formed Solax in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where she directed and supervised several hundred more films over the next four years. Despite having two children to look after, Guy-Blaché kept pace with the production schedule of D.W. Griffith, who was directing his films for Biograph in nearby lower Manhattan.


Alice Guy-Blaché. Courtesy of Cari Beauchamp
New York and New Jersey were the hub of activity in the early years of the motion picture industry. Few took filmmaking seriously as a business, and so the doors were wide open to women who were unwelcome in other professions. Movies were an idea one week, filming the next, and in the theaters within a month. There were no paths to follow and no rules to break.