National Gallery of Art
November Film Program
Noir on New York Streets
From Queens row houses to Brooklyn warehouses to flashing neon, New York City has inspired many of Hollywood’s classic genres. This group of films depicts neither a mythic New York nor a clever recreation of a social mood. The focus instead is on real locations (even down to specific addresses) in the service of that most grisly of genres: the vintage film noir. The last film in the series, Killer’s Kiss, is shown in association with the exhibition The Streets of New York.
November 4, 4:30pm
Introduction by critic James Naremore
Down-on-his-luck boxer Davy Gordon (Jamie Smith) falls hard for Pleasureland hostess Gloria Price (Irene Kane), but club boss Vincent Rapallo (Frank Silvera) has his own plans. This Cassavetes-like blend of New York avant-garde and mood-drenched noir was shot, written, edited, produced, and directed on a miniscule budget by Stanley Kubrick (whose earlier career as a Look photographer came in handy here, especially in the surreal climactic fight in a mannequin-filled warehouse). (Stanley Kubrick, 35 mm, 1955, 67 minutes)
November 5, 4:30pm
Home from the Hill
In homage to the CinemaScope films of Vincente Minnelli, this presentation of a new 35-mm print highlights the director's single foray into Texas with its "oil money, ranchers, large emotions, and skeletons in closets," wrote film historian Geoff Brown. The script was adapted from a novel by William Humphrey, a Faulkner acolyte from east Texas, about a rich father (Robert Mitchum), his alienated wife (Eleanor Parker), and two sons, one of whom is illegitimate (George Hamilton). "Minnelli splashes out with operatic abandon, facing the machismo and the meat-chair head on, charging through a wild boar hunt and pacing the finale as a grand symphonic climax." — Geoff Brown (Vincente Minnelli, 1960, 35 mm, 150 minutes)
Rebels with a Cause: The Cinema of East Germany
A rare retrospective of films made in the former German Democratic Republic by Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft (known as DEFA) is presented during November at the National Gallery of Art, the American Film Institute, and the Goethe-Institut of Washington. Founded 60 years ago in May 1946, the state-owned DEFA studios worked within a traditional studio structure patterned after Germany's UFA studio as well as Hollywood. Surprisingly — and despite having no competition within the country — DEFA still turned out films that often tested the limits of state censorship. Many of these works now regularly appear on critics' polls of the best 100 German-made films of the 20th century, and they offer new insights on a not-so-distant past.
November 11, 2:00pm
Berlin Schönhauser Corner
A classic 1950s cult film, Berlin Schönhauser Corner follows a young and footloose East Berlin crowd (several years before the Wall's construction) searching for "freedom," trading Western goods, and generally avoiding authority. Director Klein and scriptwriter Kohlhaase — influenced by foreign filmmakers like Elia Kazan, Nicholas Ray, and the Italian neorealists — were greeted with suspicion by the East German authorities and reproached for showing "problematic images." (Gerhard Klein, 1957, 35 mm, German with subtitles, 82 minutes)
November 11, 4:00pm
The Gleiwitz Case (Der Fall Gleiwitz)
"A near cubist rendering of the hours leading up to the Nazi invasion of Poland and Hitler's secret plan to fake a Polish incursion into German territory," reveals one reviewer about this 1961 film that managed to escape censorship yet disappeared immediately from theaters in the GDR. "Gleiwitz's icy experimentalism might even inspire nostalgia for a lost German avant-garde." — The Village Voice (Gerhard Klein, 1961, 35 mm, German with subtitles, 69 minutes)
November 12, 4:30pm
Born in '45 (Jahrgang 45)
Premiere of English-subtitled version with the director present
Painter and filmmaker Jürgen Böttcher set his poetic Born in '45 in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district. Alfred, a motorcycle buff, longs for his lost freedom after marrying Lisa. He takes time off to clear his mind, wanders through Berlin, connects with strangers, yet ultimately returns to Lisa. Caught in a wave of politically motivated bans in the summer of 1966, this delicate neorealistic film was never exhibited in theaters. "Bleak settings not expressive of the socialist view of life" was one official description. (Juergen Boettcher, 1966/1990, 35 mm, German with subtitles, 94 minutes)
Preceding the feature is Shunters (1984, 21 minutes), a cinema verité account of the lives of workers who hitch together railroad cars for a living. Director Jürgen Böttcher will be present for a discussion following the film.
November 18, 12:30pm
Carbide and Sorrel (Karbid und Sauerampfer)
When a Dresden labor crew sends coworker Kalle hundreds of miles away to secure supplies, Kalle's precarious return progresses into a pathetic scramble through the Soviet-occupied zone. Full of crazy misadventures yet tempered by subtle social commentary, Carbide and Sorrel is a rare East German comedy that proved a huge success for the film's director and lead actor, Erwin Geschonneck. (Frank Beyer, 1963, 35 mm, German with subtitles, 80 minutes)
November 25, 3:30pm
Naked among Wolves (Nackt unter Wölfen)
On location at the Buchenwald camp, director Frank Beyer and scriptwriter Bruno Apitz recreated Apitz's own novel, a factually based account (Apitz himself had been sent there) of inmates who risked their lives to hide a small Jewish boy. Armin Mueller-Stahl heads a cast that includes many nonactors who themselves had been Nazi prisoners. The first film made by DEFA to deal with life in the concentration camps, Naked among Wolves inspired both Roberto Benigni and Steven Spielberg. (Frank Beyer, 1963, 35 mm, German with subtitles, 124 minutes)
A Love Story (Eine Liebesgeschichte)
Preceding the feature are A Love Story (Richard Groschopp, 1953, 35 mm, 7 minutes), a short tale of a writer who unsuccessfully tries to get his novel published.
News from the West (Es geht um die Wurst)
News from the West (Harald Röbbeling, 1955, 35 mm, 8 minutes), an East German take on bloated news reporting from the free world.
November 18, 2:30pm
November 19, 4:30pm
November 24, 2:00pm
November 25, 12:00pm
International Festival of Films on Art
Each year the National Gallery of Art presents the award-winning films from Montreal's International Festival of Films on Art, the oldest festival devoted exclusively to films on architecture, music, painting, sculpture, photography, dance, and cinema. This year's program features films from ten countries and includes, among others, the following titles: The Hermitage Dwellers (Aliona van der Horst); Paul Klee — Le Silence de l'Ange (Michael Gaumnitz); Beethoven's Hair (Larry Weinstein); Le Rossignol (Christian Chaudet); Building the Gherkin (Mirjam von Arx); and Bacon's Arena (Adam Low). Presented in association with the Canadian Embassy and Foreign Affairs Canada.
Victor Sjöström: Swedish Original
Perennially known to cinephiles as the old professor in Ingmar Bergman's 1957 Wild Strawberries, Victor Sjöström (1879–1960) was one of a select group of groundbreaking filmmakers who transformed the early cinema from simple popular entertainment into an artistic and literary medium. Not only was Sjöström influential in the development of the Swedish film industry (as both director and actor) and an inspiration to the young Bergman, but also he was one of the only Swedes to succeed in early Hollywood — his three most celebrated American films are part of this series. The Swedish Film Institute in Stockholm and the Library of Congress have preserved the entire Victor Sjöström Swedish oeuvre, most of which is included here. Special thanks to Adam Popp and Jon Wengström.
November 26, 4:30pm
He Who Gets Slapped
Andrew Simpson on piano
"Pure alien mystery makes this the most avant-garde and enigmatic project ever by Sjöström (working in Hollywood now as Seastrom). Lon Chaney is Paul Beaumont, a brilliant scientist whose rich benefactor steals his wife and thesis manuscript.... Disappearing into the persona of an absurdist circus clown known only as He Who Gets Slapped, Beaumont pathologically replays his original trauma nightly for a callously insatiable public. Sjöström/Seastrom adapted Leonid Andreyev's 1914 Russian symbolist play, yet also allegorizes his own alienated condition and his deep ambivalence about satisfying American mass-market tastes." — Arne Lunde (1924, 35 mm, 82 minutes)
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