Sunday, 29 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 356: Tue Dec 22

The Shop Around the Corner (Lubitsch, 1940): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.30pm


This film is part of the BFI Love: Fools for Love strand. You can find the full details of the season here. This movie also screens on December 28th and 30th. It will be screened on 35mm.

Chicago Reader review:
There are no art deco nightclubs, shimmering silk gowns, or slamming bedroom doors to be seen, but this 1940 film is one of Ernst Lubitsch's finest and most enduring works, a romantic comedy of dazzling range that takes place almost entirely within the four walls of a leather-goods store in prewar Budapest. James Stewart is the earnest, slightly awkward young manager; Margaret Sullavan is the new sales clerk who gets on his nerves—and neither realizes that they are partners in a passionate romance being carried out through the mails. Interwoven with subplots centered on the other members of the shop's little family, the romance proceeds through Lubitsch's brilliant deployment of point of view, allowing the audience to enter the perceptions of each individual character at exactly the right moment to develop maximum sympathy and suspense. With Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut, Sara Haden, and Felix Bressart.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 355: Mon Dec 21

Scrooge (Hurst, 1951): Prince Charles Cinema, 3.55pm


This movie, the best film version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, also screens at the Prince Charles Cinema on December 23rd and is also on an extended run at the BFI Southbank from December 18th to 30th. Tom Charity's review below is an honest and excellent one but I defy you not to be moved by Sim's central performance and it is this Ghost of Christmas Future that has haunted me since I saw this film as a ten-year-old.

Time Out review:
Surprisingly, there isn't a film version of the Dickens novella which merits the imprimatur 'classic'. The Muppets had a good stab at it, and Bill Murray was well cast in the otherwise scattershot Scrooged. On the plus side, this version is cast like an engraved illustration: Miles Thesiger, Mervyn Johns, Michael Hordern, Kathleen Harrison, Ernest Malleson, Hermione Baddeley and, above all, the splendidly aloof Alastair Sim, who feasts on Dickens' best lines ('I expect you want the whole day off tomorrow?'), greets each new ghost with a weary shiver, and handles his giddy rebirth with aplomb. A jobbing director who knew how to point a camera, Brian Hurst never betrayed much facility for cutting or movement. He stages the action competently, but the transitions between scenes are so choppy you wonder where the ads are. Add to this a prosaic adaptation by Noel Langley which gets bogged down in the backstory (the relatively dull visitation from the ghost of Christmas Past which explains how nice Ebenezer - a bashful George Cole - fell from the path of righteousness), some rather depressed-looking spirits, and the cringeworthy sentimentality of the Tiny Tim scenes, and you have what Scrooge himself might call 'Ho-hum-bug'.
Tom Charity

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 354: Sun Dec 20

Limelight (Chaplin, 1952): Regent Street Cinema, 2pm


This film, in my personal top ten favourites of all-time, is part of a Chaplin Sundays season at the Regent Street Cinema. You can find all the details of the season here.

Chicago Reader review:
Charles Chaplin's 1952 film is overlong, visually flat, episodically constructed, and a masterpiece—it isn't “cinema” on any terms but Chaplin's own, but those are high terms indeed. An autobiographical fantasy, it tells of an aging vaudeville clown, Calvero, and his friendship with a young ballerina (Claire Bloom). Buster Keaton appears as an old crony, in a lovely hommage, and there are many antique music-hall numbers interspersed among the personal meditations on life, death, and the transcendence of art. The final shot is among the most eloquent and moving images I know, a picture of the soul in flight.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 353: Sat Dec 19

Barry Lyndon (Kubrick, 1975): ICA Cinema, 3pm


Richard Ayoade, Jan Harlan and Maria Pramaggiore are at the ICA Cinema for a panel discussion after the screening, presented by The Badlands Collective.

Here is the Badlands Collective introduction to today's special screening:
Winner of four Oscars for 1975, including Best Cinematography, Stanley Kubrick’s painterly, darkly comic masterpiece is celebrated in this rare screening from a 35mm archive print.

Based on William Thackeray’s novel about the rise and fall of an 18th Century Irish rogue (Ryan O’Neal), Barry Lyndon features breathtaking, technically revolutionary candlelit visuals that recall the paintings of Hogarth and Gainsborough, vividly realising an epic world of beauty, deceit and poetic justice. This event is presented by the curation group The Badlands Collective, and we also welcome Kubrick collaborator Jan Harlan, cinema scholar Maria Pramaggiore and filmmaker Richard Ayoade for a discussion after the film.

Chicago Reader review:
All of Stanley Kubrick's features look better now than when they were first released, but Barry Lyndon, which fared poorly at the box office in 1975, remains his most underrated. It may also be his greatest. This personal, idiosyncratic, melancholy, and long (three hours) adaptation of the Thackeray novel is exquisitely shot in natural light (or, in night scenes, candlelight) by John Alcott, with frequent use of slow backward zooms that distance us, both historically and emotionally, from its rambling picaresque narrative about an 18th-century Irish upstart (Ryan O'Neal). Despite its ponderous, funereal moods and pacing, the film is a highly accomplished piece of storytelling, building to one of the most suspenseful duels ever staged. It also repays close attention as a complex and fascinating historical meditation, as enigmatic in its way as 2001: A Space Odyssey. With Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger, and Leonard Rossiter; narrated by Michael Hordern.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 352: Fri Dec 18

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Demy, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 6.10pm


This film screens in the BFI Love: The Power of Love season strand. You can find the full details of the season here and you can find the details for this film's screening on this date and on December 22nd here.

Chicago Reader review:
Jacques Demy's 1964 "film opera," with music by Michel Legrand, has a reputation for sappiness it doesn't deserve. The chief feature of Demy's direction is his deft avoidance of the pat, the obvious, and the sentimental, which is no mean feat when you're dealing with material as self-consciously simple as this. Catherine Deneuve loses her fiance to the draft; he's wounded and doesn't write, so she reluctantly marries someone else.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 351: Thu Dec 17

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucas, 2015): Science Museum, 1.10pm


The Science Museum in London is the only venue you can see the new Star Wars film in the IMAX 70mm format. Here is their introduction to the screenings which run from December 17th to 31st.

The Science Museum’s IMAX Theatre is the only venue in Europe screening this blockbuster film in the IMAX 15/70mm format. Sequences expand vertically to give viewers a truly immersive experience, filling the entire screen and displaying 40% more of the image than can be seen in standard cinemas. We recommend booking early as demand is expected to be high.

You can find all the details of times, screenings and bookings here.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 350: Wed Dec 16

Red Beard (Kurosawa, 1965): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


This 35mm screening is part of Close-Up Cinema's Akira Kurosawa season. You can find full details here. The film is also being shown on 29th December.

Chicago Reader review:
Akira Kurosawa's 1965 film stars Yuzo Kayama as an impetuous young doctor coming into conflict with his aging superior in an impoverished clinic in early 19th-century Japan. As the older doctor, Toshiro Mifune is superb; and though the film has been criticized for its excessive sentimentality by some, it's a masterful evocation of period and a probing study of the conflict between responsibility and idealism. A mature work that merits the term most apply to it: Dostoyevskian.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 349: Tue Dec 15

In the Mood for Love (Kar-wai, 2000): BFI Southbank, NFT, 6.20pm



This film screens in 35mm in the BFI Love: The Power of Love season strand. You can find the full details of the season here and you can also see this movie on 20th and 21st December.

Chicago Reader review:
A brooding chamber piece (2000) about a love affair that never quite happens. Director Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong’s most romantic filmmaker, is known for his excesses, and in that sense the film’s spareness represents a bold departure. Claustrophobically set in adjacent flats in 1962 Hong Kong, where two young couples find themselves sharing space with other people, it focuses on a newspaper editor and a secretary at an export firm (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung, the sexiest duo in Hong Kong cinema) who discover that their respective spouses are having an affair on the road. Wong, who improvises his films with the actors, endlessly repeats his musical motifs and variations on a handful of images, rituals, and short scenes (rainstorms, cab rides, stairways, tender and tentative hand gestures), while dressing Cheung in some of the most confining (though lovely) dresses imaginable, whose mandarin collars suggest neck braces.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) are extracts for the film and the soundtrack.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 348: Mon Dec 14

Gone With The Wind (Fleming, 1939): BFI IMAX, 6.30pm


This is part of the 'BFI Love: Power of Love' season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A critic-proof movie if there ever was one: it isn't all that good, but somehow it's great. The first part, in which the gracefully moving camera of George Cukor (soon to be replaced) establishes the ordered world of Tara in elegant visual terms, is really very fine. But the last half is all slow, desultory denouement, and the death of the little girl is the dirtiest kind of screenwriter's trick. No one I know of has yet solved the secret of this 1939 film's apparently timeless appeal, though I'd guess it has something to do with the elaborate mechanisms of fate, history, and sex brought to bear on Scarlett, whose overweening libido must be punished as magnificently as it has been celebrated. The striking color overlays, which are the film's sole stylistic eccentricity, were the contribution of that cryptic auteur, production designer William Cameron Menzies. Victor Fleming signed it, though there were many, many fingers in this particular pie.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 347: Sun Dec 13

A Christmas Story (Clark, 1983): Underground Film Club, 4pm


Those people at the excellent Rooftop Film Club have gone underground, literally! They have taken residence in the Waterloo Vaults and programmed a crowd-pleasing season of movies in the lead up to Christmas. It's a similar set-up to the Rooftop venture but there's a bigger screen and it's guaranteed to be warm. Plus you can play crazy golf. I went on the launch night and was impressed with the food, the service ... and the choice of movie ... Tangerine!

You can find out the full schedule of films here but be sure to book. These events are popular and often sell out. Tonight's screening is a quirky, popular holiday hit from the director behind Black Christmas and the excellent Murder By Decree. All in all, highly recommended.

Chicago Reader review:
As a follow-up to his excoriated Porky's and Porky's II, director Bob Clark teamed with nostalgic humorist Jean Shepherd for this squeaky clean and often quite funny 1983 yuletide comedy, adapted from Shepherd's novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. The bespectacled young hero (Peter Billingsley) lives with his parents and younger brother in northeast Indiana and craves a BB gun for Christmas; the old man (Darren McGavin in one of his best roles) wins a newspaper contest and insists on displaying his prize—a table lamp shaped like a woman's leg in fishnet stockings. Shepherd provides the voice-over of the grown hero narrating, and his prominence on the sound track forces Clark to focus on visual humor, resulting in some wild Our Gang-style slapstick.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 346: Sat Dec 12

No1: Some Came Running (Minnelli, 1958): Barbican Cinema, 4pm


Marking the centenary of Frank Sinatra's birth, Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London, presents an illustrated talk on the life and times of the great entertainer. This will be followed by a 35mm screening of one of the great Hollywood fims of the 1950s, Some Came Running.

Chicago Reader review:
Vincente Minnelli turns the James Jones novel into one of his finest and most garish melodramas (1959), with Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Shirley MacLaine struggling to stay alive in the hopelessly small town of Madison, Indiana. Minnelli has said that he based his visual style on the inside of a jukebox, and the film is a sort of neon epiphany. The final sequence, set at a carnival, remains an object lesson in the expressive use of CinemaScope.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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No2: Looking for Mr Goodbar (Brooks, 1977): Art House Crouch End, 1pm


Introduced By... is a new season at Art House Crouch End where the cinema invite a special guest to choose a film that they introduce and discuss with the audience following the screening. For December they welcome the return of Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw to introduce this rarely seen and fascinating 70s movie.

Peter Bradshaw wrote about the film in an article he wrote for the Guardian recently to coincide with the release of Gaspar Noe's film Love. Here is an extract:
Diane Keaton plays a teacher: here, specifically a teacher of hearing-impaired children, a touch that accentuates her utterly respectable, in fact, laudable life. She gets involved in casual sex with men she meets in seedy bars. It ends in shocking violence. It is as if female sexuality is always a natural fit for the erotic thriller or crime thriller genre, and undoubtedly, Goodbar pathologises female sexuality to some extent, indicating that for a woman to have an interest in recreational sex is symptomatic of damage, and essentially tragic in origin and destiny. The film has been occasionally reviled and dismissed, but is arguably ripe for rediscovery as a confrontational exploitation classic from the Martin Scorsese/Paul Schrader 70s. It is not available on DVD, though I am soon introducing a special screening in London. 

Here (and above) are the opening credits.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 345: Fri Dec 11

The Collection (Apted, 1976): BFI Southbank, Studio, 8.40pm


Here is a rare chance to catch a Laurence Olivier Presents TV production of a great Harold Pinter play from 1976. This is screened in the BFI Love season and can also be seen on 19th December. You can find the full details here.

Here is the BFI introduction:
Olivier selected Pinter’s award-winning drama – a forensic examination of sexual jealousy – for his series of TV plays for Granada. He’s perfectly cast as the ageing lover riddled with insecurity as his boyfriend receives a series of strange visits from a man who is himself convinced that the boyfriend is seeing his wife.
Marcus Prince


Here (and above) is an extract.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 344: Thu Dec 10

7th Heaven (Borzage, 1927): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 7.30pm


This is part of the BFI Love season and here is James Bell's introduction to tonight's special screening of a silent film classic:
Sonic Cinema has teamed up with the formidable talents of British musical powerhouses KT Tunstall, Mara Carlyle and composer Max de Wardener to present a brand new BFI-commissioned score to Borzage’s classic. Perhaps the most sublimely lyrical of all the silent-era romances, this tale of transformational love sees Charles Farrell’s sewage worker and Janet Gaynor’s street waif rise above poverty and war to be together. Martin Scorsese’s observation that Borzage’s films unfold in ‘lover’s time’ was never more apt, and the tender emotions Borzage captures build to an unforgettable, transcendental climax.
Chicago Reader review:
Frank Borzage won an Academy Award for his direction of this 1927 romance, and it remains the best known of his silent films. Janet Gaynor (who also won an Oscar) is a Parisian waif taken in by free spirit Charles Farrell; their love deepens as the clouds of World War I gather and Farrell is drafted and sent to the front. With its theme of sheltering love and its justly celebrated ending (perhaps the most serious assault on realism in the American cinema), the film is quintessential Borzage, though it seems rather simple in comparison to the masterworks that came later (including the semisequel Street Angel).
Dave Kehr

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 343: Wed Dec 9

A Star is Born (Cukor, 1954): Regent Street Cinema, 2pm


Welcome to the reason this blog exists. In December 2010 I watched this film, a movie I went to see when restored and re-released in cinemas in 1983, on television. I thought afterwards how much I would love to see this movie on the big screen again and that prompted an idea to write a daily blog picking a film to see in London. The purpose of starting the blog was to highlight to film lovers the best movies on the capital's repertory cinema circuit.

What writing the blog has also done is reinvigorate my moviegoing. The act of putting this small contribution to the London film scene together has resulted in encouraging me to go and see more movies. I hope the blog has had that impact on others too. This brilliant restoration of one of the greatest Hollywood films of all time is part of the Classic Matinees season at Regent Street Cinema and this is the first screening in London of A Star is Born since I started Capital Celluloid on January 1, 2011. It goes without saying that the movie comes highly recommended. Many believe Judy Garland gave her greatest performance in this film and one critic has called Mason's the best supporting performance by a male actor in modern Hollywood. Try and get to see A Star is Born where it should be seen - in a cinema.

Chicago Reader review:
Even in this incomplete restoration George Cukor's 1954 musical remake of the 1937 Hollywood drama is devastating. Judy Garland plays a young singer discovered by aging, alcoholic star Norman Maine (James Mason), who helps her to fame as "Vicki Lester" even as his career slips. Garland gives a deeply affecting performance--halting, volatile, unsure of herself early on and unsure of Norman later--and her musical numbers are superb. Yet the film's core is its two-character scenes, in which small shifts in posture subtly articulate the drama's essence. Cukor gives his preoccupation with self-image a surprisingly anti-Hollywood spin: despite the many industry-oriented group scenes, the characters seem fully authentic only when they're alone with each other. The scenes of Lester acting seem tainted with artifice, and her a cappella performance of her current hit for Norman on their wedding night further separates the public from the private. Later, reenacting the production number shot that day, she uses a food cart for a dolly and a chair for a harp; Cukor's initial long take heightens the intimacy between her and Norman, just as the household props implicitly critique studio artificiality. All that matters, Cukor implies, is what people can try to become for each other. The film was badly mangled when Warner Brothers cut a half hour shortly after its release; this 1983 35-millimeter restoration replaces some footage, offering stills when only the sound track could be found. Fortunately these slide shows are confined to early scenes, giving some sense of what was lost. 
Fred Camper 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

If you want to read an excellent account of the film, its making and the background to the 1983 restoration I can recommend Ronald Haver's book A Star is Born. Full details here.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 342: Tue Dec 8

Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm



An excellent chance to see one of Alfred Hitchcock's most perfectly realised films, screening tonight as part of the BFI Love season. The movie is also being shown on 28 & 29 December. You can find all the details here.

Chicago Reader review:
'The Hitchcock classic of 1946, with Cary Grant as a charming and unscrupulous government agent and Ingrid Bergman as a woman of low repute whom he morally blackmails into marrying a Nazi leader (Claude Rains, in a performance that makes a sad little boy of him). The virtuoso sequences—the long kiss, the crane shot into the door key—are justly famous, yet the film's real brilliance is in its subtle and detailed portrayal of infinitely perverse relationships. The concluding shot transforms Rains from villain to victim with a disturbingly cool, tragic force.'
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 341: Mon Dec 7

Doctor Zhivago (Lean, 1965): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 6.30pm


This film is re-released as part of the BFI Love season and runs from November 27 to December 30. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
David Lean's 1965 adaptation of Pasternak's romance of the Russian Revolution is intelligent and handsomely mounted, though it doesn't use its length to build to a particularly complex emotional effect. It's a thin, snaky epic with more breadth than body, rather like watching an entire Masterpiece Theatre chapter play in a single sitting. Omar Sharif doesn't have the dimensionality an epic lead requires, but Julie Christie shines brightly in support. With Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Rita Tushingham, Ralph Richardson, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine Chaplin, and Siobhan McKenna; photographed by Frederick A. Young.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 340: Sun Dec 6

That Obscure Object of Desire (Bunuel, 1977): ICA Cinema, 4pm

This film is part of the Luis Bunuel season at the ICA. Full details here

The screening is followed by a discussion with screenwriter and novelist Jean-Claude Carrière, Diego Buñuel, filmmaker and grandson of Luis Buñuel, and Tim Robey, film critic at the Telegraph.

Chicago Reader review:
Luis Buñuel explores the problematic relationship between lover and beloved as an aging aristocrat (Fernando Rey) yearns after an unattainable young woman, Conchita—who, since she is played by two different actresses, is both more and less than a standard movie character. Constantly changing, she is unknowable, complicated, perverse, but she is also an eternal erotic principle. Buñuel draws his paradoxes—is it love or sex, sadism or masochism, life or death?—with a perfectly clear, perfectly impregnable style. The old surrealist created another masterpiece in this 1977 feature, his final film. In French and Spanish with subtitles. 103 min.

Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 339: Sat Dec 5

The Phantom of Liberty (Bunuel, 1974): ICA Cinema, 4.30pm


This film is part of the Luis Bunuel season at the ICA. Full details here. The screening will be introduced by Little White Lies magazine editor David Jenkins.

Chicago Reader review:
Following on the heels of his 1972 masterpiece The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Luis Buñuel's penultimate feature, made two years later, struck many critics at the time as a disappointing tapering off for the old master. But time has treated this puzzling provocation well, and today Buñuel's episodic procession of mini plots may seem even more daring—less immediately accessible to be sure, yet perhaps closer in its radicalism to L'age d'or than any other of Buñuel's late works. The challenging lack of a narrative center doesn't prevent this film from having a great deal to say about the modern world and its ambivalent grasp of freedom. With an all-star cast featuring, among many others, Monica Vitti, Jean-Claude Brialy, Adolfo Celi, and Michel Piccoli.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 338: Fri Dec 4

No 1 To Die Like A Man (Rodrigues, 2009): Goethe Institute, 7pm


Chicago Reader review:
Slow but engrossing, this French-Portuguese drama (2009) focuses on a middle-aged transvestite in crisis. His career as star of a local drag show is waning, which presents him with the decision of whether to live as a man or a woman; his relationship with his young junkie boyfriend is crumbling; his silicone breast implants are infected; and his son, sexually conflicted and estranged from the father, has gone AWOL after killing a male sex partner. As turgid as all this might sound, it's elevated by cinematographer Rui Pocas, who makes poetic use of light and color, and writer-director Joao Pedro Rodriguez, whose artful blend of humor, fantasy, and religious imagery reaches past the obvious antecedent of Pedro Almodovar toward such dream weavers as Cocteau, Fellini, Fassbinder, and Tennessee Williams. In Portuguese with subtitles.
Albert Williams

Here (and above) is the trailer.


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No2 A Christmas Story (Clark, 1983): Prince Charles Cinema, 9pm


A 35mm screening of this popular Christmas film in the cinema's Xmas season.

Chicago Reader review:
As a follow-up to his excoriated Porky's and Porky's II, director Bob Clark teamed with nostalgic humorist Jean Shepherd for this squeaky clean and often quite funny 1983 yuletide comedy, adapted from Shepherd's novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. The bespectacled young hero (Peter Billingsley) lives with his parents and younger brother in northeast Indiana and craves a BB gun for Christmas; the old man (Darren McGavin in one of his best roles) wins a newspaper contest and insists on displaying his prize—a table lamp shaped like a woman's leg in fishnet stockings. Shepherd provides the voice-over of the grown hero narrating, and his prominence on the sound track forces Clark to focus on visual humor, resulting in some wild Our Gang-style slapstick.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 337: Thu Dec 3

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Bunuel, 1972): ICA Cinema, 6.40pm



This film is part of the Luis Bunuel season at the ICA. Full details here.

This screening features a panel discussion on the spectre of terrorism in Buñuel's films with speakers including Ian Christie, Anniversary Professor of Film and Media History, Birkbeck, Julian Gutierrez-Albilla, professor at the University of Southern California and Ryan Gilbey, film critic for The New Statesman and The Guardian.

Chicago Reader review:
'Luis Bunuel's 1972 comic masterpiece, about three well-to-do couples who try and fail to have a meal together, is perhaps the most perfectly achieved and executed of all his late French films. The film proceeds by diverse interruptions, digressions, and interpolations (including dreams and tales within tales) that, interestingly enough, identify the characters, their class, and their seeming indestructibility with narrative itself. One of the things that makes this film as charming as it is, despite its radicalism, and helped Bunuel win his only Oscar is the perfect cast, many of whom bring along nearly mythic associations acquired in previous French films. Frightening, funny, profound, and mysterious.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

 
Here (and above) is the trailer.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 336: Wed Dec 2

All That Heaven Allows (Sirk, 1955): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


This brilliant Douglas Sirk film is part of the BFI: The Power of Love season and also screens on 6th and 8th December. You can find the details here. Tonight's screening is followed by the a discussion led by the Feminist Guide to Love on Screen group. Entrance to the discussion is free to ticket holders. Full details here.

Here is an introduction to the meeting:
Join us for the third of our in-depth explorations of feminist issues relating to love and romance at the movies. Following the screening of All That Heaven Allows, we’ll discuss ‘women’s pictures,’ and whether films aimed at female audiences empower them as consumers with a distinct culture, or indoctrinate them into a certain (problematic) romantic ideology.

Chicago Reader review:
A masterpiece (1955) by one of the most inventive and recondite directors ever to work in Hollywood, Douglas Sirk. The story (which Rainer Werner Fassbinder remade as Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) concerns a romance between a middle-aged, middle-class widow (Jane Wyman) and a brawny young gardener (Rock Hudson)—the stuff of a standard weepie, you might think, until Sirk's camera begins to draw a deeply disturbing, deeply compassionate portrait of a woman trapped by stifling moral and social codes. Sirk's meaning is conveyed almost entirely by his mise-en-scene—a world of glistening, treacherous surfaces, of objects that take on a terrifying life of their own; he is one of those rare filmmakers who insist that you read the image. With Agnes Moorehead and Conrad Nagel.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 335: Tue Dec 1

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick, 1999): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.15pm



Here's one of the great films set during Christmas, and an opportunity to see Stanley Kubrick's much-underrated final movie in an original 35mm print. This is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's 35mm season. Full details here.

If you're interested in reading more about this film I can recommend two BFI publications - Michel Chion's Modern Classics monograph on Eyes Wide Shut and the chapter on the film in James Naremore's book titled On Kubrick.

Chicago Reader review:
'Initial viewings of Stanley Kubrick's movies can be deceptive because his films all tend to be emotionally convoluted in some way; one has to follow them as if through a maze. A character that Kubrick might seem to treat cruelly the first time around (e.g., Elisha Cook Jr.'s fall guy in The Killing) can appear the object of tender compassion on a subsequent viewing. The director's desire to avoid sentimentality at all costs doesn't preclude feeling, as some critics have claimed, but it does create ambiguity and a distanced relationship to the central characters. Kubrick's final feature very skillfully portrays the dark side of desire in a successful marriage; since the 60s he'd been thinking about filming Arthur Schnitzler's brilliant novella "Traumnovelle," and working with Frederic Raphael, he's adapted it faithfully--at least if one allows for all the differences between Viennese Jews in the 20s and New York WASPs in the 90s. Schnitzler's tale, about a young doctor contemplating various forms of adultery and debauchery after discovering that his wife has entertained comparable fantasies, has a somewhat Kafkaesque ambiguity, wavering between dream and waking fantasy (hence Kubrick's title), and all the actors do a fine job of traversing this delicate territory. Yet the story has been altered to make the successful doctor (Tom Cruise) more of a hypocrite and his wife (powerfully played by Nicole Kidman) a little feistier; Kubrick's also added a Zeus-like tycoon (played to perfection by Sydney Pollack) who pretends to explain the plot shortly before the end but in fact only summarizes the various mysteries, his cynicism and chilly access to power revealing that Kubrick is more of a moralist than Schnitzler. To accept the premises and experiences of this movie, you have to be open to an expressionist version of New York with scant relation to the 90s (apart from cellular phones and AIDS) and a complex reading of a marriage that assumes the relations between men and women haven't essentially changed in the past 70-odd years. This is a remarkably gripping, suggestive, and inventive piece of storytelling that, like Kubrick's other work, is likely to grow in mystery and intensity over time.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 334: Mon Nov 30

Enter The Void (Noe, 2010): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.10pm


This is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's 35mm season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
French director Gaspar Noe has kept a pretty low profile since his 2002 drama Irreversible, notorious for its brutal nine-minute anal rape scene. But this epic, psychedelic mindfuck confirms him once again as the cinema's most imaginative nihilist (a conflicted honor if, like me, you consider nihilism a failure of the imagination). The main characters are a young Frenchman and his sister living at the margins of the Tokyo underworld, he as a drug dealer and she as a stripper; after the young man is shot by police and dies on the floor of a grimy toilet, his spirit floats omnisciently over the city (consistent with his recent study of the Tibetan Book of the Dead) and keeps tabs on his vulnerable sibling. The colored lights of nocturnal Tokyo provide an apt jumping-off point for Noe's drugged-out imagery, and his nicely calibrated story line reveals the siblings' tragic past before circling back to the present and what the future might hold. It's a dark and commanding vision, reaching for the heavens even as it wallows in the muck.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 333: Sun Nov 29

The Milky Way (Bunuel, 1969): ICA Cinema, 4.30pm


This is part of the ICA's Luis Bunuel season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Released in France during the revolutionary uproar of 1968, Luis Buñuel's film takes the form of a religious parable—two pilgrims come across a range of figures from the history of Catholicism, including the devil and the Virgin Mary, as they make their way across the countryside. Buñuel is fascinated with the twists and turns of Catholic doctrine as only a fallen Catholic can be, and he constructs a series of elegant, witty paradoxes that parody theological argument while holding fast to its methods. Still, the revue format—the episodes don't really connect with each other—seems to diminish Buñuel's power to create a convincing parallel world (much as it would in the later Phantom of Liberty); the film misses the sense of inner logic and cohesion that informs his masterworks. A bit of a poor relation among the magnificent films of Buñuel's late period, but rarely shown and well worth seeing. With Michel Piccoli, Alain Cuny, Laurent Terzieff, Delphine Seyrig, Julien Bertheau, and Pierre Clementi. In French with subtitles. 105 min.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 332: Sat Nov 28

Out 1 (Rivette, 1971): Prince Charles Cinema, 9am


Here is the Prince Charles introduction to this special two-day screening:
The New York Times called it “the cinephile’s holy grail” and Eric Rohmer hailed it as “a cornerstone in the history of modern cinema”. After being impossible to see for many years, A Nos Amours and The Badlands Collective, in collaboration with Arrow Films, are proud to present the UK premiere of the new 2K restoration of Jacques Rivette’s Out 1: Noli me tangere in all its 773-minute glory.

Loosely inspired by Honoré de Balzac’s La Comédie humaine, Out 1: Noli me tangere is an absorbing, multi-stranded epic involving a quest to uncover a secret society in post-May 1968 Paris. Constructed as eight feature length episodes which run over almost 13 hours, it was originally screened just once in its original cut in 1971, with rare subsequent screenings in the ‘90s and ‘00s becoming the stuff of legend in cinema circles. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience this remarkable picture the way it should be seen – beautifully restored on the big screen.

You can find more information on the Badlands Collective Facebook page here.

Chicago Reader review:
An eight-part serial running about 12 and a half hours, this 1971 comedy drama is Rivette's grandest experiment and most exciting adventure in filmmaking. Balzac's History of the Thirteen, about a few Parisians who hope to control the city through their hidden interconnections, inspired its tale, dominated by two theater groups and two solitary individuals. Some of the major actors of the French New Wave participated (Juliet Berto, Francoise Fabian, Bernadette Lafont, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Michel Lonsdale, Bulle Ogier), creating their own characters and improvising their own dialogue, and Rivette juxtaposes their disparate acting styles; acting exercises dominate the first episodes (including one 45-minute take) until fiction gradually and conclusively overtakes the documentary aspect. What emerges is the definitive film about 60s counterculture: its global and conspiratorial fantasies, its euphoric collective utopias, and its descent into solitude, madness, and dissolution.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here is Jonathan Romney's long review for Film Comment magazine.
 

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 331: Fri Nov 27

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Dante, 1990): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.40 & 9.30pm 


This movie, a superior one to the original in my opinion, also features an introduction and a Q&A with the star Zach Gilligan as do the screenings of Gremlins at the Prince Charles. The film is being screened from a 35mm print.

New York Times review:
Gremlins is grounded in a fundamental division in American popular culture, between the sweetness and sociability of the Disney features, and the unbridled id of Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes shorts. If the forces of Disney win in the first film — the gremlins are lulled into complacency by a screening of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” — the barbarian hordes of Warner Brothers dominate the sequel. Beginning with an animated prologue featuring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, directed by the Warners animator Chuck Jones, “Gremlins 2” abandons Disney’s rural settings for an environment far more congenial to the Looney Tunes ethic, New York City. After more than two decades some of the gags in “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” are still disturbingly topical. Most of the action takes place in a Midtown office tower redolently named “the Clamp Premiere Regency Trade Center,” named after its developer, a certain Daniel Clamp (John Glover), who combines his healthy ego and real estate rapaciousness with some Ted Turner-like tendencies. (His cable network offers “Casablanca” “now in color and with a happier ending.”) Other jokes may require footnotes (Hulk Hogan, anyone?), while others seem eerily ahead of their time. Christopher Lee makes an impeccably timed entrance as a research scientist working on genetically altered Frankenfood.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 330: Thu Nov 26

Vampyr (Dreyer, 1932): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


Chicago Reader review:
'The greatness of Carl Dreyer's first sound film (1932, 83 min.) derives partly from its handling of the vampire theme in terms of sexuality and eroticism and partly from its highly distinctive, dreamy look, but it also has something to do with Dreyer's radical recasting of narrative form. Synopsizing the film not only betrays but misrepresents it: while never less than mesmerizing, it confounds conventions for establishing point of view and continuity, inventing a narrative language all its own. Some of the moods and images conveyed by this language are truly uncanny: the long voyage of a coffin, from the apparent viewpoint of the corpse inside; a dance of ghostly shadows inside a barn; a female vampire's expression of carnal desire for her fragile sister; an evil doctor's mysterious death by suffocation in a flour mill; a protracted dream sequence that manages to dovetail eerily into the narrative proper. The remarkable soundtrack, created entirely in a studio (in contrast to the images, which were all filmed on location), is an essential part of the film's voluptuous and haunting otherworldliness. (Vampyr was originally released by Dreyer in four separate versions—French, English, German, and Danish; most circulating prints now contain portions of two or three of these versions, although the dialogue is pretty sparse.) If you've never seen a Carl Dreyer film and wonder why many critics, myself included, regard him as possibly the greatest of all filmmakers, this chilling horror fantasy is the perfect place to begin to understand.'
Jonathan Rosenbaum 


Here (and above) is the trailer

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 329: Wed Nov 25

Gremlins (Dante, 1984): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.10 & 9pm


Here's the Prince Charles Cinema's introduction to this special screening:
That's right! Billy Peltzer himself, Mr Zach Galligan, will be joining us in November for a bunch of big-screen 70mm presentations of PCC favourite GREMLINS! Not only will Zach be introducing & taking your questions before the film, but he'll also be hanging out in our bar throughout the night so that all you lucky Gremlins ticket holders can say hello, nab an autograph and even get a photo taken with him ... oh, and he"ll be bringing his 'lil buddy Gizmo along for the ride too!

Tonight's screenings are sold out but the film (with guest star) is also being shown on 26th to 28th November. You can find the full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
E.T. with the lid off (1984). At the center of this horror comedy is a tidy family parable of the kind so dear to the heart of producer Steven Spielberg: the cute little whatzits who turn into marauding monsters when they pass through puberty (here gooily envisioned as “the larval stage”) are clearly metaphors for children, and the teenager (Zach Galligan) whose lapse of responsibility unleashes the onslaught is a stand-in for the immature parents of the 80s (Poltergeist). But Spielberg's finger wagging is overwhelmed by Joe Dante's roaring, undisciplined direction, which (sometimes through sheer sloppiness) pushes the imagery to unforeseen, untidy, and ultimately disturbing extremes. Dante is perhaps the first filmmaker since Frank Tashlin to base his style on the formal free-for-all of animated cartoons; he is also utterly heartless. With Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, and more movie-buff in-jokes than Carter has pills.
Dave Kehr


Here (and above) is the trailer.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 328: Tue Nov 24

No1: Carol (Haynes, 2015): Picturehouse Central, 6pm


This is a special advance screening of Carol (being shown on on 35mm) plus a Todd Haynes director Q&A after the film.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

************************


No2: A Fistful of Fingers (Wright, 1995): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30 & 8.30pm


A special 20th anniversary screening of Edgar Wright's lo-lo budget spoof western. Have a drink first.

Time Out review:
This is a homemade spaghetti Western (budget £10,000, cardboard horses and a handful of sixth-formers) which parodies itself along with the genre archetypes. The moving story of a bounty hunter's love for his murdered horse is a ragbag of the surreal, the satiric and the plain lame in the tradition of Hot Shots! Part Deux, with one Graham Low, a tour guide at Wookey Hole Caves, doing an uncanny impersonation of Eastwood's 'No Name'. Wright may not be in the class of Robert (El Mariachi) Rodriguez, but he has talent. Best seen after a couple of beers.
Tom Charity


“On Friday the 24th of November in 1995, filmgoers wrapped up tight and lined the cold streets of Leicester Square to see a new and exciting Great British action film. It would go on to make 350 million dollars worldwide. But enough about Goldeneye. Just around the corner from the Odeon Leicester Square you could have found a 21-year-old me nervously introducing my debut feature that very night at the Prince Charles Cinema. 
My movie, shot on 16mm and 78 minutes in length, was ‘A Fistful Of Fingers’. At the time I was pretty broke and could barely afford my travelcard to get in. But I want to thank anyone that did choose my silly opus over James Bond that weekend as it truly gave me a break into this industry.
The film was warmly received by some (Time Out, The Evening Standard) and savaged by others (Empire, The Guardian), but I owe my career to these zero budget antics in the Somerset countryside.
That night I was so anxious about the opening night response that I decided to pace around the foyer instead of watching the movie. I started chatting up the usher, Donna, and we later went on a date to see the romantic comedy Seven. So imagine my delight when the Prince Charles Cinema contacted me about the idea of creating a 20th anniversary event in honour of me asking out Donna The Usher.
Please get down to the world famous PCC and see my debut feature ‘A Fistful Of Fingers’ on the big screen again. I truly believe that with your help we could still beat Goldeneye’s total box office."


Edgar Wright, 21st September 2015


Here (and above) is the opening.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 327: Mon Nov 23

A Matter of Life and Death (Powell & Pressburger, 1946): BFI IMAX, 6.15pm


This is part of the 'BFI Love: Power of Love' season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This enduring 1946 Technicolor fantasy by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger began as a propaganda piece meant to cement wobbly British-American postwar relations, and some of that theme survives, notably in the climactic trial scene set in heaven. But the rest is given over to a delirious romanticism, tinged with morbidity, mysticism, and humor. David Niven is the British fighter pilot who misses his appointment with death, falling in love with a Wac (Kim Hunter) on his borrowed time. Powell had more and bigger ideas than any other postwar British director: his use of color and bold graphic images is startling and exhilarating, as is his willingness to explore the subsidiary themes of Pressburger's screenplay, never sacrificing creative excitement to linear plot. And yet, for all its abstraction, the film remains emotionally specific and affecting. With Roger Livesey and Marius Goring.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the opening to the film.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 326: Sun Nov 22

Day of Wrath (Dreyer, 1943): Close-Up Cinema, 8pm


This 35mm screening is part of a 'Superstition, Witchcraft, Body Without Organs and Occult' season  at Close-Up Cinema. The film is also being shown on 18th November. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Carl Dreyer made this extraordinary 1943 drama, about the church's persecution of women for witchcraft in the 17th century, during the German occupation of Denmark. He later claimed that he hadn't sought to pursue any contemporary parallels while adapting the play Anne Petersdotter (which concerns adultery as well as witchcraft), but that seems disingenuous - Day of Wrath may be the greatest film ever made about living under totalitarian rule. Astonishing in its artistically informed period re-creation as well as its hypnotic mise en scene (with some exceptionally eerie camera movements), it challenges the viewer by suggesting at times that witchcraft isn't so much an illusion as an activity produced by intolerance. And like Dreyer's other major films, it's sensual to the point of carnality. I can't think of another 40s film that's less dated. In Danish with subtitles.
Jonathan Rosenbaum 

Here (and above) is the opening to the film.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 325: Sat Nov 21

The Exterminating Angel (Bunuel, 1962): ICA Cinema, 4.15pm


This is part of the Luis Bunuel season at the ICA. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Luis Buñuel's 1962 film takes an old Mexican proverb—"After 24 hours, corpses and guests smell bad"—and turns it into a marvelous satire on the life of the bourgeoisie. Augusto Benedico gives a sumptuous party, but when the guests try to leave, they discover they're unable to step across the threshold of the music room. They stay on for days, finally reduced to eating a stray sheep that wanders providentially through the house; and when at last they escape and go to church to celebrate their deliverance, the whole thing starts again. Essential viewing. With Silvia Pinal, Enrique Rambal, and Jacqueline Andere.
Don Druker

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 324: Fri Nov 20

Room (Abrahamson, 2015): Rio Cinema, 8.30pm


This special preview screening is part of the London Irish Film Festival.

Chicago Reader review:
The first half of this Irish-Canadian indie is so depressing I could barely stand it, but in the second half my emotional investment paid off handsomely. Loosely based on the Josef Fritzl case, it's the story of a young woman (Brie Larson) who's been kidnapped, held captive for seven years in a tiny room, and serially raped, which has left her with a five-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay). After they finally escape from this cloistered existence, finding shelter with the boy's grandmother (Joan Allen), the young woman begins to struggle with post-traumatic stress while the boy tries to wrap his head around this thing called "the world." Lenny Abrahamson—whose previous feature, Frank, also dealt with social dislocation—directed a script by Emma Donoghue, who adapted her own novel. With William H. Macy and Tom McCamus.
JR Jones

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 323: Thu Nov 19

Roar (Marshall, 1981): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


Chicago Reader review:
In the early 1970s, actress Tippi Hedren (Marnie, The Birds) and her then husband, Noel Marshall, started adopting lions, tigers, and other large animals from Africa to protect them from poachers, bringing them to a ranch 40 miles north of Los Angeles where they could roam free. The location would become the set of this 1981 adventure yarn about an American (Marshall) who journeys to Kenya to live among big cats and then tries to convince his family to follow suit. Variety called this "the most disaster-plagued film in the history of Hollywood," and that might be so: the untamed animals, about 150 in all, mauled more than 70 cast and crew members during production, which lasted almost five years due to various setbacks. All the humans onscreen are clearly cowering in terror; this is supposed to be a Disney-style tale of people bonding with animals, but it plays like a nonfiction horror film. Marshall directed his own script; with Hedren's daughter, Melanie Griffith.
Ben Sachs

Here (and above) is the trailer. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 322: Wed Nov 18

Love (Noe, 2015): Rio Cinema and across London, 8.30pm


An exclusive filmed introduction from director Gaspar Noé + one of the most provocative films of the year.

Time Out review:
It promises all sorts of muck, and muck it delivers. ‘Love’ is a 3D sex film from Gaspar Noé, the French provocateur behind ‘Irreversible’ (violence, rape) and ‘Enter the Void’ (drugs, prostitution). It’s filthy and has many of the foibles of porn – bad dialogue, can-I-borrow-some-sugar plotting – but Noé holds back from showing hardcore penetration, although it’s hard to imagine his cast aren’t actually having full-on sex here. In the end, ‘Love’ is more silly than sordid, and even a little soppy in its late – too late – love-filled moments. Many teens will love it; most adults will roll their eyes.
Dave Calhoun

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 321: Tue Nov 17

Nothing But a Man (Roemer, 1964): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.20pm


This is part of the BFI Love: The Power of Love season. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
A sincere, intelligent, and effectively acted independent feature from 1964, about a black worker (Ivan Dixon) and his wife (Abbey Lincoln) struggling against prejudice and trying to make a life for themselves in Alabama. Directed by the able and neglected Michael Roemer (who made The Plot Against Harry five years later) from a script written in collaboration with Robert Young, who served as cinematographer; with Gloria Foster, Julius Harris, Martin Priest, and Yaphet Kotto
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is the BFI introduction: A landmark of US cinema, this uniquely truthful depiction of black life in early 1960s Alabama won great acclaim at the Venice, London and New York film festivals. Though it then sank into relative obscurity, a recent restoration by the Library of Congress has again made its many virtues gloriously apparent.

When railroad labourer Duff (Ivan Dixon) meets teacher Josie (Abbey Lincoln), he decides it’s time to settle down to marriage and a factory job. Trouble is, he’s expected to tolerate white bosses who, wittingly or not, are unfailingly racist, and Duff has his pride. Moreover, the couple have to deal not only with the disapproval of Josie’s preacher father, but with Duff’s son by a previous relationship and his own alcoholic father.

Small wonder this was reputedly Malcolm X’s favourite film; terrific performances by the mostly African American cast (Lincoln is especially memorable as the strong-willed Josie), eloquent camerawork by Roemer’s writing partner Robert M Young, and a matchless soundtrack of Motown tunes make for understated but powerful drama. Still more impressive, the film provides persuasive insights into how social conditions can influence not only relationships but notions of masculinity, responsibility and resistance, so that it still feels surprisingly modern and all too relevant.
Geoff Andrew

Here (and above) is the trailer.

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 320: Mon Nov 16

The Great Dictator (Chaplin, 1940): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm


This film is part of the Classic Film Season at the Prince Charles. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
Made in 1940, when a sense of humor about the Nazis was still possible. Charles Chaplin plays two roles, Adenoid Hynkel, the dictator of Tomania, and a poor Jewish barber who's mistaken for Hynkel and sent to deliver a speech in his place. The final address, in which Chaplin pleads with the audience for sanity and world peace, has often been criticized for its length and sententiousness, but it is a remarkable piece of acting and verbal rhetoric (all the more so as this was the first time Chaplin had spoken in a film). Chaplin is at his most profound in suggesting that there is much of the Tramp in the Dictator, and much of the Dictator in the Tramp. With Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, and Henry Daniell.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer