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American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre Presents...
Movies on the Big Screen Since 1940!
1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street in Santa Monica

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Click to print Page 1 or Page 2 or Full Text of an May 2008 Calendar!
Series programmed by: Gwen Deglise.

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Special Thanks to: Gary Darnall/BAFTA; Nicholas Varley/PARK CIRCUS; Keith Tufano and Maxwell Fiona/GRANADA MEDIA; LEAN FOUNDATION; Amy Lewin/MGM REPERTORY; Suzanne Leroy and Jared Sapolin/SONY REPERTORY; Marilee Womack/WARNER BROS.


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SOLD OUT SCREENINGS: There will be a waiting line for Sold Out screenings. Tickets often become available at the door the night of an event.

Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.

All guests are subject to availability. The Cinematheque will offer a refund due to guest cancellations only IF the refund transaction is complete PRIOR to the start of the show.



Tickets are $9 general admission unless noted otherwise.
(Aero by series)
(Aero Film Calendar)
(Egyptian by series)
(Egyptian by date)
24-Hour Information: 323.466.FILM
Contact Us
The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the newly re-opened and renovated Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica and at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Barry Gerber. Aero Theatre (c) 2004.

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<<< May 7 - 15, 2008 >>>

These Mad Places: The Epic Cinema of David Lean

Celebrating 50 Years of Britain in Los Angeles and the Centennial of David Lean’s Birth.

Discuss this series with other film fans on:


"[LAWRENCE OF ARABIA art director John Bryan] suddenly looked at me and said, ‘I know what you are. You’re a bloody Boy Scout.’ In a way, I am. I’m a grown-up Boy Scout. Because I love going to these mad places." - David Lean.

When the British Film Institute published its critics’ poll of the 100 best British films ever made, it came as no surprise that 3 of the top 10 movies - BRIEF ENCOUNTER, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and GREAT EXPECTATIONS - were directed by the same man: David Lean. His name is synonymous with visually breathtaking epics such as DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and A PASSAGE TO INDIA - although ironically, he was nearly as acclaimed early in his career for intimate dramas such as BRIEF ENCOUNTER and SUMMERTIME, and his masterful Dickens adaptations GREAT EXPECTATIONS and OLIVER TWIST. "I love making motion pictures. Working on the script is important and very necessary, but I’m not a word man. I’m a picture man. I love getting behind a camera and trying to get images on the screen," Lean once observed. And truly, his films play out as a cascade of unforgettable images, characters and landscapes, from the haunted marshlands in GREAT EXPECTATIONS, to the winter palace in DR. ZHIVAGO, to Peter O’Toole striding victoriously toward the wrecked train in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.

Born March 25, 1908, in Croydon, a suburb of London, into a strict Quaker family, Lean was astoundingly considered to be "either not very bright or incorrigibly lazy" by his teachers at school. He became fascinated with photography and film at an early age (American director Rex Ingram was one of the young Lean’s heroes), and after a brief stint working at his father’s accounting firm, he landed a job at age 19 with Gainsborough Studios, where he toiled as a gofer/wardrobe assistant before moving into editing. By the late 1930s, Lean was widely acknowledged as the finest editor in British cinema for his work on such movies as PYGMALION, MAJOR BARBARA and 49th PARALLEL. In 1942, he was invited by NoŽl Coward to co-direct the war drama IN WHICH WE SERVE, which began Lean’s career as a director. He was, by all accounts, one of the most thoroughly knowledgeable and dedicated filmmakers in the history of the medium, a superb craftsman with an innate ability to move audiences and critics with his sweeping stories of soldiers and poets, rebels and star-crossed lovers. Frequent star Alec Guinness hailed him as "easily the most meticulous artist in motion pictures," and Lean himself wryly observed, "I am told that some people say I have celluloid instead of blood in my veins. Well, I simply cannot help it." A notoriously private and complicated man, Lean was married numerous times and spent much of his adult life living in far-flung locales such as India and the South Pacific. Despite his numerous awards and box office successes, Lean was intensely sensitive to criticism; the negative reviews of RYAN’S DAUGHTER wounded him deeply and contributed to his long absence from directing in the 1970s. He returned to filmmaking in 1984 with the triumph of A PASSAGE TO INDIA, and was knighted the same year by Queen Elizabeth for his contributions to British cinema. He was working on an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo at the time of his death in 1991, leaving behind one of the richest and most accomplished legacies of any director in the history of cinema.

This retrospective includes his masterpieces LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, and new prints of BRIEF ENCOUNTER, GREAT EXPECTATIONS and OLIVER TWIST, along with such rarely seen film as THIS HAPPY BREED.



Enter Our Drawing:

Two (2) goody bags with his and hers Liz Earle Skincare, DVD’s of Longford
and Elizabeth, Virgin Mega Compilation CD’s and Air New Zealand flip flops

Two (2) BABC outdoor golf/picnic blankets, perfect for use at the beach,
Hollywood bowl, etc., with a golf shirt, golf balls and a certificate for
practice round for half price for four people at Trump National Golf Club

A gift basket from the British Connection

A gift certificate from the Whale & Ale.

*Each ticket buyer will get a drawing slip at the theatre.



Wednesday, May 7 - 7:30 PM
New 35mm Print!

BRIEF ENCOUNTER, 1946, MGM/UA, 86 min. Dir. David Lean. A seemingly happily married woman (Celia Johnson) gets a piece of grit in her eye at the train station; a married doctor (Trevor Howard) helps remove it. From such simple, commonplace stuff is woven one of the most heartbreaking portraits of lost love and longing ever put on film – a story, in its very, very British way, equal to the sweeping passions of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DR. ZHIVAGO. Based on NoŽl Coward’s play "Still Life."

New 35mm print! GREAT EXPECTATIONS, 1946, MGM/UA, 118 min. The film that set the standard for all Dickens adaptations before or since. Director David Lean’s early masterpiece opens with the awesome images of a convict stumbling across a storm-wracked moor and then plunges us into the story of an impoverished underdog, Pip (John Mills) trying to defy the rigid caste system of Victorian England. Co-starring Alec Guinness (in his first film for Lean), Jean Simmons, Francis L. Sullivan and Valerie Hobson, with Oscar-winning black-and-white photography by Guy Green. "Probably no finer Dickens film has been made than Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS." – Michael Pointer, Charles Dickens on Screen.


Thursday, May 8 - 7:30 PM
A PASSAGE TO INDIA, 1984, Columbia, 163 min. Director David Lean’s final film (and his first since RYAN’S DAUGHTER, 14 years earlier) is a deeply satisfying marriage of his finest qualities as a director: truly epic in scope, it also manages to be astonishingly intimate and emotionally complex. Judy Davis stars as a repressed young Englishwoman who accuses an Indian doctor (Victor Banerjee) of attempted rape at the mysterious Marabar Caves, setting off a firestorm of political and racial controversy in British-controlled India. Peggy Ashcroft won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her heartbreaking work in the film, as did composer Maurice Jarre (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA) for his superb score. And nearly 40 years after they first worked together on GREAT EXPECTATIONS, Lean’s greatest collaborator, Alec Guinness, returned one final time, for his gentle, melancholy performance as Professor Godbole. More on this film.


Friday, May 9 - 7:30 PM
70mm Print!

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, 1962, Columbia, 216 min. Dir. David Lean. Peter O’Toole was catapulted to stardom as the tortured Man Who Would Not Be King, T. E. Lawrence, who helped the Arabs revolt against European and Ottoman hegemony. Director David Lean’s epic is a timeless masterpiece – as close to perfect as a film can get. Featuring one of the finest casts in any motion picture: Omar Sharif (in his first major English-speaking role), Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Claude Rains and Alec Guinness as Prince Faisal. Director of Photography Freddie Young’s 70mm photography is rightly considered to be a work of genius, matched by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson’s screenplay, Maurice Jarre’s stirring score and John Box’s production design. Winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. More on this film. "The word 'epic' in recent years has become synonymous with 'big budget B picture.' What you realize watching LAWRENCE OF ARABIA is that the word 'epic' refers not to the cost or the elaborate production, but to the size of the ideas and vision." – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


Saturday, May 10 - 3:00 PM

Family Matinee:
New 35mm Print!
OLIVER TWIST, 1948, MGM/UA, 116 min. Dir. David Lean. A startlingly real, atmospheric evocation of childhood terrors and the evils of poverty. Innocent orphan Oliver (John Howard Davies) is shanghaied into a gang of child thieves by blackguard Bill Sykes (a particularly chilling Robert Newton). Alec Guinness’ masterful, almost unrecognizable performance as the Jewish kingpin of boy thieves, Fagin, led to unexpected problems when the film was denounced as anti-Semitic by the League of B’nai B’rith – in Berlin, rioters tore the theatre apart where the film was shown, and its release was delayed for three years in the U.S. to let tensions ease. More on this film. "OLIVER TWIST moves forward in staccato bursts, propelled by coiling tensions and by outbursts of sudden, brutish violence…This is possibly David Lean’s wildest movie, certainly his darkest and arguably his best." – Al McKee, Film Comment.



Saturday, May 10 - 7:30 PM

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, 1965, Warner Bros., 193 min. Dir. David Lean. "If this man were my father, I should want to know," says General Yevgraf Zhivago (Alec Guinness) to his wary niece – and the story that he narrates, of decadent Tsarists, anguished revolutionaries, two beautiful women in love with the same man, a nation and a people in upheaval, and above all, the poet and physician (Omar Sharif) who witnesses and remembers it all – is one of the most lyrical and visually breathtaking stories in the history of film. From the bloodstained march through the Moscow streets, to the snowbound train ride through the Ural Mountains, to the haunted ice palace at Varykino, this is the essence of pure cinema. Brilliantly scripted by Robert Bolt (from Boris Pasternak’s novel), and photographed by Freddie Young (who replaced Nicolas Roeg soon into shooting). Co-starring Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Tom Courtenay, Ralph Richardson and Siobhan McKenna, with Oscar-winning music by Maurice Jarre. More on this film.



Sunday, May 11 – 7:30 PM
, 1970, Warner Bros., 187 min. Initially planned as a return to the small-scale storytelling of David Lean’s BRIEF ENCOUNTER days, RYAN’S DAUGHTER instead became an epic contest between the director and the Irish landscape, as he attempted to tell the tragic story of a married Irish woman (played by Sarah Miles, wife of the film’s screenwriter Robert Bolt) and her affair with a shell-shocked British soldier (Christopher Jones). A flawed gem, the film boasts some great performances (John Mills, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and Leo McKern) and some still-underrated ones (Robert Mitchum, as a meek schoolteacher). Freddie Young’s astonishing cinematography ranks with his best work on LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. More on this film.



Wednesday, May 14 – 7:30 PM
, 1957, Columbia, 161 min. David Lean won the first of two Academy Awards for Best Director for this epic portrait of the clash of wills between a British POW, Col. Nicholson (Alec Guinness, who initially turned down the role) and a tradition-bound Japanese officer (silent star Sessue Hayakawa) over the building of a railway bridge in the jungle during WWII. William Holden stars as the cynically realistic American POW who is forced to trek back into the hellish jungle to destroy the bridge with Jack Hawkins and his rag-tag team of commandos. Brilliantly adapted by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson from Pierre Boulle’s novel, with an unforgettable score courtesy of Malcolm Arnold. More on this film. "There has been a lot of argument about the film’s attitude towards war. I think it is a painfully eloquent statement on the general folly and waste of war." – David Lean



Thursday, May 15 – 7:30 PM

SUMMERTIME, 1955, Janus Films, 100 min. Dir. David Lean. The original British title of the film, SUMMER MADNESS, comes closer to the glorious, hothouse atmosphere of this story of a lonely American spinster (Katharine Hepburn) who succumbs to a passionate affair with a married Italian antique dealer (Rossano Brazzi). Lean insisted on shooting on location in Venice, and the result is a Technicolor valentine to the ancient city. This was the director’s personal favorite among all his films. More on this film. "It had an enormous effect on tourism. I remember the head of a hotel chain coming up to me and saying, ‘We ought to put a monument up to you.’ " – David Lean

New 35mm print! THIS HAPPY BREED, 1944, MGM/UA, 115 min. David Lean turned down an offer to co-direct HENRY V with Laurence Olivier to make this, his first full feature as sole director. Based on an acclaimed play by NoŽl Coward, THIS HAPPY BREED is a lovingly crafted, slice-of-life portrait of several decades in the life of a typical British family, charting their marriages, squabbles, births, deaths and understated resilience. Robert Newton (OLIVER TWIST) is cast very much against type as the middle-class father, with Lean favorite Celia Johnson (BRIEF ENCOUNTER) as his wife, aided by John Mills, Stanley Holloway and Lean’s second wife, Kay Walsh.