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|Series programmed by:
|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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Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the newly re-opened and
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Credit: Barry Gerber. Aero Theatre (c) 2004.
<<< May 7 - 15, 2008
|These Mad Places: The Epic
Cinema of David LeanCelebrating 50
Years of Britain in Los Angeles and the Centennial of David Leans 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. Youre a bloody Boy Scout. In a way, I am.
Im a grown-up Boy Scout. Because I love going to these mad places." - David
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
Im not a word man. Im 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
OToole 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 Leans heroes), and after a brief
stint working at his fathers 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 Leans 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 RYANS 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 Conrads 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, DVDs of Longford
and Elizabeth, Virgin Mega Compilation CDs
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
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
Cowards 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
Leans 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
Leans GREAT EXPECTATIONS." Michael Pointer, Charles Dickens on
Thursday, May 8 - 7:30 PM
A PASSAGE TO INDIA, 1984, Columbia, 163 min.
Director David Leans final film (and his first since RYANS 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, Leans 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
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, 1962, Columbia, 216 min.
Dir. David Lean. Peter OToole 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 Leans 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 Youngs 70mm
photography is rightly considered to be a work of genius, matched by Robert Bolt and
Michael Wilsons screenplay, Maurice Jarres stirring score and John Boxs
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
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 Bnai Brith 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
Leans 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 Pasternaks 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
RYANS DAUGHTER, 1970, Warner Bros., 187 min.
Initially planned as a return to the small-scale storytelling of David Leans
BRIEF ENCOUNTER days, RYANS 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 films 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 Youngs astonishing
cinematography ranks with his best work on LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. More on
Wednesday, May 14 7:30 PM
THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, 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 Boulles novel, with an unforgettable score courtesy of Malcolm Arnold.
More on this film. "There
has been a lot of argument about the films attitude towards war. I think it is a
painfully eloquent statement on the general folly and waste of war." David
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 directors 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 Leans second wife, Kay