|Film Critic Kevin Thomas'
Filmmakers in the indie, experimental, foreign, avant-garde or,until
very recently, documentary fields desperately need critics. Lacking money for a
promotional campaign and forced to rely on word-of-mouth, these filmmakers have found no
better friend over the past 40-plus years than Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times.
Hard to believe there once was a time in antediluvian Los Angeles
when major critics shunned anything with subtitles. And drive-in movies were certainly
beyond the pale. So it fell to Kevin to alert Angelenos to the French New Wave and to such
giants as Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Andrei
Tarkovsky. He also discovered talented newcomers doing interesting work in films from
Roger Corman and American International Pictures. Indeed, he was the first journalist to
interview a young actor named Jack Nicholson.
His love of avant-garde and experimental films led him to be the
only Los Angeles Times critic to review films by Kenneth Anger and Andy Warhol.
Since 1984 his "Special Screenings" column in the Los Angeles Times has
been the lifeblood for venues that exhibit films for brief runs or even one night. In
short, no one in the Los Angeles critical establishment has done more to create an
awareness and appreciation of film culture than Kevin Thomas.
-- Kirk Honeycutt, Los Angeles Film Critics Association
KEVIN THOMAS FAVORITE FILMS, PART II
For my second series of favorites I have chosen the theme of
films by friends, which encompasses pictures made by people I knew well over many
yearsBudd Boetticher, George Cukor, Fritz Lang and Mae Westand those with whom
I had warm acquaintances over the decadesAkira Kurosawa, Vincent Sherman, Billy
Wilder. I interviewed Sir Carol Reed on location for FLAP, here represented by ODD MAN
OUT. I did meet Dame Judith Anderson, the co-star of that Pre-Code gem, BLOOD MONEY. I
must confess I never met Max Ophuls, who died while I was still in college, but his son
Marcel Ophuls, the great documentarian, shared with me memories of his father. When LOLA
MONTES proved unavailable for my first series I was determined that, as one of my most
favorite directors, Ophuls would be represented by another of his great films, in this
instance THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE
I will have plenty of stories to tell, especially
of Budd Boetticher, that dashing romantic figure with a character of granite; of George
Cukor, the finest mentor anyone could ever have; of Fritz Lang, who was like a father to
me; and of the incomparable Mae West, who managed to sustain an 80-year career and who
always knew how to enjoy life to the fullest. --- Kevin Thomas
Thursday, January 17 7:30 PM
Kevin Thomas Favorites
Restored Print! ANATOMY OF A MURDER, 1959, Sony Repertory, 160 min.
Dir. Otto Preminger. The finest courtroom drama ever made, a masterpiece of
ambiguity in which the audience is the ultimate juror. James Stewart (in what is
arguably his richest, certainly his most ambivalent performance) is a small town lawyer
who defends an arrogant soldier (Ben Gazzara) for the murder of his sexy
wifes supposed rapist. The characters often seem to behave inappropriately, in the
process blurring the dividing line between guilt and innocence. Filmed on location in
upper Michigan, in the actual locations where the true-life murder and trial took place.
Superb performances from Eve Arden as Stewarts rock-solid gal Friday, Arthur
OConnell as an alcoholic attorney, George C. Scott as a prosecuting who
seems as aware as Stewarts lawyer that the courtroom is a stage and that victory
belongs to the best actor, and McCarthy silencer, real-life lawyer (and non-actor) Joseph
N. Welch as a droll judge. Enhanced by Duke Ellingtons jazz score
(Ellington makes a surprise cameo appearance, performing at the neighborhood juke joint). Introduction by Film Critic Kevin Thomas.
Wednesday, March 12 7:30 PM
Kevin Thomas Favorites:
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, 1946, MGM
Repertory, 172 min. Three World War II veterans return home and struggle with the physical
and emotional demands of adjusting to civilian life in this timeless portrait of the human
costs of war. Director William Wyler balances multiple storylines and social issues
over the course of three swiftly paced hours, and CITIZEN KANE cinematographer Gregg
Toland gives the drama visual weight with his typically beautiful deep-focus
compositions. Real-life veteran Harold Russell is a standout in an Oscar-winning
performance, but the others in the cast --including Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy,
Teresa Wright and Fredric March -- are superb as well. Winner of seven
Oscars including Best Director and Best Picture. Film Critic
Kevin Thomas will introduce the screening.