"Casablanca," "Singin' in the Rain" Featured in Buffalo Film Seminars

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: January 14, 2004

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Two of the most popular films ever made -- Casablanca" and "Singin' in the Rain" -- will be among those to be shown during the Spring 2004 edition of "Buffalo Film Seminars," the 14-week series of screenings and discussions sponsored by the University at Buffalo and the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center.

The screenings ill take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Market Arcade theater, 639 Main St, Buffalo.

Each film will be introduced by Bruce Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture in the Department of English in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and Diane Christian, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, also in UB's English department.

Following a short break at the end of each film, Jackson and Christian will lead a discussion of the film with members of the audience.

The screenings are part of "Contemporary Cinema" (Eng 401), an undergraduate class being taught by the pair. The screenings also are open to the general public.

Admission to each film will be $7.50 for the general public, $5.50 for students and $5 for seniors. Series tickets for all remaining films in the Buffalo Film Seminars can be purchased at any time at a 15 percent discount.

The films are free for those enrolled in the three-credit "Contemporary Cinema" course. Those wishing to earn credit in relation to the series should register for the course.

Free parking is available in the M&T lot opposite the theater's Washington Street entrance.

The series lineup, with film descriptions culled from the seminars' Web site at http://csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.s04.html.

• Jan 13: "Greed," 1925, directed by Erich von Stroheim. Starring Zasu Pitts, Gibson Gowland, Jean Hersholt, and based on the Frank Norris novel, "McTeague." The sudden fortune won from a lottery fans such destructive greed that it ruins the lives of the three people involved. Critic Derek Malcolm calls this film "a morality tale about the dehumanizing influence of money, the realism, detail and complex characterization of which made it unforgettable." This screening will feature accompaniment by Philip Carli on the electronic piano.

• Jan. 20: "All Quiet on the Western Front," 1930, directed by Lewis Milestone. Starring Louis Wolheim, Lew Aires and Zasu Pitts. A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. Called "the first major anti-war film of the sound era," by critic Tim Dirks and "the most explicitly pacifist movie ever made" by Philip French.

• Jan. 27: "You Only Live Once," 1939, directed by Fritz Lang. Starring Sylvia Sydney and Henry Fonda. The secretary of a public defender falls in love with a career criminal. He tries to go straight after marrying her, but things don't work out and they both go on the lam. Sometimes cited as one of the prototypes of "Bonnie and Clyde."

• Feb. 3: "The Lady Eve," 1941, directed by Preston Sturges. Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda and Charles Coburn. Returning from a year in the Amazon studying snakes, the rich but unsophisticated Charles Pike meets con artist Jean Harrington on a ship. They fall in love, but a misunderstanding causes them to split on bad terms. To get back at him, Jean disguises herself as an English lady and comes back to tease and torment him. Critic Roger Ebert calls Sturges' direction "a kind of breathless balancing act, involving romance, deception and physical comedy."

• Feb. 10: "Casablanca," 1941, directed by Michael Curtiz. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. A callous nightclub owner in a wartime way station has his world turned upside down when his lost love returns.

• Feb. 17: "The Ox Bow Incident," 1943, directed by William A. Wellman. Starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Anthony Quinn and Harry Morgan. Based on the novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. Two drifters are passing through a Western town when news comes in that a local farmer has been murdered and his cattle stolen. The townspeople, joined by the drifters, form a posse to catch the perpetrators. They find three men in possession of the cattle and are determined to see justice done on the spot. "An intense, blunt and downbeat examination of frontier 'justice,'" writes critic Tim Dirks.

• Feb. 24: "The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp," 1943, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Starring Roger Livesey and Deborah Kerr. This film follows the delightful Clive Candy V.C. through his life and the pursuit of his various ideals. "One of the many miracles of "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is the way the movie transforms a blustering, pigheaded caricature into one of the most loved of all movie characters....Rarely does a film give us such a nuanced view of the whole span of a man's life," writes Roger Ebert

• March 2: "The Asphalt Jungle," 1950, directed by John Houston. Starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, John McIntire and Marilyn Monroe. A carefully assembled team carries out a well-planned burglary, but little accidents accumulate and each partner proves to have his own fatal weakness. "...a naturalistic film noir crime film classic of the early 1950s.... The sparse, gritty and tense film with a linear narrative is often considered the definitive heist or caper film, often copied and paid homage to by later films," such as Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing" (1956) "Ocean's Eleven" (1960) and "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975), writes Tim Dirks.

• March 9: "Singin' in the Rain," 1952, directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly. Starring Gene Kelley, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds. "Singin' in the Rain" has been voted one of the greatest films of all time in international critics' polls and is routinely called the greatest of all the Hollywood musicals. Although the film has been on video in various versions for a decade and is often seen on TV, a big-screen viewing will reveal a richness of color that television may not suggest.

• March 23: "From Here to Eternity," 1953, directed by Fred Zinnemann. Starring Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift. This classic-winner of eight Academy Awards, including best picture, best director and supporting actor and actress-"may be a Hollywood gloss on the bottomless James Jones novel on which it was based, but it was a shocker when it came out and remains a brooding, spiky experience," writes critic Ty Burr.

• March 30: "Kumonosu jo/Throne of Blood," 1957, directed by Akira Kurosawa. Starring Toshiro Mifune. A ruthlessly ambitious lord, egged on by his wife, works to fulfill a prophesy that he would become emperor. Peter Bradshaw calls this film Kurosawa's "vision of Macbeth as a samurai."

• April 6: "Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and his Brothers," 1960, directed by Luchino Visconti. Starring Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Giradot and Katina Paxinou, A bitter feud ensues between two brothers who have affairs with a prostitute.

• April 13: "Jules et Jim/Jules and Jim," 1961, directed by François Truffaut. Starring Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner and Henri Serre. Set during the advent of World War I, "Jules et Jim" is an allegorical film about the turmoil between French nationalism and the German occupation of World War II. As with the characters' doomed love triangle, the film is a scathing indictment of a country led to ruin by lack of conviction and feigned neutrality.

• April 20: "Once Upon a Time in America," 1984, directed by Sergio Leone. Starring Robert De Niro, James Woods and Elizabeth McGovern. A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to Brooklyn more than 30 years later where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life. Leone made six important films during his career, five of which were westerns. The exception was his final film, "Once Upon a Time in America," which instead explored the cinematic mythology of American organized crime.