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United Artists: 90 Years

July 5, 2008 - August 31, 2008

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Dr. No, July 5

“The inmates have taken over the asylum,” the head of Metro Pictures reportedly declared on hearing that Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, D. W. Griffith, and Charles Chaplin had founded their own company, United Artists, in 1919. The idea of a “studio without a studio”—a company that functioned primarily as a distributor, without the enormous overhead of a conventional Hollywood production/distribution/exhibition conglomerate—might have been crazy, but it stuck, and by the mid-fifties, UA was one of the most important forces in American cinema. Over the years, the company formed fruitful partnerships with independent producers like Samuel Goldwyn and the Mirisch brothers, and released films by such independent-minded artists as Buster Keaton, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Woody Allen, and Martin Scorsese, among many others. This anniversary tribute surveys UA’s illustrious and eclectic roster from the silent era to the eighties, sampling everything from low-budget gems to blockbuster classics, including many gorgeous new prints.

Saturday, July 5, 2008
6:30 p.m. Some Like It Hot
Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon in Billy Wilder’s outrageous cross-dressing comedy, “one of the enduring treasures of the movies.”—Roger Ebert

Saturday, July 5, 2008
8:50 p.m. Dr. No
The screen debut of James Bond, complete with double agents, double martinis, and Sean Connery as the suave 007.

Sunday, July 6, 2008
5:00 p.m. Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Set along the Mississippi, “Buster Keaton’s most entertaining balance of the instinctual and the cerebral.”—Village Voice

Sunday, July 6, 2008
6:30 p.m. Scarface
Howard Hawks’s rat-a-tat-taut direction drives this godfather of all gangster films.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008
7:30 p.m. Stagecoach
John Ford’s first film with John Wayne and his first shot in Monument Valley, “Stagecoach is to American movies what The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is to American literature.”—N.Y. Observer

Wednesday, July 9, 2008
7:30 p.m. The Shanghai Gesture
Sternberg’s “delirious melodrama of decadence and sexual guilt that uses its Oriental motifs as a cipher for all that is unknown or unknowable. . . . Subversive cinema at its most sublime.”—Time Out

Friday, July 11, 2008
7:00 p.m. Paths of Glory
“Kubrick’s first full-fledged masterpiece is a peerless insanity-of-war picture. . . . Kirk Douglas has never been better.”—Time Out N.Y.

Friday, July 11, 2008
8:45 p.m. The Killing
Sterling Hayden heads up a phenomenal cast of B players plotting a racetrack holdup in Kubrick’s high-voltage thriller. “Not to be missed.”—Chicago Reader

Saturday, July 12, 2008
6:30 p.m. The Apartment
Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in an acid tale of sex and corporate success. “An American classic.”—N.Y. Times

Saturday, July 12, 2008
8:55 p.m. Goldfinger
It’s Bond versus Goldfinger and the alluring Pussy Galore in perhaps the most iconic entry in the 007 franchise.

Sunday, July 13, 2008
4:00 p.m. The Great Escape
Classic ensemble actioner set in a WWII prison camp. “Steve McQueen bikes, Charles Bronson digs and everyone leaves the theater whistling. Seriously. We defy you not to.”—Time Out N.Y.

Thursday, July 17, 2008
6:30 p.m. Manhattan
Woody Allen’s visual love poem to the city of his heart. “Essential to experience on the big screen.”—The Onion

Thursday, July 17, 2008
8:30 p.m. Annie Hall
Allen’s winning romantic comedy is as funny today as it was in the ’70s, and, in a new print, as sparkling, too.

Sunday, July 20, 2008
4:00 p.m. The Thief of Bagdad
Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckles through fantastic sets in “one of the most rousing adventures of the silent era.”—Time Out N.Y.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008
7:30 p.m. Red River
Howard Hawks directs John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, and a river of cattle in this rousing Western that is also a funny and moving study of male relationships.

Saturday, July 26, 2008
8:30 p.m. Raging Bull
Robert De Niro gives body and soul to the role of boxer Jake La Motta in Scorsese’s kinetic and visceral vision.

Sunday, July 27, 2008
5:00 p.m. The Magnificent Seven
Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen head up a band of gunmen in this exhilarating Western, set in Mexico and modeled on Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
7:30 p.m. Sweet Smell of Success
Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in “a pungent exploration of ambition and evil in the New York newspaper world. . . . A chilling and powerful picture.”—Village Voice

Sunday, August 3, 2008
5:00 p.m. Broken Blossoms
Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Waif Lillian Gish takes shelter with a Chinese immigrant in D. W. Griffith’s delicate melodrama.

Sunday, August 3, 2008
6:45 p.m. The Night of the Hunter
Charles Laughton directs a lush Southern Gothic nightmare starring Robert Mitchum as the archetypal evil preacher. “One of the greatest of all American films.”—Roger Ebert. With Lillian Gish.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008
6:30 p.m. 99 River Street
Building classic noir elements into a tricky play on reality and spectacle, Phil Karlson delivers a one-two punch of brute force and stylistic invention.

Thursday, August 14, 2008
8:50 p.m. The Thomas Crown Affair
Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in a stylish tale of bank robbery, romance, and stickin’ it to “the Establishment.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
7:30 p.m. The Long Goodbye
Robert Altman’s casually ironic adaptation casts Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe adrift in ’70s L.A. With Elliott Gould, Sterling Hayden, and stunning widescreen cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond.

Thursday, August 28, 2008
7:00 p.m. West Side Story
The vibrant Leonard Bernstein/Jerome Robbins musical reinvents the Romeo and Juliet story in New York City.

Saturday, August 30, 2008
8:10 p.m. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Sergio Leone perfects violence as kinetic composition in “the greatest of all Spaghetti Westerns.”—Village Voice

Sunday, August 31, 2008
7:10 p.m. Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas! Viva Elvis! Viva Ann-Margret! This widescreen extravaganza is “an American wet dream.”—Howard Hampton

Series curated by Susan Oxtoby.

PFA wishes to thank the following individuals and institutions for their assistance with this series: Chris Chouinard, MGM; Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum; Caroline Yeager and Leeann Duggan, George Eastman House; Todd Wiener and Joe Hunsberger, UCLA Film & Television Archive; Tim Lanza, Douris UK Ltd.; Paul Ginsburg, Universal; and Marilee Womack, Warner Bros.

Archival and restored prints and musical accompaniment for silent films are presented with support from the Packard Humanities Institute.