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Mann’s World: Anthony Mann on the Big Screen
Fridays and Saturdays: January 17, 23, 24, 30,31, February 6, 13, 14, 21 at the PFA Theater
Pacific Film Archive is very happy to present a series of twenty features directed by Anthony Mann. Mann's World: Anthony Mann on the Big Screen will be shown at the PFA Theater, 2575 Bancroft Way (near Bowditch Street on the southern edge of the UC campus) in Berkeley from Saturday, January 17 to Saturday, February 21. From the creepy underworld of Desperate to Man of the West, a superb Western, this 20-film series surveys the career of a great genre director. Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum observed, "If Mann is less known than other [classic American directors] it may be because his painterly gifts tend to wither on TV screens."
Mann was born in San Diego and moved as a child with his family to New York. After stints as a (very young) Broadway director, a talent scout for David Selznick, and assistant director to Preston Sturges and others, he took Sturges's advice and began directing any project he could. He made several B pictures, including The Great Flamarion, starring Erich von Stroheim. Soon, Mann began working with such great cinematographers as John Alton and George Diskant, creating echt noirs, whose extreme camera angles and chiaroscuro lighting evoked a hostile world where paranoia is perfectly justified. Among the noirs to be shown at PFA are: Desperate (with a creepy Raymond Burr as the villain), T-Men (the first film where Mann had a great deal of personal control), Raw Deal (especially stylish and fatalistic), Reign of Terror (an odd period noir where the French Revolution stands in for the McCarthy era), and Border Incident (a noir thriller and a Western, and the first time Mann had a budget big enough to allow outdoor location shooting).
From 1950 to 1958 Mann directed some of the finest Westerns made in Hollywood. The Western, as envisioned by Mann, is a more psychological and overtly violent genre, where precise, spectacular fight scenes convey a real sense of pain, and exterior vistas reflect the characters' inner turmoil. The Devil's Doorway, Mann's last film with John Alton, focuses on shoddy treatment of Native Americans. Winchester '73, Bend of the River (Mann's first color film), The Naked Spur, The Far Country, and The Man from Laramie all star Jimmy Stewart, who had worked in Mann's East Coast summer stock company in the mid-1930s. The Stewart Westerns revealed new, edgier qualities in this actor known for playing endearing, diffident characters. In these films, the heroes are often troubled, ambivalent, and in danger of being consumed by hate. In addition to Stewart's portrayals, stunning lead performances are also given by Henry Fonda, starring with Anthony Perkins in The Tin Star, and by an ailing Gary Cooper in the classic film Man of the West.
Among other highlights in this series are two films starring Robert Ryan: Men in War, about a lost platoon in Korea, and God's Little Acre, based on an Erskine Caldwell novel. In 1961, Mann directed El Cid, one of Hollywood's finest epic spectacles; Charlton Heston stars as the warrior-hero of 11th century Spain.
General admission to the screenings is $8 for one film and $10 for double bills. Tickets can be purchased at the Berkeley Art Museum admissions desk and, after January 16, at the PFA Theater box office. Tickets are also available by telephoning (510) 642-5249. A schedule of the dates, times, and titles of the screenings in "Mann's World" follows. For more ticket or program information, please phone (510) 642-1412.
Saturday, January 17
6:00 pm: Desperate (1947). A newlywed Everycouple flees the Mob and the law in the first and least known of Mann's celebrated film noir cycle.
7:35 pm: T-Men (1948). Archival Print! Undercover Treasury agents inhabit a twilit moral universe in this documentary-style noir shot by the great John Alton.
9:30 pm: Raw Deal (1948). Archival Print! In another stylish, shadowy Mann/Alton collaboration from the '40s, "the violence, both physical and emotional, is still shocking."—Chicago Reader
Friday, January 23
7:00 pm: The Furies(1950). Strong-willed Barbara Stanwyck's love-hate relationship with cattle-baron father Walter Huston takes on the proportions of Greek tragedy in "one of the darkest Westerns ever made."—S.F. Chronicle
9:10 pm: Side Street (1950). In this downbeat drama with Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell, "Manhattan's a maze for hapless rats...as Mann shoots it—in almost Rossellinian overhead angles and with...scrupulous, crystal-clear regard for landscape."—Village Voice
Saturday, January 24
7:00 pm: Border Incident (1949). Mann and cinematographer John Alton work the border between Western and noir in this incredibly tense, if scenic, tale of immigration agents and human smuggling.
8:50 pm: The Black Book (1949). Alton's cinematography evokes a nocturnal Paris in this brooding, McCarthy-era melodrama of the French Revolution, also known as Reign of Terror.
Friday, January 30
7:00 pm: Devil's Doorway (1950). Introduced by Scott Simmon. Mann's last film with John Alton is a cynical critique of the mistreatment of Native Americans. "Anyone who wants to know what a real Western is...has to have seen Devil's Doorway."—André Bazin
9:10 pm: Winchester '73 (1950). Archival Print! The first of Mann's Westerns with James Stewart, this "sprawling, picaresque tale of a feud between two brothers...broke new ground in soiling Stewart's white hat and launching him on a path of neuroticism and blood-guilt retribution."—Village Voice
Saturday, January 31
7:00 pm: The Naked Spur (1953). Bounty hunter James Stewart wages psychological warfare against Robert Ryan in "one of the very best Anthony Mann Westerns—which means one of the very best Westerns, period."—Chicago Reader. Also starring Janet Leigh and the Colorado Rockies.
8:50 pm: The Tall Target (1951). On a train to Washington in 1861, a detective eerily named Jack Kennedy tries to foil a plot to assassinate Lincoln. "You could cut the mood here with a knife."—Chicago Reader
Friday, February 6
7:30 pm: The Great Flamarion (1945). Restored Print! Erich von Stroheim stars in an entertaining, early Mann noir of death and double dealing among vaudevillians.
9:10 pm: Strange Impersonation (1946). Restored Print! This peculiar little picture may have invented a new genre: the mad-scientist noir romantic melodrama.
Friday, February 13
7:30 pm: The Man from Laramie (1955). New Restored Print! Starring James Stewart, "a taut vengeance tale that fills the CinemaScope screen with unexpected violence as harsh as the New Mexico landscape."—Scott Simmon
9:30 pm: Men in War (1957). A Korean War platoon, led by Robert Ryan, is stranded in a beautiful but hostile landscape. "With the possible exception of Sam Fuller, no other American director has so vividly caught the atmosphere of battle."—NFT, London
Saturday, February 14
7:30 pm: El Cid (1961). Archival Print! Charlton Heston as the warrior-hero of 11th-century Spain. "One of the greatest epic films ever made. Mann's sense of composition, his use of space, and his graceful camera movements bring to life an ancient tapestry where the transformation of an ordinary man into a legend becomes almost a mystical experience."—Martin Scorsese
Friday, February 20
7:00 pm: God's Little Acre (1958). Restored Print! Mann crafts a study of family and crazy ambition from Erskine Caldwell's sensational novel, with Robert Ryan searching the farm for his grandpappy's gold. "A rustic revel with the kick of a Georgia mule."—Variety, 1958
9:10 pm: Man of the West (1958). Gary Cooper struggles against a violent past returning to claim him. "A superb Western, exemplifying Mann's capacity for integrating his interest in spectacle with a resonant narrative fully deserving the adjective 'classic.'"—Time Out
Saturday, February 21
7:00 pm: He Walked by Night (1949, directed by Alfred Werker/Anthony Mann). "Taken (or so the studio claims) from actual police files. Location shooting in the relentlessly realistic tradition of T-Men and Canon City is highlighted by the final shoot-out in the L. A. drainage tunnel system....A gritty masterpiece!"—Errol Morris
8:40 pm: The Tin Star (1957). Archival Print! Aging bounty hunter Henry Fonda teaches sheriff Tony Perkins the tricks of the trade; Mann elicits fine performances from both.