Events & Films

February 2018
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February 2018
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Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
February 23 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM at Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre

Starring Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono.
Directed by Robert Aldrich. 1962, 132mins., B&W.  Screened in 35mm.

Bettie Davis and Joan Crawford, both Academy Award winners and two of Classic Hollywood’s greatest divas, famously had less than no love lost between them, so the idea to cast them together in the same picture as antagonists—, at a time when both their careers were in decline, was somewhere between pure inspiration and sadistic evil. The result is a gothic exercise in psychological terror that offers real suspense with some delicious camp.

As a child, "Baby Jane" Hudson was the toast of vaudeville. As an adult, however, Baby Jane was overshadowed by her more talented sister, Blanche, who became a top movie star. Then one night in the early '30s, came the accident which crippled Blanche for life and was blamed on a drunken, jealous Jane. Flash-forward to 1962: Jane (Bette Davis), decked out in garish chalk-white makeup, still lives with the invalid Blanche (Joan Crawford) in their decaying L.A. mansion. When Jane isn't tormenting the helpless Blanche by serving her dead rats for breakfast, she is plotting and planning her showbiz comeback. Convinced that her days are numbered if she remains in the house with her sister, Blanche desperately tries to get away, but all avenues of escape seem cut off by the deranged Jane. The duo’s real-life animosity is palpable, and creates a macabre electricity. Crawford plays her part basically flat, but against this, Davis turns in an over-the-top, scene chewing performance that is as unforgettable as it is twisted; there’s no way around admitting that the guilty pleasure of this movie is watching Davis torment Crawford with apparent glee. Director Robert Aldrich handles the eccentric material well, mixing equal parts dramatic, creepy and humorous, to create a peculiar but striking tone. If “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” has become something of a cult classic, it also deserves to be known as a skillfully made, well-performed nail-biter.

While it’s easy to think that Davis enjoyed the chance to skewer and upstage her old nemesis, it must have been bittersweet for an actress who had been nominated for an Academy Award ten times (and won twice) and was once one of the Silver Screen’s most glamorous leading ladies to have to play such a campy, crazed and ugly character. Still, the part garnered Davis another Best Actress Oscar nomination and gave her a new lease on her career as a kind of celebrity character actress. The film did win an Academy Award for the now-retired category of Best Black and White Costume Design.

 

ADMISSION For Each Film: $8 Adults / $6 Seniors & Kids for each film.
Combo pricing for seeing more than one film in a series.

 

 

* Film descriptions complied from various sources.

 

Classic Film Weekends are presented by Friends of the Loew’s, Inc.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
February 24 6:00 PM - 7:45 PM at Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre

Starring Frederic March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart, Holmes Herbert.
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. 1931, 96mins, B&W.  Screened in 35mm.

It’s probably fair to say that “Frankenstein” and Boris Karloff are what first come to mind on the subject of 1930s movie horror.  But 1931’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” starring the extraordinarily versatile Frederic March deserves more than a passing mention, because it is one of the most sophisticated and frightening films of the era—exploring lust, repression and human nature in ways that most movies of its time merely hinted at, or avoided all together.

In his professional life, Jekyll is a scientist who’s fascinated with the notion that within each man are impulses for both good and evil, and he is working to develop a drug that will separate the two natures.  In his personal life, he is a man who is frustrated, in an overtly sexual way, over the extended term of his engagement to his fiancée. It’s while in this state that Jekyll decides to test his drug on himself—and unintentionally lets loose the beast within.

March deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Actor—the first time the award was given for the lead in a horror movie, something that would not happen again for 60 years—with Anthony Hopkins' win for “Silence of the Lambs.” His portrayal of “the good” Dr. Jekyll has surprising complexity.  He and Director Rouben Mamoulian resist the temptation to portray Jekyll as a hedonistic libertine, instead giving us a decent man wanting to explore natural and healthy desires, but also with character flaws that mark him as typically human. March’s Jekyll shows an undertow of humor, sexual desire, vanity and even selfishness along with the intelligence, seriousness, reason, and restraint that he presents to the world. This subtle characterization of Jekyll makes March’s full-bodied incarnation of the “evil” Hyde all the more effective.

March’s on-screen transformation from Jekyll into Hyde was a combination of cinematographer Karl Struss’ clever use of shadows and angles with Wally Westmore's superb make-up; as incredible as it may seem in our era of CGI, this special effect is still impressive almost nine decades later. Mamoulian’s direction is outstanding, particularly in his use of subjective camera work; using extended point-of-view shots, we are forced to experience the world through the eyes of Dr. Jekyll. Myriam Hopkins, one of the best and most alluring actresses of the late silent and early talkie era, gives a magnificent performance as the “loose” woman first befriended, then tormented by Hyde.

This version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous 1886 novella was made before the infamous Hollywood Production Code was being enforced, which explains why the film was able to so frankly include sexual desire and repression. But by 1938, when the film was re-released, the Code was very much in effect, and so several critical scenes were cut out. Then, in 1941, MGM decided to make a new version of Jekyll and Hyde starring one of the studio’s biggest stars at the time, Spencer Tracy, and bought the rights along with all known prints of the earlier version. The MGM version was not well received by critics (so much so that March is said to have jokingly thanked Tracy—with whom he was good friends—for making him look so good in comparison).

Don’t miss this chance to see what is widely held as the definitive “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” on the Loew’s BIG Screen in 35mm!

 

ADMISSION For Each Film: $8 Adults / $6 Seniors & Kids for each film.
Combo pricing for seeing more than one film in a series.

 

* Film descriptions complied from various sources.

 

Classic Film Weekends are presented by Friends of the Loew’s, Inc.

The Silence of the Lambs
February 24 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM at Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre

Starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn.
Directed by Jonathan Demme. 1991, 118mins, Color.  Rated R.  Screened digitally.

In "The Silence of the Lambs,” director Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Ted Tally, working from the Thomas Harris novel, peel into the layers of horror that underlie everyday adult life and even childhood with the skill of a vivisectionist—an uncomfortable analogy that is wholly appropriate for the film—remorselessly turning once-repressed memories into terrors that begin to loom as large as the outlandish crimes perpetrated by the story’s man-eating villain.

Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's training academy whose shrewd analyses of serial killers lands her a special assignment: interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. The FBI believes that Lecter may have insight into another serial killer and that Starling, as an attractive young woman, may be just the bait to draw him out. But Lecter’s help comes with a price: in exchange for telling what he knows, he wants to be housed in a more comfortable facility. And more importantly, he wants to speak with Clarice about her past. He skillfully digs into her psyche, forcing her to reveal her innermost traumas, putting her in a position of vulnerability when she can least afford to be weak. The film mingles the horrors of criminal acts with the psychological horrors of Lecter's slow-motion interrogation of Clarice and her memories that emerge from it, and the result is one of the most effectively chilling movies of all time.

"The Silence of the Lambs" won all five major Academy Awards, one of only three films in history up to that time to do so, marking the first time since Frederic March in 1931’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” that the Best Actor Oscar had been given for the leading role in a horror film. Foster's tightly-wound Clarice and Hopkins' gruesomely-fascinating, “Chianti and fava bean”-loving Lecter have become legendary cinematic performances, and the film has taken its place as one of the most complicated and unnerving psychological horror movies of all time.

Also, horror films fans will also want to keep an eye peeled for cameos by directors George A. Romero and Roger Corman.

ADMISSION For Each Film: $8 Adults / $6 Seniors & Kids for each film.
Combo pricing for seeing more than one film in a series.

 

* Film descriptions complied from various sources.

 

Classic Film Weekends are presented by Friends of the Loew’s, Inc.