By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 19, 2012 at 4:23PM
While New Yorkers have plenty of opportunity to see classic films on the big screen, you'll be hard pressed to find a lineup as front to back awesome as the Film Society Of Lincoln Center's "15 For 15: Celebrating Rialto Pictures."
The series honors the reknowned arthouse distribution shingle founded in 1997 that has brought some of the best known (and previously unknown) classics of cinema to American audiences. And the selection here by programmers Scott Foundas, Eric Di Bernardo and Adrienne Halpern represents the breadth and scope of the films Rialto has put their stamp on, ranging from the French New Wave ("Breathless") to film noir ("Rififi") to comedy ("Billy Liar") and more. There is something here for everybody and with the series kicking off tonight, we've got a special prize for some lucky readers.
Courtesy of Film Society Of Lincoln Center, we've got a copy of the excellent Rialto DVD Box Set for one lucky reader. This amazing collection is a cinephile's dream, and the 10 disc set features many of the flims feature in the "15 For 15" series. But even if you don't win that, we also have a pair of tickets for each screening of the series. So how do you win?
Email us with your full name, address and which screening you'd like to attend along with the answer to this question: Who directed the 1983 remake of "Breathless" and who was the female lead?
Contest open to residents of New York City only. Full screening details below. Good luck! Update: The box set has been won but we still have tickets for "Billy Liar," "Breathless," "Diary Of A Chambermaid," "It Always Rains On Sunday," "The Third Man," "The Two Of Us" and "Went The Day Well?"
Army of Shadows/L'armée des ombres
Jean-Pierre Melville, 1969, France/Italy, 35mm; 140m
The great French director Jean-Pierre Melville’s (Le Samourai, Le Cercle Rouge) 1969 adaptation of Joseph Kessel’s novel, about a band of French Resistance fighters during World War II. Stars Lino Ventura (as the brave civil engineer Philippe Gerbier) and Paul Meurisse (as organization head Luc Jardie). The result is a brilliant and relentless thriller, painted in Melville’s trademark shades of charcoal and midnight blue, marked by daring escapes, unimaginable moments of self-sacrifice and unconscionable acts of betrayal.
*Monday, March 26 – 3:15PM
John Schlesinger, 1963, UK, 35mm; 98m
Tom Courtney and Julie Christie shot to international stardom as a feckless aspiring writer and one of his myriad lady loves in Schlesinger's dazzling comic fantasy. One of the rare comedies to emerge from the “kitchen sink” realism of the 1960s Brit New Wave, this alternately hilarious and mortifying (sometimes both at once) romp has been hailed by critics as one of the greatest British films ever made.
*Friday, March 23 – 3:45PM
Breathless/À bout de souffle
Jean-Luc Godard, 1960, France, 35mm; 90m
The film (along with Truffaut’s The 400 Blows) that gave rise to the French New Wave tsunami, making Jean-Paul Belmondo a star and morphing the face of an affectless American blonde gamine--Jean Seberg--into that of a heartless noir femme fatale. Petty crook Belmondo is on the run, with American expat Seberg in tow in Godard’s legendary debut feature, restored for its 50th anniversary complete with freshly revised subtitles.
*Thursday, March 22 – 1:15PM
Diary of a Chambermaid/Le journal d'une femme de chambre
Luis Buñuel, 1964, France/Italy, 35mm; 101m
Parisian femme de chambre Céléstine (Jeanne Moreau) arrives for her new post at a provincial manor and discovers a cast of variously corrupt and perverse eccentrics lurking inside. We're clearly in the world of Buñuel, though the director and co-screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (who also cameos as a priest) take significantly greater liberties with Octave Mirbeau's satiric 1900 novel than the 1946 Hollywood version directed by Jean Renoir. A fallback project for Buñuel after the Spanish government nixed his first attempt at Tristana, the material proved fertile for his wild imagination, and teamed him for the first time with producer Serge Silberman and Carrière, collaborators he would continue to work with for the rest of his career.
*Wednesday, March 28 – 3:45PM
Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1981, France, 35mm; 117m
Special-delivery postman Jules finds himself on the run all across Paris, hotly pursued by a hit squad, ruthless Taiwanese music pirates, and the police after making a pirated recording of a legendary opera singer in director Beineix’s outrageously stylized ‘80s thriller. Longtime assistant director Beineix’s debut was an international arthouse sensation, nabbing four French César awards (including Best Film) and single-handedly launching the punk-inspired cinéma du look movement, whose subsequent exponents included Leos Carax and the young Luc Besson.
*Thursday, March 29 – 3:30PM
IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY
Robert Hamer, 1947, UK, 35mm; 92m
Based on a novel by Arthur La Bern, the film begins as the story of a former barmaid, Rose Sandigate (Googie Withers), who offers safe haven to her former lover, the escaped felon Tommy Swann (John McCallum) on the run from the police, in Hamer’s intense, masterful panorama of East End life in postwar London.
*Thursday, March 29 – 1:30PM
Léon Morin, Priest/Léon Morin, prêtre
Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961, France/Italy, 35mm; 116m
In 1961 Jean-Pierre Melville signed to adapt and direct this film version of Béatrix Beck's acclaimed roman à clef about her life in a French provincial village during and just after the Occupation. An atheistic widow (Emmanuelle Riva) falls under the spell of a compassionate priest (Jean-Paul Belmondo) in an occupied French village in Melville’s diamond-cut morality play. Shot mostly on Melville's own Paris soundstage by the great Henri Decaë, Léon Morin would eventually be edited by the director--against the protestations of the producers!--from a three-hour rough cut to this two-hour release version.
*Thursday, March 22 – 3:15PM
Alberto Lattuada, 1962, Italy, 35mm; 99m
The incomparable Alberto Sordi gives one of his finest performances as a punctilious factory supervisor who takes his wife and two adorable children to meet his family in Sicily...whereupon the local mob boss makes him an offer he can’t refuse.
*Monday, March 19 – 8PM
Nights of Cabiria/Le notti di Cabiria
Federico Fellini, 1957, Italy/France, 35mm; 117m
Fellini’s Oscar-winning chronicle of a naïve street walker (the great Giulietta Massina) for whom life is an adventure and daily trial. Presented here in its glorious 1997 restoration that reinstated the seven-minute “Man with a Sack” sequence cut by producer Dino De Laurentiis (who believed it slowed the film down) following the Cannes premiere.
*Wednesday, March 28 – 1:30PM
Mel Brooks, 1968, USA, 35mm; 88m
Before it was a Tony-winning Broadway smash, Mel Brooks’s mind-boggling, side-splitting, transcendently tasteless comedy was his classic debut feature as writer and director. The incomparable Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel originate the roles of down-at-the-heels stage producers Leo Bloom and Max Bialystock, who dream up the idea of putting on a over-financed musical that's built to fail in order to scam the investors. The result: Springtime for Hitler, an effervescent romp about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, written by a neo-Nazi (Kenneth Mars), directed by a fatuous cross-dresser (Christopher Hewett) and starring hippie-freak Lorenzo S. Dubois, LSD for short (Dick Shawn).
*Friday, March 23 – 1:45PM
Rififi/Du riffifi chez les hommes
Jules Dassin, 1955, France, 35mm; 118m
In the most popular and celebrated French film noir of all time, Jules Dassin’s seminal heist movie centers on a daring jewelry-store robbery (staged in a wordless, 30-minute set-piece) and the divergent fates of the four men who commit it. Take it from François Truffaut, who famously noted, “"Out of the worst crime novels I ever read, Jules Dassin has made the best crime film I've ever seen."
*Tuesday, March 27 – 1:15PM
The Third Man
Carol Reed, 1949, UK, 35mm; 104m
In postwar Vienna, its occupation divided among four powers, pulp Western writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) arrives to meet up with his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) only to find that he’s dead—or is he? Nominated for three Academy Awards (including a win for Robert Krasker’s extraordinary cinematography) and winner of the Palme d’Or (then called the Grand Prize) at the 1949 Cannes Film Festival.
*Wednesday, March 21 – 1:45PM
Touchez pas au grisbi
Jacques Becker, 1954, France/Italy, 35mm; 94m
Aging hoods Jean Gabin and René Dary pull off the heist of a lifetime, then find themselves ensnared in a scam concocted by a young drug dealer and Gabin’s two-timing girlfriend in this French crime classic. Made after his classic Belle Epoque romantic drama Casque d’or and before his great prison-escape picture Le Trou, director Jacques Becker’s brilliantly crafted, surprisingly poignant crime drama features Gabin in a tremendous performance that helped relaunch his sagging career and won him the Best Actor award at the 1954 Venice Film Festival.
*Tuesday, March 27 – 3:45PM
The Two of Us/Le vieil homme et l'enfant
Claude Berri, 1967, France, 35mm; 87m
During WWII, a young Jewish boy is given a crash course in Catholicism and shipped off to the farm of a family friend’s elderly parents in producer-director Claude Berri’s triumphant debut feature, based on his own wartime childhood.
*Monday, March 26 – 1:15PM
Went the Day Well?
Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942, UK, 35mm; 92m
A seemingly cozy British comedy turns on a dime into a violent, edge-of-your-seat WWII thriller in this subversive Ealing Studios masterpiece, adapted from a Graham Greene story. Brazilian-born Alberto Cavalcanti made the film when the Axis was seemingly invincible and invasion still a very real possibility, but even 70 years later it still packs an incredible punch. The cast is a succession of British film luminaries: Leslie Banks, Elizabeth Allan, Basil Sydney, Mervyn Johns, David Farrar, Frank Lawton, Valerie Taylor, Thora Hird, and many more.
*Wednesday, March 21 – 4PM