American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre Presents...
Making Movie History for Over 80 Years!

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Series Compiled by: Chris D. Program notes: Mike Schlesinger.
Special Thanks to: Michael Schlesinger/SONY REPERTORY; Paul Ginsburg/UNIVERSAL; Marilee Womack/WARNER BROS.; Emily Horn and Barry Allen/PARAMOUNT; Caitlin Robertson/20th CENTURY FOX.

 

SOLD OUT SCREENINGS: There will be a waiting line for Sold Out screenings. Tickets often become available at the door the night of an event.

Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.

 

 

All guests are subject to availability. The Cinematheque will offer a refund due to guest cancellations only IF the refund transaction is complete PRIOR to the start of the show.

Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $10 general admission unless noted otherwise.
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The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Randall Michelson. Detail of Egyptian Theatre Ceiling.

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<<< December 21, 2006 - January 1, 2007 >>>

Screwball Holidays

 

Discuss this series with other film fans on:
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Some screenings in this series take place December 27 - January 1 at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

 

 

Our fourth annual holiday comedy festival offers up another platter of delicious treats from the days when Hollywood could make folks laugh without the use of dangerous animals or sharp objects. From enchanting romance to scary monsters—and isn’t it sometimes hard to tell them apart?—we have a full score of mirth-making classics to perk you up after a brutal day of shopping…or looking for a parking space…or getting stuck in traffic...or reading the newspaper…You’ll find the well known (THE AWFUL TRUTH, UNFAITHFULLY YOURS, THE MORE THE MERRIER) as well as the rarely-screened (THEODORA GOES WILD, CLUNY BROWN, THE EGG AND I) classics here featuring a mob of phenomenally talented people, including such legendary performers as Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, W. C. Fields, Fred MacMurray, Claudette Colbert, Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, Bob Hope and more!

 

 

 

Thursday, December 21 - 7:30 PM

Irene Dunne Double Feature:

Newly Restored 35mm Print! THE AWFUL TRUTH, 1937, Sony Repertory, 92 min. Dir. Leo McCarey. McCarey won a Best Director Oscar for this side-splitting masterpiece in which Irene Dunne and Cary Grant decide to divorce…but darn it, it just doesn’t seem to take. With Ralph Bellamy (in his defining "other man" role), Alex D’Arcy, (Miss) Cecil Cunningham and Joyce Compton, who steals the show with her unique rendition of "Gone With The Wind." >> Also showing at The Aero, December 28.

Newly Restored 35mm Print! THEODORA GOES WILD, 1936, Sony Repertory, 94 min. Dir. Richard Boleslawski. Irene Dunne’s first big comedy role casts her as a small-town gal with a dark secret: she writes racy best-sellers! When enamored publisher Melvyn Douglas figures it out, he shows up on her doorstep and threatens to, uh, expose her if she doesn’t give him a tumble! With Thomas Mitchell, Thurston Hall and Spring Byington; based on a story by Mary McCarthy (Kevin’s sister). NOT ON DVD.

 

 

 

Friday, December 22 - 7:30 PM

Domestic Help Double Feature:

RUGGLES OF RED GAP, 1935, Universal, 92 min. Dir. Leo McCarey. Another McCarey classic stars Charles Laughton as a veddy proper English valet who’s won in a poker game by a man from the Wild West (Charlie Ruggles). And thus the clash of cultures commences. With Mary Boland, ZaSu Pitts, Roland Young, Leila Hyams and many others. And remember: always bring the pot to the kettle! NOT ON DVD. >> Also showing at The Aero, December 28.

CLUNY BROWN, 1946, 20th Century Fox, 100 min. Director Ernst Lubitsch’s last complete film is one of his funniest. Jennifer Jones is Cluny Brown, a female plumber who winds up working as a maid on an English estate; in other words, it’s RUGGLES in reverse. Charles Boyer is delightful as a penniless Czech intellectual smitten with Cluny and befriended by rich, naive Peter Lawford. With Helen Walker, the unparalleled C. Aubrey Smith and Una O’Connor, and not one but two Reginalds (Owen and Gardiner). NOT ON DVD.

 

 

 

Saturday, December 23 - 7:30 PM

Domestic Bliss Double Feature:

THE LONG, LONG TRAILER, 1954, Warner Bros., 96 min. Dir. Vincente Minnelli. Long before VACATION and RV, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz hit the road (though not as the Ricardos) in this slapstick romp about newlyweds who buy a shiny new trailer and decide to take a cross-country honeymoon. Needless to say, "there’s gonna be a lotta ‘splainin’ to do!" With Marjorie "Ma Kettle" Main, Keenan Wynn and Madge Blake; written by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich (FATHER OF THE BRIDE).

Newly Restored 35mm Print! THE FIRST TIME, 1952, Sony Repertory, 89 min. Dir. Frank Tashlin. Tashlin’s live-action directorial debut is a charming domestic frolic about a couple (Bob Cummings and Barbara Hale) struggling with their first year of being parents. Plenty of diaper gags ensue…and it’s narrated by the baby! With Bill Goodwin and (Miss) Jeff Donnell as the wacky neighbors; written by Tashlin and the husband-wife team of Hugo Butler and Jean Rouverol—and Robert Aldrich was the associate producer! NOT ON DVD.

 

 

 

Monday, December 25 - 5:00 PM

Preston Sturges Double Feature:

UNFAITHFULLY YOURS, 1948, 20th Century Fox, 105 min. Dir. Preston Sturges. Sturges’ last truly great comedy has an ingenious premise: symphony conductor Rex Harrison suspects wife Linda Darnell is cheating on him, and imagines three courses of action as he conducts three different (and appropriate) pieces of music. As hilarious as it is audacious, this is a must-see. With Rudy Vallee, Barbara Lawrence, Lionel Stander, and an uproarious cameo by Edgar Kennedy, who admires the way Rex "handles Handel."

CHRISTMAS IN JULY, 1940, Universal, 67 min. Dir. Preston Sturges. Sturges’ second feature as director stars Dick Powell as a humble clerk who thinks he’s won a big contest and starts spending like it’s, well, you know. Big problem: he doesn’t know he’s the victim of a practical joke. Typical madcap mayhem with Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn and the rest of the Sturges Stock Company. And if you can’t sleep at night… >> Both films showing at The Aero, December 30.

 

 

 

Tuesday, December 26 - 7:30 PM

Back To Nature Double Feature:

THE EGG AND I, 1947, Universal, 108 min. Dir. Chester Erskine. This riotous cousin of GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE (see below) stars Fred MacMurray as a city fella who yearns for the simple joys of farming, and Claudette Colbert as his dutiful but long-suffering wife. This was not only Universal’s biggest hit of the late ‘40s, but the supporting characters of Ma and Pa Kettle (Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride) were so popular that they were spun off into another nine features! NOT ON DVD.

IT’S A GIFT, 1934, Universal, 73 min. Dir. Norman Z. McLeod. Considered by some to be The Great Man’s greatest film, this short, sweet W.C. Fields vehicle is little more than a series of zany sketches loosely tied to his desire to move to California and grow oranges. Includes the legendary "Mr. Muckle" and "Carl LaFong" scenes, as well as the hanging mirror and sleeping porch routines. Jean Rouverol, who co-wrote THE FIRST TIME (see above), plays Fields’ daughter. >> Also showing at the Aero, December 27.

 

 

Wednesday, December 27 - 7:30 PM

Jack Benny Double Feature:

GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE, 1942, Warner Bros., 93 min. Dir. William Keighley. George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s last play was a smash hit about a man who decides to buy a dilapidated farmhouse in Bucks County, much to the disgust of his wife. But since Jack Benny’s persona was all about stinginess, Warners decided to reverse the roles! But it’s still a laff riot, with Ann Sheridan as Benny’s rustically-inclined spouse and great support from Charles Coburn, Hattie McDaniel, Franklin Pangborn and—a genuine coincidence—the future Pa Kettle, Percy Kilbride. And the set was left over from ARSENIC AND OLD LACE! NOT ON DVD.

IT’S IN THE BAG, 1945, Paramount, 87 min. Dir. Richard Wallace. One of the earliest versions of The Twelve Chairs, this wonderful vehicle for legendary radio comedian Fred Allen sends him on a hunt for his inheritance, which has been hidden in one of five chairs (it’s a lower-budget film). But no expense was spared on guest stars, including Don Ameche, William Bendix, Robert Benchley, Rudy Vallee, Binnie Barnes and (of course) Jack Benny, as well as Minerva Pious as Mrs. Nussbaum (from Fred’s radio show). Plus it has maybe the funniest opening credits ever. NOT ON DVD.

Thursday, December 28 - 7:30 PM

Caribbean Fantasy Double Feature:

THE GHOST BREAKERS, 1940, Universal, 85 min. Dir. George Marshall. After the enormous success of THE CAT AND THE CANARY, Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard were quickly reteamed in this even better outing, which sends them to a "haunted" castle on a tiny island off the coast off Cuba. Not only funny but genuinely spooky as well, with A-list support from Richard Carlson, Paul Lukas, Anthony Quinn, Tom Dugan, Jack Norton, Noble Johnson (as a zombie) and top black comic Willie Best. Thirteen years later, Marshall remade this with Martin and Lewis as SCARED STIFF, and it became a hit all over again.

MR. PEABODY AND THE MERMAID, 1948, Paramount, 89 min. Dir. Irving Pichel. Delightful comic romantic fantasy in which William Powell, suffering from mid-life crisis, is smitten by a beautiful young mermaid (Ann Blyth) while on vacation in the Caribbean…which doesn’t sit particularly well with his wife. Nunnally Johnson scripted this first and best of all the fishy love stories; Irene Hervey and Andrea King co-star. NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Friday, December 29 - 7:30 PM

Jean Arthur Double Feature:

THE MORE THE MERRIER, 1943, Sony Repertory, 104 min. Dir. George Stevens. Stevens’ last comedy is a topical romance about a wartime housing shortage in Washington. Jean Arthur reluctantly sublets half her apartment to retired millionaire Charles Coburn—who promptly sublets half of his half to dreamy soldier Joel McCrea! Coburn won an Oscar for his inspired performance in this captivating film, which was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actress, Story and Screenplay. Remade 23 years later as WALK, DON’T RUN—which was Cary Grant’s last film.

Newly Restored 35mm Print! TOO MANY HUSBANDS, 1940, Sony Repertory, 84 min. Dir. Wesley Ruggles. A delectable comedy from Somerset Maugham’s play Town and Country, which essentially puts a gender switch on Enoch Arden: a year after Fred MacMurray is reported drowned, wife Jean Arthur marries his partner and best friend Melvyn Douglas…and then Fred turns up very much alive, forcing the two to compete for her affections. Ironically, that same year, RKO made MY FAVORITE WIFE, in which it’s the wife lost at sea! A seldom-seen gem that hasn’t even been shown on TV for many years. NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Saturday, December 30 - 7:30 PM

Marriage On The Rocks Double Feature:

Newly Restored 35mm Print! PHFFFT!, 1954, Sony Repertory, 91 min. Dir. Mark Robson. Arguably the greatest comedy ever with no vowels in its title, this adorable variation on THE AWFUL TRUTH finds Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon (in his first starring role) getting a divorce, only to learn jumping back into the dating pool is a lot harder than it seems. Jack Carson and a young Kim Novak co-star in this saucy George Axelrod farce; the title, by the way, came from columnist Walter Winchell’s term for a break-up. NOT ON DVD.

EVERYBODY DOES IT, 1949, 20th Century Fox, 98 min. Dir. Edmond Goulding. Another comic rarity from writer Nunnally Johnson, in which Celeste Holm’s dreams of an operatic singing career are being thwarted by building contractor hubby Paul Douglas’ interference. What happens next is too wildly funny to be revealed here. A bravura supporting cast includes Linda Darnell as a rival singer, Charles Coburn, Millard Mitchell and George Tobias; based on a story by—we kid you not—James M. Cain! NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Monday, January 1 - 5:00 PM

Scary Laughs Double Feature:

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, 1948, Universal, 83 min. Dir. Charles Barton. Still considered the greatest horror spoof ever, as Bud and Lou run afoul of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula and the Wolfman (played straight by Glenn Strange, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr.), with the Count intending to install Lou’s tiny brain in the Monster. If you’ve never seen this tour de force in a theatre with an audience, then you have no better way to ring in the New Year!

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, 1944, Warner Bros., 118 min. Dir. Frank Capra. The granddaddy of all black comedies, a tender tale of two sweet old ladies with this odd little habit of poisoning people, plus their three darling nephews: a homicidal maniac who looks like Boris Karloff (who created the role on Broadway), a nut who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and worst of all, a theatre critic. Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre, Jack Carson and original cast members Josephine Hull and Jean Adair move two miles a minute under Capra’s assured direction. Actually filmed in 1941, but it couldn’t be released until the ultra-popular show closed on Broadway!