|Film Critic Kevin Thomas'
Filmmakers in the indie, experimental, foreign, avant-garde or,until
very recently, documentary fields desperately need critics. Lacking money for a
promotional campaign and forced to rely on word-of-mouth, these filmmakers have found no
better friend over the past 40-plus years than Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times.
Hard to believe there once was a time in antediluvian Los Angeles
when major critics shunned anything with subtitles. And drive-in movies were certainly
beyond the pale. So it fell to Kevin to alert Angelenos to the French New Wave and to such
giants as Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Andrei
Tarkovsky. He also discovered talented newcomers doing interesting work in films from
Roger Corman and American International Pictures. Indeed, he was the first journalist to
interview a young actor named Jack Nicholson.
His love of avant-garde and experimental films led him to be the
only Los Angeles Times critic to review films by Kenneth Anger and Andy Warhol.
Since 1984 his "Special Screenings" column in the Los Angeles Times has
been the lifeblood for venues that exhibit films for brief runs or even one night. In
short, no one in the Los Angeles critical establishment has done more to create an
awareness and appreciation of film culture than Kevin Thomas.
-- Kirk Honeycutt, Los Angeles Film Critics Association
KEVIN THOMAS FAVORITE FILMS, PART II
For my second series of favorites I have chosen the theme of
films by friends, which encompasses pictures made by people I knew well over many
yearsBudd Boetticher, George Cukor, Fritz Lang and Mae Westand those with whom
I had warm acquaintances over the decadesAkira Kurosawa, Vincent Sherman, Billy
Wilder. I interviewed Sir Carol Reed on location for FLAP, here represented by ODD MAN
OUT. I did meet Dame Judith Anderson, the co-star of that Pre-Code gem, BLOOD MONEY. I
must confess I never met Max Ophuls, who died while I was still in college, but his son
Marcel Ophuls, the great documentarian, shared with me memories of his father. When LOLA
MONTES proved unavailable for my first series I was determined that, as one of my most
favorite directors, Ophuls would be represented by another of his great films, in this
instance THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE
I will have plenty of stories to tell, especially
of Budd Boetticher, that dashing romantic figure with a character of granite; of George
Cukor, the finest mentor anyone could ever have; of Fritz Lang, who was like a father to
me; and of the incomparable Mae West, who managed to sustain an 80-year career and who
always knew how to enjoy life to the fullest. --- Kevin Thomas
Wednesday, January 17 7:30 PM
Kevin Thomas Favorites:
LIFE OF OHARU (SAIKAKU ICHIDAI ONNA) 1952, Janus Films,
137 min. Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi. Based on one of Japans first novels, the 17th
century The Woman Who Loved Love by Saikaku Ihara. Kinuyo Tanaka is Oharu, a
samurais daughter expelled from her station as a lady-in-waiting at the Imperial
Palace for falling-in-love with a man below her rank. Driven into exile along with her
parents, she soon resorts to being a kept woman then finally a common prostitute.
Mizoguchi expertly walks a tightrope, delivering an unflinching examination of a sensitive
womans emotional brutalization without manipulative sentimentality. Another
masterwork. With Ichiro Sugai, Toshiro Mifune. Film critic Kevin Thomas will introduce the screening.
Thursday, October 18 - 7:30 PM
Kevin Thomas Favorite:
THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE,
1953, Janus Films, 105 min. "Director Max Ophuls' THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE... is a
romantic tragedy at its most sublime, in which the beautiful wife (Danielle Darrieux)
of a rich, titled general (Charles Boyer) falls in love with a handsome, equally
aristocratic Italian diplomat (Vittorio De Sica) amidst the most opulent Belle
Epoque settings. A pair of diamond earrings triggers a chain of events that set a
deceptively light tone for the 1953 film." Kevin Thomas. In French, with
English subtitles. NOT ON DVD Film Critic Kevin Thomas will
introduce the screening.
Friday, November 16 7:30 PM
Kevin Thomas Favorites
SCARLET STREET, 1945, 103 min. Fritz Lang's
classic film noir reunited his WOMAN IN THE WINDOW stars Edward G. Robinson, Joan
Bennett and Dan Duryea in a reworking of Jean Renoir's 1931 LA CHIENNE.
Robinson's middle-aged bookkeeper and amateur artist becomes hopelessly ensnared by the
seductive Bennett and her lover-pimp Duryea. The result is a terse, tense psychological
thriller with Robinson's increasing desperation contrasting with his predators unremitting
ruthlessness. As with WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, Lang revealed the potential criminal in the
average citizen. Introduction by Kevin Thomas.
Friday, December 14 7:30 PM
Kevin Thomas Favorites silent
THE CROWD, 1928, Warner Brothers, 104
min. One of the greatest of all silent films, King Vidor's film is a supreme
example of perceiving the universal in the particular--in this instance a typical young
couple (James Murray, Eleanor Boardman) full of hope for their future but
buffeted by fate and the grind of daily life. The film is justly famous for its image of a
vast office with a sea of desks in which Murray seems literally lost in 'the crowd";
effectively contrasting with the film's starker moments is the couple's exuberant day at
Coney Island. THE CROWD should have launched Murray on a major career, but he was overcome
by alcoholism and either fell or jumped to his death in the Hudson River in 1936 at the
age of 35. --- Kevin Thomas With live piano accompaniment.