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Few directors embody the range and depth possible in the Hollywood
studio system as beautifully as George Stevens. After a getting hisstart in B movie
comedies, he rose to prominence as a master of all genres: action (GUNGA DIN), melodrama (I
REMEMBER MAMA), and the western (SHANE) are only a few of the forms to which
Stevens applied his professional touch. Equally capable with "womens
pictures" as he was with hard-edged action, Stevens had an astonishing diversity of
interests and skillsand sometimes, as in the epic GIANT, his range could be felt
within the confines of one particular film. The Aero will be showing a selection of
Stevens classics that represents the breadth of his accomplishments, from the intimate (ALICE
ADAMS) to the epic (THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD).
Thursday, March 20 7:30 PM
ALICE ADAMS, 1935, Warner Bros., 99
min. George Stevens left the world of B-movie comedies for A-list prestige fare
with this heartfelt adaptation of Booth Tarkingtons novel. Katharine Hepburn
gives one of her most subtle performances as an ambitious young woman seeking to escape
her small-town background; although the character is superficially unappealing, Hepburn
and Stevens allow the viewer to empathize with her in all her complexity. Solid supporting
work from Fred MacMurray is an additional asset in this impeccably mounted drama.
Co-starring Hattie McDaniels (GONE WITH THE WIND) and Fred Stone, who nearly
steal the film.
I REMEMBER MAMA, 1948, Warner Bros., 134 min.
This is one of George Stevenss most purely affecting works, a sentimental and
powerful portrait of a woman (Irene Dunne) keeping her family of Norwegian
immigrants together through decades of ups and downs. Stevens pulls out all the stops in
this unabashedly manipulative -- and undeniably effective -- classic tearjerker.
Friday, March 21 7:30 PM
SHANE, 1953, Paramount, 118 min. George
Stevens infuses the western genre with mythic grandeur in this timeless classic. Alan
Ladd is at his most iconic as the title character, an ex-gunfighter forced out of
retirement when a family of homesteaders (Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, Brandon de Wilde)
comes under attack by a vicious ranchers hired guns. Jack Palance is
one of the most threatening villains in movie history, and the film itself is both a
summing up of the western genre and a sign of things to come in later masterworks like
UNFORGIVEN. One of the most influential films ever madeand one of the most
entertaining. Loyal Griggs won an Oscar for Best Cinematography.
A PLACE IN THE SUN, 1951,
Paramount, 122 min. Montgomery Clift delivers arguably his finest performance as a
tormented young man in love with socialite Elizabeth Taylor, but still weighed down
by his past fling with factory girl Shelley Winters. Superb, heartbreaking
adaptation by director George Stevens of novelist Theodore Dreisers An
American Tragedy. Winner of six Academy Awards, including Best Director for Stevens.
Saturday, March 22 7:30 PM
GIANT, 1956, Warner Bros. 201 min. Dir. George
Stevens. Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean (in his
last role) star in this sprawling account of the rise of a Texas oil family. Stevens moves
back and forth between epic social commentary and intimate family melodrama with ease, and
Boris Levins stunning art direction is a wonder to behold on the big screen.
Stevens won the Academy Award for Best Director.
Sunday, March 23 - 5:00 PM
Special Easter Screening!
THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD,
1965, MGM Repertory, 193 min. Director George Stevens took the biggest risk of his
career with this epic account of the life of Jesus, a film that contains some of Stevens'
most spectacular images (it was originally photographed in 70mm) and sequences. Max Von
Sydow plays Jesus, and gets support from an astonishing all-star cast that includes Claude
Rains, Charlton Heston, Sidney Poitier, and many others--including, in a
particularly odd bit of casting, John Wayne as a Roman centurion!