FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Margot Gerber 323.461.2020, ext. 115

Nov. 28, 2000

E-mail: amcin@msn.com

THE AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAYS WITH

A CHARLES DICKENS ON FILM SERIES

Featuring Special Guests including actress June Lockhart, director Ronald Neame, and Oscar winners Guy Green (cinematography, GREAT EXPECTATIONS) and Onna White (choreography, OLIVER!)

December 21 - 30, 2000

HOLLYWOOD - The American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre presents GREAT EXPECTATIONS: CHARLES DICKENS ON FILM (December 21 - 30, 2000), featuring 13 film adaptations of the works of one of the most famous writers in history, Englishman Charles Dickens. Highlights of the film series, (which features films made between 1911 and 1970), include: three versions of the story of orphan Oliver Twist; two silent double features presented with live piano accompaniment; and a December 23rd Dickens Christmas Spectacular featuring A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938) presented with a post-screening discussion with actress June Lockhart, followed by SCROOGE (1970) starring Albert Finney. SCROOGE director Ronald Neame will appear for discussion after the film. The evening will also include holiday Caroling (courtesy of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and The First Baptist Church of Hollywood) and traditional holiday treats and beverages will be available for sale. The holiday season always evokes a certain nostalgia for bygone days. The writings of Charles Dickens have certainly left us with lasting impressions of old-fashioned Victorian Christmas traditions. Join us in merging literature of the 19th century with film from the 20th century, at the end of the year 2000. Introduce a child (or an adult) you know to an evening of silent film at Hollywood’s most historic movie palace – or come and sing along with the musical OLIVER! this holiday season. All screenings are at the newly renovated Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the historic Egyptian (6712 Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Las Palmas) in Hollywood. All guests are subject to their availability.

From A Tale Of Two Cities to Oliver Twist, the works of Charles Dickens have proven irresistible to filmmakers: the very first Dickens adaptation, "The Death of Nancy Sykes," was shot in 1897, and there were nearly 100 versions of his novels and stories made in the silent era alone. Filmmakers including David Lean, George Cukor and D.W. Griffith all tried their hand at Dickens, embracing the boisterous, unruly sweep of his stories, their combination of Victorian melodrama, sheer eccentricity and pointed outrage at the injustices of the Industrial Age. Actors as well have been drawn to Dickens’s gallery of rogues, foundlings and spinsters, from Edna May Oliver to Alec Guinness, Ronald Colman, W.C. Fields and more. Dickens himself would have approved: he had a lifelong desire to be an actor, and kept a mirror near his writing desk, grimacing and acting out the faces of characters as he wrote. Even the very best Dickens adaptations, though, are reductions of much larger works – as critic Alan Dent pointed out about GREAT EXPECTATIONS, "It is Dickens, nothing but Dickens, but not the whole Dickens." For all their charm and pathos, the works of Dickens are a marvelous, elaborate maze: the finest filmmakers have guided us through them, like a lantern in a cave of endless wonders.

Thursday, December 21, 2000

The Thursday, December 21st program begins at 7:00 PM with GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946, MGM/UA, 118 min), the film that set the standard for all Dickens adaptations before or since. Director David Lean’s early masterpiece opens with the awesome images of a convict stumbling across a haunted, storm-wracked moor, and then plunges us into the story of an impoverished underdog, Pip (John Mills) trying to defy the rigid caste-system of Victorian England. Co-starring Jean Simmons, Alec Guinness, Francis L. Sullivan and Bernard Miles, with shimmering, black-and-white photography by Guy Green. "Probably no finer Dickens film has been made than Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS" – Michael Pointer, Charles Dickens On Screen. "What we were trying to do in GREAT EXPECTATIONS was to create in the film that larger-than-life picture which is really most characteristic of Dickens’s kind of writing." – David Lean. Discussion following with Oscar-winning cinematographer Guy Green.

Friday, December 22, 2000

The Friday, December 22nd program begins at 7:00 PM with a Dickens silent double-feature. First on the bill is A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1911, Vitagraph Films), directed by William Humphrey. This highly-entertaining, 3-reel adaptation of Dickens’s tale of the French Revolution, stars Maurice Costello as Sydney Carton and Florence Turner ("the Vitagraph girl") as Lucie Manette. "The film was a prestige presentation – boldly staged, imaginatively directed, lavishly costumed and utilizing just about the entire Vitagraph stock company in the large cast." – Michael Pointer.

Next on the same bill is OLIVER TWIST (1922, Jackie Coogan Prod., 77 min). The legendary Lon Chaney stars as Fagin opposite child-star Jackie Coogan (from Chaplin’s THE KID) in this colorful, quick-paced version of Oliver Twist, directed by Englishman Frank Lloyd (a Dickens scholar and former stage director). Long-thought lost, OLIVER TWIST was rediscovered in 1975 by archivist David Shepard from a print in Yugoslavia, and restored to its former glory. Both films silent with live musical accompaniment by Robert Israel. Marge Fasman, the daughter of Sol Lesser, the producer of Oliver Twist will share some stories about her father and the making of the film.

Following at 9:15 PM is DAVID COPPERFIELD (1934, MGM [Warners], 132 min), directed by George Cukor. The first of producer David O. Selznick’s marvelous Dickens films for MGM is like a 19th-century lithograph brought to life, with Freddie Bartholomew as the young David trying to escape the brutal clutches of stepfather Basil Rathbone. Wonderful, irascible performances by Edna May Oliver as David’s cantankerous, spinster aunt and W.C. Fields as the ruddy-faced, loquacious Micawber (in a role originally meant for Charles Laughton, who abandoned the film after a week of shooting.) In a stroke of Hollywood irony, the entire film was shot on the MGM lot at Culver City, with Malibu Beach filling in for the White Cliffs of Dover!

Saturday, December 23, 2000 Christmas Spectacular!**

The Saturday, December 23rd program begins at 5:00 PM with A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938, MGM (Warners), 69 min.), directed by Edwin L. Marin. Long overshadowed by the more-famous Alastair Sim version from 1951, this lovely little CHRISTMAS CAROL is a tiny gem in its own right. Noted character actor Reginald Owen turns in an excellent performance as the hardhearted Scrooge, opposite the husband-wife casting of Gene and Kathleen Lockhart as Bob Cratchit and Mrs. Cratchit. Their real-life daughter June appears as one of their children, in her first film appearance. Discussion following with actress June Lockhart.

From 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM there will be holiday snacks and beverages for sale and entertainment provided by carolers.

Following at 7:15 PM is SCROOGE (1970, CBS Films [Hollywood Classics], 113 min). Albert Finney is a gleefully wicked Scrooge in this glorious musical adaptation by Leslie Bricusse of Dickens’s ode to brotherhood and the terrible power of karma. Director Ronald Neame was a long-time Dickens veteran, having produced David Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS and OLIVER TWIST. Here, he proves himself to be a wonderfully humorous and sympathetic filmmaker in his own right. Co-starring Alec Guinness, Edith Evans and Kenneth More. Discussion following with director Ronald Neame.

Wednesday, December 27, 2000

The Wednesday, December 27th program begins at 7:00 PM with OLIVER TWIST (1948, MGM/UA, 116 min) directed by David Lean. A startlingly real, atmospheric evocation of childhood terrors and the evils of poverty. Innocent orphan Oliver (John Howard Davies) is shanghaied into a gang of child thieves by blackguards Bill Sykes (Robert Newton) and Fagin. Alec Guinness’ masterful, almost unrecognizable performance as Fagin led to unexpected problems when the film was denounced as anti-Semitic by the League of B’nai B’rith – in Berlin, rioters tore the theatre apart where the film was shown, and its release was delayed for three years in the U.S. to let tensions ease. "OLIVER TWIST moves forward in staccato bursts, propelled by coiling tensions and by outbreaks of sudden, brutish violence ... this is possibly David Lean’s wildest movie, certainly his darkest, and arguably his best." – Al McKee, Film Comment. Discussion following with cinematographer Guy Green.

Thursday, December 28, 2000

The Thursday, December 28th program begins at 7:00 PM with another silent Dickens double feature: First on the bill is DAVID COPPERFIELD (1913, Hepworth, 85 min) directed by Thomas Bentley. The first full-length feature shot in England, DAVID COPPERFIELD was produced by Cecil Hepworth, who made five fine adaptations of Dickens in the silent era, and stars Kenneth Ware, Dora Spenlow and H. Collins (as Micawber). "In spite of its faults, the film is undeniably a milestone in translating Dickens to the screen and demonstrates in scene after scene the pictorial quality and realism for which Hepworth was renowned." – Michael Pointer.

 

Next on the same bill is CRICKET ON THE HEARTH (1923, Paul Gerson Pictures, 65 min). One of the most rarely-adapted Dickens novels (there are, in fact, no sound versions of the story), CRICKET ON THE HEARTH stars Fritzie Ridgeway as Bertha Plummer, a young blind girl surrounded by a typical Dickens gallery of rogues and saviors. Director Lorimer Johnston co-stars as Josiah Tackleton, alongside producer Paul Gerson, who took on the role of John Peerybingle. Both films silent with live musical accompaniment by Rick Friend (subject to availability).

Friday, December 29, 2000

The Friday, December 29th program begins at 7:00 PM with a double feature: First on the bill is THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (1935, Universal [Swank], 85 min) directed by Stuart Walker. Opium-addicted choirmaster John Jasper (Claude Rains) harbors an unhealthy obsession for the lovely young Rosa Bud, driving him to separate her from his luckless nephew Edwin Drood and hot-blooded Ceylonese immigrant Neville Landless. Odd, strangely hypnotic story of sexual obsession (based on Dickens’s last, unfinished novel) fueled by Rains’ intense, Phantom-like performance and filmed in the gothic Universal Horror house-style.

 

Next on the same bill is NICHOLAS NICKLEBY (1947, Ealing Studios [Kit Parker], 108 min). Dark, storm-tossed version of one of Dickens’s most notoriously complicated novels, directed in fine style by the gifted Alberto Cavalcanti (WENT THE DAY WELL?) The great character actor Cedric Hardwicke stars as miserly moneylender Ralph Nickleby, determined to spoil the happiness of his impoverished-but-resourceful nephew Nicholas (Derek Bond) at any cost.

Saturday, December 30, 2000

The Saturday, December 30th program begins at 5:00 PM with A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1935, MGM [Warners], 121 min), directed by Jack Conway. The second of producer David O. Selznick’s stunning adaptations of Dickens stars Ronald Colman in perhaps his greatest performance as Sydney Carton, the drunken cynic who finds redemption by posing as the husband of his unrequited love to insure the man’s safety during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. A lush, definitive version of one of Dickens’s most beloved novels. Co-starring Basil Rathbone, Elizabeth Allan and Edna May Oliver. (Note: the Storming of the Bastille scenes were directed by the un-credited team of Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur!)

 

Following at 7:30 PM is OLIVER! (1968, Columbia, 153 min). Carol Reed (THE THIRD MAN) directed this excellent, larger-than-life adaptation of Lionel Bart’s musical, with a perfect cast including spellbinding Ron Moody as Fagin, Mark Lester as Oliver Twist, Shani Wallis as Nancy, and the late, great Oliver Reed giving Robert Newton a real run-for-his-money as the ultimate demonic Bill Sykes. With Jack Wild as The Artful Dodger. Winner of 6 Oscars, including Best Picture and Director. Discussion following with actress Shani

Dickens On Film – page 5

 

Wallis and Oscar-winning choreographer Onna White.

A complete calendar/flyer listing of these films has been mailed to you.

Separate admission for each program, except those listed as double features. There will be a 5-10 minute intermission between films presented as double features. Tickets: $5 Cinematheque Members and $7 general admission. Please check our website for updates regarding additional guests.

BLACK & WHITE DIGITAL IMAGES ARE AVAILABLE.

If you would like artwork e-mailed to you please send an e-mail to amcin@msn.com.

 

WE DO NOT HAVE GUARANTEED PRESS PASSES TO PUBLIC SCREENINGS. IT IS RECOMMENDED

THAT YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ADVANCE PRESS SCREENINGS ON TAPE.

 

NO FILMS WILL BE AVAILABLE ON VIDEOTAPE (NTSC) IN OUR OFFICES. IF YOU HAVE A SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE, PLEASE CALL TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE TAPES IN OUR OFFICE. THE VIDEO STORES MENTIONED BELOW HAVE THE TITLES INDICATED. LOCAL COMMERCIAL VIDEO STORES MAY ALSO HAVE SOME OF THESE TITLES. CALL IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PRESS SCREENING TITLES INDICATED THEATRICALLY.

 

CHRISTMAS CAROL, A (1938) J V 12/23/00

CRICKET ON THE HEARTH (1923) * 12/28/00

DAVID COPPERFIELD (1913) * 12/28/00

DAVID COPPERFIELD (1934) J V 12/22/00

GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946) J V 12/21/00

MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (1935) J V 12/29/00

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY (1947) J V 12/29/00

OLIVER TWIST (1922) V * 12/22/00

OLIVER TWIST (1948) J V 12/27/00

OLIVER! (1968) J V 12/30/00

SCROOGE (1970) J V 12/23/00

TALE OF TWO CITIES, A (1911) * 12/22/00

TALE OF TWO CITIES, A (1935) J V 12/30/00

J = available at Jerry's

V = available at Vidiots

* = in 16 mm. Call for information on press screenings.

 

The following video stores may have copies of the films we are showing in this series:

Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee (Burbank) Walk in only no phone.

Jerry’s Video (1904 Hillhurst, Los Feliz - 323.666.7471)

Rocket Video (726 N. La Brea - 323.965.1100)

Cinefile (11280 Santa Monica Blvd. - Corner of Sawtelle Ave. - 310.312.8836)

Vidiots (302 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica - 310/392-8508)

 

 

REQUESTS FOR PRESS TICKETS TO PUBLIC SCREENINGS MUST BE IN WRITING. FAX TO 323.461.9737 ATTN: MARGOT GERBER, 24 HOURS PRIOR TO SHOW TIME. FRIDAY AT NOON IS THE ABSOLUTE DEADLINE FOR WEEKEND OR HOLIDAY SCREENINGS. JOURNALISTS WISHING TO AUDIO OR VIDEOTAPE DISCUSSIONS MUST ALSO SEND A WRITTEN REQUEST. IF WE DON’T KNOW YOU PLEASE FAX CLIPS AND BACKGROUND ABOUT YOUR OUTLET.

 

THE PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.

 

American Cinematheque, 1800 N. Highland Avenue, Suite 717, Hollywood, CA 90028

(tel) 323.466-FILM * (fax) 323.461.9737 On the web: http://www.egyptiantheatre.com

Our permanent daily attraction film FOREVER HOLLYWOOD is now open. For press passes to see it for review purposes, please call Margot Gerber at 323.461.2020, ext. 115.

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