Sunday, May 30, 2010

michael patrick's cinematic train wreck

As incompetently made as it is insensitive, "Sex and the City 2" is a disaster of singular distinction. It is entirely unto itself.

I'm not even sure it could be called a movie.

Candace Bushnell's scrappy career girls, so outspoken in their preoccupation with both penis size and shoe size when their sexcom first aired on HBO about a decade ago, have been redefined and deconstructed into a quartet of aging cross dressers for the big screen.

Now they dress in a series of veritible Halloween costumes pawned off as Haute Couture, as if the model of "glamour" here was Baby Jane Hudson.

Of course, Bushnell's supposed gender-bending outragousness was hardly envelope-pushing when it debuted. After all, it was predated on TV by Susan Harris' "The Golden Girls" (1985) and in film by James Ivory's "Slaves of New York" (1989) and Forest Whitaker's "Waiting to Exhale" (1995), all blessedly restrained and intelligent in comparison.

Less reserved but certainly much more fun are Stephan Elliott's "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" (1994) and Beeban Kidron's "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" (1995).

If the makers of S&TC2 were intent on so completely fetishizing Bushnell's characters into creepy Barbie dolls, Elliott's and Kidron's cross-dressing romps should have been used as templates.

But, frankly, friends, one comes away with the distinct impression that no one involved with S&TC2 had ever even seen a movie.

Note in Passing: That new genre, The Bromance, continues to stride ahead of The Chick Flick, in terms of quality and humor content. Case in point: Todd Phillips' "The Hangover" (2009) pretty much is the same film as S&TC2, only done with guys and done much more effectively. It is genuinely witty and, hard as this may be to fathom, much less offensive.

Go figure.
Above: Most Cringable Outfit - Sarah Jessica in an oversized skirt that seems to have a life of its own, worn with a tight tee, emblazoned with "J'adore Dior," and accessorized with a lorgnette sunglasses (i.e., a pair of spectacles with a handle). Honest.
Below: Most Cringable Moment - Four terminal narcissists wising up the people of the Middle East with a karaoke rendition of "I Am Woman." Honest.

Friday, May 28, 2010

McGuane times two

A good writer is a magician of sorts, a fabulist who can make the trite seem, well, fabulous.

Thomas McGuane certainly qualifies as a good writer and, back in the 1970s, he produced two scripts seemingly married to the same essential plotline.

Released a year apart, Frank Perry's "Rancho DeLuxe" (1975) and Arthur Penn's "The Missouri Breaks" (1976) are both original scripts about cattle rustlers and land barons. Both are Westerns but the former is modern, comedic and, at 93 minutes, rather breezy, while the latter is darker, more traditional and, at 126 minutes, something of a trial to sit through.

While it's never been acknowledged that both are based on the same material, it's compelling to compare and contrast, observing how McGuane creatively moved his pieces - his characters - around, changing relationships while adhering to a tale told twice. Here goes...

In "Rancho DeLuxe," Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston play two contemporary cattle rustlers who, perhaps unwisely, set their sights on the livestock of the newly transplanted Clifton James and wife Elizabeth Ashley, who came to Montana from Schnectady, New York.

In "The Missouri Breaks," Jack Nicholson leads a cattle-rustling ring and decides - again, perhaps unwisely - to take on cattle baron John McLiam, a widower with a grown daughter, played by Kathleen Lloyd.

In "Rancho DeLuxe," James hires pokey old Slim Pickens to ensnare rustlers Bridges and Waterston. Traveling with Pickens is his niece, Charlene Dallas, who is what James Agee would have called "a dish." Ah, but Pickens and Dallas are not exactly what they seem to be.

In "The Missouri Breaks," McLiam hires Marlon Brando, a cattle-rustling regulator with an eccentric way of handling the job. He dons disguises to dispatch his unfortunate prey. In both films, the hired hand recruited to entrap the rustlers engages in a kind of play-acting. Both Pickens and Brando play characters who consider their line of work a "sport," approaching it in highly theatrical ways that are not all that dissimilar.

In terms of "love interest," in "The Missouri Breaks," Nicholson forges a relationship with Lloyd, while in "Rancho DeLuxe," one of James' goons, played by Harry Dean Stanton, becomes smitten with Dallas. (Note in Passing: Richard Bright plays James' other goon - Burt to Stanton's Curt.)

In both cases, the romance is doomed by deceit and betrayal.

The respective endings is what sets the two films apart. "The Missouri Breaks" ends on a note that's bloodier than anything that preceded it, as difficult as that is to image." "Rancho DeLuxe," on the the other hand, ends without violence, with the two heros rather blissfully in jail, a dénouement that, oddly enough, recalls the ending of ... "The Producers."

Oh, yes, and the two films were released by United Artists. And perhaps not coincidentally, Elliott Kastner was a producer on both films.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

cinema obscura: Alan Metzger's ''Take My Advice: The Abby and Ann Story" (1999)

One of Hollywood's most misunderstood/underused commodities, Wendy Malick has become something of a fixture on the small screen (mostly on sitcoms) but has yet to break through into movie theaters.

What are producers thinking?

Tall, regal and statuesque, Malick would have ruled screwball comedies in the 1930s and '40s, but modern big-screen roles have inexplicably evaded her, despite her (small) roles in Greg Mottola's "Adventureland" and P.J. Hogan's "Confessions of a Shopoholic" (both 2009).

Malick's one showcase was as the title stars of Alan Metzger's 1999 Lifetime TV movie, "Take My Advice: The Abby and Ann Story," in which the actress had a field day playing the feuding twin columnists, Ann Landers, ( Esther Friedman, aka Eppie) and Abigail Van Buren ( Pauline Friedman, aka Popo). The film itself is a game, scrappy stab at camp, but the revelation is Malick in one of the strangest (in a good sense) acting duets that I've ever seen. It's something of a surreal guilty pleasure to observe Malick, who has an inimitable way with line readings, particularly one-liners, trying to outact herself - and succeeding brilliantly.

She doesn't so much chew scenery as graze and luxuriate on it.

In her New York Times review, critic Anita Gates dismissed Metzgere's film as "trite and unimaginative." Say what? It's anything but.

Try finding "Take My Advice" these days. It's just about impossible.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

esoterica: I ♥ Jorma Taccone's "MacGruber"

Auteurs at work: Forte and Taccone on "MacGruber"
Jorma Taccone's seemingly negligible "MacGruber" is actually an attempt to do something different within the constraints of an industry constipated by formula and fear. So it's no surprise that the studio releasing it never bothered with advance screenings and the critics reviewing it never bothered to actually watch it. Only the stalwart Glenn Kenny got it.

Granted, its source material - a recurring "Saturday Night Live" skit - doesn't offer much promise, but then neither did John Landis' "The Blues Brothers" (1980) nor Harold Ramis' "Stuart Saves His Family" (1995), two titles that have become personal favorites of mine, irrationally so.

On SNL, Jake and Elwood Blues (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) were simply occasional musical guests, while Stuart Smalley (Al Franken) stared into a mirror as his own new-age motivational speaker. The inherent skimpiness of the two fueled the imaginations of their makers.

On TV, each "MacGruber" sketch ended with its delusional hero blowing up everything, including himself. It's MacGruber's macho delusions that liberated the shared, fertile creativity of Taccone and writer-star Will Forte, whose idea was to take their idiot hero, keeping his vanity and stupidity intact, and plopping him inside the framework of a straightforward action film, rather than an all-out comedy.

Only Forte goes for the laughs here as he floats through the film in a constant state of confident obliviousness, distracted only by his own thoughts and paranoia. MacGruber is part Man of Action (Richard Dean Anderson-style, natch), part nudism enthusiast (Forte strips down in a heartbeat), part Jackass (ah there, Johnny Knoxville!) and part George W. Bush (meaning the character is dated in more ways that one).

Everyone surrounding him - Val Kilmer, Powers Boothe, a very game Ryan Phillippe and even Forte's SNL cohort, Kristen Wiig - play their roles relatively straight, as if they are in something along the lines of Sam Peckinpah's "The Killer Elite" or his "The Osterman Weekend."

"MacGruber" is esoteric, funny and strange - three things that most Hollywood film's decidedly aren't these days. I liked it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

cinema obscura: Joseph Anthony's "Tomorrow" (1972)


The 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival (22 April to 6 May) just concluded its run and this year's Peter J. Owens Award went to a most deserving Robert Duvall.

The festival's program notes included an astute essay on Duvall, "An Acting Apostle," by Pam Grady, but the accompanying "selected filmmography" was noteworthy not for all the terrific Duvall films and performances that we now take for granted, but for what was missing - namely, Joseph Anthony's "Tomorrow" (1972) which, arguably, contains the actor's finest ... film ... work ... ever. Period.

Based on the affecting Horton Foote play, by way of one of William Faulkner's short stories, "Tomorrow" was brought to the screen intact by Anthony, a vastly underrated and now-forgotten director, with its original off-Broadway stars, Duvall and Olga Bellin, encoring.

The piece actually orginated as a TV play in 1960 for "Playhouse 90," where it was performed by Richard Boone and Kim Stanley, under the direction of Robert Mulligan. The Faulkner story originally appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on 23 November, 1940 and is included in his anthology of short stories, "Knight's Gambit."

Duvall plays the monosyllabic, illiterate, remote dirt farmer Jackson Fentry who befriends the pregnant, homeless Bellin's Sarah Eubanks and ends up raising her son after she dies. In the work's most piercing scene, Sarah's brutish kin come to claim the child, almost literally swooping down and scooping him up, returning Jackson to his sadly solitary life. The twist in this story is truly original, heart-breaking and cathartic.

If you ever wondered where Billy Bob Thornton got his idea for "Sling Blade's" Karl Childers, look no further. He was obviously inspired by Jackson Fentry. And, curiously, Duvall did a cameo in Thornton's film as Childer's father. From what I've seen of its trailer, Duvall's role in his latest film, Aaron Schneider's "Get Low," owes a great deal to Jackson Fentry as well. And guess what. Lucas Black from "Sling Blade" is in it.

Finally, you could also say that Foote himself appropriated a good portion of "Tomorrow" for his orginal screenplay for "Tender Mercies," which, of course, also starred Duvall and won him an Oscar.

But he deserved it more for his work in "Tomorrow."

And he's matched every step of the way in this sad, heart-breaking love story by Bellin, who made no other films and died young.

Sorry, SF, but you goofed. And in a big way.

Overlooking "Tomorrow" is unforgivable.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

cinema obscura: Fritz Lang's "Destiny"/"Der Müde Tud" (1921)

Scenes from Lang's "Destiny"/"Der Müde Tud": The Wall (above) and Lil Dagover and Bernhard Goetzke as the ingenue and death in disguise (below)
Master filmmaker Fritz Lang thrusts the viewer into an intense emotional whirlpool in his 1921 silent film, "Destiny" ("Der Müde Tud"), one of the lesser known titles in his canon of work but an achievement that I've always found compulsively watchable and utterly fascinating.

Its inaccessibility, now that rep houses and a lot of campus film programs are sadly out of business, becomes a temporary thing of the past now that New York's Rubin Museum of Art (150 West 17th street) has scheduled it for a 9:30 p.m. showing as part of its Cabaret Cinema program on Friday, 14 May.

The dream-like tale of two lovers whose future together is dimmed when Death (Bernhard Goetzke) materializes and snatches the young man (Walter Janssen), "Destiny" is the kind of film that, on paper, can sound positively purple. The young woman (Lil Dagover) contemplates suicide when Death challenges her with a deal that she can hardly refuse: There's a boy and there are three candles, each representing a human life. As each candle is extinguished, someone dies. But if one candle stays lighted, the boy will be spared and survive.

This main storyline gives way to three subplots - set in ancient Persia, Renaissance Venice and China - that are both wildly methaphorical and metaphysical as the woman frantically searches for someone to give up their life once the boy's is spared. The elderly, who are at death's doorstep, run for her. There is some alert, unexpected humor in this death-drenched fable, and the heroine confronts carefully designed stumbling blocks, until she and her lover are reunited in a way that can only be described as supremely Lang-ian. Relax. No spoiler here.

I've always been struck by the methodical pace and overriding sense of calm that Lang brought to his very dark, moody fairy tale. He kept things in check here, both his direction of the material and the performances of his cast. The result is an impressively muted film.

Fritz Lang brilliantly deconstructs the notion of romantic filmmaking with "Der Müde Tud," which translates incidentially - and tellingly - as "The Tired Death."

Catch it if you can at the Rubin where Thomas Rutishauser will accompany it on the cello.

cinema obscura: Paul Newman's "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" (1972)

As noted in this month's turner this month - bravo! post, the premiere cable channel is having fun with its Mother's Day line up, mischievously scheduling as Mervyn LeRoy's "Gypsy" and Graeme Clifford's "Frances," two films in which the mothers are decidedly unmotherly.

Turner would have had an ideal trilogy if it had included Paul Newman's "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" (1972), a major achievement in filmmaking and acting that has been casually, inexplicably, neglected by 20th Century-Fox, for more than 35 years now. It's also Newman's best directorial effort.

It's easy to see why Newman snagged Paul Zindel's delicious play for his wife Joanne Woodward. It's a showcase role this side of Tennessee Williams. Sada Thompson starred on stage as Beatrice Hunsdorfer - better known in her neighborhood as "Betty the Loon" for her odd behavior - a woman who is in way over her head as a mother.

Her daughters on stage were played by Swoosie Kurtz and Pamela Peyton-Wright, both in their late 20s at the time.

For the film, Newman enlisted more age-appropriate actresses - his own daughter Elinor Teresa Newman, billed as Nell Potts, as the sensitive Matilda (Peyton-Wright onstage) and Roberta Wallach, daughter of Anne Jackson and Eli Wallach, as the troubled and troublesome Ruth (Kurtz).

But Woodward is the titanic supporting structure here, carrying the film in a performance that is at once heartfelt and hateful. The great Alvin Sargent did the adaptation, enlarging the play ever-so-slightly, and his fidelity to Zindel's words is heartening; reliable Adam Holender did the evocative cinematography, and Maurice Jarre wrote the moody, tinkly score.

Put it out on DVD already!

Friday, May 07, 2010

cinema obscura: Michael Anderson's "The Naked Edge" (1961)

In celebration of the iconic Gary Cooper's birthday today, Turner has scheduled five of the actor's better-known titles - Howard Hawks' great "Sergeant York," for which Coop won an Oscar; the Frank Capra twins, "Meet John Doe" and "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town"; King Vidor's "The Fountainhead," and the Anthony Mann exceptional "adult Western," "Man of the West."

But not surprisingly, missing is Cooper's last movie, the faux Hitchcock thriller, "The Naked Edge," directed by Michael Anderson and released in 1961, a month after Cooper died of prostate cancer at age 60.

A tepid drama of murder and suspicion, "The Naked Edge" is virtually impossible to find these days and, while it may not be necessarily missed, the film is noteworthy for its iconic teaming of Cooper with Deborah Kerr.

The estimable supporting cast includes Diane Cilento, Hermione Gingold, Peter Cushing and Michael Wilding, adding to its worth.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

turner this month - bravo!

Turner is nothing less than diverse in May, what with a month-long tribute to the film career of Donna Reed; a 30-film retrospect examining the presentation of Native Americans on screen; a night of four Billy Wilder comedies, the picks of guest programmer Shirley Jones; Mother's Day features; a two-day Memorial Day weekend devoted to war flicks, and a day for Clint Eastwood.

A genuine Cinema Obscura opens the month when Turner screens the difficult-to-see "Andy Hardy Comes Home" (1 May at 7:30 a.m., est.), a 1958 release directed by no less than producer Howard W. Koch. It brings Andy into middle age with a wife (the pleasing Patricia Breslin), two kids (Gina Gillespie and Teddy Rooney) and the usual go-getter Andy Hardy schemes to make it big.

The quartet of Wilder films - "A Foreign Affair," "Some Like It Hot," "The Fortune Cookie" and "The Major and the Minor" - follows later in the day, starting at 8 p.m. And one of MGM's more creative musicals, "Les Girls," George Cukor's 1957 variation on "Rashomon" of all things, airs at 6 a.m. on 2 May. Gene Kelly stars and Tiana Elg, Kay Kendall and Mitzi Gaynor are the girls, each with a different memory.

One of host Robert Osborne's picks of the month is George Sidney's "The Harvey Girls," a entertaining 1946 MGM pseudo-musical with Judy Garland, John Hodiak, Angela Lansbury and a superb supporting cast. The movie is about the first chain of franchise restaurants created by train pioneer and entrepreneur Fred Harvey, whose amazing, colorful life is vividly documentat in Stephen Fried's new book, “Appetite for America.”

A trio of titles by John Ford provides the apt introduction on 4 May to Turner's exhaustive examination of Native Americans in films, starting at 8 p.m. with the iconic "Stagecoach," followed by his masterwork, "The Searchers," and the lost, sad classic "Cheyenne Autumn."

The first installment of the Donna Reed Appreciation Society kicks off 5 May, with a selection of nine hugely varied films, all reminding us that Reed was one of those actresses - versatile and game - whose promise on screen was interrupted (and ended) by the lure of more steady work in television.

The young Native American actor Adam Beach was praised for his performance as Ira Hamilton Hayes in Clint Eastwood's 3006 film, "Flags of Our Fathers."

However, Beach was preceded in the role by the equally good Tony Curtis in the Delbert Mann film, "The Outsider," released by Universal-International in 1962 and yet another title that has not had an official home-entertainment incarnation in any format whatsoever. But Turner screens it, letterboxed, in the prime time of 8 p.m. on 6 May as part of its on-going Native American series.

Hayes was the Puma Indian who attracted unsolicited attention and brief fame because he was one of the men who helped erect the American flag at Iwo Jima, an event that ultimately unraveled his life. William Bradford Huie and Stewart Stern wrote the solid screenplay for Mann's film, which is a lost little gem that deserves the pleasure of rediscovery.

Following it is Jesse Hibbs' "Walk the Proud Land," a race-relations Western, also from U-I, that was way ahead of its time in terms of its empathy. Audie Murphy, endearing in the role of a federal liaison appointed by the government to help heal relations with the Apaches, stars with Anne Bancroft, seen here in an early role as a young widowed squaw. The film's suggestion of respect for people we don't know or understand is humbling.

Stay up really late - until 3:45 a.m. - and you can catch Burt Reynolds (who is half Italian and half Native American) in Sergio Corbucci's nifty "Navajo Joe" from 1967.

Perhaps in anticipation of the new Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe Robin Hood film, Turner is screening Errol Flynn's "The Adventures of Robin Hood," directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, at 10:30 p.m. on 8 May, followed by Richard Lester's elegant "Robin and Marion," starring Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn in the title roles and, for good measure, four great character actors - Richard Harris, Denholm Elliott, Nicol Williamson and the much, much missed Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Turner has some devilish fun on Mother's Day with some creative counter-programming. Case in point: Mervyn LeRoy's "Gypsy" gets the star spot, screening it at 10 p.m. on 9 May. Rosalind Russell, as the willful mama to end all willful mamas, tries her level best to criticize, demoralize and smother Natalie Wood. Later in the evening - actually at 4 a.m. on 10 May - Kim Stanley matches Roz every step of the way as she tries to do the exact same things to screen daughter Jessica Lange in Graeme Clifford's vivid biopic of Frances Farmer.

Shirley Jones' programming picks on 10 May kick off at 8 p.m. with her Oscar winner, Richard Brooks' "Elmer Gantry," followed by Busby Berkeley's "For Me and My Gal," Charles Vidor's "Love Me or Leave Me" and Mervyn LeRoy's "Randon Harvest."

Early on 12 May - at 5:45 a.m. - you can see Gordon Douglas' film of Richard Jessup's "Chuka" (with a script by Jessup), starring the ever-reliable Rod Taylor, John Mills, Ernest Borgnine, James Whitmore and Luciana Paluzzi

If you love Kathryn Grayson (count me in!), catch her with Van Johnson in Robert Z. Leonard's "Grounds for Marriage" at 1 p.m. on 12 May and with Gene Kelly in George Sidney's "Thousands Cheer" at 4 a.m. on 27 May. Also on 12 May - at 2:30 p.m. - Don Weis' "Just This Once," with the attractive trio of Janet Leigh, Peter Lawford and Richard Anderson.

Friday, 14 May is the afternoon that I'll be staying in, what with Turner airing (among others) Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" at 2:30 p.m., followed by Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita" at 5 p.m.; George Cukor's "It Should Happen to You!" at 9:30 p.m. and, starting at 2 a.m. on 15 May, two alt titles by Robert (A Prince) Downey - "Putney Swope" and "Greaser's Palace."
Burt Lancaster's take on John Cheever - 1968's "The Swimmer" - airs at noon on 15 May. Janice Rule, Diana Muldar and Kim Hunter co-star; Marge Champion and Joan Rivers have roles, and the directors are Frank Perry, who started the troubled project, and Sydney Pollack, who completed it. Later, you can see Lee Remick, who had one of her best roles opposite Jack Lemmon, in Blake Edwards' "Days of Wine and Roses" at 10 p.m., and Doris Day who contrasts nicely with David Niven in Charles Walters' acerbic and sophisticated "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" at midnight - an insightful comedy inspired by the marriage of theater critic Walter Kerr and his wife, writer Jean Kerr.
Another of my Guilty Pleasures pops up on Turner at noon on 16 May - Paul Wendkos' compulsively watchable "Gidget Goes Hawaiian," starring adorable Deborah Walley as Francie Lawrence (aka, the Gidg), James Darren encoring as Moondoggie, delectable Vickie Trickett and - ta-da! - Michael Callan, fresh off of his "West Side Story" stage success (where he was billed as Mickey Calin) and with a new Columbia contract in hand. (Not surprisingly, Callan gets a big dance production number here.) Better yet are the adults in Wendkos' film - Carl Reiner and Jeff Donnell as Gidget's parents, and Peggy Cass and Eddie Foy, Jr. as Trickett's folks.

Two more widely accepted films are also shown on the 16th - Joshua Logan's "Picnic" at 4 p.m. and Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story" in the wee hour of 2 a.m. (actually the 17th). But I'll stick with the Gidg and also another guilty pleasure - Delmer Daves' "Rome Adventure," starring future spouses Troy Donohue and Suzanne Pleshette, at 10 p.m. on 17 May. The Daves film also stars Rossano Brazzi, who is showcased earlier at 8 p.m. in David Lean's "Summertime," with Katharine Hepburn, and starting at 12:15 a.m., in David Miller's "The Story of Esther Costello," with Joan Crawford and Heather Sears; Guy Green's "The Light in the Piazza," with Olivia DeHavilland and Yvette Mimieux, and Jean Negulesco's "Count Your Belssings," with Deborah Kerr and Maruce Chevalier.

You can get your Jane Russell fix on 18 May, when Turner airs Lloyd Bacon's "The French Line," a musical condemned by the Catholic Chruch's Legion of Decency, at 4 p.m., followed immediately by Richard Sale's "Gentlemen Marry Brunetts," co-starrin Jeanne Crain.

Anthony Quinn has a field day in Carol Reed's 1970 film version of Clair Huffaker's novel "Nobody Loves a Drunken Indian," which a cowardly Warner Bros. retitled ... "Flap." It airs at 4 a.m. on 19 May.

Huffaker wrote the screenplay herself.

"Angel Face." With Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum. Directted by Otto Preminger. Watch it. At 4 p.m. On 19 May.

Curiosity alert! Leslie Uggams and Shelley Winters star in a 1975 title, "Poor Pretty Eddie," directed by David Worth and actor Chris Robinson ("General Hospital"). It screens at 2:15 a.m. on 22 May. Featured are ace character actors Dub Taylor, Slim Pickins and Ted Cassidy.

The sublime Isabele Adjani made her big splash in Francois Truffaut's "The Story of Adele H.," the story of Victor Hugo's daughter, airing at 2:15 a.m. on 24 May.

The on-going Native American series embraces Victoria Mudd's difficult-to-see "Broken Rainbow," about the government's relocation - and mistreatment - of 10,000 Navajos. Narrated by Martin Sheen and featuring the voices of Buffy Saint-Marie, Burgess Meredith and Laura Nyro, it aris at 1 a.m. on 28 May.

A night of top wartime/P.O.W. films - William A. Wellman's "Battleground," Howard Hawks' "Sergeant York," Billy Wilder's "Stalag 17," John Struges' The Great Escape" and David Lean's "The Bridge on the River Kwai" - is topped by Bryan Forbes' riveting "King Rat," with George Segal, James Fox and Tom Courtenay." It all starts in the afternoon of 28 May and continues late into the night. It's part of the Memorial Day weekend screenings which also includes Alan Parker's excellent "Birdy," starring Matthew Modine and Nicholas Cage, at 1:15 a.m. on 30 May, Wellman's "Darby's Rangers," with James Garner and Jack Warden at 9:30 a.m., J. Lee Thompson's "The Guns of Navarone" at 2:45 p.m., John Wayne and Ray Kellogg's "The Green Berets" at 5:30 p.m., John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy's "Mister Roberts" at 8 p.m. and Blake Edwards "Operation Petticoat" at 10:15 p.m.

The last day of month - 31 May - is devoted entirely to Clint Eastwood, starting with his early role in Arthur Lubin's "The First Traveling Saleslady" at 6 a.m. and ending with Ted Post's "Magnum Force" at 2 a.m. on 1 June.