(March 11-14) One of director Elia Kazan's least-known films — and perhaps his best — this 1960 'Scope drama set in 1930s Tennessee follows a TVA supervisor (Montgomery Clift) in collision with an elderly homesteader (Jo Van Fleet) who must make way for a coming dam. Cast member Judy Harris Spurgeon will give an opening-night Q&A after Friday's 7 p.m. screening moderated by Allison Inman, director of a new documentary about the film's making, Mud on the Stars.
THE PHENIX CITY STORY
(March 12-13 & 17) Almost two decades before scoring with similar material in Walking Tall, ace film-noir director Phil Karlson directed this blistering 1955 docudrama based on the real-life assassination of a crusading attorney in an Alabama border town overrun by the mob. Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum will introduce the 7 p.m. show Saturday.
STARS IN MY CROWN
(March 13-14 & 17) The underrated Jacques Tourneur, best known for his Val Lewton horror classics of the 1940s, gave Joel McCrea one of his best late-career roles as a Reconstruction-era small-town preacher. Blue Velvet fans, watch for Dean Stockwell in a major role — at age 13.
STEAMBOAT 'ROUND THE BEND
(March 15-16) The first in a John Ford double feature, this 1935 Will Rogers vehicle (released after his fatal plane crash) stars the superstar comic and commentator as a snake-oil salesman trying to clear his nephew of murder.
THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT
(March 15-16) Sometimes cited as director Ford's favorite of all his films, his 1953 comedy-drama revisits the character of Judge Priest (Charles Winninger, in a part Will Rogers once played for Ford), a staunch Confederate hewing to his own moral code in the postwar South.
GOD'S LITTLE ACRE
(March 18 & 21) Anthony Mann's 1958 version of the "dirty" Erskine Caldwell best-seller features an odd ensemble inhabiting its many moods like the cast of a fever dream: Aldo Ray, Jack Lord, Buddy Hackett, a sultry-pre-Gilligan Tina Louise, and the great Robert Ryan riding the movie's manic tonal shifts like a wakeboarder.
(March 18-19 & 22) The movie scandal of 1956: Tennessee Williams' ribald comedy about the escalating warfare between a hothead cotton farmer (a hilariously blustery Karl Malden) and his wily rival (Eli Wallach), with Malden's thumb-sucking, overripe teenage bride (Carroll Baker) as the sexual citadel.
A FACE IN THE CROWD
(March 19-20 & 23) For the flipside of Andy Griffith's folksy persona, see him as the monstrous antihero of Elia Kazan's prescient 1957 media satire: a charismatic cracker-barrel entertainer whose rise to stardom unleashes his latent demagoguery.
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
(March 19-21) Charles Laughton's only directorial venture, scripted by James Agee, pits immovable good (guardian angel Lillian Gish) against irresistible evil — embodied for the ages by Robert Mitchum as a bogus man of God with "L-O-V-E" tattooed on one hand and "H-A-T-E" on the other.
(March 20 & 24) One of the festival's absolute must-sees — a rarely shown 1972 Faulkner adaptation, written by Horton Foote, with a performance by Robert Duvall that's among the movies' most heartrending portrayals of simple decency.
(March 20) A triumph for writer-director Robert Duvall, who stars in this engrossing 1997 character study as a renegade Pentecostal minister whose fervor runs as deep as his flaws.
HUSH...HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE
(March 25 & 28) Movies don't come any more Southern Gothic than Robert Aldrich's 1964 horror show, with Bette Davis as a mildewed magnolia whose past may include the ax murder of her long-ago suitor (Bruce Dern!). "Get off mah prah-perty!"
(March 25 & 29) William Shatner's career might have gone a different path if more people had seen his credibly hateful 1962 turn as a race-baiting agitator making sure integration doesn't come to a small Southern town. Directed with blunt force by Roger Corman, who claims he fled the Missouri location just as the town's citizens and lawmen learned Shatner wasn't the hero.
WIND ACROSS THE EVERGLADES
(March 26-27 & 30) One of the rarest films in the series, and an auteurist's grail item: a 1958 Technicolor nature drama by the masterful Nicholas Ray, who examines the clash between idealistic game warden Christopher Plummer and Everglades bird poacher Burl Ives (always a complex and compelling villain).
(March 26-28) Arguably, John Boorman's 1972 version of the James Dickey novel isn't far removed from Two Thousand Maniacs! (see below) — but it's undeniably effective at rousing terror and bloodlust. Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox and Jon Voight are the tender-footed suburbanites who undergo a savage baptism by whitewater (and rape, and murder) in the rapids of northern Georgia.
REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE
(March 27 & 31) John Huston's hallucinatory 1967 portrait of repressed homosexuality, fetishism and adultery via the Carson McCullers novel, with Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Brian Keith and Robert Forster (nude on horseback!) stewing in lust at a North Carolina Army base.
BOOK OF NUMBERS
(April 1 & 4) A dandy 1973 obscurity from the fine character actor-turned-director Raymond St. Jacques, this blaxploitation-era period piece serves as something of an African-American rejoinder to The Sting and Paper Moon, as a suave sharpie (St. Jacques) teaches the numbers game to his eager pupil (a pre-Miami Vice Philip Michael Thomas).
TWO THOUSAND MANIACS!
(April 1-2) Brigadoon with rabies — that's goremeister Herschell Gordon Lewis' notorious 1964 drive-in smash, in which a Southern town reappears 100 years after the War of Northern Aggression to slay unwary motorists. Yankees beware!
COCKFIGHTER (aka BORN TO KILL)
(April 2 & 5) A great neglected film of the 1970s by Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop), starring one of that decade's emblematic actors, Warren Oates, as a cockfighting champion who enforces a vow of silence as he travels a grimy Deep South circuit of grubby motels, makeshift arenas and gambling pits.
(April 2-3) David Gordon Green's lyrical 2000 debut evokes the haze and heat of a North Carolina summer — and launches one of the least predictable careers of the past decade — as four kids reckon with painful adolescent longing and enigmatic tragedy.
(April 2 & 5) Zig-zagging from sex comedy to sudden violence, this 1976 cult movie by director Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces) captures the rise of the urban, moneyed, development-obsessed New South on the cusp of America's Bicentennial. Jeff Bridges stars as a kind of shabby-genteel Dude-in-training, but the show's stolen by Arnold Schwarzenegger as the world's least likely bluegrass-jam guest.
NOTHING BUT A MAN
(April 3-5) Not to be missed. A rediscovered key work of 1960s independent film, Michael Roemer's beautifully understated drama goes where Hollywood wasn't treading in 1964: into the lives of black Americans chafing under the South's racist strictures — as viewed through the romance between a railroad worker (Ivan Dixon) and a preacher's daughter (jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln).
BODY AND SOUL
(April 6) The landmark 1925 silent starring Paul Robeson and directed by pioneering African-American director Oscar Micheaux will be shown with live accompaniment, composed by Roy "Futureman" Wooten and arranger Gil Fray and performed by Futureman & the Black Mozart Ensemble.
— JIM RIDLEY
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