Thursday, February 17, 2011

From Deliverance to Duvall and Ivan Dixon, Belcourt Surveys the South on Film

Posted By on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 6:18 AM

Phenix_City_Story.jpg
Next time you see the staff at The Belcourt, clap them on the back. The Hillsboro Village arthouse's upcoming "Visions of the South" series, years in the making, shows how much the theater has grown in the decade since it was saved by grass-roots intervention. A study of the way the South is portrayed on film, from pioneering black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux's 1925 Body and Soul to David Gordon Green's lyrical 2000 debut George Washington, it avoids the usual suspects — no Birth of a Nation, no Gone with the Wind, not even Robert Altman's Nashville — in favor of a staggering selection of lesser-known gems.

Ever seen Michael Roemer's Nothing But a Man, a key independent film of the ’60s with Hogan's Heroes co-star Ivan Dixon and jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln? Here's your chance. Or Joseph Anthony's Tomorrow, a contender for the best Faulkner adaptation on film, with one of Robert Duvall's career-best performances? Here too. From Deliverance to Elia Kazan's superb 1960 TVA drama Wild River, the 22-film series faces, challenges, defies and subverts a century of stereotypes: rabid hillbillies, steel magnolias, brimstone preachers, backwoods tricksters, oversexed farmer's daughters and sweet-talking con artists.

Of special note is an appearance March 12 by one of the great contemporary film critics, Jonathan Rosenbaum, whose book Essential Cinema is becoming a canonical work among young cinephiles. Rosenbaum will introduce a personal favorite, Phil Karlson's still-shocking 1955 docudrama The Phenix City Story.

We'll have more on the series in coming weeks. For now, we've posted the full schedule below.

-VISIONS OF THE SOUTH Schedule-

WILD RIVER
Friday, March 11-Monday, March 14
Dir. Elia Kazan, USA, 1960, 110min, 35mm
Set in the post-Depression Tennessee Valley and concerning an idealistic young TVA administrator sent to clear land to be flooded by a new dam, Elia Kazan’s film is a masterful recreation of a unique period in Tennessee history. **Opening night screening: Friday, March 11 @ 7pm with cast member Judy Harris Spurgeon in attendance (Barbara Ann Baldwin, daughter of Lee Remick's character). A post-film Q&A will be moderated by Allison Inman, ITVS Community Cinema coordinator and director of a new documentary, MUD ON THE STARS, about the making of WILD RIVER.

THE PHENIX CITY STORY
Saturday, March 12-Sunday, March 13 and Thursday, March 17
Dir. Phil Karlson, USA, 1955, 100min, 35mm
Inspired by mid-century occurrences in the Alabama border town of Phenix City, Karlson’s film concerns a young man, just home from war, who sets about to change his vice-ridden home town, only to find his efforts matched by escalating violence from local crime syndicates. **Sat, March 12: 7pm screening with introduction by Jonathan Rosenbaum, professor at Virgina Commonwealth University, former film reviewer at the Chicago Reader (1987-2008) and an author whose latest book is GOODBYE CINEMA, HELLO CINEPHILIA

STARS IN MY CROWN
Sunday, March 13-Monday, March 14 and Thursday, March 17
Dir. Jacques Tourneur, USA, 1950, 89min, 35mm
This warm-hearted classic may be garbed in the cloak of a western with its preacher-with-a-gun premise, but a humanist message prevails in this prismatic story of a small southern town wherein a new sense of community is threatened by illness and greed.

STEAMBOAT 'ROUND THE BEND
Tuesday, March 15-Wednesday, March 16
Dir. John Ford, USA, 1935, 85min, 35mm
The first of two John Ford films presented back to back, this early comedy features Will Rogers as a Mississippi River con man who bets it all on a steamboat race to prove his nephew’s innocence in a crime he didn't commit.

THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT
Tuesday, March 15-Wednesday, March 16
Dir. John Ford, USA, 1953, 90min, 16mm
Said to be the prolific director’s personal favorite, this is the story of southern gentleman/tipsy law man Billy Priest, who is prone to reliving his heroic Civil War memories and keeping the town’s myriad developments in check.

GOD'S LITTLE ACRE
Friday, March 18 and Monday, March 21
Dir. Anthony Mann, USA, 1958, 118min, 35mm
Veering between screwball comedy and over-the-top melodrama, Anthony Mann’s raunchy adaptation features Robert Ryan as the patriarch of a poor Georgia family, determined to find the gold his grandfather supposedly buried on the family farm as the passions of his children and their respective mates flare to a boiling point. 35 mm print on loan from the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

BABY DOLL
Friday, March 18-Saturday, March 19 and Tuesday, March 22
Dir. Elia Kazan, USA, 1956, 114min, 35mm
Elia Kazan’s racy hotbed of sexual tension concerns the owner of a Mississippi cotton gin and antebellum estate who struggles to maintain possession of his last remaining treasure—his virginal 19 year-old wife.

A FACE IN THE CROWD
Saturday, March 19-Sunday, March 20 and Wednesday, March 23
Dir. Elia Kazan, USA, 1957, 125min, 35mm
Andy Griffith stars as charming but belligerent Arkansas drifter Lonesome Rhodes whose appearance on a local radio show sets him on a rapid trajectory into the national limelight. Elia Kazan’s scathing critique of a sensationalist media and its effect on the psyche holds up especially well today.

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
Saturday, March 19-Monday, March 21
Dir. Charles Laughton, USA, 1955, 93min, 35mm
Sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum is a traveling “preacher” whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, are uncovered by her terrified young children.

TOMORROW
Sunday, March 20 and Thursday, March 24
Dir. Joseph Anthony, USA, 1972, 103min, 35mm
This Faulkner adaptation stars Robert Duvall as a lonely Mississippi farmer who decides to take in a pregnant woman abandoned by her husband and features one of Duvall’s best performances—said to be his personal favorite. 35mm print on loan from Moving Image Archives - University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

THE APOSTLE
Sunday, March 20
Dir. Robert Duvall, USA, 1997, 134min, 35mm
When a charismatic but troubled Pentecostal preacher (Robert Duvall) discovers that his wife is having an affair, he promptly puts the other man in a coma and flees for Louisiana where he takes on a new name, renovates an old church, and brings new life to a congregation. 35mm print on loan from the Academy Film Archive.

HUSH...HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE
Friday, March 25 and Monday, March 28
Dir. Robert Aldrich, USA, 1964, 133min, 35mm
An aging southern belle (a fierce Bette Davis) lives in a secluded Louisiana estate where, 37 years earlier, her married lover was murdered. Angular, tense, and hallucinatory, HUSH skids along a blurry line of shadowy horror and psychological melodrama.

THE INTRUDER
Friday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 29
Dir. Roger Corman, USA, 1962, 84min, 16mm
A self-stylized “social reformer” (William Shatner) travels the south inciting riots and feeding on fear until he finds that the situation in one particular town has escalated beyond his power. Directed by legendary B-movie filmmaker Roger Corman.

WIND ACROSS THE EVERGLADES
Satuday, March 26-Sunday, March 27 and Wednesday, March 30
Dir. Nicholas Ray, USA, 1958, 93min, 35mm
Nicholas Ray's gloriously off-the-wall tale of the battle between a game warden in the Florida Everglades (Christopher Plummer) and an enigmatic bird poacher Cottonmouth (Burl Ives) was shot entirely on location in vibrant Technicolor. It’s a criminally underappreciated classic from one of America’s great film artists.

DELIVERANCE
Saturday, March 26-Monday, March 28
Dir. John Boorman, USA, 1972, 110min, 35mm
More than being the butt of an old joke, John Boorman’s highly accomplished Appalachian river floater deserves more of a legacy than an overhyped squeal. This terrifying, enthralling existential action epic follows four suburban friends who take a canoeing trip into a hinterland of redneck-induced terror.

REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE
Sunday, March 27 and Thursday, March 31
Dir. John Huston, USA, 1967, 108min, 35mm
Marlon Brando stars as a closeted Major on a North Carolina army base dealing with a two-timing wife (Elizabeth Taylor) and a wide-eyed new face (Robert Forster). John Huston went for the gusto with this masterpiece of sex, repression, and hyper-stylized color palette.

BOOK OF NUMBERS
Friday, April 1 and Monday, April 4
Dir. Raymond St. Jacques, USA, 1973, 81min, 35mm
“The Black King of the Numbers Game” is uber-slick Blueboy who returns to his one-time stomping grounds in small-town Arkansas to set up a numbers racket with his smooth young protégée, only to have his flow interrupted by the man. Set apart from the better-known blaxploitation fare of the era, its intelligent direction, great music, and quick wit result is a lean 80 minutes of non-stop fun. 35mm print on loan from the American Genre Film Archive.

COCKFIGHTER (aka BORN TO KILL)
Friday, April 2 and Tuesday, April 5
Dir. Monte Hellman, USA, 1974, 83min, 35mm
Monte Hellman’s film delves deep into a rarely documented aspect of American life: the rural blood sport of illegal cockfighting. Warren Oates vows to remain mute after costing himself the cockfighting championship; wagering his possessions, his love, and his dignity against his pursuit of the title.

GEORGE WASHINGTON
Saturday, April 2-Sunday, April 3
Dir. David Gordon Green, USA, 2000, 89min, 35mm
The debut feature of filmmaker David Gordon Green follows four youngsters coming of age in a rural North Carolina summer, but its focus is potential, holding in its heart the absolute possibility of greatness for any child.

STAY HUNGRY
Saturday, April 2 and Tuesday, April 5
Dir. Bob Rafelson, USA, 1976, 102min, 35mm
Fulfilling a minimal obligation to his token job at an investment firm, an idle young upper-crust Birminghamian (Jeff Bridges) unexpectedly “finds himself” after agreeing to broker the purchase of a ragtag bodybuilding gym in order to make way for an office high-rise complex. Directed by Bob Rafelson and co-starring Sally Field and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

NOTHING BUT A MAN
Sunday, April 3-Tuesday, April 5
Dir. Michael Roemer, USA, 1964, 95min, 35mm
A tragically neglected masterpiece, Michael Roemer's NOTHING BUT A MAN sets a benchmark both for 1960s independent cinema as well as representations of black life in the south during the Civil Rights Era through the story of a hard-working railroad laborer's courtship of a preacher’s daughter, played by jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln.

BODY AND SOUL
Wednesday, April 6, 7 p.m.
A silent film with musical score composed by Roy "Futureman" Wooten and arranger Gil Fray performed by Futureman & the Black Mozart Ensemble.
Dir. Oscar Micheaux, USA, 1925, 80min, 35mm
Written, produced, and directed in 1925 by the pioneering African-American auteur Oscar Micheaux and featuring the incomparable Paul Robeson in his first onscreen role, a prison escapee who becomes a preacher in a small Georgia town and proceeds to utilize his austere position to swindle the townspeople out of every cent they have. Restored 35mm print on loan from the George Eastman House.

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