Sun June 16, 2013

The Hitchcock 9

Nine Alfred Hitchcock silents—newly restored by the BFI—with live music at the Castro Theatre!

BLACKMAIL 8:00 Musical Accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Hitchcock’s silent Blackmail is one of the best British films, if not the best, of the late 1920s. Made in 1929, during the transition to the sound era, it was commissioned as both a silent and as a part-talkie with music and some dialogue scenes. Blackmail displays many of the stylistic elements and themes with which Hitchcock would come to be associated: particularly a fascination with male sexual aggression and female vulnerability. (1929, 75 min, DCP)

CHAMPAGNE 1:00 Musical Accompaniment by Judith Rosenberg
Champagne is a romantic comedy about a millionaire’s decision to teach his frivolous “flapper” daughter (played by the effervescent comedy actress Betty Balfour) a lesson by feigning bankruptcy. Whatever Hitchcock thought about the story, he did introduce some extraordinary experimental touches, including a glorious opening shot filmed through a raised champagne glass, and some entertaining effects to convey sea sickness on the part of the girl’s fiancé (played by French matinée idol Jean Bradin. (1928, 105 min, DCP)

DOWNHILL 4:00 Musical Accompaniment by Stephen Horne
Downhill is one of the darkest of Hitchcock’s early films, following the fall from grace of promising public school head boy Roddy Berwick. It features a succession of predatory and manipulative female characters who torment Novello’s hapless young hero: the shop girl who falsely accuses Roddy of fathering her child; the selfish and mercenary actress who marries him for his inheritance; the venal nightclub madame who exploits his penury. A rich and often elegant work, Downhill features revelatory camera tracking, artful lighting, sickly green tinting to express a character’s nausea and mental turmoil—Hitchcockian flourishes that play on layers of perception. (1927, 105 min, 35mm)

THE RING 7:00 Musical Accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
The Ring was Hitchcock’s sixth film as director and his first at British International Pictures. Set in the world of boxing, The Ring is a love triangle melodrama: the title refers not just to the boxing ring, but to the wedding ring which unites up-and-coming contender Jack ‘One Round’ Sander (Carl Brisson) and his girlfriend Mabel (Lilian Hall Davis), and to the threat to their relationship symbolized by an arm bracelet given to Mabel by Jack’s rival Bob (Ian Hunter). Hitchcock was fascinated by the details of boxing, and had attended championship bouts at the Albert Hall, one of which appears in the film, constructed through a visual sleight of hand. (1927, 108 min, DCP)

THE MANXMAN 9:30 Musical Accompaniment by Stephen Horne
Set in a remote Isle of Man fishing community, The Manxman is Alfred Hitchcock’s penultimate silent film and one of the best and most mature works of his early career. The story, adapted from the bestselling 1894 novel by Sir Hall Caine, follows two boyhood friends who take markedly different paths in adulthood: Pete becomes a fisherman, Philip a lawyer. Both fall in love with the same woman, the daughter of a puritanical Methodist, bringing them into conflict not only with their own moral code but also that of the strict Manx society. The Manxman is bursting with bold, Hitchcockian bravado. (1927, 100 min, DCP)

THE FARMER'S WIFE 12noon Musical Accompaniment by Stephen Horne
A widowed landowner decides to marry again. With the aid of his faithful housekeeper he draws up a list of all the eligible women in the neighborhood, and goes wooing each in turn, with disastrous results. The Farmer’s Wife is a deceptively subtle film and one of Hitchcock’s most enjoyable early works, with good performances, superior settings, lovely locations and the kind of gentle comedy, coupled with farce, beloved of British audiences. (1928, 107 min, DCP)

EASY VIRTUE 2:30 Musical Accompaniment by Judith Rosenberg
In Picturegoer of July 1927 a photomontage advertises the coming attraction of Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of the stage play Easy Virtue with the caption; “Screening a Noel Coward play sounds rather difficult—Mr. Hitchcock has just done it!” As in The Pleasure Garden and Champagne, he opens the film with a cinematic bang, opening with an innovative trick shot created using mirrors and a monocle. Impressive too is the use of another favorite Hitchcock device: the crucial action of a scene is shown only in the facial expressions of the telephone operator as she listens in to their conversation. (1927, 70 min, 35mm)

THE PLEASURE GARDEN 5:00 Musical Accompaniment by Stephen Horne
In The Pleasure Garden, the fates of two chorus girls fall into sharp relief—Jill, the schemer, finds success, and Patsy, the good-hearted girl, is betrayed by her unscrupulous husband. Hitchcock’s confident filmmaking style is evident from the first frame, with a cascade of chorus girls’ legs tripping down a spiral staircase, but it is his ability to condense the story and then to weave in extra layers of meaning that is truly impressive. The BFI’s restoration reintroduces many of these little flourishes and Hitchcock ‘touches’, revealing how much of his talent was present in his very first film as director. (1926, 90 min, 35mm)

THE LODGER 7:30 Musical Accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog was Hitchcock’s first thriller, and his first critical and commercial success. Made shortly after Hitchcock’s return from Germany, the film betrays the influence of the German expressionist tradition. Based on the best-selling crime novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger gave him the opportunity to feature what was to become a favorite theme—the hunted man. The Lodger is also distinctive for its bold use of visual devices and beautifully evocative intertitles. Hitchcock can be glimpsed both in the newsroom and as a bystander in a crowd scene; allegedly the result of a shortage of extras, it's the first of his many signature cameo appearances. (1926, 90 min, 35mm)
Nine Alfred Hitchcock silents—newly restored by the BFI—with live music at the Castro Theatre! FRIDAY JUNE 14 BLACKMAIL 8:00 Musical Accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra Hitchcock’s silent Blackmail is one of the best British films, if not the best, of the late 19...
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Film / Television

Castro Theatre 2 Upcoming Events
429 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA 94114


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