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This Week's Revivals

By Richard von Busack

Movie Times Laura/Shadow of a Doubt
(1944/ 19043) The high-toned mystery Laura exerts a mesmerizing effect on many people, even though it seems to hang on one good gimmick and one memorable theme song. Clifton Webb has some fine moments as Waldo Lydecker, a wizened-up version of Walter Winchell, and Judith Anderson and Vincent Price also make amusing suspects. Gene Tierney stars as Laura. BILLED WITH Shadow of a Doubt. A bright, trusting niece (Teresa Wright) with a bit of a crush on her uncle (Joseph Cotton) begins to suspect the man of being the "Merry Widow Murderer." Hume Cronyn is memorable as one of those placid small-town folks with a taste for gore literature—or worse. One of Alfred Hitchcock's key essays on the subject of betrayal; it was filmed in the then-idyllic town of Santa Rosa. (Plays Sept 15-18 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times The Man from Laramie/Man of the West
(1955/1958) James Stewart in his dogged days during the 1950s. In Anthony Mann's tough-as-nails Western, filmed in the north part of New Mexico, Stewart plays a searcher looking for the men who sold weapons to the Apaches. He encounters a rancher (Donald Crisp) and his two sons, who maim him and leave him for dead. In the stark, widescreen compositions, Mann anticipates Sergio Leone; in this performance as hard-bitten Wyominger, Stewart gives a performance that anticipates, but surpasses, the loner cowboys Clint Eastwood would play (again and again). Highly recommended; the effects of adult Westerns like this are seriously diminished on home video. BILLED WITH Man of the West. Gary Cooper as a retired gunman who is drawn into a den of thieves after he is robbed and stranded with a gambler (Arthur O'Connell) and a dance hall girl (Julie London). Half-crazed bandit Lee J. Cobb runs the gang of bad men, and Jack Lord is one of his assistants. CinemaScope. Anthony Mann directs. (Plays Sep 19-21 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times The Mummy/The Old Dark House
(Both 1932). Two key efforts by Universal Studios to keep German Expressionism alive into the sound era. Karl Fruend, who had worked with Lang on Metropolis, directed this languid and strangely effecting horror film, in which a revived Egyptian comes back from the dead to carry off his reincarnated lover. In Jack Pierce's famous makeup, Boris Karloff is an authentic desiccated horror, with all the time in the world. One doubts if children care for it much now, since the awakening and the entombment are really the only frightening parts, but the dreamlike slowness is particularly affecting to those who have had brushes with death. BILLED WITH The Old Dark House. A silly movie, and an influential one, too—you'll recognize the plot, which was filched for The Rocky Horror Picture Show (and a few dozen other movies, and let's not forget The Addams Family). A nigh-biblical flood in the Welsh wilderness strands some travelers with a prime group of inbred and androgynous weirdoes. Ernest Thesiger is your host; Elspeth Dudgeon is the bed-ridden maniac, and the lurching butler (a mute, scar-faced Karloff) is the most menacing of them all. James Whale directs, with one eyebrow raised sky-high; Charles Laughton, an insupportable member of the supporting cast, demonstrates that he's a parvenu-knighted Lancashire millionaire by bellowing "The Roast Beef of Old England." (Plays Sep 13-14 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

Movie Times Niles Essanay Film Museum
Underworld (1927). The first genuine gangster movie, based on a screen story by former Chicago reporter Ben Hecht; perhaps Hecht was the one who named a supporting character in this story "Buck Mulligan," even back when Ulysses was still a scandal. George Bancroft plays the rough but honest thug "Bull" Weed, Evelyn Brent is his moll Feathers and Clive Brook is the lawyer Bull gets back on his feet. Also: Ten Nights in a Barroom (1909) Broncho Billy Anderson's filmed version (the third of eight, actually) of T.S. Arthur's phenomenally popular temperance novel. Apparently the 10 nights at the "Sickle and Sheaf" aren't consecutive, incidentally. We watch the slow horrifying poisoning of the town of Cedarville. See honest bumpkins transformed into raving mad, homicidal and occasionally parricidal fiends. The spectacle is so sad that it raises a powerful thirst in the audience. Also: the domestic and tranquil I Do (1920) Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis. Judy Rosenberg is at the piano. (Plays Sep 15 at 7:30pm in Fremont at the Edison Theater, 37417 Niles Blvd.) (RvB)

Movie TimesSteamboat Bill Jr./The Navigator
(1928/1924) A pilot of the last of the riverboats is disappointed with his college-boy son; he's even angrier when he finds out that the boy (Buster Keaton) becomes involved with the daughter of his wealthy rival. Keaton's exquisite comedy was a flop, despite the climactic cyclone sequence, raided by comedy directors for the next 80 years. Shot in Sacramento. BILLED WITH The Navigator. Keaton's biggest hit at MGM is a story of a dumb but resourceful millionaire, a derelict ocean liner and a woman (Kathryn McGuire) who all drift away to the cannibal islands. One of the ultimate comedies of negative space, this Keaton film is full of that essential loneliness that makes the greatest comedies resound, as in the moment of Keaton making breakfast for two in a ship's galley built for 500. It even has sound, of a sort, when Keaton pantomimes the effect of the depressing popular song "Asleep in the Deep." Chris Elliott at the Stanford's Wurltizer. (Plays Sep 12 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.) (RvB)

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