This Week's Revivals
By Richard von Busack
Apartment for Peggy/Claudia
(1948/1943) A postwar couple (William Holden and Jeanne Crain) move in as lodgers with an old and lonely professor (Edmund Gwenn). BILLED WITH Claudia. Dorothy McGuire stars as a young bride who has to adjust to the stresses of being married. With Robert Young. (Plays Nov 22-23 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)
(1999) The unnamed narrator (Edward Norton), an exhausted businessman bleating for reparenting, gets the Big Bad Daddy of his wildest dreams: the slobby but charismatic terrorist Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt, never better). Helena Bonham Carter is a stitch as Maria, the transient girl Durden picks up, sleeps with and drops. Pitt and Norton change the mood of the film, letting the humor of the book move to the forefront, allowing the novel's endorsement of the violent life look more like a ridiculous pose and less like a stab at philosophy. The movie wasn't a financial success. Probably this was because of its exposure of the pathological side of those movie-fed fantasies of the lone hero who beats the world into shape. In Fight Club, as in real life, these men only end up clobbering themselves. (Plays Nov 17-18 at midnight in Palo Alto at the Aquarius Theater.)
Hold That Co-ed/Wake Up and Live
(1938/1937) John Barrymore, or what was left of him by this point, plays a conniving governor come to root for a state college football team and get out the vote. His methods in both fields are far from ethical. Co-stars Joan Davis and George Murphy. BILLED WITH Wake Up and Live. Alice Faye is the "Wake Up and Live" girl on a popular radio show. She intercedes in the then well-known feud between bandleader Ben Bernie and fearsome gossip columnist Walter Winchell. (Plays Nov 15-16 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)
The Little Princess/Mr. Belvedere Goes to College
(1939/1949) Shirley Temple's first Technicolor film; she plays the daughter of an army officer who is reported missing in the Boer War. With no one to pay her school tuition, she becomes a servant. Song-and-dance man turned fish-and-chips nabob Arthur Treacher performs a few numbers with Temple. BILLED WITH Mr. Belvedere Goes to College. The sequel to Sitting Pretty; in college, the fussy Belvedere (Clifton Webb) is getting a degree, but he's stalked by a journalism major (Shirley Temple). (Plays Nov 17 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)
The Lodger/And Then There Were None
(1944/1945) Jack the Ripper moves upstairs—or maybe that nice Laird Cregar is just a man with eccentric habits who is being mistaken for the terror of Whitechapel. Lucien Ballard photographs and John Brahm directs, so we can suppose Whitechapel is terrifying enough. George Sanders is also lurking about; Merle Oberon co-stars. BILLED WITH And Then There Were None. Mr. U.N. Owen (unknown!) invites you to spend the weekend with him at his lodge on Indian Island. if you take him up on the house party, bring weapons and a medicine kit. Declaring himself judge, jury and executioner, the invisible host picks off the household one by one. Director Rene Clair manages to keep the homicides convivial, in this early version of a much, much ripped off Agatha Christie plot. (They're calling it Lost, nowadays.) The cast of suspects include that auld sod Barry Fitzgerald, England's last line of defense C. Aubrey Smith, the vinegary Judith Anderson and Walter Huston as a tippling doctor (he would have been a great Mark Twain). Richard Haydn, cinema's greatest Welsh dialect expert, plays the butler who drawls, "How many will you be for dinner tonight?" (Plays Nov 18-19 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theatre.)
The Nightmare Before Christmas
(1993) Tim Burton's stop-action marvel never gets old. This Halloween return engagement is being shown in 3-D in limited theaters. Adding the 3-D effect seems like overkill to us. Don't mess with a classic, we always say.
(1980) King fans are right; the book is better. A simple haunted house tale is here given a gargantuan widescreen treatment by the ambitious Stanley Kubrick and subverted by a larger-than-life star performance by Jack Nicholson (Nicholson, halfway nuts to begin with, surprises nobody when he completes the journey). What one remembers, despite the ridiculously expensive special effects and the at-the-time tony use of the steadicam, is Shelly Duvall and Danny Lloyd running for their lives from Daddy. (Plays Nov 17 at midnight in Campbell at Camera 7 and Nov 18 at midnight in San Jose at Camera 12.)
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