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All-greek Film Fest At Nuart

January 20, 1986|KEVIN THOMAS | Times Staff Writer

When the Greek army retreated from Asia Minor in 1922, it left a million and a half Greek and Armenian citizens at the mercy of the triumphant Turks. In his remarkable, grueling and long-banned "1922," writer-director Nikos Koundouros makes the all-consuming fear that engulfs the abandoned people in the port city of Smyrna so palpable you can almost taste it.

Banned until recently for political reasons, "1922"--which also serves as an allegory for more recent events on Cyprus--has the visual splendor and ominous restlessness of Hungarian director Mikos Jancso's celebrated "The Round-Up." Playing with "1922" Thursday only at the Nuart as part of its "Greek Film Festival" is Nicos Perakis' "Of Colonels and Camouflage," a service comedy that becomes something more than that because its key group of soldiers happen to be engaged in producing inane, heavily proscribed TV programs for the army just as the military dictatorship comes to power in 1967, causing them to realize that they're just as oppressed as they were under the monarchy. Information: (213) 478-6379, 479-5269.

UCLA Film Archives' enjoyable "Technicolor: The Glory Years" continues Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Melnitz Theater with a program of short subjects and excerpts selected by the archives' Charles Hopkins. It will be followed by "Mystery of the Wax Museum" (1933), said to be the last dramatic feature produced in two-strip Technicolor.

Hopkins' astute choices raise our consciousness in regard to the remarkable range of Technicolor while providing both nostalgia and notable examples of period design in everything from household products to movie sets. For sheer richness of hue, it would be hard to top "Technicolor for Industrial Films," a circa 1939 promotional film showing the advantages of using color film in selling everything from lipstick to linoleum.

There are great Art Deco graphics in both the cartoon opening and live-action sequences from "The King of Jazz" (1930), which features a young Bing Crosby, and also in the Fleischer Brothers' cartoon "Dancing on the Moon" (1935), a work of verve and charm.

Then there's the musical vignette "La Cucaracha" (1934), the first successful live-action three-strip Technicolor short, an Academy Award-winner set in a cantina and featuring Steffi Duna and Don Alvarado as fiery lovers. The hot hibiscus reds of "La Cucaracha" in turn give way to the natural tones of John Ford's "The Battle of Midway" (1942), a documentary made for the Navy that has the shape and evocativeness of Ford's cavalry Westerns. There are many more items in this irresistible offering.

Michael Curtiz's "Mystery of the Wax Museum" (which was remade by Andre de Toth as the 3-D "House of Wax") is as much fun as last week's "Dr. X." This time, Lionel Atwill plays a tragically disfigured proprietor of a wax museum whose statues seem exceptionally lifelike. Fay Wray is back to provide her inimitable screams, and so is production designer Anton Grot, whose sets are as dazzling as those for "Dr. X." The real star, however, is Glenda Farrell, as a typically '30s wisecracking female reporter. Once again, the carefully modulated hues of the two-strip process has an uncannily contemporary desaturated look. Information: (213) 825-2345.

Even when seen without music, Alexandre Volkoff's 1927 silent "Casanova" is clearly a major rediscovery. Restored by the Cinematheque Francaise, it will receive its world premiere Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. in Royce Hall with an original score composed and conducted by the Oscar-winning Georges Delerue.

It will be reviewed in this form Wednesday by Times Music Critic Martin Bernheimer. An epic-scale, audaciously cinematic work of much style and sophistication, it offers a far more compassionate view of the 18th-Century Venetian rake, played with a fine balance of elan and poignance by Ivan Mosjoukine, than the icily elegant Fellini film did. Unseen in its uncut, 125-minute original version for more than 50 years, it's episodic and sprawling in structure--the kind of silent that needs music to bring it alive. Ticket information: (213) 825-2953.

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